Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Monday, February 28, 2005

Evangelical conspiracy

I think people are missing the Sydney C of E diocese's purpose in all this homosexual marriage stuff. The Sydney diocese is hovering on the verge of schism though allowing the laity to administer the eucharist; they would have done it already except that if they broke on that issue they might be regarded by the courts as having exited from the body of the church and so would be sued to hand over their vast Church property. If they can drive the other side into introducing an innovation first then they can claim that the women-ordaining lot split from them, thus keeping the moolah; and once they are all the c of E in A there is then they can change doctrine as it suits them.


Headscarves on Australians

On the train today sitting across from two headscarved schoolgirls chatting -
"So she went arabic arabic arabic and I went, like arabic arabic arabic whatever, she's just so arabic arabic arabic..." Good progress there. It's hard to conceive of anybody being fanatical in teenese. It's Australia's mission to gather in all these evangelicals and secularise them.


Favour mit Fear

It's the same point I used to make at the Assembly; a call for academic freedom is essentially a call for non-academic servitude.

Fear mit Favour

In today's Age (28/02/05) there's an article by the Chair of the Judicial Conference of Australia making a strong case that there’s a danger that untenured judges may be influenced into siding with the Government by threats to their reappointment or promotion. If anything, it’s too strong. Judges aren’t the only groups that the Government wants to whip in to line. Looking only at the same issue of the paper you can see the same issues being raised in relation to diplomats, defence chiefs, ABC Board members, and Treasury staff. We want all these groups, and many others, to be robustly independent, but we can’t make all their offices into feudal tenures. It isn’t a judicial issue, it’s a political and societal issue, and we would be better served if the lawyers would join in to resolve it at that level rather than calling for their own individual exemptions.


Friday, February 25, 2005


It's very hard indeed to get people to call to mind the unsentimental aspects of their heroes. A discussion on a De Long thread that ignores the Roman coldness for nearest and dearest, despite
Scene I. A house in Rome.

Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus, seated at a table

These many, then, shall die; their names are prick’d.

Your brother too must die; consent you, Lepidus?

I do consent—

  Prick him down, Antony.

Upon condition Publius shall not live,
Who is your sister’s son, Mark Antony.

He shall not live; look, with a spot I damn him.

They just didn't go in for the "Lepidus II; this time it's personal" kind of stuff. If anything, there wouldn't have been all this fuss in Gladiator about Maximus' wife and kids because she would simply have remarried to someone on the winning side as soon as the question came up.

and I remember having a hard time to persuade friends that The Wild Bunch werenm't persecuted for no reason, that, for example, Crazy Lee killed the hostages --despite a good tag line -
Hostages escaping)

Hey, stop. (shooting two times)

Feathers flew like a turkey!

Well, they shouldn't have run.


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Grange with Chocolate

A discussion of historical whodunits on Brad Delong's list that has a comment from Kevin -

"One of my big problems with The Alienist was the anachronistic "signaling" to the modern reader.

Someone who rides in a horse-drawn carriage over cobblestone streets all the time would not have an internal monlogue that went into great detail about it feels to ride a horse-drawn carriage over cobblestone streets.

When I am in the back of taxi driving under sodium-vapor lights, my internal monologue doesn't go into great detail about sodium-vapor lights."

- in which he's put his finger on the basic flaw in historical fiction (or perhaps fiction); we all have an enormous amount of embedded knowledge that we don't call to conscious thought but which governs the conclusions we draw from our conscious thought, and the author can either make them explicit (as they would not have been) or not (leaving everybody's motivations inexplicable). I've seen it described as the "your brother, the cardinal" problem, as in "Here comes your brother, the cardinal." -- the villain doesn't have to be told that his brother's a cardinal, but we do.
And the problem with making the past understandable is that it isn't. It's another country, they do things differently there, only Eco has made any fist at all of embodying this. Possibly Alfred Duggan, in the opposite way. Possibly Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

And asking for a sympathetic hero only doubles the scope for error. It's virtually impossible for any person born before, say, 1945 to be painted with their true opinions and not be unsympathetic. In Gladiator, say, we were expected to believe that a Roman general would get all choked up about having his wife and son killed, when (a) this was Rome, alliances shifted all the time and you couldn't afford to hold grudges simply because a few of your relatives had been topped, and (b) as a Roman general, he was in the business of bringing other generals' wives and sons back to Rome to ride in triumphs and then be killed.

