Friday, 14 October 2016

Quote of the Day

“Someone asked me the other day if I believe in conspiracies. Well, sure. Here's one. It is called the political system. It is nothing if not a giant conspiracy to rob, trick and subjugate the population."”
(Jeffrey Tucker)

Conspiracy 101

I am not naturally a great believer in conspiracy theories. There are normally far more likely reasons and explanations than conspiracy.

However there is such a thing as what is known as "Group-think". It really needs a detailed explanation but in short:

Group-think is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a groups of people and results in an irrational, or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.

 The "in-group" significantly overrates its own abilities in decision-making and significantly underrates the abilities of its opponents (the "out-group"). In addition, group-think can produce and pseudo legitimize, ugly, demonizing/dehumanizing, beliefs and actions, against the "out-group".

Group-think is also observed more broadly, in natural large groupings, such as different mind-sets of liberals versus conservatives, this conformity of viewpoints within a group does not mainly involve deliberate group decision-making, and might be better explained by the collective confirmation bias of the individual members of the group. It can naturally result in a group dynamic that can in turn look orchestrated without necessarily being so.

 It is arguable there are elements of this observable among "Remainers" in the "Brexit" campaign and aftermath of the vote.

The Remainers appeared to have a significant element of the metropolitan and Political elite, secure in their worldview and tending to look at anyone else , especially if they disagreed with them with contempt.

A neat example of faulty thinking and dehumanization was the way the Prime Minister, David Cameron, dismissed UKIP (UK Independence Party) as ‘fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists’. Many natural Conservative voters disillusioned with what they saw as the EU steamroller had increasingly identified with more reasonable elements UKIP’s not anti Europe as such, but specifically anti-EU stance.

Much of the Remain Campaign's "Project Fear" arguments were an attempt to browbeat terrify and stampede voters into being terrified of voting Leave and the "great and Good" were clearly confident they were going to have their way with a Remain vote in the referendum right up until the counting.

The Remainers had promised Armageddon in the event of a leave vote Prime Minister David Cameron even talking about war. Various world leaders had been dragooned to spout threats and warnings. Even President Barack Obama was wheeled out to spontaneously (anyone who thinks this sounds suspiciously like a peculiarly British phrase, crafted especially for a British audience please form a line) threaten that if the UK were to leave the EU it would, go to the 'back of the queue' when it came to negotiating any separate trade agreement with the US.

In the immediate aftermath of the vote there was in fact very little turbulence, except in the lives of some of the Political elite in the UK and across Europe. Heads Fell metaphorically among the British political establishment, Including David Cameron's. Much wailing and cursing was heard among the Remainers, used to getting their own way and inexperienced in accepting defeat.

Suddenly it became apparent that many of them were far more keen on the sort of democracy where things went their way than that less acceptable, practically fake, democracy.. more "Populism" almost.. Mob rule where things somehow incomprehensibly went against them.

So, and here is where we get back to the consequences of group think. They began to talk down the UK economy, currency and prospects against the evidence. They began to look at ways to subvert the result of the referendum.

The disappointed abroad, with the bitterness of spurned lovers who never saw it coming EU leaders began to threaten to make the UK pay for abandoning them.

Eventually a computer logarithm in the far east picked up on this wailing and gnashing of teeth and mistaking it for real problem instigated a flash crash in the value of sterling in eastern markets before anyone human had a clue what was happening.

It must have occurred to quite a few - it did me - at this point that if the dire predictions could somehow be made to appear to come to pass... If the Referendum could somehow be subverted, or diverted, by the usual suspects in parliament... by < href="">a court case.. then the remainer elite might yet get to have their cake and eat it.

An the poor old dumb ill educated foolishly idealistic voters would never realize their prize had been snatched away and could be lulled back to sleep, happily dreaming they had won their independence.

 Not an actual conspiracy then - as such... more a group's individuals actions collectively producing a manifestation of group-think swarming behavior... "

So, now you know - if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it still ain't necessarily actually a duck, it could, despite appearances, just be something... duck-like... duck-ish.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Hills vs Donald II. Just when you thought it was safe...

