93 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. J-D, I’ve only just seen your post @30. If we accept that paradigm, how does it translate into an achievable political program that will advance the national and democratic rights of the peoples concerned.

  2. @Megan
    When John Stockwell attests to US efforts to destabilise the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua, his evidence is not unsupported; it is extensively corroborated. When John Stockwell attests to US efforts to destabilise the MPLA regime in Angola, his evidence is not unsupported; it is extensively corroborated.

    Conversely, I cannot see where John Stockwell’s evidence corroborates any guess you or Ikonoclast might want to make about how many (or which) countries are currently the targets of US destabilisation efforts or about the relative importance to current global instability of active US destabilisation efforts as compared to other causes. The past crimes of the CIA are evidence of what the organisation is capable of but they are not direct corroborative evidence for any specific new charge against the CIA. There are historical instances of instability fomented by the CIA, but this by itself is insufficient basis for concluding that any current instance of instability has been fomented by the CIA, because there are also historical instances of instability independent of the CIA and indeed before the CIA or even the USA existed.

  3. @Paul Norton
    It doesn’t. It’s a politically unconstructive paradigm. That’s why it’s important to reject it, and in turn that’s why it’s important to recognise instances of its adoption.

  4. @J-D

    there are also historical instances of instability independent of the CIA

    That stands to reason.

    But please list, say, the top five most recent of those that you have in mind (by “top” I mean by any degree of instability equal to or greater than the ones fomented by the CIA).

  5. Coming in a bit late but … does anyone else think that Midrash sounds like David Flint? There can’t be two pompous asses of that order of magnitude.

  6. J-D @27, thanks. As it happens I had an example of that paradigm put to me by a Facebook friend on Saturday, who unfriended me basically because I didn’t accept it.

  7. @drsusancalvin

    Three numbers is good. Before I was tested and amazingly passed with flying colours, I thought ‘mine’ was lower than my shoe size.

    I hadn’t done well at school – I think it was because I always wanted to set the teachers straight about things they didn’t know or something socially wrong like that – and I spent lots of time standing outside the door dreading the headmaster walking by and seeing me.

    They don’t do that at schools any more, do they?

    The first time I did a WAIS was in the psych hospital where I lived for a while after my first suicide attempt at 16. They started out with the adolescent WAIS but I nuked the vocab test and they moved on to the adult one.

    I worked all this out after I did a couple of psych degrees many years later, and after working with a colleague doing her PhD in ‘Intelligence’. I participated in several of her research projects as a participant and a ‘tester’ and learned a lot by sharing and co-operating with fellow PhD candidates.

    The thing I clearly understood from looking back at the actual experience of test taking in my adolescence, was that no person can administer an IQ test ‘rationally’ or respond to the test ‘rationally’; we are all to some extent easily distracted by what we ‘like’ and just as importantly what we don’t like to do.

    One example I can provide of this lack of proper administration of IQ tests is during the block test, a sub-test of the WAIS, the psych who was administering the test totally violated the rules of test taking by telling me I had done one of the tests ‘better’ than anyone she had ever tested before or heard of.

    That was quite disturbing to me at the time and not at all reassuring, as she probably thought it would be.

    High IQ does not make a person more intelligent or a ‘better’ person. High IQ is a burden unless one has social intelligence and/or is properly ‘socialised’ to value all the diverse intelligences that the human brain is capable of achieving.

    And Patrickb, what about Gerald Henderson or Prattling Polonious – as Loonpond calls him? I’d say he scores well on the pomposity scale.

  8. @kevin1

    An unpleasant experience no doubt;the Twittersphere doesn’t seem to offer much as a thoughtful forum.

    Trolls aside, I doubt anyone enjoys drawing obloquy. On the bright side, if one must endure it, that it comes from those inviting the inference that they are dupes, spivs or barbarians is a form of affirmation.

    Sounds like a high American presence within the respondents and the “unfettered capitalism” comment might have set them off despite the great Richard Hofstadter quote “it has been our fate as a nation not to have ideologies but to be one”. Not realising there are alternative frameworks is part of the ideological view I suppose.

    Indeed. Ironically, my inclusion of the qualifier “unfettered” was intended to soften my challenge, to say that capitalism did not lead inevitably to barbarism, though I suppose it was a stick in the eye of RW libertarians who see want of fetters on capitalism as a virtue, however improbable that is.

    Not the least irony in their challenge was to attempt to prove to me that I was wrong by arguing that “unfettered capitalism” fought the Nazis, despite the fact that their fellow travellers have for years condemned FDR and the New Deal as soc!alism or at the very least, big government. From the early 1930s to about 1980, the top marginal tax rate stayed above 70%. Throughout the war, the economy unashamedly turned to war production. On their analysis, it was “soc!alism” that fought the Nazis.

