Pauline Hanson is right.

HA! just kidding. See what I did there? There are few things I like less than Pauline Hanson. It’s as if a deity said, “Let’s put all the things that Chris despises about humanity in one package”

  1. Xenophobic? Check
  2. Inarticulate? Check
  3. A celebration of ignorance over substance? Check
  4. Fear driven politics? Check
  5. Uses patriotism to hurt people rather than bring them together? Check

 

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“These are a few of my favorite things…”

 

She is the living embodiment of the childish impulse in people to play with the box the toy came in, that’s all she is. Wrapping.

But, she will not be to blame if there is a terrorist attack.

Pauline is an idiot. Her Burka stunt in parliament recently made everyone stand up and take notice…. That…… George Brandis may not be the morally bankrupt angry potato that we have always suspected. But even though she’s a repugnant moron with the wit of a deceased herring. She will not be responsible for the next attack. Terrorists don’t need excuses to be terrorists. And their radicalisation isn’t going to begin and end with Pauline Hanson. Her supporters don’t have that comfort, however. There is the good reason to believe that anti-Muslim sentiment may well radicalise youth faster than the promise of 72 ready virgins. But that is also victim blaming and abdication of responsibility. No, no-one can or should say Pauline and her abhorrent views are helping. They aren’t. And she should be deserted for what she thinks and says. But she also should have the right to say what she likes, without someone murdering people because of it. And the Greens should know better. The response to terrorism shouldn’t be to silence our morons but to allow the freedom for people to say what they like. After all, that’s exactly what the terrorists are fighting against (if your playing the Chris Tyler Ruins everything drinking game you should drink now).  Should we listen to Pauline? Of course not, she’s a fucking moron. But really, it’s the worst thing you can say about a group, ever, that some idiot doing fancy dress in parliament might make them angry enough for them to murder our citizens.

 

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Review: A Manual for Creating Atheists by Peter Boghossian

It’s easy to be critical of Peter Boghossian. He’s an asshole.

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Truly. Whilst I might agree with many points in this book, whilst I might have sympathy for the ideas that it puts forward and whilst I might love the Socratic method or believe that everyone should study logic. I might even believe that people should be honest when they don’t know something and that engaging people in honest debate is a good thing. It’s all kind of ruined by the fact that Boghossian is a massive inconsistent asshole.

Boghossian wants other Athiests to be “Street Epistemologists” that is to say; people who use logic and reason and the Socratic method to “prove” to other people that their faith is incorrect. And he has created a manual for this.

I guess I kind of diverge from Boghossian on a number of different levels.

  1. I think that people’s faith is their own business. Of course, if someone engages you then sure, I have no problem debating them but I’m not about to spend hours on a bus or a plane bleating on about how Pascals Wager is bullshit when all the guy next to me wants to do is sleep and maybe watch the new Marvel offering.
  2. I worry about having a planned conversation when I think that in honest debates you simply “Tell the truth as you see it”.
  3. I don’t want to have to explain Logic to someone who has never studied it. I’m going to sound like an arrogant asshole……like a more arrogant asshole.

The anecdotes that Boghossian all kind of follow the same form “I met this person, I engaged with them, they seemed more than happy to talk about their faith even though every time I open my mouth I step outside the bounds that normal society would allow and then…I never hear from them again. Did they turn into Atheists? I have no idea”

You know if I were writing a “manual” I would want to know that what I were writing a manual about really worked.

Perhaps worse is that there are lots of good reasonable and convincing objections to religious argument and religious apologetics. But either Peter doesn’t know them or he decided in a book that is supposedly devoted to arguing with thiests that they are not worth knowing about.

Maybe that’s not fair. Some of the advice he gives is ok. Some of what he says makes sense. His introduction to the Socratic method is….ok. Not the best I’ve read but not terrible. But he does far from giving you a real insight into debate, different styles of debate and how to engage with someone who isn’t on board with your position.

Instead he says, “Attack their faith” faith to him is the weak point. Faith is “Pretending to know something you don’t” well maybe. I would say that that is certainly an atheist’s definition of faith. I wonder if theists have a different one? Broadly I agree, going head to head with apologetics can send you down a rabbit hole of dubious logic and slightly bendy thought process. You can hear things like “But atheists just have faith in science!” or “Just being able to conceptualise God means that there is one” or “The fact there are Atheists means that there is a God” or my favourite “Science belongs to Christians, all scientists are Christians” But conversations

s-ATLAH-large.jpgYou can hear things like “But atheists just have faith in science!” or “Just being able to conceptualise God means that there is one” or “The fact there are Atheists means that there is a God” or my favourite “Science belongs to Christians, all scientists are Christians” But conversations are give and take, and his suggestion to “Just take control of the conversation” might not sit well with…oh I don’t know…anyone. Now some people might argue that I do that anyway but doing it deliberately is a different story.

