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Monthly Archives: March 2008

Running onto the Blade! Arguments are fencing matches.

There is a formal ritual at the beginning. You settle into a topic and a question.

There’s the tentative clink of the first few thrusts. Positions taken, assessed, abandoned or adopted and battle lines drawn.

In the middle, the thrusts and parries are fast and aggressive. Words and arguments are pushed to their logical conclusion, and beyond. Each side probes for weakness.

Finally there’s victory, a killer blow. A winning argument, the final word.

And it’s over. The opponents shake hands, graciously accept the result and shrug their shoulders at what might have been. They put the battle out of their minds.

This is how I saw arguments. As a sport, no conviction or belief was necessary. It was an  intellectual exercise that didn’t require irrevocable moral commitment to a position, nor any duty of coherency.

Fate favourably granted me people who understand this position and enjoyed it, and so resulted in many memorable debates over a variety of positions.

I’m now convinced of the inadequacy of this ritualised perception.

This knowledge is the foundation of my effort to evade conflict and forestall arguments. To stay away from the controversial. To stay away from the thorny issues to which I would respond in my natural dialectical way.

I’ve become convinced of the inadequacy of this retreat into solitude.

Where we agree, where we disagree, how we disagree and why are too important questions to be ignored under a false flag of understanding. They have to be explored.

What remains is another via media, a compromise between the argumentative and the passive. The middle path of taking a real position. To find my own views, and to defend them where they need defending.

The difficulty? I’m not sure what my own views are on many things. They’ve never mattered before.

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Digging a fresh grave, foot by foot,
Fill it with dead visions of hope.

Returned to earth, from dust to dust.
Building its tomb up brick by brick.

Clack then click. Arise stony walls.
Inch by inch. Hide what lies behind.

Shut firmly the gate, with a world
weary grip; lock it all inside.

UN Flag Torture.

Cruel. Inhuman. Degrading.

Treatment that shocks the mind. Treatment that makes the perversity of man towards his fellow explicit. Blood curdling explicit.

I’m researching torture.

Descriptions from victims, made palatable by prosecutors, obfuscated by judges, given a veneer of academia when read by me.

This last weekend, the impact has come home, as I build up a framework to present for the Respondent arguments. It is easy to write words, to state what it is. So easy to say.

I ask you to imagine. Imagine being subject to it. See the textures. Recoil at the shock and horror. Feel the pain.

Imagine : Electric shocks to the fingers, eyelids, nose and genitals, tied naked to a metal bedframe, coiling wire around fingers and genitals and running an electric current through them. Imagine : extended hanging from hand and/or leg chains combined with electric shocks. Imagine : repeatedly being drowned in a mixture of blood, urine, vomit and excrement.

Physical torture is exceeded by the insidious torture inflicted by non-physical means. Sensory deprivation so total that the brain short circuits itself into delirium. Humiliation so intense that it breaks down every concept of humanity a person possesses. Degradation so total that a person becomes lower than an animal in their own eyes.

All of these represent real events, found in the case law. It’s representative of the cruelty that man inflicts willingly.

I’ve never deliberately looked at the depths of the worst of human actions. The excesses of evil that people perpetuate against each other. This project makes me glad I haven’t.

Falling far down, beneath the ground, alone,
Amidst humane company.
I half turn inward, my mask unsure,
Divested so nearly.
In frankness I’d tell; there’s much you could know.
Saying “listen, please” quietly.
I want to sit on the grassy hills and grasp.
Fresh winds blowing off the sea.
While standing tall at the peak’s point to gaze.
Upwards at eternity.
To hear, in nature’s creaks and groans, the sound
Of life’s bitter melody.
I turn away, these things shan’t be said.
My concession to Gravity.

5819~American-Eagle-and-Flag-II-Posters It turns out that I have a name and a birthday that matches someone not allowed to set foot on American soil.

That means my nascent application for a US visa will not be considered by the HK Embassy. They will instead kick the relevant paperwork to Washington for them to decide

The downside? This process rarely takes less then six weeks and can take months. As the lady at the counter put it: don’t buy a ticket.

Unfortunately, the Sherman and Sterling Round of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Competition does not kick off that late in the year. I have barely three weeks, until the 6th of April, to find a way to Washington.

I could not be more shattered.

I’ve asked the University to do what they can, and I hope that they can make a difference, but at the moment, all I have is hope.

I can do nothing to do but wait.

 

Moses was on psychedelic drugs when he heard God deliver the Ten Commandments, an Israeli researcher claimed in a study published this week.

Moses was high on drugs: Israeli researcher

the-burning-bush I spotted this during my lecture yesterday on intestacy, and its the most surreal thing I’ve seen all week.

The article, its a short one, says that Moses was high on drugs when he talked with God and saw the burning bush.

He was high, because the researcher can’t imagine any other way that the stories of Moses are true because the researcher has only experienced this kind of thing when he was tripping himself.

I think we can all see the flaw in that reasoning.

Its utterly absurd.