Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Thursday, August 17, 2006

VCs

My grandfather fought in the Light Horse at Gallipoli and his brother died there, which I hope gives me standing to say that the proposal to spend not far south of a million dollars on a Gallipoli VC is a criminal waste of money, an insane fetishisation of holy relics, and a clear breach of the second commandment.

Grandfather went on to lose an arm conquering Palestine for the British; if anyone has a loose million lying around it would be more sensible to use it to help the descendants of the Palestinians who were gazumped by that imperialist intervention.

Racism - LTA

As one of the people who’ve written to the Age recently questioning Israel’s right to exist, can I say that I resent being put forward as evidence of Australian anti-semitism? I said then that states don’t have an automatic right to exist, and cited the USSR, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia as examples of states that weren’t around any more. I can’t see that comparing Israelis to Russians, Yugoslavs or Czechs is evidence of a belief in racial exceptionalism. On the other hand, giving Israel a pass in Lebanon on the grounds that “the vast bulk of its citizens see [this] as a justifiable war” without applying the same principle to the Indonesians in Timor, say, or the Serbs in Kosovo, does seem to be rather tending in just that direction.

Zones

If Israel really wants a five-kilometre buffer zone with Hezbollah, it can have it tomorrow without fighting, diplomatic hassles, or bombing from the air, and in a way that contributes to peace rather than seeding new wars. It can pull its own settlers and its own forces five kilometres south. It’s not the Israeli penchant for spite fences that the world objects to – it’s their insistence on setting them up on their neighbour’s land.

History Wars

If Howard manages to push his History reforms through we will at least be confident that Australia’s youth will leave school knowing their significant dates – Coronation, 1953; Bradman, 1908-2001; Gallipoli, 1915: creation of the earth, 4004 BC.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Re-Becca

I mentioned a while ago that my friend Rebecca had set up a blog. She has now with typical lack of persaverence dropped it and started another - http://becseidner.spaces.live.com/ - that kicks off with a lengthy piece on her life so far. Best of luck, Bec bec.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bare to the cold wind

John Snow at whitehouse briefings (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/08/20060809-1.html) -
"The President believes, and history will bare him out, that free and democratic states are far more peaceful, and create the basis and opportunity, especially in an unstable part of the world, for economic, social, political ties that in the long run are going to be a lot closer than they are today."
Oh yes, it will, it will. Naked to his enemies.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Australian Government's Workplace Giving Scheme

I've been sent a questionnaire by a UK firm that says it's evaluating the Howard Government's Workplace Giving Scheme. My reply;
"The problem is not the information provided.
The problem is not that the program is too difficult to implement.
The problem is that the government has neglected to provide any real advantage to this mode of giving. Britain has GiftAid, Australia does not. The WG scheme is a government public relations exercise to make it appear that the government supports the NFP sector without contributing a dollar of government money, changing its absurdly restrictive and confusing DGR rules, or listening to anything we say."

Monday, August 07, 2006

Fire and Ice

Chris's argument at http://faultline.org/index.php/site/bullshit/ about why knowledge adds to appreciation is why, too, I have difficulty understanding why people would rather read fantasy fiction rather than history (leaving out of this some writers like Pratchett and Birmingham who use the fantasy genre more like a thought experiment in history) or even historical fiction. In most fantasy the dragons are simply a distraction from the fact that everybody has exactly the values that we do, not a mistake that Alfred Duggan would make.
And in poetry, Frost's "Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice" (http://www.bartleby.com/155/2.html) is an example of doing it right.

We Weren't Soldiers Once

The Age refers to a HB rocket killing ten "army reservists". Even in American coverage of Iraq these are customarily referred to as 'soldiers'.

Spite fence

If Israel really wants a five-kilometre buffer zone with Hezbollah, it can have it tomorrow without fighting, diplomatic hassles, or bombing from the air, and in a way that contributes to peace rather than seeding new wars. It can pull its own settlers and its own forces five kilometres south. It’s not the Israeli penchant for spite fences that the world objects to – it’s their insistence on setting them up on their neighbour’s land.

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