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Argument or name calling?

And now we seen the end of yet another week which can be characterised as more of the same. The early part of the week I overcame a couple of little problems with my new computer. I also learnt more about running a Linux computer as I overcame these problems. And in case you were wondering, more work on my thesis.

Sunday, I went to the footy with Dad. It was an exciting games as Melbourne won by just over a goal to make the finals. 4 wins and they win the flag! Dad was going to drop me off at the station so that I could go home. We got out of the ground well, only to be stuck for 10 minutes by police controlling the traffic. More accurately, we were stopped without moving at all for 10 minutes. It was a disgraceful bit of policework, and, judging by the frustrated looks of other drivers, they weren't doing much to promote calm, safe driving. A little bit of commonsense goes a long way. After 10 minutes, Dad did a U-turn and went a different way.

After being too late to make it to Spencer St station on time, Dad dropped me off at Sunshine station. 15 minutes late, but, fortunately for me, the train was 20 minutes late. V-line at its best. I was lucky. Others were ticked. As a post-script, I went into uni on Thursday, and, coming home, the train was 10 minutes late. Isn't V-line wonderful!

Wednesday night, we played beach volleyball again. There was some definite improvement. We almost won a set - we were just an errant net cord away. Oh well. We had fun.

Thursday, I went into uni. It was the usual mix of catching up with people, politics, work that there usually is. I had a drink with Guido, who I had commented on his blog on the relative merits of Soccer and Aussie Rules. His was a good article well worth a read. It was quite pleasant covering a wide range of topics. (My favourite!)

He recommended I read Antony Loewenstein's blog for something a little different to my normal political views. I read through a few posts, and quite frankly, I am unimpressed. I played the "have an argument with strongly left-wing people" game when I was an undergrad. It was fun for a time, but it does get tiresome. Part of the reason is that there is no appreciation of other viewpoints, and part of the reason is that quite often name calling replaces argument.

He bills himself as a Jew who doesn't believe in the concept of a Jewish state. Fine, his right. What troubles me is that his posts are full of statements such as "vitriolic, bigoted, racist and downright pathetic" and "gutless" rather than actually delving into any issue in any real depth. He may well have some valid points. He probably has some which I would enjoy discussing with him. I don't fancy the prospects of wading through his belittling of those with opposing viewpoints to try to uncover something resembling an argument.

I frequently disagree with both Andrew Bolt's articles and Dick Cheney's policies. But is it good argument to refer to Bolt as "Murdoch and pro-war lapdog" or Cheney as "the Prince of Darkness"? Let's face it, most people who would read Loewenstein would be familiar with both Bolt and Cheney, and would be able to guess fairly easily what his views on these individuals would be. What does he gain by using insulting language? Does he strengthen his argument? Is putting down someone who expresses a different view to his as "A little too complex difference for you, but there you go..." and backs someone suggesting someone else should be told to "piss off and get your own blog." with "Wouldn't that be great? Rather than wasting our time... Still, it's amusing to read people who can't see a world other than one ruled and abused by a man named Bush. Good for a laugh..." really constructive?

I will confess that I occasionally fall into the trap of belittling others rather than tackling the issue at hand, but I try not to. Ultimately, if I put forward a viewpoint (even one I disagree with), I want to discuss the issue. I don't see any value in alienating people with opposite viewpoints. Besides name-calling is rude and ill-mannered, and, I don't believe that it is conducive to a functioning society. It is just another form of oppression and subjugation.

Ok, rant over. Now I think I'll present a different story to the one I usually do. See if you can pick it.

For many years, the people of the East were ruled by a rather nasty individual who was constantly derided with epithets such as "wicked" and a "witch". While she was making a tour of one of her domains, trying to quell some local civil unrest, some rebels, armed and sponsored by the CIA in an imperialist plot to install a puppet administration, succeed in assassinating the ruler. In the ensuing chaos following "Operation Cyclone" the elite division, led by Gen. Dorothy, then support an invasion from the north.

After setting up the North's occupation of the East, Gen. Dorothy's division proceed to march upon the City of Emeralds. Dorothy then consults with America's administration, led by one man without a brain and another without a heart. In the process, they gather local support from a rebel faction, despite a fear of being set upon by Tigers or other Guerillas. The division find themselves re-lion on a local warlord, even though it is more than they can bear. Oh my!

After spending some time organising the drug trade around the outskirts of the city, they enter the city, where the local chieftain promises trade and access to the city's oil if they will overthrow the leaders of the West, who had been referred to, with the East, as an Axis of Evil.

So the division marched upon the West in a campaign of shock and awe. They met with very little resistance on their march to the capital, destroying the majority of the West's defence infrastructure, before encountering the elite secret police. Faced with the elite forces, Dorothy has left the battle, leaving their allies, who had rebelled thinking that they would be supported, to be crushed. The leaders of the West, impoverished by international sanctions, attempted to starve out the minorities who had taken part in the uprising.

Unbeknownst to the West's leaders, the CIA had been supplying arms and food to the rebels, enabling them to build up their strength. Eventually, the West took control of an American controlled silver (or ruby) mine. At this point America went in with full force, with Dorothy assassinating the leader.

The leaders of the city of Emeralds then try to betray the Americans. In retaliation, the Americans sieze control of the city's media and engage in a propaganda campaign inciting the local populace to rise up and overthrow their legitimate government.

When Gen. Dorothy returns to America, it turns out that New Orleans Kansas has been ravaged by natural disaster. But there's no place like home, is there?


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