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Thread: Oh my God!

  1. #241
    Fung Koo and the rest:

    A quick follow-up to the link I'd posted earlier about the "new and improved" Declaration of Human Rights.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion...e-1608059.html

    Be afraid.

    I sure as hell am.

  2. #242
    I sure as hell am.

    And to pre-emp anyone, that was just an expression. If anybody has a mind to smugly tell me I wouldn't be afraid if I was sure of God, then my answer is: you've just stated the whole problem.

  3. #243
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Interesting editorial, and certainly a valid point. This has caused a brain fart:

    I think the answer to the thwarting of the UDHR is to define the Sovereignty of Nations (which the UN must necessarily uphold -- it is called the United Nations, after all) similarly to the way we define corporations. Namely: A Sovereign Nation = A Person.

    Then, the UN should link the UDHR to Sovereignty. If a Member Nation wishes to have the right to speak freely before the Assembly, that nation must uphold the principles of the UDHR for individual citizens of their own and other Member Nations.

    Any Member Nation not abiding by the UDHR is therefore denied sovereignty, and therefore denied a vote in UN proceedings. By extension, any nation not abiding by the UDHR is not a nation (as far as the UN is concerned), and therefore not a member of the UN.

    Whaddya think???

    And then, to really hammer the value of individual rights home, I think that all Member Nations of the UN should get to vote in all other Member Nations' elections. I mean, if we're really defending individual rights and free speech, while also recognizing sovereignty in the international community, what else can we do?

    If a sovereign nation is treated as an individual under international law, and membership to the UN is meant to promote participation in global human affairs, then each Member Nation should be considered a citizen of every other Member Nation. What better way to acknowledge sovereignty? Thus, there will be a "citizen" of Canada called "India" and a "citizen" of India called "Canada." Whatever the organization of the political system, each individual nation gains one vote in that Member Nation's political system.

    Thus, Canada could cast a ballot in India's elections, and India could cast a ballot in Canada's. What's one teeny tiny ballot? Not much in many systems, but as a symbolic gesture it could be quite powerful.

    It would also, I think, be a powerful demonstration of the opinion of the international community. In most cases, we're talking no more than 100 votes. But in situations of stalemate, the opinion of the international community could hold dramatic sway over the domestic outcome. This would also serve the added benefit of exposing politically allied nations, visibly showing where vested interests lie.

    It would also pave the way for a unified approach to the problems of globalization. If Canada and Mexico both voted for McCain, but the people chose Obama, American citizens would thus be informed of the opinion of their neighbours in NAFTA. International opinion -- not just domestic opinion -- of trade issues and foreign policy (amongst other things) could be cast into the ballot box.

    If individual rights are truly important, I think we have to find a way to make individual rights apply to Collectives. Collectives have been made accountable for defending individual rights, yet Collectives are also what take those rights away. If we can make the sovereignty of that most traditional of Collectives, The Nation, beholden to the value of individual rights by recognizing The Nation as an individual in the international community and the globalized economy and empowering them as such, then it becomes the vested interest of all Member Nations to uphold individual rights.

    And here's the kicker: The UN would fall apart if everyone got psycho about this and spent all their time accusing each other of Human Rights violations (which might not be a bad thing, anyway). If all the Member Nations were somehow denied sovereignty, the UN would become irrelevant (which might already be true, anyway). Thus, it also becomes the vested interest of Member Nations to uphold the Sovereignty of ALL nations by promoting individual rights to prevent the collapse of the very system that empowers them.

    It also becomes ridiculous to try to change the UHDR into a less "offensive" document (ie -- limit freedoms), because as freedoms are removed from the document, Nations would become decreasingly powerful within the UN. As individuals, they too are beholden to the strictures imposed by the UDHR (also making the notion of "rights" all the more palpable when measured with "strictures").

    So if some Religious Fundamentalists want to stop some Atheists from being allowed to question their beliefs by modifying the UDHR, and enough people in the UN agree (as is their right with the existing UDHR), then that rule must apply to all -- including those who wished the limit imposed. So religion is off the table. Religious Fundamentalists may no longer talk about Atheists. As such, all Member Nations must immediately cease all discussion of any religious issues, period. Any not abiding by the rule will be denied Sovereignty.

    To limit another is thus to limit one's self.

    More control = less power. Less control = more power.

    Build in the contradiction, and the system maintains itself at the balance point.

    ---

    Ok... pipe dream, for sure. But whaddya think?

