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Wikileaks

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to make sense of Wikileaks and all things Assange:

  • The best lies are laced with 95% truth, (plus statistics). Especially juicy, embarrassing, gossipy truth.
  • Who benefits? Whose life is improved by these revelations? Who is attempting to create a leadership vacuum… are they a better alternative? Will We The People benefit?
  • Just because someone is anonymous does not make them truthful, honest, or necessarily on the side of ordinary people in general. Those who leaked the information to Wikileaks provide no evidence of any of these redeeming qualities.
  • Because Wikileaks does not disclose its network of benefactors, it is no more transparent than the mainstream media.
  • Isn’t it odd that Wikileaks is working with mainstream media outlets in the first place?

Compare Assange and Wikileaks this with the great agents of good in history. Although many radical movements resisting oppression may appear anarchistic, in that their goals require some degree of social disruption, they differ in that they have the ultimate goal of righting wrongs and they usually state the kind of order (including some kind of peace) which they seek to establish, whereas anarchists set about merely to destroy. They reject the fact that society needs a system in order to succeed. Supporting them is like buying a product you are told nothing about. Anarchists in history have frequently been a mere tool of a hidden hand. If too many people believe too much of what Wikileaks is releasing, then there will be so many pretexts for war that death is guaranteed. This is not in humanity’s interest.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Flow Charts

A little light relief.

Understanding Flow Charts

Understanding Flow Charts

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Close Your Eyes and It Will Be Gone

February 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Bad TellyThink back to the time you last sat in front of the television. In all likelihood this is not a difficult task. Most people can think back half a day.

When listening to financial news, it has not been uncommon to hear the reporter say things like “And Jones Heavy Industries beat the trend to finish 20% up at the end of trade!” One is led to think “I wish I had my money on that one!”. Flick to the station for the illiterati and it’s the same thing except in dumb-speak: “And Mrs. Jones of Smalltown won five hundred thousand dollars with her lucky numbers 3, 6, 42…” and one is led to think “I wish I had put those numbers down on my lottery ticket!”.

Few people are unaware of the fact that horse races and lotteries are worse than a zero sum game. The House always wins. Stocks are no different. The Trading House always wins. The people owning the horses don’t make as much of a living from having winning horses than they do from fleecing the punters at the races. So it is for stocks.

And in a losing streak, or a “Bear Market”, the same gamblers are out in force, each trying to guess when the losing streak will end. At the horse races one sees the old gambling addicts, chewing their pencils and working the probabilities. It’s all self deceit and with all the same, potentially lethal consequences as alcoholism or gambling.

People have woken up to this truth rather late, unfortunately. Many have nothing else and today they are desperate.

But if you go and sit where you always sit, in front of that television, turn the volume to zero and close your eyes, something will happen. The resulting silence can speak volumes about your inability to have a real conversation with your spouse, the absence of your kids or friends, or the absence of anyone at all. It is an altogether too threatening silence for many to withstand – a typical television withdrawal effect. But keep the sound off. Think a bit longer.

With the television off for several days, the mind will clear. Maintained for several weeks, your ability to think about your life will return. You will find the days filling up with social contacts, with unfinished jobs around the home, with gardening or with those long forgotten hobbies.

Even selling the television has benefits. You will end up with another useful corner in a room and perhaps several hundred dollars in your wallet, and several extra hours in every day, absolutely free of charge.

It is at this point that, for the first time in probably two generations, someone in your family has finally broken free. Your future becomes brighter. You have taken your first step towards surviving the coming upheaval.

Whodunnit in Mumbai

February 16, 2009 Leave a comment
washingtonpost.com

source: washingtonpost.com

The U.S. is claiming, alongside Pakistan, that it did its best to prevent an escalation between India and Pakistan over the recent bombings in Mumbai.

Indian and Pakistani intelligence agencies separately shared their findings with the CIA, which relayed the details while also vetting the intelligence and filling in blanks with gleanings from its networks, the sources said.

The Pakistani Government also says that it is cracking down on the organizers of the attack on India. Yet at the same time the Pakistani Government is condemning the deadly U.S. drone attacks on Pakistani soil:

Qureshi told journalists before flying to the federal capital that U.S. drone attacks were affecting Pakistan’s sovereignty, and clarified that the drones were not being flown from bases inside Pakistan. He said Pakistan had always condemned the drone attacks over which no understanding or agreement existed.

The Pakistani foreign minister also expresses his country’s intention to act against U.S. activity on its territory:

Neither the government has allowed such attacks now nor it will allow them in future.

Yet there are no reports of retaliation of any kind, leading one to conclude that Pakistan is allowing the U.S. to do what it pleases at its border with Afghanistan. This is just more mushroom treatment, methinks.

