2015-02-22

 

Eton and Harrow

In 1980 I was in Form 3 (approx Year 8, aged 12) at Natabua school in Lautoka, Fiji. In an English lesson we were told about an exchange of letters between Eton and Harrow. Even though I am a native English speaker, I did not get the joke. I recently did a search for what I remembered on the internet, but the only link I got was a bad scan of a newspaper. From that I found a link to many scanned newspapers. I was able to extract the exchange from multiple newspapers (e.g. Eastern State Journal, Saturday, 16 November, 1912) and try to present a clean version. Here is the clean version:


Eton and Harrow.

One of the Eton and Harrow school cricket matches recalls an amusing incident. Eton had a monotonous series of wins for some years, and one day the Harrow captain received the following:

O ye boys of Harrow school. Of cricket ye have no knowledge! It is not cricket, but the fool. You play against Eton college.

The Harrow school poet was hunted out and commanded to send a fitting reply. This clever response made him famous:

If, as you say, we play the fool. No wonder we were beaten. For at that game no other school Could e'er compete with Eton.


For those who don't get the joke, here it is. The Harrow school poet has literally interpreted the Eton message as saying "you were playing the fool". So when he says "that game", he means "the fool" instead of "cricket". So in a game of "the fool" between Eton and Harrow, Eton won. ie Eton won the competition of "who is the true fool". I hope you can understand the explanation. :-)

And apologies for diverging from war for a moment. :-)


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2015-01-28

 

Major Milestone

As of 2015-01-01 we have reached a very important milestone. We have returned to the situation as it was on 2001-09-10. Namely, there are not a large number of US troops involved in overseas wars, and especially not being killed. Having troops in places like Kosovo does not rub a raw nerve like it does when thousands are being killed in e.g. Iraq.

It was necessary to have large numbers of troops engaged in messy nation-building over the last 13 years, but that era has now passed. We have collected the required data, and proven the technology. In the future, wars can be limited to just providing air power to local forces. Air power doesn't rub a raw nerve in America. We now fortunately have plenty of evidence that this model works. On 2001-09-11 we did not have sufficient evidence and people were insisting that Afghanistan couldn't be won from the air. For whatever reason, people wouldn't accept Kosovo as proof. Regardless, the stunning Northern Alliance victory showed that air power is basically all we need to provide to assist locals to victory. We got more evidence of that in Libya. And just today we see that it worked in Kobane.

This really is a great burden lifted from the forces of the free world. No more nation-building. Just air power added to friendly locals. All the troops have been freed up now. In previous years there were questions about the US military failing to meet its recruiting targets (and even the possibility of reintroducing conscription). Such questions are now moot. We no longer need to deploy lots of troops to do nation-building. America's enemies have failed. We are now past the point of no-return. Every future war only requires the US to do the initial battlefield defeat (which in Iraq took 3.5 weeks). Locals can take it from there (with continued US air support to our favored locals, to avoid a power vacuum like in Libya). Or alternatively, US ground troops are not even required at all - we can instead just provide air support to locals, as is likely to be done in Syria (and was already done in Libya).

The opportunity to harm America while America's military was elsewhere engaged passed on 2015-01-01. A wonderful, wonderful day.

Note that we should remain mindful of the troops that remain in Afghanistan. It is of absolute importance that we do not outstay our welcome in Afghanistan and accidentally go to war with the Afghan people. Once again, it is not really necessary for American troops to remain in Afghanistan. Afghan troops could go to somewhere like Tajikistan to be trained by the US. No need to do it in Afghanistan. But sure, Afghanistan is the most convenient place, so there's no problem staying there if we are very sure that the Afghans don't mind. As far as I can tell from Afghan opinion polls and Afghan election results and Afghan politicians, the Afghans are overwhelmingly supportive of the US presence. And the US presence has the side-effect of preventing any military coup against Afghanistan's democracy. So we shouldn't pull the (small number of) coalition forces out of Afghanistan just because we are scared of overstaying our welcome. If we have natural friends/allies in Afghanistan, then that's fine. We're happy to assist our friends and allies, wherever we find them.

