Posted by BE on March 27th, 2011
Thanks to River Howe for drawing this important news event to my attention.
Posted by BE on March 27th, 2011
Posted by BE on March 21st, 2011
I’ve been musing on the Ken Ring debate and come up with the following observations:
+ The evidence that the moon has some contributory influence on earthquakes seems slight.
– However, it is not impossible that it does.
+ Ken Ring may be a charlatan.
– However, it is possible that he genuinely believes the things he says and is simply misguided.
+ Ring’s warnings about a major earthquake occurring in Canterbury on March 20 amounted to irresponsible scaremongering.
– On the other hand, if he did genuinely believe there would be a major earthquake on March 20, those warnings could be considered highly responsible.
+ No-one in Canterbury was killed or injured by an earthquake on March 20. Nor was there any significant damage to buildings or infrastructure. Ring’s prediction was wrong.
– However, a 5.1 earthquake, the largest since the devastating 6.3 tremor of February 22, did occur on March 20. So Ring’s prediction was right.
+ At noon on March 20 members of the Skeptics Society, accompanied by Nick Smith, the Minister responsible for ACC, had lunch at the Sign of the Kiwi, one of Christchurch’s highest and oldest stone buildings in the Port Hills. This was to show their contempt for Ring’s prediction and their confidence that he was wrong. Their good sense is to be congratulated.
– Alternatively, since the Society’s spokesperson, Vicki Hyde, had said she wouldn’t be surprised if a shake happened during the lunch, their actions might be seen as foolhardy and stupid. Unless, of course, the location wasn’t particularly hazardous, in which case the demonstration would lack credibility. As a correspondent to the Dominion Post noted, ‘If the Skeptics really wanted to make a point, they could try the roof of the Grand Chancellor Hotel.’
+ Since no-one in Canterbury was killed or injured by an earthquake on March 20 and there was no significant damage to buildings or infrastructure, the Skeptics were right.
– However, since a 5.1 earthquake, the largest since the devastating 6.3 tremor of February 22, did occur on March 20, the Skeptics were wrong. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on March 13th, 2011
Today Michael Laws’ Sunday Star Times Column was headed ‘A Black Eye for Liberal Bleaters’. What follows is a (lengthy) line-by-line commentary on that column. To be fair to Laws you should perhaps read the column in its entirety before reading my commentary.
“In all disasters, the rubble attracts rats. Whether it is physical and fatal, like the Christchurch earthquake, or metaphysical and mystical, like the Paul Henry affair, there are always ferals prepared to feed on the misery of others.
“When these rodents are eventually apprehended and exposed to the light, we are always amazed by how nondescript and petty they seem. As was the case with Arie Smith – Cornelis Arie Smith-Voorkamp to give him his full title – the 25-year-old arrested for looting a damaged house days after the Canterbury tragedy. “
I have no idea what the reference to Paul Henry means.
Laws includes Smith, a 25-year-old who has Asperger’s Syndrome, among the rats, rodents and ‘ferals, prepared to feed on the misery of others’.
His reference to ‘Arie Smith – Cornelis Arie Smith-Voorkamp to give him his full title’ seems gratuitous, particularly the surely inappropriate use of the word ‘title’. What point is he making? That the name is pretentious or that it sounds South African?
“In fact, the published photos accentuated such feral features – an unusual angularity offset by a blackened eye and the demeanour of one who spends much of his life in the darkness. Overnight, Arie Smith became the face of looting, and a figure of public contempt.”
According to Laws, Mr Smith has ‘feral’ features. These include ‘an unusual angularity… and the demeanour of one who spends much of his life in the darkness.’ The comment is worthy of Joseph Mengele. There is no evidence of any sort to support the suggestion that Mr Smith ‘spends much of his life in the darkness.’ ‘Feral’ is among Mr Laws’ favourite words to describe his fellow man. It means: ‘Of, pertaining to, or resembling a wild animal, savage, fierce, brutal; untamed, uncultivated; ultimately descended from individuals which escaped from captivity or domestication; born of such an animal in the wild.’ Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on March 5th, 2011
I know Peter Beck, the Dean of Christchurch Cathedral, reasonably well. We’ve had a few decent atheist/believer donnybrooks in the past and I admire and like him. His great sadness at what has happened to the Cathedral and the people of Christchurch could not be more patent or moving. So I write this with a degree of trepidation for two reasons: first, because the timing isn’t great; and second, because I have no interest in denying anyone the comfort which religion brings them at times like this.
But what I have to say arises directly from my enormous admiration for the generosity, bravery and self sacrifice of the people of Christchurch and of the hundreds of others, from all parts of the world, who came to their aid.
Answering the question ‘Where is God?’ Peter recently replied as follows:
‘God is in all these people. God is in the midst of all this. God is weeping with those who weep. God is alongside those who are finding the energy to just keep going. God is in the people who are reaching out and seeking to sustain one another. God is about building community, about empowering people.’
He was then asked:
‘Yes, but where was God was when offices pancaked and burned and hundreds died?’
‘Well, we live on a dynamic, creating planet that’s doing its thing. For whatever reason, our forebears chose to build this city on this place. They didn’t know we were on this faultline. God doesn’t make bad things happen to good people. We make our own choices about what we do.’ Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by JC on March 5th, 2011
Here’s a powerful piece from the stricken suburbs of Christchurch: his tale of three cities:
Posted by JC on March 2nd, 2011
Sand and water rising out of hard ground – it seems so bizarre. Why and how? Here’s a little demonstration:
Posted by BE on February 28th, 2011
John, Your mindless, bullying, tirade against ‘moon man’ Ken Ring on tonight’s Campbell Live was perhaps the worst piece of egotistical, self-important, out of control, closed-minded, biased, unprofessional non-interviewing I have seen in more than 40 years of New Zealand television.
I have no brief for Mr Ring or his theories, but after watching your treatment of him tonight, I have considerably more respect for him as the reasonable exponent of an admittedly controversial point of view than I have for you as an interviewer.
What mattered to you in this exchange was not what he had to say, but what you had to say. And since he thought the process was meant to involve his being critically questioned on statements he had made and being given reasonable opportunity to reply, he had every right to complain when you preferred to deny him that opportunity by shouting him down. It was, quite simply, appalling.
My advice to Mr Ring would be to immediately complain to Mark Jennings, the Head of News and Current Affairs at TV3 about your mistreatment on the programme tonight, and the breach of Broadcasting Standards of fairness and balance which it contained. And, when your complaint is almost certainly rejected, to take the matter to the Broadcasting Standards Authority for their deliberation and judgement.
The microphone is a potent tool in the bullying interviewer’s hand, especially when the interview is not face-to-face and the interviewee is isolated in a remote studio location. Fortunately most interviewers do not abuse that situation. Tonight we saw what has overall been excellent television coverage of the Christchurch earthquake on both TVNZ and TV3 marred by a descent to broadcasting at the level of Jerry Springer. I have seldom been so angry.