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Of cabbages, kings and a meeting of Blog war protagonists

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Leon Bertrand and I have   a face to face meet up with Scott Bridges planned for today which should be quite interesting to say the least, because how often do you get a chance to meet up with your online “enemy ” after a decade long blog war?

Hold on comrades this could be an interesting ride

 

 

Educated Cambridge University arses.

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James Dellingpole see’s much virtue in Katie from Sidney Sussex’s pert bottom

When I was at university the students were revolting they celebrated and delighted in being transgressive Sadly that is no longer the case.

Can naked bottoms really be that socio-politically significant? Oh very much so, I’d say. Especially to anyone who has just read the quite monumentally depressing cover story from this week’s Spectator by Brendan O’Neill.  His argument is that political correctness has become so heavily entrenched in academe that our seats of learning are in serious danger of abandoning perhaps their most important function: opening up developing minds to new ideas and experiences.

If your go-to image of a student is someone who’s free-spirited and open-minded, who loves having a pop at orthodoxies, then you urgently need to update your mind’s picture bank. Students are now pretty much the opposite of that. It’s hard to think of any other section of society that has undergone as epic a transformation as students have. From freewheelin’ to ban-happy, from askers of awkward questions to suppressors of offensive speech, in the space of a generation

Source

A worthy and witty post that I commend to readers of the Sandpit

Cheers  Comrades

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Brendan O’Neill on the new totalitarians, now policing even our private thoughts and word games

Hat tip to Andrew Bolt on this one:

Brendan O’Neill on the new totalitarians, now policing even our private thoughts and word games:

WHY is it bad to hack and expose photographs of a woman’s naked body but apparently OK to steal and make public the contents of a man’s soul?

This is the question that should burn in our minds in the wake of the Barry Spurr scandal.

For just a few weeks ago, when a hacker invaded the iCloud ­accounts of female celebs and ­rifled through their intimate snaps, there was global outrage… To peer into a woman’s most intimate moments was a “sexual violation”, said a writer for Guardian Australia…

Fast forward to last week, and some of the same people whose jaws hit the floor at the audacity of those who leaked these women’s private, unguarded pics were cheering the hacking of Spurr’s private, unguarded words.

Spurr, a professor of poetry at the University of Sydney, has had his private emails pored over and published by pseudo-radical, eco-miserabilist website New Matilda. In some of his emails, in what he has since claimed was a cheeky competition between him and his friends to see who could be the least PC, Spurr used words that would no doubt cause pinot gris to be spilled if they were uttered at a dinner party.

He described Tony Abbott as an “Abo lover”, referred to a woman as a “harlot”, called Nelson Mandela a “darky”, and used “Mussies” for Muslims and “chinky-poos” for Chinese. He now has been suspended by the university.

Many people will wince on reading those words. Just as we will have winced if we happened upon those photos of well-known women doing porno poses or ­engaging in shocking sex talk in videos shot by their boyfriends.

And that’s because these behaviours, both Spurr’s knowingly outrageous banter and the act­resses’ knowingly sluttish poses, share something important in common: they were private acts, not intended for public consumption. They were things done or said between intimates, far from the eyes and ears of respectable ­society. Yet where right-on commentators and tweeters stood up for the right of famous women not to have their private nakedness splashed across the internet, they have relished in the exposure of Spurr’s soul to the panting, outraged mob.

 

A most worthy argument from one of the lefties I truly respect.

