Thursday, December 23, 2004

Have I addressed your objection? Or have I gotten lost? :) I shall end on another optimistic Brave New World note...

At both ends, technology can be expected to minimise the requirement to spend large sums in law enforcement. Once it is cheap and easy for grandfather to have a full and happy virtual reality life as a head in a tank, there will be less incentive to knock him over the head. Once it is cheap and easy to have your unborn child removed as soon as you find out about her, so the Mahdi can raise her in a tank and bring her up to be one of his Fedayeen, there will be no incentive to court death and prosecution by pursuing an illegal abortion.

Since you don't advocate even a different punishment, or the definition of a separate crime of (early/late term) abortion as separate from murder under the law, yet you do advocate a bias against policing these crimes, you deny today's reality, and assume a world where it is possible to be harsh yet fair, even if 90% get away with murder and the other 10% get jailed for life. Although it is true that prohibition in the US was very effective at cutting abortion rates, many people would still take the risk of being jailed for life, than the alternative "prison" of an inadequate family situation. Also, denied abortion denies the next sperm, egg or frozen embrio a chance of life in a much better starting situation. Although this is hard to weigh up against the taking of a life it still needs to be done. The only way that I think it can be fair, is if it is taken out of the state's hands, and allowed to be "enforced" through the moral institutions which care about it the most, and that believe that God is on their side.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Ask me some detailed questions about the bathtub curve view of life! Where are these contradictions you see? I believe that as the health resources available to distribute will always be finite, they should be preferentially directed towards the middle of the bathtub curve. However, I am adamantly opposed to both active euthanasia and active infanticide/abortion. Show me the contradictions- I hunger and thirst for a self-consistent Weltanschauung!

My traditional thoughts were that people vehemently against first tri-mester abortions in particular, were also people who would mourn as much for a miscarriage as for an accidental death of a baby. This seemed to be the case for Kylie, and a number of other anti-abortionists I know of. This goes along with my perception of people who have a one life / one value mentality will view abortion and active euthanasia as murder. You speak about health resources - but what about police resources. I assure you that if more police resources were put to assessing whether certain deaths in hospital were suspicious or not regardless of how close to death the people were anyway, a lot more would be found to be murder perpetrated by the doctors or family members. This is where my "slippery slope" argument comes in. As more police resources are put in to police abortion laws and euthanasia laws, the more pressure is placed on the people involved to demonstrate that the deaths were imminent, or the costs of keeping them alive were too much for what the life was worth etc. As far as abortion is concerned, once the convenient legal line of birth is gone, certainly some suspicious miscarriages may well be charged as murder - Now that would give a new meaning to the term "miscarriage of justice". In moral-religious terms it is quite simple - Sins take you away from God and could result in eternal damnation. On this life however, the uncertainties of evidence of various kinds and the relative prevalence of natural deaths make that slope on the left of the bathtub very slippery indeed in terms of enforcement. The question is : Is there not a contradiction between your one life/one value view on the unborn on the definition of murder and the way you think resources both health and police resources should be allocated?

I will mount a spirited attack on the separation of Church and State just as soon as you provide a definition of it. It is good to remember that the Christian Roman Empire lasted until the sack of Constantinople in 1452- i.e., more than a thousand years. And religion and the state were inextricably entwined during every minute of the 3000-year reign of the Pharaoahs...