Acknowledging Getty Images + P Richards

Some random thoughts on the Presidential debate between Hills and Donald.

It’s no good. I have tried to resist commenting on the world at large. Greatly assisted by lack of time and the suspicion that it makes very little difference anyway :-) Never-the-less here goes nothing.

Firstly, having considered the two of them, I must nail my colors firmly to the mast as a strong supporter of… “None of the above”. To me neither would exactly be my first choice as a commander in chief, nor many of the also-ran’s who put their names in for nomination, on either side.

One thing that for some reason especially stuck with me about the debate was Donald’s comments about Bill Clinton. For any one who has been living in a nuclear bunker under silent running since – say 1973…

Donald has had some comments he made on camera a few years back come back to haunt him. He characterizes them as “Locker room comments”.

He said, “It was locker room talk, as I told you. That was locker room talk. I'm not proud of it.”

He neglected to mention if he was specifically referring to a Middle School Locker Room or not - Given the intellectual maturity of the original comments. - On reflection though hopefully not, as one would like to think better of middle schoolers, their whole lives in front of them, hope of the future etc.

There is probably a thesis somewhere in so called ‘Locker Room banter and unwritten protocol’ revolving around naked guys subconsciously trying to show they are not doubtful about their sexuality, by adopting and using exaggerated stereotypes.

It all brings to mind something Confucius once said: “Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?”.

But I digress - Reassuringly Donald insists he has “…tremendous respect for women.” So that’s ok then.

In any event, presumably as mitigation, or possibly in the hope of some mud randomly sticking to Hills amongst the ‘hard of thinking community’, Donald offered up a comparison between himself and her husband Bill Clinton (not just any random black sheep) -  and how he interprets allegations about Bill’s behavior as so much worse than his.

I quote, “If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse. Mine are words, and his was action. His was what he's done to women. There's never been anybody in the history politics in this nation that's been so abusive to women. So you can say any way you want to say it, but Bill Clinton was abusive to women.”

So, in Donald’s own words, according to transcripts, apparently speaking about himself, he said; “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful… I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss… I don’t even wait.” - “And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.” - “Grab them by the p---y,” - “You can do anything.”

So, to recap,  these are Donald Trump’s own words  - about what he apparently boasts are his own personal actions. So looking at his comment “Mine are words and his was action. His was what he's done to women.”? 

Really? Because it kind of sounds on the face of it like a boastful admission of actions someone was in the habit of taking - and knew from personal experience - his power and influence would let him get away with. Actions “done to women” from what was said.

From that specific ‘attack’ it seems to me Hills does not come out quite so badly, morally speaking, as the ‘wronged, faithful, forgiving wife ” arguably defending her husband. 

Maybe Donald should have thought that one through some more before trying it? There again presumably he knows his supporters…

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Quote of the Day

“And do not argue with the People of the Book otherwise than in a most kindly manner…”
(Al-`Ankabut 29:46)

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness."”
(Matthew 23:27)

Lost Shepheards?

It has been and is said that the Church of England is the Tory Party at Prayer. That may even have been true... once: but that was then and this is now.

It is certainly true that the C of E might reasonably said to represent the “Establishment”, or rather the left wing 'hard of thinking' elite at prayer.

Well it might… except that generally, the left wing elite don’t have much time, or use for prayer. It is ok for the proles you understand - sotto voce. But the thing about the left wing elite is they always imagine themselves on top.. in charge.. the Vicar rather than the flock. In positions of power handing down “wisdom” from the mount to the admiringly grateful, but sadly unable to quite see what is best for them, populace.

In the interminable run up to this fixed term election the C of E seems to be becoming more and more overtly partisanly political. It was interesting to note they were urging business to apparently maximise their UK tax liability? Well that was what it practically amounted to - whilst (of course) being effectively exempt from paying tax themselves. 'whit′ed sep′ulcher' springs to mind...

...or it would, if they hadn't changed it to 'whitewashed tomb', less poetic language - but "modern".
Apparently easily enough understood by generations who never had the benefit of Comprehensive state education.

