[The Onion] Victory for Hamas!

Jubilant Palestinians mob Gaza streets

Top Hamas officials congratulate their people

Palestinians say eight-day fighting humbled Israel

With gunshots, sweets and cries of victory, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip poured into the streets to celebrate a ceasefire deal on Wednesday which ended eight days of deadly fighting between Israel and Islamist militants.

After being stuck at home for days for fear of Israeli air strikes, tens of thousands of Palestinians crowded into cars and doubled up on motorcycles, waving flags and chanting for Hamas, Israel’s main adversary and rulers of the Gaza Strip.

Women leaned over balconies ululating with joy as children stuffed four-abreast in the open trunks of cars clapped and sent out hoarse screams of “God is Great!”.

“We feel like we’ve gotten our freedom back, our lives back. Thank God for Hamas, and thank God for the patience and strength of the Palestinian people in humbling Israel,” said Mohammed Skeik, marching with a pack of fist-pumping friends.

The Egyptian-brokered ceasefire put an end to Israeli air raids which bombed hundreds of Hamas targets and the firing of more than 2,000 rockets and mortar bombs by Hamas and other factions into Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

In all, 162 Palestinians, including 37 children and 11 women, were killed in the offensive, along with three Israeli civilians and a soldier.

Firing a deafening burst from his Kalashnikov rifle, Mohammed al-Ghazaleh boasted: “(Israeli Prime Minister) Netanyahu will mourn tonight, while the people of Gaza are steadfast in their resistance and have triumphed.”

“Israel won’t think of challenging us like this ever again. We payed a dear price in the blood of our people for their aggression, but we made great gains and showed our strength,” he said.


Members of Hamas’s top political echelons, also forced to seek shelter during the raids because Israel had them in its sights, joined eagerly in the grandstanding.

“The resistance achieved a historic victory against the occupation and laid the foundation for the battle of liberation for all our land and sacred sites,” said senior Hamas official Ahmed Bahar.

During a lull in fighting eight days ago, Israel launched an offensive by assassinating Hamas’s acting military chief, Ahmed Al-Jaabari, on November 14.

“Jaabari won, alive and dead,” Hamas activists shouted through loudspeakers of Gaza mosques.

Green banners waving in the night air, Hamas activists from Hamas cried through loudspeakers at the clogged streets, “Oh people of Gaza, you have won.”

When is suppressing speech justified?

The only decent justification for suppression of speech that I can think of is self defense (or similar) e.g. speech that would reveal the location of a protected witness should be suppressed.

I guess there is also preventing fraud or public pornography which might be considered suppressing speech but that’s not what I’m aiming to discuss.

What I am wanting to discuss is that in New Zealand the courts and judges regularly suppress speech and make it a punishable offense to discuss cases. This seems grossly unjust.

For the most part, it is unjust for the courts or judges to suppress speech. (I can think of some examples of unjust suppression but I’m not free to share them.)

The Ozzman Cometh!

Black Sabbath add NZ show

The Prince of Darkness and his reunited band of metallers will come to New Zealand for one show.

Ozzy Osbourne and the original Black Sabbath line up of bassist Geezer Butler and guitarist Tony Iommi will play at Auckland’s Vector Arena on April 20 next year.

Credited with creating heavy metal, and widely regarded as one of the most influential bands of all time, this will be the first New Zealand show for the original Black Sabbath in nearly 40 years.

The last time they were on these shores was in 1973, when they played the Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival.

Hailing from Birmingham, England, the band released their debut album in 1970. This was followed up by the classic record Paranoid, which featured the anthems War Pigs and Iron Man.

Black Sabbath has sold in excess of 70 million records worldwide, and the band is currently recording their first new studio album in more than 33 years, which is due to be released in April 2013.


WHEN: April 20, 2013

WHERE: Vector Arena, Auckland

Tickets from Ticketmaster

Incontrovertible pseudo-science

The latest addition to my reading list is The Greatest Show on Earth (2009) by Richard Dawkins. (You can read it here.)

In his earlier book, The Ancestor’s Tale (2004), Dawkins traced human ancestry back to the dawn of life. Cool story, bro, but where’s the evidence? To answer the question, Dawkins wrote The Greatest Show on Earth. The book is subtitled The Evidence for Evolution and that’s why I’m reading it.

