Fair-ish and Balanced-ish
Thursday, March 27, 2003
Ideology vs. Reality
There is a interesting comment on CalPundit on Robert Fisk, and how people interpret his remarks. In this case, a blogger took Fisk to court for comparing Saddam to Stalin. Apparently, Fisk sees the comparison as "praise for Saddam". I've read the article and I can't see how this comparison can be seen as praise.
But this leads be onto the main point of this blog. How much does ideology colour peoples perception of reality?
I started thinking about this a while ago, when several bloggers went on about bias in media watch and cited a show where they laid into John Pilger. Sorry, this isn't evidence of a bias (at least not a left wing one), no matter how much Bargarz wishes it was.
Another example I've come across is when a Biblically inclined supporter of the death penalty cited Matthew 5:38 (eye for an eye and all that) as evidence for Jesus's support for the death penalty. The verse (I'm including the next few as well) reads:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
Doesn't strike me as that supportive of "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth", but each unto their own.
I've tried to not to let my own feelings get in the way of reality when I write, but like every other mortal, I'm only human.
You Little Legend
Six year beats off python, saves kitten.
Is there a verified account of Iraq firing a Scud missile (or any other missile that the inspectors were after) so far?
Quote of the Day
"Frankly, we would prefer being attacked by missiles of Jeffersonian democracy to facing Scuds and other missiles,"
--Prince Saud al Faisal
The Price of War
According to this Salon piece, the money that Bush asked Congress for only covers 30 days of fighting. If the Iraqi's keep resisting, then this could get a whole lot more expensive.
There is a interesting comment on StewsBlog on the differences between the US and Iraqi prisoners of war.
I agree, the US treatment is much much better than the Iraqi treatment, and what goes on off the camera is more important than what goes on when the film is rolling.
That being said, I do find the US demand for Iraq to follow the Geneva convention a bit hypocritical.
Droughts and Global Warming
There is an interesting article in Australasian Science on links between the recent drought in Australia and global warming. Essentially the higher tempertures cause by global warming led to increased rates of evaporation, which in turn magnified the effects of the low rainfall.
The article can be found by going here and clicking on the April 2003 issue, then on the link to the correct article.
Wednesday, March 26, 2003
The Onion... again
Apparently Tim Blair is writting under the name Bob Sheffer.
This weeks Onion (Iraqi war special) is a godsend.
I'm not the biggest fan of the term Chicken Hawk to describe the vast majority of the pro-war camp, but the following (stolen from Worldgonewrong) is too good to be passed up on.
Q: How many weeks did it take George Will to go through boot camp?
A: None. Even though 2 million men of about his age served in Vietnam, Will never went into the military.
Q: How many Dick Cheneys does it take to fire a rifle?
A: We don't know - it's never been tried. Although Cheney was born in 1941, and became draft eligible in 1959, he received five deferments and never served in the military. He himself claimed in his debate with Joseph Lieberman, "I had other priorities."
Q: How many days did Rush Limbaugh spend on kitchen patrol?
A: None. You have to be in the military to serve KP - and Limbaugh was never in the military.
Q: How many bombs did George W. Bush drop on enemy forces in Vietnam?
A: None. Although Mr. Bush graduated from college at the height of the Vietnam War, he served in the Texas National Guard where he defended our southern border from Mexicans. After a while he got bored and never showed up.
Q: What years did Charles Krauthammer serve in the military?
A: Mr. Krauthammer's civilian career is unbroken.
Q: What ports did Trent Lott visit when he served in the Navy?
A: None. Mr. Lott did not serve in the military.
Q: What rank did Tom Delay attain when he served in the Army?
A: Mr. Delay was unable to serve. He had other priorities.
Bargarz describes Al-Jazeera as "peddlers of POW death porn".
Personally I can't agree with that description. I think that the display of graphic images can have a beneficial effect - if you are willing to send soldiers into war, you should also be willing to deal with the effects of it.
Aussie blogger James Morrow gets a piece into today's Australian, pity that it's as boring and shallow as the academy awards.
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
An interesting series of scientific FAQs on climate can be found here.
A Clever Murderous Bastard Trick
The alleged Iraqi surrendering then attacking technique is both clever and totally wrong at the same-time.
Clever, because if the US starts to gun down suspected "fakers", they will get a reputation of murdering POWs which will in turn lead to fewer Iraqi forces surrendering, and many more Iraqi soldiers willing to fight to the death. If the US restrains itself, the Iraqi's have a potent new weapon. Clearly, the US will have to tread carefully here.
While I can understand the Iraqi's use of this technique (in the military sense, they are completely screwed), in the end it won't change the outcome of the war, but a whole lot of people who didn't have to die, will.
Chemical Weapons in Iraq
According to Dow Jones Newswires, the suspected chemical weapons factory found in Iraq contained no chemical weapons and appeared to be abandoned long ago. (Courtesy of Hard News)
That being said, I do believe that Saddam has significant stocks of chemical weapons, but years of weapon inspections has reduced their effectiveness to the point where they can be considered fragmented and contained.
