Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Case of the Red-Headed Dwarfs, part 16

Cocklecarrot: The time has, I think, come for you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, to consider this case on its merits.
Foreman of Jury: And what, sir, would you say were its merits?
Cocklecarrot: What would you?
Foreman: We have not so far understood one word of the proceedings.
Cocklecarrot: I must say there have been moments when I myself seemed to have lost touch with the real world. Nevertheless, certain facts stand out.
Foreman: For instance?
Cocklecarrot: I will not be crossexamined by my own jury. You are here to deliver a verdict, not to question me. You have heard the evidence.
Foreman: Was that the evidence? All that horseplay?
Cocklecarrot: If this continues I shall discharge the jury, and the case will be heard all over again with a new jury. Stop those dwarfs singing! This is not a music hall.

Life Expectancy

From John Quiggin:
“We just returned from Sydney where we saw our first grandchild, James, now two weeks old. (I’ll skip all the doting grandparent stuff, but other grandfathers and grandmothers can fill it in for themselves). It’s striking to think that he could easily be around in 2100 and, given plausible advances in medical technology, well beyond that.”

Well, the life expectancy now at birth for a man is eighty, taking us to 2090: projecting on using the basis of the increases for the last 20 years, by the time he reaches 2090 the average age of death will be 107, giving him another 27 years and taking us to 2117: by 2117 it will be 118, another 11 years; by 228 123; by 233 125: by 235 126; so about 127 years old, then. Of course, as a rich bugger’s son he’ll probably do about 5% better than that.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Fascinating. Henley's Invictus, by the man who was the model for Long John Silver;

being the last words of Timothy McVeigh.

I shudder to think what he would have made of Vita Lampada.


The latest piece of spam has an inexplicable charm:
We can have a cab. Habet foenum in cornu. We heard from Pearson to-day. It is no good whatever. Out with it!
What horrible work this chemistry is! Ida opened it. BREAKING THE ICE.Just one more little lesson. Do not remove this. We heard from Pearson to-day. Oysters will do.
Spells do have their place. Maybe he's a new one. And you have extremely strong magic yourself. What a fall they had taken! Wanderer looks normal to us. This eased his concern. Then two things changed his attitude. Whatever you think.
Possibly a conversation between two MI5 staffers strolling along the embankment in some Le Carre novel.
Featherstone shifted abruptly to the choice of delivery vehicle. "We can have a cab." he said, swinging his umbrella.
Grimsby sighed inwardly. What would old Follansbee have said in the Classical fifth at Charterhouse? Habet foenum in cornu, Grimsby, such men are dangerous. "We heard from Pearson to-day." he said abruptly. "It is no good whatever."
Featherstone looked at him sideways. Were the Cousins weakening? "Out with it!"
"What horrible work this chemistry is!" Grimsby said, the vision of the poison gas canisters in his briefcase momentarily clouding his vision.
Featherstone shrugged. "Ida opened it. BREAKING THE ICE." The Internal Defence Agency's inquiry on the BTI project had set in motion forces that could not now be undone. "Just one more little lesson."
Grimsby patted the inconspicuous tab that connected to the safety catch inside the briefcase. "Do not remove this. We heard from Pearson to-day. Oysters will do."
Featherstone smiled wryly. "Spells do have their place." Pearson had taken his time. Maybe he's a new one. "And you have extremely strong magic yourself."
What a fall they had taken, he and Grimsby, from those evenings in the chapel at prep school! Now even a weapon as inhuman as the Wanderer in Grimsby's briefcase looks normal to us. Still, if Pearson had cleared it then the CIA were locked in. This eased his concern. At first Pearson had scruples of his own, adding all sorts of complications. Then two things changed his attitude. 9/11 had changed everything, and Walter's promotion had cleared the way for action.
"Whatever you think." Grimsby said gloomily, looking out at a passing pleasure steamer.

