Archive for the ‘Behaviour’ Category

“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.


US Democrats have just lost the 2020 election

March 25, 2019

The entire Trump/Russia conspiracy theory was always a little far-fetched. But now as a major part of what turns out to have been a “spoiling exercise” has run out of fuel, the emphasis will shift to how the formal investigation into a nonsense theory first began. It certainly dates back to the campaign and long before Trump was elected. I suspect it was the Clinton e-mail flap which started it all. I am not convinced that the Clinton campaign was itself clever enough to have thought this up. “Deep State” Clinton supporters at the FBI probably started the whole thing as a way of both diverting from Clinton’s criminal incompetence (in which they succeeded) and of attacking their most hated candidate.

Of course they were aided and abetted by other Trump-haters (John McCain was a willing accomplice in spreading the fake dossier). The pro-Clinton media with CNN in the forefront and followed by WaPo and the NYT took Fake News to new heights.

It is unlikely that anybody will be held accountable for starting the Fake News conspiracy theory.

The Democrats are too heavily invested in the conspiracy theory to give it up easily. I suspect that continuing to beat this horse will only make it more likely that the investigation will turn to who started the fake collusion theory and make it more difficult for the Democrats to dig themselves out of their ever deepening hole. They already have the debilitating baggage of taking over the mantle of being the socialist, anti-Semitic, soft-on-crime, Big Government party.

Trump may not have won yet, but the Democrats could well have lost the 2020 election with the Mueller Report. Of course it doesn’t hurt Trump that

  • ISIS were beaten on his watch,
  • N Korea are a much reduced threat,
  • the Chinese tsunami is being contained,
  • that unemployment is low,
  • that the economy is booming,
  • that black and Latino employment has never been higher and
  • that legal immigrants don’t much care for illegal immigrants


Tell me again, why are Breivik and Tarrant still alive?

March 23, 2019

The arguments against capital punishment can generally be classified under the following headings.

  1. Intrinsic value of any human life
  2. Right to life
  3. Wrongful execution of the innocent
  4. Retribution is barbaric
  5. No deterrent
  6. Stooping to the level of the perpetrator
  7. Cruel and inhumane
  8. Unnecessary

They are not convincing in the face of evil.


There have always been situations where killing of some humans has been considered, not just not immoral, but actually a moral duty. To kill people of opposing faiths was justifiable for a long time. To put enemies or sufficiently “bad” people to death was once a moral duty. Even something to be proud of.

It is no different today.

For ISIS and other “terrorist” organisations killing the enemy in particularly brutal ways is something which is not only something to be proud of but also something which opens the gates to Paradise. Armies are trained to, and assessed, by their ability to kill the enemy – in bulk. Collateral damage is regrettable but allowed. It is never immoral. Many states allow individuals to kill when their own survival is threatened. Many other states do not. Many states exercise capital punishment for really “bad” people. Many other states do not and many of these mollycoddle the cancerous humans among them. In more “liberal” quarters the number of euthanasia deaths and abortions carried out have become something to be proud of. Paradoxically, the states which are most opposed to capital punishment are also the states which are most in favour of abortion and the “mercy” killings of the aged or the terminally ill.

There is no such thing as a “human right” to life. Any individual’s life is “cabined, cribbed, confined” by his genes, the privileges accorded by the surrounding society and the quirks of random events.

As with all so-called “human rights”  living is just another privilege.


To be a political pariah

March 13, 2019

I find there is no political party that I can truly identify with.

I disagree every time someone tries to pin a political label on me.

I have the clear perception that for the last 50- 70 years (perhaps since the end of WW2), global politics has been driven by fear and risk-aversion. There have been periods when humans have been driven by wonder and adventurism and courage and there are other periods when alarmism and fear and risk-aversion and CYA prevail. But it is cyclic. No doubt the courage and adventurism will return,

I suppose in the present risk-averse, CYA world, I am a political pariah.

At my age it does not bother me very much.

The list could be much longer of course.


If the Ethiopian Air crash is a repeat of the Lion Air crash then Boeing has blood on its hands

March 11, 2019

If the Ethiopian Air Boeing 737 Max 8 crash turns out to be a repeat of the Lion Air crash just four months ago, then it does not matter whether or not Boeing issued new pilot training manuals or not. It would be a repeat of a crash with a new aircraft within 4 months with devastating effects. Boeing cannot wash their hands off how the same error could have been allowed to happen again. I observe that they claim to have issued new training manuals after the Lion Air crash and are said to have quietly introduced some software patches.

