Sunday, August 30, 2009

Philosophical Confirmation

1. I tend to agree with the sceptics movement in their rigorous defence of science but I am somewhat ….can I say it…sceptical…..about their use of logical positivist arguments in tackling the question of God’s existence. In this sense my position is similar to the well known mathematics promoter and critical thinker Martin Gardiner.

2. Classical Liberalism in my opinion balances both the excesses of the left and the right very well, taking the strong points from each philosophy and rejecting the nonsense (which abounds on both sides). In short it champions valuable tradition and human freedom while making a strong argument for necessary government.
3. I was attracted to Libertarianism several years ago but ultimately rejected its narrow outlook and recourse to selfishness…like Marxism its emphasis on utopianism is dangerous. Nevertheless the contribution by Libertarian thinkers such as Friedman, Nozick, Van Mises and Hayek (who would reject the label) are critical to effective economic thinking. Ron Paul and the Cato crowd best exemplify the Libertarian tradition today but I find that their tendency to dismiss the flow of history at the expense of the wealth index problematic and not conducive to a thorough understanding of the human condition.

4. Victor Davis Hanson and George Jonas are two thinkers who characterize the Classical Liberal tradition. Both are ardent defenders of Western Civilization and have a deep understanding of the ongoing struggle against totalitarianism – whether it be socialist, Marxist, national socialist, fascist or Islamist. Others who encapsulate the Classical Liberal tradition are Charles Johnson and David Frum.

5. Classic Liberals are not to be confused with neo-conservatives. While leading neo-conservative thinkers: Leo Strauss and Scoop Jackson are off shoots of the Classic Liberal tradition they tend to be more interventionist with respect to foreign policy than are pure Classic Liberals.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Two more Movie Reviews

Inglourious Basterds

Despite all the hype about this being a great simply wasn't. The storyline was poor. Scenes were needlessly extended and contained too much nonsense dialogue and the script ran roughshod over history (the History of World War Two is rich enough for Tarantino not to have taken the degree of liberty that he did with the facts). Jewish soldiers were purposely shown acting like savages in a manner completely contradictory to Jewish ethics and if it weren't for the excellent performance of Christoph Waltz as Colonel Hans Landa, Inglourious Basterds would be starved for a saving grace. In addition, Brad Pitt's semi-southern accent was both annoying and overplayed. I have no idea what the fuss is with this movie but it falls short on many an account.
Rating: 5/10

District 9

This was not a masterpiece but it was a genuinely decent work of art. As an ex-South African I could appreciate many of the nuances of District 9 and thoroughly enjoyed the references that coloured the script. Neill Blomkamp, the director, made commendable use of the documentary format to narrate the story and the acting by Sharlto Copley as the reluctant hero Wikus van Der Merwe is praiseworthy. Clearly District 9 was written as a critique of Apartheid, which it successfully carried through with earnest. Overall D-9 is a definite 'must see' especially within the ambiance of the big screen theatre.
Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In the News LXI

Obama bites off more than he can chew.
Senior Citizens, Blue Dogs and the fact that the US is still a center right country will make this an extremely tough fight. I myself support a blended system (public and private) but sympathize with those who are mindful of the heavy hand of government.

Hamas lashes out against Islamist Opponents
This is one of these situations where you wish both sides would lose.

South African economy shrinks by 3% in Quarter
as if having an uber leftist such as Jacob Zuma was not bad enough..

Gordon Brown - 'dour' - according to fellow Scot
The assessment is a bit harsh but Brown is no leading light in the charisma department. It will cost him, together with the failed economic policies of Labour, when he faces up to David Cameron in the next general election.

Netanyahu has actually suspended settlement building
There must be a lot happening behind the scenes (in the negotiation department) that is being kept from the public eye. I just hope that Netanyahu is listening more to Avigdor Lieberman than Ehud Barak.

