Friday, 31 March 2006

Consider the end; Resist the beginnings

[This entry needs some cleaning up. But life & medicine rushes on, and I may not have time to do it for a while, so here's the raw draft.]
from David Gerrold's Bottomless Soup ( )

On The Nature Of Evil (Friday, May 21, 2004)
Hannah Arendt, in her book about the trial of Adolf Eichman, the architect of the Holocaust, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil writes of how she sat there day after day, trying to understand how a mild-looking human being could have authored such monstrousness. Ultimately, she coined the phrase "the banality of evil" to describe the essential thoughtlessness -- ie. without thought, without feeling, without compassion -- that results in evil deeds. The [majority of the] monsters of the Holocaust weren't monsters, they were acting without regard, without conscious awareness, without empathy, without connection to the larger spiritual realm of humanity.
[Shown in Roman Polanski's The Pianist, based on the memoir by Wladyslaw Szpilman] ... it seemed to me that Polanski understood the nature of industrialized evil better than most other directors who have tackled this job. The perpetrators of the evil acts are not portrayed as gleeful monsters as much as they are portrayed as thoughtless, as if their humanity has been put on hold, as if they have somehow detached or suppressed their ability to feel anything at all. As if they have been brainwashed into monstrousness ...
... There's another book about the nature of evil called The People Of The Lie by M. Scott Peck, in which he discusses his own research into the nature of evil. He tells some pretty chilling stories ... Again, it's a question of emotional deadness, a question of acting without regard for morality or consequence or rationality ... But I don't think that's all of it. I think evil occurs as a complex cocktail of forces ...
Most Hollywood directors are apparently illiterate, emotionally tone-deaf, inexperienced, and unable to meet the challenge of showing the extremes of evil -- because we live in a society where (for the most part) we have isolated ourselves from exposure to real evil. What we get instead is sublimated evil -- the little evils that we can excuse, explain, justify, rationalize, and ultimately mitigate because we have a good story to tell about it.

... evil does not see itself as evil. Those who commit evil acts do not see those acts as evil or even malicious. They see themselves as justified.

It is for this reason that justifications are suspect.
from David Gerrold's Bottomless Soup ( )

People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil
M.Scott Peck ASIN/0671528165/ qid=1143795438/ sr=1-9/ ref=sr_1_2_9/ 026-8107210-6558802 0684848597/ qid=1143795529/ sr=2-1/ ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/ 104-1150608-5446309?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

Polanski's The Pianist (
memoir by Wladyslaw Szpilman 0312311354/ qid=1143795711/ sr=1-1/ ref=sr_1_1/ 104-1150608-5446309?s=books&v=glance&n=283155 (Schindler's List - film); ASIN/0340335017/ qid=1143795958/ sr=1-1/ ref=sr_1_2_1/ 026-8107210-6558802 (Schindler's Ark - book)

Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics) 0140187650/ qid=1143796097/ sr=1-1/ ref=sr_1_2_1/ 026-8107210-6558802 0140187650/ qid=1143796259/ sr=2-1/ ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/ 104-1150608-5446309?s=books&v=glance&n=283155
"Far from being evil incarnate, as the prosecution painted Eichmann, Arendt maintains that he was an average man, a petty bureaucrat interested only in furthering his career, and the evil he did came from the seductive power of the totalitarian state and an unthinking adherence to the Nazi cause. Indeed, Eichmann's only defense during the trial was "I was just following orders."
Arendt's analysis of the seductive nature of evil is a disturbing one. We would like to think that anyone who would perpetrate such horror on the world is different from us, and that such atrocities are rarities in our world. But the history of groups such as the Jews, Kurds, Bosnians, and Native Americans, to name but a few, seems to suggest that such evil is all too commonplace. In revealing Eichmann as the pedestrian little man that he was, Arendt shows us that the veneer of civilization is a thin one indeed."

Saturday, 25 March 2006

Evolution of the Flame

This story was reported today in a Sydney paper (extracts below). It may only apply to the United Kingdom; I'm not sure how similar Australian libel &/or defamation laws are, since we've diverged over the years. Certainly US libel laws are different. Has it had much publicity in the UK, the USA, or elsewhere?
A political argument in cyberspace that descended into vicious name-calling could lead to a spate of libel actions by contributors to internet message boards. The case is one of the first of its kind between two private individuals to go to court, said lawyers.

