Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Lucia Trump vs Truth

Source: John Oliver Takes Out Cable News Ads to Introduce Trump to the Truth ~ Slate

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lucia NZQA out of control - trying to change the Maths curriculum [UPDATE 2]

A controversial Question Two (e) from 2016 Day 2 Level One Algebra Exam - the MCAT
Last month’s NCEA Level One Algebra exam hit the news in a big way, with children upset over its difficulty, and teachers and parents outraged that the exam was not reflective of what the students were taught. (See NZQA slammed over ‘far too difficult’ maths exam – students left in tears)

Over the intervening weeks, letters sent to NZQA and to Hekia Parata, and the responses to those letters have been aggregated on this page: 2016 MCAT Feedback. They make for very interesting reading. A number of them contain detailed analyses of the questions that were set at too high a level for NCEA One.

A letter has just appeared today that was sent by Rhona Lever to Hekia Parata (PDF link), the lead writer of the controversial Algebra standard, that explains how NZQA and/or the Ministry of Education are out of control and seeking to impose their own curriculum ideas outside of the normal processes when it comes to Mathematics. She totally demolishes the excuses of NZQA that the exam represented more of an alignment to the standard itself.  This response from NZQA to one of the many complaints directed towards them is what inspired her to write:

"It is clear from the feedback that the communication processes we used in 2015 and 2016 to convey the changes to align the assessment to the standard were not adequate ....." (Quote from letter from Kristine Kilkelly to Craig Bradley at Rangi Ruru Girls' School, 11 October, 2016)

Rhona Lever's opening salvo to the statement above was:

I strongly disagree with the implication that the changes have been made to align the assessment to the standard. I was the leader of the group that wrote this standard and am in a position to state categorically that this 2016 examination was not moving towards the intention of the standard but was actually moving away from it, and constitutes a deliberate attempt to change the standard.
Her whole letter continues in the same vein and deserves to be read and absorbed in full by all interested parties, and I hope that Hekia Parata doesn't just send it on to NZQA for them make their normal excuses. Because so far, all that seems to have happened with complaints sent to Hekia Parata is that they have been forwarded to NZQA who say they cannot respond to specifics on the types of questions in the exam until all the NCEA exams are over and the results sent out.  This letter from Rhona Lever ought to generate a more than just a passing of the buck to NZQA who cannot be trusted to investigate themselves.

UPDATED 25 Oct, 16: Unbelievable! Rhona Lever's letter was passed over to NZQA who barely read it if their reply is anything to go by.

UPDATED 28 Oct, 16: Hekia Parata to stand down after election, announced the day after this post and RNZ noticing the above letter (see Maths teacher who wrote national standard says exam was "disastrous".) Coincidence? I thought so at the time, but now I'm not so sure, hence this update.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Lucia Islamic Terrorism in the West - who benefits?

Russian embassy uses Nice attack to slam NATO

"Terrorist attack in Nice - another wake up call to join efforts in fighting real threat, not NATO-devised phantoms," said the Russian Embassy in Canada Friday morning.

This terrorist attack in France occurred just days after the NATO conference in Warsaw, Poland: Warsaw: A Very Big Deal

So it's a whole new NATO.

Despite Brexit and despite lingering divisions over whether to confront or engage Russia, the transatlantic alliance took some big steps forward at a landmark summit this week in Warsaw.

"We face a serious problem in a revanchist Kremlin and this summit has done an excellent job of addressing it," John Herbst, director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council and a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, said during a panel discussion at the Warsaw Summit Experts' Forum.

By agreeing to deploy multinational military forces to the Baltic states and eastern Poland, NATO has moved from the reassurance of its allies to the deterrence of its adversaries.

Boots on the ground -- particularly American, Canadian, British, and German boots -- should put to rest any lingering doubts that the alliance is prepared to defend its most vulnerable members against a potential attack by Russia.

So, why attack France? Probably because France is a major nuclear power and could do what Britain has just done with Brexit - follow the extreme right in reaction to fear of immigrants and terrorism. France has been wavering as well, over the sanctions on Russia, over not being able to sell massive warships to Russia.

It's all a bit of a major coincidence, in my mind, the timing of this terrorist attack.

Some follow-up reading:
How Russia Manipulates Islamic Terrorism ~ Kyle Orton
Russia Is Sending Jihadis to Join ISIS - Micheal Weiss
The Kremlin's Hidden Cyber Hand - John Schindler
How the Kremlin Manipulates Europe’s Refugee Crisis - John Schindler
What if everything you know about Terrorism is Wrong ~ John Schindler

Note the argument on terrorism from the pro-Russia side:
To prevent terrorism we must lift EU sanctions against Russia ~ Rachida Dati, and other mostly French politicians.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Fletch Film Shows Experience of Three Gays On Journey Back To Church

I watched a very good film yesterday online, called Desire of the Everlasting Hills. It is about three people with homosexual desire and their journey to (or back to) the Catholic Church. It is well worth watching.

