Saturday, August 23, 2014

An alliance of evil?

In this news report, note the shift in tone of the reporting... sometimes perplexed and sometimes downright accusatory. With an unprompted, unabashed confession of guilt – referring to three teenagers as settlers and their kidnap as well as subsequent murder as an heroic operation – one Hamas spokesperson has single-handedly forfeited much of the sympathy and support that Hamas had accrued over the course of the current war. This is not to say that Israel has been or will be widely forgiven for its savage slaughter of innocent civilians. But Hamas has now freely admitted that it was their own savagery that prompted the Israeli response. The only persons likely to appreciate the Hamas announcement, coming on the back of some ruthless, public executions of Palestinians suspected of collaboration with Israel, are the members or supporters of ISIS and Boko Haram. Could this be the beginning of an alliance?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

According to President Obama...

No just God would stand for what [ISIS] did yesterday [by beheading the American journalist James Foley] and what they do every single day. (Barack Obama, 2014 August 20)

I've been listening to the speech by President Obama in which he commented on the murder of James Foley by ISIS. The speech was full of references to religion and to God. Historically, that rarely bodes well; and this speech was no exception. Obama's words were loaded with implications and innuendos that are not just biased or bizarre but even fanatical. When Obama expresses and exploits religious prejudices, does he effectively distinguish himself from those whom he would condemn?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Evidence-based sentencing

The concept of evidence-based sentencing makes as much theoretical sense as any evidence-based practice. The rub comes when we consider the context - what is recognized by society as evidence and what is accepted by society in terms of application or implementation, as well as a host of broader environmental factors.

The first question that arises in my mind about evidence-based sentencing concerns the aim of reducing recidivism. How much improvement can evidence-based sentencing make to the primary correctional aspect of the correctional services? No doubt, there will be a reduction in recidivism, and not all of that reduction will be the consequence of longer prison sentences for likely repeat offenders. But is such a reduction sufficient in and of itself?

There is much to be done in respect to creating a system of correctional services by which even an innocent person wrongly convicted would still benefit from the experience. But any alleged improvements to the correctional services would be moot – and possibly even somewhat fraudulent – if the vast majority of crimes remain a direct or indirect consequence of the wealth gap.

In short, without eliminating the social disease of capitalism, evidence-based sentencing may not be ethically sound. It might prove to be no more than a high-sounding methodology for enabling the wealthy elite to more effectively suppress opposition to their exploitative opportunism.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Amazon versus Hachette... and Paul Verhaeghe

I just received a letter from Kindle Direct Publishing that, somewhat hypocritically, tries to garner support for Amazon in their dispute with Hachette.

While I find it absurd that the Kindle version of a book can be more expensive than the paperback version of the same book... as is the case with Paul Verhaeghe's What About Me?: The Struggle for Identity in a Market-Based Society... Amazon's letter on this subject is clearly self-serving and manipulative.

And perhaps it is also a bit absurd (and hypocritical?) for Paul Verhaeghe to decry a market-based society while actively participating in and profiting from that which he deplores.