Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Post #33 Hire a Hall/Everything (Psychics and sidekicks)

I was prompted recently to think about the paranormal by various weird coincidences (that I won't digress on here) and I came to the conclusion that there's a real chasm between the fictional perception of clairvoyance and such things and the effect they would have in real life. One very obvious clanger is the response that the world at large would have to a successful soothsayer. I first noticed this in the movie of Stephen King 's book, The Dead Zone. In a scene which isn't actually in the book, Christopher Walken who plays the psychic, Johnny Smith, throws open a closet filled to the brim with the parcels and letters sent by people seeking his help. He's greatly distressed by the pleas for help he's being buried with. In the novel Replay by Ken Grimwood a man reliving his life over and over again, has a nasty experience when he and a female companion (who's having the same experience) try to explore what's happening to them by using their knowledge of coming events to attract the attention of the world with stunningly-accurate predictions. They are put under house arrest by the US government. Their predictions, based on a certain sequence of events, become useless as the effects of state intervention take matters further and further from the familiar pattern. By the time they "die" to start another cycle, they have brought that alternate reality to the brink of nuclear war.

I wonder what would happen to these would-be crime-solving psychics in my own town if they got "lucky". There are some famous disappearances which attract the efforts of these types. Here is a link to a skeptics' website which covers the impact they've had in the case of Sarah Spiers, a missing, possibly murdered, resident of Perth, Western Australia. There are some other interesting cases referred to there. But, apart from the grief that incompetent would-be's cause, what would the consequences of success be? Now, the "coppers" have been known to humour psychics, just in case. But they don't really believe in them. Let's say someone found the remains of a missing person in some obscure place. If they could also point to a killer and there was substantiating evidence, they might be heroes. What if there's just a body? It wouldn't take a cynical police officer long to think that a person who knows where a dead body is hidden is more likely to know from putting or helping to put it there than by some psychic insight. And what would a jury make of it? One day, one of these characters might find a body...then we'll see.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Post #32 Hire a Hall/Nothing (Naked hypocrisy)

A few years ago a public health advocacy group attempted to hire some advertising space in The West Australian to advise men who didn't identify themselves as homosexual, while still having the occasional dalliance, of the dangers they faced from STD's, particularly AIDS. The advertisement was to be full-page and include a large photograph of two naked men embracing; posed in such a way that their genitals would be obscured. The West, which reaps a profitable revenue from advertising whorehouses, telphone sex lines, "adult product" vendors and so on, felt that this was beyond reason and wouldn't allow it.

Yesterday we Western Australians were treated to a photograph of a naked man and woman embracing (from waist up) in a small box next to the West's masthead title. Inside, on the front page of the Weekend Magazine liftout, was the full-page, full-size photograph in which the two rather unphotogenic parties are grinning at the camera. The woman, posed right of picture, is holding, with her left hand, the lead of a terrier dog who sits at the bottom of the photo, also grinning at the camera. Her hand, holding the lead, is placed in front of the man's groin. It doesn't completely obscure his penis, a small section of which is peeking from behind.

And the pretext for this image? The story contained in the liftout about the decline of nudism in Western Australia. The story is further illustrated with nude pictures of the two front-page models and with photos of other nudists in a hot-tub (some penis-shapes distinguishable through the water) and out and about enjoying their pastime.

I'm not in the least interested in rubbishing the nudists. Couldn't care less. Just one, admittedly obvious point to fact it's made, isn't it?

Friday, 13 June 2008

Post #31 Hire a Hall/Everything (1001 things to make and do..)

I usually don't agree with much that's generated by the columnists at The Australian, but I have to say that the recent observations by Messrs Megalogenis and Sheridan are persuasive on the subject of Kevin Rudd's scattergun policy output. I said to Anastasia a while back that we in Australia were celebrating the overthrow of the former corrupt regime (Howard) and that we could now settle down in peace to enjoy the new corrupt regime (Rudd). I only half-meant it as a joke. The other half now appears to be acquiring some substantiation.

The most recent projects; to restart the nuclear disarmament process and to create a Pacific Union, have eroded my hopes that Kevin Rudd might be at least half as good as he seemed. Nothing unworthy in the essence of either, of course, but the approach being taken is like a scrapbooking project or some such - cutting out and gluing together a cardboard rocket and calling it a space programme. I'm also reminded of a documentary I saw years ago in which Mussolini was shown inspecting a great fleet of aircraft parked in a field as the voice-over commented, "Many of the planes he inspected that day had no engines..."