Boeing share price was initially hit. But I also observe that some “analysts” are already trying to shield Boeing and suggesting that perhaps Ethiopian Air may not have been up-to-date with training their pilots. Others chip in that Boeing cannot be held responsible for bad or obsolete pilot training. Other technical “experts” are also being deployed across the air waves to claim that there is no fundamental design flaw. The Boeing protection lobby has swung into action and the share price is now recovering.

But if, for whatever reason, it is a repeat crash then it is clear that Boeing did not do enough to make sure that such loss of life never happened again. 

The blood of the 157 who died are then clearly on Boeing’s hands. How far the FAA shares some blame will probably never be revealed.


Are Boeing and the FAA complicit in two B737 Max 8 crashes and 346 deaths?


International Days of Ridiculousness

March 9, 2019

The entire concept of declaring special Days to commemorate something is unsound and faintly ridiculous. It is also counter-productive.  One special day for something inevitably implies 364 (or 365) other, less special days for that something. Every new Day that is declared dilutes and degrades all other special Days.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. But the calendar is getting crowded.

Of course, the days declared by the UN to be International Days are generally well-meaning but end up being sanctimonious nonsense.

I find them irritating and the fact that a a “Day” has been declared, and especially by the UN, is sufficient to alienate me from the cause being promoted.

The United Nations designates specific days, weeks, years and decades as occasions to mark particular events or topics in order to promote, through awareness and action, the objectives of the Organization.

Some of the more ridiculous days are listed below. English, French, Russian, Spanish and Arabic have special Days. Swedish, German, Hindi and Tamil are not so honoured. Why? An International Day for every spoken language perhaps? Should one declared special day be more significant than any other?

More nonsense emanates from the UN than from any other body. Whether enough good comes from the UN to offset the nonsense is no longer very clear for me.

10 February World Pulses Day (A/RES/73/251)
13 February World Radio Day (A/RES/67/124)
21 February International Mother Language Day (A/RES/56/262)
20 March International Day of Happiness (A/RES/66/281)
20 March French Language Day (French)
21 March International Day of Nowruz (A/RES/64/253)
21 March International Day of Forests (A/RES/67/200)
23 March World Meteorological Day [WMO] (WMO/EC-XII/Res.6)
4 April International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action (A/RES/60/97)
20 April Chinese Language Day (Chinese)
22 April International Mother Earth Day (A/RES/63/278)
23 April English Language Day
23 April Spanish Language Day (Spanish)
26 April World Intellectual Property Day [WIPO]
30 April International Jazz Day (UNESCO 36 C/Resolution 39)
2 May World Tuna Day (A/RES/71/124)
16 May International Day of Living Together in Peace (A/RES/72/130)
16 May International Day of Light [UNESCO] (UNESCO 39 C/Resolution 16)
17 May “Vesak”, the Day of the Full Moon (A/RES/54/115)
1 June Global Day of Parents (A/RES/66/292)
3 June World Bicycle Day (A/RES/72/272)
6 June Russian Language Day (Russian)
7 June World Food Safety Day (A/RES/73/250)
8 June World Oceans Day (A/RES/63/111)
16 June International Day of Family Remittances (A/RES/72/281; GC 38/Resolution 189)
18 June Sustainable Gastronomy Day (A/RES/71/246)
21 June International Day of Yoga (A/RES/69/131)
25 June Day of the Seafarer [IMO] (STCW/CONF.2/DC.4)
29 June International Day of the Tropics (A/RES/70/267)
30 June International Asteroid Day (A/RES/71/90)
12 September United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation (A/RES/58/220)
16 September International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer (A/RES/49/114)
21 September International Day of Peace (A/RES/36/67) (A/RES/55/282)
27 September World Tourism Day
30 September International Translation Day (A/RES/71/288)
9 October World Post Day (UPU/1969/Res.C.11)
20 October (every five years, beginning in 2010) World Statistics Day (A/RES/69/282)
19 November World Toilet Day (A/RES/67/291)
21 November World Television Day (A/RES/51/205)
5 December World Soil Day (A/RES/68/232)
11 December International Mountain Day (A/RES/57/245)
12 December International Day of Neutrality (A/RES/71/275)
18 December Arabic Language Day (Arabic)


A bird’s eye view of the rise and fall of ISIS

March 6, 2019

The simple reality is that it was the support for anti-Assad groups which enabled and fueled the growth of ISIS.