Here is a brief synopsis -
Here are three intimate and candid portraits of Catholics who try to navigate the waters of self-understanding, faith, and homosexuality:

Dan, a gregarious artist who spent his life hiding a deep sense of isolation from those who loved him;

Rilene, a successful businesswoman who realized that twenty-five years with her partner did not provide the fulfillment she had hoped for;

and Paul, an international model who, after a life of self-indulgence, found grace in the last place he expected.

Desire of the Everlasting Hills

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fletch A Response To Brian Eno Regarding Israel

I notice That Brian Eno has written an article for the left-leaning Salon criticizing Israel's part in a "swag bag" of gifts given to Oscar nominees. (A five-star luxury trip to Israel for every nominee in the main acting and directing categories. The trip is sponsored by the Israeli government.).

He takes a swing at Israel using the usual tropes and arguments. I thought I'd reply in the comment section of the article, but for some reason my comments do not show up (Wonder why, ey?).

So I am reprinting my response below.

 I'm sorry Brian, but your article is coming from a place of ignorance. Let me just touch on a few points. You say that Israel is a great country "for at least half of its inhabitants". Actually, unlike pretty much every other country in the Middle East, everyone in Israel has the same rights, be they male or female, gay or straight, Jew or Christian or Muslim. Arabs even serve in the Knesset, Israel's parliament. Isreal is an island of democracy in the Middle East.

For instance, try coming out as gay in Iran and you'll most likely be hung or thrown from the top of a building (and stoned if the fall doesn't kill you). In just one example, Payam Feili, an openly gay Iranian poet, is seeking asylum in Israel. He was imprisoned in Iran over his sexuality before and faces a potential death sentence if he were to return home.

As far as the Palestinian "refugees"... do you know that just as many Jews were forced from Arab lands at the end of the 1940s? Almost a million Jews who lived in Arab lands were forced out. And do you know what happened to them all? Israel took them all in. The surrounding Arab countries could just as easily have taken in all the "Palestinian" refugees, but they did not want to. They wanted to use them to create sympathy for their cause and they are still doing so.

As far as the peace process, Palestine has rejected plans multiple times. For instance, in the year 2000, Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians virtually everything they had been demanding, including a state with its capital in Jerusalem, control over  the Temple Mount, a return of approximately 95 percent of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip, and a $30 billion compensation package for the 1948 refugees.  Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, who was serving as an intermediary among the parties, urged Arafat to “take this deal.” Could you ever get “a better deal”? he asked. Would you rather negotiate with Sharon? As Arafat vacillated, Bandar issued a stern warning: “I hope you remember, sir, what I told you. If we lose this opportunity, it is going to be a crime.” But he walked away.

Then in 2008, the then Israeli PM presented Abbas with a map, that with land swaps, gave them almost 100% of the land of West Bank and Gaza prior to the June 1967 war. He also offered to divide Jerusalem to allow them to have their capital in the eastern half of the city. Guess what? They refused again. He walked out with the map and was never seen again.

Notwithstanding that Israel totally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, leaving a thriving greenhouse business for the new population to jumpstart their economy. What did they do? They smashed all the greenhouses and elected Hamas, leading to the lobbing of bombs at Israel.

Israel has bent over backwards for the peace process. They have always been willing to exchange land for peace as they did in 1979 when they signed a peace treaty with Egypt, totally withdrawing from the Sinai.

I'm sorry, but the Palestinians don't want a two-state solution, and they don't want peace. They want Israel destroyed. Open your eyes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Lucia Cold War 2.0 (VICE on HBO: Season 3, Episode 14)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

ZenTiger Lying a form of free speech

When a society does not value truth, it follows that immorality becomes the norm, and the values that holds society together - trust, honesty, respect and integrity disappear. There are many stories reflecting my concern. Recently, the complete misreporting of Susan Devoy's comments about Christmas was compounded by the media who, on the same pages as they corrected the mis-reporting, were still posting opinion pieces of outrage from their own reporters, pretending the truth didn't matter.  Why waste a story, even if built on lies?

This post I came across, where the US Federal Court maintains wearing war medals never earned, expressly worn to misrepresent a persons history, is just another form of free speech. Essentially, they maintain intent to deliberately lie or commit fraud is free speech.

These judges have forgotten that free speech only exists in a society that values truth, because free speech should be a counter to poisonous ideas, lies and the misuse of power. Now, it seems, free speech is just another vehicle for mocking truth.
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court on Monday tossed out a veteran's conviction for wearing military medals he didn't earn, saying it was a form of free speech protected by the Constitution.