All of that spells things out much more than a real Le Carre, of course: a second rewrite would probably cut it back to the original length.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Chipping in to a debate at Churls Gone Wild on direct democracy.
There is now no technical reason for the broad spending priorities of governments (x% on health, y% on education) to be decided by a professional political class rather than the populace as a whole. If you like the idea of democracy, electoral representation is, at best, a lossy compression of voters’ policy preferences. Multi-candidate ballots are low-bandwidth channels (on the face of it, a vote for Obama over McCain conveys log2(2)=1 bit of information), while the opinions of citizens over all political issues contain a huge amount of information. Elections work by exploiting redundancy in voters’ preferences. As everyone knows, political beliefs on different issues aren’t independent; they are often highly correlated, as with for example stances on abortion rights and attitudes towards global warming. The existence of mutual information between preferences (if someone wants x, there’s an increased likelihood that they also want y) allows the political signal to be compressed into party affiliation or support for some candidate. (The distribution of voter’s favourite “ideal points” in a multidimensional policy space thus maps roughly to a one-dimensional ideological spectrum, which forms the basis for the well-known median-voter theorem.)

This not-terrible system for transmitting popular wishes might have satisficed in the 19th century. But there’s just no point to it now, other than to protect the social privileges of certain groups.

We don't have direct democracy not only because we have only recently gained the ability to do it, but also because ever since Burke we have concluded that representative democracy is a superior system.

There are a number of reasons for this. In part we feel that the model parliamentarian is better informed than the general public, and is more likely to be sensitive to competing interests; in part because Arrow's Theorem says that it's theoretically impossible to guarantee that you can sum individual preferences into a general solution; in part because public opinion is not necessarily coherent or consistent. All of these are, however, largely irrelevant.

The insurmountable problem with direct democracy - with plebiscites, no matter how efficient, working from citizen's preferences - is that it mistakes the means for the end. The one absolute rule is that the king's government must be carried on. (That's an archaic formulation, but it does emphasize that the nation is more than simply the sum of the preferences of its citizens). Decisions have to be taken within reality-based constraints and within the constraints of previous decisions, and these decisions are governed by different standards of morality and desirability than the decisions we take as individuals; cf. Machiavelli.

The functions of a parliamentary system are
* to elect an executive
* to provide the personnel for the executive
* to provide sufficient legitimacy to that executive
* to blur and diffuse individual solicitations into a policy that's generally acceptable

It's a category error to say that what's important to the parliament as a parliament is important to the executive as an executive. The fact that in this country there's a partial coincidence between the members of each group only confuses the issue.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Get Bent

The Republicans are probing deeper:
'Say no to socialism, no to utilitarianism!"
Fight on, I say. Hold our banner high - "The least good for the smallest number!"

The Case of the Red-Headed Dwarfs, part 15

Meanwhile a brawl was taking place outside the court. A lady bearing a banner which said, 'Litigate, Don't Arbitrate,' was accidentally pushed off the pavement by the dwarfs, who had come in a large motor-car.
When Mrs. Tasker arrived, she held a newspaper in front of her face, thus enabling the unwary Press photographers to advertise the Hunstanton Daily Courier.
The dwarfs were cross-examined to-day. At least, one of them was cross-examined.
Mr. Hermitage: Your name is Howard Brassington ?
The Dwarf (in a deep, loud voice): It is no such thing.
Mr. Hermitage (consulting his notes): What is your name, then?
The Dwarf: Stanislas George Romney Barlow Barlow Orchmeynders.
Mr. Hermitage: Two Barlows?
The Dwarf: Why not?
Mr. Hermitage: You are a night watchman.
The Dwarf: Why not?
Cocklecarrot: Mr. Porchminder, you will please answer yes or no.
The Dwarf: No.
Mr. Hermitage: Where were you on the night of 10th April ?
The Dwarf: No.
Cocklecarrot (to counsel): Apart from retaining fees, would it not be better to speed up this case a bit?
The Dwarf: Yes.
Cocklecarrot: Send him away. Call Mrs. Renton.
Mr. Hermitage: Speak your mind, Mrs. Renton, speak your mind.
Mrs. Renton: I will. I accused Mrs. Tasker of driving a dozen redheaded dwarfs into my hall. She admits she did it. The dwarfs say she did it. Well, what more is there to be said? What are we waiting for?
Cocklecarrot: Mrs. Renton, you do not understand that certain formalities – er - the Law has its own way of doing things.
Mrs. Renton: And that is why I have to come here day after day to listen to all this irrelevant foolery -- speeches about the Navy, arguments about a dwarf's mother, fuss about dates, and so on.
Cocklecarrot: I am the first to admit that there have been irregularities and delays in this case, but-- (A dwarf shouts loudly, 'M'lud! M'lud!' Cocklecarrot and Mrs. Renton exchange glances.)
Mr. Hermitage: Well?
The Dwarf: I think I'm going to be sick.
Mrs. Renton: That is about the only thing that hasn't happened in this case so far.
Cocklecarrot: Usher! Remove that dwarf.