    As to Twitter, it’s less a forum for discussing ideas than a place to exchange brief notes with likeminded people, so I’m not entirely surprised at what happened when hordes of jingoistic reactionaries picked up my tweet.

  9. @Fran Barlow

    You make glad I don’t tweet (and never will). “Hordes of jingoistic reactionaries” is the right phrase for much of the population sadly. Tilting at the hordes is like tilting at windmills. One can never change a closed mind. The thing is to train new young minds is critical, open and comparative thinking plus empiricism of course.

  10. Further to my previous comments on this thread, it has been my experience that if, like most people, you hold a position on the Israel-Palestine issue that questions the justice and necessity of the policies of the right-wing parties in Israel (including those in the current government) while also questioning the justice and feasibility of the maximum program of jihadists and ultra-nationalists on the Palestinian side, you run the risk of simultaneously being denounced as a Zionist and as an antisemite (as happened to me during a meeting I attended in 1984).

  11. @Paul Norton

    For sure, pointing out that both sides are in the wrong (to varying extents) makes you no friends at all. It’s probably best to remain silent. Nothing we can say, as outsiders, can have any effect on the conflict. Whether we can even effect the policies of our (Western I assume) countries is doubtful. Moral thinkers have long pointed out that an eye for eye just leads to an escalating blood fued. But very few pay attention to those thinkers.

  12. @Paul Norton: “questioning the justice and necessity of [israeli right]” and “questioning the justice and necessity of [palestinian right]” are pretty different in effect, because of the differences in what-they-can-do between the israeli right and the palestinian right, such that discussing them together is essentially never useful.

    [for essentially the same reasons you can’t compare — or even discuss at the same time — the actions of the modern-day israeli right and the german right circa 1935.]

  13. “csmonitor.com” has a good piece about a meme being rolled around by the establishment media.

    No link, but the title is: ‘Boko Haram’ doesn’t really mean ‘Western education is a sin’

    ‘Haram’ is “bad” as opposed to ‘Halal’ (“good”). Boko has many meanings but it stems from British imperialism when they were attempting to crush Islam, especially through trying to ban Islamic schooling.

    Some snippets that caught the eye:

    Wikipedia’s entry on Boko Haram likewise carried the falsehood for at least a year and a half until it was partially corrected at the end of last month, though allowing a falsehood to persist on equal footing with the truth…
    And it doesn’t stop there. Newman found the US National Counterterrorism Center started passing along the “book” claim circa 2011 (it still is), and cites nine other instances in works by academics and polemicists like the anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller. The press is an even bigger megaphone.

    Newman writes that “boko” has a variety of meanings focused around denoting “things or actions having to do with fraudulence, sham, or inauthenticity” or deception. He says the false linkage to the English word “book” was first made in a 1934 Hausa dictionary by a Western scholar that listed 11 meanings for the word – ten of them about fraudulent things and the final one asserting the connection to “book.” An incorrect assertion, says Newman.

    A deliberate deception to assist the PR around planned action, apparently.

  14. @Julie Thomas
    thanks for sharing “Prattling Polonious”. good as far as it goes, but it misses the pertinent point that polonious invariably prattles when it is someone else’s turn to talk.

    he is, in invariably doing that, the rudest australian “intellectual” on t.v.

    and, further, i think he does it deliberately, simply to disrupt people from the left, when it is their turn to talk.

    and in my opinion he is massively overrated as an intellectual. -a.v.

  15. @Megan
    Why? What possible constructive purpose could be served by such an exercise? If you think it’s important or useful to have such a list, why don’t you produce it yourself?

  16. Thx for your post. I want to write my opinion that the cost of car insurance differs from one plan to another, simply because there are so many different facets which bring about the overall cost. As an example, the brand name of the automobile will have an enormous bearing on the price tag. A reliable outdated family automobile will have an inexpensive premium when compared to a flashy expensive car.

  17. Interesting renewable energy idea that seems to overcome intermittency objections. This is one Ikono should like. 😉


    It might also double as desalination in some locations.

  18. @Fran Barlow
    This is a ‘downdraft’ tower whereas Ikonoclast has been arguing for an ‘updraft’ tower on which see the Wikipedia article. One of the latter was proposed for Mildura area if I recall and there was a working prototype built in Spain. It’s a bit troubling when experiments need over $1bn in seed money to adequately prove the concept.

    There is a working solar desalination greenhouse Sundrop Farm in Pt Augusta SA. No word on how they will fare after renewable funding cutbacks. SA is also the testbed for dry rock geothermal which got a fair bit of public and private funding (~$300m I think) but has so far failed to deliver grid electricity. I think we should no longer expect technology miracles just incremental improvements that may or may not be economic at certain sites.

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