Anyway, bottom line is that the world is in a new state now. All western forces have been freed up, ready for the next big battle. Hopefully America will get over its war-weariness after a little while (e.g. in 2 years from now when Obama is out of power) and we can send the troops to do the battlefield defeat of the Iranian dictator's forces. In and out in 3.5 weeks flat (or similar - that was the figure from Iraq). Or if not Iran, then maybe North Korea. Anyone drawing attention to themselves, basically.

Note one more thing. If it is possible to get local ground forces to fight their dictator as was done in Libya, it is also possible to simply do the battlefield-defeat for locals, and then hand it over to locals. That is a lot quicker and nicer than expecting locals to do the battlefield-defeat themselves, with just US air power added, no US ground troops. ie what I am saying is that it would be best if US ground troops were used to defeat North Korea instead of mucking around trying to find locals to support. The only objection I have to this use of US ground troops is that it may put some local noses out of joint (while 50% of Iraqis supported being liberated, there were another 50% who felt "humiliated" for whatever strange cultural reason). So I think it was right to stay in the air in Libya so that the locals can (sort of) rightfully say that they did the job themselves, and weren't humiliated by external forces. I don't think we have that problem with the Koreans. Regardless, since 2015-01-01 we have all the options in the world we need, and just need to choose one. We'll win regardless, and with ease.

Another way of saying all this is "now we are free".


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2014-12-06

 

Pac-Man

I recommend that strong/positive atheists should instead be weak atheists/agnostics. People like Richard Dawkins who makes the leap to say that there is almost certainly no god (without any of the usual probability and statistics calculations that are normally used to arrive at "almost certainly" in the world of science). First take a look at this.

Note - I do not agree with everything there, but the presentation within it is far better than I can do with words.

In particular I'd like you to see page 5. I don't play computer games these days, so I assume that's a picture of a real game. If it isn't, you've definitely seen Pac-Man, which will do for the purposes of this conversation.

Anyway, let's say the creatures (dot-eating Pacman plus ghosts), are endued with artificial intelligence, some time in the next 1 million or billion years of evolution, I mean, computer science. Given that you as an atheist (even a weak atheist in fact) have no problem believing intelligence can come from an otherwise devoid-of-even-life ocean (given a lot of patience), you will presumably have no trouble accepting that computer scientists, applying a lot of combined effort, will eventually beat primordial slime at its own game.

The Pac-Man has evolved to more intellectual pursuits than eating dots, e.g. running a large corporation, and the ghosts have similarly evolved, and are now crack dealers. In fact, the Pac-Man's world looks uncannily like our own.

Now, Mr and Mrs Pac-Man are discussing theology, and Mr Pac-Man says that he's an positive atheist. There's been no evidence of any God, like, ever ever ever, after many fruitless attempts. Mrs Pac-Man is using the usual tired argument about the world not being able to come into existence all on its own, without being able to offer any explanation for how the more complicated "God" could have come into existence. At this point, note that the combined efforts of computer scientists will not necessarily be inferior to some 3rd grader playing Pac-Man. Chess Grandmasters used to insist that they would always be able to beat a machine too. So much for famous last words. So there's the first point to note.

But next, the 3rd grader mentioned above, invites his 3rd grader classmate over to his house, where they've been running this "Pac-Man game" for a couple of months now to "see what happens". Most of the time they're watching 3-D porn, not watching Pac-Man, but nevermind.

Anyway, they notice this exchange between Mr and Mrs Pac-Man. Quite clearly, Mr Pac-Man, the atheist, is wrong. Within the Pac-Man game itself, it is totally and utterly impossible to prove that one way or the other. It's not possible to reach outside of the computer simulation and start analyzing God (ie the first 3rd-grader), and coming to some pretty derogatory conclusions about him in fact.

My questions (to atheists) are this.