US Court Says wearing unearned medals is free speech

Friday, December 18, 2015

Fletch Star Wars: The Force Awakens - My Spoiler-Filled Review


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Lucia Russia Lies - Boris Schumatsky

Peasant kissing a soldier of the "Army of Liberation" on a Soviet propaganda poster issued after the joint Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland.

A while back I tweeted the link below as a means to have a way of storing and sharing important pieces of information. After tweeting for a while, I've found that Twitter is not a good way of accessing stored information, that the blog does this far better.

So here is Russia is a Lie, by Boris Schumatsky. It's important to keep what you read in mind whenever Russia says anything. So many people whom I thought would have known better have been taken in by Putin because they trust what they are reading.

The greatest difficulty in dealing with Russia is this: Russia lies. This blanket assertion sounds like a slogan from the Cold War, and yet it's the only one that does justice to reality. ... Today not only do I write that the country of my birth has become an empire of lies, but that Russia itself is a lie.

...only one thing matters: who is strong enough to impose his truth on his opponent. Putin actually has nothing against NATO, he had initially wanted to join it himself. Now he only claims the right to do the same as all big players of geopolitics in his opinion do, the right to betray and murder. Vladimir Putin and his followers didn't encounter these rules by reading philosophical texts. They learned them on the streets.

... The Putinist only believes in one thing: lying as a way of life. Whoever grew up, like Vladimir Putin or I, in a large Soviet city learned this already at primary school. You get surrounded by a group of bullies. One of them says: "you ratted me out to the teacher", although it's the first time you see him. If you say "that's not true" you get beaten up immediately. If you apologise you will first be mocked. And then beaten.

Cries of victimhood coupled with a clenched fist is not an unknown gesture. Putin's Russia, which jumps into the ring like a world power, complains about Western intrigues. The Kremlin is well aware of the weaknesses of the Russian state, its economy and its military. But in a street-fight one hides one's weaknesses. Your opponent should think you are strong. Your opponent should piss his pants. He should believe that if he doubts your lie you'll punch his teeth out. He can de-escalate, as politicians the world over have been trying with Putin. He can call out: 'Peace!' - with the effect that you will also shout 'Peace!' - and then strike.

If the victim doesn't defend himself against the lies he also won't defend himself against the violence. He will be beaten up, and the attacker has already won from the moment that his victim didn't call him a liar.

Needless to say Russia isn't a nation of thugs who ruthlessly shoot down passenger planes. Needless to say there is another Russia - more than one in fact. But the diversity of Russia has been banished into internal and external exile. As long as the illusion holds, the millions of potato farmers, mathematics teachers, bank cashiers or publishing editors can achieve just as little politically as those who, like me, have left Russia. Only one voice is now heard in Russia. It is the voice of the collective Putin which leaves you speechless.

...The postmodern concept of plurality of truth is being riddled with bullets in Ukraine. Putin is imposing a return to reality. Realpolitik is being displaced by the real, by the old-fashioned adventure of naming things. The luxury of relative truths and devalued values is gone. In Russia the lies have triumphed once again, and once again only simple, black-and-white language does justice to this drama. Solzhenitsyn wrote it thus: "Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence".

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Lucia Airport Donetsk

I've just watched Airport Donetsk, the short documentary film above. It's basically interviews with Russian separatists (Russian military) and with surviving Ukrainian armed forces who battled each other at the airport, with the Russians ultimately winning.

There are some gruesome scenes of injured and/or dead bodies, and one particularly awful scene of Russian soldiers forcing captured Ukrainian soldiers to eat their Ukrainian flags cut off their uniforms. One can only imagine what happened next to those soldiers.

I'm left feeling quite numb after watching it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Lucia MH-17 Report and attempts to cover up the cause of the crash

It's finally out, the Dutch investigation into the MH-17 passenger plane crash in Ukraine last year, the crash that many believe was a deliberate targeting of the flight by pro-Russian rebels.  Not that they believed they were aiming for a plane full of civilians when they fired, but that they thought the plane was a Ukrainian military plane of the type they had shot down before.  It was only when the debris came to earth that they realised their terrible error.

Anyway, the Dutch report does not conclusively say who and why, but only what, in that it was a Russian-made surface to air missile, a BUK, that took down the plane and killed everyone on board, fired from rebel controlled territory in Ukraine.

What's even more interesting is how persons unknown made efforts to cover up causes of disaster:

The report by the Dutch safety board said that more than 120 objects, “mostly metal fragments”, were found in the body of the first officer, who had sustained “multiple fractures”. When Dutch experts identified the captain’s body they found it had already “undergone an external and internal examination to remove foreign objects”.

