Archive for the ‘Behaviour’ Category

Repetition of a mantra – even a “human rights” mantra – does not make it true

May 27, 2019

Article 1 of the Declaration of Human Rights begins with a mantra.

Mantra – “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.

Reality – Human beings are unique and different. They are born with varying physical and mental characteristics. Their genetic characteristics define and constrain the limits of their physical and mental potentials. At birth they are incapable of survival in isolation. From birth and through their lives they are afforded privileges (rights) by the surrounding human society. Their capabilities – mental and physical – develop by the nurture they receive in their early years and their development is constrained by their innate (genetic) capability. The nurture they receive varies according to the resources and will of the surrounding society to provide such nurture. Human behaviour is a consequence of their genetics and their nurture. In similar situations humans may behave similarly but any individual’s behaviour is unique. An individual’s behaviour determines the respect afforded by the surrounding society.

The mantra is a nonsense. It is little more than “a sanctimonious wish, full of ill-defined words, signifying nothing”. It is repeated incessantly, but it is not true, cannot be true and should not be true. For it to be true would require that all humans be identical down to the last atom. For it to be true humans must lose their uniqueness and be a species of clones.

The difference between natural law and human laws is that natural laws cannot be broken. Compliance is assured even if the natural law is not even formulated. Human laws do not command automatic compliance. In fact, any human law which did command complete compliance would be an unnecessary law. “Human Rights” (and all human rights are nothing but privileges) are all attempts made by societies to regulate human behaviour. If the mantra were true, no “human rights legislation” would ever be necessary.

The reality is that human beings are not born equal in dignity and in rights.

A concept of “equality” which ignores the reality that humans are innately unequal is fundamentally flawed. Humans are unique and are not equal, or of equal value. Justice demands inequality. The very concept of justice requires unequal treatment. A child is not equal to an adult. A murderer is not equal to a saint. The perpetrator of an injustice is not equal to the victim. To treat a child as an adult is unjust. To respect bad behaviour is both unjust and stupid. Any society which treats a murderer the same as it treats a saint is an unjust society. Any concept of “equality” must be subordinated to justice.

I would take the UN Declaration more seriously if it simply began:

 “All human beings shall be afforded just dignity and respect by all human societies”


 

Lamenting Modi’s absolute win is more phobic than rational

May 25, 2019

The point about phobias is that they are all irrational fears. A phobia is not removed by rational argument but by addressing and removing the underlying fear(s). “Phobic” assertions are futile then in a rational discussion just as “rational discourse” has no impact on reducing a phobic fear.

I have been hearing many people lamenting the absolute win that Narendra Modi and the BJP party have just achieved. They believe themselves – in the main – to be of the educated middle classes; to be liberal, secular and rational. Nearly all of them believe themselves to be atheists (conveniently forgetting that their atheism is existentially dependent upon others’ beliefs) and they are all generally contemptuous of those who profess themselves to be religious. They generally claim a monopoly over “reasoned argument” and dismiss nationalistic or religious claptrap out of hand.

But what strikes me is that their lamentations about the Modi win and the rise of dark, nationalistic and religious forces are more manifestations of a Modiphobia or a BJPphobia than the exercise of reason. It is not unlike the Trumpophobia that now dominates the Democrat discourse in the US. But just as in the US, the apparently “rational arguments” are subordinated to irrational fears and only carry the appearance of rationality. They end up being phobic assertions and lose rationality along the way.

Following the Indian elections the BJP, by itself, now commands a comfortable majority in parliament. The BJP with its allies now have almost two-thirds of the seats in parliament (353 of 543). Narendra Modi is unchallenged as Prime Minister and is perhaps the first to to have transcended some of the traditional block-voting patterns of caste and religion.

Back in 2014, I posted:

If Narendra Modi manages to break – or even to weaken – the debilitating stranglehold that caste and clan have on Indian life, he stands some chance of releasing the huge potential that is still buried deep in the country. Paradoxically, his brand (now mellowing) of Hindu nationalism may allow him the freedom not only to challenge the shackles of caste and clan but also to keep in check the extravagant expectations engendered by the pampering of minority groups (which was unavoidable with a coalition government).

