Catechism

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Political Commentary

ms fits:
Watching the Democrats at the moment is like observing your retarded cousin at Christmas trying to get the paper hat out of his cracker.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Christmas Wishlist

There are a number of things, books and electronic gadgets, that I will be writing to Santa Claus, and hoping to get in my stocking this year.

palmone WIFI SD Card

Ultrathin Tungsten T Keyboard

Hard metal T3 Case

Terry Pratchet's Going Postal

The Rise of Western Christendom

Augustine of Hippo: A Biography

Ars Magica 5th Edition

The Broken Covenant of Calebais

Gloom

Hat of D02 know no limit

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King Extended Edition

UPDATE:

Now being sporadically added too.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

American Fraud

Weezil is following the election fraud issue closely, which finally "hit the mainstream" on NPR a few days ago.

(Via Weezil.)

Gloom for Atlas

Atlas Games has had a card game held up by the new security restrictions of the Homeland Security laws.

Well, the gentleman at the shipping company informs me that the ocean container holding Gloom is being held for inspections by Homeland Security (this is even before it gets to clear customs). He declines to give anything definite for how long it will take them to complete their inspections, but suggests that 1-3 weeks is typical.

Brilliant. Entrepreneurial endevour is stifled by rediculous law.


7 Drinks

Apparently, I binged last night.
Emeritus professor and chairman of the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation Ian Webster says Australians have a distorted view of their alcohol consumption and what most consider normal drinking is actually harmful. At least once a month, 46 per cent of male drinkers will down more than six standard drinks in a day and 33per cent of females will drink more than four. That may not sound like much but, according to Webster, that equates to binge drinking, particularly if that amount is drunk in just a few hours.

Of course, I haven't had much (or anything) to drink over the past week or two, since I've not had much money (damn phone bill).

The knives



I've not commented much on the current state of the Federal ALP. This is because I am a firm believer in democratic centralism.

So I will say that I believe that despite Latho's many faults and reprehensible political beliefs, there is no other person in the Federal Caucus who has the ability to lead the ALP for the next three years.

That there are leaks, backstabbing, white-anting and other instances disunity and fragmentation reflects poorly on the ALP as a whole.

Feel free to express your views in the comments.

Moles

Trust is a rare commodity in student politics; much more so than politics in general. Because the stakes are so small, the game is so much more vicious.

Every year during O-Week, various political factions pay their members to join other factions, to gain access to their email lists and meetings. Information is one of the currencies of power, and if you learn what the other faction is planning, then you have a significant advantage over them.

This truism is demonstrated in the much-delayed entry by Brent Houghton, former MUSU Housing and Services OB in 2002.
The mole may or may not have had a part to play in the downfall of the Sharp ticket - certainly if there was any one person to blame, it would be me. You see, as with most student representatives, I used my office in preparing for the campaign. (I had first hand experience of this earlier in the year, when the President's office was used to discuss whether Real Students would run in the by-election - when Brad Tutt decided not to contest the Education Officer position, Real Students decided not to run.) But I digress. I certainly didn't use the office resources to print out election material, nor use my Union email address in organising the campaign. However, I don't deny that campaigners were encouraged to come to my office to sign their nomination forms, or that on the fateful evening of Wednesday, 21st August, 2002, Ari, myself and two others used the office computer and the whiteboard to prepare the nomination statements for the ticket. I remember meeting up with Ari and the three others on that evening. From memory, we met at the UBar and decided that if we were going to be productive, then we needed to work on a computer, as the statements were due at noon on Friday. Given that the Union's computing centre was about to close, I stupidly suggested that we use my office.

There seemed to be nobody in the office, so Ari, I and the three others used the computer to flesh out the 100-200 word statements that needed to be completed if we were to look like a competitive ticket. I decided to leave at around 9.30pm, as from memory, I had been at uni since early that morning. I indicated that the others could use my office, but that they should lock the door on the way out.
I should mention that 2002 was a year characterised by suspicion and misinformation. Given the absolute necessity by Student Unity to maintain their control over MUSU, it is hardly surprising that not only did they infiltrate the Sharp-Ticket egroup, but then conspired to have the ticket thrown out.

In retrospect, Brent's decision to use union resources, even rooms, whiteboards and computers, was not a wise one, given that his opposition were both ruthless and in the same office-space. It is also unfair, and forbidding that use by current OBs to use their offices to run campaigns to get relected is ethically suspect, and undemocratic. In the grand scheme of things, given what happened in 2002, 2003 and 2004, Brent's crime was minor and forgivable.

