How many legs does a donkey have if you call the tail a leg?

[Reprised from SOLO, March 2008. Does calling a civil union a gay marriage make it a marriage?!]

The gut notion of objectivity is captured in an anecdote from the life of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln and a political colleague were discussing how to get a policy across and the colleague suggested labelling the policy in a certain way; they happened to be near a donkey and their dialogue went like this:

‘Sir, how many legs does this donkey have?’
‘Four, Mr. Lincoln.’
‘And how many tails has it?’
‘Why, just one, Mr. Lincoln.’
‘Tell me, sir, what if we were to call the tail a leg; how many legs would the donkey then have?’
‘Five, Mr. Lincoln.’
‘No, sir; for you cannot make a tail into a leg by calling it one.’

Saying doesn’t make it so.

Lloyd Reinhardt, Warranted Doability

Maori Renaissance… *EPIC FAIL!*

What a joke The ‘Renaissance in Maori culture and treaty settlement process is! All the Billions of dollars and assets of the so-called ‘Maori economy’ are enjoyed by the Aristocracy while the average Maori tribesman are just the miserable chumps wallowing in racism , dependence, and poverty!

According to the NZ Herald despite all the Political favoritism and Nannyism, The Income Gap between Maori and Pakeha continues to widen.
Yet what would you expect?
Learning TeReo Maori, and doing The Haka don’t have any economic value Homie!

The whole ‘Treaty partnership’ is a massive joke at the expense of all New Zealanders esp the foolish Maori whom are being deceived by the Political Class shyster Maori Lawyers and Elite into supporting the Separatist movement.

When will you understand that the only people oppressing you are your own leaders who fill your heads with race hatred and ensnare you in a victim mentality?

The average Maori would be much better off keeping their cultural interests as private pleasure, forsaking all the Race hatred and ‘blame’ that the separatists cultivate, and instead encourage their children to stand on their own two feet as individuals and take responciblity for their own well being… stressing the importance of the study English, Math, Engineering, etc.
Then watch a liberated Modern Maori make their escape from the Racist lies and delusions and compete as equals in the world.
This is how Moari must seek to improve their Economic lot (and escape the ethical poverty which sees them filling Jails, hospitals, and morgues).
By Hard work and self reliance. Socialism is a scam! A Trap. A complete failure!

Important note: I am not saying Maori people ought to completely forsake their culture. I am saying the Bogus Political Agenda, racial separatism, and its fabrication of a false Renaissance has led Maori down a very dark and deluded path.
And that they must stop following their Evil racist leaders who pretend to have the ordinary Maori’s best interests at heart when in reality they only give a damn about themselves.

God is a Trinity, so is Man.

St Paul. (2Thes5vs23)
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the comming of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

St Paul clearly teaches that we are more than mere Material beings, more than mere machines.
We are Not Robots! We are not Computorised Automations!

Peter Dunne = EPIC FAIL

Quarter past midnight. Central Wellington. Cosmic Corner is OPEN.

“Do you have any synthetic cannabinoids?”


“That haven’t been banned yet?”

“Yes. We have …”

Puff is “mellow.”

K2 is “stronger, lasts longer.” Of the two, I’m told K2 is the most popular.

“It’s $30. Two grams.”

“I’ll buy it. Thank you.”

Yes, I know. If I had any sense, I’d smoke cannabis. Not some novel compound with no history of human use sprayed on some unidentified plant material.

If Peter Dunne had any sense—or even an iota of compassion—he’d legalise cannabis. As a recreational drug user, I have choices. Medicinal cannabis users do not. I’m sick of Dunne, and I’m sick of his gang of thugs who are now actively persecuting members of the medicinal cannabis support group Green Cross, including Billy McKee and Stephen McIntyre (recently deceased).

Just go the hell away, Peter Dunne. Now. And don’t fucking come back.

[Cross-posted to SOLO.]

Hole in the head

Yesterday, I read some good news in the Dominion Post.

Colorado folk go for the gun in wake of Batman massacre

UNITED STATES: The massacre in Colorado has prompted a significant upsurge in the number of people attempting to buy guns in the state, it has emerged, confounding expectations the tragedy would see a backlash over perceived lax gun control in the US.

The number of firearm applications in the state increased by more than 40 per cent following the tragedy, the Denver Post reported, with many residents rushing to buy weapons just hours after the shootings.

But Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, continued his lone crusade against gun legislation in the USA.

