Wednesday, March 30, 2005

To explain my last entry

Dr. Clam Said
You know, your post doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Did Kylie get you some weird drugs for your anniversary?

A few things have happened just recently that have culminated on our anniversary - making it very special and perhaps lucky. Our salesperson of the last 12 or so years has given us notice. It was largely my own actions that caused him to quit - and it has contributed to the general feeling of stress. However, this stress has made me retain such focus and determination that in this case it is turning out to be a blessing. This might mean that I blog less often - because I have a renewed committment to making Cueldee a better business.

Evildrclam said
I always remember my own anniversary by the fact that it is exactly one week after yours. Do you have any advice for us newlyweds arising from your extra week of experience? :D

Well as a matter of fact I do! Just recently, me and Kylie started reading a book that has the excellent mix of Intellectual and moral sense that I believe you crave. Find it here at fivelovelanguages. It is written by dr. Gary Chapman.

On another note, I've been meaning to get a photo of my wedding scanned which has me and fellow bloggers on it. Maybe I'll get around to that.

Monday, March 21, 2005

It's a New Dawn, It's a new life, It's a new day....I'm Feeling Good

It's our Lucky 13th wedding anniversary. Today is a day I will never forget. I took time out when I don't really have any time, because I just have to write about it. Our Salesperson for the last 13 years is leaving. I have realised that I can actually achieve things by shouting and getting angry, that I'd never be able to achieve any other way. I also have discovered that I am much more focused when I am under stress. I have started reading a book which is probably the best self-help book I've ever read "Learning the Five Love Languages" or something like that - I don't have the book with me to check the title. It's written by a (christian) marriage counsellor and for the first time, all the mumbo jumbo makes complete sense. More about that another time.....

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Anthropogenic Global Warming

Dr. Clam said (he unusually believed)
4. Anthropogenic global warming is a fact, but we shouldn’t do anything about it.

Then I said:
(4) after a 90 degree turnaround (a few years ago) do believe that global warming is a fact and we shouldn't do anything about it

Then Dave said:
I'm curious about both your views on (4) that we shouldn't do anything about global warming - what's the rationale?

Well before my 90 degree turnaround I believed that there was negligible global warming, but an excess of fearmongering and selective use of statistics for the sole purpose of instigating fear and getting loads of government money for "greenhouse effect" research. Urban bias - ie. most historical temperature data comes from cities, which have been growing as countries urbanise and temperatures within cities are higher than surrounding areas, was my explanation for most longer term studies showing increased temperatures. After reading "Pale Blue Dot" by Carl Sagan, which was rather more objective on the subject and showed that trying models on other planets and finding a signature of the effects of both CO2 and Sulphur on Earth, I could both believe and quantify what the reality actually was. If doing something about it means something like Kyoto, which raises the priority of greenhouse emissions over all other environmental and political problems without it having much chance of achieving its original stated goals - I say scrap Kyoto. The biggest threats to biospherical environment is the tragedy of the commons, nuclear warfare, and rogue asteroids. Increasing the priority of greenhouse gas by doing something about it is not real smart, and we may possibly miss some other factors which need research because of our false sense of security with regards to global warming.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Nikita vs Hizbullah

Dr. Clam said:
you have been unduly infuenced to consider French skullduggery by overexposure to 'la femme Nikita'

I watched it exactly once! Anyway, I always believed France's secret service to have a more mercenary, cold outlook than the average. That made Nikita all the more believable to me. The American remake was watered down and more timid - just like I imagine the American secret service to be (before 9-11). France had to go its way out of necessity to fight the various organised terrorist forces. Italian secret services have also adapted similarly to counter its mafia. If the Greenpeace boat had sank with no casualties, would France have ever been suspected?

