Saturday, September 19, 2009

Slick but not satisfying.

LATELINE can be good. On Thursday last they reported a range of views at Ryde protests over having a convicted man living in the neighbourhood. What commercial media would let the man be properly heard ?
Letting the "exterminate" advocate speak is part of recognising what starts trouble and exactly where it starts . As a result, Australians are reminded that we do have people( incl non muslim's and those in living rooms ) who use a genuine threat as their excuse to throw in a truly terrorist type one. Predjudice about the non human nature of other people isn't always reinforced and thats to the ABC's credit. The Eugenics societies of the 1930's were not only popular in Germany - they were big in England . Simple predjudices are dangerous in trying times .Safety is not in the facts ( there are too many of them ); the safety is in hearing both sides of the argument.
The home grown nature of terrorism and politicization of science (interpreting gene mechanics to promote eugenics) must be faced - if we are to stay out of wars we can't win and effectively target a tougher change in attitude that would go beyond quick fix. We have choices and we must not use nature as an excuse to deny them or to justify cheap tricks on the way . That would be to make all of us less than human .
George Gentlys (ABCTV that night )great final words to his apprentice also reflect on this truth that we are talking about a call beyond nature -not a call to just "come under nature". His question -why did the young man learn to hate? Good science is only good when it talks possibilities and is not stuck or conveniently lost in some soup of mixed recipe facts.

The Lateline team can do a good job - But science talk is not ABCTV 's strong point. They still think that Barry Jones is the archtypal scientist when he's really the achetypal priest of the school of mere description - the ideal agent for those who insist the part is the whole. We will do better using wikipedia .
If presenters and their guests are to stay out of naive discussions that go nowhere they need to see the danger of the dialogue being held within the walls of misplaced concreteness. ABCTV won't win any hearts against blind predjudice in one night by talking facts ; They won't establish confidence in a situation of no confidence using that tired old cringe culture recipe : a new book and a new foreign expert
A change in attitude is always beyond science, The breath of fresh air the ABC needs is where the various sides of an argumnet can be properly heard . ( Where too is the respect for home grown science? ).

For example , Lea Sales was very competent in asking some really good questions on climate change's credibility problems ...But they went nowhere ..the well groomed respondent was there to defend a position - not the policisation of science in general .
Lea was asking the wrong person - A good book/ author on the real problem of disinterest in objective science- the title (and its politicisation ) WOULD not have made the mistake of playing the political hot football issues of evolution and climate change ;Such a person would have actually talked the physics through in a way that no ABCTV guest has done to date .YHIFOB
Someone who didn't want to join the political confusion would have drawn the audiences attention to the billions going to fad science research over the last twenty years ( salinity , ozone ) Such an independant scientist/author would have gone to the lessons of history and the technological fix that has eaten the heart of sound pure science research for the last twenty years.

If the book says something new, I will eat my hat;
If this is news to you - well you just aren't hearing from the right people- when will the ABC realise they are letting SBS run rings around them by letting the people who know talk, rather than controlling the discussion.
The wastage is evident. ABCTV allow themselves ( and the long suffering ABC audiences) to be further confused by letting the pedants close off while the reality of real life mirror moving politics moves onto yet another fiddle ( art /science , predjudice and practice, media manipulation by those desperate to maintain power and avoid any hint of their own confusion).

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The good life isn't about heavy hearted stoicism

COMPASS -so disappointing and so distracted. Same old same old, 30yrs of reactionary medicine that has no balm.
Nothing proves that going back some new version of the Platonic is dead, than when some reactionaries try to revive it. Typical reactionaries - don't know the difference between a long term good idea and one that's come around again, but is just old and inadequate
For those who , like Peter Singer, think Peter Singer is ahead of his time , its paradoxical to find him trying to revive something from the past ;something from the past that doesn't work .
I say, leave the technologically ineffective optimism of the past where it belongs - a relic of history and rich people's rhetoric .
Dostyevsky was right - if there is no God , there is no need to think beyond yourself. Kick against the pricks as much as you like Peter, but you will need more than your predjudices to get beyond a failed logic system . You can't put wheels on a car that confuses guilt offerings , absolution and righteousness, and then gives no logical context to any of them .
Does Singer believe he can do what Emperor Julian could not ?
The only thing that works is not a natural optimism, but a supernatural optimism . Lets see guests with that sort of attitude do the talking in that time slot .That would make a welcome change thanks .

Like many Australians, I wait up sometimes on Sunday night in the hope of meeting a mature person with something deep to share.
Geraldines new COMPASS program promises much, but offers little ( I assume the ABC are putting the best foot forward) - she's not asking the right people -
Geraldines idea of whose interesting is just Geraldines a idea of whose interesting; Why do the ABC continue to let her do it? ABCchurch is boring and predictable . Geraldine knows the majority of her audience are cyncial about overt spirituality , but her alternative of passionless morality preaching is plain obnoxoius - as it always has been.
No more so than Peter Singer who seems to have changed little from his early days looking for a place on the screen; he still seems preoccupied to find that place.
How else do you explain him going where naturalism has gone before and not realizing it ; an old cul de sac he's driving us all down-
Peter's staid stoic stuff has about as much long term appeal as it did in Platos time and since.
Geraldine too , appears afraid to ask the obviuos - "what's happened to that strong preacher of highly deterministic doctrines" ......that have little public appeal. "Have you changed?"( might be a standard question on such a program) After all , at the end of the show its " you appear to line up with the religious"? A new age priest or just a new angle?
Geraldine didn't see the point that the Jewish concept of justice is much more powerful, practical, dynamic and life affirming than Pete's tired old 60's accounting rhetoric -The antipharisee has become the new age pharisee?
Peter probably used the same lines when he was 25 . The point is that, like so much of that token interest in poverty reduction, its just not well targeted and therefore not convicting , and just not effective . A religion without a clear vision of what works never works . Why suffer the tax of 5% when its so badly targeted? The test results of 50yrs are there to be seen ; For all the talk over those years , there has been scarce little light added. Even the .3% my generation have done little but offer old tokens to poverty reduction .
As they hinted , maybe industry and trade have done more - this need not/ should not be so .
To treat Povert Reduction as if ecomia is a accountancy problem might suit the PCorrect of the moment , but it is totally unconvincing from someone who promotes himself as a leading philosopher. Good philosophy is effective at dealing pointedly with practical issues. including clearly identifying both tokens and targets !

If Peter was going to win more comittment from thinking people, he needs to be convincing about how we should use such a tax ;
A working model and grown up view of dealing with poverty issues labels the issues properly and effectively. Like Rudd's energy tax , the tax idea runs a real risk of being just terribly ineffective; a temple tax
In this context of wishy washy wanderings it needs to be said to those who really care that much of the intransigent poverty of the world is clearly in rural areas and can be dealt with . A lot can be done about building resiliance - but not in the old half baked ways the pied Peter was suggesting ( eg NGO's are best ) .
Playing a old version of a durge Peter didn't name the structural solutions that exist , or give the better targeting of private and public tax one mention- the really big known issues of targeting poverty .His durge is just trite old 60's stuff that has done little to change poverty and solution perceptions for 50yrs - even at .3%.

The trouble with a purely rational view of the world is that its not big enough; It doesn't believe the impossible is possible . As a priest of "the new order of natural optimists ", Peter is happy to limit his modus operandi to an overindulgence tax of 5%.
The problem is, as Julian found out , all the money in the world is not enough to motivate the people to be pious. Only an effective form of absolution can get the people to do the absolutely impossible, and impossibly - enjoy it . (Copyright EA Sept 12th 2009)