My definition of Separation of Church and state is the principle (enshrined in USA's constitution for instance) that the laws of the "Church" as in any moral edicts or by-laws given in any registered religious organisation are independent of the laws of the country. It also means that the head of state cannot also be a head of a religious organisation. This does not mean that just because murder is disallowed with Christians that this law cannot be also a law of the country, but that the country's law is independently defined, judged and policed from any christian institutions. Although Australia does not seem to have this enshrined in the constitution, the principle is well known, and is argued at great length when, for instance the GG is/was also the head of a Church. I agree that where there wasn't an alternative in the past history, in the examples you mention for instance, long and stable Theocracies did thrive - but in modern history, from whence the principle first surfaced, how have countries that disavowed the principle thrived compared to ones that didn't?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Back to debate blogging

My intention with my blog of 3rd December was a blatant attempt at trying to get someone (hell anyone) worked up enough to put a comment there. I must admit it was an abject failure :-(. However, I'm still hoping, and since all comments get sent to me as email, it won't go unnoticed just because it's way down there at the bottom of my blog ready to be archived. I still want to argue about impartiality of various articles from any and all sources that we read. Also, I want to know Dr. Clam's thoughts on treatising life on the edges of the bathtub curve of life - He did briefly mention it and I'm infinitely curious, as that is where I perceive some contradictions on his view on life. I am also curious as to whether Lexifab feels vindicated in his views on war in Iraq or whether he has lost interest in despair at the situation moving on at its own pace. And another thing I remember I wanted to argue about: The separation of church and state and freedom of religion - These are crucial elements in any new nations constitutions. The main problems with Iran can be traced back to the lack of these as a cause. Even the Roman empire, I believe became destined to fail completely once Christianity became its "official" religion. (My point being here that it wasn't because of Christianity's laws but any religion being entwined with a government causing the problem)

Friday, December 17, 2004


Last week I complained that we played the top team too often. This week I'm going to complain that we play the bottom team too often. This time around we had Sandor instead of Dan. The opposition had only three players this week, and it should have been a walkover, except we just took it too casually. We won but there wasn't much good to say about it.

Tis the season not to be jolly

To keep going with my theme of hot Summers being bad, and combined with Christmas stress - even worse, statistically, the cases of domestic violence increase dramatically in summer, especially in the tropics. I can't mention any specifics, but I've got direct evidence that this is also not a myth. I am predicting numerous arguments between my relatives between now and March, but there's nothing I can do to stop them. I can see why hordes of North Queenslanders head South for the summer. And birds too for that matter. What are the chances that I could just "forget" Christmas, wake up in the morning and realise I'd missed it. Not likely. Perhaps I should just try and go along with the so-called christmas spirit, and put lights up all around the house and make everybody happy. I know, I could pour pure alcohol all around the house and just light it up! That would make for a good show.

I hate to be negative, but all these people going around looking jolly and pretending to be happy make me sick. Who are they trying to kid. All I want for Christmas is a lazy day with nothing to do, lots of cold non-alcoholic drinks, no kids nagging me to play with their presents. In other words, what I want for Christmas is for Christmas not to be Christmas. Gee, I'm glad I've got that off my chest.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Chop the mango tree down

5 years ago, not long after we moved into our new house, I planted an r2e2 mango tree, which I thought was a good idea because of the spectacular looking mangoes and the glut of "Bowen" mangoes that family and friends would give me. Kylie has constantly threatened to cut it down because she hates the mess of mango trees, and she especially doesn't eat the r2e2 variety at all. My kids have also started to refuse to eat the r2e2 mangoes that I get, and I have stopped preferring them too. I think I will swallow my pride and chop it down, replacing it with some other tree. Maybe I will do it as a Christmas present for Kylie. This doesn't help me with my need for more free mangoes for the daily feeding ritual of my "fruitbat" kids who have them for breakfast, though.

If I haven't been blogging, it's probably because I've been playing around with sending bulk e-mail to Cueldee's online customers using This has been quite a good experience, mainly due to the improving technology and the good features of the web site. If you're not already on my list you can easily join by clicking join here. It's intriguing how direct the feedback is from email compared with other communication methods. My main focus at the moment is to make sure my emails don't get confused with unsolicited spam. I also have to make sure I don't cross the line and actually create unsolicited spam. Since I am still kind of experimenting, I hope that our customers are understanding to start with.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


For the third time this season, we've played the top team, out of eight games. Since there are 6 teams in the competition, this would seem to be a little unfair. However, we didn't disgrace ourselves at all, and except for a bad run of 17 points lost in a row late in the first half, we were very closely matched. We made some amazing saves, and all four of us got some success at blocking (I even convinced Casey to give it a go, and se managed to psyche out the opposition even though she's not really tall enough to reach the top of the net). Our serves, and reply to serves were quite inconsistent, and perhaps we can improve before the semifinals. If you are interested here is the game results page.