On another note Hizbullah, although set up by Iran, and still partly financed by them, is a completely independent unit. It is just as much financed privately and via Syria than by Iran these days. You seem to portray it almost as an extension of Iran's military, while in reality, its more a gun/suicide terrorist for hire, with the capabilities to act independently of both Iran and Syria.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

France vs Iran

Dr. Clam, being unusually orthodox in arguments pointing a finger at Iran('s secret service) is relying on Shiite vs. Sunni sentiments. He is saying that division in Lebanon is good for Iran. I want him to see where I'm coming from and I would like him to think a little outside the box. My game theory results point to arab vs arab division playing into Israeli hands. The arab street in Lebanon definitely thinks that Syria was behind the bombing. In other countries the Arab street is quite confused despite protestations by Iran and Syria that they had nothing to do with it. My thesis is that Iran (and Syria) wanted to sit tight in Lebanon until the US was out of Iraq. The last thing they wanted was to divert international attention away from Iraq & Israel towards either of them. Why have I picked France in particular? Mainly because no-one would suspect them! Even a lateral thinker like you has trouble even considering them. You might have trouble with motive but, as a former colonial administrator in Lebanon, a renewed international interest in Lebanon would benefit France. Both as a country that could get the UN involved there, and gain advantage through renewed commercial interests, it has a lot to gain. The victim however, was "innocent" in that they had nothing against France. One would have to assume a complete cold, calculating, mercenary attitude (the movie "La femme, Nikita" demonstrates the attitude to a T). An attitude pertaining to the "Iron Law" which is that the end justifies the means, rather than the golden rule of doing unto others as you would have them do to you. I would have to say, as revolting as the assassination was, the ends probably did justify the means, and it is definitely fighting fire with fire.

Friday, March 11, 2005

No good American imitation of Nikita

Andrewww said:
Watched two Japanese horror films: "Cure" and "Spiral". The first was provocative and mysterious to a slightly irritating degree, and Spiral was very, very silly

To which I replied:
We got a dvd yesterday. Another Bob the Builder one - Seen it ten times already it was that good :) Have you seen the french (original) version of "the Assassin"? That one still gives me goosebumps ten years on.

and David C replies:
I'm not sure how we got from Bob the Builder to Nikita, but I'll be in that! I'm a great fan of the original movie, and like most of the spin-off stuff as well (which includes a TV show, 2 remakes plus sequel, possibly Leon, and various miscellania)

Well to explain, our family has probably 30 DVD's and 30 videos that we have bought :- Absolutely all of them were for the kids (admittedly, a few of them are also suitable for adults). The only time I watch any movies is if they come on the free to air TV and they catch my eye. This happened in about 1995 when "La femme, Nikita" came on SBS. It was one of the few movies that I watched to the end. When the American remake came on TV just this year, it had the effect of making me relive the original (cold sweats, etc.) However, I think it was a watered down imitation, and if I had seen it first I certainly wouldn't have watched it all. Why am I bringing it up now? Well, the movie demonstrated to me how the French secret service deal with organised crime and home grown terrorism - and it is very effective. I'm not exactly sure why, but I see the same signature in the Lebanese assassination. I think somewhere in my blog I mentioned that I was boycotting French products. Well, I've turned again...

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Modus Operandi vs signature

Dr Clam said
As for modus operandi, blowing up people with bloody great bombs in Beirut is pretty much par for the course for Iran, viz. the 1983 truck bombing of the US Marines.

I heard once in a crime show(Law and Order Criminal intent) that you can copy someones MO, but you can't copy their "signature". I don't quite think this particular strike has the hallmarks of the Iranian secret service. I would have thought that they would rely on suicide bombers within the sphere of Lebanon. Also(on the motive side) the noises I am hearing from Iran seem to still be to find common cause against Israel rather than what you are suggesting to break ranks with Syria. Their motives by my game theory reckoning is still for untraceable support for attacks against Israeli, western and democratic targets opportunistically (in that order), rather than an attack which seemed the target was more important than the timing, and that the target didn't fit the "enemy of Islam" criteria particularly well. In my quick flip through various net sources, I found an Iranian one that claimed that it was the work of Israel or US, based on the political leverage they have both gained.
If you want to know, "the Economist" made a quick comment regarding the mysterious circumstances, but ever since they've been gushing over how the feeling on the "Arab street" has seemed to change for the better in such a short time.