Cheers Comrades

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Brendan O’Neill

So you say you want a revolution

Mao is famously quoted as insisting that “all power comes from the barrel of a gun” and while that may hold true for a country in the throes of a revolution or subject to military conquest in an established democracy like our own all power comes form the most persuasive tongues and the dialogue those tongues foster within the part of the population who are politically active or engaged.  For a very long time during my lifetime those persuasive tongues were controlled by the owners of the mass media who were able to disseminate their ideas and understandings to a receptive audience who could only respond and engage with the issues via a limited facility provided by media owners in the form of “letters to the editor” they heavily controlled the choice and publication of such feed back to maintain their monopoly of political  discourse. This made owners, editors and Journalists both powerful and significant in our democracy. Political parties and aspirants to office openly courted the media and media owners and editors of both political inclinations have not hesitated to promote or deride the political players of their day especially when it came to promoting their own beliefs or vested interests. Thus we have a business focused player like Rupert Murdoch considering not only the players who will serve his political ideals but also his business interests. We should never forget that the reason that anyone publishes a news paper or owns a commercial television channel is to make a quid by selling advertising on or in it so it naturally follows that a media entity has to be responsive to its audience and to some extent reflect the needs desires and aspirations of that audience as well. Thus no matter what the ideology of a media owner may be (and I’m sure that some readers are imagining Rupert Murdoch as an evil manipulative puppet master right now) he or she also  has to respect and reflect the audience who buy his product.

The media landscape changed with the rise of the internet and the invention of the blog. All of a sudden political discourse was not controlled by mega rich gate keepers who shaped the discourse through their cohorts of authorized writers and speakers (journalists) Suddenly ANYONE  could write anything they pleased about the issues of the day and more importantly ANYONE could comment freely on what had been written. And comment people did with spirit and gusto. In the political blogs that were the pioneers of this brave new online world it was not uncommon to have comment threads that had many hundreds of postings as commentators had lively debates in real time as they tried to “find the plan” to explore an issue with great thoroughness. The problem is that most of these blogs have become very tribal indeed. A sort of mob rule mentality and tribalism has become the norm in most of the online spaces where politics are discussed. Thus if you visit any popular political site you will find that the commentators who have views consistent with the slant of the site tend to gang up on anyone with a dissenting voice who happens to raise their heads above the parapets and offer a contrary opinion. I’ve seen this happen on both left-wing and right-wing sites and it almost always devolves into personal attacks upon the person espousing a heterodox position along with the accusation that they are “trolling”.

My question is does it have to be this way forever? Surely the better way to go would be for those who have a passion for politics to do more than just seek the affirmation of those with a like minded.  Democratic politics is first and foremost about the art of persuasion. If you want change you have to persuade those who disagree with that change that they are in error and that the changes you propose have real virtue. No one is ever going to be persuaded to change their opinion if they never even encounter a rationale for a contrary opinion or if they never have their own beliefs challenged which means that even the most spirited but  “within the tribe” discussion is ever going to change a single mind. To make change within a democracy you have to change the minds and vote of those who give our political candidates their jobs.

What I advocating here is that those who want to see a better standard of political debate in this country learn to respect political difference and to embrace diversity in their interlocutors and further that everyone who wants a  better Australia needs to try to breakdown the tribalism in the online spaces where we discuss the issues. At the very least you could learn more about why those you disagree with think the way that they do, and you may even find that you can persuade them to a position that is closer to the way you see things.

Of course if you are going to be at all convincing you will have to interact with your interlocutors sincerely and with a generosity in debate that many culture warriors (as so many long time blog commentators become) find difficult. You see snarky comebacks and put downs become quite addictive when you are arguing with someone in an online forum (I know because I have not always  been a saint on that myself) but if you can resist that temptation you will discover a couple of things pretty quickly. Firstly your “political opposites” are often  not that different to yourself and that you may well have more in common than your think you do. From common ground you can find a common purpose and from a common purpose you can find a way to try to reconcile the differences in your positions. Even if you can’t reconcile those differences you can at least learn to respect each other.

