Daily Kos: I’m a Republican: Fuck you

There is a an interesting take on US politics on a site (of the Democratic persuasion one might imagine 😉

It seems the Democrats are so busy being cross that they cannot focus on getting some policies that sufficient Americans will vote for (much like our own Labor Party here in Australia).

Daily Kos :: I’m a Republican: Fuck you

The Democrats and the Australian Labor Party really need to get over the old idea of class war against the so-called ‘fat cats’ of the Republican or Australian Liberal Parties, and just get some policies that ordinary people can believe in.

A lot of people seem to be upset over the use of the word “fuck” in this post, but is more of a concern is the stereotypes that seem to be floating about in the political space. A failed leader of the Australian Labor Party once described himself as a good hater. This is a similar viewpoint to that espoused on Daily Kos, if that is the attitude of the people in the party no wonder voters were scared. Nothing positive can grow out of hatred.

Thanks to Ally over at Who Moved My Truth for the link

This post at Daily Kos also highlights the politics of the word “fuck”.

Now my reading of it as a foreigner to the USA is that amongst some people it is used often and in a similar manner to “um”, and amongst others it is never voiced. To certain extent usage of the word seems to be split on geographic and age lines, i.e. people in rural areas and older people do not say it (or least not if ‘ladies’ are present), while people in larger cities and younger people use it quite frequently. Of course, there would be individual exceptions to this generalisation.

In Australia, use of the word “fuck” is more common amongst younger people, usage ranges from the word appearing in every sentence to the occasional ejaculation of the word in moments of extreme emotion. I have an Aussie friend living in Colorado Springs who recently advised he only uses the term “jeepers” at work as anything stronger is much frowned upon. Chuck is finding it quite difficult not to say “fuck” at his new place of employment. Whereas in Australia it was fine to say it as long as it was not in front of clients.

In the past “fuck” was a completely taboo word in Australia, but now it is common parlance and is even in television shows in early evening time slots. Now the last taboo word in Australia is “c**t“, but even this word is being used more frequently in conversation and on television. An interesting phenomenon with the word “c**t” is younger women claiming the word and turning it into a positive word in contrast to older more negative interpretations. This is similar to African Americans reclaiming terms previously used against them in a derogatory manner, or to immigrants to Australia reclaiming the word “wog” as a positive term.

First education in Feminism

This is a story from my undergraduate days in one of Australia’s *sandstone universities.

In the philosophy department there had been a split between the ‘old fashioned’ philosophers (called “Trad & Mod Philosophy”, i.e. the logicians), and the ‘modern’ philosophers (called “General Philosophy”, i.e. the feminists, Marxists, etc.) I chose courses in the General Philosophy department, mainly because there were no exams in General Philsophy, all assessment was by way of essays.

One of my foundation moments in the department of General Philosophy was to enter the tutorial room for the first session in the course Feminisim 1A (for those with no previous studies in feminism).

To set the scene it is important to know that I was fresh out of 6 years in an all girls college, had long hair, and was wearing casual jeans and a little makeup. That is, I looked like a fairly normal female freshman student.

Entering the old sandstone part of the university, I climbed to a small oddly shaped room in the one of the corners of the quadrangle building. The room was all dark wood and, incongruously, beanbags. Already ensconced in the beanbags were some older female students, they all had very short hair and were wearing work overalls with singlets underneath. Each was engaged in rolling a cigarette with one hand. They looked at me and immediately became hostile, asking where I was from and what right did I have to be here studying feminism since I obviously shaved my legs and armpits and was wearing makeup. I replied something along the lines that external factors like that did not make you a feminist or not, and sat down in a beanbag to wait for the tutor to arrive. They became even more hostile and stood over me saying that people like me did not count and should not be allowed to take this class. Sadly enough, being much less assertive in those days, I decided that feminism was not the course for me.

