All 7 entries tagged Politically Correct

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May 28, 2005

Environmentally Friendly For Free

It seems that being environmentally friendly always has a cost. There's the fun way, the convenient way, and the environmentally friendly way. Well, not neccessarily… Here's a list of some ways you can benefit the environment, at no cost to yourself.

1. Don't use plastic/paper disposable cups. It is really kinda questionable why people would want to use them. Habit, I suppose. While it is true that most of these cups can be recycled, nowadays, recycling is still inefficient. It costs energy, and itself pollutes. While recycling is better than disposing, it is much worse that using reuseable cups, whose production costs have already been paid.

2. Reduce plastic bag usage. If you are only going a short distance, and you only have a few, large items (like a pizza, for example, or a few bottles), there is no point in getting a plastic bag. So, well, don't. If you are already carrying a bag for your books, then you can put groceries in that as well. You can also re-use plastic bags as bin bags, or for when you go shopping.

3. Store scrap paper. A piece of paper has two sides. For stuff where presentation doesn't matter – like rough, working out paper – use both sides. This will save you money, as well. If you only use one side, then keep it around for the next time you need some paper. When you are printing stuff off, take some of the discarded cover pages, for use as scrap. And when you have used both sides, then remember to recycle!

4. Turn stuff off. When you leave a room, it costs you no time to turn off the lights. When you leave a computer, turn off the monitor. (Standby mode still consumes some power, and also takes time to trigger.) Note though – this depends on whether you are going to leave for a long time or not. If you are just going to be out for a second, then don't bother. The on-off cycle itself costs energy.

5. Buy stuff on special offer. I mean, think about it? Why are they on special offer? Often, it's because the supermarket is trying to offload stuff. And if they don't offload it, it just gets wasted. Don't feel guilty about being a bargain hunter.

6. Don't switch cars. Suppose you've been convinced of the threat posed by Global Warming. Suppose you now view your dirty old vehicle with guilt… Don't just buy a new one. Remember, the construction of cars is itself hugely polluting. As is its eventual disposal. You need to balance out the incremental improvement in efficiency with the one-time cost. If you are going to buy a new car, then sell your old car second hand (if it isn't too horrible), and get a new, cleaner one.

7. Be lazy. Lazy is good. When you are asleep, you consume very little energy. So, oversleep whenever you can. This should not be difficult.

I'll add more when I can think of it.


May 01, 2005

The Fang Approved Election Strategy

Writing about make my vote count x from rOcK tHe CaSbAh!

Because I'm great.

(Oh yeah, this is kinda aimed at liberals, mostly. If you're pro-conservative, well, feel free to follow my advice.)

1. If you are living in a marginal seat area, vote Labour if you can stomach it. Or whoever the biggest non-conservative party is. (See? Told you I was biased.) If neccessary, you can get a clothes peg from the Guardian to put over your nose, to help get over the general stinkiness of it all.

2. If you can use a vote-swapping service, then all the better. There is absolutely no need to feel guilty about it. Tactical voting in this way is very much a part of democracy. Moving votes to get greater effects is simply compensating for the crumminess of the first past the post system.

3. Not voting is bad. Seriously. There is zero precedent for voter apathy being an effective means of protest. It will certainly not register at all with an international audience. If you can not stomach voting for a main party, vote for a minor party. The greens. Respect. Socialist Worker. Whatever. They may not win, but when the results are analysed, the message will be sent out, loud and clear.

4. Register on Make My Vote Count for a fairer system.


November 29, 2004

A Counter–Anti–Fac/Racist Motion

Follow-up to The 'No Platform to Fascists and Racists' Motion from The Militant Wing of Pacifism

Ok, so I suppose the No-Platform motion has been passed.

The best thing I can think to do now is to counter it, with a motion of our own, and this time make sure things are a fair fight, with proper arguments provided and publicised for both sides of the debate.

This is where you can help

I need some advice and feedback on drafting this motion. Firstly, I want to check the waters to see how far we are willing to go – ie. to what degree can we expect to gather enough support for.

