Thursday, December 21, 2006

[mass-murderer freed] bashir’s release a mockery

Indonesia's Supreme Court has ruled that convicted mass-murderer, cleric Abu Bakar Bashir did not give his blessing after all to the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 88 Australians,. The ruling overturns Bashir's conviction on conspiracy charges in the Bali bombings that killed a total of 202 people.

"The decision came out this morning from chief judge German Hoediarto. It says to free the defendant from all charges," Lauris Ramly, the head of the Supreme Court's judicial review unit said yesterday.

A five-judge panel of an Indonesian court ruled in 2005 that Bashir had known in advance of the Bali nightclub attacks. Western and regional intelligence officials say Bashir was the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah (JI), a South-East Asian extremist group blamed for the Bali bombings and a string of other deadly attacks in Indonesia in recent years.

This makes a complete mockery of both the Indonesian judicial system and by association, the Islamic religion, by showing once and for all that it is not interested in truth and justice but in collusion and the sanctity of murder.

[propaganda] persuasion through deception

Here’s an interesting one:

Wikipedia states: “What sets propaganda apart from other forms of advocacy is the willingness to change people's understanding through deception and confusion, rather than through persuasion and understanding. “

When the press stoops to slanted articles and coloured terminology, under the guise of a supposedly reasoned and neutral editing policy, it is dispiriting. Example:

Humanists seek to halt religious advance [Robert Evans, Reuters, Geneva, July 3, 2005]

Humanists and atheists from East and West meet in Paris this week [July 4-7] to forge a common platform against what they see as a growing threat from religions and religious politicians across the globe.

Continued here …

[feng shui] worth weighing in the balance

The next time you walk into an office for a meeting, try to sit in a location where no sharp corner such as the corner of a desk, coffee table or filing cabinet is pointing at you . Why? It keeps you out of cutting chi, which will make you feel more comfortable, help you think more clearly and, perhaps, even be more creative.

Chi is one of the principles of feng shui, [fung shway] and means "wind and water" in Chinese and is an ancient Chinese science devoted to positioning buildings in the environment and objects within buildings to take advantage (or avoid the harmful effects) of chi, a form of energy which flows among all things in the universe. You radiate your own chi, and it collects within you and your surroundings.

Cutting chi is caused when a flow of chi energy passes a sharp corner, which causes it to eddy and swirl. If you're positioned within this swirl, it causes your personal chi to swirl as well, creating confusion, lowering your ability to think at your best.

There are four aspects - environment, structure, occupants and time. A feng shui consultant usually does considerable work with floorplans and compass readings to develop an analysis of a building and its effect on its inhabitants.

The building must be well-placed in its setting to protect the occupants from negative or stagnant chi, as well as from fast-flowing chi. The placement and use of rooms within the building, and furniture within the rooms, have their positive or negative effects on chi as well.

Feng shui uses a chart called the bagua that relates the points of the compass to sets of elements: the seasons, the major elements of fire, water, metal, soil and tree, the colors of the spectrum and the animals of the Chinese zodiac. Psychology, ecology, philosophy ergonomics, and thoughtful design are at the base of feng shui principles. At the center of the bagua is the yin-yang symbol, which expresses the idea that elements are opposite but not opposed.

The yin and the yang teach balance - hard and soft elements, masculine and feminine. Your workspace should balance and blend. And you should balance your life as well - working to the point of burnout doesn't pay off, either.

Some feng shui advice follows here …

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

[winning debates] two simple principles

Calling all Daleks: Carter versus Ford

No, I can’t claim it as one of my own [only wish]. It’s one of Vox’s:

It is amazing how many debates one can win by applying two simple measures:

1. Always ask your opponent to explain his open-ended statements.

2. Always be prepared with an answer for the questions that are most likely to be raised by your own statements.

Do those two things and you'll not only win 90 percent of your debates within the first two minutes, but you'll usually make the other person look like a drooling idiot besides.

