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Archive for June, 2008

Europa-Fussballmeisterschaften II

Monday, June 30th, 2008

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Ball verloren, Spiel verloren, aus? Deutschland: Spanien 0:1. Aber immerhin, man hat es ins Finale geschafft. Und: völlig falsch: Deutschland Europa-Vizemeister, Hurra!!

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Fussball-Europameisterschaften

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

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SO HÄTTE ES SEIN KÖNNEN: Allgemeine Verzweiflung: Deutschland ist raus. Aber Gottseidank kam es nicht so: Deutschland: Portugal 3:2. Wollen wir hoffen, dass es so weiter geht. Bis dahin: ist Deutschland da, wo es wirklich zählt, immer noch an der Spitze? Denkt nur an die Wissenschaft, Literatur und Kunst. Vor allem, wie ist es mit dem Stolz auf unsere Sprache?

Siehe auch meine früheren Posts über “Deutsche Dummheit, Deutsche Weisheit”, vor allem No.1.

Berlin!!

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

Aus der New York Times 22 June 2008: “Great opera, food and galleries have made the city the world’s cultural capital.”

http://travel.nytimes.com/2008/06/22/travel/22berlin.html?8dpc

Ich kenne Berlin gut. Irgendwelche Fragen an mich beantworte ich unter “comments”.
I know Berlin well. Any questions directed to me will be answered under “comments”.

The Future Price of Oil? Pick a Number

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

Sydney Morning Herald, June 21-22, 2008.

Some excerpts from

“The future price of oil? Pick a number.”

“The invasion of Iraq cost the world $6 trillion in higher energy prices alone”

“An oil adviser to the World Bank and the UN Industrial Development Organization…”told a British parliamentary committee last month that Iraq had offered the US a deal, three years before the war, that would have opened 10 new giant oil fields on ‘generous’ terms, in return for lifting the sanctions. “This would certainly have prevented the steep rise of the oil price”, he said. “But the US had a different idea. It planned to occupy Iraq and annex its oil.” ”

In this context, in the same newspaper one or two days ago, it was reported that the US was negotiating with the Iraqi government to obtain exclusive oil exploitation rights for some large US companies, without competitive bidding.

One could add that lifting the sanctions would have saved the lives of about half a million children as well.

See previous posts on Iran/Iraq.

Postmodern Philosophy

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

What is postmodern philosophy? Has it a clear meaning? Apparently not, since postmodern philosophers claim that there is no absolute truth in anything. Hence, nothing can be clearly defined.

From Wikipedia:

“Some writers and theorists fear Kalle Lasn’s description of our contemporary society” (Kalle Lasn & Bruce Grierson, A Malignant Sadness, ADBUSTERS #30, June/July 2000):
“Post-modernism is arguably the most depressing philosophy ever to spring from the western mind. It is difficult to talk about post-modernism because nobody really understands it. It’s allusive to the point of being impossible to articulate. But what this philosophy basically says is that we’ve reached an endpoint in human history. That the modernist tradition of progress and ceaseless extension of the frontiers of innovation are now dead. Originality is dead. The avant-garde artistic tradition is dead. All religions and utopian visions are dead and resistance to the status quo is impossible because revolution too is now dead. Like it or not, we humans are stuck in a permanent crisis of meaning, a dark room from which we can never escape.”

So, what is all the fuzz about? One might argue about whether there is truth in many statements about philosophy, religion, ethics, among others, not to mention politics, but is there really no truth in science? . Anyway, what is truth?

Who profits from the Iraq War?

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

From BBC Online June 10, 08:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7444083.stm

“BBC uncovers lost Iraq billions

Waxman: “It may well turn out to be the largest war profiteering in history.
A BBC investigation estimates that around $23bn (£11.75bn) may have been lost, stolen or just not properly accounted for in Iraq.
For the first time, the extent to which some private contractors have profited from the conflict and rebuilding has been researched by the BBC’s Panorama using US and Iraqi government sources.
A US gagging order is preventing discussion of the allegations.
The order applies to 70 court cases against some of the top US companies.”

“While George Bush remains in the White House, it is unlikely the gagging orders will be lifted.”

So, after all, the Iraq invasion has been a success!!! Or are there still doubters around who question the morality of the Iraq invasion? Shame on them!