1. Not to allow any person who can be shown to have advocated or expressed, or to be likely to advocate or express, racist or fascist conduct, attitudes or views to have any involvement with the Union and to ban any such person from entering Union events and buildings. If the person is a Union member they should be dealt with via the Union disciplinary process.

1. We can remove the word 'likely'. This is a no brainer. I doubt anyone can justify that.
2. We can remove the 'buildings' part. This should also be pretty easy – it's plainly unenforceable.
3. Or we can scrap this one entirely.

3. That no Union Officer shall share a platform with any known racists or fascists at any Union event; or any other event in their capacity as an Officer.

We can scrap these entirely. Racist and fascists should be welcome to reasonable debates. Also, puts way too much pressure on officers to determine guests etc are 'on message'.

7. To empower and require the President to deal with potential or actual conflicts between Societies that could exacerbate tensions between students along the lines of race, religion, nationality or ethnicity, such as tensions erupting in relation to international conflicts.
8. To mandate the Societies and Student Development Officer to liaise with the relevant Societies to ensure that events organised by them reflect the Unionís commitment to tolerance and understanding (e.g. no offensive or inflammatory speakers or publicity).

We can scrap these two, at least partially. Ie. empower, but not require. Societies should deal with their own conflicts, until they are severe enough to call in the President. Also inconsistent. Are societies causing political (eg. left/right tensions) or sexual tensions somehow exempt?

We can then add resolutions of our own.

Any ideas?

Any thoughts? Please comment!


Ukrainian Separatism?

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

Note: I really can't spell the two main guy's names. So I won't try. In the jumbled sentences below, if there are e's after it, I am refering to the opposition leader, while if there are a's, I am refering to the prime minister. If there are both, you are kinda screwed.

New developments as reported by the Guardian.

While pro-Yblensd feeling remains strong in the capital, in East Ukraine, people are talking about a fear of a coup placing an 'illegitimate' 'fascist' president in office, making Ukraine into a puppet of America. Hmm…

It's uncertain how strong the actual public sentiment is. The Guardian raises the possibility of heavy media censorship in play - noting how one TV station giving news from a pro-Yedsdfds perspective had its signal shut off, adding that this is a common occurence. And that many of the pro-Yanasusch demonstration were rather non-spontaneous, with workers ordered to participate by their bosses.

Now, the talk in East Ukraine is of separatism – of creating a federal Ukraine with the south-east as an autonomous region – however, this is unlikely to happen.

One sentence in the Guardian report made me look twice:

"...the mafia bosses which now run the region…"

This sounded pretty extreme, so I did a cross check with Google Scholar. However, it looks pretty watertight. Eg. report from Kulver Online

"...World Bank estimates annual sum of bribes equal the total trade turnover for two months…"

and that while some measures exist,

"...the current government is unable, and some say unwilling, to take on corruption…"

Ouchy.

The case looks pretty clean cut, from this direction. Unless anyone has some other pointers? (Note I only skim read the article, so maybe I missed something.)

In any case,


November 17, 2004

Guardian: Compensation Culture Does Not Exist

Writing about web page http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1352227,00.html

Pretty interesting, and I think useful article from the Guardian, a few days ago, in its comments and opinions section.

I recommend anyone go take a look.

For those that can't be bothered, key points:

1. Evidence for the lack of a real, harmful compensation culture:

Despite the legalisation in 2000 of "no win, no fee" lawsuits, the total cost of compensation cases in Britain has remained, in real terms, static since 1989. The two biggest claims-marketing companies – the great beneficiaries of compensation culture – have both gone bust. Last year the number of accident claims fell by 9.5%. The government's Better Regulation Task Force, which at other times has taken the part of big business, bluntly reports that "the compensation culture is a myth".

2. Monbiot claims that the idea behind such things crippling innocent companies is invalid. Spurious claims almost never succeed, and so the legal companies willing to take up no-win-no-fee claims always end up shouldering any legal fees themselves. And so THEY go bust, not the companies. "It is no easier to win a case under the "no win, no fee" system than it was to win a case brought with the help of legal aid."