Many years later a good friend, a stalwart of the 1960’s and 1970’s feminist movements, gave me the following advice: “Beware of the hoods in the sisterhood”

It is good advice, if only I had known it as an undergraduate. Now I would be glad to have someone bully me like those women in the feminism tutorial room – but bullies like that don’t attack people like me, they attack those unable to defend themselves.

This experience shows that we need to arm our young women against bullies wherever they find them, and also that we need to let them know about the ‘hoods in the sisterhood’.

*Sandstone universities: In Australia there is effectively a 2 tier university system, there are 8 older more established universities that have sandstone buildings and reputations for research (the eight are: The University of Adelaide, The Australian National University, The University of Melbourne, Monash University, The University of New South Wales, The University of Queensland, The University of Sydney, The University of Western Australia). This is in contrast to the newer universities with no sandstone buildings and lower reputations for research, often these newer universities were upgraded Colleges of Advanced Education in the 1980’s Dawkin’s “reforms”. It must be noted that several of the non-sandstone universities have reputations for excellence in certain areas, however this cannot be held true for all of them.

Alleged quote by Churchill: on being a socialist or conservative

Someone recently quoted Winston Churchill as saying “If a man is not a socialist by the time he is 20, he has no heart. If he is not a conservative by the time he is 40, he has no brain.” So decided to check the ‘trusty’ internet for the provenance of this quote, and as so often, someone else has already done the work. Mark Shirey’s search for the same quote is detailed at:

Unquote by Mark T. Shirey

Unquote 1
My version of gardening is to maintain a web page of quotations. I had fun trying to ascertain who actually said what I quoted in the June ’00 Penn Central newsletter as:

If a man is not a socialist by the time he is 20, he has no heart. If he is not a conservative by the time he is 40, he has no brain. – Winston Churchill

I failed to find the quote under “socialist”, “conservative”, “heart”, “man”, or “Churchill”, in books of quotations like Bartlett’s, Encarta’s, Oxford Dictionary of, Home Book of, or NY Public Library’s.

Mark goes on to provide many similar sayings from a variety of sources. And he sums up the matter thus:

A definitive answer arose in the wonderful book “Nice Guys Finish Seventh: False Phrases, Spurious Sayings, and Familiar Misquotations” by Ralph Keyes, 1992. He writes:

“An orphan quote [unattributed quote in search of a home] sometimes attributed to Georges Clemenceau is:

Any man who is not a socialist at age 20 has no heart. Any man who is still a socialist at age 40 has no head.

The most likely reason is that Bennet Cerf once reported Clemenceau’s response to a visitor’s alarm about his son being a communist:

If he had not become a Communist at 22, I would have disowned him. If he is still a Communist at 30, I will do it then.

George Seldes later quoted Lloyd George as having said:

A young man who isn’t a socialist hasn’t got a heart; an old man who is a socialist hasn’t got a head.

The earliest known version of this observation is attributed to mid-nineteenth century historian and statesman François Guizot:

Not to be a republican at 20 is proof of want of heart; to be one at 30 is proof of want of head.

Variations on this theme were later attributed to Disraeli, Shaw, Churchill, and Bertrand Russell. (I misquoted Churchill to this effect for years.)”

Some thoughts of Ben Franklin (1790)

I have been reading Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography and other writings (ISBN: 0140390529) and his writings do stand well the test of time, as well as being quite entertaining to read.

Towards the end of this book, amongst his miscellaneous writings, is an interesting one from a letter to Ezra Stiles:

“Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That he governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we render to him is doing good to his other Children. That the soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its Conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental Principles of all Sound Religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever Sect I meet with them.

As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity; tho’ it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, never having studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble.”

This is as good a summary of the position I hold as I’ve seen in modern times. Although I’m not sure I agree with Franklin’s thoughts on the Divinity of Jesus. But it is food for thought.

Article: Businesses don’t have social responsibilities; people do

This article has been reproduced in full below, it raises some very important issues about corporate and individual responsibility. Even staff in the Nazi concentration camps were assisted in rationalising terrible acts because they were only following orders. Thus they could abrogate individual responsibility to act in humane ways. We are in danger of pushing the accountability for good behaviour out there into someone else’s domain, not keeping our own accountability to do what is right.