Who killed Rafiq al-Hariri?

Since no skilled impartial forensic analysis is likely, or even possible, I will go through the circumstantial evidence impartially with no pre-conceived ideas, to see what insight I get. The things I will use as evidence are signature of the crime, possible motives from entities that match the signature, credible claims of responsibility or denial, opportunity, and a quick game theory check that the results make sense.

Signature of the crime: Analysts are in no doubt that the signature of the crime strongly suggest a secret service organisation "hit" and almost certainly of a state backing/state ordering variety. This rules out a random killing, opportunistic attack, or even a terrorist organisation therefore.

Claims of responsibility: A previously unheard of islamic organisation is said to have claimed it, but it seems likely to be a red herring. Syrian government officials have denied all knowledge or involvement in the assassination, and seemed genuinely surprised at it happening.

Motive: At first sight, the Syrian government would have a motive, as Hariri was openly campaigning for Syrian withdrawal. However, the consequences of the killing were predictably against the interests of the Syrian government, so you would have to assume irrational decision making. If you had such a complex and long running assassination plot, you would have to be sure the results would go your way. Non-intuitively, therefore, the motive would point to a non-arab country. As to which non-arab country, I will move to opportunity.

Opportunity: The smidgen of reliable information of the crime scene points to a pre planted explosive within the road itself, set off via remote control. Therefore, the culprit organisation would have been posing as a roadworks/utilities contractor. There would likely be several planted explosives at various locations waiting for the right opportunity. As Syria has been controlling the country rigidly for the last several years, American or Israeli companies would have drawn too much suspicion and would not have had operational access. That pretty much leaves Russia and France as the most likely perpetrators. I'm leaning towards France due to their historical association with the country

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

spin doctor clam

Dr. Clam said
Although there are many layers of spin and dissimulation, I am going to go out on a limb on the basis of your other posting and say that we actually agree with each other!I think we are arguing about semantics
Well, yes, we are now arguing about semantics, but if we agreed then either I would stop accepting "the Economist" as a primary source of authority, or you would start to. Therefore there must be a point of disagreement - it just isn't very obvious. I am going to come up with another stupid analogy. If a set of referees was employed to referee a sports match, is it better to have a set from each of the two countries playing, or a set from neutral countries? Which one would judge the game more "correctly". Clearly, in sport it is of advantage for the referees to be disinterested in the result, because they have the power to affect the result somewhat. (I am making journalists the referees here, see) And although even the neutral umpires make mistakes, it wouldn't be a case of brinksmanship between the judges as to who can try to get away with the most biased calls. It would be much harder to tell which team was the best and fairest (or either or) if the referees from the playing countries took turns. This is why I think it important to find "disinterested" sources of journalism.

Parallel universes vs created universes

Dr. Clam said
There are of course two ways of looking at any sub-created phenomenon: trying to understand it from the viewpoint of the creator, and explaining its characteristics that way; and treating it as a self-contained universe that is real on its own level. I always try to extrapolate from the small slice of a universe revealed to us in any art form features of the rest of the universe. While the intentions of the creator are an 'explanation' on one level of phenomena within an art form, and have some interest to me, I am far more interested in the level of explanation that applies within the sub-creation. As a sub-creator myself, I like to feel that I am only ever sketching out the merest outlines of something that is, in its essence, far realler than I could ever make it. The true form of each of my sub-created universes,like the Theory of Everything, lie perfect and eternal within the mind of God.

To which andrewww replied (I deleted his reply, that's why you can't see it)

I don't think of myself as a "sub-creator" but a creator among many in my own right. Because I have had the experience of going all the way from idea to finished movie, I can empathise with movie-makers and judge from various angles why the movies were good and where they could improve, to improve my own "creativity" as such. The Monster world gateways were fairly casually modelled in a sense that quite a few physics consequences were ignored (see "The Fork" for more rigorous gateways). The Monsters Inc. world in particular was aimed at kids and their parents, so they didn't concentrate as much on the suspension of disbelief as they would for a purely adult movie.

