Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The witless on the pitiless

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  • Kyle Matthews,

    Oddly enough, I did look at it yesterday, and the instructions didn’t work for a modern Apple keyboard – no alt key. So it’s the backtick then retype the vowel …

    If you're under Mac OS X, with the Maori keyboard chosen, I think they key command is `-a ("back apostrophe"-a). I'm currently on an iMac booted into Windows, so I can't test it.

    i’ve responded to your defamation here

    You don't want to spell his name consistently right or wrong?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Jonathan King,

    I suggest the problems start when people believe these stories to be true!

    Nope that's missing the point. Some of the stories whether true or false espouse decent moral behaviour. Some don't.

    Very many folks use the stories that promote decent "good" behaviour to help them led decent "good" lives. That parts of the texts they use are bollocks or even downright evil doesn't appear to stop them ignoring those bits and get on with good lives.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Since for many people their religion is a major source of their happiness then that's fine by me.

    Sure, me too. I'm not saying I have any right or desire to limit or pre-judge - as long it doesn't negatively impact me or others - where people derive their happiness or morality from.

    Unfortunately it often does.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • onsos, in reply to Russell Brown,

    What Haraera actually said is quite important; the subject of the sentence was 'they [the family]'. There is an ambiguity around the remainder of the sentence--is Hone describing the person that died, or the person 'they' mourned? The person 'they' mourned is not the person who lived; it is their conceptualisation of that person.

    This ambiguity is typical of the language of communities of deprivation, such as the Maori of the Far North. Harawera has shown himself to be someone who enjoys the very basic language of his constituency, and wears it with pride. There is a potential cost to that.

    A harsh, and ungenerous reading, sees Hone defending Osama Bin Laden. This has been the attitude of all and sundry, particularly those who are racist, or who want to see Harawera die in a fire. This includes the mainstream press, and I'm a little surprised that it includes you.

    The straightest reading is that he was referring to the attitudes of 'them'; that is, the descriptions were of the person who was being mourned, not the person who Harawera might describe.

    Not only is that the straightest reading, but it accords with the principle of charity. Similarly, your criticism of Bomber doesn't adhere to this principle. I can't say for the other commentators; I haven't run across the detail of what was said.

    The principle of charity is one of the bases of good, reasonable debate. I would generally question whether your blog piece, here, adheres to principles of good debate. It seems ungenerous to people with whom you could have a reasonable discussion, and in the process to misrepresent them.

    Since May 2011 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    While many believers may seem to be "inconsistent" (and often are – Leviticus also condemns shaving and Jerry Falwell always seemed to have a smooth array of chins), religious beliefs, by their nature, propose transcendental and metaphysical realms therefore have different kinds of meaning in addition to the mundane (or empirical, scientistic as oposed to scientific or what have you).

    Dante, in a letter to a patron, outlined what he called a ‘polysemous’ layering of meaning: ‘for we obtain one meaning from the letter of it, and another from that which the letter signifies’

    There is first, the literal, then the allegorical, then the moral and then the anagogic layers of meaning ascending from the observed mundane reality.

    This is related to the distinction between ‘form’ and ‘substance’ – this, what has the form of wine can have the substance of blood.

    Something can be empirically true and anagogically true, but different criteria apply. I think that both hardline atheists and religious fundamentalists make the mistake of insisting that what is true in the mundane is true on the same terms in all aspects everywhere. A fundamentalist like bin Laden or Falwell will insist that what is given in a sacred text must be absolutely mundanely true, while I can imagine Richard Dawkins stamping his feet and demanding that William Blake produce specimens of the invisible worms that engage in nocturnal flights and which have been infesting his rose bushes bottled in formaldehyde before dismissing him as a flaky cryptozoologist. The fundamentalist atheist misses the point, while the religious fundamentalist actually commits heresy by denying the distinction of the transcendental and the mundane.

    One can, I think abide by a sacred text while practicing in a purely secular means in the mundane world without being “hypocritical”.

    That said, Leviticus is pretty explicit about mundane rules, and I'd describe myself as a merely agnostic secularist, I’ll leave the amateur theology there.

    And because I must:

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Since I really should be following Leviticus to the letter or be a hypocrite, right?

    In a way, Craig, yes.