3. Notice the people behind the myth of the compensation culture. They are the ones with the most to gain, because they use the idea of the culture as an excuse to avoid litigation from their own victims. (Examples given are asbestos merchants in the US.) These companies deploy a different idea of a risk taking society:

"Sunderland is calling for precisely the "reduction in personal responsibility" he affects to despise. The entrepreneur shall not be held responsible for any of the risks he dumps on other people…. In opposing our mythical compensation culture, Sunderland and Letwin are creating something much uglier: a risk culture. They are glorifying the risks that the powerful impose on the weak. "

4. "Of course there is another way, and that is to stop big business exposing people to risk in the first place. But the state enforcement of health and safety laws is in the interests of neither businessmen nor lawyers; the money won't vote for it. Without regulation, compensation is often the only protection we have. "


October 29, 2004

You Can Help Save The World! (Maybe)

This entry will meander a little.

First, things first, who has watched Adam Curtis' new documentary on BBC2, titled:

The Power of Nightmares?

Anyone? It's a three part show documenting the parallel rise of the Neocon movement with that of Islamic Fundamentalism, and the resulting culture of fear which drives the world today. It is good. It is really good.

The entire show is very cleverly edited and put together, and the ideas are fresh and appear certainly to be very genuine. Unlike say, Fahrenheit 9/11, the tone of the documentary is factual rather than polemic, and Curtis' direction is always pretty unbiased – he, unlike many others, always allows his sources to speak for themselves.

Some brilliant moments off the top of my head:

  1. The Soviet ambassador to the US pleading with Wolfowitz for the Americans to help them withdraw from Afghanistan, and set up a stable government there. Wolfowitz refuses, demanding the Soviets immediately withdraw. The Russian warns that leaving so suddenly would not create a democracy, but a theocratic tyranny...
  2. The CIA boss believing the Soviets were responsible for ALL global terrorism, even though his analysts informed him that the 'evidence' for this was created as black propaganda by the CIA itself…
  3. How the radical Islamicists in Algeria, basing themselves on a system of Absolute Belief, decided that all mankind must be killed, except of course themselves…

Curtis' central thesis is that much of the global terrorist threat is a fantasy. Not that of course there are no terrorists – but rather they represent scattered groups of individuals with individual views, united only in that they have a common enemy. The idea of a coordinated, 'evil' force is an illusion. Curtis suggests that the Neocons and Islamicists are feeding off the actions of each other and hence growing in strength.

Needless to say, Fox derided it as anti-americanism. The NRO attempted to attack it by gross strawmen and extraordinarily weak 'evidence'. Examples:

In Curtis's world, it is Strauss, not Osama bin Laden, who is the real evil genius.

No a single bad word was said about Strauss in the film. The most serious attack was that he was idealistic. Half the film was spent watching the rise of the radical Islamicists. Curtis' point is that there are no 'evil' geniuses, full stop.

Pipes, perhaps the world's leading expert on Kremlin ideology, is left looking an amiable dunce. British viewers, unaware of his distinguished career, will be none the wiser. Pipes tells NRO in response to it all: "The allegations made by Ms. Cahn and others about Team B are so preposterous that I would be at a loss to answer them: they are similar to those made by the Holocaust deniers. They sort of leave you speechless."

Curtis did say that Pipes was an eminent expert on ideology. But Curtis' attack was that Team B was meant to analyse evidence to come up with a conclusion, for which Pipes is uniquely unsuited because he had a preset view of the Soviet Union he had formed without access to the evidence. Quoting the target does not a rebuttal make.

Oh yes, if you haven't seen the show, I'm afraid there is only the last of three episodes remaining. Sorry.

