Saturday 6th of June 2020

greater picture is frightfully weird indeed

As we are distracted from our daily grind by vacuous forms of entertainment, the subtext of which being manufactured for us, lurks below the surface of what passes for news and opinions, without our knowledge?

A bit of Wood on the fire

“The images we see on television are a grim reminder that the enemies of freedom in Iraq are ruthless killers with no regard for human life....

War of the Worlds?

Ashurbanipal's (Sardanapale) reign, like that of most Assyrian kings was marked by incessant warfare. He began by making war on his brother Shamash-shum-ukin, who had been installed as king in Babylon; Ashurbanipal conquered Babylon and destroyed it. Assurbanipal ruled with an iron hand, crushing Egyptian insurrections as well as the one his own brother led against him in Babylon. He also conquered Elam, Phoenicia, Armenia and a great part of the Arab territories, and overcame the city of Susa.

Hmm. It's time the Emperor of the Free World had his first sitting with Monsieur Delacroix.

I avoided the Creationism discussions on Web Diary, but did notice they were very active. So, I wonder if the grounds for involvement have shifted from the abstract political-ideological corner, to the belief-social-morality nook? I'm sure the observation has been made before, without taking the trouble to find out. I think one of the central points, for us, is the notion of an Australian identity. The next round of community activism could be around the issue of place, and how individuals and groups can get better access to dwindling resources.

If I had to pick just one line on which to pitch a position, it would be in relation to the question of whether the world was really stuffed, or not. I am not right down at the apocalyptic-nihilist end, but I vigorously refute the idea that a new golden age is just around the corner, if only we could scrape away the misfits, freaks and ne'er-do-wells. I hope I am not in the widening middle, where increasing numbers of switched-off on-lookers are passing the time till the intake of neuro-regulating pills.

It's pretty plain that, as a myth, Creationism is an especially potent one, and beyond the reach of reason. It seems to me that the contemporary expression of Creationism is closely entwined with Pro-life politics. I assume Pro-life stands on the position of primal importance of the value of each and every human life. It seems (to me) that the ideologies of Social Darwinism, Communitarianism, and maybe Communism, are opposed to Pro-life. As I have learned from Gail Bell's Quarterly Essay, The Worried Well, there is a kind of bioreductionism on the upswing in modern medical thought, where ailments, especially of the psyche, are believed to be caused by chemical imbalances and can be cured by manipulation at the molecular level. [The first chapter of the booklet was reprinted in Fairfax's Good Weekend of June 25th.] The philosophy behind bioreductionism seems to belong at the Social Darwinism end of the axis.

The Dominionism of the Pseudo-Christian Right, while derived from the common scriptures, shouldn't be packaged up with Pro-life. But it is diametrically opposed to Gaia ideology and the Green movement. I find it convenient to abstract topics of current interest onto a grid, similar to the axes used in the Political Compass. I've made the horizontal axis to stretch between Creationism and Pro-life at one end, Social Darwinism at the other. The vertical axis holds the Dominionist and Green theologies. Nothing esoteric, just a memory aid, to remember to ask "... yes, but what do you believe about ...?".

Here, I'd like to test the Pro-life position on a question raised in an accessible medical journal, The Lancet. Can the world afford to save the lives of 6 million children each year? [A free registration is required to read this article.] The conclusion - "US$5·1 billion in new resources is needed annually to save 6 million child lives in the 42 countries responsible for 90% of child deaths in 2000. This cost represents $1·23 per head in these countries, or an average cost per child life saved of $887." - shows it is possible to say Yes, especially in view of the obscene amounts of capital being poured onto the Iraq conflagration. This rational analysis cuts deep into diseased thought of Dominionist Pro-lifers who urge their children to kill Iraqis. I'd suggest that a dinkum Pro-lifer would be more likely to ask "Is it (morally) affordable to lose even one life?".

Set against the enthusiasm of Pro-lifers for assigning unique human value to blastocysts, I'd like to push the envelope further. Let's assume there are 1 billion ovulating women, and that they each produce 10 usable ova each year. Is there an argument for harvesting all those ova, fertilising them, and storing them for a time when human embryos can be raised entirely in vitro? If one human life is uniquely valuable, then who can decide which ova have to be overlooked, simply because there are not enough uteri, at present?

Suppose we learned tomorrow that a huge asteroid was on a course to collide with this planet, in several years time, and with a 95% chance of the prediction being accurate. The world's goverments agree to launch an intergalactic craft, and send it out for some distant planet which has some chance of being suitable for colonisation. Only a small number of scientists and crew can go, but they will take a few million frozen blastocysts, and the equipment to inseminate the females at the end of the journey. It's hoped that, eventually, a program of repopulation will ensure survival of humans. Would women volunteer to donate their ova for the cause? How would they be selected? Who would decide on the ethnic content and the genetic variability?

That was ad hoc, empirical and idiosyncratic, with a bare minimum of appeal to external sources. I apologise for the egocentric tone, but in the rush of the moment couldn't engineer it otherwise.

T.G. you are so right...

Have you read my Blog "Blood Rivers of Babylon.." presently on page 6 of Gus' view? . The (his)story of Ashurbanipal was retold by a Greek writer on behalf of his masters to suit their controlling position. In short the dates and the events were totally manipulated to demonstrate the importance of "morality" versus "debauchery" etc... A hoax that last till today in some publications... RE the creationists? I was quite fierce in the 70s and still am against their beliefs designed to stifle proper science... ...and yes I was doing a study of Mr Delacroix's painting on the subject when things did not add up...

Godot on their side

Revealed: rise of creationism in UK schools

PR packs spread controversial theory

James Randerson, science correspondent
Monday November 27, 2006
The Guardian
"I am flabbergasted that any head of science would give credence to this creationist theory and be prepared to put it alongside Darwinism," he said. "Treating it as an alternative centralist theory alongside Darwinism in science lessons is deeply worrying."


Gus: These silly blokes and gals never give up... plastering porkies and fairy tales as scientific facts that do not stack up...