Mango Madness

ie. the stress-inducing hot weather, not a Parigi daily feeding ritual.

This "sickness" which is endemic in North Queensland causes me (and a lot of other people as far as I can tell) to have a very short fuse. Already, I have had arguments with people for the very first time. On the plus side, I have trouble eating when I'm stressed, and, I've found in the last few years, I go from a maximum of about 74.5 kg from August to October to about 69 kg by February to April. So, I'll snap or shout at anything that merely looks at me the wrong way, but I become slim and handsome :-).


Nikolas (8) has just got his year three report back, and amazingly it is even better than what Belinda's was in year three! This is a little surprising because with Belinda I had made a concerted pre-school effort to get her a head start in maths, etc., and her results in maths are outstanding. With Nikolas, however, I neglected to do head start type maths books at all, but it seems that he tries desparately to keep up with Belinda's maths and english, and his maths is even better than what Belinda's was, and his english is also better than hers was. This is quite strange because he has a very analytical brain (hmmm like mine?) and it seems his improvement in english has got a lot to do with his teacher this year, which managed to give him a semblance of self-motivation. It also helps that he has found books that pique his interest which require much improved reading skills. He won a book from the library about Jupiter. It seems to be aimed at year 5 to 6 level - but he looks to have read the whole book before we even realised he had it. I think that ignoring his school work altogether makes him more self sufficient in learning.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Liked This article courtesy of the Australian Financial Review:

The time you take to read this newspaper today will probably be longer than the battle of the Eureka Stockade, which seems to have lasted (nobody was using a stopwatch) for about 15 minutes.
By most military standards, Eureka - which happened 150 years ago today - was a skirmish. Accounts of the death toll conflict (almost every fact about Eureka can be contested), but Pierpont will use the figure of 22 diggers and five police. Some accounts put the diggers' death toll as high as 30, but the list compiled by their leader, Peter Lalor, puts the number at 22, including three whose names were unknown.

As every other windbag in Australia has pontificated about the significance of Eureka over the past week, Pierpont thought he'd go with the flow and deliver a few opinions of his own.

Rather belatedly, Pierpont should point out that the Communist Party of Australia's attempt to kidnap the Eureka name has little credibility when one looks at the facts.

Karl Marx has been quoted as saying "the workers" were the main force at Eureka. As Gerard Henderson noted in The Sydney Morning Herald this week, the communists decided in the 1930s to hail the Eureka rebellion as a true manifestation of the revolutionary struggle and incorporated a reference to Eureka in the preamble to their constitution.

The communists also formed the Eureka Youth League as a left-wing alternative to the Boy Scouts a singularly unsuccessful initiative because Baden-Powell's scouts had uniforms, badges and a paramilitary structure that was much more appealing to the boys of the day. The scouts also laid great emphasis on personal responsibility whereas the communists were chronic whingers, who blamed capitalism for everything.

Marx was only half right about the workers. Certainly the diggers worked like dogs, but they weren't wage slaves for some plutocratic capitalist. They were free men and their own bosses, trying to strike it rich in a goldfield. They were small capitalists, not the factory fodder of Das Kapital. Mark Latham got it right when he said the diggers were self-employed contractors and the hard-working aspirational class seeking tax relief.

The first diggers at Ballarat headed straight for the rivers and streams and panned them for gold.

