17 June 2006

Quote of the Day

So true! And so encouraging! I wish I'd known this 20 years ago...

Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.

- George Orwell, Benefit Of Clergy: Some Notes On Salvador Dali (1944); [my emphasis - PH]

Civil Rights IV

In Australia we have no such thing as a Bill of Rights like the US does.

There is a lot of debate as to our implied rights, which generally seems to loosely follow the US model, though that is probably just laziness on our part and being more familiar with the US constitution through pop culture.

The thing with rights is that we are genrally all for them until some one elses right reduces our quality of life. So Patrick Henry's right to bear arms interupts my right to walk around without fear of being shot by a "homicidal maniac citizen". How do we determine their homicidal tendency? by having them comit homicide in the first place... sure we could test every citizen prior to getting a gun for homicidal tendencies but what of our right to privacy? which right takes precedent there?

What about my right to play loud music at 3am and my neighbours right to a quiet nites sleep?

There is a risk that we can run of justifying our own behaviour as a right and the behaviour of others as a restriction of our rights if it is in conflict with us.

Or perhaps that more accurately describes the expression of our rights. Sure, I may have a right to play loud music at 3am but that doesn't mean I must express that right at every given opportunity.

Patrick Henry may have a right to carry an AK-47 around to defend himself, but from whom is he defending himself ? Other people defending themselves with AK-47's? it becomes a reductio ad absurdium argument ( you boys with the expensive education feel free to correct my terrible latin) pretty quickly in that case.

What of the Hobbesian pact that is the social contract? We give up some of our rights to have others protected to avoid a life that is "nasty, brutish, and short". I may given up my right to steal from my neighbour but I have gained some abstract protection that my neighbour won't steal from me with out punishment for violating my rights. This then becomes a prisoner's dilemma of working out our rights in relation others in society. We want to be able to determine our own rights, but we don't want the rights of others to disadvantage us.

I got really distracted in that last paragraph and have lost my train of thought so I will leave it there for now.


Civil Rights III

Patrick Henry, some thoughts about your email,

When we start talking about ‘rights’ we are walking on dodgy ground. None of us have any rights that we cannot defend for ourselves (or have defended for us by others).

When we talk about ‘correlation or proportion’ in regard to the removal of rights as punishment, we are talking about the legal profession and the whole body of law that has been built around it. Largely, these concepts are dictated by the moral codes of the social environment – for example: death penalty in some American States, but not in others.

Here is a thought: who says the punishment has to fit the crime? To make a punishment ‘fit’ a crime is to make the punishment a teaching tool. Who says the state has to ‘teach’ its citizens? Who says the state has to care that a criminal has ‘learned his lesson’? Is there any real evidence that criminals are learning their lessons and changing their ways as a result of punishment?

Superior violence is the defining factor in changing the rules of a regime. To stop a Fascist dictator, he must be physically removed from power. This will require violence.

Randy Bentwick

Civil Rights II

Thanks to all those people who replied to my questioning rant
about civil rights and when the power of the state should have the right to, does have the right to, or just plain does remove them.

I like this particular answer because I like general principles compressed into easy to learn, easy to use lists:
  1. Punitive: i.e. punitive damages to punish and hurt. ASIC fines are good example. Subgroup of punitive is the revenge factor - how do you give a rapist a punishment commensurate with the pain he caused.
  2. Exemplary: (there is another word for this (mental block)) to serve as a deterrant to others. Anti death penalty people usually say it is ineffective as a deterrant.
  3. Remove Recidivists from Society: incarceration and death penalty makes perps unable to commit crime again. This focuses on society's needs while the next two focus on perps "rights".
  4. Rehabilitation: the prospect of the perp being rehabilitated and not repeat offending.
  5. Restitution: can the perp make restitution to the victim or society. Replace the things they destroyed. Give refund. Community Service and the like.

Thanks Toutie! (toutieweekly.blogspot.com) Glad to see Uni came in handy after all! ;)

Christianity, Anyone?

14 June 2006

Bernanke Scares Pavlov's Sheep

In Pavlov’s research, he discovered that if he gave the sheep a mild electric shock, it would bother them very little and their life would go on pretty much as if nothing had happened as long as the shocks were random. Warning the sheep in advance of a shock by ringing a bell, however, affected their behavior and it changed radically. The sheep were just smart enough to realize that if they heard the bell, the shock was coming. After repeating this exercise a few times, the poor sheep lost control of bodily functions and after a few more warning bells, they started dying of heart attacks.

What Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve Governors should know, and are likely to find out the hard way, is that markets driven by speculation will react just like Pavlov’s sheep...

Source: http://www.freemarketnews.com/Analysis/101/5294/2006-06-13.asp?wid=101&nid=5294

11 June 2006

Shock: Cabbies Also Do Profiling

Context: Current hoo-hah in the US over "profiling". Back on front burner after Canadians nab 17 alleged terrorists.

...the undisputed fact that in America black people proportionately commit more crimes than whites.


According to the authors of “Streetwise: How Taxi Drivers Establish their Customer’s Trustworthiness” (TLS, May 12), it transpires that in deciding whether to “stop for a fare,” cabbies give preference to “whites” over “blacks.” But they also select older over younger passengers; women over men; individuals over multiple passengers, wealthier over poorer; callers over hailers; and “friendly and calm over aggressive and agitated.” As it is in the taxi driver’s economic interest to refuse “as few fares as possible, they can no more be guilty of racism than they are of reverse sexism or ageism because they prefer older and female passengers,” say the authors.


...[Bush's] security detail knows “Muslims proportionately commit more airline hijackings and suicide bombings than non-Muslims.”


Alex Jones Detained on Orders of Bilderberg Group

Customs openly told Alex as soon as they brought him into custody that the Bilderberg Group was aware of his arrival and that this was the reason for his detainment. All three members of the team were instantly detained despite going through different immigration desks.


The point to emphasize again is that it was brazenly stated that the Bilderberg Group were behind the decision to detain Alex and his team. Bilderberg have acquired a notorious reputation of harassing journalists, including Jim Tucker and Daniel Estulin, who are simply trying to report on a meeting of the world's most influential powerbrokers.


[Alex Jones is, I believe, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist and author. - PH]

False Dawn?

What is unbearable to many of us, on the other hand, is that the thought that no one is in control of events -- that events are simply spinning beyond the power of anyone or any agency to handle them, or even to predict them. The idea that mere anarchy has been loosed upon the world is perhaps of all fears the one that civilized people find most intolerable, for it means that there is no one who has the power to stop the forces of chaos and confusion from simply overwhelming us.


That's what it must have been like living during the fall of the Roman Empire... That's what it must be like living in Africa today...