What he does put forward might be of dubious use to you. He talks about how all beliefs can be “Properly basic” (the idea that a belief can be so self-evident that it requires no justification or any kind of Doxastic requirement) and so leads us to the great Pumpkin argument. Which is fine but he doesn’t talk about the thorny area you might be in if your mark knows Plantinga’s rebuttal. Which is a shame because it might not be immediately obvious why this isn’t a good objection (in my opinion). In fact, he seems to have no idea what to do if the person you are talking to has any apologetic background at all. I guess you either use your own brain or run. I suspect Peter would run. Now I write manuals and I know you can’t cater of all contingencies. But then that’s why you teach the basics at the start.  Now look I personally think that there is no good argument for having a non-doxastic belief but that doesn’t mean that other people might not have a different opinion, or a good reason (heh) for believing something like that and it seems to me that if you go in going “I’m just going to destroy this person’s faith” then you aren’t entering the argument with any intellectual honest.

And then there’s this….

“in the last 2400 years of intellectual history, not a single argument for the existence of God has withstood scrutiny. Not one. Aquinas’s five proofs, fail. Pascal’s Wager, fail. Anselm’s ontological argument, fail. The fine-tuning argument, fail. The kalam cosmological argument, fail. All refuted. All failures.” – Peter Boghossian A Manual for Atheists.

GREAT! I’m keenly interested in how all these arguments fail…. wait…. where do you list where they fail? A paragraph? A precis? A footnote?

Nope.

So, and yet another entry into the “Annoying Atheist” camp. I read an article recently that basically said “Hey, if you’re an atheist you might as well convert because people don’t trust you and the people who represent you are assholes”. Well it wasn’t a persuasive argument but Peter Boghossian isn’t helping.

 

 

SSM

Do I really have to write this?

Really?

Oh goodness.

Ok fine.

Here’s my take on Marriage equality.

I have no interest in Marriage. I feel that it’s an outdated union originally religious and social in nature I feel that it no longer reflects the society that we live in. I feel that it’s a celebration that comes before doing the thing that is worth celebrating. Why not have a big party after you’ve been together for 10, 20 or 30 years? That would be worth celebrating. As for a commitment ceremony? Well, why? If it’s over it’s over whether you are married or not. As a ceremony that signifies a holy union? Well,…that’s not really for me.  However, I do realise that I may well be an embittered curmudgeon and there are certain legal rights that come with being married that people may wish to have. But even though I want no truck with it I respect that people I know want to be married and I respect that they feel differently to me for a multitude of reasons. And frankly, as far as I am concerned if they want to be married that’s good enough for me. Whether they be gay, straight, some kind of supernaturally animated stationary. Whatever.

Done! Ok, lets mov…what? What do you mean that’s not good enough?

When my friends get married it’s important to me that they have a good time, that it goes well. That affects me. When people I don’t know get married. Well. There is no possible reasonable way that it can affect me in any way shape or form, without some kind of strange and unusual circumstance.

It might be glib and pithy to say “If you don’t want gay marriage don’t get one” but it sums up how I feel completely.

Just like I don’t want a wedding, but I don’t begrudge anyone else one. I would hope some of my friends might be surprised at my thoughts towards marriage. Why? Because it’s my attitude and my business. Not everything I think needs to be broadcast to the world especially things that are personal beliefs that affect no-one else. I don’t think I have ever said to any of my friends “Don’t do it!” even as a joke. Hopefully, I have always been as supportive as I can possibly be when friends of mine get married.

Will I be voting yes in the coming Plebiscite?

Yes.

Why? Because my beliefs and attitudes shouldn’t affect anyone else ESPECIALLY when these things really don’t affect me.

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Should there be a bloody plebiscite? No. The government should either shit or get off the pot. They should either say “It’s our job to make decisions, it’s our job to do what is best for the Australian people and it’s our job to make life equitable for our citizens no matter what our own personal beliefs” and just do it. OR they should say “It isn’t going to happen. We don’t like it, we can’t get it together and we can’t make it work because of religious bigotry, maybe the next government will represent all citizens”

I have never heard an argument against same sex marriage that wasn’t religious. And even these usually boil down to “Won’t someone think of the children”.  And frankly, that’s not good enough.