Do they imagine unleashing their vast hoards of fanatical believers (they wish) to vote the churche’s political line will have much impact?

One suspects that whilst their pronouncements may seem significant in the Westminster village they have less impact than vapour trails on the populace in general. At least a small proportion of the voting public do seriously believe that vapour trails are a CIA conspiracy, perhaps a few might take their lead from Welby & Co. ?

Perhaps it is time to disestablish the Church of England as Nick Clegg has called for? It is questionable that they, or indeed any religion, should be allowed to retain such a position.

Better to concern themselves with diminishing flocks, abandoned Churches in the UK and rampant Christianophobia throughout the bible lands and middle east, driving the religious cleansing of Christians fourth from their homelands. So much for respect of 'people of the book'. More whit′ed sep′ulchers anybody?

Friday, 16 January 2015

Quote of the day

“Admittedly, there is a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson in history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face.”
Ronald Regan

Yo Momma...

Pope Francis

Pope Francis is “pontificating” over the Paris Massacres in Sri Lanka on a trip that focused on “inclusion” and “Harmony” between religions.

Pontificating - That’s what Popes do you’ll be thinking, practically part of the job description.

No one is saying he is not a nice, well meaning man. That is what he ought to be and history might have been less bloody if some of his predecessors were more like him in that. On the other hand maybe not, who knows.

Specifically he has been commenting on the Charlie Hebdo aspect of the apparently religiously motivated Paris murders/killings.

Presumably the massacre of Jews, simply because they are Jews does not quite fit within his homily. Those murdered French people – blameless Parisians who also happened to be of the Jewish faith - "move along, no insults to see here folks".

He seems to simply sign up without question to the Islamicist argument that any depiction of Mohammed at all is an insult to Islam. If it is actually in bad taste or an insult seems to be irrelevant.

Pope Francis suggests that some sort of physical and violent action (a bloody nose) is actually somehow appropriate to a perceived insult as long as it falls short of an actually fatal response
He goes on to say that; “One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith.”

One question that immediately arises is  - why? Why one can’t point out the inherent illogicality and ridiculousness of some aspects of a faith or belief, or mutual contradictions, or two faced practitioners, or moral contradictions – Exactly? 

What, dare I ask, makes belief based on some aspect of religion - no matter how sincerely held so…  for want of a better word.. sacred? 

 No one would reasonably expect similar preference and deference to politically based beliefs - except perhaps the apparent British devotion to it’s National Health Service :-)

Many Nazies apparently sincerely believed in racial superiority, a master race. Would anyone now suggest that belief should not be questioned, possibly made fun of?

It seems to me that Pope Francis is skating dangerously close to saying that a physically violent response to a perceived insult - intended or not - to a person’s religion is acceptable. He just feels that actually killing people is too extreme. Conceding that, “To kill in the name of God is an aberration.”.

It seems to me that an all powerful and omnipotent being who created the cosmos would be able to take note of…  and casually mention at some later accounting if he/she felt any behaviour - was “inappropriate”, that they would not be even a tiny bit insecure or thin skinned. Further that a person truly convinced of their own faith ought to view any so-called insult as pathetically risible and beneath their notice.

Maybe the Holy Father should Google “Yo Momma” before he punches anyone out. An art form all on its own - Just sayin man…

Notice: this is in no way intended to the Pope's Mother, any parent of any senior religious figure, any person living or dead. Any resemblance is coincidental and it is intended simply as an example of the art form.


Yo mama so poor I saw her holding a penny and I asked "Whatcha doing with that?" and she said "What’s it look like dummy?  Taking my life savings to the bank!"

Monday, 12 January 2015

Je pense donc je suis... Charlie

Not much else to say - or maybe an entire essay?
What is it paints a thousand word? Oh Yes...

Monday, 30 January 2012

State of the Nation

I am getting a little tired of listening to people complaining of government ‘cuts’.

The UK state is unnecessarily and unaffordably bloated and unwieldy.