Rafaello Carboni - the only eyewitness to give a full account of the incident - grizzled about being searched for his miner's licence when he arrived at Ballarat by "a six-foot fellow in a blue shirt, thick boots, the face of a ruffian, armed with a carabine [sic] and fixed bayonet". He bemoaned coming 16,000 miles (his calculation of the distance from Italy) to escape Austrian tyranny only to be suffering from "colonial brutedom".

His moans lessened a bit at the end of the month when 177 ounces of gold were discovered at a depth of 60 feet on the hill opposite where he was working.

This was the key to Ballarat. The easily won gold was soon discovered on the surface. Then inquiring explorers sunk deeper and discovered old, deeper waterways that ran in different directions to those on the surface. Some of these gutters contained rich gold and some were barren. Soon syndicates formed and dug down to 60 feet and then beyond 100 feet.

The nature of the gold screamed out for syndicate or company operation and financing. Instead, the authorities were selling licences to individuals. Carboni's licence cost #2 and entitled him to dig for three months, which was not too bad a deal. However, he was limited to one patch 12 feet square or 144 square feet. A syndicate of four could handle a patch four times that size, which was better, but still involved hazards.

As miners dug down, they struck the water table, which required constant baling. As shafts sank deeper, they needed to be timbered, which was expensive. And there was still no guarantee they would strike gold at the bottom. Often they would "shepherd", just turning over a few shovelfuls a day while waiting to see whether their neighbours struck gold.

The licence fees applied whether gold was struck or not. And the raids by the police were vexatious. The licences being paper and perishable were not normally carried by the miners as they were working, but were kept in their tents, which might be half a mile from the hole. So they had to stop work, go back to their tents and retrieve the licence while being harassed by the police.

There is no reason to quarrel with the conventional judgement that this was a stupid tax, harshly prosecuted.

Nor did the climate help. Ballarat boils in summer, especially in northerly winds. And as Pierpont can testify after one unforgettable day at the Ballarat races, in winter it freezes. Carboni was exactly right when he referred to "this Ballaarat, a Nugety Eldorado for the few, a ruinous Field of hard labour for many, a profound ditch of Perdition for Body and Soul". Perhaps the worst point, which rarely seems to be made in histories of Eureka, was that the authorities having levied the licence fees did not in return provide the diggers with any protection from the lawlessness on the field.

Theft and claim jumping were rife. Carboni complained that his hole was next to one that was "jumped by the Eureka mob, where one man was murdered in the row". When Carboni went to fetch timber, the dirt he had left behind to wash was gone. Indeed, he said even his little hole was gone. The whole patch had been "clean shaved" by claim jumpers.

So the police were there at the behest of the governor to collect taxes, not to maintain law and order.

It was in this atmosphere on October 8, 1854, that a drunken digger named James Scobie was killed late at night after being refused entry to the Eureka Hotel. The publican, James Bentley, was suspected of murder, but released for lack of evidence. That infuriated the diggers, who burned down the hotel. (And for the benefit of non-mining readers, it takes a very infuriated digger indeed to burn down a pub.)

Three of the men involved in the riot were convicted and jailed, which further inflamed passions. On November 29, an angry meeting was held at Bakery Hill where some diggers burned their licences.

On the following day the police again raided the diggings, got stoned for their pains and arrested more diggers. The diggers held another meeting, elected Lalor as their leader and formed a rough stockade from slabs of timber. Inside the stockade, they armed themselves with pikes and firearms. The pikemen drilled and those with guns dug rifle pits.

It was not so much an armed rebellion as a defence against further raids by the police. At 3am on Sunday, December 3, there were perhaps 120 men inside the stockade. In the dark, a force of some 1000 troops and police had assembled. They launched a surprise raid and quickly overran the ramshackle defences.

As a symbol of Australian revolutionary spirit, Eureka doesn't quite make it. To begin with, only two of the diggers were Australian-born. As Pierpont's source for this statistic is Latham, he is not wholly comfortable with the number, but certainly there weren't many.

Only one of the fallen on Lalor's list of 22 was Australian, whereas 10 were Irish.