    Precisely why I gave up the roman catholic church some 30 years ago. Revelation 3:16 (New International Version (©1984)

    So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

    If I couldn't believe all of it I wasn't having any of it.

    What brought me to that point (from altar boy, lesson reader and proto-seminarian) was being advised to give up some gay friends from theatre because homosexuals were an abomination in the eyes of the lord. I said "so, I should give up my friends or the church?" They said, "yes" I said "Fuck you, then, I'm outta here."

    It was after that I started reading about the structure and history of the church (particularly the Vatican Bank, Rome's role in WWII, owning contraception factories) and determined it wasn't an organisation I wanted to be part of anyway.

    If you get comfort/strength/whatever from it, I'm not going to knock you. But, to me, it's like a black man trying to reform the KKK from within.

    I wouldn't necessarily call myself an athiest, but I am definitely a non-religionist. Organised religion of all stripes has been a prime cause of more war, pain, hate and general shittiness than just about anything else.

    I don't need religion to be spiritual.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2933 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    If you’re under Mac OS X, with the Maori keyboard chosen, I think they key command is `-a (“back apostrophe"-a).

    Correct (as with Windows 7 apparently), though I use the alternative option-a which also works.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to nzlemming,

    Apropos my previous ramble… well, as someone who isn’t explicitly a Christian or someone following any faith, I find myself compelled to defend the idea of faith. I might almost say that I was playing Devil’s Advocate, but that would hopelessly confuse matters :)

    I can find plenty of reasons to spurn the Roman Catholic Church, or any denomination based on any or all of its practices, but that is not necessarily the same as abandoning one’s faith, I would think. The institution is not the same as the motive for that institution… at least that’s the only way I can explain the existence of Marxists who aren’t idiots as well.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to David Hood,

    Correct (as with Windows 7 apparently), though I use the alternative option-a which also works.

    When I remember, I do, but I usually have a document called "macrons" on the desktop of whatever system I'm on so I can cut and paste :-D

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2933 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to nzlemming,

    I wouldn't necessarily call myself an athiest

    I'm the same. I hate the word - it defines what I don't need defined.

    That said, and despite the fact that what he says often annoys the fuck out of me, I love listening to Hitchens speak.

    Or at least I did. This is so very sad, and a huge loss:

    Like so many of life’s varieties of experience, the novelty of a diagnosis of malignant cancer has a tendency to wear off. The thing begins to pall, even to become banal. One can become quite used to the specter of the eternal Footman, like some lethal old bore lurking in the hallway at the end of the evening, hoping for the chance to have a word. And I don’t so much object to his holding my coat in that marked manner, as if mutely reminding me that it’s time to be on my way. No, it’s the snickering that gets me down.

    On a much-too-regular basis, the disease serves me up with a teasing special of the day, or a flavor of the month. It might be random sores and ulcers, on the tongue or in the mouth. Or why not a touch of peripheral neuropathy, involving numb and chilly feet? Daily existence becomes a babyish thing, measured out not in Prufrock’s coffee spoons but in tiny doses of nourishment, accompanied by heartening noises from onlookers, or solemn discussions of the operations of the digestive system, conducted with motherly strangers. On the less good days, I feel like that wooden-legged piglet belonging to a sadistically sentimental family that could bear to eat him only a chunk at a time. Except that cancer isn’t so ... considerate.

    More at link.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • AndrewH,

    I'm seem to be missing something here..

    WTF has the depradations of Al Queda in Iraq to do with Bin Laden? The linked Wiki article on AII mentions Bin Laden exactly twice, and it seems to me fantastical to suggest he was in some way personally directing it's activities.
    To describe it as an Al Queda "franchise" is a trite simplification - great for tarring the ogre but more than a little disingenuous.

    The argument reminds me of extreme Dawkins.. ie tarring the Jesus or Mohamed franchises with everything done in their names.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2008 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Kracklite,

    but that is not necessarily the same as abandoning one’s faith

    Hmm, it seems to me that it depends what you are having faith in

    If it's the religious teachings of a particular sect, just having the faith marks you as a member by definition, whether or not you pay the dues. I used to call myself an apostate catholic, as it was the institution I originally had a problem with, but then I read the bible again, as an adult and with a critical literary eye, and I read about the bible and how it had been "written" and hacked about, and I realised that none of it actually meant a thing, none of it could be said to be accurate history of anything that may or may not have happened in the Mediterranean and environs around 2-6000 years ago (and, I find, the more certain people sound off about the "historicity" of the bible, the more easily I can disregard what they're saying).