The action was brought by Michael Keith-Smith, chairman of the Conservative Democratic Alliance, which bills itself as "the leading voice of the radical Tory right." He said he was moved to sue after a woman with whom he was debating the merits of military action in Iraq in 2003 on a Yahoo! message board began a campaign of name-calling that started by describing him as "lard brain" and culminated in accusing his wife of being a prostitute, and labelling him a "Nazi", a "racist bigot" and a "nonce"[*]. "She was very pro-Bush," he said.
He claimed to have settled with a second poster for a sum "in the region of £30,000". "They started saying I was on a sex offenders' list and that people shouldn't let me near their children".

Judge Alistair MacDuff in the High Court ordered Tracy Williams, a college lecturer, to pay £10,000 ($AU24,000**) in damages, plus Mr Keith-Smith's £7,200 costs, and told never to repeat the allegations.

Some legal experts said the case should be taken as a warning that the laws of libel applied on line just as they would if the comments were published in a leaflet or newsletter. Others said the case should trigger a wider debate about whether the libel law was best suited to deal with such cases, questioning whether they should ever reach court if a chatroom was self-moderating and had a limited circulation.
Interesting that a strong Bush supporter would be attacking someone of the "radical Tory right."

*I could understand objecting to ponce, but nonce isn't too bad AFAIK.
**Strewth, that's my annual pay! Better keep quiet about people in Britain.

Update: I'm informed that in the UK, "nonce" is slang for a child-molester. Never heard that in Oz, tho' that may just be the circles I move — or run around like headless chook in — :) Yes, definitely not what you'd be neutral about someone calling you.

Recent Correspondents

Whispered T. Infesting
Autumn U. Midshipman
Jeremiahs M. Tyrannically
Ulysses Swain
Potables V. Shrinkable
Limpness M. Defile
Tekla Overton
Shan U. Varnishing
Priming J. Brads
Approached I. Decapitates
Steven A. Norman
Carter Wilson
Jay Edwards
Blanche Gamble
Mrs Maria Rooney
Mrs Maria Rooney
Armando King
Carver Belz
blondell murphy
Shealtiel Kos
Celia Ulery
Simonides Rackham
Brooke Nance
Evangelina Frazier

Tuesday, 21 March 2006

Some More Bad News
What need is there to weep over parts of life?
The whole of it calls for tears. New ills will press on before you have done with the old.

Which is totally unconnected to this rather extraordinary idea:

Saturday, 18 March 2006

Not all Fields Gleaned are Fallow

Community Access to Natural Resources Information

NSW Natural Resource Atlas:

NSW Coastal Atlas: (New South Wales Node of the Australian Coastal Atlas!)

iPlan - Planning information and services for New South Wales

iPlan is an online portal that gives you access to state wide, location
based, integrated planning information and services in NSW. Planning
information includes infrastructure, natural resources, zoning, land use,
transport, socio-economic and other relevant information.

iPlan - State planning resources (NSW)
Planning resources - Inner Sydney planningresources/ regions/ innersydney.jsp

PlanConnect planconnect/index.jsp
PlanConnect is iPlan's online map display and searching tool. You can use PlanConnect to do the following:

    find the zoning and planning control documents that apply to an area of land
    locate suitable sites for new commercial or industrial development
    look at aerial photography of a piece of land or an area
    add or remove data layers to understand the impacts on an area

Department of Lands

Experiment in Video Embedding

From Google Video and, a collection of Friday Cat Bloggings

Once again putting my grain in the pan of tipping the scales from Porn to Cute net hegemony

Thank You NeoConMen!

Thank You NeoConMen! - Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Mark Fiore's animated take on the Third Anniversary of the invasion of Iraq

Friday, 17 March 2006

Fractal Animations
Some of these have fractal background music too.
"But on the fun side, fractals can be played with and enjoyed. I am currently playing with a toy called Fractal Explorer 2.02 that allows me to create amazing infinite images.
Angels Trumpets
Angels' Trumpets
I'm even learning how to create short animated fractal movies.
These are large files, 30+MB but well worth the free price of admission. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have."
"I was first introduced to fractal Geometry by Dan Winter creator of "Cardiofeedback." His writings on the subject showed me how fractals are the numerical underpinning of the universe and are evident everywhere you look from the sub atomic to the galactic.
Winter's work shows that the human heart is the 'Fractal Attractor' that connects physical existence with the 'Magnetic Event' that we often refer to as 'The Soul'."