As the Irish were Catholics, it takes some skewing of history to repaint them as socialist revolutionaries, but doubtless that was child's play to any communist who could believe Joe Stalin was a nice chap.

The spine of the rebellion also seems to have been provided by Californians, who formed a Rangers Brigade, armed with Colt revolvers and long Mexican knives. They were standing sentry when the soldiers attacked, which raises the possibility that Eureka has more credibility as a revolutionary symbol for Los Angeles than for Australia, which means Hollywood has so far missed the opportunity to exploit this morsel of its military past.

The Californians were sticking to the principle of the American Revolution ("no taxation without representation"), which is really what Eureka was all about.

In seeking the meaning of Eureka, we should not ignore its consequences. A total of 113 diggers were arrested for their part in the affray and spent a few months in jail awaiting trial, but juries sensibly refused to convict them. Most of the trials were before Redmond Barry, who was sympathetic to the diggers' plight. (He was less sympathetic later to Ned Kelly.)

In 1855 only months after the battle the miners began to make their own laws and run their own courts to settle pegging disputes. The mining code was overhauled and modified. The code became kinder to ordinary diggers and, more importantly, expedited the formation of syndicates and companies that could exploit the deep leads.

Lalor, who lost his left arm during the stockade, became a prosperous miner and conservative MP, rising to become speaker of the Victorian parliament. Above all, the battle probably hastened the onset of democracy in colonial Victoria.

The lesson of Eureka is that Australians do not have the revolutionary mindset. They are not much interested in ideological struggle, although they will fight for ordinary human rights. They are pragmatic and they found practical solutions for their difficulties without erecting any more barricades.

Where England had a civil war, and the United States, France and Russia had earth-shaking revolutions, Australia patched up an imperfect system and made it less imperfect.

After Eureka, the legal system worked to protect the oppressed, and democracy emerged. All this was achieved without any more blood being spilt. It's not glamorous.

Indeed, it's downright prosaic. But it's better than revolution, bloodshed and a legacy of a century and a half of hatred and bitterness.

Monday, December 06, 2004


Where did it all go? I told Belinda, that during the holidays, I could get a bike, and we could practice the route for riding to school together, without the pressure of peak traffic to worry about. To this she answered - "But that's going to take you so long! That's exactly the kind of thing that gives me reason not to have any kids. There too much stuff like that, that you've got to do for them all the time, like teaching them how to ride and stuff like that." I was thinking "Huh??" Kylie was thinking: "must remember to write this down with other reasons she's given us for not having any kids, so that we can show her the list at the birth of her first child."

Friday, December 03, 2004

Movie - The Assassin

I watched the original French version of this movie a long time ago on SBS. It was one of those movies with concepts so cold, with characters so well "executed", that the scenes just stick into your brain never to leave! When the "Hollywood" version showed on Win here the other night, the temptation to watch it was too strong to resist. Although this version was nowhere near as well "executed", the memories of the original came back and I was shaking and having cold sweats half way through. The final assignment on this version however, and the "Cleaner" sent in to clean the assassinations by killing all witnesses, just didn't ring true. I kind of want to see the original again, but I fear the nightmares might come back.
Movie - The Assassin

I watched the original French version of this movie a long time ago on SBS. It was one of those movies with concepts so cold, with characters so well "executed", that the scenes just stick into your brain never to leave! When the "Hollywood" version showed on Win here the other night, the temptation to watch it was too strong to resist. Although this version was nowhere near as well "executed", the memories of the original came back and I was shaking and having cold sweats half way through. The final assignment on this version however, and the "Cleaner" sent in to clean the assassinations by killing all witnesses, just didn't ring true. I kind of want to see the original again, but I fear the nightmares might come back.
No Comments

I think I must have won all the philosophical, political arguments that I was having on various blogs, because nobody's been doing any commenting about them :-). So, it is time to come up with my conclusions.

