Talking points 5 August

Nelson is in charge of today’s talking points…..

77 Responses to “Talking points 5 August”

  1. 1 Dennis
    August 4, 2008 at 19:41

    Hi Nelson!

    did anyone saw the tornado in france?


  2. 2 nelsoni
    August 4, 2008 at 19:44

    Hello every one, Nelson here. I will be moderating tonight and I am looking forward to interesting and thought provoking debates on this talking points page. As usual feel free to bring up any issue(s) you would like to talk about and please let’s keep it short and simple. Over to you.

  3. 3 Will Rhodes
    August 4, 2008 at 19:54


    Microsoft has kicked off a research project to create software that will take over when it retires Windows.

    Now that HAS to be good news!

  4. 4 Dennis
    August 4, 2008 at 19:55

    About MICROSOFT newest research project, i hope it works

  5. 5 Julie P
    August 4, 2008 at 20:03


    Welcome to the 20th Century, may we no longer get fatal error messages!

  6. 6 Nick in USA
    August 4, 2008 at 20:08


    Here’s an interesting story that just broke. The roads down south are scary. I think the most interesting part of the story is that he was driving a 1997 Nissan Maxima. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the Ferrari of cheap basic 4 door Japanese sedans, but I’d think he might have a limo driver or something like that. Or maybe he could hire Miss Daisy to drive him.

  7. August 4, 2008 at 20:11

    Nelsoni, good luck moderating. I hope you’ll not have to in through some of those essays.

  8. August 4, 2008 at 20:15

    @microsoft, it is a good idea to start thinking about the future. It’s all part of the technological advancement.

  9. 9 Julie P
    August 4, 2008 at 20:31

    Rising fuel costs have forced many airlines to get creative with finding sources of revenue to pay for jet fuel. I thought it was a bit over the top when airlines started charging for checking your bag, but this really takes the cake. Charging passengers for a blanket and a pillow. I guess the next thing is to make the toitlets pay toilets. Don’t get on a plane without a pocket full of quarters!


  10. 10 Angela in Washington D.C.
    August 4, 2008 at 20:31


    I was surprised also. I don’t think there is anything wrong with Nissans but I thought he would drive something else. It is nice to know that everyone doesn’t need to show off with some expensive car. However, I don’t think the Maxima is the ferrari of cheap 4 door Japanese sedans.

  11. 11 Nick in USA
    August 4, 2008 at 20:39


    Really? This and the Paris Hilton = Obama ad? Is that really all the McCain camp can come up with? First of all, Obama was right about proper tire pressures. Second, does this type of campaigning help McCain at all? Is his campaign manager actually trying to convince people that Obama is bad because he’s more popular than Paris Hilton? Does anyone understand their strategy thus far?

  12. August 4, 2008 at 20:53

    @ Dennis. The news about a tornado in France is worth knowing. Please share light on it. About the talking point on August 5, Nelson, my thought is technology and the Industrial Revolution: i am of the conviction that these advancements have made the world worst than better. Pornography, spam, credit card frauds, money laundering, pollution, war, nuclear and radiation hazards and the likes. I think that we could exchange thought on this suggestion.

  13. 13 Brett
    August 4, 2008 at 21:08

    Does anyone understand their strategy thus far?

    I do, its called “last resort”… Pathetic, but amusing nonetheless 🙂

  14. 14 Nick in USA
    August 4, 2008 at 21:18

    @ Angela

    The Ferrari of cheap Japanese 4 door sedans thing was a joke. That’s like saying the Ferrari of tricycles or steam rollers. It doesn’t exist because none of them are particularly nice.

  15. 15 Justin from Iowa
    August 4, 2008 at 21:18

    I think Obama is doing more for McCain than McCain is doing for McCain… the recent revelations on oil policy sound kind of iffy.

  16. 16 Jens
    August 4, 2008 at 21:23

    just wait until they will try to sell us the idea of obama having had a wild orgy with paris and nicole, in the presence of a donky…..during filming a x-rated episode of simple life………

  17. 17 Robert
    August 4, 2008 at 21:36

    Re Microsoft

    I hope for the sake of the MS shareholders they are not developing in house. The company has a pretty bad track record of spotting the next thing inside its own house. The true genesis of Microsoft is its ability to find suitable technology from elsewhere in the industry and scale it up (which is not always a bad thing)

  18. 18 nelsoni
    August 4, 2008 at 21:57

    @ Sheik. You mean “Has technology made our world a better place ?”