  4. #244
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    I like it but I do have one question:
    the UN would become irrelevant (which might already be true, anyway).
    What would make it relevant?
    At present, it operates a set of agencies dedicated to making conditions better for oppressed people all over the world operating to some degree of success or not. I particularly admire the current success of the http://www.un.org/womenwatch/directo...women_3009.htm.
    The UN also presents a forum for folk to present complaints that may or may not be acted upon by one, some or all nations, e.g., if you're a pirate, you're probably not going to get much support. OTOH, if you are strong enough, you won't care if you get any support. You'll just laugh and go on to the next complaint.
    But some folk think positive thoughts that at least they're talking about issues. Talking sometimes means that the parties are not fighting but not always. They've been talking a long time about the Middle East. Seems to me that basic tenets of industrial psychology must apply: you can't assign responsibility for something if you do not also assign commensurate authority. Since no nation willingly abdicates its own authority, the only time the UN acts is when the Security Council abrogates the authority of an individual nation to impose its own solution to whatever problem exists. The Security COuncil hasn't got around to addressing the human rights of women. As far as I can tell, it's not yet on their agenda of important topics for discussion.

    Some folk think the Security Council is a bad thing and should be eliminated referring every issue to the General Assembly. Ignoring the counter that such a strategy would handcuff the organization and eliminate any chance of rapid response to any situation - which may or may not be true - I cannot see the haves abdicating power to the have nots. The first vote against a have would bring the organization crashing down.

    So, what would make the UN relevant?

  5. #245
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Certainly not world economics, as we clearly see now.

    Do we really need the UN any longer? I was always a strong believer in the institution. But I'm not a believer in much any more, least of all an organization that seems so 'besides the point'.

    The illusion of leadership and smart people solving our problems is being shattered each and every day. We really don't know how things work or why things go wrong. There's a hidden chemistry that spins us all out of control.

  6. #246
    Master Obfuscator Dawnstorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner View Post
    The illusion of leadership and smart people solving our problems is being shattered each and every day.
    Actually, that's never been a big issue with me. I supported and still support the existance of UN, even if I'm more often than not unhappy with their decisions. The "problem solving gestures", to me, were always more a sort of social noise - an acting out of values, if you will. Something akin to psychodrama. What would we lose if we lost the UN? IMO, we'd lose an important diplomatic tool; a tangible representation of the thought that we're supposed to communicate. To me, it's always been a symbolic reminder of the idea that "peace is nice".

    Paradoxically, this still works for me when I'm cursing their decisions. There are plenty of things I'm not that hot on, such as the "top 5 members" (USA, UK, France, China, Russia) which seem a bit outdated (what about Japan and Germany? Perhaps Australia and India?)

    I do think that the UN still functions as a counter-weight to the us vs. them mentality. A bit like a chaperon's shadow. Make sure you behave. A bit of functional hypocracy to help you tide over your most rabid moments. Things like that.

    I've never really thought this through properly, so I'm probably not making much sense. And I'm an odd cookie anyway, it seems.

    So, yeah, let's keep the UN, even if it means that we have something else to curse at than our immediate oponents.

  7. #247
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Sorry to seem to keep picking on you, Gary, but I'm not sure I follow...

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner View Post
    Certainly not world economics, as we clearly see now.
    The UN has no authority over world economics -- it's role with respect to economics is primarily in reporting. Watching, and providing descriptive analysis. The various groups responsible for watching the economy of the world in the UN had been aware of the possibility of impending economic collapse for some time. But they have no authority -- no force -- to enact any of its suggestions. And deliberately so -- the UN was designed to be that way. So I'm not sure I understand the objection...

    Do we really need the UN any longer?
    Well that depends -- what did we need it for in the first place? Is that need fulfilled?

    I was always a strong believer in the institution. But I'm not a believer in much any more, least of all an organization that seems so 'besides the point'.
    I always thought that the point of the UN was to be beside the point...

    That's why the UN has no military of its own, and no domestic authority within the apparatus of its member nations. It's a group you choose to belong to because you (mostly) believe in its ideals, and aspire to live by them. But it has no authority to punish you should you stray, because it was your choice to join or stray in the first place.

    The illusion of leadership and smart people solving our problems is being shattered each and every day. We really don't know how things work or why things go wrong. There's a hidden chemistry that spins us all out of control.
    Personally, I think we all have very, very good ideas of how and why things do and don't work and go right or wrong. The trouble we have is agreeing on the way those ideas are phrased, and agreeing on a solution. In NAFTA alone -- nevermind the UN -- there are over 400 million voices being distilled into ONE action, ONE policy. How do you do that?

    That, I think, is the "hidden chemistry" you refer to -- democratic dilution. This sentiment you're expressing -- the idea that individual leaders should somehow be responsible -- is actually counter-democratic. We solve our problems in a democracy -- not our leaders. Our leaders are beholden to us. They are meant to represent our ideals, even though those ideals have been diluted.

    I suspect it's not the faith in leadership you're finding shattered so much as it's the process by which we obtain those leaders (who only seem to reflect back our own social indecision).

    And remember that UN delegates are, by and large, appointed rather than elected. Crucial difference -- they're appointed to an organization that is deliberately powerless. So I'm not sure it makes any sense to have one's faith in leadership shattered by the non-actions of non-leaders...

  8. #248
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Fung, Fung, Fung, Fung, Fung.........

    What a difficult person you must be. I didn't say not smart, just difficult.

    I'm certain that you read everything with the intent of finding a reason to disagree.