To which I reply that I don't see movies as a creation of the writer, but as a creation of society. Society after all decides which movies are "successful", which genres become "extinct" and what features are important. The writer is merely the "parent" of the movie. And much as each individual person has a mother and father who "created" them, they can hardly take credit for their creation in a theological sense. After all, it is the whole of society which moulds an individual, and the eons of history etc. which make them who they are!

The EX- Factor

Dr. Clam said:
Just a minor quibble- you haven given me a dreadful shock by referring to me as an 'ex-catholic'

Sorry, by ex- I meant ex-hausted, ex-tracurricular, ex-amined, and possibly ex-pired :-). With the Uniting Church I was attending, I was surprised to find that I was a voting member, purely on the fact that I regularly turned up! The fact that for instance, I didn't believe that JC actually did anything supernatural etc. etc. seemed to have nothing to do with it.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

I might read "the Economist" but I read "the Accidental Blog" first!

Dr Clam said:

Please don't call me objective! The sense-impressions I chose to notice, and the intepretations I put on them, are obviously conditioned by my status as an employee of a publicly-funded institution, as a married parent, as an Australian (specifically as a rural and regional Australian), as an American(specifically as a blue county in red state American), as a more-or-less collapsed Catholic, and as a fanatical raving looney! You should always bear this in mind... :)

The main reason that I didn't go around reading both sides (to the extreme?) views on both Israel/Palestine and higher education say, is partly because there are "agents" like you that have done it for me already! (For Israel etc.) I basically adjusted for your conditioning as an American ex-catholic which in my mind would make you take at face value more what the democratically elected leaders (of Israel) are saying, than other figures in the region. When I read an "Economist" analysis on Israel/Palestine, I am confident that there is very little "country bias" and almost no "government bias", basically, there is no country or person which they are afraid to offend - However, like all private media, it will tend to "sensationalise" situations in their articles (to make a mark, increasing sales) which I do usually adjust for as well.
I don't think reading a whole heap of articles on higher education funding issues from various (likely biased) sources will get me closer to a model of the reality of the situation which I crave. Both the Economist article on Higher education and your reply to it are "objective" in my mind as being objective doesn't make you provably right, but much more useful than articles from sources which I don't know their connections or can't adjust for them. I do however think that the article in question was spotted by someone else at UNE who brought it to your attention? It is quite easy to see that if everybody in your work peer disagrees with a concept, it will be seen as not objective by all of you. I fight very hard with myself when management start complaining about cheap imported clothing, because I want our tariffs reduced even more, against the feeling of my peers.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Lies, lies and journalism

Dr. Clam said
I am asserting that no reportage is objective. I believe it is more valuable to read obviously subjective reportage from various sources, aware that they are subjective, and try to disentagle the reality from the biases of the reporters, than it is to look for a truly 'objective' source of news in some mare's nest on Big Rock Candy Mountain. This way you not only learn the 'facts' but just as important for any political issue, what the different players believe the facts to be, and the way these facts fit into their worldview.

There is hiding somewhere here an important difference between our thinking. I find, it can be very erroneous to even take at face value what an article (biased or otherwise) says about what the different players believe the facts to be. Journalists all too often pick and choose which bits to show to not so obviously spin the article such that even what major players say has been doctored. I am finding that I try to model the reality, and try to explain to myself the factors that are making all these journalists and politicians lie, and what end they are trying to achieve with those lies as opposed to the truth.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Andrew claims Monsters were created - didn't evolve

In the latest news andrewww claims that Monsters Inc. (world) was created by some "artists" ex nihilo, complete with myriad newly invented monsters, ready to multiply at the merest hint of a sequel. "Evolution had nothing to do with it" he cries lamely, ignoring thousands of years of evolution of the concepts, drawings of various monsters these ones obviously came from. "It was an completely original concept" he claims emphatically, ignoring formulas, jokes and storyline segments borrowed with required changes from previous movies. Even the style and techniques of 3-d animation used have been gradually evolving to keep up with the competitive environment of movie-making. If there was ever a movie which demonstrated evolution, this is it!