  19. 19 nelsoni
    August 4, 2008 at 21:59

    WHYSers, ” Has technology and the industrial revolution made our world better or worse”? Food for thought

  20. 20 nelsoni
    August 4, 2008 at 22:03

    @ Mohammed Ali. Thanks. I dont think we will have any essays again. Chloe made the message clear on the blog and the daily email. Happy blogging. 🙂

  21. August 4, 2008 at 22:17

    The advent of the mobile phone has brought with it suspicion. People lies easily on phone especially about their location. Lovers use it to support their infidelity; cyber crime, the recent nuclear leakout in france and the list is endless.

  22. 22 Robert
    August 4, 2008 at 22:20


    Going through the list of ‘bad things’
    Porn is as old as civilization itself (they porn found on roman villas)
    fraud and laundering – As soon as there was money there were con men (e.g. the tulip bulb bubble)
    War – nothing new. If anything war is more civilised now than previously (we take prisoners of war instead of killing them or making them salves)
    Pollution was there before the industrial revolution (heavy metals in water etc). Smog in London was known to be lethal. It’s just changed form over the years.
    Radiation – yep that’s new, fair enough

    The period before the industrial revolution was not idealic and the list of improvements are more than enough to justify that the revolution has made the world a better place..

  23. 23 John (in Cleveland, Ohio, USA)
    August 4, 2008 at 22:56

    @ Nelson

    Better, by far. Even when it has been put to horrible, despicable murderous use, technology itself is not to blame.

    It might help to consider the definition of technology, as I found it on wiktionary.com; “the body of tools and other implements produced by a given society.” A tool is what a person uses it for, and carries no intrinsic good or evil will, correct?

  24. 24 Jens
    August 4, 2008 at 23:04

    radiation is new?

    how come carbon dating works so well…….

  25. 25 Robert
    August 4, 2008 at 23:25

    Following on from the short discussion about the credit crunch earlier today, there is one obvious casualty from this.


    What I can’t understand is if NR is still making a loss how can it being paying back the BOE loan? Surely if a public entity is making a loss then the tax payer is covering the loss and therefore the repayment back to the public purse?

  26. 26 Robert
    August 4, 2008 at 23:36

    With supporters like this I don’t think Brown needs any enemies.


    If this carries on the UK will have a new leader before the US decides it’s next one.

  27. 27 Shirley
    August 4, 2008 at 23:41

    I am reading Wikipedia’s materials on the Khmer Rouge period in Cambodia. If you come across other useful materials, let me know. Very interesting stuff. Thank you.

    Oil & Elections
    Brett, what about Obama’s plans for oil don’t you like?

    Tech & Industrial Revolution:
    Inasmuch as it is possible to use Google ever so much faster than a card catalogue, and more efficiently (card catalogues couldn’t search books for key words) ; and inasmuch as it is possble to have much more material available digitally than in print, technology is lovely. But the pollution is certainly worrisome. How to strike a balance?

    Number of words: 101

  28. 28 nelsoni
    August 4, 2008 at 23:44

    @ John in Cleveland I agree with your. The benefit of technology is dependent on the intentions of the person using it. For example a mobile phone can be used to save lives just as it can also be used to remotely detonate bombs that will kill people. But when properly harnessed, I think it has made our world a better place.

  29. 29 nelsoni
    August 4, 2008 at 23:49

    @ Shirley, Bravo. I am impressed. 101 words. Thats so cool. You even included a link to let us know the number of words. I dare say you have started a revolution. 🙂

  30. August 5, 2008 at 00:05

    The Tech & Industrial Revolution: nelsoni, i am amused by the few comments thus far. As the debate ensues, i guess we will find a balance or better still which side outweighs the other.

  31. 31 nelsoni
    August 5, 2008 at 00:15

    Benefit of technology : The New York Police Department has announced that it’s putting in place a technology that would enable citizens send video or photo evidence directy to them. Interesting.

  32. 32 Luz Ma from Mexico
    August 5, 2008 at 00:17


    One of my University professors in Canada was the UN Special Rapporteur for Cambodia. I think I still have some of the materials that he gave us about the Khamer Rouge. If you are interested I can track them in the Internet and send you the links.

    @Sheikh about technology

    I think the problem is not technology per se, but the misuse that we have given it to it.

  33. 33 nelsoni
    August 5, 2008 at 00:31

    @ Luz Ma and Sheik. Technology is a potent tool for advancement in any area of human endevour. So depending on what we want to achieve, problems we want to solve or create, we could either use it as tool for destruction or development, in our world today, we can see very much of both.