As for a “respectful debate” I’ve already heard both Bronwyn Bishop and some minister go on about the slippery slope argument as in “What next, people marrying animals?” to which I would respond. “What next? People getting divorced? People allowed to marry their cousins or uncles? Or foreigners?” Or in Bronwin’s case their helicopters. So, I look forward to a really respectful debate in the next month. Don’t forget to enroll and be part of the needless bullshit that should have been sorted out at a ministerial level but is none the less the right thing to do anyway.

Category Errors or the problem of information

Some of you have never had the pleasure of arguing with a creationist. And you have no idea the joy that comes from seeing their little squishy faces. One of the things that creationists talk about. A LOT is that “Information can’t come from nothing; you need an intelligence to “write” information…so explain DNA!…smartarse”

DNA is an amazing substance. It’s just a chemical, simple in many ways but what it does is so complicated that we still don’t really know exactly how it works. The popular consensus is that DNA carries information from our parents and ancestors but just saying this is a category error. Because the way that we use the word “information” and its associated connotations, suddenly “information” is being used in an eccentric way.  What we really mean is that it carries “Data”. Why am I being so pedantic? Well let’s look at it.

Information requires a sender, a receiver and a decoder. We humans are “intelligent receivers”, which means that we are capable of divining information from inert sources such as data sets. Data is raw, it’s not directed or intelligent, it requires no sender and it requires an intelligent receiver for interpretation.

A rock falling is not consciously giving out information, a boiling kettle is not intelligently sending a message, a blooming flower is not consciously trying to tell bee’s that it’s ready and yet as an intelligent receiver I can take all this information, gather facts and create assumptions. To an intelligent receiver the world is filled with useful and not very useful data.

Further muddying the water is the human tendency towards apophenia and paerodolia.  Seeing patterns where none exist and divining meaning from random data.

In 1967 the first signals from Pulsars were detected. Pulses of extremely loud broad spectrum bursts were separated by 1.33 seconds, originated from the same location on the sky, and kept to sidereal time. It was first thought that these were too regular to be anything but an indication of alien life. Finally they were signalling us. They even called the signal LGM-1 or Little Green Men. But of course it turned out that this was not a signal. We thought it might have been information..but it was only data. We now know that a Pulsar is a spinning pulsating star. Spewing out gigantic bursts of broad spectrum radiation from one side of the star. But for a moment that star looked like an intelligent signal. This is a form of paradolia. But the signal has no intrinsic intelligence behind it, it is we that brought meaning to it.

So to intelligent receivers we can divine data from different sources and we can also make mistakes.

And this is the mistake we make with DNA. It SEEMS intelligent and yet the evidence says that it’s not.

So we are special, we as intelligent receivers have the ability to make sense or data, but what of our poor dumb companions on this planet. Could intelligence have evolved? Without an intelligent receiver? The answer must be, yes.

Evolution to an unintelligent receiver presents no problem because natural selection overcomes its lack of intelligence. By giving living organisms the harsh lessons, those that are pre-disposed to dangerous action do not get to reproduce. Those that make mistakes do not get to reproduce. Over LONG periods of time the organism “learns” even if it does not have any cognisance of the useful information that has been imparted.

Creationists like to talk about information as if it has an intrinsic value and life of its own. The analogy is inevitably bought to computers who have to be programed. The trouble with this analogy is that computers only contain the representation of information, not the information itself. The words, not the meaning. What good is information if you cannot receive it? In effect a computer is a long delay line between a sender and a receiver just like a book is. But the map is not the territory. As amazing as they are, they have yet to evolve beyond sophisticated calculating and information retrieval systems. Computers cannot yet comprehend the information that is stored within them. I’m not going to get any deeper on this because this is close to where we run out of understanding. Some might ask “How do we know that humans comprehend the information we are receiving” and that’s an excellent question. One I am not equipped to answer.

Creationists believe that because we are calling DNA “information” then it must have been encoded from an intelligent source. “Information can’t come from nothing” they say and they are right. But data is just there. It requires no intelligence to have placed it anywhere, merely a set of forces that are in action in the universe to have something happen to observe or be acted upon. They believe that since a computer is programed, DNA must have been programed. But DNA is not information. It is a representation of learned and earned chemical interactions that have happened over some millennia.

There is an old joke.

Three people are arguing about what the world’s greatest invention is:

“It has to be vaccines” says Greg, “think of how many lives have been saved because of vaccines, diseases that would have run ramshod over populations have been nearly eradicated”

“Vaccines are good” says Dawn “but I think it has to be the Telephone, the telephone has been at the forefront of every communications advancement that we have made, because of it we are able to talk to people on the other side of the world, we are able to speak to astronauts on space stations because of this one great breakthrough”

“You’re both mad” says Jim, “Clearly the world’s best invention is the thermos”

Greg and Dawn look at him incredulously.

