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Patrick's Blog and Other Rubbish


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14/05/2002

Other Blogs

The whole essence of this blogging thing is supposed to be multiple updates and links, so I think I'll talk a little bit about the other blogs I read.

First of all we get a left wing political thinker who occasionally shades into a marvellous Basil Fawlty impersonation at Jack Robinson though sometimes you get the impression he isn't trying to be funny. Still as long as he calms down he can offer an interesting perspective.

The Drivel Warehouseoften gets in debates with Mr Robinson, but as anyone who has ever seen Fawlty Towers could have told them, this is not the way to calm him down. Having actually emailed Jack myself, I find him quite decent to talk to, but the Drivel Warehouse guys seem to rub him up the wrong way.

Another angry man, for unexplained reasons, is Uncle Al. Well not entirely.

He is angry at corporate management, because they make stupid decisions, ignore his genius, and are paid more than he is. We all understand that.

He is angry at the government because they make him pay high taxes and harass him constantly with stupid rules and regulations. We all understand that.

He is angry at the new age greens and hippies because they speak complete lies and garbage and talk the government into introducing new high taxes and more stupid rules and regulations. We all understand that.

But then he goes into fits of rage at religion, especially the Catholic church. What's his problem? He isn't living in the middle ages, he can live his life as an atheist if he wants. No-one is forcing him to be religious. He wasn't even brought up a Catholic, he was a Jew. (He castigates Judaism too, but not as much as the Catholics.) So why the anti-Catholic bent?

A completely different sort of character is Jane Galt or whatever her real name is. Though she did renege on her promise to show pictures of herself in a sheer negligee while debating economics.

Similar to Jane is More than Zero(he is referring to the sum of the game), for an interesting viewpoint on space technology there is TransTerrestial Musings, and for much less spacey things (despite the name) there is U.S.S. Clueless.

10/05/2002

Googling

I couldn't resist it, I typped my name into GoogleSearch and the first thing on the list was Actually about me but on someone elses website. It is a list I drew up sometime ago for a survey on my favourite books. To be precise they are:

  1. The Bible
  2. Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations : An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes
  3. The Professor Branestorm Books, by Norman Hunter.
  4. Terry Pratchett's Discworld Series
  5. Grimm Brother's Fairy Tales
  6. Dougles R. Hofstadter's Godel, Escher and Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
  7. J.E.Gordon's Structures: Or, Why Things Don't Fall Down and The New Science of Strong Materials: Or Why You Don't Fall Through the Floor
  8. M.B. Freeman and I.M. Freeman's The Story of the Atom
  9. The Swiss Family Robinson
  10. The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne

I still stand by this list. They aren't all my favourite books right now, but they are the ones that made the biggest impact on my life when I read them.

07/05/2002

Designer Babies Again

I got this reply to my earlier posting about the designer baby dispute. The email was from my good friend Lucy so you can understand the familiarity of her language. Not everyone is expected to talk to me like that.

My replies are in bold.

Been reading your blog - what happened to archive 1?

OK. I may not have actually written archive 1 yet.

I must admit I'm a bit disturbed by your entry about disabled people. For a start, why do you use 'chattering classes/chatterati' to use people who 'waffle on' about lesbians, people with disabilities etc? That means you're lumping me in that group. The term's one that tends to be used by conservative types like Paddy McGuinness - it's insulting without being terribly precise, since conservative commentators are just as 'chattering' and likely to waffle.

I was actually meaning ALL the chatterers, Paddy Mc included. Half the media interviews have been with people who demand it be allowed (and payed for by the taxpayer), the other half proclaim it as the end of civilisation as we once knew it, I'd been ignoring both sides. Perhaps I should include a glossary? Actually that sounds like a good idea.

People who use the term tend to be as extreme as some of the extreme actions they focus on - they don't focus on the positive aspects of equal rights legislation, & so on. Though I bet you they would if they felt they needed or benefited from them. The fact they don't tells you something about the people who tend to say such things. By suggesting that only chatterati waffle on about people with disabilities, etc, trivialises real issues - & real people - to something dilettantes are concerned with.

And do you really think that people with disabilities are 'privileged' in any way at all?

Mmmm. OK there I really do need a glossary. I meant Privileged in the original sense, of "Privi lege" or "Private law". I'm sure I wrote out an explanation of that, but it seems to have evaporated. But to summarise, someone who is seen as a victim is given much greater latitude by public opinion to bend the law. This doesn't mean that their lives overall are better, just that they have legal privilege. Hence, in a situation like designer babies, they are more likely to be approved than say... a university lecturer who wants her child to be a dead ringer for Paul McCartney.