  34. 34 Dan
    August 5, 2008 at 01:58

    @ Shirley
    Glad to see that you are looking at the Khmer Rouge. There are volumes beyond Wikipedia and it will further your understanding of slavery. May I suggest that you also read what Germans did to the Jews, Japanese did to POW’s (Bataan Death March), Stalin and the Gulags, Romans and the Gladiators and what China is doing to Tibet today. I think the root of slavery is one people more powerful economically or militarily than another and a lost moral compass.
    (83 Words)

  35. 35 Dennis
    August 5, 2008 at 01:58


    I forgot to say, good luck moderating!

    Syracuse, New York

  36. 36 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 5, 2008 at 02:30


    Many of your slavery examples don’t involve slavery, is the thing. Also, though I won’t presume to speak for Shirley, she is American. It’s not surprising, or anomalous, or questionable, that an American would discuss the American history, rather than, say, trying to lobby Rome about gladiators.

  37. 37 Bob in Queensland
    August 5, 2008 at 03:12

    Great. WHYS has become a forum to discuss how long WHYS posts are. Well, by my rough reckoning, 90% of posts over the weekend were 150 words or less and (as I said) about half of the longer ones were just dealing with several topics in one post, with each individual topic being only 100-150 words.

    If these are too long, heaven help us trying to communicate rather than just throw links and clever insults.

    76 words up to here. Oops, better make that 81…er 88.

  38. 38 Bob in Queensland
    August 5, 2008 at 03:17

    Re: Is it better since industrialisation?

    If you long for that better, simpler life I hope you enjoy child mortality of almost 50% before the age of six, amputations without anaesthetic, waiting six months or a year for a letter from you son who has emigrated, open sewers in the cities, etc etc.

  39. 39 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 5, 2008 at 03:43


    Don’t forget life expectancy of 40 or 50, pregnancy and childbirth as routinely fatal to mother, baby, or both, etc., with the list depending on how far back we go, but surely too long for a proper blog post these days.

    You’re up early, or is it late?

  40. 40 nelsoni
    August 5, 2008 at 04:00

    @ Bob in Queensland. Good morning. Please could you help moderate for a while? its 4 am here and I need to catch a few hours of sleep. I will be back soon. Thanks

  41. 41 Shirley
    August 5, 2008 at 04:05

    Luz María, as long as it doesn’t become volumnous, I am interested in some reading. I’m not particularly interested in Cambodia itself as much as I am comparing major violations of human rights.

    Dan, I still have not found anything that spanned hundreds of years an involved massive corporate benefit that extends into the current age.

    Jonathan, you bring up a good point: one person cannot and should not be expected to issue word and take action on every single issue that plagues or has plagued this world. Keeping it local or somehow relevant to one’s own life makes sense.

    Number of words: 102

  42. 42 Venessa
    August 5, 2008 at 04:26

    Technology has made life simpler with both good and bad side effects. Regardless of advancement or lack there of the way humans interact remains the same; only the means change.

  43. 43 Bob in Queensland
    August 5, 2008 at 04:26

    Hi Nelson (if you’re still up). Happy to help out–just got caught on a long phone call as your request came in.

  44. 44 Bob in Queensland
    August 5, 2008 at 04:31

    @ Jonathan

    Re early/late

    About normal–tis early afternoon here now but my morning was tied up with a mixture of a 3 year old and a bit of business (I have a sound mix to do but the tracks I’ve been sent don’t sync up so was trying to get that sorted).

  45. 45 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 5, 2008 at 05:50

    The topic of reparations was just brought up here in an unsubtle and cynical attempt to start a rumor that a US presidential candidate supported them (neither does). Shame on the perpetrator of that ugly, clumsy gambit.

  46. 46 Bob in Queensland
    August 5, 2008 at 06:23

    Okay, my two worlds are about to mix.

    On a theatre technicians forum I moderate, somebody has posted a job ad looking the crew to do lighting, sound, wardrobe etc. on a British tour of a musical. The production in question is based on a bible story and the ad specifies that the whole crew must be Christian.

    British law prohibits job discrimination on the grounds of religion but does provide an exemption where there is a genuine operational requirement for a specific religion. I suppose it would be hard to hire an Anglican rabbi for example.

    However, we’re trying to work out what operational excuse there could be to insist on a Christian follow spot operator or whatever and, as mods, are debating whether we should reject the ad as illegal.

    What does WHYS think? Should a biblical play be able to insist on a Christian crew?

  47. August 5, 2008 at 06:31

    Evening Bob,

    Of course it is discriminatory, and should be rejected! Imagine a help wanted ad that says, “No Christians!?”

  48. 48 nelsoni
    August 5, 2008 at 07:03

    @ Bob in Queensland. Thanks for stepping in. With regards to the question you asked, I think it’s discriminatory. Doing a job should be based on core technical competence not religion. Its like putting the cart before the horse.

