catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Archive for October 2004

Ramadhan at the ranks

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Where in the Koran does it say that we must go without taxis during Ramadhan? If anyone has wondered why there is taxi chaos in Melbourne (and probably Sydney) at the moment, with long delays on phone bookings and lengthy queues at the ranks it is because so many of the drivers are Muslims, and are spending their days fasting and attending mosque rather than in their cabs. They don’t come out until it is dark – meaning daylight saving will add to the problems of the taxi-dependent.

The Forum on Australian Islamic Relations issued a rather upbeat press release about Ramadhan. They tell us that “it is a time to give charity to those in need” – what about those who need a taxi? I don’t think this will do much at all to improve Australian-Islamic relations.

Unlike those who think each group in society should be proportionately “represented” in every occuption (James Jupp had a piece along these lines about Parliament this week) I do not believe that, in general, ethnic or religious clustering in particular jobs or businesses matters.
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October 30, 2004 at 9:09 am

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A majority by mistake?

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Today’s news that the Nationals have won an extra seat in Queensland confirms the 2004 federal election result as the least well predicted since before most of us can remember. A Coalition Senate majority was mentioned as a possibility by some, but quickly dismissed as very, very unlikely.

That dismissal, plus a Senate preference system that is incomprehensible to most voters, contributed to an outcome that it is almost certain that a majority of Australians did not want.

It has long been believed that a section of the Australian electorate votes strategically to ensure government accountability through the Senate. Since proportional representation started at the 1949 election minor parties have received more votes in the Senate than the House of Representatives. The 2004 election was no different, with the major parties getting 84.3% in the Reps and a fraction over 80% in the Senate.
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October 28, 2004 at 9:53 pm

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Creationism in Australia

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Some surprisingly and disappointingly high rates of creationist beliefs among the Australian population, according to this recent survey, though it has to be kept in perspective when compared to US rates of belief:

More than a quarter of Australians believe the Bible offers a more likely explanation of the origins of life than evolution, an opinion poll says.

More people – 43 per cent compared with 28 per cent – preferred science to religion, another 12 per cent were inclined towards a combination of both, while 17 per cent were undecided whether the earth was made in six days or billions of years.

The poll, by UMR research for Hawker Britton, found that women, older people, Liberal voters and Queenslanders were less inclined to believe in evolution. People from NSW, people living in the inner cities and those earning over $80,000 preferred evolution as an explanation of how we got here …

Hawker Britton’s managing director, Bruce Hawker, contrasted the results with the United States, where one poll had showed 50 per cent of people believed in the biblical account and only 15 per cent in evolution.

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October 28, 2004 at 3:42 pm

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Idiotic quote of the week

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Fantasy writer (really!) and Le Pen apologist Sophie Masson (see the July 2002 issue of Quadrant) has a very different view of Satanism from my own:

Traditionally, we understood that symbols have an underlying meaning: the human world is not a parade of meaningless gestures, but a mysterious, strange place which we only partly understand, where metaphysical battles are played out every day in people’s hearts.

The figure of the devil is a very profound, living metaphor, expressed in a concrete way; to worship the principle of evil itself is to invite it into your life and the lives of those around you, sometimes in unpredictable and horrifying ways.

A year after Church of Satan founder Anton la Vey appeared in Rosemary’s Baby, Roman Polanski’s pregnant wife Sharon Tate and several friends were gruesomely murdered by the followers of mad anti-prophet Charles Manson – who laid great stress on the fact that his name, reversed, was “son of Man”.

Yup, I can see the cause and effect at work here. Roman Polanski invites Satanist to movie set. Roman Polanski’s family dies. Serves him right. Didn’t he know he was playing with fire?

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October 27, 2004 at 11:19 am

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Finding my religion

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Yobbo has dug up the ‘nine Satanic statements’ of the Church of Satan:

1) Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence!

2) Satan represents vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams!

3) Satan represents undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit!

4) Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates!

5) Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek!

6) Satan represents responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires!

7) Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his “divine spiritual and intellectual development,” has become the most vicious animal of all!

8) Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification!

9) Satan has been the best friend the Church has ever had, as He has kept it in business all these years!

Yobbo writes: “Well, upon reading that, it’s pretty clear that I am also a Satanist”. I have to say, this credo seem surprisingly benign for such a notorious cult. There is nothing there I would strongly object to and a lot that I would agree with. While reader Homer Paxton may continue to accuse me of being a ‘post-modern relativist’, maybe my true allegiance is also to His Darkness (and I don’t mean John Howard).

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October 26, 2004 at 12:06 pm

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Sci-fi blog

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The GNXP people have spun off a new blog devoted to science-fiction called GNXP Science-fiction. I’m a contributor too and plan to do a few long posts on science fiction there soon.

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October 22, 2004 at 4:43 pm

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Privatisation and pay-offs

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My boss Henry Ergas has a piece in today’s Australian cautioning the government on potential rent-seeking pitfalls on the road to its full Telstra privatisation agenda:

the lead-up to privatisation always brings with it a veritable landmine of unashamed lobbying, grand schemes and backroom deals. No doubt some deals will be cut that involve implementing policies hard to justify on strict cost-benefit terms but that are necessary trades for delivering Telstra privatisation. Up to a point, this may be worthwhile … But the Government would not be serving the community well if it paid a price for Telstra’s privatisation that exceeded the benefits the full sale will bring.

The Government should remember how costly the last deal was. In 1999, for example, the vote of Tasmanian senator Brian Harradine for the partial privatisation of Telstra was traded in return for the $30 million Launceston Broadband Project. As it turned out, the project was a white elephant, if not an abject failure. Tasmanians would have been far better off if the money had simply been scattered from a helicopter flying over their island …

That money will be wasted buying off the bush is not the only risk in the privatisation program – other, no less insidious, forces are at work.

Telstra’s competitors stand out in this respect. At each privatisation, they have sought to impose conditions that merely transfer wealth from ordinary Australians, who own the majority of Telstra, to their own (generally foreign) shareholders. This time, what they want is no less than Telstra’s partial dismemberment.

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October 22, 2004 at 9:57 am

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