Friday, October 28, 2005

New links

(ht: PC) - Having linked Roger Sandall myself, delighted to discover a Keith Windschuttle site. Both are of the old pre-post-modernist school: one a retired anthropogist, the other a historian, with values which essentially rank truth above theory.

Sandall has no truck with multi-culturalism, having experienced far too many of its effects on the Far North Aboriginal communities in Australia.

Windschuttle has exposed many of the Aboriginal 'genocides' as fabrications in his recent works.

Both come across, from my reading of both their writings and Web sites, as decent and courageous souls. Decent, in the old sense of the word, means someone whose integrity is unquestioned, who can be relied upon, and who is not out for #1 at all costs.

An old-fashioned word, but one which is coming back into vogue, as people discover, for the umpteenth time (as in Gods of the Copybook Headings...), that, when all is said and done, an intelligent, courteous and moderate path along life's bumpy road, is something to aspire to.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Shock! Horror! Galloway lied!

(ht - Sir Humph's)

There was never much doubt that GG was guilty as charged - where there's smoke etc. But isn't it rather delicious to see the Times sidebar chronology on the topic when you look at the link?

May 17 2005 - Galloway attacks Senate for 'mother of all smokescreens'
May 18 2005 - Galloway is unrepentant as he attacks US senators
May 19 2005 - Hero's welcome for scourge of Senate
May 19 2005 - Galloway wins on points rather than knockout, says US
May 22 2005 - Gorgeous George batters Bush’s beautiful fairy tale
May 22 2005 - Focus: Zero to hero
Sep 14 2005 - The anti-war dream ticket: Gorgeous George and Hanoi Jane
Oct 25 2005 - US Senate 'finds Iraq oil cash in Galloway's wife's bank account'

Them old Greek furies strike again - confidence/pride/hubris/wild overextension/Nemesis.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Back to Blighty

For a smaller jaunt this time: just 4 weeks, divided roughly into:

London, 1 long week - part work, part play, part Birmingham conference.
Cornwall and relatives in Somerset - 1 week
Northern Italy - 2 weeks. Got to get these time priorities right and these feel good.

Highlights to look forward to?

Madeleine Peyroux concert at the Barbican - lucked out finding the last 4 tickets in the world for this and between the InterWeb and Royal Mail - bought Sunday in Kent UK, in my hot grasping little hand at the other end of the earth (NZ) Friday - not a bad advertisement for global capitalism, eh? Show me a Gummint that could organise that (outside their secret three-letter agencies, natch).

Turner entrants will be there at Tate British - just down the road from our favoured lodgings area - and of course there will be an actual Turner (JMW) or two there too.

London Museum is just round the corner from the Barbican, so a coffe, meal (and as jetlag will be rampaging) perhaps a few zee's in a quiet corner. Just like the minimum-wage security guards these hapless shows seem to employ. The z's, not the coffee...

More National/Portrait Gallery viewing. We rather overlooked some gems here last time through.

Tate Modern - the displays will have altered, and of course there was that terrible incident where a cleaner mistook an exhibit for real rubbish. I seem to recall predicting this.......

The Kensington museums strip: Science, V&A, and Natural History. We never did get to the latter, so will remedy that this time. And walk back in the general direction of Harrod's and actually look inside the Brompton Oratory this time, to see what Nick Cave was on about (Boatman's Call).

And of course we will be staying only a few clicks away in Somerset from where the fabulous Ariel Atom is made: perhaps a short side trip to Crewkerne? One can dream....

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Diamond scratched

I thoroughly enjoyed Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel", although did think that his insistence on including New Guinea as a centre of civilisation was, how shall one put this, a little eccentric.

But for some reason I've never be able to bring myself to read his later effort "Collapse", mainly because the reviews were distinctly cold, and there seemed to be the curious twist of societies 'choosing' to go kersplonk.

Now Society is not an independently intelligent species: the phrase is, I believe, a reification:

To regard or treat (an abstraction) as if it had concrete or material existence

So choosing Collapse actually didn't happen in that sense. And, ferchrissake, using Easter Island as an example of said collapses must shurely be a whopping Hasty Overgeneralisation.

So I'm rather pleased to see one of my favourite pundits - Roger Sandall - have a scratch at Diamond. (hat tip to the skeptics) The core argument can easily be levelled much closer to home as well:

Just what was so special about that culture, compared to (oh, say) the Greeks?

The answer, of course, is "well, nothing".

Multiculti relativism love, civilisation 15.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

State of Fear

Ever since reading Michael Crighton's pot-boiler, then looking around me with a newly jaded eye, I have been very aware that cultivation of a state of fear is endemic amongst politicians of every hue. (The book itself is great on ideas but short on plot, characterisation etc - more a vehicle for the theme than anything else).

Now, here's a great article on the topic (ht: NBR).

We had a leetle instance of doom-mongering locally, just after the Boxing Day tsunami. Fortunately, with a little Internet and Companies Office searching, we came up with enough conflict-of-interest goodies to ensure that the perps enjoyed a torrid afternoon with their Chair, CEO and no doubt legal counsel as well.

And with a happy result: not one peep (at least in public) from said doom-monger ever since. And an amusing blog on the topic, over here.

The pitch against state-of-fear stuff is simple, but like the battered-wife syndrome, much easier to say than to do: You don't have to live this way.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Couple letters boint out in the sign

That's a fragment from a favourite Tom waits song: "A sweet little bullet from a pretty blue gun" - on Blue Valentines. The verse runs:

now there's a place off the drag called the Gilbert hotel
there's a couple letters boint (burned) out in the sign
and it's better than a bus stop
and they do good business every time it rains
for sweet little girls with nothing in their jeans
but sweet little wishes and pretty blue dreams

Well, that song is on the Muvo (think early, cheaper, less hip iPod) and got an airing on the flight over to Melbourne. And then I do my usual constitutional walk after dinner: the Ship Turning Basin on the Yarra, past the Crown Casino (with conspicuous consumption of gas every hour, on the hour, early evenings, to attract the punters with loud and flaming spectacle), on down the South Bank, over the Princess Bridge to Flinders St railway station. It is a marvellous sight, the old and new buildings lit up at night, reflecting on the river. Use of architectural lighting needs three things: a range of publicly accessible viewing points, plenty of strategically sited lights (doh!), and buildings which are sufficiently interesting to light in the first place. It certainly works for me in Melbourne.


Halfway around the walk, I look over the river, at the hotel I'm staying at. It has a large illuminated sign on top. But...

There's a Couple letters boint out in the sign!

Spooky, no?

I do the decent thing and leave a note for Maintenance with the front-desk crew when I get back.

Because, after all, 'Sweet little bullet' is a morality tale about the dangers of wandering around with 'sweet little dreams' in a fundamentally uncaring city. The chorus runs:

It takes a sweet little bullet from a pretty blue gun
to put those scarlet ribbons in your hair