Remember the well known humorous story:

“This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got upset about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.”

Herald.com 07/21/2004: “Businesses don’t have social responsibilities; people do
BY HENRY MILLER www.project-syndicate.cz

Calvin Coolidge once said that the business of America is business. He might have added that the business of business everywhere is to pursue profits. Lately, some corporate leaders seem to have lost sight of that elementary precept.

Daniel Vasella, the chairman and CEO of Switzerland-based Novartis, the world’s fifth-largest pharmaceutical company, recently wrote that multinational companies “have a duty to adhere to fundamental values and to support and promote them.”

If he were referring to corporate values such as honesty, innovation, voluntary exchange and the wisdom of the marketplace, he would be right. But what he meant was “collaborat[ing] constructively with the U.N. and civil society to define the best way to improve human rights.”

The extension of human rights is a worthy goal, to be sure, but Vasella’s saccharine altruism brings to mind economist Milton Friedman’s reproachful observation that ‘businessmen believe that they are defending free enterprise when they declaim that business is not concerned `merely’ with profit but also with promoting desirable ‘social’ ends; that business has a ‘social conscience’ and takes seriously its responsibilities for providing employment, eliminating discrimination . . . and whatever else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of reformers.”

Friedman accused such executives of being “unwitting puppets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society.”

The current catchwords are ”human rights” and ”corporate citizenship,” which prompts businesses trying to ”do good” (or perhaps just trying to look good) to deviate from their primary purpose. Take, for example, McDonald’s ending its popular ”supersized” portions in the name of discouraging obesity and businesses adopting less efficient, more ”sustainable” practices.

Businesses do not have social responsibilities; only people do. Inasmuch as corporate leaders work for the owners of the business, their responsibility is to pursue the best interests of their employers — interests that relate primarily to making as much money as possible while conforming to the legal rules and ethical norms of society. By taking actions on behalf of the company that he arbitrarily decides are ”socially responsible,” a corporate executive is, in effect, spending someone else’s money by reducing returns to shareholders.

One of the easiest things to do is to spend other people’s money on causes in which you believe; one of the most difficult, but most meaningful, is to spend your own money. If these executives donated even 5 percent of their salaries to such causes, they would be worthy of admiration, even if the causes were repugnant to some of us.

Diverting resources
Neither free enterprise nor the human condition is likely to benefit if companies decide to follow Vasella’s model. Their actions would, however, raise the cost of doing business, lower corporate productivity and feed the United Nations’ predilections for meddling. By diverting resources away from productive uses, businesses would end up hurting many of the very people they claim to want to help.

Henry Miller is a physician and fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. From 1979 to 1994, he was an official with the Food and Drug Administration.
©2004 Project Syndicate

Article: Educator claims critical thought stifled in our schools

The World Today – Educator claims critical thought stifled in our schools: ABC Radio, The World Today, Wed, 9-Feb-2005, Reporter: David Mark

In the Spring edition of The Journal of the Australian Association for the Teaching of English Associate Professor Wayne Sawyer, from the University of Western Sydney, asked whether English teachers were encouraging critical thought in their students . He argued that the 2004 Federal Election result demonstrates that the Australian public, including former students, may not be critically analysing the language used by the Federal Government – since, he implies, they voted for the wrong people!

Sawyer is part of the encroachment of cultural studies into the English classroom. Anyone who has looked into cultural studies knows that it is driven by a particular political and social agenda – check out this website for an insight (more posts to come on this as it is annoying me at the moment.) It is clear that Prof. Sawyer is seeking to have teachers drive a certain political agenda in the classroom, especially when the Australia public’s vote in a general election does not go his way. Maybe the students were capable of critical thought and realised that the Australian Labor Party did not provide a credible alternative to the Howard government? The Latham fiasco clearly shows that there is much house-cleaning to be done in the ALP, perhaps Kim Beasley will need to divert a river to clean out those stables?