Privacy is dead

On Core Economics Joshua Gans calls for iPhones for All.
I just wanted to let you know that your economics crusader is on the case to score each and everyone of you a free iPhone and to save the environment while doing it. The path became clear to me this weekend as we used our Tom Tom iPhone app to do its usual navigation around Boston. This time, it could tell us whether there were any traffic incidents on our route and advise us of alternatives. With this, I could see it all.

And what did I see? Imagine that we all had this in our cars. Imagine also (and I know this might be a stretch) that we all entered our route plans into the iPhone and those plans were uploaded into the cloud. Then all of this information could be aggregated and the ‘optimal’ route for each of us worked out so that traffic was minimised. We would then receive directions based on the centrally coordinated route and all be better off for it.

Now, for this to work, a sufficient number of people would have to have an iPhone or equivalent. I’m not sure what the sufficient number is (it is probably less than 100%). Now you wouldn’t be compelled to follow the instructions handed to you but if it was meaningful you would follow them anyway as it will likely make you at least weakly better off by doing so. That is, the routes handed down could be incentive compatible and also update in real time as others came into and out of the mix.

The point is that iPhone adoption (and consequent buying in to the centrally controlled traffic system) would involve positive externalities and hence, there would be a prima facie case for public subsidisation of them. I think it is time for a movement or at least an ‘iPhones can save the environment’ Facebook group.

I comment
This is a particular instance of the general principle that more widely shared information would increase efficiency. My own favorite would be the immense increase in medical knowledge if all medication purchases and medical records were keyed to hospital records and death notices, providing us with unimpeachable epidemiological data for every combination of pills. I'd estimate that it could add twenty years to the lifespan. It would also, of course, require that any notion of privacy be entirely eliminated; as would your suggestion, which is unworkable unless a central agency essentially knows where you are at all times. Can we agree to begin with an Australia Card before we add the electronic bells and whistles?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Case of the Red-Headed Dwarfs, part 14

The hearing was held up for a long time today, when the Deputy Puisne Serjeant-at-Arraigns discovered that, owing to an error of the Chief Usher of the Wardrobe, Mr. Justice Cocklecarrot had emerged from the Robing Room with his wig on back to front. According to an old statute of Canute (Op. II. C. in dom:reg:circ.: 37. Cap. 9 pp.: gh: ad: ba: ha: 26, per Hohum 46: 98 (e). Tan: 64 by 36: zh: vas: H. Mid: sub rosa 49) the wig must be changed round by the Bailiff of the Wards. So they sent a messenger to bring him from Gregson's Dive. When he arrived he had forgotten the words of the prescribed ritual, and instead of taking Cocklecarrot's left foot in his right hand, he took his right foot in his left hand, thus invalidating the whole tomfoolery.

Monday, March 15, 2010

They must have seen me coming

The Birregurra bookshop had a copy of the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, first edition, 1957, going cheap because it was missing several sections (Nilus-Origen and Theophilanthropist-Trinity) owing to a binding error.


ABDH-ISHO - See Ebejesus.

Sects I am tempted to join
Plumstead Peculiars
Podcarpian Ruthenians

Heresies I am tempted to adopt
Laxism (Whoo hoo!)

Saint who had a very good year indeed in 1976

Spy Wednesday, the day before Maundy Thursday (and two days before Good Friday) - commemorating the betrayal of Christ by Judas.