1) Australia would have done a lot better job in Iraq without the interfering Yanks. Imagine what a success East Timor would have been if America got involved. OK first of all we Shock and Awe the evil Indonesians that are there, then we send in massive amounts of troops, and then we declare victory, and then we set an election date. I don't think so.

2) Politicians would have to be crazy to flirt with the idea of banning abortions, or for that matter, any meaningful reform of both legislation on first tri-mester pregnancies and of euthanasia. There's few votes in it and on the edge of the bathtub curve I was demonstrating the slopes are steep, and that makes for a very slippery slope with regards to making clear-cut legal lines, necessary for laws to be workable. However, I do believe that people that decide to have an abortion do deserve to go to hell. I would let a higher judge than the supreme court make that call, however.

3) How is it that we can solve the policing problems in East Timor, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, etc. but somehow we bungle Palm Island policing? The truth is that the behaviour of the police gets all the blame from the Palm Islanders and other indigenous groups; The aboriginals involved get the blame from almost everybody else, and the real culprits, the politicians who make very dubious decisions with regards to the administration of these Aboriginal communities get away scott free! Ideally, Palm Island should just have a handful of police officers, but should have a plentitude of Aboriginal Liason officers. And if there aren't enough around, do what we do in foreign shores as diverse as Iraq and Solomon Islands - We train some more, until there is!

4) In a way, I have to eat humble pie with regards to Lexifab. Before the war in Iraq started, he correctly predicted that Iraq had no WMD. This leads me to believe he correctly viewed all the talk about there being plenty as complete spin. It is very likely that the espionage agencies had told the governments that on balance of probabilities there was no WMD at all to be found, and the fact that those agencies were secretive, means that the governments can interpret any information any way they like. However, I did state at the time, that even if that were so, the strategic etc. basis for war was still strong.

5) I'm going home for the weekend, and so until Monday I won't answer any comments on these posts :)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Wacky Wednesday

Well, as I predicted Wednesday was rather eventful. I argued some more with Kylie with regards to Felicia's preschool christmas presentation, which clashed horribly with beach volleyball. Anyway, from what I could tell, Felicia was just as happy to come play in the sand while I played volleyball as have me come along to the presentation. Anyhow, I come home early from work so I can get ready for volleyball and help Felicia get ready for her preschool thing. I asked Kylie if I should get them dinner before we all go out, and she said "No, you should pack your bags and get out!". Anyhow, I decided to tell Belinda and Nikolas to get some play clothes on so that they can play in the sand, and they do: so does Felicia. Kylie asks her why she is doing that and she says she doesn't want to go to the pre-school. Anyway, just as we were about to give up, Kylie asks "Don't you wat to wear your nice Christmas dress?", suddenly Felicias face lights up and she says "OH, Yesss" and peace is restored. Anyhow, after volleyball, Kylie still has't forgiven me, and in a rage, she lashes out, I instinctively bring up my knees, and her wrists hit akwardly against my knee and she gets a hematoma (I don't know if that's spelt right). It was just dumb luck that she had an unrelated doctor's appointment the next day, where it turns out her original ear complaint was already gone, but she had to have a blood test to make sure there was no serious problems due to her wrist injury.


Which brings me to ths weeks game, which due to Sandor pulling out, I called our old team member Dan, with whom we'd won three first division finals in a row when we were still plaing on Tuesdays. As it turned out we were playing a fairly weak team, and would have probably won even with three players, but it was great having Dan there. He's got great timing in his net play, spiking and blocking nicely, and unlike Sandor, Anthony and Casey, he picks off the loose return of service with a spike like it deserves! That happens a lot with weaker teams like this, and it can be very intimidating for them when it happens. For once we got maximum points from the game, and hopefully Dan will fill in again when we need him. Dan also suggested we should put Casey as permanent setter because of her obvious superior skills in that regard.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


I was having a shower this morning as one does, and Felicia came in to ask something, then she went off giggling after she saw me naked. I think its time we also banned her from walking in the bathroom unannounced. She has been eating too many forbidden fruits of knowledge obviously.