Malaysia/Vietnam

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Als emeritierter Professor hat man Zeit, sich gründlicher mit politischer Problematik und mit Geschichte (ohne die ein Verständniss der gegenwärtigen Politik kaum möglich ist) zu befassen. Wie macht man das am besten? Meiner Ansicht nach hilft es auf jeden Fall, wenn man sich vor Ort informiert. So war ich kürzlich in Malaysia und Vietnam, um mich an Ort und Stelle mit den gegenwärtigen Entwicklungen vertraut zu machen. Ich lebte 1960 bis 1967 in Malaysia, und habe es in den folgenden Jahren wiederholt besucht, das letzte Mal vor etwa 5-6 Jahren. Mein Vietnambesuch war der erste.

MALAYSIA: Der Fortschritt in Malaysia seit der Unabhängigkeit ist erstaunlich. Ein modernes Autostrassensystem, ein moderner Flughafen, eine aus dem Boden gestampfte neue Hauptstadt (Putrajaya) nicht weit von Kuala Lumpur. 1960 ging die Autofahrt von Singapore nach Kuala Lumpur über eine gewundene enge Strasse durch Gummi- und Ölpalmenplantagen, und zum Teil durch den Dschungel, heute geht das einige Male schneller über eine moderne Autostrasse. Die Fortschritte sind sicherlich zu einem grossen Teil auf die Zukunftsvision und die Energie des letzten Premierministers Dr. Mohammed Mahathir zurückzuführen (der erst kürzlich seinen common sense unter Beweis stellte, als er in London auf einer islamischen Konferenz erklärte, Bush, Blair und Howard sollten als Kriegsverbrecher wegen der Invasion des Iraq vor einen internationalen Gerichtshof gestellt werden).“ Es gab immer Spannungen zwischen den Volksgruppen in Malaysia (Malaien, Chinesen, Inder), die sich 1969 in Rassenkrawallen mit Toten entluden, doch scheinen diese Spannungen seitdem einigermassen unter Kontrolle gehalten worden zu sein. Insgesamt war mein Eindruck sehr positiv, und man kann Malaysia nur das allerbeste für die Zukunft wünschen.

VIETNAM: Mein Besuch beschränkte sich auf Ho Chi Minh City, mit vielen Besuchen verschiedener Museen, von Märkten und einer Wasserpuppen-Vorführung, eine alte vietnamesische Tradition. Ich brachte viel Zeit damit zu, über den Vietnamkrieg nachzulesen und die angelesenen Informationen in Museen zu vertiefen. Die Leute sehr freundlich, intelligent und energisch. Millionen im Vietnamkrieg umgebracht, und Vergiftungen durch die en gros abgeworfenen Herbizide immer noch neu erworben. Wofür das alles? Man lese nach in:

Marc Frey: Geschichte des Vietnamkrieges. Die Tragödie in Asien und das Ende des amerikanischen Traumes. Zweite Auflage Verlag C.H. Beck, München 1999.

Marc Frey ist (oder war) wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Nordamerikaprogramm der Universität Bonn. Seine Hauptarbeitsgebiete sind die amerikanische Zeitgeschichte und die Geschichte der Dekolonisierung in Südostasien.

Leute, die sich mit europäischer Geschichte befassen, lassen andere Gebiete oft völlig ausser Acht. Aber ist es nicht wichtig, die Motive verschiedener Nationen (oder vielmehr ihrer Regierungen) zu verstehen, indem man ihre Handlungen in anderen Gegenden der Erde ebenfalls berücksichtigt? Das erste grosse Morden im 20. Jahrhundert fand wohl im amerikanisch-philippinischen Krieg statt (bis zu einer Million Zivilisten getötet), und der Vietnamkrieg war der am längsten dauernde Krieg des 20. Jahrhunderts, mit weitaus massiveren Flächenbombardierungen als im 2. Weltkrieg.

Übrigens: sowohl in Malaysia wie auch in Vietnam fällt auf, dass junge Menschen das Strassenbild bestimmen (Millionen von kleinen Motorrädern in Ho Chi Minh City, meist mit jungen Leuten! Man braucht so einigen Mut, sich über die Strassen zu wagen). Kommt man dagegen nach Europa oder Australien: weitaus vergreister!