Posted at Larvatus Prodeo:
I think I can distinguish my antizionism from antisemitism by my enthusiasm for accepting up to three million ex-Israelis as preferred immigrants to Australia when the inevitable collapse comes. Talk about a two-state solution surely ignores the reality that for that to come about at least one of the party principals has to want it; and -- given that the amorphous lump of 'people of good will' doesn't have an army, a political party, or a strategy, and thus doesn't qualify as a party principal - none of them do. We're talking Crusader Kingdoms here, people: able to hang on on the coast while the arabs are disorganised, driven out whenever a moment comes when the arabs get their act together. Not this year, not next year, but who's prepared to make a book for 2100? Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that Jews won't be in a majority by then even within the 1956 borders (and suggest that the population of the occupied territories will have topped a hundred million, which does draw attention to the limitations of these projections, but which also draws attention to the totally counterproductive Israeli strategy of keeping the territories at a level of poverty below the demographic transition line). There is no conceivable long-term winning strategy for a Jewish state, and I can't see why that fact shouldn't influence our approach to the issue here and now. I really don't see why I should have to listen to any defence of Israel that doesn't spell out at least a sketchy outline of why the speaker believes keeping a Jewish state in being is anything more than a rearguard action postponing and making more difficult an inevitable capitulation.

Friday, March 12, 2010


OK, despite what I say here there is theoretically a reason why US marines aren't described as soldiers; technically they're sailors, being under the Navy, only in practice not. Theoretically, again,
The United States Marine Corps serves as an amphibious force-in-readiness. As outlined in 10 U.S.C. § 5063 and as originally introduced under the National Security Act of 1947, it has three primary areas of responsibility:
* "The seizure or defense of advanced naval bases and other land operations to support naval campaigns;
* The development of tactics, technique, and equipment used by amphibious landing forces; and
* Such other duties as the President may direct."

The last presumably accounting for the fact that they haven't really done either of the first two since what, Inchon? Certainly Fallujah doesn't abut any known coast.
Anyway, thank christ Australia doesn't have any. Pernicious in every respect.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hello, hello, hello

NSW police: corrupt, incompetent and totally technophobic.
Q: How do I apply for a National Criminal History Record Check?
A: Individuals requiring a National Criminal History Record Check may apply through a NSW Police station or a NSW Police Force Registered Organisation. Please refer to Information Sheet No. 1 Applying for a National Criminal History Record Check available at

That is to say, the link doesn't actually go to the information sheet, it goes to the home page, from whence you can get to the info sheet only with a further two clicks.

Mind you, they do seem to be trying to discourage people from using the service, so it's just possible that the clodhopperishness is deliberate.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Case of the Red-Headed Dwarfs, part 13

Mr. Hermitage: Now, Dr. Spunton, is there, to your knowledge, any disease which would account for Mrs. Tasker's strange habits?
Dr. Spunton: There is. It is called rufo-nanitis. The spymtoms-
Mr. Hermitage: Symptoms.
Dr. Spunton: Yes, spymptoms, but I always put a 'p' before a 'y'.
Cocklecarrot: With what object, might we ask?
Dr. Spunton: I can't help it, m'lud.
Cocklecarrot: Do you say pyesterday?
Dr. Spunton: Pyes, unfortunatelpy. It's hereditarpy. Mpy familpy all do it.
Cocklecarrot: But why 'p'?
Dr. Spunton: No, py, m'Iud.
Cocklecarrot: This case is the most preposterous I ever heard. We get nowhere. The evidence is drivel, the whole thing is a travesty of justice. In two weeks we have done nothing but listen to a lot of nonsense. The case will be adjourned until we can clear things up a bit.
Dr. Spunton: But I was brought all the wapy from Pyelverton.
Cocklecarrot: Well, go pyack to Pyelverton. Goodpye, and a phappy pjournepy. Pshaw!

Infinite Regress

In Moonee Ponds the other day, a sign on the traffic light post with the walking man figure and "OBSERVE SIGNALS". Surely incomplete, though: it must require another sign saying "OBSERVE 'Observe Signals' SIGN", and another saying 'Observe "OBSERVE 'Observe Signals' SIGN" Sign', and another saying "OBSERVE 'Observe "OBSERVE 'Observe Signals' SIGN" Sign' SIGN",and so on until reels the mind. Municipalities should hire more philosophers, but when is that not true?

Alice is at it again

The Burton Alice; well, some of the pictures were nice, and Burton is not the first person, or the fiftieth, to be defeated by the lack of a plot in Wonderland.