The lesson that Brent and Ari learned, and something for us to all take note of, is to chose your friends and companions carefully. If you have sensitive information, that information should be in as few hands as possible, particularly if your opponents could make use of it for their own political gain. Your access and use of resources is one such example. Which is not to say that information should be hoarded by a select few, but rather that you should ensure that the information is going to people you know and trust.

Dagobert

Came across this odd article on the internet, about eccentric anthropologist Dagobert Steinitz.
After several years of gaining the trust and respect of the Nanahsnug, the tribal elders took Steinitz high into the mountains and allowed him to participate in a ritual called "The Seeing." After consuming the juice of a native vine, the name of which translates roughly to "One True Eye," the Professor was supposedly taken to meet the tribesmen's "Sun-God." For Steinitz, it was a life-changing experience, and it was shortly thereafter that he began to formulate his "Unified Theory of Homo superus."

Steinitz believed that a separate species of advanced hominid walked stealthily among us, and it was these superior beings who were responsible for many of the world's great unexplained mysteries. He presented his theory at a 1968 conference, displaying a skull which he claimed belonged to one of the creatures. He also declared that he had made contact with one of the creatures, who showed him how to tap into his own powers of clairvoyance.

You can probably guess how well this theory went over with Steinitz' tweed-coated university peers. His ideas were dismissed as comic-book fantasy, and his university, now synonymous with new-age quackery, became a punch line in several stand-up comedy acts.

This entire story is whacky. I don't know how serious this article is, but the story is one of those that bemuse me on occasion (like vampiric goats in South America, or the flying monkeys in India).

This weird tale is made more interesting by three mysterious urns, hidden by Steinitz after he went mad, which could only be found through solving a series of cryptic clues. The first urn contained $1 million and apparently was found earlier this year.

Dagobert's "alien astronaught" theory of human evolution does not do him much credit, but it's an entertaining read.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Dirty hands

You can learn a lot about people in toilets.
So writes Paul Sheenan in the SMH.

When I encountered Conroy he still had his P-plates as a senator. He was only 34. He had been in Parliament less than a year. And he had not even been elected. He'd been appointed by the governor of Victoria in 1996 to fill the vacancy left by the departure of Senator Gareth Evans. Such is the manner in which Labor factional warriors can make their way. Conroy's career was always politics. After university he worked for several Labor politicians, then the Transport Workers Union. His real career, expertise and power base was factional trench warfare for the Victorian Labor Right.

His base certainly isn't the electorate. At the October 9 federal elections, Labor received 1,082,271 Senate votes in Victoria. Overwhelmingly, votes are cast for parties rather than individuals, with the party, not the individuals on the slate, receiving the vote. Even so, Senator Kim Carr, No.1 on the ALP ticket, received 11,299 personal votes. Senator Jacinta Collins, No.3 on the ticket, received 1675 votes. Even Marg Lewis at No.4 received 844 votes. Conroy, though second on the ticket, received the lowest total, 780 votes, or 0.07 per cent of Labor's Senate vote.

...

Last Monday, Labor frontbencher Laurie Ferguson had had enough: "The whole party's tiring of Mr Conroy's concern that he's not the leader in the Senate." By then, the damage had been done. Latham now looks like Simon Crean, even though Labor's problems are far deeper than the leader's shortcomings.

Conroy does not have clean hands in these matters.

This is not new. When I first encountered him on May 20, 1997, he was occupied at a urinal in a men's toilet. As I walked in, he finished his business and walked out. He did not pause. He did not wash his hands. He went straight back to the committee room.

Yeah. I don't much like Senator Conroy.

More later.

Just remember

All you gutless tories, just remember that this site has an IP Address tracking feature. I can see who is leaving libelous anonymous comments and report that to your service provider.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

This site is certified 28% EVIL by the Gematriculator

Not evil enough in my opinion.

Vote

The 2004 Best Blogs awards are up, and you can vote (and vote often!).

I recommend you vote for either Darp or ms fits. However, in order to maximise their chances of winning (over Tim Blair), only vote for one each day, rather than one or the other, since there are no preferences to flow.

