Monday 5 December 2016

Hail! Hallo, Hulloo.. Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?

It never ceases to amaze me the amount of misinformation and half-baked so-called ‘facts’ and faulty ideas that circulate on the net. Often they could be refuted with but a moment’s effort to check, but apparently this is too much bother.. although it is apparently not too much bother at all to pass them on like some infection of the mind.

The simplest form of ‘chain letter’ without even any empty threats, or bogus promises of good luck.

I suppose it really ought to have ceased to amaze me by now because this is not exactly a new thing. I suppose just I have too much misplaced faith in humanity. The sheer credulity of so many people and the urge they seem to have to pass on any random nonsense positively takes one’s breath away in sheer wonder.

 People have studied this stuff. Here is a definition. A meme can loosely be described as an idea that spreads from person to person that can be spread from one mind to another like a virus through writing, speech, gestures, habits and rituals, like genes they self-replicate, mutate, and ‘selfishly’ respond to selective pressures.

 Memes do this through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance, each of which influences a meme's reproductive success. Memes spread through the behavior that they generate in their hosts. Memes that propagate less prolifically may become extinct, while others may survive, spread, and (for better or for worse) mutate. Memes that replicate most effectively enjoy more success, and some like diseases replicate effectively even when they prove to be detrimental to the welfare of their hosts.

 Why am I discussing this? Because – call it serendipity – I have several times in the last few days heard something to the effect of the following:

 That "Alexander Graham Bell invented the word hello because it was his girlfriend’s surname and it was the first thing he said on the telephone,”

It is chirpy, if slightly odd, English as follows: 

No. That is not love. That is not even true. That is actually prime, Grade A, Bull S*. You should take anything that anyone who tells you otherwise with a large pinch of salt as they are unreliable.

 A simple check on the net reveals that Mabel Hubbard was Bell's actual girlfriend/fiancée in 1876 when the telephone was patented He married her the following year on July 11, 1877. Feel free to go verify this. No nice easy links to cut your facts up into small digestible easily chewed lumps in this post.

Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone patent came partly out of his work teaching the deaf. He taught deaf people at the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, Massachusetts, and at the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut. Mabel, the daughter of Gardiner Greene Hubbard, a founder of the Clarke School had become deaf, after an almost fatal bout of scarlet fever and had been one of Bell’s students.

Alexander and Mabel fell in love and married. That is love.

Alexander Graham Bell is never recorded as specifically using the term "hello" . The first call he made was to his male assistant Thomas Watson who was in an adjoining room. He said "Come here. I want to see you."

Alexander Graham Bell’s preferred term after he had thought about it was was apparently the naval “Ähoy".

You will be aware by now that this was never as widely adopted as, say “Yo!” or “Wazzup?”

Margaret Yo Wazzup has a certain “ring” to it - don’t you think? Do you know what is the real meaning of Yo! Wazzup?

Early telephone operators, it seems, were known as "hello girls," Obviously more innocent times...

You want to pass stuff on?

Here is something awesome to pass on, and tell your friends. Apparently it is a little known fact!!

It can keep you from being ripped off and loosing out. It can save your friends and family from making mistakes, looking stupid, being horn-swoggled anduuuh… man-ip-ulated, by salesmen, politicians, and con men.

CHECK THE KNOWN VERIFIABLE FACTS before you repeat, act on, or accept something to be true - Even if a nice elderly relative passed an email on to you.

If you fail to check, then you will at the very least look foolish to people who do bother to check their facts, if you repeat things that are not true.

And the worse thing? If you don’t check you probably won’t even know - Like leaving a paper roll tail hanging out your underwear after visiting the rest room and being totally unaware.

Hey. They are looking at you because they admire you - right?

Pass this on to seven friends.

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Democracy as it relates to the question of Brexit

I know, as anyone else must, who is honest with themselves, that as a rule nothing is perfect, but, when it comes to deciding the rules we live by, who in practice governs and how, then unfortunately the best we can hope for is often the least worse option. J

I can not take credit for originating this thought, or even claim it is ‘bleeding edge’ thinking. Here I will take the opportunity of quoting Winston Churchill: …democracy is the worst form of government - Except for all the others...”

Now if one accepts the principle of democracy – that the people decide, as a whole on something -  it seems to me one there must be a hierarchy of methods of implementing it, based on the purity and directness of the expression of that will.

 Rather than having a separate Quote of the day here I’ll mention Aristotle: “If liberty and equality, as is thought by some are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government - to the utmost.”
Having said that then surely a direct vote by each and every individual in the population on a specific point must morally and in all honesty beat any other method? The method in the UK used is whatever side of the question is supported by the majority.

In other words a referendum. Quelle surprise! By purest co-incidence the UK has recently had just such a thing to decide upon leaving the EU. The turnout was high (important to the democratic process) practically everyone in the UK was eligible to vote and the decision was a majority for leaving the EU – Simple enough to grasp.