It took me a long time to accept how little thought goes into the vast majority of human speech, but now that I've finally accepted that the average individual really does suffer from a virtual chromosome disorder, I no longer find myself in a constant state of bemused astonishment.

[good news] vitamin d may lower ms risk

From CNN: the "sunshine vitamin" may do more than promote healthy bones; it may ward off multiple sclerosis, one of the most common neurological diseases affecting young adults.

A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health offers some of the strongest evidence yet that people with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood were at lower risk for later developing the disease.

Researchers found that among white people, the risk for multiple sclerosis was lowest among those with the highest vitamin D levels, and highest for those with the lowest vitamin D levels. Among black people, who researchers say have a naturally lower level of vitamin D in their blood because of the pigment in their skin, no significant associations between vitamin D and multiple sclerosis risk were found.

Doctors still don't know what causes MS, but many are convinced heredity plays a role. Women with MS tend to outnumber men 3-1. Where you live and exposure to sunlight are also factors. Research has shown in regions where there is more sunlight and vitamin D levels are higher, there are fewer cases of MS than in those with less sunlight.

Vitamin D is unique. The fat-soluble vitamin is found naturally in foods such as milk, cheese, fish and fortified juices and cereals. It can also be produced in the body by exposure to sunlight. More is not better: The Institute of Medicine warns that excessive intake of supplemental vitamin D can have serious, toxic effects on the body, including excessive calcium levels in the blood, high blood pressure, nausea, poor appetite, weakness, constipation, impaired kidney function and kidney damage.

So, smoked salmon, cream cheese and a glass of Kefir seem to be indicated.

More on Vitamin D here.
[Please note that the CNN link for this story doesn't work - distorts the page and takes the photo.]

[good news] freedom tower rises from the ashes

Three steel beams, one bearing the signatures of 9/11 victims' families, were put into place in a groundbreaking ceremony, as work has finally begun on the Freedom Tower at Ground Zero in New York. Three huge steel beams, one of which was covered with poignant messages from families of 9/11 victims, were ceremoniously lowered into place Tuesday to mark the beginning of the construction work.

Construction workers, politicians and architects looked on and applauded as a massive crane lifted the first 31-foot (9.3-meter) beam and set it in place on the southern edge of the tower's base. The 25-ton column was painted with an American flag and the words "Freedom Tower."

The downside is that human remains were recently discovered at the Ground Zero site but we needn’t go into that. For once, let’s lay aside our cynicism, our political views, our search for ulterior motives and let’s applaud a new beginning - the rebirth of a badly shaken nation. Attack the politicos by all means, attack the policies but let's support the people.

[good news] milan bans the waif

Why do they always look so empty? Because they’re half-starved, poor dears

Well, the homosexual fashion mafia have finally been brought to heel.

The Italian fashion capital Milan has formally barred ultra-skinny and under-age models ahead of its February catwalk shows, as the fashion world comes under pressure to promote a healthier image. The agreement signed on Monday between the city and its powerful fashion industry bans models under 16 and those with a body mass index of less than 18.50 from Milan's shows.

The accord also includes courses on healthy eating and exercise and calls for a variety of clothing sizes in shows. Body mass index is the ratio of weight to the square of height - so that a 1.73 m (5 foot 8 inch) model who weighed less than 55.4 kg (122 lb) would be barred. Brazil and Spain are also involved in banning under-age, under-weight models.

Now let me do a quick calculation here … height … square of height … divide … hmmm … my body mass index comes to … 234.8! No, that can’t be right. Let me try again. Er … 26.72. Yes, 26.72. Expect to see me on the catwalk next season, people – I’ll be the slightly balding one in the tutu waddling and pirouetting, not unlike John Belushi in the Blues Brothers.

[notices] apology, blogpower, spammer

When I sent the Blogfocus advices out last evening, I'd already briefly posted the piece to get the url to put in the letter. Then I saved it to 'draft' and awaited 21:00. When I opened it again to post for real, a small change occurred at the end of the url, I know not how, thus rendering all links I'd sent out useless. For this I sincerely apologize.