1. What arguments would you suggest that Mrs Pac-Man arm herself with, to get Mr Pac-Man to switch from strong atheist to agnostic. I can understand that without some pretty hefty intervention by the snotty-nosed 3rd grader (e.g. putting a ghost into bed with the two of them by pressing Alt-G), it would be absolutely impossible for Mr Pac-Man to switch to "believer" (even though - in this case - he would be right).

2. Is God (the 3rd grader) considered omnipresent/omnipotent/etc, assuming he can do a dump of RAM any time he wants?

3. If God dumps the data structures associated with Mrs Pac-Man, and puts her into a different simulation, would that be considered being saved and going to Heaven?

4. Given that we know that Mr Pac-Man made an ill-advised leap of logic, coming to a belief, without any data that would be able to back up that belief, what did Mr Pac-Man do wrong? ie which rules of science did he break specifically? If he could retrace his steps, where should he have stopped with the logic and said "I refuse to go beyond this point, for the same reason I don't say whether or not there is life elsewhere in the universe or not - we do not have that data available yet, no matter how impatient you may be"?

5. If the 3rd grader chooses to not press Alt-G (supernatural ghost generator), to give the required proof of the supernatural to Mr Pac-Man, to stop him putting his foot in his mouth any further, is he considered to be deceptive? Malicious?

6. If the 3rd grader decides to press Alt-R (religion generator), to zap up a book of rules, deliberately ambiguously written, some things deliberately and obviously fallacious, so that you can't quite be sure if it's really from God or not, and in it it contains some radical philosophy, e.g. "love thy enemy", that sets such a high standard for Mrs Pac-Man to have to try to live up to, because the 3rd grader thinks that it would be cool to watch animals attempt to cooperate, would that book be considered "the word of God" or "holy" - despite the deliberate falsehoods?

By the way, there's a fantastic movie called "The Thirteenth Floor" which may make you think twice.

But while there's still time (ie before atheists quickly switch to agnosticism to cover themselves), I'd like honest answers to the above, with your current state of mind. Mainly question 4 I'm after. Mainly for future debates. I can watch how atheists respond to (your) answer to number 4, and then demonstrate that they are just as dogmatic as religious people, unwilling to climb down from their position, before hitting them with this counterexample which doesn't leave much wriggle room that I can see.


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2014-11-12

 

Afghanistan Advances

I am really happy with this progress being made in Afghanistan:

"NATO has committed to fund Afghanistan’s 350,000 security forces at $4.1 billion annually. At a NATO summit in Wales in September, alliance leaders committed to continue funding through 2017."

This is the exact best foreign aid you can possibly give. Fund local security forces (or send your own) to ensure an allied democracy stays (or gets) in power.

And look at what a great ally we have: "Ghani praised the alliance’s efforts".

And hopefully now the foreign forces will be entirely out of the Afghan's faces and just providing air support. Not that the Afghans ever complained about us being in their faces. According to opinion polls something like 85% of Afghans support the foreign presence. It is a really fantastic result. And to think that after 9/11 many people wanted to turn our 85% allies into a parking lot, instead of giving them the chance to kill the 15% by themselves. Also note that despite the quite high casualty rate of the Afghan security forces, there is no shortage of volunteers. How beautiful is that? Our brave allies signing up to fight our enemy. All we ever needed to do was give them a chance to help themselves, instead of demanding that they do the technically impossible task of overthrowing their own dictatorship without outside help.


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2014-11-01

 

Kurdish Protest

I am very glad that the Kurds in Kobane now have access to heavy weaponry from Iraqi Kurdistan. Hopefully now ISIS will be rolled back swiftly.

There was a protest at Sydney Town Hall today (2014-11-01) at 2pm which I decided to attend. I would say that over 50% of it was in English, so I could understand. I joined in saying slogans, but not the Kurdish slogans. The slogans were things like "save Kobane" and "down down ISIS" and "save the women", and "save the children" and "save the minorities". Unfortunately there was also a small amount of anti-Turkish sentiment. I didn't join in the slogans against Turkey. Also there was a speaker from the "Socialist Alliance", and flyers from "Green Left". As a right-wing pro-capitalist person I don't like being associated with such groups.