I find the lamentations now lacking in reason:

  1. There was not a single individual among all the opposition parties who realistically aspired to be or (or was capable of being) the Prime Minister.
  2. There was no majority coalition of any kind remotely feasible without the BJP.  The option of the BJP not being in government did not exist.
  3. A parliament having a party with an absolute majority is more likely to be effective as a parliament and less likely to be disrupted than a minority or a coalition government. A BJP minority government or a BJP led coalition (and since BJP is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha) would have given India an impotent government.

India will have at least 5 more years of Narendra Modi and the BJP. From 2020 the BJP will likely have a majority even in the Rajya Sabha. The subcontinent is awash with fractures and fissures. My reason tells me that the chance of Indian potential being unified and harnessed is far greater now than it has ever been since independence in 1947. It is greater now than it was under Nehru and his phobias, and greater than it was under Indira Gandhi’s Emergency. I may not like some of the fanatics riding the BJP wave, but paradoxically, a strong Modi has a better chance of keeping them in check than a weak Modi.

I suspect that 2020 – 2024 will see a period of unprecedented growth of not only the Indian economy but also of Indian infrastructure and social welfare.


 

What’s best for me is my call

May 18, 2019

I dislike and have always disliked political labels. I particularly dislike being forced into the mould of a particular political party. Since I became “politically aware” in my teens I have always found that my own views are never completely encompassed within those of a single political party. Invariably I find my views straddling those of opposing parties.

It is easier sometimes to consider what I cannot – at the core of me – support. And I find that this is actually one of the fundamental values I have. All other views flow from these core values/beliefs.

I am fundamentally opposed to being coerced – under threat of force or law – by others as to

    • what I should or should not think,
    • what I should or should not say,
    • how I should or should not behave, and
    • who I should or should not support (financially or otherwise)

Advice from others is one thing (my doctor, my car mechanic, my plumber, my teachers), but I find it unacceptable for someone else to impose upon me what he/she thinks is for my own good and best for me. I find I am not prepared to compromise on retaining the ultimate judgement of what is best for me. In the classical conflict between the individual’s good versus the common good, I take the position that it is the individual’s good which is paramount. If the “common good” does not itself accommodate the individual’s good it is no longer the “common” good, but is in fact “the others’ good”. In practice, society imposes many things upon me which I accept, even if without much enthusiasm.  I do so because it creates sufficient good for me even if it is not for my best. The “sufficient good” may be no more than retaining membership of the surrounding society. But I do so in the illusion that it is my own decision. This preference for the individual inevitably pushes my views towards the right of centre of the political spectrum. I do not like my compassion to be coerced. Sanctimonious compassion is an existential threat. I find it unconscionable to be forced to support “bad people”. I do not like science by consensus. I find “fashionable” science contemptible. I find the use of “mental sickness” to excuse bad behaviour to be brainless.

I choose to pay my taxes. I choose to comply (mostly) with road speed limits. I choose to follow most societal rules which make sense. But I choose to ignore those who will tell me what I cannot think or what I cannot say or what I cannot eat. Political parties whose universal solution is to forbid some behaviour are not for me. Those which have no other solution than to get others to pay for their self-righteousness are equally anathema to me. I choose to ignore those who would tell me what I should consider good or bad. I choose to ignore those I consider stupid.

And anybody who claims to know, and wants to impose upon me, what is best for me is just stupid.


 

Boeing made survival an “optional extra” with the B737 Max

April 30, 2019

It does not look good for Boeing (or the FAA).

It seems that a sensor advising of a malfunction of the MCAS was deactivated intentionally and made an optional extra to be bought separately.

“Not fit for purpose” comes to mind.

Boeing de-activated a signal designed to advise the cockpit crew of a malfunctioning of the MCAS system ……. Boeing had opted to make the malfunction alert an optional extra costing more money — and had deactivated the signal on all 737 MAX …….. Neither of the Boeing 737 Max planes in the Lion Air crash in Indonesia or the Ethiopian Airlines crash were equipped with the signal that is supposed to show a malfunctioning of the MCAS

It seems that at some level within the FAA this was seen as a potential problem last year, but the issue was not escalated within the FAA nor was it acted upon.