It looks safe to conclude that relations between Pakistan and the U.S (and Australia, for that matter) have been and continue to be stable. It has been said here and there that the U.S. may have in some way had a hand in the Mumbai attacks, even if it might mean having had an eye on the groups involved, perhaps an informer or two. It remains an open question and it still appears that a third, well resourced party (not India or Pakistan) had a role to play:

The scale and sophistication of the attacks in Mumbai, India, have taken many intelligence analysts by surprise. The only claim of responsibility so far is from a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen. But analysts believe it took a well-established and organized group with plenty of resources and training to mount this type of attack.

Who, then, is well-established, organized with plenty of resources and training who might benefit from this type of attack?

Well, it could have been someone wanting to sell weapons (with associated allegiances) to India (or its only realistic rival, China). A list of the countries with recent weapons contracts with India is easily determined and worth a bit of a look. Europe, the U.S., Israel, are among the list, and an article in Forbes raised a particularly interesting point: Russian Arms Sales to India reached new heights in 2008.

In other words, it could have been anyone, and we, the public, are unlikely to ever find out, except by accident. However, lack of answers can still help to work out what is going on. In the grand scheme of things, there are escalating tensions between major arms trading nations. With the economic crisis, the market for weapons can only expand (particularly India), yet the pressure to generate weapons sales is ever greater as other industries are wound down.



Categories: Uncategorized

“Independent” is not necessarily “Intelligent”

February 9, 2009 2 comments

The Independent ran an article a few days ago on the Pope, suggesting he made a mistake by “unexcommunicating” four living bishops who, it can well be argued, were never excommunicated. I’m picking on this article because it goes some way to show what passes as opinion these days.

Pope Benedict must have thought he knew exactly what he was doing when, on 21 January, he lifted the excommunication of four bishops, among them a Holocaust-denying Englishman, Richard Williamson. It turned out to be an enormous misjudgement as the unprecedented rebuke earlier this week by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, shows.

Firstly, if we separate Church and State here, we are left with a small amount of Church and a whole lot of State. Holocaust-denial, as deplorable as many see it, is not a Catholic issue, and is not a sin except that it breaks various state and social laws and, possibly, is a cause of scandal. Angela Merkel, lets be clear, is historically a socialist and was a member of the East German state youth movement. She is also not a Catholic. As such, her standing on the issue cannot be taken seriously except to say that she represents what is currently considered as political correctness in Germany.

A French Archbishop, Marcel-François Lefebvre, led the rebels, who included among their number, Mr Williamson. He had been illegally ordained as a priest by the Archbishop in 1976.

An archbishop does not need papal approval to ordain priests. Nothing illegal happened in 1976 in this regard. But of course the lay readers of the Independent will believe anything. An archbishop also cannot be prevented from appointing bishops, even if it is an act against Papal will. The Orthodox churches continue to exist and, by and large, continue to be valid precisely because of this fact.

Here, then, are the main characters. “Father” Williamson…

Again, he is a bishop, and the author clearly has no idea what he is on about.

Joseph Ratzinger, born in Bavaria, unwilling member of the Hitler Youth..

Many priests and laity refused to join the Hitler Youth and lived to tell the tale. I am not saying that membership of an organization means that one is guilty of anything (although many would), but here we have Angela Merkel, ex-member of the equivalent of the Communist Youth and Joseph Ratzinger, ex-member of the Hitler Youth. Pots and kettles.

In any case, the article, as you may have read by now, continues to misrepresent facts to such a degree that one is left with a very skewed version of the truth. The author shows a depth of understanding approximately as deep as one would have obtained from a lay parishioner in the tearoom of a Uniting Church hall, perhaps. Very basic at best, and not worthy of publication. He shows his utter lack of insight at the end:

Suppose the Pope had known. His first instinct, surely, would have been to say that it was irrelevant. Lifting the excommunication was about doctrinal matters not about historical events. And then, in the next breath, he would have seen the absurdity of holding to that line. He would have been in a quandary. So his advisers must have thought it better to keep him in a state of ignorance. The Pope didn’t after all know what he was doing. Naturally enough, disaster followed.

Excommunication is normally about doctrinal matters. There were no doctrinal matters on which the original excommunication was based, nor was proper process followed, which is what was so wrong with it in the first place. The Pope did not see the absurdity of anything he did at any time, because there was nothing absurd about his actions. He clearly understood matters better than Andreas Wittham Smith, “Commentator”, who has come to the subject with nothing but bias.

Let’s make no mistake. The Society of Saint Pius X is an organization that has clearly been pushed to the fringe over the years and has a pretty conservative membership by contemporary standards. On the other hand, if we wound the clock back half a century then the Society would have not appeared at all conspicuous. It’s the world that has changed, so much so, that what was once standard up-and-down, orthodox Catholicism is now considered to be “ultra-conservatism”. If you find that hard to believe, then just go and read some statements of pre-Vatican II popes and bishops.