As I suggested with the tittle “So you say you want a revolution ” its very easy to want change if you don’t think about how that change is to happen and what is to be built in the place of that which you want to tear down. Well I want to see a revolution in political discourse where those on the right and those on the left are willing to engage in productive online  debate that does not just degenerate in to acrimony and rancor. Hopefully in time we will see roughly equal numbers of players in the modern electronic sandpits but if we can’t have equal numbers any time soon can we at least have some respect for those of one political persuasion who go and play in the sand pits of the other-side? These brave souls bring that most rare and valued thing to these debates and that is what the Catholics used to call “an advocate for the devil”. You see once you have an advocate for the devil in your debates the depth to which you can explore the issues increases as a consequence. Of course those who just go into online comment threads for a bit of venting and affirmation from the like minded will probably hate having their blinkered thinking challenged, they will also hate having to justify many of the notions that they have previously taken for granted but the totality of the debate will have benefited. In the end we all want to change the world, we all want to see the plan, but you need to do more than carry pictures of Chairman Mao if you want to make it with anyone.

With a hat-tip to John and Paul

Waiting

I expect there are readers of the Sandpit who are waiting for my next words of wisdom. Well I’m it a bit of a waiting mode too. I have finally connected up our new water-tank I have set it up  so that it can both equalize with the house tank and with a bypass that allows me to fill it above what would be the full to the brim level of the house tank. So naturally I’m waiting for it to rain now and the Gods are trying hard to mock my hubris.

In terms of my car building hobby its been a case of one step forward and a couple back. I want to swap out the Honda carbs I have on my sports car for a pair of SUs which I naturally want to rebuild. Naturally enough the mob I order a full kit form have the kit I want on back-order, due late this month. Likewise after a great deal of thought I have decided to fit a manual gearbox . The normal wisdom would be to go for a five speed but I have a very limited budget so I’ve bought a 4 speed out of a KE70 Corolla and guess what I’m waiting for that to be delivered by courier from the importer I bought it from. Those of you who are familiar with my car  may be wondering why I chose that particular gearbox well its the manual alternative to the Auto that I currently have in the car which means the adapter plate I made for that box will work for the manual. All I have to do is get a Pulsar flywheel, a Corolla clutch plate make a clutch peddle  and of coarse that will all need a bit of finessing . Which means you guessed it more waiting as I try to source all that I will need and waiting between the small amount of time that my pain issues will allow me to tinker with this stuff. What this all means is more waiting…

Hell is the eternal sojourn in a waiting room, where   the magazines are filled with print that is just a tiny bit to small to read  and the TV plays eternal advertorials for consumer  crap that promises far more than it can ever deliver.

Cheers Comrades

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Recognise? What precisely?

KangarooNappingAnimatedByHeatherGillWith all of the talk of changing to constitution to “recognise” Indigenous Australians in the constitution I have been doing my darnedest to find out anything about what the proposed changes to the constitution will actually be saying, some sample of the proposed words would be good but instead all we get are vagueries and platitudes:

OPPOSITION LEADER Bill Shorten has warned against waiting “too long” to change the constitution to acknowledge indigenous Australians — and said any reform should be “substantive” and not tokenistic.

“I believe that the sooner our constitution gives just recognition to our First Australians, the better,” he told The Australian.

OK Bill but what does that mean? will such changes have any practical effects in the lives of any Australian?

“It is a historical wrong that must be made right. But it must be more than a token gesture — it must be substantive change”.

“Bipartisanship is critical for any referendum proposal to succeed. I’m prepared to work with the Prime Minister on this to make sure there is a political consensus on the timing and the content”.

If I’m not mistaken the “historical wrong” Shorten is referring to is the Establishment of the British colonies , firstly in NSW and later elsewhere, well personally I just can’t see such events in the sort of negative light that Shorten shines here.

Coalition indigenous MP, Ken Wyatt, who is leading the process, has been more cautious, saying any vote should only be held when “Australia is ready.”

Mr Wyatt, the chair of the cross party constitution committee, said: “We shouldn’t go too early but we shouldn’t go too late either and run the risk of missing the opportunity.

Err OK Ken but until we see the words no one will have the slightest notion of the virtue of what is proposed now will they?

Mr Wyatt’s committee is currently consulting on the wording to be taken to a referendum.

“The Committee is considering presenting a progress report in December and is not required to present its final report until 30 June 2015,” he said.