“The Thermos?” Says Dawn”

“The thermos” Says Jim defiantly “think about it, it keeps hot things hot and cold things cold, I mean…how does it know?” Back when I heard this joke Jim was Irish.

Yes, DNA contains meaningful data but no more meaningful than the match is to paper. It creates complicated reactions. The only reason that we see DNA as a code is because we have invented codes. We have cyphers. We have bought meaning to DNA not the other way around.

We are, as far as we can tell or know right now. Unique. There is nothing like the human experience that we know of in the world. But that does not mean that we were created by an even bigger, more powerful version of ourselves.

Our wonderful government and its fantastic communication

Does the government have a media office? A media liaison? I’m sure they do, if they don’t then I volunteer for the position. Because there is no way I could do a worse job than whoever is doing it right now.

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Stop judging me!!!

Penalty rates are being take away from workers. In what some see as a first step towards the abolition of minimum wage. Don’t worry though there are good sound reasons to take away the weekend penalty rates and you can see them all listed cogently in this video that the government put out on Friday…..

Wait…no, no you can’t. Because no such video exists.

There may well be good reasons to reduce the number of penalty rates that Australian workers get. But because of the way this government functions we have to make them up ourselves. The idea that this will boost business may have merit, the idea that Australians value their Sunday less than they did 20 years ago might be something I would consider.  The idea that we live in a 24/7 economy is something I might even get behind. Except that since the government has a “You’ll suck it and you’ll like it” policy around its decisions it’s hard to see it as anything but more of its war on unions and rewarding business for just existing.

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And if anyone should be rewarded just for existing it should be giant eyed, Saurians.

Frankly there are good arguments on both sides of the penalty rate debate, that’s not what I’m really writing about, what I’m writing about is the arrogance of the government and the expectation that the people will “Just go along with our decisions…. because…we are the government”. What they didn’t learn from the last Prime Minister is that you can’t just make changes for no reason. You have to sell your ideas. And you can’t go blaming the media for everything, if you want your ideas to get across, state them simply and get the message across another way. Don’t get Piney or Barnaby to get on the 7:30 report and look useless.

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Or worse…..

Create media, create an argument for your reasoning.

Right now EVERYONE is doing a better job than you getting the message out that this is a bad idea. And I can list their arguments clearly. And I gotta say a lot of them are compelling. People who are on penalty rates usually need that money, it’s not like it will be affecting me or upper management. Will prices drop on products? Will service get better? Will there be more staff? Or will what happens classically just happen, “Oh look a windfall, I keep more profit and my staffing levels that I’ve been juggling for the last 3 years can remain the same, WHOOT!”. Who is it helping? Isn’t the idea to help the largest number of people? Well workers far outnumber businesses?? Also isn’t the fact that the rate does not get handed to restaurants meant that it is JUST SIMPLY a handout for big business?

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Seriously…they do not.

Some might say “Well it wasn’t the government, it was Fair Work who proposed it”, sure but the government doesn’t have to take it up and I’d say if they don’t understand the decision then they shouldn’t.

As its popularity dips yet again to lower and lower levels. It might be worth the government thinking about how it communicates its message. Governing is a privilege not a right, you are there to serve not to dictate and its only when they start thinking like that will the poll numbers change.

A nice hot cup of Milo.

On one had Milo Yiannopoulos is awesome. He’s awesome because very often I find myself having to hold back. And with him? Well I don’t have to. It’s a breath of fresh air. Here is someone with all the arrogance and ignorance in the world and I don’t feel that this business suit bred with a psychopath deserves any of my restraint. He is the far right’s wet dream (if that admitted to such things) here is a Gay man who openly says that Homosexuality is perverse. Someone who calls himself a “Provocateur”.

Bill Hicks, Richard Prior, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin. This is a list of provocateurs. They provoked thought. But he is using it in the original French meaning “one who provokes.” Or, an asshole.

There is nothing clever or rewarding about being Milo Yiannopoulos. He is a troll IRL. He says provocative things because he needs to think about people being disapproving to get hard later on.  He’s a stupid person’s idea of a smart person. If you ever watch him interviewed his “arguments” are just rhetoric. And his “bon mots” are the mewling of the emotionally stunted.

He lacks wit, substance, style (except for his hair and his suits, which are fabulous). His one instinct is to say the most outrageous and offensive thing he can. And lucky for him that is also his career. Except now he’s discovering that freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences.