Canada: Ignatieff is still not as popular as Harper
Polls are often wrong but the fact that Iggy continues to stall in a weak economy is not good news for the Grits.

Usain Bolt sets field on fire. Absolutely incredible.

9.58 seconds is the new 100m Mens World Record. I never thought I would see the time drop below 9.6 seconds in my life Now Bolt is talking about lowering the time to 9.4 seconds. There must be a limit although I suspect now that this could be closer to 9.1 seconds.
To see the race go to

Monday, August 17, 2009

Eric Margolis - Another Useful Idiot

There are many second rate minds who occupy print space in the media but one who definitely would be in the running for any contest in this regards is Eric Margolis.

Margolis is the Toronto Sun's resident pseudo-intellectual (although he does write for a host of Middle Eastern publications as well as the Huff Po). He claims to be an Eisenhower Republican but his rhetoric is akin to anything that can be found in the sewers of Counterpunch or ZNet in that he has two targets consistently in focus: neoconservatives and the state of Israel. Margolis, the human pretzel, will twist a story around to fit his skewed view of the world, he refuses to condemn Hamas for what they are - a terrorist organization, comes up with all sorts of wingnut conspiracy theories to vilify Israel and claims that the US could have reliably appeased North Korea. If its worth getting wrong - Margolis is your man. What surprises me is that he still continues to hold a position with the Sun (not a great paper by any stretch of the imagination but one that is normally at odds with the just of Margolis' arguments).Could it be a consequence of the fact that he is a majority owner of Jamieson's Laboratories? I wonder.....Oops I sound like Margolis now...

Monday, August 10, 2009

North Korean Genocide

Bill Clinton was hailed a a hero for 'playing nicely with the North Koreans' to win the release of the two journalists....I wonder if he ever read this.

by Fiona Terry, Ph.D.

Staring across the frozen Tumen River into North Korea, I wonder how long it will be before we know the extent of the horror inflicted on the North Korean people by the Kim dynasty. Not a trace of smoke rises from the chimneys of the ghost town on the opposite bank despite the -25° C temperature. The only movement visible is a border guard patrolling the river bank; it is eerily silent. Etched in the snow are footprints leading down one riverbank and up the other, the mute testimony of a man's attempt to escape hunger and cold by crossing into China. Like thousands of his compatriots, he prefers to risk capture by North Korean and Chinese authorities than to watch his family starve, even though capture means imprisonment for himself and his family in North Korea's gulag. The recent launch of the 'strike hard' campaign by Chinese authorities has drastically reduced his chances of avoiding arrest and expulsion, and increased the penalties imposed on those who might be able to offer him shelter and food. Why, I wonder, do we express revulsion when reading of Stalin's gulag in the 1930s-60s; Mao's secret famine in the 1960s; or the killing fields of Pol Pot in the 1970s, yet show indifference at the plight of North Koreans today. We regret that our predecessors did not listen to the pleas of those who escaped the gulag, famine and killing fields; we chastise them for not believing that such horror could occur. But who is listening to the North Korean refugees in China now, in 2001, and who is willing to ensure their protection?

North Korea, the last bastion of Stalinism on the planet, is in the grip of an economic crisis that has provoked famine in many parts of the country. Since the end of Soviet aid a decade ago, North Korea has faced a severe energy shortage and lack of hard currency that has ground industry and mechanised farming to a halt. Yet the regime maintains the budget for its 1.1 million-strong defence force and continues to develop missile technology and to sell missiles abroad. While grandiose monuments to the grotesque personality cult of the two Kims are floodlit throughout the night, apartment blocks in the showcase capital, Pyongyang, are without electricity, and rural areas have abandoned tractors and reverted to ploughing by hand or with livestock. Mercedes Benz of the ruling elite ply the streets of the capital, while ordinary citizens dig for roots and edible plants in the grass strips lining the five-lane boulevards. Factory workers have no work and receive no salary, but must still attend the daily political education sessions before going to the hills to gather 'alternative' foods. The public distribution system on which three-quarters of the population depend for food, only provides rations on important dates, like the birthdays of Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong-il, leaving people to fend for themselves. Extrapolations from testimonies of refugees in China collected by local organisations suggest that up to three and a half million people might have died from starvation and related illnesses between 1995-1998 alone. Reports of deaths continue to permeate the border, although with less frequency now: the refugees say that the weakest have already died - the elderly, the young, and the sick - leaving less mouths to feed from the meagre food available. Imagine the shock we will feel if we one day discover that there are not 23 million North Koreans as the government claims, but 15 million as some former government officials hiding in China suggest.