One aspect of WMD which has the potential to cause confusion in the mind of the general public, is that many of the important components of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons have many ordinary uses (duel-use). For example, my lab contains a number of precursors for the construction of chemical weapons, and one nerve agent. I'm not in one of Iraq's mobile labs, but rather I'm stuck doing ordinary research. However, if it was an Iraqi lab, then a initial scare story could quickly be concocted. Hence, one should always wait for varification from a reasonable and knowledgeable party before falling for the WMD angle.
Another bugbear of mine, is countries which have the potential to make WMD. In reality, most advanced countries could rapidly make WMD quiet easily. For example, Cuba has a relatively advanced biotechnology sector, however this means that they have plenty of fermentators, growth media etc. This is pretty generic equipment which can be used to make many useful compounds, and biological weapons. This is the main reason why comments like this one annoy me.
Monday, March 24, 2003
More War Stuff
Pro-war Iraqi exiled booed by pro-war crowd. Why? For reciting the Koran and asking for extensive reconstruction of Iraq.
Sunday, March 23, 2003
It's Tunnel Vision Jim, But Not As We Know It
There is an interesting comment by Ken Parish in this blog by Wayne Wood. It's a bit off- topic, but still interesting:
Sadly the left, which was once a voice of conscience and morality in the days of Vietnam and Pinochet, has now been reduced to a state of utter moral bankruptcy, where it mostly seeks to defend the supposed sovereign rights of bloodthirsty, corrupt dictators to continue persecuting their own people and exporting terror without let or hindrance. This pathetic state of affairs seems to have been reached because of the left's tunnel vision hatred of American capitalism and belief in a mythical international order. There is a desperate need for the left to re-invent itself in a principled way, because there remain many negative aspects to unrestrained capitalism and unrestrained US hegemony. At present, however, there is no sign of any sensible analysis from anywhere on the left that I've seen.
As somebody who considers themselves a lefty, I suspect that what we are seeing here is Ken's own prejudices and tunnel vision in action. I've posted links to a couple of lefty essays which would not support Ken P's thesis. There are of course far more than this floating around the internet.
Very few lefties would defend Iraq's sovereign rights, rather most people with anti-war views have much more humane justifications for their views. Ken's gross stereotyping, and ignoring of inconvenient facts does nothing to support an intelligent debate.
If you carefully select evidence that supports your case, while ignoring other evidence that doesn't, any sort of rubbish can be justified. The six thousand year old earth creationists are the perfect case in point. Ken P also did the same thing a few days ago when he compared the dishonest of certain climate scientists with John Daly's ignorance and/or dishonesty. Can he find examples of the people he named which would put them in the same boat as Daly - I doubt it.
Yet Another Test...
According to this PTest I get the following scores:
Your temperament type is Rationalist.
Other rationalists include Bella Abzug, Muhammad Ali, Idi Amin, Hannah Arendt, "Arthur Fonzerelli," Isaac Asimov, Charles Baudelaire, Bruno Bettelheim, Napoleon Bonaparte, Leonid Brezhnev, Julius Caesar, Al Capone, Truman Capote, Jimmy Carter, Carlos Castaneda, Fidel Castro, Dick Cavett, Elvis Costello, Tom Cruise, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Darwin, Bette Davis, Rene Descartes, Helene Deutsch, "Don Vito Corleone," Michael Douglas, Albert Einstein, Erik Erikson, M. C. Escher, Hans Eysenck, William Faulkner, Bobbie Fischer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Michael J. Fox, Sigmund Freud, Betty Friedan, Indira Gandhi, Bill Gates, Charles de Gaulle, Richard Gere, Mikhail Gorbachev, Glenn Gould, Andrew S. Grove, George Gurdjieff, Stephen Hawking, Alfred Hitchcock, Saddam Hussein, John Huston, Lee Iacocca, "Jay Gatsby," Julian Jaynes, Lyndon Johnson, Jim Jones, James Joyce, Theodore Kaczynski, Franz Kafka, George A. Kelly, Martin Luther King Jr., Stephen King, Henry Kissinger, Kurt Kobain, Stanley Kubrick, k. d. lang, John Lennon, Doris Lessing, Courtney Love, David Lynch, Douglas MacArthur, James Madison, Madonna, Norman Mailer, Mao Zedong, Ferdinand Marcos, Christopher Marlowe, Karl Marx, W. Somerset Maugham, Golda Meir, Iris Murdoch, Isaac Newton, Friedrich Nietzsche, Georgia O'Keefe, Aristotle Onassis, Cynthia Ozick, H. Ross Perot, Pablo Picasso, Edgar Allan Poe, Ezra Pound, Mario Puzo, Muammar Qaddafi, Dan Quayle, Ayn Rand, Jean Paul Sartre, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Frank Sinatra, B. F. Skinner, Mickey Spillane, Baruch Spinoza, Joseph Stalin, Sting, Meryl Streep, Barbara Streisand, "Tom Sawyer," Harry S. Truman, Mark Twain, Mike Wallace, Barbara Walters, Andy Warhol, James Watson, Simone Weil, Edward O. Wilson, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Tom Wolfe.