    So, while I may or may not have a belief in something more than the physical here and now, I certainly don't have a belief in anything written as history in either the New or Old Testaments, the Book of Mormon, the ravings of L. Ron Hubbard or the Qur'an (English only, sad to say) - all of which I have read. Some of the moral teachings have resonance with me, but only because they accord with my idea of how best to treat people, not because I think they have some divine source.

    at least that’s the only way I can explain the existence of Marxists who aren’t idiots as well

    heh

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2933 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to AndrewH,

    WTF has the depradations of Al Queda in Iraq to do with Bin Laden? The linked Wiki article on AII mentions Bin Laden exactly twice, and it seems to me fantastical to suggest he was in some way personally directing it's activities.

    You're not kidding, are you?

    Okay, this, from 2008:

    Osama bin Laden has called on Iraqis to unite under Al-Qaeda (AFP)
    In a 56-minute audio statement released on the Internet on December 29,
    Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden issued his most vocal criticism to date
    of Iraqi nationalist insurgent groups.

    Bin Laden said the failure of Sunni Arab insurgents to align with Al-Qaeda in Iraq is hurting the global jihadist effort and will ultimately impede the establishment of an Islamic state in Iraq. He also criticized Sunni Arab tribal leaders in Iraq who have joined the fight against Al-Qaeda, saying they were weak-hearted and misled, and he took aim at Shi'ite leaders, including Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim and Muqtada al-Sadr, saying they are quislings of the United States and Iran.

    And this from this week:

    Al-Qaeda's offshoot in Iraq on Monday claimed a suicide car bombing that killed 24 policemen south of Baghdad last week and vowed revenge attacks in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death.

    And this:

    The Iraq affiliate of Al Qaeda has pledged allegiance to Ayman Al Zawahiri to fill in the vacant position of the network’s top leadership after the killing of Osama Bin Laden, Al Arabiya TV reported on Monday.

    These people don't exactly carry membership cards, but to suggest that Bin Laden had no connection to Al Qaeda in Iraq is unsustainable, to put it mildly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Knowledge Bro,

    http://www.tetaurawhiri.govt.nz/english/resources_e/download/keyboard.shtml

    I thought it was common Knowledge... Bro
    I love the smell of roasting Mācrons in the morning

    Behind the fridge • Since Mar 2009 • 58 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Or at least I did. This is so very sad, and a huge loss:

    Oh crap! Ditto on the love to read or hear him, regardless of the message which I often disagree with. Especially when he was so gung ho about Iraq.

    My favourite is the Intelligence Squared debate where he and Stephen Fry took down Ann Widdecombe and the Catholic Arch-bishop of Nigeria on “That the Catholic Church is a force for good in the world”. Pwned.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2933 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to nzlemming,

    One thing keeping me from any established religion is their requirement that I acknowledge a specific text (and I would suppose that that would be the Bible, due to my cultural conditioning). The Bible is indeed a kluge, and I could only accept it anagogically, perhaps allegorically, but not metaphorically... not sure where that leaves me then...

    There's a nice little story, "Inherit the Earth", by Stephen Baxter, lapsed Catholic, former scientist and very hard sf writer, that posits posthuman creatures in a far-future Earth who do not even know what human beings looked like seeking an AI Pope: it's intelligent, articulate but not conscious and is therefore incapable of faith. Where does that leave the church? With the faithful followers who have questions, but know that they can never receive answers. Hours of melancholy fun are to be had unpacking the implications of that parable.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to nzlemming,

    I usually have a document called "macrons" on the desktop of whatever system I'm on so I can cut and paste :-D

    That Knowledge Bro Link works like a dream, well the sort of dreams you get when updating Windoze (click, click, fumble, go back, click, swear, re-boot, wait, make cup of tea, have liedown)
    I now have instant macrons for writing Māori stuff, thanks Bro.
    ;-)

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Roger,

    I must admit to being amused when supposed official and knowledgeable organisations (often) use ä instead of ā because they do not appear to know to scroll down another two clicks in the Microsoft Word 'insert symbol' menu.