Despite apparent attempts to remove shrapnel, “hundreds of metal objects were found”, the report said, as well as bone fractures and other injuries.

Among the fragments of missile shrapnel examined, two were in the shape of a bow tie, which the Dutch board found to be characteristic of a particular type of Buk missile warhead. However, the Russian manufacturer had earlier denied that any such fragments were found, and insisted an older Buk model was used, one that was no longer in service in the Russian armed forces.

However (from Dutch Report: MH17 Downed By Buk Surface-To-Air Missile):

Nick de Larrinaga, Europe Editor for IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, noted that Russia has put forth differing claims, including а Russian Defense Ministry claim that Ukrainian Su-25 jet shot down the plane.

He also dismissed Russian assertions about the 9M38 or 9M38M1 missiles, saying evidence showed both were in service and in Russian military stockpiles as of July 2014.

In other words, the both new and older type of BUK was still in service as of July 2014, when MH-17 was shot down.

When it comes down to it, with all the various theories and denials put forth by Russia, we should take the following into account:

"It is worth remembering that Russia has a long history of disinformation over its involvement in Ukraine, initially the country denied its troops had invaded Crimea -- something Russia now acknowledges was the case," Larrinaga said.​

Indeed. See also, How Dutch Investigators Rebuffed Russia’s Alternative MH17 Theories

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fletch The New Zealand Flag, Choice, and the Illusion of Free Will

The four flag choices.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you'll know that we here in New Zealand are having a referendum early next year on whether to change our national flag - that is, of course, after a separate referendum to decide on what the design of the new flag should actually be.  In other words, it's being done backwards, as though the decision for change had already been made. And I think that was the intent. Otherwise, why not ask first if people want a change, before wasting time and effort asking for design submissions and whittling them down to a final four? Perhaps they know damn well that when people are asked straight up, as they have been in the past, they don't want a new flag.

If it must be done in this order, why not just have the one referendum (saving time and expense), and include the current flag as the fifth option? Will they, at some stage, perhaps decide not to have the second referendum regarding the choice between the new and current flags? I wouldn't be surprised.

My feeling is that this is a savvy marketing campaign to change the flag. By having people actively engaged in the process of making a selection, they are planting the seed of the idea in our brains that a new flag is needed. By having the option of the four new flags to choose from in the referendum but not the current one, they are offering the illusion of choice. People are happy if they believe that have control over their own actions and can exercise free will, but is having to choose between four options you don't want any choice at all? It's a Morton's Fork choice (eg, between a rock and a hard place, or between two things, neither of which you really want).

As I said, by doing it this way - back-to-front - it gives the illusion that the people are being consulted and involved in the decision, but it's really only in certain decisions.

Why do I have the feeling that, ultimately, we don't have any choice in the matter at all?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lucia Let the boys park their cars on school grounds!

I am amazed at how many people voted against letting the pupils from Christ's College park their cars in an empty lot that is adjacent to the college and is college owned. What is wrong with people?? At the time of my voting, a massive 72% of those who voted did not think that the boys should be able to park on a piece of empty ground next the college. It's empty, what is the harm? Seriously, if it were a group of teachers that needed the car parking, I bet there would be no problem.

The school headmaster and those 72% should read the late Celia Laslie's book: He'll Be Ok: Growing Gorgeous Boys Into Good Men for help. By the time boys are year 13, they need to be treated more like adults than children - something schools have a lot of trouble with. Of course, I don't know if the boys campaigning are year 13, but even if they are not, the opposition to allowing the boys to park on empty school grounds seems petty and vindictive and unreasonable.

Related link: Christ's College students to 'face repercussions' over car park campaign

Friday, August 7, 2015

Lucia Daily Vertical - Putin's Propaganda Fail

Brian Whitmore talks about the recent international Pew Research that shows that despite spending half a billion dollars on getting their message out to the world, Russia and Putin are considered far less favourably in most countries that were surveyed.

This just goes to show that no matter what countries or people say, their actions speak louder than their words. Colin Craig should take note.

Related links: The Daily Vertical: Russia's Propaganda Fail Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
Russia, Putin Held in Low Regard around the World ~ Pew Research Centre

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lucia Colin Craig threatens to sue for defamation

Oh dear. As my oldest son said, doesn't he realize this will just keep all that stuff alive that he'd rather people forget???

In the interests of keeping myself out of Craig's cross-hairs (he's suing Cameron Slater and John Stringer for more than Jordan Williams, because the first two are BLOGGERS!) - all I'll say here is that all of this will (is backfiring) backfire on Craig.

Any respect from this side of the political divide that might have been given him because of what he was trying to do with the Conservative Party is now totally gone.

Related link: Hilarious booklet on the allegations of defamation