Blogpower update: apart from blowing out to proportions I'd never thought possible when I did that rant, the Tin Drummer has gone offscreen [can't get replies to e-mails, can't comment on his site] but I think one of the explanations is that he is in Cheltenham today being interviewed by Chris Vallance for 5 Live on the topic of Blogpower. Should be entertaining. I don't know what time, sorry and I don't think he was sure of that either. Hope it goes well.

On the theme of sending out notices, I really try to individualize as much as possible and only send to blogfriends who are half expecting it. I'm diametrically opposed to spamming people to come to this site - hence nourishing obscurity and my miniscule site stats. And yet that is precisely what some new conservative blogger did in the last two days.

It began with something like: "Hi, I'm one of the regular visitors to your site ..." and so on. He was a conservative and he said I was already blogrolled at his site. Though it appeared, in tone, to be a form letter, when I visited it seemed to be a genuine new site, until I saw that I was not blogrolled at all but the big names - Dale, Fawkes etc., were blogrolled. Did this happen to you too?

I deleted the letter from this man.

[festive season] looking rationally at this thing

I’ve already posted twice on Christmas and New Year here and here but I was hardly expecting the peerless Doctor Vee to come out with similar sentiments on this enforced enjoyment. As Duncan says:

...Except that people don’t enjoy themselves at Christmas time. They just get totally stressed out. That’s what I hate about Christmas. It’s not Christmas itself. It’s the whole fuss that surrounds it. It completely misses the point for me, which is to cheer yourself up during the winter. Ideally, the run-up to Christmas would last for a week, rather than three months. I haven’t even started any of my Christmas shopping yet — mostly because I haven’t had the time. Most Christmas traditions completely pass me by.

But now I am faced with a dilemma. Colleagues have been giving me Christmas cards. It must be at least four years since I personally received a Christmas card. For me, exchanging Christmas cards is one of the most insincere things that people do at this time of year, and that really is saying something.

I mean, I never receive Christmas cards from my friends, and I never give them cards either. Does that mean I wish them a rubbish Christmas? Of course it doesn’t. It just means I’m not wasting as much paper. I can just wish people a Merry Christmas anyway. Why give them a card? Often the process of gift-giving is completely avoided as well. Two of my friends ceremoniously exchange five pound notes every year...

Please don't get me wrong. It's not the bonhommie, the coming together of family and the pleasure that brings I'm so down on. I hope it's wonderful that way for you. No, it's the way commercialism has hijacked the time of year and the way people seem to take leave of their senses in wanting to force you to do the same.

There's one other aspect. Having lost my last remaining family member this August and having only one lady companion to call family, there's not a lot for me and I'm sure, for many others, to celebrate at this time. I by no means begrudge you your joyous hearth but all it does for me is make me feel loneliness and longing for those who have gone.

My blogheader is my way of saying to you all: “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and may love abound at your hearthplace.”

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

[lexicon] next ten handy shakespearean taunts

Short of a barbed taunt to hurl at the object of your ire? The first ten can be found here. The second ten are below:

1] [Thou art] as loathsome as a toad. [Troilus and Cressida]
2] Thou art baser than a cutpurse. [The Two Noble Kinsmen]
3] Thou thing of no bowels thou! [Troilus and Cressida]
4] Come, come, you talk greasily; your lips grow foul. [Love's Labour's Lost]
5] [Thou hath] not so much brain as ear wax. [Troilus and Cressida]
6] Thou art the rudeliest welcome to this world. [Pericles]
7] Your bedded hair, like life in excrements, start up and stand on end. [Hamlet]
8] Methink'st thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee. [All's Well That Ends Well]
9] Thou mewling dizzy-eyed flirt-gill! You are a fishmonger. [Hamlet]
10] Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth. [Hamlet]