Wednesday, 21 September 2011


Treasury Fails To Collect £120bn In Taxes, Union Warns

Treasury Fails To Collect £120bn In Taxes, Union Warns

Commented Sep 22, 2011 at 01:50:53 in UK

I am very mean about tax evasions, but any Union or Union member that takes every deduction the law allows has no right to speak about tax avoidance.
UN General Assembly 2011: Palestinian Statehood Bid Explained

UN General Assembly 2011: Palestinian Statehood Bid Explained

Commented Sep 22, 2011 at 01:44:20 in World

In short, the Palestinia­n move is a good tactic - regardless of the outcome - both domestical­ly and internatio­nally.
Michael Gove Email Scandal Goes 'Right To The Top', Says Andy Burnham

Michael Gove Email Scandal Goes 'Right To The Top', Says Andy Burnham

Commented Sep 22, 2011 at 01:34:29 in UK Politics

Right. That's the argument other employers (including yours) will use to monitor your private e-mail and telephone calls.
Laura Johnson, Millionaire's Daughter, Banned From University Following Charges Of London Looting

Laura Johnson, Millionaire's Daughter, Banned From University Following Charges Of London Looting

Commented Sep 22, 2011 at 01:32:47 in UK

“A burglar with bail conditions that prevent travel? How unusual.
Interestin­g use of the words "banned from."”

  • "Lord Davies said in February that this approach – targets rather than mandatory quotas – should be regarded as the last chance..."
          Interesting nudge philosophy - if you don't run your businesses the way we tell you to, we'll pass a law making it mandatory that you run your business the way we tell you to.
  • I would hope that they would resist these fishing expeditions in the strongest possible way, up to and including a flat refusal to follow the law - going to jail if necessary.  If this fishing expedition succeeds, no citizen's private email will be safe from their employer.  
             Looking into someone's private e-mail is no different in effect to News of the World hacking mobile phones.  It is different in form, in that the fishers tell you openly what they are doing, but no different in effect.   Next will come FOI requests to open and read all mail sent to their homes.  Then FOI requests to read their private diaries, then the diaries of their spouse and children.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Is Rick Perry an idiot, or just a politician?

Gov Rick Perry's OPpEd in the Jerusalem Post, shows amazing bias, even for a piece written to suck up to the Jewish vote

Texas and Israel share the experience of “civilized men and women thrown into new and harsh conditions, beset by enemies.”      Good analogy: in both cases, the enemies besetting them were the people whose land they stole by force of arms and legal trickery.

The Jewish state faces growing hostility from Turkey.    After killing a few of their citizens on the high seas – hardly a provocation in anybody’s book

And now, the Palestinian leadership is intent on trashing the possibility of a negotiated settlement of the conflict with Israel in favor of unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations.
   After only two full generations of negotiations – you’d think they’d have more patience.

the Palestinians are signaling that they have no interest in a two-state solution.
     By asking that both of the two states be recognized

… the precondition for any properly negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is the formal recognition of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state behind secure borders.
    And the right of Palestine to exist as a Muslim state behind secure borders?    Is that a step too far, or is it just that the sauce is only for the gander?  Or, do we just want Israel to be able to steal some more land first, before they agree to give others the right they ask for themselves?

the declared intention to establish a unity government with the terrorist group Hamas,
      openly and fairly elected by the people of Gaza, which signals a failure of democracy to produce the results we want.   Remember, Israel was started by terrorist groups  such as Haganah, Irgun and the Stern gang/

America Has Lost Its Moral Compass

According to David Brooks in the New York Times, a lack of moral values - a lack of even a vocabulary to discuss morality - is destroying our country.  My undergraduate students certainly bore out the study that Brooks cites.

When we gave up deontological ethics: (most commonly practiced as “that’s wrong because God says so” which usually meant “that’s wrong because the powered establishment says so” and was frequently hypocritical), we failed to replace it with the superior Platonic/Aristotelian morality.

We do not discuss deontology, consequentialism, teleology and pragmatics in schools because it is “too hard” for the teachers, let alone the students.

The modern seat of this perennial problem is cultural relativism (other cultures are not right or wrong, merely different) and “intercultural communication” which IS taught, and heavily, in schools and universities. Even the great professors in this field (Ed Hall, Bill Gudykunst) had trouble dealing with the moral dilemmas of this approach. (Okay, so what about suttee, female circumcision, capital punishment, apartheid, etc., etc.)

The desire for first integration and later “diversity” (which, again, IS taught) has helped lead us down this path because teachers and students have a tendency to buy whole hog, failing to differentiate what is just different and what is just plain wrong. Primarily this is a reaction to trying to awaken from America’s nightmare of bigotry and partly a reaction to the old morality which also smacked of “that’s wrong because it ain’t the way we do it” or “my god’s better than your god.”

Secondarily, it is a consequence of the Reagan/Thatcher “me generation” – fostered with the best of intentions, to bring us out of the doldrums and back to the self-confidence that arose from winning WWII and the ensuing decades of prosperity.

Losing our moral compass is one reason for the tenacity of reactionary positions in the extreme wings of our political parties: “that’s not only wrong, it’s evil,” they shout at each other from right and the left. Some call it the Talibanization of politics: “anyone who does not agree with me deserves to die.”

Political fundamentalists in America tend to use verbal, rather than physical, terror. And, since politics is now less about service and more about a career, winning has become the driving force, trumping what is right and wrong. Politicians and pundits circulate deliberate lies about their opponents either not knowing or not caring that this increases anomie in our society and makes America a worse place to live. The negativist obsession of the news media then fans the flames.

Okay, sorry to run on –  struck a nerve there.   The real question is “what are we going to do about it?” Sadly, I do not have a clue. We could ask big government to insist that morality and ethics be required classes in schools, but I don’t like our chances of that succeeding. The electorate will blankly ask “why?” and “whose morality?” Even were we to succeed, it would end up like many science, civics and even literature classes in high school: the blind leading the blind.

Having no practical ideas of my own, I content myself with individual action – such as ranting back at people who speak moral and political drivel. To wit, my response to the stupid Jerusalem Post OpED about Israel that Gov. Perry wrote to suck up to the Jewish vote.

I do not so restrict myself because I think it is the right thing to do, but out of despair. There seems no one in any position of leadership with an idea in this field worth supporting. Indeed, I find few in positions of American leadership that I would consider moral men.

You and I may disagree on this, but I think Obama is one. However, he is astoundingly ineffective as a leader and if he does have any ideas in this field, he has kept them well hidden. In that, he is probably wise: culture and history in America dictate that whites like black preachers even less than blacks like white ones.

Friday, 16 September 2011


  • Professional gamblers have their ups and their downs - and sometimes professional gamblers can forget when to stop trying to bet their way out of a hole. This is not a system problem, it is an oversight and control problem within a  bank.  
    Of course, if other banks have the same incompetently lax oversight, then I am wrong: it is a system problem
    .
  • Just imagine if Ferdinand and Isabella could have sent robots to the new world, instead of Columbus et.al.  The goal of "Mars" is a symbol to justify the costs.  The real goal is to learn how to do things and, to learn how to do things such as extended missions in space, we have to actually do them.     Also remember: Columbus was not trying to find the new world.
  • Yeah! Whenever there are new stats that the media will grill someone over - attempting to apportion some blame to the government, no matter which direction the numbers are going - it is outrageous to give ministers 24-hours to read them and prepare a response.  We would much rather they have no time for either: then we can pillory them for being unprepared or, better yet, get an off-the-cuff gaffe to trumpet around town.  We can sell lots more soap flakes that way.