But even so, the overplot in the real world was lamentable and the underplot in Underland was worse. What was the point of overthrowing the red queen to raise the white queen, who was portrayed as a vapid and cowardly bloodless schemer? What was needed was a synthesis, and there was Alice handy to provide one - Queen Alice, who actually does turn up in TLG. I could think of many other ways to tighten the plotting, all from Plots 101, which means that Burton deliberately chose the current version: which is hard to explain.

Current 3D glasses cut out so much light that they're useable almost only by Tim Burton, who prefers gloom anyway. I did have intimations, though, that we are going through another great revision, to an era - five years, ten? - where 2D films will be watched only by cineastes.

Friday, March 05, 2010

There it is again

In a political piece on Romney,
Romney himself never served, and his unfamiliarity with military issues is evident in “No Apology.” He proposes adding “at least 100,000 soldiers to the army and the marines” (Marines are not soldiers).....

In what sense does the word 'soldiers' not apply to people who walk around town in uniforms collectively shooting people? Americans are peculiar on this issue; they really seem to have a cultural twist that makes it impossible for them to envisage a world without 'marines', as if, say, Australians had another colour that nobody else could see, or the Welsh had up, down, sideways and cwmf.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Dodged another one, then

BIBLE CODE: EX:39:10, DEUT:1:36:

and you have to remember that this guy was no novice: he'd successfully predicted (well, retrospectively, but that still counts, right?) both the Haiti and Chilean earthquakes.



And, just for those of you who aren't watching CNN, the outcome of American Idol:
ADAM LAMBERT - IDOL - LOSS: I found this Bible Code 12 hours before
The "American Idol" result show was aired on FOX TV.


The Haiti and Chile Earthquakes could not be prevented but this Comet Impact- MARCH 01 2010 Code can be prevented.


1) NASA could search for a Comet that could impact Utah on 01 MARCH 2010. I am sure they could calculate the trajectory this comet would come from to Impact Utah, USA.

The Bible Code says, SEARCH TOWARDS VEGA (IN LYRA) and DAYLIGHT - DAYTIME- IN THE MORNING that shows NASA as well as all earth-based observatories the direction this Comet-Fragment will come from.

2) NASA has developed "Deep Impact" technology that could shatter or re-direct an incoming Comet with a satellite collision, and this satellite- interceptor could be armed with a nuclear warhead.

3) HLS could work out an Emergency Evacuation Plan for Salt Lake City case "Deep Impact" fails, just to be safe. (the code names the abbreviation, "SLC").

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Age bin - Gaza

Julie Szego complains in the Age today that Israel is being demonised internationally. Well, Israel is blockading Gaza, keeping nearly one and a half million people on near-starvation rations and restricting medicine and fuel. If you will keep people in hell, you shouldn't complain if people fit you for horns and a tail.

The Case of the Red-Headed Dwarfs, part 12

Mr. Snapdriver: Now, Mrs. Tasker, you do not deny that on several occasions you drove these dwarfs, a dozen of them, into Mrs. Renton's hall.
Mrs. Tasker: That is so.
Mr. Snapdriver: What was your motive? '
Mrs. Tasker: I wanted to drive the dwarfs into her hall.
Mr. Snapdriver: But why? Can you give me any reason? You will admit it is an unusual occupation.
Mrs. Tasker: Not for me. I've done it all my life.
Mr. Snapdriver: You have driven dwarfs into other ladies' houses?
Mrs. Tasker: Certainly.
Cocklecarrot: Where do you get your supply of dwarfs?
Mrs. Tasker: From an agency. Fudlow and Trivett.
Cocklecarrot: Extraordinary. Most extraordinary.

Reset your watches

"HOWEVER, if April 8th, 2010 comes around and nothing has happened (i.e. no Rapture, no destruction of Damascus, and no Gog & Magog War). Then I will be like Mark Blitz in where he has said:


Rosh Hashanah!

(Feast of Trumpets)



God Bless You Doves!

See You in Heaven in 2010!

B.G. Ellis"

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Dodged another one, then

Could The Rapture and sudden destruction happen on (or around) Purim:
February 28th 2010?--

Anthony (22 Feb 2010)
"Israeli decision to attack Iran next Sunday: February 28th 2010"

One of an infinitely continuing series.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Jensen Redux

From Boing Boing -
The brain and intelligence

You know what they say about people with big brains ... Or, actually, maybe you don't.