  49. 49 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 5, 2008 at 07:27

    Bob, hmm, interesting.

    I’ll take the pragmatic approach. You don’t need to answer the moral or legal issue to decide on running the ad. I’d say don’t. Why risk the legal liability? Offer to run it without the Christian stipulation. Leave it for them to screen people as they see fit.

  50. 50 Julie P
    August 5, 2008 at 07:50


    Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” was about the last two weeks of Jesus’ life. That’s a Christian based musical. I seriously doubt with all of the different versions of it everyone was a Christian, although given some of the songs in it, and the role Mary Magdalene would be thought of as creative license on Christianity to say the say the least. Food for thought on your consideration. I think the ad you are talking about is discriminatory.

  51. 51 Bob in Queensland
    August 5, 2008 at 07:53

    On the site in question, members can post help wanted ads without moderation so the ad actually went up and provoked a storm of controversy. The poster actually quoted chapter and verse of the law justifying their requirement but none of the rest of us can see how the exclusions apply to them and we’ve taken the ad down pending discussions with them (British site…it’s night time there).

    However, the more interesting issue for me is where DO you draw the line on this sort of thing. We’ve accepted “women only” ads because cast and crew shared hotel rooms on tour for example. We rejected a request for gay technicians and insisted it be replaced with a line about crew needing to be comfortable working in a gay environment (on a gay burlesque show). I don’t think this one has a legal let to stand on, but should Christians or Muslims with strong beliefs be made to work alongside people they’re uncomfortable with? As I say, this has provoked an interesting debate amongst technicians so I thought it might generate the same here.

  52. 52 nelsoni
    August 5, 2008 at 08:03

    @ Bob in Queensland, In today’s working environment, there are no religious exclusive working zones. So if a member of a particular faith does not feel comfortable working with people from other faiths, there is something called a “resignation letter”. He/she can simply hand it in and move on. This may hit a nerve somewhere but in the West, this is not likely to be a major issue apart from a few isolated incidences like this one.

  53. 53 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 5, 2008 at 09:04

    Bob, the law actually seems sensible to me (a rare circumstance indeed). I think the key consideration is not what other employees are comfortable with (because they can have all kinds of prejudices, and because they don’t make hiring decisions), but what sort of discrimination by the employer is acceptable. Banning overt discrimination, with a religious exemption, looks reasonable. The handling of the gay-comfortable instance was inspired.

    I suspect employers still have their preferences but don’t advertise them, and interview until they find the “right” person. It’s hard to then prove why exactly one applicant was right and the others wrong. So slicing it too fine is moot. And markets punish irrational discrimination. (Still too pragmatic?)

  54. 54 Katharina in Ghent
    August 5, 2008 at 09:13

    @ job ad:

    “… should Christians or Muslims with strong beliefs be made to work alongside… ”

    Well, this is a job ad, looking for someone. If the job ad says that they need someone for their biblical play, then chances are that a strong believing Muslim or Jew will not feel attracted to this particular job. And if he does, then he probably has no problems working alongside the Christians, dealing with a very Christian topic. As for the people who are already hired, if they feel strongly against somebody during the person’s job interview, they can still simply not give him the job.

    Personally, I find it silly that the people put “Christian” in the ad, you can discriminate very effectively without being open about it…

    No word count.

  55. 55 Pangolin-California
    August 5, 2008 at 09:51

    @ Benefits of technology- One word: Dentistry.

    @ Oil prices- Obama and McCain both have decided that the United States electorate is too stupid to accept the truth that our share of petroleum will cost us more and decline in supply from here on out. The only effective means of lowering gasoline prices will be slower speeds, stringent vehicle inspections, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles. For those in the lower economic classes bicycles and public transit will be the only options.

    If you have a larger vehicle sell it now while you can.

  56. 56 Robert
    August 5, 2008 at 10:06


    I hope the company is very careful. Even if they don’t openly discriminate, if the culture of company is such that it makes life difficult enough that a non believe feels like they have to leave then the company could still face lawsuits. I forget the legal term for this. Under UK law companies must actively make workplaces open to all and not passively allow discrimation.

  57. 57 Bob in Queensland
    August 5, 2008 at 11:17

    I’m being careful not to name the company or the play for exactly that reason–and I think we’ve done them a favour by pulling their ad. We’ve asked what possible justification they could have for the restriction and I’ll pass their excuse on if we get a reply. To put it in perspective, I’m not religious at all but have done several sound installations in churches.