Spit Songs

I was just picking up some photos the other day when I met a former employee whom we'd made redundant. I had heard she got a job at the local radio stations and as I started talking to her, I asked if she was still working there, and if I gave her a CD of some music I wanted played if she could pass it on using the usual channels to give it a chance of getting played on air. She just told me to give whatever CD I had to Katie, who still works here and is her flatmate. Anyway, I found a compilation of my favourites which I had put on to a CD and had a niceish label on it which I had made probably more than a year ago. I checked to make sure it didn't have anything too obviously offensive and passed it on. Ideally, I wanted to just put Apple Sauce and Rubber Angel onto a CD and label it like a commercial quality single, but I'd lost all my equipment etc. to do any of that, so I just sent what I had with a covering note and shrugged my shoulders and hoped for the best. I guess it is more likely that 4TO FM and HOT FM here in Townsville would now be more likely to play "Apple Sauce" if it is requested by phone, fax, email or through their web sites. So if I remember, I might do that sometime to see if I get any response. For all I know they might have already played it. I just don't listen to the radio that much. However, if anybody reading this has got nothing to do, it might be worth going to the request part of these radio stations and request Apple Sauce to be played. Hell, it doesn't matter if your on the other part of the country :-). Also, JJJ would have it on their systems also, so a request there might bring results. Now that people can actually buy/download these songs, its time to start marketing them.


Hey, it's December now, so as promised, I will go into more detail into my Lancet study analysis, and into why thinking it wishful thinking that the death statistics are unreliable, but however, the innocence or not of the victims can be taken with a pinch of salt either way. News reports analysis may give a better "feel" for numbers of civilian deaths, and a "feel" for an approximate timeline for death rates. Geographical distribution can probably be gleaned better from the Lancet study also. I have therefore come up with a number of assertions that derive from a balanced view of various statistics, and as complete as possible aversion from spin.

1) Business conditions in Iraq and bordering countries have considerably improved from pre-war levels. This I glean from improved investment and finance figures, returning ex-pats, continued stability towards Turkey's border, and a stabilising of security arrangements and issues, despite localised instability in and around the Sunni triangle.

2) Death rates from the US Shock and Awe period are probably unconscionably high. Although these weapons were used with pinpoint efficiency, the power and time delay from when they were ordered to their striking, probably meant they killed many people not actually targeted, that were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Also many buildings that would have been useful to the occupiers would have been completely destroyed.

3) Very hard to know the balance of risk in hunting down some militants mercilessly. Does it motivate the next suicide bombers too much, or does it prevent one from becoming just that? Hard to see how suicide bombers can be deterred by merciless killing of their brethren.

4) As much as Iran and other countries distance themselves from the particular situation in Iraq, there is probably quite a high deterrent effect to some countries. The rule of thumb is that working states can be deterred to a much greater extent than failing ones. The assertion being that Iran will probably be much more deterred than North Korea, and China might even ponder what it means for them - they've got a lot more to lose now than before.

Kylie is constantly testing my priorities. Last night she gave me a note about how Felicia's pre-school christmas concert is on at 6:00 pm wednesday night. She went on to say that since that was when my volleyball game was on that I would have to call up Sandor and tell him I wasn't going to volleyball. Of course, I said firmly that I was going to volleyball, and that I would sort it out with Felicia if she got disappointed. Anyhow, she decided that just because I was a "bastard" didn't mean that she wouldn't go, and that therefore I still needed to call Sandor to tell him that I couldn't pick him up and his kids like I have been for a 6pm game lately, because she would have the Kia, and I couldn't fit everybody in the other van. Anyhow, I phone him up and what does he say? Oh, was meaning to call you up, because I can't go to volleyball because he is going to a concert by his son Caleb (11). I briefly roased him for not having his priorities straight, and thought about the irony of it.