What beats me is that anyone with two brain cells to rub together can see that Australia can only make one substantial contribution to ending nuclear proliferation: halt all mining and export of uranium. If that's not an option on the table, there's no point in going further. The nuclear technology is out of the bottle, it's only the essential raw materials which are controllable in the long term. And that surely isn't on the table. The ALP's three mines "policy" was never really a policy. It was a transitional phase while the factions struggled to determine whether the policy would be for or against uranium mining. It looked like a policy because the struggle lasted so long and the holding position became a de facto platform plank. No-one in the ALP thought it was a final position, although the Coalition liked to call it such to give them something to mock. Well, the struggle's over now. The miners have won. That can be said with certainty when even that veteran of the Nuclear Disarmament Party, Peter Garrett has kept a straight face as the ALP has gone down the nuclear road.

As for a Pacific Union, it might have had some hope if it had been defined within reasonable limits in private and then canvassed in private with the governments of potential member nations. The way this has been done must look to a foreigner like posturing for the domestic audience. Surely a serious effort would be advanced discreetly and with a solid proposition being developed before the negotiating began?

Sheridan is right in saying that Rudd will squander his reserves of credibility and goodwill if he keeps on in this way.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Post #30 Hire a hall/Everything (Inert and just a Lama)

The Dalai Lama is now visiting Australia. The usual ructions are being made over whether various marks of esteem should or not be paid to him, in the currency of meetings with Government ministers. The thing that puzzles me is why, leaving aside those to whom he is a religious mentor, anyone would bother to meet him. If you are supportive of or indifferent to the Chinese occupation of Tibet, you wouldn't cross your own tracks by giving him house-room. That makes sense enough - but if you support the independence of Tibet there's no point in knowing him either.

Since fleeing Tibet, in 1959, the Dalai lama has achieved... absolutely nothing! The gradual obliteration of the indigenous Tibetan culture and the creeping genocide by importation of Han Chinese has progressed unstinted. If one analyses the policy he espouses in the context of similar historical events, there's a tendency which I think is quite unusual. Consider, for example, the behaviour of de Gaulle and the light in which it places the Dalai Lama. What sort of "exiled leader" preaches accommodation and submission to the occupier and oppressor of his homeland? The Dalai Lama 's ability to provoke Chinese hostility is utterly at variance with and out of proportion to his actual impact on the course of events. In fact, it's caused me to develop a certain suspicion: What if the Dalai Lama is actually a sidetracking decoy who is operating under the direction of Beijing? Sounds crazy? Well, it wouldn't be this first time in the history of the world that a scam like that was played: The Soviets had a fine line in similar activities; the Soviet-era Russian Orthodox Church was KGB from top to bottom.

How and why would this work? Simple; it attracts all the media attention and political heat towards a person who really isn't a threat to Chinese control of Tibet. Like the bogus "global warming" debate that keeps the real heat off the carbon fuel industries, the Dalai Lama's hotly-disputed peregrinations provide a sponge-issue that soaks up energy that might otherwise go towards actually doing something. Like a trade embargo. Like supporting an effective armed insurgency (unlike the old ineffective one). Like an honest-to-God armed intervention on the model of the Korean Police Action. Perhaps the perennial choleric outbursts from Beijing are method-acting which allows the concerned foreigners to think that they are being very activist by "defying" Beijing and meeting the Dalai Lama.

The fundamental truth about the Dalai Lama is that, if he isn't a plant by Beijing, he's doing nothing to distinguish himself from one. He is utterly impotent and insignificant. That's the best reason to eschew meeting him. He makes Quisling look like Arminius.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Post #29 A cartoon history of gasoline consumption in the USA

This link says it all. (If you get stuck at the Salon sign-in page, just click their bypass link in the top right corner.)

Monday, 9 June 2008

Post #28 Gasoline thieves adopt a new drill

"With gas prices at record highs and service stations thwarting drive-offs with pay-before-you-pump policies, gas thieves are becoming more creative."

A story from Digg. I wonder how long before it happens here, if not already.

read more | digg story

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Post #27 Hire a Hall/Everything (All gassed up.)

Yep, we got us a gas explosion on Varanus Island. I'd never heard of the place until something blew up there on Tuesday, 3 June 2008 and apparently cut the supply of natural gas to W.A. by one third. At least it's taken Fran Logan's mind off "the threesome"!

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Post #26 Estelle Blackburn, Carmen Lawrence and...Teddy Kennedy.