During a discussion about consent, Yiannopoulos recently referred to “coming of age” relationships which occur “in the homosexual world, particularly”:

“Those older men help those young boys to discover who they are and give them security and safety and provide them with love,” he said.

He then specifically referred to relationships between 13-year-old boys and older men.

He also referred to abuse he himself experienced when he was a child, saying, “I’m grateful for Father Michael. I wouldn’t give nearly such good head if it wasn’t for him.”

On one hand my thoughts are “well what do you expect, he’s an asshole” but this is dismissive and it misses the point. What he has said show a deep lack of understanding about power imbalance and the psychological reasons for abuse. Which is strange because, he reports that he was abused. So what is this? Well it’s not really surprising to someone who has met with abuse victims. This is someone perpetuating the cycle of abuse. Much like people who were hit as children defending it. “It didn’t do me any harm” yes it did, it made you think that abuse was ok. So much as he wants to appear like he is strong, a loud defender of people’s rights to free speech, someone defending the right from the tyranny of the left. I find him a pitiable man. He is a child saying what he needs to say to get attention and like a child he still confuses attention with love.

Why people choose alternative medicine

My grandfather is dying. He has cancer and he has a heart condition. He’s had four heart attacks in the last two years and one stroke. He’s in his late 90’s so he’s already beaten the odds. And some would say “Well he’s had a good run”. And that’s a reasonable thing to say. If you’re not a member of his family who love him. On paper things are dire. In practice he is not doing great but he has all his marbles, wants to do things and wants people to tell him if there is a way he can get better. He wants to get out and do more. That might be an unattainable goal but it’s an important one for him. Yesterday he said to me “I need to go for a walk because I have to strengthen my legs”.

The problem is that trying to get appropriate care, care that takes into account his needs, his likes, dislikes and his abilities has been insanely difficult. There’s a wall we keep running into. And that is a “one size fits all” philosophy. “He has cancer? Heart issues? Late 90’s? Well then he needs very high doses of pain meds and to be in palliative care.” Except he doesn’t, not yet, that time will come but it’s not now. People seem to think that he’s been this way for a long time but it’s really only in the last 2 years that he has lost his independence. He isn’t in a lot of pain. And yet. Doctors keep prescribing him morphine. Not just small doses either but high doses of morphine sulfate. That’s a no fucking around pain killer. Except he’s not in pain so it just makes him dopey and upsets his stomach. And when we dialed it back to “pain management only on request” he got a LOT better. Doctors keep wanting to put him on anti-depressants. They especially want to do that when he is in care. Because for most patients it’s depressing but it’s also good for destroying the libido. Not that he in particular is a problem but some are so why not dose em up? He didn’t like them. And he wasn’t told that he was being prescribed them and neither were we, I only found out when I looked at his chart. He is hard of hearing, you have to yell for him to hear you and his replies are often left of center…but frankly that’s nothing new. And he is still sharp as a tack, but he has his own way of seeing things. Always has. So people don’t try.

Last week we went to his cardiologist. A guy who we keep getting told “is the best” a gerontologist and cardiologists, a rare mix. We went in, talked about my grandfather’s issues and fears, he took his pulse, tapped his back, didn’t even use a stethoscope. Asked how it was going, we said it seemed to be going ok. We asked about his medication and its side effects. He didn’t know, he didn’t know what medication he was on. We asked about prognosis and quality of life. Well…not great. Ok, what can we do? Nothing, ok how can we make him more comfortable? Don’t know? What about his ears? I’m not an ear expert. He literally said “well he’s old, what do you want?” Then we were ushered out. Total time 7mins. Total cost $250. If he’s the best the worst must just put their clients down as soon as they come in the door. I would love to say that’s a terrible one off. But it’s not. I continually have to ask “Why is he on this medication” and often the answer is “Well…that’s just what we do when they get to this age”. And then they get annoyed that I am questioning the system.

And that’s the issue for me. If this were a free service, then fine. But it’s not. This guy, apart from his moral responsibility has a responsibility as a service because we are paying him. Rather a lot.

“Sure…this is all very sad and frustrating…But what the hell does this all have to do with alternative medicine?” I hear you ask.

This is in sharp contrast to an experience I had a month or so ago. When in desperation over my feet I went to an acupuncturist. Now I will be clear, I do not believe that it helped my feet but the guy is an old acquaintance and the experience couldn’t have been in sharper contrast to what my grandfather experienced.