So does that mean that we are going to get nearly another year of these endless empty gestures trying to soften up the public for an as yet unenunciated change to the constitution?

Aboriginal Commissioner Mick Gooda has called for the referendum to acknowledge indigenous Australians to be held next year.

Delivering the annual Nulungu Reconciliation Lecture in Broome, Mr Gooda challenged the Prime Minister to hold a referendum before the next federal election and avoid endless rounds of consultation on the issue.

How typically undemocratic a notion from a minion of the left.

Joint Campaign Director of the Recognise campaign Tim Gartrell praised Mr Gooda’s “excellent contribution to the debate”.

“We’ve always said we shouldn’t wait a day longer than is necessary to make these important changes to the constitution,” he said. “This also means all the preconditions need to be in place. The momentum needed for success is growing every day. There are now more than 215,000 supporters who have joined Recognise.

215,000 supporters is notthat significant when you consider that we are a nation of more than 20Million people, in fact I would suggest that  215,000 supporters is barely even all of the “usual suspects”

Labor’s first indigenous senator -Nova Peris does not back Aboriginal Commissioner Mick Gooda’s call for the referendum to acknowledge indigenous Australians to be held next year, arguing it is better to take longer than get it wrong.

Senator Peris, who is the deputy chairwoman of the committee looking at options for recognition, said rushing the issue would be devastating.

“It’s imperative we do the work required to ensure this succeeds,” he said. “To risk failure in an attempt to simply rush the procedure would be devastating.”

Source

Well for once I agree with a Labor person about something! That said unless we have a very clear enunciation of just what words are to be added to the constitution and what the possible effect of that change could be then I for one will be campaigning against there being ANY change simply because those advancing the yes case are already being deceptive. You see I am old fashioned enough to think that there should be no laws on our statute books that privileges any individual on the basis of their race or ethnicity, or what they claim is their race or ethnicity. We live in the here and now, in a contemporary Australia whose laws apply equally to all with a blindness to race gender or ethnicity. Its not a perfect blindness to those distinctions but its close enough to sing its praises and we should resist any move that makes the law notice the colour of a man’s skin, the faith in his heart or even if he is a man. So many on all sides of politics espouse notions of equality and I think that if   we the public are being asked to agree with the proposition that some Australians are going to be considered “more equal” than the rest of us that we should just vote NO!

Cheers Comrades

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Waiting for the full wash cycle on “work for the dole”et al

I’ve been watching the minions of the left have conniptions about the proposed changes to the way that Job seekers are expected to show their willingness to  find work. On one hand you have the Government suggesting that the Unemployed should be willing to make 40 job applications a month and on the other side you have people insisting that its too much to ask.

I sort of think that both sides are right and wrong here.

Its very clear that in some parts of the country there simply are not enough jobs for the people who need them. and no amount of badgering  the unemployed to make more of an effort is going to make thee needed jobs magically appear. Frankly the mad drive to import every more people is not helping either because every new arrival is going to be competing for that scarce commodity,namely  a job. Further the march of the technology that is so beloved by our Latte sipping friends is only going to make things worse. Take the example of your local supermarket. Have you noticed they all now have the self serve checkouts? well do you realize that those self serve checkouts only have one person watching say six units in  use and to help customers make their purchases? That represents the loss of five jobs right there. Now while working in retail may not be that glamorous it is an honorable profession that has sustained many workers, (mainly women) in the quest to provide for their own and the sustenance of their families. This sort of automation is happening in every aspect of our society. Its in the your library, its in your bank its every where and the trend is accelerating. The trend simply means that no matter how many more people we have the machine of our economy needs fewer people to run it. Likewise I draw the attention to those cute little robot vacuum cleaners  that are endlessly advertised on TV and ask you to consider how long will it be the case business will be using them to replace cleaners in their offices?