What has occurred is that the actions of a Pope, which appear to have been aimed at aiding dialogue with the Society of Saint Pius X, have been undermined by the world media, the diplomatic community and many of his own bishops and cardinals. The Pope may have been embarrassed, but the future of the Society in the Western World has been placed in considerable danger. If we were to assume that the Pope really knew what he was doing, then we could toy with the possibility that he intended to damage the Society by drawing it closer to himself and then cutting its legs off.

The Prodigal Father

February 8, 2009 Leave a comment

prodigal-sonOnce upon a time, there was a beautiful girl, born to a large, wealthy, established and traditional family, but who was banished to a life of poverty and obscurity because she had embarrassed her father at an important party. The party promised to change the fortunes of the family, as her father had hoped, finally, to be invited into the local Golf Club. It was essential ‘next step’ for building the connections needed to grow his family owned chain of bakeries.

This wasn’t just any Golf Club, either. It had all the famous faces of the region as members: the local mayor, an admiral from the Navy and the chief editor of the local newspaper, to name but a few, but the most important and powerful person was the wife of the Club’s President. She was not even a member and was rarely seen at any of the Club’s functions, but it was only through her influence that the President had managed to corner the cigar and liquor market and gain a majority share in both local banks. Almost nobody knew that she was the illegitimate daughter of the local Judge, born of one of the Judge’s many mistresses. Had they known this, then they would have understood how it was that for so long the President’s businesses were never prosecuted for trading beyond allowable hours, selling liquor to minors or opening on Sundays. None of it was relevant now, of course, as the laws had all been changed and the Club President had since become known as a trailblazer of modern economics and a respected banker, no less.

The father had wanted to join the Club as a boy but was forbidden by his parents, who objected to its exclusive nature and the fact that most of the businessmen in the Club smoked cigars, kept mistresses and had recently begun opening their businesses for trading on Sundays. And they hardly ever played Golf. Many times the family argued about it around the dinner table. “Sundays are for families and rest and cigars are a dirty habit” the elderly, traditional parents would say in their late years. Angered by this old fashioned prudishness, he never felt he needed any rest and hated seeing all the shoppers spending their money on the competition of a Sunday morning as they leisurely sipped their wine and smoked cigars in up market restaurants. Everything his old, authoritarian parents had criticized had since become legal and even fashionable, and he was secretly glad when they finally died and was free to make the switch and join the Club.

The party was the father’s way of showing the Club President that he and his family were different now, that they’d had a change of heart. All of the important members of the Club were there and even the President’s wife attended. When she arrived, it triggered many looks of surprise and admiration from the other guests. She had had misgivings about the Club admitting a new member whose family was well known for its moral scruples, but the Club President was confident that everything would be settled. Discrete promises had been made to change the family’s stance on Sunday trading in particular and negotiations were underway to obtain a liquor license for the bakery chain. Even cigars were being handed out to guests on velvet pillows by the teenage boys of the family. The evening had been a great success and was drawing to a close and the President was about to present his formal offer of membership to the Golf Club.

During the entire party the young daughter, the only girl, had been kept back in the kitchen and made to prepare food and clean dishes with her mother. Being only six years old, she was oblivious to the business machinations and negotiations that were taking place at the party. She had also been sent up to bed early so that she would not be exposed to the sights and smells of the grown-ups smoking cigars. She was too young to understand, after all, and would probably have nightmares if she saw her father doing it too. She had been close to her grandmother and seemed to have a strong streak of her ancestral conservatism and stubbornness. Although she had obeyed her parents and gone to bed, she couldn’t sleep. Inevitably the smell of the tobacco smoke had reached her bedroom and she went downstairs to see what the matter was. That’s when the terrible thing happened.

The daughter ran down stairs and saw the Club President’s wife standing by the stair, giggling, cigar in one hand, champagne glass in the other. She walked up to the drunk woman and told her in no uncertain terms how badly the cigars smelled and how her grandmother had educated her that a respectable woman ought never to smoke cigars or drink to excess. The woman laughed and, calling the girl a simpleton and a prude, offered her a drink of the champagne. The little girl took the glass and threw the drink over the woman, causing the cigar to be put out. Needless to say a hilarious drunken chase ensued and the girl managed to make the Club President’s wife look like an utter fool. Eventually the girl escaped and hid herself in one of the servant’s huts, a safe distance from the main house. The President had no time to make his formal invitation. Instead he hastily left the party with his wife in order to prevent any further embarrassment. The girl was later found by her father, given a rather painful hiding and put to bed.

The father was so angry that he had lost out on the Club invitation that he locked the daughter in her room and would not let her go out. The President, though still enthusiastic to extend his invitation once more, was restricted in doing so by his wife. He managed to convince her to let him make a conditional invitation.