Lone crusade? Good. Because more guns less crime. And, as an inset, some even better news.

Void in brain may have saved shooting victim

UNITED STATES: Petra Anderson, a promising young composer and violinist, was among the victims of the Colorado cinema massacre; a shotgun pellet passed through her brain but family members now say she is on course for a miraculous recovery.

The post-graduate student, 22, has undergone major brain surgery but in remarkable signs of progress she has already begun to respond to questions and form mostly one-syllable words.

“Mum,” she was heard to say in the Aurora hospital’s intensive care unit this week.

Her mother, Kim Anderson, said her daughter was expected to make a full recovery despite a shotgun pellet passing through her nasal cavity and making its way all the way through to the back of her skull. Doctors believe the pellet may have left the major centres of her brain unscathed.

“She could have lost all kinds of function if the bullet traversed her brain,” Mrs Anderson said. “I believe that she was not only protected by God, but that she was actually prepared for it.”

Surgeons discovered a void inside her brain and they said it was possible it was a pre-existing channel that may have allowed the pellet to pass by without damaging the tissue.

Brad Strait, a pastor who joined the vigil at Petra’s bedside, said he believed the existence of a void in her head saved her life. “[The pellet] turns slightly several times, and comes to rest at the rear of her brain. And in the process, the bullet misses all the vital areas of the brain,” he said.

Doctors said it was possible to survive gunshot wounds to the brain but victims rarely escape undamaged. For survivors, such as the Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman who was shot last year, the recovery can take years and long-term complications are common.

And the best news of all? Petra lives, but you still get to have an Autopsy!

Politics and the English Language

Politics and the English Language is an essay written by George Orwell in 1946.

Here are some excerpts.

In our time it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing. Where it is not true, it will generally be found that the writer is some kind of rebel, expressing his private opinions and not a “party line.” Orthodoxy, of whatever color, seems to demand a lifeless, imitative style. The political dialects to be found in pamphlets, leading articles, manifestoes, White papers and the speeches of undersecretaries do, of course, vary from party to party, but they are all alike in that one almost never finds in them a fresh, vivid, homemade turn of speech. When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases—bestial atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder—one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker’s spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them. And this is not altogether fanciful. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance toward turning himself into a machine. The appropriate noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved as it would be if he were choosing his words for himself. If the speech he is making is one that he is accustomed to make over and over again, he may be almost unconscious of what he is saying … And this reduced state of consciousness, if not indispensable, is at any rate favorable to political conformity.

The present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and … one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language—and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists—is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:

  1. What am I trying to say?
  2. What words will express it?
  3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
  4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

And he will probably ask himself two more:

  1. Could I put it more shortly?
  2. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?

But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. They will construct your sentences for you—even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent—and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself. It is at this point that the special connection between politics and the debasement of language becomes clear.

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright,

I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so.

Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:

While freely conceding that the Soviet regime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement.

The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as “keeping out of politics.” All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. I should expect to find—this is a guess which I have not sufficient knowledge to verify—that the German, Russian and Italian languages have all deteriorated in the last ten or fifteen years, as a result of dictatorship.

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

The pen is mightier than the sword

Modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy. It is easier—even quicker, once you have the habit—to say

In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that

than to say

I think.

If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don’t have to hunt about for the words; you also don’t have to bother with the rhythms of your sentences since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be more or less euphonious. When you are composing in a hurry—when you are dictating to a stenographer, for instance, or making a public speech—it is natural to fall into a pretentious, Latinized style.

This invasion of one’s mind by ready-made phrases (lay the foundations, achieve a radical transformation) can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one’s brain.

I said earlier that the decadence of our language is probably curable. … There is a long list of flyblown metaphors which could … be got rid of if enough people would interest themselves in the job; and it should also be possible … to reduce the amount of Latin and Greek in the average sentence, to drive out foreign phrases and strayed scientific words, and, in general, to make pretentiousness unfashionable.

If you’ve read this far, then you’re probably chomping at the bit to start applying Orwell’s rules for writing—and thinking!—in clear, fresh, plain language.

Here are a couple of sentences from a well-known political writer.

Language is a code of visual-auditory symbols that serves the psycho-epistemological function of converting abstractions into concretes, or, more precisely, into the psycho-epistemological equivalent of concretes, into a manageable number of specific units.

Art is a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value-judgments.

I leave it as an exercise for the reader to reverse engineer them into plain English.

[Model answers are here.]