If surviving a flight is an optional extra an accident is no longer a random event. What somebody at Boeing did may not have been murder but it comes preciously close to manslaughter.

Yahoo News: New York (AFP)US regulators considered grounding some Boeing 737 MAX planes last year after learning of a problem with a system that is now the main suspect in two deadly crashes, a source close to the matter said. Investigators in the Lion Air crash in October off the coast of Indonesia and the Ethiopia Airlines disaster in March have zeroed in on the planes’ anti-stall system, called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS.

Last year, inspectors with the Federal Aviation Administration discovered Boeing de-activated a signal designed to advise the cockpit crew of a malfunctioning of the MCAS system, the source said. The inspectors were in charge of monitoring Southwest Airlines, the biggest user of 737 MAX planes, with a fleet of 34 of them at the time, added the source.

Before the Lion Air crash, which killed all 189 people on board, “the (signals) were depicted as operable by Boeing on all MAX aircraft” regardless of whether the cockpit crew thought they had them turned on or off, said a Southwest spokeswoman. She said after the accident, Boeing told Southwest the signals were “turned off unless they were specifically designated as being turned on” — prompting the airline to choose that option for all its aircraft. It was at that point inspectors learned Boeing had opted to make the malfunction alert an optional extra costing more money — and had deactivated the signal on all 737 MAX delivered to Southwest without telling the carrier. They considered recommending grounding the planes as they explored whether pilots flying the aircraft needed additional training about the alerts, said the source. They decided against that — but never passed details of the discussions to higher-ranking officials in the FAA, the source said, confirming a story in The Wall Street Journal.

……… The Ethiopia Airlines crash left all 157 people on the plane dead and led to all Boeing 737 Max planes all over the world being grounded. In this case too the MCAS is being looked at as a possible cause of the crash.

In times of mid-air distress, the system is supposed to activate on its own and push the nose of the plane down to keep it from stalling. Boeing is working on changing the MCAS so it can get the planes back in the air. The grounding has already cost the carrier a billion dollars, Boeing said last week. But the bill will probably climb because Boeing is expected to pay money to airlines forced to cancel thousands of flights and hire more reservations and services staff. Boeing has suspended deliveries of Boeing 737 Max planes and cut production of them by 20 percent.

Neither of the Boeing 737 Max planes in the Lion Air crash in Indonesia or the Ethiopian Airlines crash were equipped with the signal that is supposed to show a malfunctioning of the MCAS, an industry source told AFP in March. Called “disagree lights” in Boeing parlance, these lights turn on when faulty information is sent from so-called angle of attack sensors to the MCAS. Those sensors monitor whether the wings have enough lift to keep the plane flying. …. 

image – Zero Hedge


“Liberal” bigotry at the New York Times

April 29, 2019

Published under pressure by the New York Times.

An opinion piece by Bret Stephens – where the publishing of a critical article is supposed to balance the blatant and bigoted propaganda that went before.

As prejudices go, anti-Semitism can sometimes be hard to pin down, but on Thursday the opinion pages of The New York Times international editionprovided a textbook illustration of it.

Except that The Times wasn’t explaining anti-Semitism. It was purveying it.

It did so in the form of a cartoon, provided to the newspaper by a wire service and published directly above an unrelated column by Tom Friedman, in which a guide dog with a prideful countenance and the face of Benjamin Netanyahu leads a blind, fat Donald Trump wearing dark glasses and a black yarmulke. Lest there be any doubt as to the identity of the dog-man, it wears a collar from which hangs a Star of David.

Here was an image that, in another age, might have been published in the pages of Der Stürmer. The Jew in the form of a dog. The small but wily Jew leading the dumb and trusting American. The hated Trump being Judaized with a skullcap. The nominal servant acting as the true master. The cartoon checked so many anti-Semitic boxes that the only thing missing was a dollar sign.