I went in, and we had a nice chat. Simon (for that’s his name) couldn’t have been nicer and I suspect that even if we weren’t old acquaintances it would have been the same. Simon had all the time in the world for me. He wanted to know everything, why was I here, any issues? difficulties etc? I could not imagine him saying to my grandfather “Well your old, what do you want?” he was professional and caring. He talked about the realities of his practice and how there probably was an element of placebo to it.

He made sure I was comfortable, that I knew what was going to happen that I felt looked after. Every single step was explained and nothing was left out. And I’ll be honest I left feeling really good. That feeling didn’t last, but it was there and I felt like I hadn’t wasted my money. In fact, I intend to go back to see if it really can work I just haven’t had time. Now I’m not saying Simon is a quack, on the other hand I’m not saying acupuncture is a cure all that is real. What I am saying is that the quality of service, regardless of the outcome is sharply contrasted to what we get with traditional medicine. So of course people vacillate towards it. Frankly the heart specialist guy did nothing, so it was an insulting waste of time and money for someone to basically tell us to get used to the idea that he was going to die. In that instance I would prefer to have someone talk to my grandfather and make him feel good rather that what happened. And it’s not like these places he’s going to are cheap, cut rate doctors or dodgy nursing homes. My family isn’t poor; these are supposed to be “The best” it makes me terrified for those that don’t get “The best”.

I know I’m biased. I am, and I can’t help but be. But seriously if I am paying money for a service “Well he’s old” isn’t a good enough excuse for it being shit. My money isn’t old. It’s doing fine and your bloody happy to be taking it off me. Do your damn job. I can’t think of another service that I pay for where they still get paid if they don’t do anything and they insult you. I think part of the problem is that people don’t know what they are being paid for. Triage? Yep that do that very well, if there’s an emergency they are good. Medication? Well they can provide that by the truckload. Actual care? Nope not our business.

Except it is. How do I know? Well I spent most of last year writing a Cert IV in Aged Care. I know what you are supposed to do, what you are supposed to know and what you should be doing for a client. The question I get asked the most is “Oh are you a doctor?”. No. I just want decent service for someone who has earned decent service.  Ok so maybe there isn’t anything that can be done to increase his longevity and maybe it’s silly to try. Fine. But I refuse to believe that you can’t get simple things like “He likes to have a shave once a day” right. I refuse to believe that he needs ALL this medication. I refuse to believe that he can’t be more comfortable.

So now he’s home and we have hired a home care provider and he seems to be doing a lot better. Because we can monitor everything and this provider only has one client. And obviously they provide a tailored service specifically for him. It’s not perfect because we can’t afford to have someone over all the time and at night. Where either I or my mother take shifts when we can. But it’s better than it was.

And yes now we vet medication. I did a medication audit with his new doctor and we were able to take him off a surprising number of medications. And adjust the dosing as required. (some went up some went down).

So for now things are good. But that’s because we can afford for them to be good.

And the little teeth that gnash at me

I work about 500 meters from an abortion Clinic. This is not something I would have known if it weren’t for the daily presence of protesters. Who abiding by the law cannot actually go near the abortion clinic and so they tend to congregate around our building.  Unless it’s really hot. I guess their conviction is strongly linked to convection because if it gets above 30 degrees they go home.

I have a complicated view about abortion which I’m not going to go into right now however there are some things that bother me about these protesters, perhaps they are not the same things that might bother you.

  • I am not bothered by the fact that they are protesting abortion. I am bothered by the fact that they shove pictures of unborn foetuses in the faces of people who are going through what is already a traumatic time. Because that’s helpful. I also can’t help but feel that it’s not done to assist the unborn foetuses themselves, but to make the protesters feel important. I can’t quantify this can I might be wrong but I feel that’s what’s going on.
  • I am not bothered by the fact that they are Christians I am bothered by the fact that they are almost without exception old, white, men.*
  • I am not bothered by the fact that the hold the idea that abortion is wrong with such conviction. I am bothered by the fact that they are not (as far as I know) spending the same time at foster homes, helping and assisting children who are alive and desperately need people to just pay them attention. And when you politely enquire if they do in fact do this they don’t answer you they just start to sing hymns at you. ** Nor do they say to women “Tell you what, don’t worry about that child that you want to terminate, I’ll adopt it
  • It doesn’t bother me that they want to help children but it does bother me that they don’t ever seem to do so. And it really seems more about “Keep in line with my religion” rather than “These children deserve a chance”. This doesn’t seem to be about the health and wellbeing of children, it seems to be that they need their beliefs reflected back at them at all times. “Don’t do anything I don’t agree with!” maybe if they worked harder at making the world a better place for children who are unwanted then I’d feel better about them.
  • I’m bothered by the fact that they don’t seem to have any love in them. What they seem to have is judgement and hate.
  • This isn’t anti-religion because there are religions people who freely give their time and energy to help children in need and they walk the walk and talk the talk. Although they are rarely found protesting outside abortion clinics because they are busy actually helping people.