The post which was here has been deleted by the author for reasons explained in the post, "Why 'Wikiblogs' (probably) wont be coming to a site near you." which was first published on 8 July 2008.

Post #25 An interesting speculation about a prominent case

A contributor to a talk page lays out some suspicions about a serial killer.

NOTE: Scroll down to where "chrisj" posts, at the bottom of the thread.

read more | digg story

Post #24 Unethical Scam Associated Content

"Associated Content, the people's media company, is a highly unethical business practice. It is a website that can scam you, writers! beware. You should not be backed by such to get published anywhere. Do your work, and get published for it. That's it."

From a post by Lenin Nair.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Post #23 APOD: A Twisted Solar Eruptive Prominence

"Ten Earths could easily fit in the "claw" of this seemingly solar monster. The monster, though, visible on the lower left, is a huge eruptive prominence seen moving out from our Sun. The above dramatic image taken early in the year 2000 by the Sun-orbiting SOHO satellite."

read more | digg story

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Post #22 Hire a Hall/Everything (...drew their plans against us)

In the opening paragraph of the War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells tells of the complacency of humanity as the alien enemy prepares to attack: "...intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us."

I feel that we are replicating the complacency of Wells' imaginary earthlings in the real world. There is a hostile and far-thinking power which is gradually establishing a strategic advantage against this planet. That power is not to be found on Mars, but in the capital of the People's Republic of China. It is the despotic government which is engaging in a space programme that appears to be replicating the first phase of the US-Soviet "space race" of the 1960's. The standard view of this "race" is that the US won and the Soviets, disheartened, turned their attention to Earth-orbit activities. In truth, although the US succeeded in landing six expeditions on the Moon, the prize in the race was not truly claimed. The Moon has no permanent human settlement and is as much in contention as it ever was.

The Chinese government has announced its intention to carry out Moon landings. It seems unlikely that they will content themselves with a tip-and-run effort. They have made their decision to advance a space programme without the impetus of a foreign competitor that is challenging them in the field. So, is it plausible that they will content themselves with a gesture which merely repeats the American effort? This is no knee-jerk plan and it must have a pragmatic purpose and an intended outcome to their advantage.

I've read Robert Heinlein's work The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and been impressed by the case he made for the Moon as a base for military operations. I recommend it as a source of insight into the potential danger of allowing uncontested control of the Moon to fall into the hands of a government which has repeatedly demonstrated that it places no value on treaties or human life. As Heinlein shows, the Moon is a great place from which to throw rocks..

And how do we respond? So far, publicly, only with benign curiosity. We observe the state which is celebrating five thousand years of despotism as it lays the ground for a lunar base and we watch with mild interest, not the alarm which it should cause. Compared to this threat, the provocations of Al-Qaeda are small fry indeed.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Post #21 Hire a Hall / Everything (This very tired brown land)

The big shock last month was the announcement by the Australian government of an immigration quota increase. If ever there was something this country didn't need, there it is.

I've read a book by Mark O'Connor, a while ago now, which I found a very moderate and reasonable treatment of Australia's role as an immigration recipient. It's called This Tired Brown Land (1998) and it's essential reading for everyone who wants to be informed on the topic. The scholarly studies by demographers are impenetrable to the layperson, the diatribes of the bigots are tiresome and offer no substantiation. This little book covers the topic in a calm and friendly manner that persuades with common sense.

After reading it I wondered why Australians have any difficulty in seeing the weirdness and folly of our current population "policy". In fact it goes a long way to prove that we have no such policy.

In light of our worsening water supply, our degrading arable land, the stress on our power supply systems, public hospitals, transport infrastructure and anything else you can shake a stick at that's going down the gurgler - why the hell are we loading the boat further?

What I find most striking in this work is the explanation of the role played by the interest groups who promote immigration. Their interest doesn't seem to coincide with the long-term welfare of the nation. I detect the presence of the same people who are the "usual suspects" in the cause of multiculturalism. These are the (usually self-appointed) "ethnic community representatives" who start squawking about racism whenever anyone tries to take a sensible look at the population issue. Keeping up a constant flow of "clients" for their "ethnic" organisations is a motivating force behind this behaviour. Then there are the industry groups who would rather import ready-made labour than train current Australian citizens. The fact that they like to obtain them from countries where labour organisation is a scarce commodity is also an indicator of a motive.

The current Australian immigration policy is a good model of a pyramid scheme. The point will come where it blows out and the last ones aboard will be up the proverbial waterway without means of propulsion. And the rest of us will be right there with them.