The image also had an obvious political message: Namely, that in the current administration, the United States follows wherever Israel wants to go. This is false — consider Israel’s horrified reaction to Trump’s announcement last year that he intended to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria — but it’s beside the point. There are legitimate ways to criticize Trump’s approach to Israel, in pictures as well as words. But there was nothing legitimate about this cartoon.

So what was it doing in The Times?

For some Times readers — or, as often, former readers — the answer is clear: The Times has a longstanding Jewish problem, dating back to World War II, when it mostly buried news about the Holocaust, and continuing into the present day in the form of intensely adversarial coverage of Israel. The criticism goes double when it comes to the editorial pages, whose overall approach toward the Jewish state tends to range, with some notable exceptions, from tut-tutting disappointment to thunderous condemnation.

For these readers, the cartoon would have come like the slip of the tongue that reveals the deeper institutional prejudice. What was long suspected is, at last, revealed.

The real story is a bit different, though not in ways that acquit The Times. The cartoon appeared in the print version of the international edition, which has a limited overseas circulation, a much smaller staff, and far less oversight than the regular edition. Incredibly, the cartoon itself was selected and seen by just one midlevel editor right before the paper went to press.

An initial editor’s note acknowledged that the cartoon “included anti-Semitic tropes,” “was offensive,” and that “it was an error of judgment to publish it.” On Sunday, The Times issued an additional statement saying it was “deeply sorry” for the cartoon and that “significant changes” would be made in terms of internal processes and training.

In other words, the paper’s position is that it is guilty of a serious screw-up but not a cardinal sin. Not quite.

Imagine, for instance, if the dog on a leash in the image hadn’t been the Israeli prime minister but instead a prominent woman such as Nancy Pelosi, a person of color such as John Lewis, or a Muslim such as Ilhan Omar. Would that have gone unnoticed by either the wire service that provides the Times with images or the editor who, even if he were working in haste, selected it?

The question answers itself. And it raises a follow-on: How have even the most blatant expressions of anti-Semitism become almost undetectable to editors who think it’s part of their job to stand up to bigotry?

The reason is the almost torrential criticism of Israel and the mainstreaming of anti-Zionism, including by this paper, which has become so common that people have been desensitized to its inherent bigotry. So long as anti-Semitic arguments or images are framed, however speciously, as commentary about Israel, there will be a tendency to view them as a form of political opinion, not ethnic prejudice. But as I noted in a Sunday Review essay in February, anti-Zionism is all but indistinguishable from anti-Semitism in practice and often in intent, however much progressives try to deny this.

Add to the mix the media’s routine demonization of Netanyahu, and it is easy to see how the cartoon came to be drawn and published: Already depicted as a malevolent Jewish leader, it’s just a short step to depict him as a malevolent Jew.

I’m writing this column conscious of the fact that it is unusually critical of the newspaper in which it appears, and it is a credit to the paper that it is publishing it. I have now been with The Times for two years and I’m certain that the charge that the institution is in any way anti-Semitic is a calumny.

But the publication of the cartoon isn’t just an “error of judgment,” either. The paper owes the Israeli prime minister an apology. It owes itself some serious reflection as to how it came to publish that cartoon — and how its publication came, to many longtime readers, as a shock but not a surprise.

“Liberal” bigotry is bigotry masquerading under the cloak of self-righteous, and sanctimonious pretense. It is corruption when the New York Times uses its reputation for integrity to tout propaganda.


 

Euthanasia takes off in Canada

April 28, 2019

I don’t believe there are ethical problems here.

Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older, but when there is great suffering or no quality of life left, there is much to recommend an assisted peaceful end.

Reblogged from BioEdge.

At least 1.12% of deaths in Canada are due to euthanasia

According to the latest figures, about 3,000 Canadians were euthanised in 2018. According to the Fourth Interim Report on Medical Assistance in Dying there were at least 2,614 medically assisted deaths in Canada between January 1 and October 31.

Although euthanasia was only legalised in Canada in June 2016, it has quickly become widespread. In the 10 months covered by the report, euthanasia accounted for 1.12% of all deaths in Canada. Cancer was the most frequently cited underlying medical condition, accounting for approximately 64% of all deaths. 