Do you think the few additional services they get in any way make up for their disadvantage? Deaf people get fuck all support from the government - what makes you think they get much extra funding or protection? Okay, they get a disability benefit, but do you really think that compensates for everything that's against them, all the government services oriented towards hearing people? The same with other types of disability.

Obviously if I thought disabled people were better off overall I'd take up smoking and ride a motorbike. I'm refering to the legal benifit of the doubt that this couple is getting.

I'm confused about what you're trying to say in the last para before the italics - are you saying it's okay to go for the 'best' child you can? How do you define 'best'? Wouldn't 'best' be different for every parent? Does that mean you advocate tailoring children?

I'm not sure how far one should go in that direction. But really, if the doctors told you you could have the child rendered immune to measles or polio (now standard practice) or tooth decay and acne (in the pipeline) maybe skin cancer and short sightedness (not yet) or even learning difficulties or severe depression (maybe, one day)... at what point would you say "No"?

And what does the last, italicised, bit mean? Do you really mean people without a disability shouldn't get extra government funding/services/special treatment? Do you mean legal disability, or any disadvantaging thing (e.g., unemployment, sickness, being a single parent)? Okay, some deaf people might not see being deaf as a disability, but legally that's the case.

No. I thought I was quite clear there. I was saying that accepting special treatment for your disability, while proclaiming that it isn't a disability and that there is nothing wrong with you, is hypocritical. I'm certainly not saying that people who need help shouldn't recieve it. Just that it should be acknowleged that that is what's happening. Well actually, not even that, just don't jump up and down and insist it ISN'T happening.

I hope that that will also help explain my position to anyone else who might be confused.

Car

My car is currently putting out 205 kW according to the in gear times.

Doesn't feel as fast as when I first turned it up to 170 kW though :(

And we all know there's only one cure for that....

Which leads to my friend Mykl replying:

Cool......

You are only 20kw off an SS and 95 kw off a HSV......

(aren't they ridiculous

numbers!)

If it wasn't for the fact they are much heavier than me I would be quite sad.

Remember in the olden days when we thought that 1600 kg for a Supra was an enourmous number for a performance car? And then the Mitsubishi 3000GT came out at 1700kg and everyone laughed at the idea of such a whale trying to go fast?

Now that would be the figure for a stripped down, racing version of a commodore. And the new hottest supercar in the world, the Mercedes Benz SL 55 AMG pulls a good 1950 kg. (But still has a 0-300 (!!!) time about 10 seconds faster than that old slug the Lamborghini Murcielago.)

Of course it's all fun and games once somebody loses an eye. (Or something like that). My flatmate just drove her 850 kg Hyundai Excel into a new commodore, the Hyundai needed the front end rebuilt, the paint on the commodore was scratched.

03/05/2002

More Vegetarianism

Of course all this talking about never killing animals brings up another issue. Even for a strict fruitarian here'll still be tiny insects, mites, protozoa, etc. living on the fruit that they'll eat. It is impossible to eat any vegetable matter without eating a bunch of tiny creatures that are living on and inside it.

"Organically" grown vegetables would probably have more such microfauna than normal food, because of less pesticides etc.

So either you grow your food as tissue cultures in otherwise sterile factories, or you have to eat whales, so you kill as few animals as possible.

Or you give up the whole thing as pointless and order some grainfed veal with a tossed jellyfish and beche-de-mere salad.

Vegetarianism

A University ethicist has pointed out a huge fallacy in the beliefs of vegetarians. Basically his point is that heaps of animals get killed in the farming of vegetables, so to eat vegetables because it is wrong to kill animals doesn't work. He explains:

The animals in this case are mice and moles and rabbits and other creatures that are run over by tractors, or lose their habitat to make way for farming, so they are not as "visible" as cattle...

Davis believes the death toll among all animals could be reduced if ranchers concentrated on raising cattle instead of pigs and chickens and let those cattle revert to foraging in open fields that could be shared with other animals.

He then goes on to say that farming of chickens and pigs is far crueler and kills more animals than that of cattle.

It looks to me like this is saying that the way to kill the least number of animals, (if that is your desire), is to eat the largest animals you can get. So cattle are better than chickens. Logically elephants would be better still. And the greenest, most animal friendly way of all is to eat whales.



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