In their fervor to get rid of Assad and effect regime change in Syria, Obama and the EU (led by France) and Saudi Arabia supported varied, and sometimes barbarous, parties as long as they were opposed to Assad. Russia supported Assad but this support was constrained by the Obama/EU led coalition. Many of the anti-Assad rebel groups were already associated with – or became – ISIS which eventually extended from Syria to Iraq. Being anti-Assad, all the rebel groups, and even the most fanatic ISIS units, received money and materials from Obama’s US and the EU. As Sunnis, ISIS also received funding from Salafist sources in Saudi Arabia. Turkey was very happy to see Assad opposed but didn’t like the growth of Kurdish forces opposed to ISIS in “Kurdistan”. ISIS kept growing and expanding their territory throughout the period of US/EU support for the anti-Assad groups. The Iraqis were happy to accept support from Iran (Shia) to oppose ISIS. Obama – albeit reluctantly – refrained from attacking ISIS in Iraq because they were anti-Assad. On Obama’s watch, the US presence in Iraq effectively allowed the unchecked growth of ISIS.

Then Obama lost to Trump.

The US opposition to the Russians support for Assad was subdued. Putin filled the vacuum. Direct Russian military intervention in support of Assad mushroomed. ISIS and the rebel groups were hammered into submission by the Russians. As ISIS retreated, Assad advanced in Syria. So did the Kurds, as they retook territory from ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Even the US under Trump now joined the winning band-wagon and actively opposed ISIS in Iraq.

And now ISIS is on the verge of destruction. The Caliphate has returned to dreamland. Assad is secure again even if Syrian Kurds are empowered to a much greater extent than they were. Turkey is not very happy. Neither is Saudi Arabia. ISIS (Sunni) influence in Iraq has been decimated and the Shia position (Iran) is greatly strengthened.

The Obama/EU strategy for regime change in Syria, which encouraged the growth of the ISIS monster, which was always naive and ridiculous, is now seen to be a disaster defining Obama’s tenure.

In a nutshell:

The winners are Assad, Putin, the Kurds and Trump’s US. Even the Iranian position in both Iraq and Syria is strengthened.

The clear losers are ISIS, France, the EU, Obama’s US, and Saudi Arabia. Turkey is not very happy.


Arrogance of Ignorance: “I don’t know, but I know you’re wrong”

February 28, 2019

Physics has no clue as to where, how or why the universe began.

Yet, the only thing that all “scientific disciplines” are sure of is that the universe did not begin by any act of any god or on the back of a giant turtle.

There are only two kinds of creation myths that physics (and by that I mean all the “scientific” disciplines) eschew:

  1. The universe as matter and energy has always existed, or
  2. Something was created from nothing

Whether theories about the Big Bang (hot or cold) or cosmic inflation or the naturally occurring “something from nothing” events or loop quantum gravity, they are all creation myths. Just as theories of infinite parallel universes, or cyclic cosmology are also little more than wild speculation. The various mainstream theories of physics and cosmology are as diverse as the Creation Myths of the primitive (“pre-science”) world. And as far-fetched. Conservation of energy and matter have to be ditched – or allowed to vary. Time becomes a parameter emerging from the fabric of our particular universe. All events in the past, present and future exist simultaneously. What existence is becomes uncertain and physics has turned into metaphysics.

Scientific disciplines do not like to contemplate the reality of the unknowable because they would then have to admit that the “scientific method” has no tools to address the unknowable. Determinism has to allow the possibility of, if not the inevitability of, omniscience. (It could be argued that determinism starts of by denying the possibility of any divinity or divine intervention and then ends up having to admit that a god-like omniscience is real). Atheism lacks substance and is of no consequence. There is nothing wrong with speculation of course. Most of our scientific advances (albeit in the world of the knowable) have started of as speculation.

What becomes arrogant, but above all irrational, is when a state of ignorance, of not-knowing, is conflated with a state of knowing that “something is not”.

All beliefs by definition lie in the region of the unknown. Any statement and its negation ( X and not-X) must both either lie in the region of knowledge, or both in the region of the unknown. It is not possible for one to live in the realm of knowledge and its negation to live in the region of the unknown.

It is the arrogance of ignorance and pervades nearly all human activities. It is the breath of life for politicians, TV pundits and “celebrities”. It is the fall-back position for all weak leaders and managers.

“I don’t know, but I know you’re wrong”.



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