A few days ago because it wasn’t as hot as it is now they had a very big sign with them. A sign that reads “Pregnancy Help 1300 737 732 – Free”

This of course is a pregnancy help line set up by anti-abortionists. http://www.pregnancycounselling.com.au/

Which I wouldn’t have a problem with either, if it were advertised as such…but check out the website. Can you spot the bit where they say “We are a service set up by anti-abortion campaigners and have a definitive bias, which is something you should be aware of before you enter counseling with us” I’ll give you a clue. It doesn’t. Not anywhere.

They claim that they are there to help if you are expecting but particularly if you – for whatever reason want an abortion.

It was tempting to call them up and say I was pregnant but I don’t want to turn this into a farce.

Here’s the deal. Modern counseling techniques basically say that you need to listen to the client, you are not to inject yourself into the system in anyway, and you are to be a blanch-tableau for the client to bounce ideas off the idea is that the client has the tools that they need to fix themselves, but they just need to externalise them. Now I am not necessarily in full agreement with that way of doing things but I do strongly believe that if you walk into a counseling session with a firm, set agenda as opposed to just advice or detached interest then the session is going to be useless. Shedding your bias is something that psychologist often struggle with and is not easy to do. Let’s say for instance I was counseling someone who needed to have an abortion for medical reasons, I may personally be against abortion but since I don’t have an agenda that is coded by the people I work for and that I am there to push. I would be free to council the client towards their interest rather than my bias. Now it’s possible that this service would do the same thing, but less likely that’s for sure.

They say:

“At any time of the day or night, from anywhere in Australia, you will be able to speak to a compassionate, non-judgemental counselor who understands your feelings and concerns.”

Except it’s also vitally important that they talk you out of getting an abortion, right? Because that’s why their organisation was started. That’s what they do.  It would be like a Shark advice hotline for Seals: Should you go for a swim today? Let one of our betoothed operators give you unbiased advice.

Not declaring your bias is dishonest and frankly fraudulent. And I am deeply suspicious.

*I’m not saying that you can’t hold an opinion on a topic that you have no personal stake or experience with. Of course you can. I feel that it is however telling that I have never seen a birthing age woman of any race hanging out with these guys supporting their point of view. It’s not a magic bullet but it doesn’t help their case.

**Of course it’s trite of me to pick and choose the causes which these men feel strongly about, but once again it’s part of a rich tapestry that makes them look very bad.

An absolutely not spoiler free review of Rogue one.

So what did I think?

I loved it. I really did.

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Yes, I like it better than The Force Awakens. It neither has the expectation surrounding that film nor does it have the oppressive weight of being the first new movie so it has a much easier task, none-the-less I still liked it more. I loved the action, I loved the characters, I loved the setup. I loved the nods to the original trilogy. Basically, there were very few things I didn’t like. And so because I can’t just like something let’s go over them:

  1. The Score: As per usual it’s all about sound for me and this score didn’t cut it, it was not even trying to be its own thing, it was basically like someone said “I need royalty free Star Wars music, can someone write cues that are LIKE the original score but not as good?”. Mind you this is not just Rogue One’s problem, most new scores for films in the last 10 years are crap. But it’s still disappointing. Especially when you are reminded of a much better score every few minutes. “Hey, that’s almost John Williams!”
  2. The sound effects: Interestingly while the visuals are this movies great strength, the sound lets it down terribly. A lack of imagination and fresh noise makes the audio experience just so-so.
  3. Grand Moff Tarkins voice: He looked ..um…fine?, but the voice was off. Peter Cushing talked like he was giving the world a lesson in perfect English diction, whereas the person providing the voice here was just ok. He acted well enough but for the effort they put in with the visuals they should have matched that with the sound.
  4. The Pilot: This was the one character that felt thin and insubstantial to me. I had no idea really what he was doing or why he was doing it. And I put that down to the acting. Did not like.
  5. The ridiculous way the Empire sends messages: “I need this sent out stat, so you’ll have to go get it, go to the top of the tower, walk out onto a gantry, align the dish, come back insert the tape into the outdoor reader, request the shield be dropped and sent the signal. HURRY!”
  6. Uncanny valley Leia: Just didn’t do it for me.

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Alright, so what did I like?

