Monday, March 30, 2009

Quote of the Day: His final authoritative bushism

“I’m going to put people in my place, so when the history of this administration is written at least there’s an authoritarian voice saying exactly what happened.”

Former President George W. Bush, speaking about his upcoming book at a fundraiser in Canada (via HuffPo).

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth's arbitrary hour.

My involvement in Earth Hour (8.30pm-9.30pm last night) was largely due to my wife's position as Sustainability Team Leader at her workplace. This means she has the unenviable task of devising green initiatives and getting others to play along. In solidarity we also "celebrated" (if that's the appropriate word) earth hour at our home last night with a candle-lit dinner with some friends we recruited that afternoon, with the lure of some delicious rice risotto. HA HA!!!

One of my friends had been of the same opinion as Paul Henry and Michael Laws that he should spend his earth hour using as much power as possible to offset any effects of the "gesture" put forward by earth hour proponents. Natalie and I were most happy to thwart this plan, and just look how much happier he was for it! What a happy chappy!

It really was just a gesture though and didn't aspire to be anything more, I probably used as much power as we saved during earth hour driving to the supermarket to buy candles (which we don't have around the house, of course). It simply gave us something to do for the night, and showed us how much fun you can have when you change the parameters of your daily rigmarole.

This morning we woke to Finlay Macdonald on Radio Live spouting some idea about Gaia, and that if Global Warming is happening, it's just the earth (a living organism) adjusting to humanity. I've heard this hokum before, and it overlooks one important factor: I don't care if the planet survives, I care if humanity survives, and if the planet's way of "adjusting" to humanity is to create an inhospitable climate for humanity then we are screwed.

Earth hour's probably on its way through Bible belt, mid-west USA at the moment... I wonder how that's going.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Asian drivers... have mad skills

I plagiarised this gem from Rove.

Quote of the Day

"... this is blood for fashion and I'm bleeding it."

Suede, the guy with the gaudy blue fou-hawke from Season 5 Project Runway.

Word of the day: Effluent

flowing forth or out.

1. sewage or industrial waste discharged into a river, the sea, etc.
2. a stream or lake flowing from a larger body of water

The word effluent is one of those handy words that enables the user to achieve ultimate nerd points by making the following double-meaning burn on your unworthy adversary.

"I hear the words, effluent from your mouth"

... meaning both, the innocent: "flowing from your mouth" (referring to the adj. meaning) but simultaneously "sewerage from your mouth"! (referring to the n. 1 meaning) In other words "yo talkn' sheet". Semantic BURN!!!

This burn is best suited to youtube comments sections and emails to radio hosts, for achieving superiority from the safety of one's computer chair...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pope Being-a-dick

Pope Benedict XVI, not content with parading his fine robes around Europe delineating the definitions of imaginary places like Hell and Purgatory, has recently traveled to Africa in order to... you guessed it... perpetuate the AIDS epidemic. By denying the efficacy of condom use as protection against HIV the Pope is denying the overwhelming scientific and statistical evidence that condom use is and has been proven to be the most effective protection against the spread of HIV/AIDS... but this is nothing new.

Africa is a place close to my heart, and in particular - the cradle of humanity: Tanzania, where I traveled in late 2007. The population of Tanzania is one quarter Catholic (9,000,000 people) and has the highest prevalence of HIV in Africa at 8.8%, that's 1,500,000 people. It is not an exaggeration to say that, just in Tanzania, there are millions of lives that are put at risk in the wake of the Pope's statements.

At the same time as pleading for his right to deny scientific facts in light of his religious beliefs the Pope ironically criticises what he calls "a dictatorship of relativism". Relativism (as Pope Benedict is referring to it) is the post-modernist notion that everyone's beliefs are culturally subjective, and are equally valid. They are, as it is often said "true for them".

The Pope seems to think that this is an aspect of the secular consciousness. And in a way it is, however only so much as the secular world is a pluralist world and so allows people like himself to spout disinformation (like the inefficacy of condom use) on that grounds that he has the right to hold such views on faith. It seems strange to me that the one aspect of secular life that caters for his unsupported views (relativism) is what he chooses to criticise.

Being an atheist myself, I agree with Pope Benedict XVI that relativism holds too much sway in society. I think when someone wants to lie to impressionable people at the potential cost of millions of lives, that that person should not have recourse to abscond from their responsibility behind a wall of faith, and be respected for it.

And seriously, who can respect someone who rides around in this contraption?

You can do something about it by signing this petition. If you're generally left of centre you might like to enrol for their email newsletter and sign other petitions.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

UNfree speech

I used to quite like the idea of the UN, that was until they tried to deny me the right to my most treasured pastime; criticising religion.

It's been in the works for a while, with a coalition of Islamic "voices", led by Saudi Arabia, lobbying the UN since 1999 against freedom of expression regarding Islam, but over the past year the UN Rapporteur, supposed defender of freedom of expression has been warming to the idea of taping the collective free world's mouth. A storm in a teacup has been brewing over this lately most notably concerning an article by Johann Hari, columnist for The Independent, questioning the UN Rapporteur "Why should I respect these oppressive religions?" on 28 January 2009:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated 60 years ago that "a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief is the highest aspiration of the common people". It was a Magna Carta for mankind – and loathed by every human rights abuser on earth. Today, the Chinese dictatorship calls it "Western", Robert Mugabe calls it "colonialist", and Dick Cheney calls it "outdated". The countries of the world have chronically failed to meet it – but the document has been held up by the United Nations as the ultimate standard against which to check ourselves. Until now.

Subsequently the article was reprinted by an Indian Newspaper; The Statesman, resulting in mass riots and the imprisonment of both the editor and publisher. Johann Hari has been told that he too will be imprisoned if he visits Calcutta. He has written a follow up article entitled Despite these riots, I stand by what I wrote in which he annunciates the opposition's argument:

A typical supporter of the riots, Abdus Subhan, said he was "prepared to lay down his life, if necessary, to protect the honour of the Prophet" and I should be sent "to hell if he chooses not to respect any religion or religious symbol? He has no liberty to vilify or blaspheme any religion or its icons on grounds of freedom of speech."

For commentaries on this check out Pat Condell's Rant on the subject or Lou Dobbs interviewing Christopher Hitchens on CNN.

Pat has an interesting idea, and that is to make a religion of free speech itself, and in doing so enshrine your free comments in the uncriticisable terms of religion. Lets hope no psychopaths decide to enshrine their beliefs in support of racism, mass murder, enslavement of women, oppression and genital mutilation in terms of a religion... then we're all in trouble.

DIY Scumbag!

Suffering after a momentary lapse in cognitive ability lead to two days of hard labour laying down paving bricks in our patio, otherwise known as the rockies (it's not very flat).

Darwin was a great help digging, and even when we weren't utilising his skills he did some unnecessary pro-bono work in the front yard.

Note: I just tried to feed Darwin two lunches back to back, and was alerted to this fact by my visiting grandparents and their equally elderly traveling companions. I'm getting Alzheimer's over and done with now while I'm young enough to enjoy it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009