Bear in mind also that Tim Blair is sitting at some 60% of the vote, and Darp is unfortunately at the bottom. ms fits is probably the better option, although she is on 0.3%. A Blair victory is almost certain, unless there is a sudden left surge (lefties tend to vote late, which in this case, since you can vote multiple times, gives the right a big advantage).

The poll closes on 12 December.

UPDATE:

Darp seems to be running third. I therefore recommend that you all vote for Darp, to increase his chances to win.

(Via GuruAnn.)

"The search terms returned no results."

Disgraceful. I'll be writing a letter.

(Via Liam. Apologies.)

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Thin Edge of the Wedge

America has admitted to using evidence gained by torture.

Evidence gained by torture can be used by the US military review panels deciding the fate of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the US Government has conceded.

Lawyers acting for Australian detainees in Cuba have called on the Australian Government to renounce the practice.

About 70 years ago, the United States Supreme Court ruled evidence gained through torture was inadmissible.

Deputy associate Attorney-General, Brian Boyle, has told the District Court in Washington DC, that the Guantanamo review panels are allowing such evidence.

This development is shocking and deplorable, but hardly surprising. The US military and the White House have given clear indications that they consider the law to be at best, only a minor hindrance to their activities; human rights--even those of terrorists or members of the Taliban--are non-existant.

I seriously doubt that Howard will denounce this US practice. Howard is too closely aligned with Bush to now criticise or condemn the Bush administration. Most likely, he will do everything he can to ignore or cover-up the issue, perhaps saying things like "let's wait for an investigation" or "don't make broad assumptions" or "there is no evidence that the Australians held at Guantanamo Bay were tortured, so why should we care?"

Friday, December 03, 2004

Only one result

Expand your vocabularies, you ultracrepidarian illiterates

You too can speak grandiloquently, like all good sesquipedalians.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

What a shame

There are two points to this entry (although there was originally going to be one).

The results of the Moreland City Council election is available (and has been since Monday), of particular interest are those of the South Ward.

Elected:

CONNELLAN, Josephine (1st Elected)

Elected:

CAPUTO, Joe (2nd Elected)

Elected:

PRYOR, Alice (3rd Elected)


I am concerned that Jo Connellan was the first elected, since she is a Green, and got almost 4,000 votes, about 800 more than Joe Caputo, the re-elected Labor councillor.

In any case, with quota sitting at 25%, Alice got over the line on preferences.

Which is the second point. The person Alice knocked out was none other than Lambros Tapinos, National Union of Students Welfare Officer, and senior member of Student Unity.

Sunday was a gleeful day.

Looking back

Two interesting reminders about an event that occured not so long ago.

Bush Brains

Give this game a go. I love Bush-isms, and one of the highlights of many a Farragette last year was the Bush-ism corner.

(Via Northcote Knobb)

It could happen

Microsoft Bids to Acquire the Roman Catholic Church.
VATICAN CITY (AP)--In a joint press conference in St. Peter's Square this morning, MICROSOFT Corp. and the Vatican announced that the Redmond software giant will acquire the Roman Catholic Church in exchange for an unspecified number of shares of MICROSOFT common stock. If the deal goes through, it will be the first time a computer software company has acquired a major world religion.
There was, at the start of the year, serious talk about expanding "traditional" religious practices or rites into the information technology sector (can't find a link though). Although this story is a joke, there really are people who want to see this happen.
Through the MICROSOFT Network, the company's new on-line service, "we will make the sacraments available on-line for the first time" and revive the popular pre-Counter-Reformation practice of selling indulgences, said Gates. "You can get Communion, confess your sins, receive absolution--even reduce your time in Purgatory--all without leaving your home."
(Via Good Christians Did This.)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Factions

As Liam points out in the first entry of his NOLS memoirs, "faction" is a nasty word (I'd even go so far as to say it is a dirty word).

I encourage you all to go over and read this first entry. By all accounts, Liam appears to be giving an honest and straightforward account. Like Brent Houghton, I admire Liam's courage in writing about his experiences. There is no doubt that there is political risk in writing frankly.