According to the report, “The percentage of deaths due to MAID in Canada also continues to remain within the percentage of medically assisted deaths provided in other countries where 0.4% (Oregon, USA, 2017) to 4% (Netherlands, 2017) of total deaths has been attributed to a medically assisted death.”

There have been at least 6,749 medically assisted deaths since June 2016. However, this does not include data from the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Some figures are also missing from Quebec. Most people who were euthanised were between 56 and 90, with an average age of 72. Most deaths occurred in a hospital (44%) or in a patient’s home (42%). Doctors were the main agents (93%), with nurse practitioners providing the rest.

This is the last interim report now thatregulations standardising euthanasia statistics across Canada have come into force.

It is interesting to note that only 6 of all reported MAID deaths were attributable to assisted suicide. Nearly all patients wanted their doctors to administer a lethal injection.

The release of the figures did not create a big splash in the media. But Wesley J. Smith commented in the National Review: “This means well over 3,000 people are killed by their doctors each year in Canada, which — if my math is correct — is more than 250 a month, more than 58 a week, and more than eight per day. Heck, that’s about one every three hours.”


 

It’s a Long, Good, Silent, Mourning or Great Friday today.

April 19, 2019

Today is the Friday of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. “Good Friday” is probably derived from “God Friday” with “God” being used as an adjective meaning godly or pious. In the Nordic countries it is the Long Friday (Långfredagen). In German-speaking countries, it is Karfreitag (Mourning Friday) or Silent Friday (Stiller Freitag). In Greece and Eastern Europe it is Great Friday.

Fifty years ago, in all countries with a Christian tradition, all signs of merriment or happiness were forbidden by the church and by civil law. There were penalties for smiling and eating meat and dancing. If you were anybody of note you dressed in black. Most of the legal prohibitions for Easter and the period leading up to Easter have disappeared. Some still persist. In Ireland, the sale of alcoholic drinks is prohibited. In Germany, dancing and sports and gambling and the showing of “irreligious” movies is banned (Mary Poppins and Ghostbusters as examples). In the UK, horse racing is banned. In the Philippines, political campaigning is not allowed today.

In the Catholic tradition, all Fridays and the period of Lent are “penitential” days and penance in the form of abstinence and fasting is considered appropriate. Abstinence generally means refraining from any pleasurable activity. Abstinence from eating meat is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year, while abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The abstinence requirements apply to all Catholics over 14 years of age until death. Fasting is not required if you are under 18 or over 60. Traditionally milk and alcoholic drinks do not break the fast but milk shakes do.

Abstinence

The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Meat is considered to be the flesh and organs of mammals and fowl. Also forbidden are soups or gravies made from them. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted, as are animal derived products such as margarine and gelatin which do not have any meat taste.

Fasting

The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal in quantity. Such fasting is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The fast is broken by eating between meals and by drinks which could be considered food (milk shakes, but not milk). Alcoholic beverages do not break the fast; however, they seem to be contrary to the spirit of doing penance.


 

“Some people did something”

April 11, 2019

Some are tone-deaf, but some others are just stupid.

Democrat Congresswoman Ilhan Omar “… after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something ….”

Some people


 

Actually, Netanyahu has just had his best ever election result

April 10, 2019

I am no great student of Israeli domestic politics and my perceptions/knowledge of the Israeli elections are only what I have gleaned from media reports. However, I do try to also read reports from the Israeli media and not just from the western mainstream media. Over the last few weeks the “liberal” mainstream media have been supporting an anti-Netanyahu position and most of their reporting has been critical of Netanyahu and his chances in the 2019 general election.

Last night, just before I went to bed, the exit polls were showing a close race between Likud and Blue & White. The “liberal” press had started putting out headlines about a “setback for Netanyahu”. The New York Times – among others – has been hoping for a Netanyahu defeat.