Moving to reality, Caesar was responsible for the deaths of about a million Gauls (his figure)and gets played as a loveable old softy (Rex Harrison) or a Victorian statesman.
There's no point in inviting people into history by making it more like today. That's like getting children to like the taste of Grange Hermitage by stirring in chocolate syrup.


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

People are giving Peter Costello rather too much credit for the word “sorry”.

Apologies come in a number of strengths.

It’s a pity I’m such a nice person

“I’m sorry I wasn’t told”

“I’m sorry I trusted the wrong people.”

It’s a pity everyone else is so thin-skinned

“I’m sorry if I was misunderstood.”

“I’m sorry if anyone was offended.”

It’s a pity the world is the way it is

“I’m sorry it was necessary.”

“I’m sorry it happened” (tsunamis happen; stuffups are somebody’s fault)

The only form of apology that involves any element of sacrifice of image is the one you never hear –

It’s a pity I did the wrong thing

“I’m sorry I made a mistake.”

Let’s wait for that one before becoming overwhelmed by his nobility.


Friday, February 11, 2005

Walt Kelly

Seguing directly to Walt Kelly.
"Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door."
"What's the use of a better mousetrap? It isn't the better mice that cause the trouble, it's that rough element, the worser mice."


Thursday, February 10, 2005

Cooking Sherry revisited

For those curious about the place of sherry in the class system, here is a definite marker;

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A Texas woman has been indicted for criminally negligent homicide for causing her husband's death by giving him a sherry enema, a police detective said on Wednesday.

Tammy Jean Warner, 42, gave Michael Warner two large bottles of sherry on May 21, which raised his blood alcohol level to 0.47 percent, or nearly six times the level considered legally drunk in Texas, police detective Robert Turner in Lake Jackson, Texas, told the Houston Chronicle.

"We're not talking about little bottles here," Turner said. "These were at least 1.5-liter bottles."

Warner, 58, was said to have an alcohol problem and received the wine enema because a throat ailment left him unable to drink the sherry, Turner told the newspaper.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Democracy, 2095 years BC

Bush informs us (Feb 05) that
" We've seen a remarkable, remarkable series of events when you think about it. In a very brief period of time, Afghanistan became a democracy, people were able to vote for a President of that country -- they tell me, for the first time in 5,000 years."

If one were to look for matter in these burblings, one might ask
1) who did the Afghans vote for in the presidential elections of 2095 BC?
2) why is voting for a president so much prefereable to voting for members in a parliamentary system, which even ignoring elections under Kamal et al they did in 1969?


"I believe every soul yearns to be free; that's what I believe. I believe everybody desires to be free. The Iraqi elections helped prove that point. The people did incredibly brave things in order to express their will. It's because people love freedom and if given the chance to be free, they accept freedom."

If he does believe that (say) the election-bombers aren't people and have no souls, as would seem to be implied by the logic of the proposition, I suppose Abu Ghraib makes sense.


And for those of you who have got a loved one in the theater, or has a loved one in the theater today, you got to know that the Iraqi people appreciate our sacrifices."

What is the distinction he sees between 'has got' and 'has'?

"muddled", yes. but I'm sure they map back on to some proposition in his mind - I just can't always work out what it is.


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Yet another Dan Brown rant

Can't the man get anything right?

The girl sitting next to me on the train this morning was reading the expensive illustrated edition of DVC, and glancing over her shoulder I noted the line "her father's vacation chateau in Normandy, north of Paris."

Calais is north of Paris. Normandy is just about due west of Paris. This is not rocket science, folks!

And I'm supposed to respect his opinions on ecclesiology?


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