Liam, as an old hack, makes this insightful point.
Meetings are the basic unit of student politics. There is no way to understand what is going on without being able to read and follow the flows of a meeting. The moment of epiphany when you realise that you are not baffled, frustrated and intimidated, but actually fascinated and involved, carries its own small sense of joy. The fear of speaking wears off when you realise that your involvement is an exercise, no more, and you stop taking things personally. You say to yourself 'This is fun'. And then, when you get your procedural motion carried, you can sit back and call yourself a student politician.
Meetings are the life-blood of student politics, as he points out. They are the currency in which deals are made and paid. Being confident in a meeting is one of the most powerful things in a faction. Confidence and being articulate are solid gold. And while getting your procedural motion carried can be uplifting, having your motion crushed overwhelmingly can make you pretty damn pissed off (remember kids: insults need to be fatal, otherwise the injured party will stew and stew).

A bit late

This was floating around before the US election.


X-Mas boycott

There is an attempt amongst the religious right to "take back Christmas". This is expressed in many of today's Age and SMH letters. Objecting to the commercialisation of Christmas, the fundies are organising to raise awareness of the "true meaning" of the holiday (whatever that is, since the day was not celebrated by Christians until the 2nd century CE, and is not dated in the Bible-- Easter is the important Christian date after all).

On the other side of the ideological divide is the Christmas Resistance Movement. These guys seem a lot more militant and left wing.



This is more my style. If you are worried about reaching near-bankruptcy, then consider boycotting X-Mas. Afterall, as the fundies would say, the true gift is love, not a cheap plastic gift from K-Mart.

(Via Red Harvest)

When the Bible says different things

I was looking up various passages of the Bible for a project of mine and stumbled across an interesting phenomena.

Romans 13:2

  • Do not act like the sinful people of the world. Let God change your life. First of all, let Him give you a new mind. Then you will know what God wants you to do. And the things you do will be good and pleasing and perfect. (New Life Version)
  • Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. (New International Version)
  • Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. (New American Standard Bible)
  • Therefore he who resists and sets himself up against the authorities resists what God has appointed and arranged [in divine order]. And those who resist will bring down judgment upon themselves [receiving the penalty due them]. (Amplified Bible)
  • So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow. (New Living Translation Bible)
  • Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. (King James Version)
  • So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God's command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
  • Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (English Standard Version)
  • People who oppose the authorities are opposing what God has done, and they will be punished. (Contemporary English Version)
  • So that he that sets himself in opposition to the authority resists the ordinance of God; and they who [thus] resist shall bring sentence of guilt on themselves. (Darby Version)

  • Etc. Etc.

    Most of these passages say basically the same thing in different ways. However, all of these passages differ from each other significantly in the specifics (and some of them dramatically, like the first one).

    Assuming the fundies are correct, and the Bible is the direct word of God, which word should I be following? Am I damned or condemned? Is it God's ordinance that I'm opposing, his institution or his appointment? Does this refer to divine authorities or to worldly ones? Who dispenses the punishment, and is that punishment a worldly punishment or spiritual one?

    Anyone that thinks that Christianity is a emancipatory faith, or that the Apostles were radicals... think again. Christianity from the outset didn't seek to make any waves, but rather to supplant other imperialistic religions in an ideological war of position.

    I thought we moved past this

    A news story from News.com.au, which describes a case about a gang-rape victim suing her school after being forced to sit her exams isolated from her class-mates has my blood boiling.

    The school's barrister, Ian Harrison SC, cross-examined the former Tara student, asking her to describe the clothes she was wearing on the night of the alleged rape.

    She said she was wearing a floral skirt that covered her knees and a white camisole top when she left her hotel with two school friends to go to a night-fair in the social hub of Sorrento.

    Mr Harrison also questioned her dress code during an outing in more recent times, as he showed her photographs of her on a bar stool.

    "To sit on a bar stool ... with a skirt as short as that takes a lot of confidence," Mr Harrison said.

    This is outrageous and unbelievable! A barrister taking a line of questioning intended to pin blame for any wrong on the victim!

    Behaviour of this kind, on the part of the barrister, is reprehensible and medieval. The barrister is basically saying "she asked for it". The attitude of the school is just as bad. Entirely without remorse or contrition, or even acknowledgement that perhaps they acted improperly or callously.

    I'm furious.

    Only 8 million

    Doing the rounds at the moment is this wonderful comic series, This Godless Communism.


    (This frame from here.)

    The entire comic is a hoot. I really recommend you read the entire thing, so you too can pray on your knees that Godless Communism never blows up Washington.

    (Via Melbourne Lefty)

    Bugmonster

    When I went to bed last night, this little darling was hovering over my bed, having gotten in, no doubt, through the open window due to the heat.



    Ugly little bastard isn't it?