US Wants 58 Bases In Iraq, Shiite Lawmakers Say

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

From the Huffington Post 9.6.08:

McClatchy reports the U.S. is demanding 58 military bases in Iraq as part of a “status of forces” agreement that would allow American troops to remain in Iraq indefinitely:
Iraqi lawmakers say the United States is demanding 58 bases as part of a proposed “status of forces” agreement that will allow U.S. troops to remain in the country indefinitely.
_Leading members of the two ruling Shiite parties said in a series of interviews the Iraqi government rejected this proposal along with another U.S. demand that would have effectively handed over to the United States the power to determine if a hostile act from another country is aggression against Iraq. Lawmakers said they fear this power would drag Iraq into a war between the United States and Iran.
“The points that were put forth by the Americans were more abominable than the occupation,” said Jalal al Din al Saghir, a leading lawmaker from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. “We were occupied by order of the Security Council,” he said, referring to the 2004 Resolution mandating a U.S. military occupation in Iraq at the head of an international coalition. “But now we are being asked to sign for our own occupation. That is why we have absolutely refused all that we have seen so far.”

_The proposed “status of forces” agreement could lead to an uprising in Iraq, according to a leading Iraqi cleric:…..”

Is this what it was about all along? What has Barack Obama to say about this?

See also http://blog.une.edu.au/klausrohde/2008/06/04/throw-down-a-shot-of-liquor-and-bomb-a-country/

The Non-Identity Problem, as Seen by a Postmodern Pop Artist

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

In a previous post I discussed the non-identity problem.

Here I present examples illustrating three aspects of the Problem.

FIRST EXAMPLE: One problem raised in a seminar on the Problem was whether a cat, which – by some as yet undiscovered procedure – would have acquired human mental abilities, should be given the same moral considerations as humans. Look at the pictures: “cats” in the upper and genuine “humans” in the lower row. Aren’t the little “human” cat and her family sweet? After all, the supposed great mental abilities have led to some other, more “human”, changes as well. Do you recognize any significant differences between the two groups except for the bigger ears in the “cats”? Would you agree that, in spite of the big ears, they are as sweet or sweeter than the family in the second row, entirely human derived ? But does this qualify them for humane treatment? What makes a being human? And do only human beings qualify for moral considerations and humane treatment?

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SECOND EXAMPLE: An important assumption of the non-identity problem is “the fact that the identities of those affected by our choices may be altered by the choices we make (that is, different people may come to exist if we make one choice rather than another)”. Quite true, of course, but how many of the perceived changes are indeed the result of intentional actions subject to moral judgments? Look at the possible outcomes of fairly minor genetic alterations:

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Well, how many mutations were involved? – Probably not many, and none of them deliberately induced. And don’t forget: many mutations are pleiotropic, i.e., they cause not a single change, but many. Are all these representatives of possible future generations simply freak accidents in evolution? Which of the types qualifies most for our moral considerations? Which one do we want to populate the future Earth? These freaks cannot even agree on the type of favourite ball game: on the left the most primitive of the games, rugby, on the right one not yet seen in the recent world, but what does it matter: all players seem to be quite happy with their particular toy.

THIRD EXAMPLE: what is the better outcome: 50 billion people on Earth living just above the existence minimum, but most people still better off than if they were non-existent? Or: 10 billion people living a much “happier” existence? Or : Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, even happier? A decision is difficult. If we want to maximise “happiness”, do we chose the greatest “total” happiness (50 or 10 billlion people), or the greatest “average” happiness (Adam and Eve, if they are or were indeed happier). Too complicated for me. I leave the decision to the professor below who is ruminating about the Problem.

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But don’t forget, the decision to limit population numbers may affect you: you or your direct offspring may not be among those chosen to survive!

Throw Down a Shot of Liquor and Bomb a Country

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

About three weeks ago, Hillary Clinton said, when asked what she would do if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons, that the USA could “totally obliterate” Iran if it was foolish enough to do this. Senator Lieberman is an influential democratic Senator and was the Vice-presidential running mate of Al Gore.

I found this in the Huffington Post (14.5.08) under: “Lieberman: Hillary’s Threat To Bomb Iran Has A Certain Appeal To It.”

The extract is taken from an interview on the rightwing “Bill Bennett’s radio show” with senator Lieberman.

“Lieberman whole-heartedly endorsed the ‘appeal’ of the hawkish caricature Bennett had created:

…..

BENNETT: Listen, I give her credit. She (Hillary Clinton) as found her three things. She’s found her voice. He is very much in the background now, it’s not this, you know, ventriloquial thing, it’s definitely her voice.

LIEBERMAN: That’s true.

BENNETT: And Joe, you know, this is my style. This is a girl who puts on her pearls, goes down, throws down a shot of liquor and bombs Iran, you know. This is lookout Mrs. Bennett, this is my kind of girl.

LIEBERMAN: Hehehe, it does have an appeal to it.”

……….

This reinforces my view about the US elections. Click here.

See also here.