On the other side of the ledger  the obligation to make 40 approaches for those ever decreasing job opportunities will probably not be that hard to meet if a Job seeker digitizes a generic application letter and their resume that they send out to any business or potential job source entity. It does not even need to be customized for each instance that it is sent. Now I’m guessing (because I’m not personally playing this game) this on top of checking any jobs  that are actually advertised  would meet the obligation. How long till someone develops an app to do precisely that? However having made the obligation more onerous and punitive it hardly going to make the lives of the unemployed any easier. Worse yet it will turn every job seeker into something of a Spam merchant and if my friends in small business don’t just mark all of the extra job applications as “spiced ham” I would be very surprised indeed.

The other aspect in play is the old “work for the dole” which I have some serious reservations about. Mainly those reservations concern the amount of time that individuals will be obliged to work each week and the effective hourly rate that they will be working for. Its just manifestly unfair that any work people are obliged to do should be anything less than the going rate for such work. On top of that just what work are these people going to be asked to do and who is going to manage organize and supervise such work? Further I have concerns about the possibility that participants may be subject to bullying by those who run any  “work for the dole” schemes.   Finally there is the issue of cost, these schemes will cost more to run than any potential savings in the welfare budget so will it really be  about the savings?

In conclusion though we can’t escape the fact that all of these proposals will require legislation to be made to happen and I just can’t see  the current Senate passing many  of these proposals which means that when the rubber hits the road what we will see will be somewhat diluted from what is currently being discussed. Sadly what neither it nor any alternative from Labor is going to address the clear structural issues that the march of technology is going to pose for humanity  without that in the mix neither side of politics and certainly not the ordinary people are going to be winners. The Politics of this are pretty obvious though The Government is playing to its most  hardline economic  neoCon  demographic who believe that  welfare is just a waste of taxpayer’s money and that the poor or unemployed are just an inconvenience and generally a cohort of bludgers. The simple truth that conservatives like me recognize is that  our welfare system is a necessary bulwark that ensures that we have  a truly civil society and not one where the underclass is driven to a life of intrusive criminality to sustain the necessities of life Maintaining that bulwark at a cost that our economy can afford is the trick of it and on this score both sides of our politics play the “cruel to be kind” game (remember Gillard’s treatment of single parents?)  Taking the longer view  I am going to reserve my judgement on this whole thing until I see just how it comes out in the wash.

Cheers Comrades

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By the numbers

Its a good thing that the use of signature  for electronic transaction is coming to an end, as far as I’m concerned

But advocates for the elderly and disabled still have concerns about the new system.

‘‘The purpose of this is better security but for some people it will have the reverse effect,’’ Council on the Ageing Australia’s chief executive, Ian Yates, said.

The council has had reports of bank staff advising elderly people with memory problems to carry a written record of their PIN.

‘‘I’m sure that’s not the official bank position … but that’s what some people will do,’’ Mr Yates said. ‘‘The security implications are worrying.’’

The president of Blind Citizens Australia, Greg Madson, said many older members had never navigated a terminal keypad. ‘‘We will be advocating for some sort of uniformity across the design of these [terminals] so that people who are vision impaired … [do] not have to struggle around the keyboard,’’ he said.

The executive director of the Australian Retailers Association, Russell Zimmerman, said retailers were prepared for the switch and the majority welcomed it.

‘‘It’s going to be far more secure,’’ said Mr Zimmerman, who knows of one man who regularly signed for credit card purchases as ‘Mickey Mouse’. ‘‘Retailers just do not look at these signatures.’’

Source

I have long thought that it was just too easy to copy a signature on the back of a credit card, so much so that I have long had “Pin only” written on the back of my credit card. To be honest I don’t think that there will be a substantive number of may fellow codgers who have problems with this change. Heck I think that many of them will have , like yours truly, already embraced the Paywave tech which makes the use of even a pin number largely obsolete.

Sometimes change is worthwhile but you won’t hear that said  often from me.

Cheers Comrades

I have added a donation button the the blog sadly It does not work if readers just wave their credit card over it .......

I have added a donation button the the blog, sadly It does not work if readers just wave their credit card over it …….

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