Book Report - Lost Lives

From nhw LiveJournal: ( ) March Books 9) Lost Lives The stories of the men, women and children who died as a result of the Northern Ireland troubles, by David McKittrick, Seamus Kelters, Brian Feeney, Chris Thornton and David McVea
I haven't finished this. I never will. It is too heart-rending. It lists 3697 victims of the Troubles, including not only those who died as a direct result of violent acts, but also others whose deaths, ostensibly due to natural causes, was obviously related to the violence.
nrivkis commented on this: "Once, about ten years ago, I read through the entire Auschwitz Register. It's just a reference book; it lists every train that passed through the gates; where it was from, when it set out, when it arrived, how many people were on board (and who, when names were known), and what became of each. It took me about three weeks of steady reading. I considered it an obligation at the time, but I'll never look at it again."

Amazon link
Editorial Reviews
From Library Journal
McKittrick (Through the Minefield, LJ 2/15/00) and his coauthors are all experienced journalists of the North Ireland beat. This book is a 1600-page obituary, cataloging each life lost during "the Troubles," a huge undertaking whose results have garnered accolades in the U.K. and Ireland. The 3,638 deaths from 1966 to 2000 are chronologically numbered and indexed. Each entry includes the name, number, date of death, county of habitation, marital status, age, religion, occupation, and where appropriate affiliation (IRA, UVF, UDF, British Army, etc.). Assembled from official casualty lists, newspaper accounts, secondary sources, conversations, privately published pamphlets, and the authors' own notes, entries range from a few lines to virtual chapters ... this book tallies the human cost of "the Troubles" in one place. To say that the book is sad or numbing would be an understatement. It belongs in every public and academic library.
Robert C. Moore, Raytheon, Sudbury, MA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Hardcover: 1648 pages
    Publisher: Mainstream Publishing; Reprint edition (2001)
    Language: English
    ISBN: 184018504X

    Hardcover: 1630 pages
    Publisher: Mainstream Publishing Company, Ltd. (October 1999)
    Language: English
    ISBN: 184018227X

Tuesday, 14 March 2006

Didn't know about this place in Melbourne. It's for sale now - the contents are to be auctioned, anyway. Alas, it seems that they'll be scattered across the world rather than being able to be kept together, or in Victoria.
Melbourne Tank Museum Museums/Tank.asp (another photo is at Tanks/Centurion.html )
(03) 9796 8188
456 Belgrave-Hallam Rd
Narre Warren North
VIC, 3804 Armoured%20Vehicles/australianshermansph_4.htm
Less-armoured vehicles, some in need of a restorer's care, at the Museum:
Here's a site that shows the other vibrant world-class attractions of the area: tourist_attractions/ narre_warren.htm

Self-explanatory, this one:
International Museum listing:

Wednesday, 8 March 2006


"Animals," despite a conflation in the common mind with "mammals" ("we saw plenty of animals, birds and fish!") refers to any multicellular animals, from rotifers to right whales. The vast majority of animals, by sheer numbers, are microscopic. Of those that aren't, the vast majority are arthropods, which comprise three quarters of all known living and fossil species ... The majority of vertebrates are fish. The majority of terrestrial vertebrate species are birds, and 96 percent of the remainder are lizards and snakes. About half of all mammal species are rodents. Almost half the remainder are bats. Of mammal species not rodents or bats, almost half are ungulates. Of primate species, more than half are monkeys, with almost all of the rest lemurs or lorises ...

This is a planet of bats and rats, of sparrows, of beetles and ants, but mainly — to a first approximation — this is a planet of bacteria...
I find this point of view exhilarating, like looking at a starry sky and imagining the impossible distances. There is grandeur in this insignificance. There is an imperative not to take more than our share...
once we set ourselves apart from the rest of "creation," we begin to resent our ties to the earth. Of what importance is a snail, a rotifer, a tiger? We begin to imagine — and to implement — a world in which we are alone.

It is called hubris. It goeth before a fall, already in progress.

... We each of us are cooperative projects of a quadrillion or two prokaryotes, and those single cells conspire to create consciousness. It is as if pond scum, piled and shaped a certain way, began to discuss its purpose.

... We are the quintessence of dust and yet we are as gods in apprehension, and that's the whole point, and that's the whole problem.

Posted by Chris Clarke on 01/03 at 08:59 AM

Sunday, 5 March 2006

A little twisted