 

  1. Everything else! To be honest I’m being really picky here. These things didn’t break the movie for me. Although I was surprised that CG Tarkin kept showing up. But seriously. This is a great movie. Ok fine here’s some great things about this movie.
  2. The production design and art work was perfect. It felt so Star Wars. The sense or scale was right. The shot of the dish moving into place on the Death Star was amazing.
  3. The last 10 minutes. WERE AMAZING.
  4. K-2so.
  5. Darth Vader kicking ass. (not to mention him in a Bacta tank)
  6. Seriously everything else. I’ll be seeing this again.
  7. Y-wings!!! With Ion torpedos!! That’s the way you do it.
  8. Bail Organa. Yeah baby.

 

Mr Potato

Hate filled potato Peter Dutton has “slammed” the PC world (That’s political correctness not the computer magazine) that we live in decrying the lack of religious indoctrination that children get these days. “We live in a Christian society” he said:

  • ignoring the multicultural secular society that was lying in wait, just outside the Radio-Studio
  • lambasting those with beliefs other than him
  • Even though he has sworn to serve and represent those people
  • As well as the fact that Australia has no official state religion
  • And the Australian Constitution protects freedom of religion.

Mr Dutton linked the issue to the “Teachers for Refugees” campaign in which many teachers in NSW and Victoria wore t-shirts protesting Australia’s offshore detention camps for asylum seekers.

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“If they want to conduct these sort of campaigns, do it online or do it in your spare time. Don’t bring these sort of views into the minds of young kids,” Mr Dutton told 2GB. Without Irony.

Now personally I don’t really care if children sing Christmas Carols, I do care that Peter Dutton was essentially saying:

“Teachers shouldn’t indoctrinate children, unless I happen to agree with what they are indoctrinating them into”

So teachers should not wear t-shirts or oppose government policy, but they should respect and teach the religion I subscribe to. This is not a cry for freedom of speech nor freedom of religion. This yet another “I support the speech I agree with and try to quash the speech I don’t”.

Yet it was this comment from Dutts that was the most telling.

“Because the vast majority of Australian people want to hear Christmas carols. They want their kids to be brought up in a normal environment and they don’t want to be lectured to by do-gooders who frankly don’t practise what they preach in any case.”

“Normal being what I define as normal. Because I have no awareness or tolerance of a world where my every thought and action isn’t mirrored back to me by everyone I see and such a world would make me unbootable and I would die.” He said later…..presumably.

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The other problem with his assertion is that it’s only true if you look at the gross stats. In 2011 (the last time a census was done properly) People who self-identified as “Christians” were at 61% of the peoples. However this lumps all Christian denominations in together Anglicans, Catholics, make up the majority but if you separate them then religion breaks down like this:

Catholics: 25.3%

Atheists/agnostics: 22%

Anglicans: 17%

Everyone else.

Why would you break them down? Well it’s not like a Catholic would happily just exchange services or decide to join the Anglicans. They do in-fact believe different things. In some ways they are as different as Islam and Judaism. But since they both celebrate Christmas they briefly and artificially join forces and are lumped together as “Christians” a group that also includes denominations as disparate as Jehovah’s Whiteness, Mormons and the Uniting Church. And if you think they all believe “essentially” the same thing you have no idea about those religions.

I don’t know who said it but someone once said “I wish all wars were conducted like the war on Christmas, no killing, no rape, no slavery, no guns just wishing people the best in words they don’t quite agree with and then we get to all eat turkey and pudding anyway. Fuck that sounds amazing”

I will wish people a happy holidays, a merry Christmas or a shiny Festivus as appropriate. I am neither so lazy nor so brain dead that I only have a single response for any situation. I am not Christian but I regognise that for some Christians this is an important time of year, for others it’s a cruel reminder that Paganism still has a foot hold on this world and for yet others they despair at the weird co-opting of a Coca-cola brand symbol, a mid-winder festival and a celebration of consumerism. And that’s all fine. I will celebrate this season in my own way, commemorating the birth of Sir Issac Newton and remembering what a strange fish that guy was. I mean gravity sure, but the guy was completely out to lunch in almost every other way. If you’ve never read up about him, you should. It’s fascinating. I will however support that in a State school there should be a separation of Church and state, although Children singing? Does anyone really want to hear that? Just stamp that out altogether I say.

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Also, I remember when we thought “Everything will be better when they get rid of…..Abbot…etc” The bad news is that the Liberal government have an inexhaustible supply of horrible, horrible people so nothing positive will happen whilst they are in power. Because somehow offshore detention and all that entails is totally fine, but not singing a Christmas carol is not. This man represents no Christians that I know.

Get fucked Dutts.