Friday, 13 July 2007

Shoddy, shoddy, SHODDY journalism

This is rather a worry:

THE British Museum yesterday hailed a discovery within a clay tablet in its collection as a breakthrough for biblical archeology - proof of the accuracy of the Old Testament.

Excuse me, what? A clay tablet has been found which names a figure mentioned in the Old Testament from five centuries before the-person-who-may-have-existed-called-Christ. Now the report doesn't even make it clear that the figure is identifiably the same as that mentioned in the Old Testament, or just the same name (and, lets to be clear on this, "Jesus" was such a common name in old Jerusalem that tombs containing a Jesus are ten-a-penny), plus the particular incident mentioned in the Old Testament was a fairly ordinary war, from the looks of things.

At what point did someone say "Hey look! We have one figure confirmed from another historical source! That must mean that the whole book is correct, including the bits of divine intervention and biblical hellfire and the Ark of the Covenant killing people!"

Here's a radical suggestion: It's possible for a document to be partly historical and partly complete fabricated lying-through-your-ceremonial-hat.

Lucifer or Memnoc?

My hearty thanks to, um, whoever bought this to my attention. I'm very sorry, I forgot where the link came from.

You are The Devil

Materiality. Material Force. Material temptation; sometimes obsession

The Devil is often a great card for business success; hard work and ambition.

Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the major arcana, the Devil is not really "Satan" at all, but Pan the half-goat nature god and/or Dionysius. These are gods of pleasure and abandon, of wild behavior and unbridled desires. This is a card about ambitions; it is also synonymous with temptation and addiction. On the flip side, however, the card can be a warning to someone who is too restrained, someone who never allows themselves to get passionate or messy or wild - or ambitious. This, too, is a form of enslavement. As a person, the Devil can stand for a man of money or erotic power, aggressive, controlling, or just persuasive. This is not to say a bad man, but certainly a powerful man who is hard to resist. The important thing is to remember that any chain is freely worn. In most cases, you are enslaved only because you allow it.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

What is particularly interesting about this is that this is the second test to call me the devil, after Which Johnny The Homicidal Maniac character are you? I feel that this is more than just a coincidence. Okay, okay, statistically speaking twice is meaningless, even when considering the range of other options available in each test. But it certainly says something about me, even if it just actually says something about the sort of people who design these quizes!

The single simplest and most effective technique known to improve fiction writing and journalism

Remove adjectives.

I'm serious about this. Often the single most destructive thing to do to a piece of writing is to litter it with adjectives. Nouns, verbs, the occasional adverb, all necessary. But adjectives are put on this earth to make life easy for writers who have no talent or for readers who have no imagination.

Consider the following tag line, as presented to me this morning by the Courier Mail's news feeds: "The drug ice is killing innocent babies". Now, the first thing you will notice is that this sentence screams of supermarket tabloid trash sensationalist "Today Tonight" journalism. (Okay, I will admit that superfluous adjectives are sometimes fun to use).

Now consider this alternative, made with one simple deletion: "The drug ice is killing babies."

Still a bit sensationalist, but this time it's to the point and allows room for less emotive journalism to follow. The actual article states that amphetamine-using mothers are delivering pre-term, stillborn and frequently nonviable foetuses.

Now, there could be many reasons for this, including poor health related more to behaviour connected to drug usage than to the actual drug, or abuse by other individuals in the drug-using woman's life, and so the headline is still poor journalism and sensationalism. But I'd be much more likely to take this particular rag seriously if they had used headline 2.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

It's crazy, but it might just work

It's a truism, isn't it: You can shout until you're blue in the face, but if you want to get something done, get an important person involved. Like, say, a gay high-court judge who wants to look after his partner.

Good on him, I say. May there be more like him out there.

Well, he's the right height for it.

I wonder if Paul Keating has ever heard of Godwin's Law?

Keating in Hitler attack on Howard (ABC)

Personally, I find the thought that Howard responded by saying "I'm a nationalist, I'm a patriot, I'm a believer" to be far more worrying than the thought that Keating may have had a point. He came out and said that. Keating presented a definition by which he was judging Howard which included suspicion of other cultures, and Howard came out and approved. Remember when Pauline Hanson was stupid enough to be photographed standing in a tank and saluting?

Can we please, please, have the federal election and vote Kevin Rudd in? I don't care how out of practice the Labor party are with government, there's such as a thing as the lesser of two evils!

Incidentally, and relevant to nothing: As federal minister for disability services and other things like that, Mal Brough would make a very good Minister for Defence.

I should bloody well hope so.

I don't really need to write an introduction to this one, and it's probably better that I don't.

The synopsis:

Scientologists have written to NSW MPs criticising the use of psychiatric drugs for the mentally ill.

NSW Mental Health Minister, Paul Lynch, has politely told them to fuck off:

"There is no way that fringe groups are going to determine the way that our policy is set, and how our services are delivered."

Now when can we get the mainstream Christian churches reclassified as fringe groups every time they protest stem-cell research?

The Great Global Warming Swindle Swindle

I'm not quite sure, these days, what to make of the Australian Democrats. They're consistently less unworkably extremist than the Greens, but as minor parties go they appear to have fallen into the trap of not being controversial enough to be visible.

But then they come out with an absolute gem like this:

"The ABC has fallen into the trap of screening patent nonsense in a bid to prove how unbiased it has become,'' Senator Allison said in a statement.

Now I can't entirely disapprove of the ABC if that was their motive - they get so many allegations of left-wing bias from the insecure right than they could be forgiven for cracking. But the problem with The Great Global Warming Swindle is that it is so bad that at least one of the scientists featured has threatened legal action against the documentary maker responsible, citing misrepresentation.

But wait, there's more. The central tenet of the mock^Wdocumentary is that the sun is responsible for changes in global temperature. With magnificent timing, yesterday there was this: The sun's activity has decreased over the past two decades and its effect upon the globe has been cooling. Which would make it hard for the sun to be responsible for observed (note the word "observed", meaning "happens, regardless of why, and I'm not pushing a theory here") global warming, wouldn't it?

Oh, the delicious, delicious, irony.

For a better media report than the Courier Mail (gee, that's hard) see the ABC report. And if you really care, see the Wikipedia entry on the doco.

Monday, 9 July 2007

The only time I will ever feel happy saying "They deserved to die"

It is really interesting to occasionally spot your own limits, to find out where you stand not by careful consideration but by gut reaction. The moment when you are disgusted, horrified, or even just made uneasy and track down the reason why. It is an enlightening moment of self-growth, really.

I have written here before about my opinions of scientologists and the medical care they deny (allegedly, maybe) their kith and kin. I now realise they my opinions were not just the fact that it was a child being denied a life most of us take for granted and he may never realise.

It's all of it. It's the mere fact that it's not the murder that makes me mad, that makes me struggle to find a resonse I can even articulate. It's the neglect. The depredation of duty (yes, I used that word advisedly). The.... No, I can't say it. Not without making up swearwords because that's all that will suffice. In a word where there is quite enough to feel apoplectic with rage about, it seems that my limit is FUCKING SCIENTOLOGISTS.

Search This Blog