NYT dislikes Netanyahu – and it shows

This morning, as exit polls are replaced by vote counts, I find that Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party narrowly won the Israeli election. With 97% of the votes counted former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff Benny Gantz, led the opposition Blue & White party to a strong showing. Both parties will receive 35 seats (out of 120) in the next Knesset. Likud received 26.3% of the vote and only just exceeded Blue and White’s 25.95%. No single party has ever won an overall majority on its own. The right parties are expected to have 65 seats and the left parties 55. It is virtually certain that Netanyahu will form the next coalition government.

But the reality is that Likud have won more seats this time than they ever have under Netanyahu. Likud has won 5 more seats than in the outgoing Knesset.

Netanyahu’s record

The only time Likud have done better in an election was in 2003 with Ariel Sharon when they received 29.39% of the votes and 38 seats in the Knesset.

The “liberal” media have become peddlers of opinions and cannot be relied upon to be purveyors of facts. The Fake News phenomenon starts with their increasing presentation of opinion and wishful thinking as fact.


 

 

The Facebook strategy: From Fake News to Paid “News” and to Paid Fake News

April 5, 2019

It is nothing new.

Many newspapers carry advertising which looks like a “news article” or as editorial comment. In the last decade even the once most “reputable” outlets (NYT, The Times, WaPo, Der Spiegel, El Pais, The Guardian……..) have indulged in “Fake News”, both by omission and by commission. Some have become little more than lobbying outfits where the actual news content is always secondary to promoting a particular political line. In India, the idea of paying for “news articles” is an old tradition. It is the life-blood for the print media especially at election time.

(On a personal note, when I was heading an engineering company in India I found it remarkably easy, and quite inexpensive, to place favourable articles in local and national newspapers when we were bidding for important projects. Of course, our competitors did the same. “Journalists” were quite ready to repeat our press releases with no changes, provided of course they were given some special dinner or a free night or two at one of our guest houses.)

The more competent newspapers (I hesitate to say “better”) manage not only to get paid by both sides of opposing arguments, but more importantly, they manage to get paid for presenting themselves as “balanced” and objective.

So now The Telegraph will be publishing a series of paid articles for Facebook, identified as being advertising but still looking like editorial content.

From Fake News to Paid News and now to Fake, Paid News.

Business Insider:

  • Facebook is paying The Daily Telegraph to run a series of positive sponsored stories about it.
  • The British newspaper is running dozens of stories that defend Facebook on controversial subjects like terrorism, hate speech, and cyber-bullying.
  • It shows how Facebook is attempting to sidestep the often-critical media by buying positive coverage of itself.
  • A spokesperson said it is part of a UK marketing campaign to drive “awareness” of Facebook’s investments “that have a positive impact on people’s lives.”

 

Facebook has found a novel solution to the never-ending deluge of negative headlines and news articles criticizing the company: Simply paying a British newspaper to run laudatory stories about it.

Facebook has partnered with The Daily Telegraph, a broadsheet British newspaper, to run a series of features about the company, Business Insider has found – including stories that defend it on hot-button issues it has been criticised over like terrorist content, online safety, cyberbullying, fake accounts, and hate speech.

The series – called “Being human in the information age” – has published 26 stories over the last month, to run in print and online, and is produced by Telegraph Spark, the newspaper’s sponsored content unit.

“Fake news, cyberbullying, artificial intelligence – it seems like life in the internet age can be a scary place,” the articles say. “That’s why Telegraph Spark and Facebook have teamed up to show how Facebook and other social media platforms are harnessing the power of the internet to protect your personal data.”

Sponsored native content, in which companies pay for media organizations to produce positive articles that appear similar to traditional news stories, are an increasingly popular method of monetization for many publications, including Business Insider. Some studies have been critical of the ad format, arguing they can mislead news consumers. ….

The stories dismiss ‘technofears’ about the impact of technology on society. …….

Facebook’s go-to talking points are all here. ………

…….. Facebook has paid for sponsored content with British newspapers before – but on far less politically charged issues. In 2016 and 2017, before its current wave of scandals, it ran a number of stories in left-leaning The Guardian on subjects like growing your business with video, understanding customers, and case studies of succesful companies. The Guardian articles are now offline, but remain accessible via the Internet Archive.


 


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