    I can't say that I didn't read things in a similar fashion when I was studying and in graduate school. There's a real point to reading with a critical eye. But this isn't school. And sometimes you just need to chill.

  9. #249
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner View Post
    What a difficult person you must be. I didn't say not smart, just difficult.
    Going a bit below the belt there, Gary.

    This is a very difficult topic. We've also recently "fought," as it were, and I suspect you're reading some angst into my post that isn't there. I'm deliberately not responding to your post re: the holocaust, as it is evidently a fruitless discussion. I was merely seeking clarification as to the rationale behind your comments about the UN, and correspondingly provided my understanding to demonstrate the nature of my confusion, and for comparison/contrast for your response.

    I'm certain that you read everything with the intent of finding a reason to disagree.
    I disagree.


  10. #250
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    We really don't know how things work or why things go wrong.
    That may be the most profound statement you've written, GW. We go along in a comfort zone believing we understand what is happening around us when, in truth, we have little clue. But, we do have strategies we've developed over time to allow us to pick and choose what information out there we think has the best chance of being accurate. We sort and sift everyday to be able to navigate the world around us. Sorting and sifting is a messy process and, when we finally must confront how much we don't understand, how much we've relied on others to manage aspects of our lives, the sudden insight is a shock to the system and oft times debilitating.
    Some friends once informed me that a sense of being in control is always an illusion. In the 40 years since they made that remark, I've discovered it carries a great deal of truth.

  11. #251
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Another one I've heard that I thought was very good (sage advice from my grade 7 teacher): What you know is what you know. What she knows is what she knows. What he knows is what he knows. Real knowledge is knowing what links all that together and what doesn't, and being OK with that.

    I stand by what I said before -- It's not that we don't know and it's not that we can't ever figure things out. We all have ideas and answers and knowledge and opinions, and we're all missing pieces, too. We just have trouble agreeing on any of it. Two people with access to the exact same information will still find a way to disagree, and challenge each other to determine who is more right. But the real knowledge is what's in between -- How does what you know relate to what I know? How does what I know relate to what you know?

    Another piece of sage advice from Mr. Wyman: Intelligent people are a dime a dozen. Smart people will cost you a buck.

    Then he made us do the math and figure out the ratio of smart people to intelligent people. And then he made us do it for a baker's dozen. Classic guy, Mr. Wyman

  12. #252
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Hey RAD (et al): Here's another free speech article.

    http://www.metronews.ca/ottawa/comment/article/187151

  13. #253
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    You know, HE, I believe that more and more as I get older. Just look at what's going on in the world economy. And no one really has any idea what happened or why. We suspect we know, but we really don't. Each explanation, no matter how technical or how elementary, falls short of really explaining just what's happened. And no one know what to do to fix the mess. It seems as if free-fall has taken on a life of its own. Chicken and egg, chicken and egg, chicken and egg. Save profits, reduce overhead, lay off people - spend money, increase expenses, hire people.

    Meanwhile, where in hell did all these trillions of dollars disappear to? If they simply changed hands, then someone's sitting on a very large pile of cash. If it's gone, then was it ever there to begin with? Or is it all perception? And was it all perception all along?

    We look for causes, tipping points. And all we discover is moments in time when we came to realize things, or the press decided to broadcast things so we focused on them.

    Things are not in our control, and we don't know why things happen, how the systems function, and why they stop. We're really very ignorant. And that scares everyone, when they come to realize it. We run to find experts and we deluge ourselves with explanations and commentary, because if we can find a reason, then we can reconcile and reach closure.

    Everything's a quest for God.

  14. #254
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    The problem I have with this point of view is that it's self-reinforcing and self-defining. That is, if our sense of knowledge and control is illusory, then doesn't it follow that our sense of a lack of control and knowledge is likewise illusory?

    It seems to me that ruling in favour of doubt is just the same kind of illusion as ruling in favour of knowledge and control. Neither one can be completely true -- they're mutually exclusive if true. Isn't it more the case that neither control nor doubt should be overemphasized, but rather each recognized as playing a role in a dynamic, evolving process?

  15. #255
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    Ah, the middle road, hedgehopper!
    Chaos theory as the only practical explanation for the way the world operates: buried deep in all disorder lies order; likewise buried deep in order is disorder. Yin and yang, good and evil, night and day.
    Implies, does it not, that all accumulated knowledge carries within it the seeds for overthrowing said knowledge.
    Or, as you like to say, FK: averages. In order to acquire an average you must have two extremes. When your average POV veers slightly one way or the other, the source of refutation grows more likely till it reaches a point of certainty.
    To visualize this, transform The Ohio State Leadership Quadrant by naming the upper right and lower left quadrants certainty and doubt. Then, name the upper left and lower right reliability and bullshite. Now, any statement can be plotted as a function of a point in time with resulting plots resembling ever increasing coils.
    Adhering to a single point, a single space-time instantiation will render a person out of step with the world around him as the point is always in movement. In order to keep current, every statement must be modified over time.

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