So far I’ve read only the first paragraph of the Preface, and it’s not off to a good start.

THE evidence for evolution grows by the day, and has never been stronger. At the same time, paradoxically, ill-informed opposition is also stronger than I can remember. This book is my personal summary of the evidence that the ‘theory’ of evolution is actually a fact – as incontrovertible a fact as any in science.


In order for a theory to even be counted as a scientific theory it must be controvertible, i.e., falsifiable. If it’s not falsifiable, then it’s not scientific. An incontrovertible theory is not a scientific theory. It is pseudo-scientific hocus pocus. So say I – a good Popperian.

I’ll report back on the rest of the book when I’ve read it.

Meanwhile, philosopher Thomas Nagel has a new book out. It’s called Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False. Worth a look inside! Here’s Amazon’s book description.

The modern materialist approach to life has conspicuously failed to explain such central mind-related features of our world as consciousness, intentionality, meaning, and value. This failure to account for something so integral to nature as mind, argues philosopher Thomas Nagel, is a major problem, threatening to unravel the entire naturalistic world picture, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology.

Since minds are features of biological systems that have developed through evolution, the standard materialist version of evolutionary biology is fundamentally incomplete. And the cosmological history that led to the origin of life and the coming into existence of the conditions for evolution cannot be a merely materialist history, either. An adequate conception of nature would have to explain the appearance in the universe of materially irreducible conscious minds, as such.

Nagel’s skepticism is not based on religious belief or on a belief in any definite alternative. In Mind and Cosmos, he does suggest that if the materialist account is wrong, then principles of a different kind may also be at work in the history of nature, principles of the growth of order that are in their logical form teleological rather than mechanistic.

In spite of the great achievements of the physical sciences, reductive materialism is a world view ripe for displacement. Nagel shows that to recognize its limits is the first step in looking for alternatives, or at least in being open to their possibility.

Not bad for an atheist, huh?

Justice must be seen to be done

… it’s corruption that needs to be hidden.

I went to Court today to support a friend. He has a long complicated story – today’s proceedings relate to a defamation case he has against the Police and the Ministry of Social Development. The Police and MSD are trying to stop the defamation case from going ahead and they are trying to ensure that some videotaped evidential interviews are never seen.

I was a couple of minutes late but when I arrived my friend’s parents and his other supporters were all outside the courtroom. They explained to me that the proceedings started with the public there but the judge noticed that someone was taking notes and when the judge found out that it was a reporter the judge declared that the court room needed to be cleared.

This indicates to me that the judge is going to protect the Police and MSD and he doesn’t want to be seen doing wrong.

I hope I am wrong.

A sign of the times

[Reprised from beNZylpiperazine, January 2005.]

“Unlocked cars contribute to the growing crime rate!” reads this warning sign by the train station car park. There’s something not quite right about this sign. And it’s not so much what the police say, as the way they say it.

Unlocked cars don’t commit crimes. Criminals do. And criminals are responsible for 100% of thefts of and from unlocked cars, not the unfortunate car owners. Yet the sign leaves me feeling that if I leave my car unlocked and it gets pillaged then I am the criminal.

It’s a classic case of finding someone else – anyone else – to blame instead of the actual offender. No wonder, then, that the government has now decided to penalise those who take insufficient measures to protect their cars from theft.

Last week Justice Minister Phil Goff launched the government’s Vehicle Crime Reduction Programme. All imported cars less than 15 years old (and therefore worth stealing) will now be required to be fitted with immobilisers and be marked with several thousand uniquely identifying microdots. At the car owner’s expense, of course.

Jim Peron says that Goff is substituting Nanny for the police officer. “Instead of protecting people from criminals he proposes a policy to force people to change how they live so the government’s failure to protect them isn’t as apparent.”

Goff is confident that his compulsory measures will lead to a significant reduction in vehicle thefts. But the problem is that criminals will find other, easier targets. The homes of the people who leave their locked, immobilised cars in the station car park, for example. If you want to give the message that crime doesn’t pay, you have to catch the criminals, not chide and coerce their victims into paying for ever more sophisticated security measures.

Take it easy, and take the train. And don’t forget to lock your car.