But the story goes on… The Guardian Newspaper, perhaps inevitably, is the most enthusiastic supporter of 'The Power of Nightmares'. Praise appeared in a column by freelance journalist Charlie Brooker, called:

Screen Burn

Now, for those unfamiliar with the Guardian, Screen Burn is a weekly column appearing at the start of the newspaper's TV guide. It represents a satirical preview of the week in television. Brooker liked, and presumeably still likes the Power of Nightmares alot, and also commented on the US election debates. But it wasn't his description of Kerry as a haunted tree, his claim that a Bush victory would disprove god would got anyone's attention. It was his last sentence:

John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr – where are you now that we need you?

Wham! The conservative media whipped itself into a fanactical rage. Brooker, they said, was inciting murder. Wham! Wham! Brooker should be arrested and sent to Guantalamo bay. Wham! Wham! The Guardian should be banned from reporting from the US. Wham! Wham! Within hours, people were coming up, claiming to be sickened, claiming to be taken aback by this 'absolute lack of human decency.'

The Guardian withdrew the article, leaving an apology in its place. (Though a mirror still exists run by a supporter.) Brooker said it was a joke, but of the course the Right still would not believe him.

You may stop laughing now. Is this situation not utterly insane? The pro-Bush people are actually saying that they believe a TV guide is a site for political incitement to violence, and that an article about next week's television is a serious political platform. If Brooker was complaining about Kerry, or Blair, the likes of the Mail would be jumping all over with the freedom of speech card. Political correctness would have gone far more than mad. For God's sake, these people are trying to outlaw humour!

And even more infuriating is the sheer hypocrisy of the rightwingers who made this an issue.

Absolute nastiness

They do this almost all the time. Consider the following:

I wonder do you think Rupert Murodch get his papers investigate background of this reporter.... I dont' think SS can't do jack about UK Guardian I know who could... Scotland Yard and Brit MI-5

Then tell me again why I'm wrong in wishing that the next earthquake moves San Francisco about a hundred miles out to sea, and dumps it two thousand feet below the surface.

How to handle a peacenik? Fix bayonets.

a company of US Navy Seals - Republican to a man - to descend upon the offices of the Guardian, bag the lot of you, and transport you to Guantanamo Bay, where you can share quarters with some lonely Taliban shepherd boys.

IS IT TIME TO ASSASSINATE THE EDITOR OF THE GUARDIAN?

The last is written in the blog of Tim Blair, an Australian conservative. Which is where I come in. I've decided to write emails to him, challenging him to change the title of his blog post on the grounds that it is just as 'sickening' as Brooker's column. The idea is that this would expose the way they are distorting the issue, and perhaps draw a little fire away from other things. It's a small measure, but it is something?

Anyone wanna help out?

The ability to give the impression of moral indignation is all that is required. Come on, folks, just leave a comment. We don't want this guy to win… do we? For updates, watch this spot.

Oh, and:

Let's all assassinate Bush!
Let's all assassinate Bush!
Let's all assassinate Bush!
Let's all assassinate Bush!
Let's all assassinate Bush!

Hey, even flames from the far right is publicity, and there is no such thing as bad publicity.


October 24, 2004

The Chinese Issue

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

To see the problem, simply look at the seating arrangements during the lectures, and note the clustering. As a matter of priority, people from a foreign background need to be encouraged to spread out and take greater part in their current society. I don't think it is racist to say so – race doesn't matter. Its a matter of introversion as a self sustaining state.

Back to the original blog…

I am sure that the general intention of barring people whose english are so poor that it is a significant handicap does currently exist – simple reality of modern education: lack of places => you leave them to those who can make the most of them. But I doubt there is any conspiracy theory. Rather, there are two reasons:

Conversational english is very different from taught english. The teaching of english generally follows a series of scenarios, plus vocabulary training and grammar learning. Conversations require an innate understanding of the English culture/mannerisms, the ability to improvise and so on. Chinese students seem to take copious amounts of notes – so eventually, they probably understand it.

The whole examination style in China is different. At least, from my experience. There is much more of an emphasis on rote learning and so on. A reasonable revision strategy is often to memorise all possible permutations of a problem, and regurgitate as required! Obviously, this may not be good for actual practical applications.

Bored yet?

Of course, my memory is bad, and my experience is limited.


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