Despite being a major concept underlying of the neurobiology of intelligence for the last 150 years or so, the connection between brain size and smarts isn't well-understood by Joe and Jane Average. Does it mean smaller people—including women—are less intelligent? What about animals, like elephants, that have much larger brains than ours? Are our academic destinies really written in our hat size?

It's complicated. We know that brain size and intelligence are correlated, but that simple fact is only a starting point for a much more intricate story—one that science is only beginning to understand.

First off, yes, bigger brains really do seem to be smarter brains. That correlation has been pretty solidly proven, experts say, and the connection gets stronger when you calculate total brain volume via MRI technology or post-mortem analysis, rather than simply running a tape measure around somebody's head. Basically, the more accurate and precise the brain measurement, the more size and smarts are connected.

How connected varies a bit, depending on the methodology, but an analysis of previous research, published in 2005 in the journal Intelligence, found a .33 correlation at the population level. Which means, if you look at humans as a whole, a little more than 10% of the difference in intelligence from person to person can be accounted for by brain size.

That's statistically significant. But it also means overall brain size isn't the only thing affecting intelligence. Case in point: Gender.
By Maggie Koerth-Baker at 7:35 AM February 26, 2010

If anybody has actual library access to the "analysis of previous research, published in 2005 in the journal Intelligence" could they check a couple of points?

1) Controls.
Large and tall people are more likely to be well-fed, and therefore on balance more likely to be rich. Unless size variation is tracked within comparable income groups, that's an obvious possible source of 'bias' (used in its non-technical sense).

2) 'an analysis of previous research"...
when I last looked at this issue ( some twenty years ago the then popular brainsize/intelligence review (Van Valen) went back to include data from Pearson in 1906, at a time when methodologies were, to say the least, less developed. I commented then that "One of the besetting sins of psychometrics is that it continues to hoard its references long after they have gone thoroughly rotten, as if the transformation into number raised experiments into a sphere where their methodology could not date." Could somebody check this out?

In my experience, people with a commitment to the measurement of intelligence are prepared to be satisfied with evidence and arguments that are extraordinarily flimsy, and it is necessary to check their arguments, their references, and their bona fides carefully.


Yes, that was the bit that got to me -

We expect enormous tsunamis to reach
landfall in every continent. The Cho
Ming area will be impacted in
approximately six hours.

He nods to one of the analysts, who types in a couple of

... and it looks like the crust has
shifted by nearly 23 degrees in a south-
westerly direction. Here's the computer

Everybody stares as the graphic illustrates what happened to
planet Earth.

23 degrees, then, or in miles

Behind them Yuri and Jackson stare at the snow covered
mountains of the Himalayas.

There's no more ocean, and it looks
like we're pretty close to where we
wanted to go.

It's as if the whole earth shifted by
1500 miles...
No shit.
It's called 'Earth Crust Displacement'
Gordon... Prof. Hapgood, 1958.

Crustal moves of 1500 miles in what, 24 hours? The Himalayas traveling east at 60 MPH? I mean, there's suspension of disbelief, and then there's suspension of disbelief.

Nearly as irritating as this - the universal American theme, their equivalent of "Let justice be done though the heavens fall", of "Well, yes, it's the end of the world, but we're a family again so on balance all's ginger peachy".


Jackson and his family huddle together. He puts his arms
around Lilly and Noah.

Your daddy has to tell you something.

In the background, Gordon climbs down from the cockpit. He is
about to speak when he hears Jackson's voice.

I know that with my writing and work I
didn't have a lot of time for you

Jackson glances at Kate.

I wasn't there for you, the way I
should have been.

Jackson looks Kate directly in the eyes.

... And I am so very sorry for that.

Gordon watches as Kate pulls the kids and Jackson tight. For
the first time, they seem a little like the family they once

Blast from the past

Indonesian prosecutors have demanded a suspended jail sentence for a university student who was found guilty of insulting his music mentor on Facebook.

Muhammad Wahyu Muharam in August last year referred to his marching band mentor as a "scoundrel" and "very greedy" on his Facebook page.

Another example of how semi-archaic usages can be given new venom in ESL cultures. The word scoundrel is now (obs.) in political discourse in the English-speaking world, but in Indonesia it's apparently right back at the duel-provoking level of, say, London in 1760.

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