    On OBL; I quite enjoyed Boris Johnson's contribution in this morning's NZ Herald (from the UK Telegraph), that no one else seems to have mentioned.

    Hamilton • Since Jun 2007 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Ahh, Religion.

    I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said "Stop! don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" He said, "Like what?" I said, "Well...are you religious or atheist?" He said, "Religious." I said, "Me too! Are you christian or buddhist?" He said, "Christian." I said, "Me too! Are you catholic or protestant?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me too! Are you episcopalian or baptist?" He said, "Baptist!" I said,"Wow! Me too! Are you baptist church of god or baptist church of the lord?" He said, "Baptist church of god!" I said, "Me too! Are you original baptist church of god, or are you reformed baptist church of god?" He said,"Reformed Baptist church of god!" I said, "Me too! Are you reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1879, or reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915?" He said, "Reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915!" I said, "Die, heretic scum", and pushed him off.

    -- Emo Phillips

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    That Knowledge Bro Link works like a dream,

    For OpenOffice on whatever platform (I believe) try here

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2933 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Thank you, Steve! I read it aloud to my wife who LOLed and pronounced it delightful.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2933 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    My Ubuntu desktop offers a Māori keyboard layout option that maps alt-shift vowel to a macronised variant.

    Unix and Linux systems also have a neat thing called a "compose key". It composes two keystrokes into the intuitively obvious result -- eg:
    a + " = ä
    n + ~ = ñ
    c + , = ç
    s + s = ß
    - + > = →
    and so on. Makes typing Latin letters from other languages a breeze. The compose key is usually the right ALT key but you can set it up to be whatever you want.

    Roger: it used to be a problem in the past, so one issue long-lived organisations have is older writing that was composed electronically using the umlaut character. And many people learned the umlaut substitution didge back in the day when they first encountered computers and have never moved on. There's no technical barrier to getting it right, but there are significant hurdles in converting existing writing and in training people who believe they already know how.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Kracklite,

    That was incredible, thank you.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Roger,

    Somehow I just can’t imagine this scenario appearing outside of a Monty Python sketch:

    Scene: Osama bin Laden’s compound. In walks Inspector Harry “Snapper” Organs of the Yard, accompanied by a troupe of bobbies.

    Organs: You’re nicked, me old fruit.

    bin Laden: It’s a fair cop, but I blame society.

    Organs: Excuse me while I call a taxi.

    That would have been ideal, and certainly it is easy, because there is so much justification, to argue that the US sent in a hit squad, but sometimes “neutralisation” is not just a euphemism. ObL was the active head of an organisation engaged in prolonged and continuing warfare by irregular/asymmetric means against the USA. From a the perspective of a nation seeing itself to be at war, it was imperative that he be stopped.

    During WWII, capturing Hitler would have been an ideal outcome, but far less practical in reality than assassination if the opportunity had presented itself, and likewise, the SEALs may have had orders to capture, but one helicopter was downed already, reducing space. The details are still uncertain (we certainly don’t have the full picture), the mission to put a stop to his activities may have included capture or killing up to that point, but killing could by circumstance have been the only remaining means to that end.

    A missile strike on the compound from drones was considered, which would have been much easier and have exposed no US personnel, or highly secret stealth helicopters to risk.* The decision to send personnel in is significant. It may have been to ensure that ObL was dead, but the helicopters had significant load capacity and it is being said that the US wants access to his wives, that would perhaps have been taken if a helicopter had not been downed, and by implication, that might mean ObL himself.

    I am not making a moral or legal assessment, but a tactical one. I think that it’s very naive to think that capture for future trial was going to be easy under the circumstances if neutralisation was the absolute goal.


    *The wreckage left behind is much discussed on various aerospace forums. It is certainly not of an acknowledged production model but of a stealth variety, probably a modified Blackhawk. One of the paradoxes of such classified equipment is that on the one hand it offers an advantage, but on the other, if one is shot down, the wreckage can be analysed by an enemy, so there is often reluctance to deploy the very best, gee-whizz hardware.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

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