Make a Difference

Day: January 26, 2009

Jefferson, Patrick Henry and Obama

Still thinking about my earlier post on Obama’s inauguration speech.

I have been reading Made in America by Bill Bryson. It is about the development of the American version of the English language, and like most of his books, is funny and informative at the same time.

On page thirty-nine Bryson tells the story of Patrick Henry. He includes this quote from Jefferson: ‘When he had spoken in opposition to my opinion, had produced a great effect, and I myself been highly delighted and moved, I have asked myself when it ceased, “What the devil has he said,” and could never answer the enquiry.’


Just hit 70 with my Night Elf Druid (feral spec). When I logged on I noticed I had played this character for 14 days 8 hours and 22 minutes. That’s 344 hours on this toon alone. I have another main on a different account – a demonology specced undead warlock, on whom I have spent slightly less time, and a few alts which have only had a few hours each. So perhaps 700 hours of play all up.

Hmm… I could have learned French in that time. But then, why would you? Of course I could have learned the rudiments of calculus, or read the complete works of Shakespeare, or written my own translation of Dante, all things I have wanted to do for some time, and which have more than once been the subject of New Year’s resolutions. 

But I read and study all the time.

It’s not an easy thing to find the right balance between work, study, and play. In fact I’m so stressed about it, I think I’ll go and have a cold beer, and then go fishing.

And in case you were wondering, I have only just scratched the surface of World of Warcraft, a beautiful, challenging and immersive game which I would recommend to (almost) anyone.

Empty Apologies

This was an article I wrote ten months ago after comment by The Anglican Archbishop of Adelaide in the Church Guardian of March 2008 that Anglicans welcomed the Prime Minister’s apology to indigenous people for the stolen generations. The announcement of Mick Dodson as Australian of the Year seemed an appropriate context in which to dust it off and re-post:

I was a little surprised to read in the March edition of The Guardian that “Anglicans Welcome PM’s Apology.”

Perhaps there has been some specific research I am not aware of to gauge Anglican thought on the matter. Polls of the general public returned varying results. Some groups claimed to find a majority in support, but a Channel Ten poll with 10,000 respondents found that 76% disagreed. Yahoo/Channel Seven reported that a poll of 23,000 showed 62% disagreed. Whatever the actual figures, it is difficult to view the Prime Minister’s apology as an act expressing or contributing to a sense of national unity.

The Archbishop said that people reluctant to apologise complained that it should not be necessary to relive the events of the past before we can move on. This is an argument I have more often heard from Church leaders. Following some disaster in a parish, or some injustice against a lay person or member of the clergy, we frequently hear urgings along the lines of “Well yes, it was terribly sad, but it’s all the past, too much water under the bridge, can’t do anything about it now, we need to forgive and forget, let’s move on together.” Of course the Archbishop is right to point out that such arguments are complete nonsense. The extent to which peace and reconciliation are possible depends on the extent to which there is a commitment to truth and justice.

Continue reading

Strong Words

From a justifiably angry column in the Jersusalem Post

“Even if the Palestinians want peace, Hamas won’t let them have it, because Hamas knows best, and jihad “is the only solution.” Don’t believe me, read the Covenant. It likes nothing better than killing Jews, and the bigger bully in Teheran thinks that’s a damn fine thing too. No one says a word, because the UN is dominated by the Islamic states, and the Western governments know where the oil comes from, and nobody likes the Jews much anyway. The people calling for the end of Israel while they march on the streets of London and Dublin aren’t all Muslims by any means.” 

“In a bizarre reversal of all their commitment to human rights and the struggle of men and women for independence and self-determination, the European Left has chosen again and again to side with the bullies and to condemn a small nation struggling to survive in a hostile neighborhood. It is all self-contradictory: The Left supports gay rights, yet attacks the only country in the Middle East where gay rights are enshrined in law. Hamas makes death the punishment for being gay, but “we are all Hamas now.” Iran hangs gays, but it is praised as an agent of anti-imperialism, and allowed to get on with its job of stoning women and executing dissidents and members of religious minorities. If UK Premier Gordon Brown swore to wipe France from the face of the earth, he would become a pariah among nations. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatens to do that to Israel and is invited to speak to the UN General Assembly.”

It is worth reading the whole article.

Worth noting too, that Hamas says that the condition for any reconciliation between itself and Fatah, in other words, the condition for a unified Palestian Authority, is that Fatah must cease any discussions or negotiations with Israel.

How many times does it need to be said? No matter what Israel does, there can be no peace with Hamas. For heaven’s sake, Hamas says the same thing. 

What the … ?

Australia Day honours and all that. A chance for recognition for people who have made a substantial contribution to their local communities or to state or nation.

In addition to many other awards, numbering in the hundreds, each year one person is selected by a committee to be ‘Australian of the Year’. My understanding is that the Prime Minister makes the final decision, but I cannot imagine the PM not accepting the committee’s recommendation.

This year’s choice is Mick Dodson. Pardon?

It is hard to think of anything positive Mr Dodson (or his brother Pat, for that matter) has done for Australia. In fact Mick Dodson is likely to be most closely associated in the minds of ordinary Australians with two mischievous and dishonest reports: that of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, and the notorious ‘Bringing them Home’ report about the Stolen Generations.

Dishonest because the Royal Commission (Dodson was counsel assisting) knew very well that the research showed clearly that the proportion of aboriginal deaths in custody was no higher than that of other ethnic groups, and in some cases lower, yet perpetuated the lie of higher aboriginal death rates. The report recommended special treatment and conditions for indigenous people based on the alleged additional difficulties faced by aboriginal people in coping with imprisonment, even though the research showed that some of the proposed special options, for example home or community detention, actually resulted in higher suicide rates than imprisonment.

Dishonest because despite page after page of tragic tales of separation from family (and some of them truly are tragic) the authors of the Bringing them Home report (Dodson was one of them) have not at any time been able to name even ten aboriginal persons who were removed from home or family because of government policy to ‘steal’ aboriginal children. No such policy ever existed anywhere in Australia.

There has been one case where a court has given compensation to an aboriginal person for being improperly removed from his home – that of Bruce Trevorrow. But Mr Trevorrow was able to claim compensation precisely because he was able to show that his removal was contrary to goverenment policy, and that the social worker who removed him (though it was clear she thought she was acting in his best interests, and rescuing him from a violent and abusive environment from which parental care was frequently absent) had acted beyond the powers granted to her.

These reports were mischievous because they falsely exposed Australia to international ridicule, harmed rather than improved actual outcomes for aboriginal people, and encouraged an ongoing refusal by some indigenous groups to acknowledge any responsibilty for their own life, work and well being.

Much more could be said, about, for example, Mr Dodson’s vocal and vindictive opposition to the Federal Government’s attempts to reduce the appalling rates of child sexual abuse in remote indigenous communities.

On what possible basis is Mr Dodson an appropriate or reasonable choice for Australian of the year?

NZ Police Shooting

For the first time ever, New Zealand Police have shot dead an innocent bystander.

This was a tense and complicated situation, in which other lives were at risk. The criminal the police were trying to stop was at that moment aiming a shotgun into the cab of a truck he was trying to hijack. The driver of the truck is convinced the police action saved his life.

Without the slightest evidence the shooting of seventeen year old Halatau Naitoko was anything other than a tragic accident, some are already demanding that the officer concerned stand trial.

How about letting the same rules apply to police as apply to everyone else, and have an investigation first?

© 2023 Qohel