Someone was filming it and when they approached me I gave the "laban" sign. I was wearing my headband with "democracy" (in Chinese) on the front. I stayed for about 1 hour after the politics seemed to be over and there was (presumably Kurdish) dancing going on. I also found out the organizer's web page by approaching a woman who had used the megaphone.

I hope the Kurds can stop being enemies with the Turks. The Iraqi Kurds have shown that it is possible to have good relations with the Turks. Turkey is a long-standing NATO ally, and has done quite a lot that we have asked of it, even though they had grave reservations about it. E.g. they allowed western planes to use Turkish bases to patrol the no-fly zone in Iraqi Kurdistan. And they provided sanctuary for both Iraqi and Syrian Kurds fleeing their own countries. And they have allowed Iraqi Peshmerga to cross their territory to get to Kobane. And they now seem to be open to Iraqi Kurdistan declaring independence. I hope the Kurds can respect the fact that we have a long-standing alliance with Turkey and thus Turkey's interests are our interests too. I believe we can get a united Kurdistan after Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran all join the European Union and NATO. Getting people into NATO is a slow process, and if the Kurds are impatient, they will lose their western allies and likely be clobbered (with Turkey's western allies doing nothing) by Turkey. Also note that no-one has an inherent right to secede from a country based on race or religion. They do have a right to secede from a dictatorship, if they plan to replace the dictatorship with a rational, humanist, non-subjugating government instead. But Turkey is not a dictatorship. Also the PKK is dogmatic (follows the communist dogma), not rational, so would be WORSE than what Turkish Kurds have now.


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2014-10-16

 

Syrian Solution

I think we now have a way of winning in Syria.

We can arm the FSA and Kurds, and claim that it is to fight ISIL, which right at the moment would even be true.

We recognize the FSA as the true representatives of Syria, and even give them aircraft. There are air bases in Syria already out of Assad's control.

This will allow the FSA to roll back ISIL and when that job has been done, to roll back Assad's forces.

Let's roll!!!


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2014-10-02

 

HK Protest in Sydney

Today I attended a small-scale protest in Town Hall Square. The protest was officially slated to be from 12 noon to 7pm, but I only attended from about 12:30pm to about 5:30pm. I signed my name on the petition they had there. I also took a yellow ribbon and pinned it on my shirt. I was wearing my "democracy" headband.

Someone from "The Newsroom" of Macleay College interviewed me and asked me why I was there. I explained how 25 years ago when I was 21 years old I attended the Sydney protests against the Chinese government over the Tiananmen Square massacre. They also took my photo and I gave the Philippines "laban" ("fight") sign.

Someone from SBS filmed the stall, but I don't think I was in the shot, and I didn't watch SBS World News today.

I managed to strike up a conversation with someone but I really prefer chatting via the internet. The internet is a great medium for thinking soundly about every point and giving a full answer.

Shortly before I left I asked one of the organizers if they were accepting donations. I was going to donate $100. But she said they weren't accepting donations. I also asked her if she thought I should get on a plane and join the protests in person, but she said that wasn't necessary and the support I had already shown was enough. I told her point-blank that if we have a rerun of 1989-06-04, I want to be able to look any Hong Kong person in the eye and say "I did absolutely everything I could to protect the people of Hong Kong".

China is a real tough nut to crack. Unlike tinpot countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, we do not have any good military option for dealing with China. We would be risking a nuclear war, which is too high a price to pay. We instead need to do a glorified psyop to get the communist dictatorship to change its mind. And that is what I have attempted to do via my blog. I am hoping now that I have made contact with some Hong Kong revolutionaries that we can formulate an information campaign to change the mainland Chinese. The stupid mainland Chinese don't see anything wrong with spreading their dictatorship to Taiwan, instead of looking up to Taiwan as a model, and asking the Taiwanese to take over governance of China.


P.S. Here is the article, where I am mentioned. Also, SBS News was published on the web, and the Sydney protest was not covered.


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