It is that way, largely because too many people reflexively expect it to control so much more of every aspect of our lives than it has any real right or honest need to. So much so that even our ownership of our own bodies is threatened. it is that way because Authoritarian Stateists want it to be. It is that way because of empire building.

One suspects many of the places cuts fall are exaggerated or are made worse by the self serving politically motivated spin and subterfuge of some Local Government.

Ed Milliband (leader of the opposition) is now shifting his basically dishonest and untenable position on cuts slightly. Labour's latest line is that it opposes some spending cuts, on the basis they slow recovery. At least now he admits he would not necessarily reverse them. Many in the LibDem party, Partners in the coalition seem unable to move even that far towards actual coffee smelling.

Presumably Vince cable and Nick Clegg have had their noses sufficiently rubbed in economic reality to be ahead of the average member of the so-called “Liberal” Democrat pack.

OK, so let’s look at the actual figures (as seen in the Guardian).

What do they show?

They show that after inheriting a nice black balance sheet Gordon Brown, first as Chancellor and then as Prime Minister spent money hand over fist that he just didn’t have.

He was running the UK deeper and deeper into debt over the whole period he held office.

He also sold off half the UK's gold reserves when gold was at an all time low and plundered pension schemes helping to create the current pensions "Black Hole", and promised "No more Boom and bust", he got plenty of mileage out of that, but what's all that between friends, eh?

Don’t forget the graph only shows each year’s borrowing, not the total amount the UK actually owes. That is horrendous and still going up literally by the minute, check out the TPA clock on this site (top left). God help us if we loose our triple A rating and have to pay higher interest rates on it.

Look at the last two years of the graph. Those are the years of so-called coalition cuts that Labour and the Lib-Dems have bleated so much about and blocked at every turn.

Those cuts have not been enough reduce the debt. No – those last two years figures just show that the actual speed that we are sinking into the financial doo-doo under the Coalition has finally actually slowed a little.

If the majority of the electorate had the feeblest grasp of simple maths… perhaps enough to avoid being short changed… and if Milliband, or Balls, had any shred of honesty, or were capable of the least embarrassment, they would cringe and hide themselves in a deep cave somewhere from the honest light of day.

Meanwhile the UK economy continues to be crippled by so-called green taxes, an unwieldy unaffordable social security system and wasted billions pumped into our EU membership.

Should we pay out yet more to rescue the Euro? In an ideal world no. The Euro is probably not capable of surviving in anything like it’s present form without much of Europe being disenfranchised and a severe loss of sovereignty for most nations in it.

But the Euro needs to be supported into a landingsoft enough the world can walk away from in one piece, so reluctantly we have to at least to some extent.

Foreign aid? Again used properly it saves us from having to fight wars, and we no longer have the military capability we had a decade ago, thanks to a maintained level of government dishonesty, waste and incompetence over the last decade or more.. As the civil service has got bigger and more unwieldy the armed forces have been cut back and back... so again in our own interests we need to keep up foreign aid.

What can we do about it all, if anything?

Take responsibility and PAY ATTENTION!! for a start, don’t let the politicians distract you with pretty lights and spin.

Make sure you really know the facts and arm yourself with them. Actually think. Is what a politician says really true? Does it fit with the facts? Politicians are careful about the words they choose. Are they true, but still fool you into misunderstanding what they actually mean.

When they talk about inflation going down what they really mean is that it is going up more slowly than it was. It is still going up it is just the rate that has decreased.

What is their track record? Did they deliver on what they promised to get elected? If not, why not - and why should you believe anything else they say?

Ask yourself what might happen down the line if they bring in some new policy, or law and do you really need it?

Check their sums are honest and make sense. Remember there are lies, damned lies - and worst of all statistics. Check your pockets after you hear a politician speak.

Vote. Not like some zombie for whoever your ancestors did, but for what you think makes sense and is best. Watch what they are up to – ALL THE TIME. Don’t take your eye off the ball.

Email your MP if you don’t like something It only takes a few minutes. If you don’t like his answer, or it tries to wriggle off the hook then email them again and tell them so.

Sign single issue petitions you support, email your MP about issues you feel strongly about.