This is how I judge objectivity, how do you judge objectivity?

Before I even read any article at any time, I make a quick calculation in my head about objectivity. The way I countenance various factors boils down to one thing, I guess - conflict of interest. For instance, any article in any of the Australian press that talks about (aus) politicians, I will completely ignore. Why? Because the Australian press relies very heavily on political advertising for its basic revenue stream, and there is no way that any would risk offending either of the two major parties (or if they offend one they're deferring to the other major - not the minor parties!). This is fine by me, as it entrenches a stable two party preferred system, but it does not make for objective political journalism in Australia! Similarly, if I was reading something from a trusted friend about Public vs Private funding of Universities, would I really believe they were being objective if they are being paid for doing research by a publicly funded university? I certainly wouldn't if I didn't know him so well:-), but he is certain to be surrounded by people not as objective as he is. Would I think an article was objective about Israel if it was in the Jerusalem Post? No, probably not. It's not about whether it matches with my sense of reality, but what possible conflicts of interests there are. Sources, proof, evidence, calculations don't necessarily make an article objective; and even if it (like the Economist article we are talking about) is essentially making a free market analogy demonstration of the concept that by letting the market for higher education run its course with less government involvement, universities will more effectively match both the needs and desires of students and researchers alike, much as grocery stores match the needs and desires of our stomachs. Power to the appetite for learning!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Economist is objective journalism at its best

I feel I must reply to Herr Fellows assertion that this article, "free degrees to fly" is

Just an extreme example of a highly non-objective article from the Economist- it is not an incontestable dogma that the private sector always and everywhere does everything better than the public sector! That is why we have a public sector :)

Let me reply to his sentences one phrase at a time. It is not an extreme example of anything, for a start. I don't think I have extreme views regarding Universities, but I certainly felt that while I was at uni, private enterprise was limited by too much government control and interference in the hierarchy of learning. It seems to me you are demonstrating that it is non-objective because "the Economist" is the only journal that is taking this line. In this case, I am asserting that it is all the other journals which dismiss this kind of argument which are the ones that are not objective! My point being that virtually every other entity which would even talk about this subject has a vested interest in Government funding! "The economist" is one of the only journals in the world which is not afraid of offending government sensibilities of one country or another. I admit that "the Economist" is big on ideology of liberalism and privatisation, when the political reality of a lot of countries don't lend themselves to possible changes, but they don't claim that it is "incontestable" they are actually contesting the need in particular facets and are clearly on the side of more privatisation in most cases. There was however articles and surveys from time to time about the sorts of things which should not be privatised and from memory, the judicial, law enforcement and lawmaking sides as well as most aspect of the military. Even basic education and emergency health were thought to be necessarily a function of government. I am not sure why Herr Fellows would think banks should be nationalised? It doesn't make sense to me.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Films I can and will talk about

Danny Darko???? never heard of it (him?)

I'm sorry, but if it hasn't been a cult film in my household, I just will happily stay out of the conversation. Not that there isn't a menagerie of movies that have been on autoplay for days at a time at our place, I will list them here as ones I could authoritatively talk about, and Andrewww's mr. 40 may need some tips if he is going to have children as a DVD is an effective baby sitter from a very young age.

Bob the Builder in "the Knights of Can-a-lot"
Batman - the mistery of the catwoman.
Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper.
Justice League animated series - eg. "Justice on Trial"
Monsters Inc.
Rugrats go Wild
Rugrats in Paris
Toy Story I & II
Lion King I, II & III (Lion king I FF'd here)
Timon & Pumbaa's holiday video
Buzz Lightyear battlestar Galactica
The Land before time I to X (any one of the ten!)
any wiggles or barbie videos