Not a vote for a “Hard Brexit”, or a “Soft Brexit” or a “posture sprung, memory foam Brexit, with down filled duvet”. Just stay vs leave.

So logically a leave result should result in Leave being triggered and negotiations to get the best deal available, but if no reasonable deal were on the table due to the desire of EU politicians to ‘Punish’ the UK then that would be something we would have to live with and implicit in the original question. In fact I seem to recall it being emphasized by some Remainers before the vote so no one can claim it wasn’t on the table to begin with.

Not all so-called parliamentarians necessarily  approve of referenda as it cuts out the middle man – THEM. Especially those implacably opposed to leaving the EU for ideological reasons, ambition & Quid pro quo, or simple vested interests. They are used to being the ones to decide, not the mere plebs they allegedly represent..

Still the EU and it’s supporters can be quite viciously and deviously ruthless when roused. They have never let a little thing like an unfavorable referendum get in the way of their project before. They just keep going back and forcing another variation on the referendum or bypassing a referendum until they get the s result they want, whereupon suddenly they are perfectly happy to accept the result and will turn on anyone who isn’t, like a pack.

There are plenty of examples where countries have been told to think again or had something imposed despite a referendum and in some cases the rules have been twisted  to allow new treaties to be imposed by the back door by making a tiny change and renaming them as something else.

Now the Remainers,  fronted by anti-Brexit London based fund manager Gina Miller and a legal team, are manipulating the judicial system to block the PM initiating the leave process that is necessary in order to begin negotiations, as  the EU has insisted  that no negotiation can begin until the after process is initiated. 

Why? Apparently, as best as I can tell, on the grounds that they want parliament to vote on the leave package that has not been negotiated yet before the leave process can be initiated. Egg/Chicken anyone? Catch 22 anyone?

Surely the best time for parliament to get involved is once something is actually up for agreement?

Now the Remainers are starting an ‘independent’ pressure group to initiate criminal proceedings against the leave campaign, claiming they lied about how much cash might, or might not, be available for the NHS (British National Health Service). Considering some of the lies pedaled by the remain camp. (Remain claimed Brexit would lead to War for instance) That is difficult to accept. If so every politician and party since the first world war would have been equally guilty including the remain camp .

A democrat is someone who will support the democratic process even when they don’t agree. 

As Jerrod Carmichael said: “True democracy isn’t just listening to people you agree with,”

He is right - and I would go further. True democracy isn’t just about accepting a result you agree with.  It is about accepting a result you don't necessarily agree with. It certainly isn’t about subverting a result you don’t agree with.

Monday 31 October 2016

Committees of Correspondence?

 US voters can be forgiven for throwing their hands in the air in bewilderment after no less a luminary than the director of the FBI, James Comey, has seen fit to weigh into the politics of the election at the last minute.

Talking of politics - What do we know about his politics? According to CNN to quote the man himself "I have been a registered Republican for most of my adult life". However he has now apparently allowed his membership to relapse and isn’t registered any longer. Well he will have completely changed his political loyalties as a result of what must surely have been his own personal ‘road to Damascus’ experience? Who knows after that he could even be toying with signing up to Socialist Party USA as I write.. then again maybe not?

I had always just assumed being a paid up republican was one on the qualifications for the job – Oh and he has a history of going after Hills.
How many does it take to blow up the houses of Parliament?

         – ask Guy Fawkes. An appropriate question as we come up to Nov 5th, the 410th anniversary of the plot.

But I digress – Apparently James Comey has written an ‘explosive’ letter to Congress and then one here to explain himself.

So what genuine information do we actually have?

He says some emails have turned up in a case unrelated to Hill’s but they might be 'pertinent' to that investigation. So he wants to take appropriate steps to obtain  and 'review' them.

When pushed he ‘decisively’ states “We would certainly look at any new and substantial information.” speaking about something entirely hypothetical.

...but - wait a minute here, let's be clear on this. The FBI have not actually got their hands on any emails? They have not read them. They seem to have no idea what, if anything, relevant may or may not be in them. “Penis enlargement” and “letters from nice Russian girls” maybe?

Given the supposed possessor of the hypothetical emails is the estranged husband of Hill’s aid what are the chances if there are any genuinely vaguely ‘pertinent’ emails they will be copies of ones the FBI have already reviewed and discounted?

Soo.. on the basis that it is not impossible to rule out that there may be some emails that may have some connection to an investigation, the FBI previously concluded had not risked leaked data Comey sees fit to write what amounts to an incendiary letter to congress, surely knowing that the simple existence of the letter he has written can be used to destabilize Clinton’s campaign among the voters inclined to think exclusively in headlines and ignore the small print.

 Of course if it all blows over as a nothing after the election – any damage is already done – unfortunate that. Well if he didn’t see that before he wrote then maybe one ought to question if Mr FBI is bright enough to actually undertake his current role.. and ditto if he did and did it anyway.

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