For the rest go to Medecins sans Frontieres

Sunday, August 09, 2009

In the News LX

Obama and co. may soften sanctions on Sudan
The Obama administration seems to be doing its best in blurring the distinction between good and evil. Meanwhile here is some news on a National Fast concerning Darfur.

Five reasons why Obama will hike middle class taxes despite the rhetoric to the contrary.
Key Idea: He is a Keynesian at heart and so are his advisers.

Human Rights Watch slams Hamas.........I guess they finally saw through all the pro-Terror rhetoric.

A Chavez Thug may actually meet some justice.... Although I wouldn't hold my breath.

Gordon Brown insists Britain is still a Christian Country
But not for long....The Anglican Church is in severe decline, atheism is at an all-time high and the only religion that is gaining strength in the UK is Islam.

Wishful thinking from Hilary Clinton regarding Zimbabwe-South Africa
South Africa has enabled Mugabe's Zimbabwe and will likely (if post-colonial African history is a guide) follow the same policies towards self destruction in the future. However you have to at least appreciate Clintion's Pollyanna like has some value in its irony.

Canadian PM is not budging on Omar Khadr
I agree with Harper. Although Khadr should be tried in a US Court (not held indefinitely).

Michael Ignatieff has to tell us who he is..
The man changes position so often that I am not sure he knows himself.

Sotomayor confirmed
She replaces the liberal David Souter in the Court (so from that perspective it is awash) but for all those who champion the discriminatory policies of affirmative action this is a big win.

Obama aides sees signs of recovery but say it will be slow
Yes and at the end of it all future generations of Americans will have a huge mountain of debt to deal with.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Ratings of recently seen movies

Bruno- A far cry from Borat. This movie falls far short of the mark despite several funny scenes (the talk show, Hamas-Hummus jibe). Rating: 5/10

Hangover - A pleasant surprise. Hilarious and well directed. Although the movie took some licence with a slightly disjointed plot it delivered as expected in the humour department. Rating: 8/10

Transformers II - long, tedious and disappointing. Failed to reach the heights of the original and if it wasn't for the special effects I would classify this as a complete dud. Rating: 4/10.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Except for the Hogwarts shtick..I couldn't care less about ole' Harry 'Pothead' anymore. The series has run its course and this, the latest installment was indicative of the fact. Rating: 5/10

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Scramjets...All the Rage

Picture Courtesy of N ASA

New Scientist sees them flying around the world in four hours......

For more on this marvel of aeronautics (planes can reach speeds of 10 Mach) go to NASA mission

On the Iraq Pullout...Not so fast

RAMADI, Iraq - The top U.S. general in Iraq said Tuesday that he disagrees with a colonel's memo urging an early troop withdrawal even though the security situation is better than expected since American forces turned over security in urban centers to the Iraqis more than a month ago.

Gen. Ray Odierno, the first senior American official to comment on the memo, told The Associated Press the Americans need to stay the course in Iraq.

The Iraqi security forces face corruption and other problems but "overall it's gone very, very well," he said. But, he added, the Americans are still needed to protect security gains.

For the full story go to MSN

I have moved house

For the fourth time in seven years I have moved location. However I do not plan to move again for a very long time...this is it. Too much impermeance is bad for the soul.....