The next morning, the father went to the Golf Club for a private meeting to apologize to the President. After much negotiation it was agreed that the father would be invited to join the Golf Club, but on probation. He was to promise that his daughter would never cause such embarrassment again and that, as the family representative, he would make a public endorsement of cigar smoking and twenty four hour trading, a new initiative of the Club President. He also had to agree to help the Club President out with a few shady business deals. In so doing, the father would win the President’s trust and all would be right in the world again.

The father took up cigar smoking, but meanwhile kept the daughter holed up in her bedroom for many weeks. Many times he had tried to get her to apologize for what she did that night, but each time she saw him and smelt the tobacco on his breath, she was reminded of her late grandmother’s words and would refuse to budge. Eventually, at a loss of what else to do, the father sent her away to live with some poor distant cousins who lived on a farm cursed by rocky terrain and too little rainfall.

The girl grew up there, almost forgotten by her father. She was educated in the old ways of her grandparents and grew up to be strong, confident and wise. Unafraid of hard work but also blessed with family traits of creativity and intelligence, she became an invaluable part of the farm life. Indeed the farm grew in prosperity despite the difficult conditions and had become a showpiece of the region.

Meanwhile, her father’s business, whilst initially showing some gains, was faltering. He had developed a lung condition and many of his sons were sick for much of the time from overwork and stress. The great family empire was working harder than ever but the profits seemed thin and short lived. In order to make his great expansions, the father had borrowed a large sum of money from the Club President at a very low rate of interest. More and more of the business became dependent on the Golf Club’s support and the situation was becoming precarious. Even the father could see it. Should anything go wrong, the entire bakery chain would be in jeopardy. One of the father’s sons, now an alcoholic, had recently been charged with rape. The Club President of course had the contacts necessary to make sure the charges wouldn’t be successful, but it would take more and more compromises and humiliation on the part of the family to keep afloat.

Eventually the father was at a point of desperation. He could see that none of his sons was fit to take over the business and that, after his passing, it would all be taken over by the bank. His only hope was to some how convince his daughter once more to return and help him run the bakery chain (which was by this time more like a liquor and tobacco store with bread “on the side”). She of course was delighted by her father’s attention and, mistaking it for love, ran towards him with open arms.

When the father asked his daughter to return to the family, she was about to say “yes!”, but was stopped by her farming cousins just in time to ask the most important question – on what terms?

As you can guess, she demanded that the father stop trading on Sundays, stop selling liquor and tobacco and go back to running a traditional bakery chain like the good old days. The father could see her point but was in a fix. His sons laughed and jeered at the idea. Some threatened to leave and the rapist son even threatened to re-offend. The Golf Club got news of developments and the President was informed. His wife knew what to do and gave the Club President his orders. He told the father that if he should make the changes and fail to control his daughter, the deal would be off and all the debts would be charged at regular interest. To add weight to this, the editor of the local newspaper ran a column exposing the whole story, but leaving just enough room to let the father escape the “scandal” with at least some of his pride intact. He was, after all, still a member of the Golf Club, even if it was “on probation”.

The daughter, now a mature, confident woman, made no apologies or compromises. When asked in public for her opinion on tobacco smoke, she reiterated her views on its obnoxious smell and how only the uncultured smoke it and do so at their peril. This quickly made it to front page news, along with another article that quoted one of her poor “red-neck -country-bumpkin” cousins as having questioned the legitimacy of the Club President’s wife. Unfortunately, another of the older cousins remembered the names of the Judge’s old mistresses and this only served to inflame the whole situation. People were beginning to ask questions about the President’s dark past and links with the Judge. Some even started taking their money out of his two banks and depositing it to a rival bank in the next town. It was all becoming rather serious and the Golf Club was like a disturbed hornet nest. People were worried that the daughter might even be taken seriously by the public, since she was not as clearly illiterate and “common” as her poor cousins.

One can only imagine the range of solutions discussed in the Club rooms. Of the many suggested, one was to give the father a pair of cement shoes to wear at the harbor. Others thought of suing the daughter for defamation, but many thought it too risky. There was still hope with some at the Club that the daughter (and her money) could be “brought across” and maybe even become friends with the President’s wife. This was, after all, the father’s initial suggestion.

But in the end, the choice was entirely that of the daughter who, having been beaten, imprisoned and then exiled by her own father, rose to the position of moral righteousness and material strength. Would she relent in order to save the material wealth of her father’s business empire, or would she stand fast on her demand for a return to family tradition? The father, avaricious and morally weak from the outset, finds himself in an apparently impossible situation. He probably never imagined the amount of humiliation that all this would bring him. It’s highly unlikely that the he would turn against his sons in a return to the old ways, since he himself led them to all this and had his hands soiled by previous scandals.

Nobody can yet say how the story will end, as history doesn’t always repeat itself. Sometimes the exact opposite happens.

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