  58. 58 Dan
    August 5, 2008 at 11:34

    @ Shirley
    Was slavery in America for the benefit of corporations in the industrial North or the plantation owners in an Agrarian South?
    On the other hand what Germany & Japan did other than being purely sadistic was to provide their industries with free labor.
    What Pol Pot did demonstrated the “advantages” of Communism.

  59. 59 Angela in Washington D.C.
    August 5, 2008 at 12:15


    Slavery in America benefitted the North and the South. Slaves provided cheap labor but they were more costly than other servants because the slave owners had to feed and dress them. Additionally, they were an investment so it was necessary that their needs were provided to them.

  60. August 5, 2008 at 13:26

    Technology just as any other advancement has it bad side. What we should judge it by is whether the bad outweighs the good or the good outweighs the bad. In my opinion, the good of technology by far outweighs the bad.

  61. 61 Ahmad Hammad
    August 5, 2008 at 13:28

    Hi Nelson! Welcome dear…
    Where’s Ros nowadays? on leaves?
    Hi to Chole too….

  62. August 5, 2008 at 13:31

    Technology has made the world simpler to navigate, easier to communicate with each other like we are doing on WHYS, make learning easier and mobile, etc.

  63. 63 nelsoni
    August 5, 2008 at 13:32

    @ Ahmad

    Hi, Ros is on vacation.

  64. 64 Ahmad Hammad
    August 5, 2008 at 13:46

    Thanks Nelson…

    Well, I would have been an ardent admirer of Technology had it saved humanity from Wars.

    Afghanistan, Iraq, FATA in Pakistan are being devastated through the very technology that has made the life of the Americans and the Europeans better…

    In the name of War AGAINST Terrorism, Terror is being spread. And the technology is helping boost the propaganda against the poor and empty-handed Afghanis, Iraqis and Kashmiris and Pakistanis.

    There should be some International Law of using Technolgoies…..

  65. 65 Shirley
    August 5, 2008 at 13:54

    Dan, what Pol Pot did in Cambodia has nothing whatsoever to do with the ideals of communism. Show me a passage from any communist manifesto that says something about mass slaughter and forced labour.

    If slavery did not benefit both the corporations and the plantation owners at the same time, why did they continue with the practise? Assuming that you asked an either-or question, my response would be “both.”

  66. 66 Shirley
    August 5, 2008 at 13:56

    Grammar etc.:
    period inside quotes, or outside?
    “at the same time” – no one-word replacement?

    Whereas there exists a Chicago Manual of Style, is there any equivalent system(s) in the U.K.? Spain?

  67. 67 Nick in USA
    August 5, 2008 at 14:17

    @ Pangolin

    Thank you for saying that! I really wish that these two guys would come out and say, “Stop driving like an idiot, get a more efficient car, use public transportation, and after you do all this, the prices still aren’t going to go back to where they were”. Of course, they can’t say this because they are politicians.

  68. 68 Tom
    August 5, 2008 at 14:29

    @ Shirley,

    Period should be placed inside the quote, while the one-word equivalent for “at the same time” could be “concurrently”.

    One of the high school grammatic rules is that sentences should not start with “and” or “but”, but it’s not uncommon to see newspaper articles committing this grammatical sin.

  69. 69 Nick in USA
    August 5, 2008 at 14:43

    @ Shirley

    Where did the topic of reparations come from. Are you proposing that reparations should be paid?

  70. 70 Tom
    August 5, 2008 at 14:46

    The greatest modern technological progression is that of electronic miniturisation. The drive among engineers in packing more and more microscopic electronic components into tiny microchips have exponentially expanded the power of computing systems. The ongoing information and technological revolution greatly enhanced our ability to learn and retain knowledge, and provides a platform for further technological advancement.

  71. 71 Nick in USA
    August 5, 2008 at 14:54

    @ Nelsoni

    On the whole, I’d say better, but that is strictly because of healthcare. Instead of making our lives better, technology for the most part has just given us the ability to overpopulate the planet. As a result, our lives are more stressful than ever and we spend less time with our families and loved ones. The world is just as competitive and cut-throat as it was 100 years ago. Unfortunately, there will always be people who believe the dog eat dog mindset is the only way to live.

  72. 72 Shirley
    August 5, 2008 at 15:04

    How far does freedom of speech go?
    Salman Rushdie is threatening to sue a former police bodyguard who has written a book about protecting the author while he was in hiding. Salman said the book was defamatory and is demanding that the offending chapters be removed.

  73. 73 Shirley
    August 5, 2008 at 15:10

    Nick (August 5, 2008 at 2:43 pm), the topic was raised yesterday when it was mentioned that Barak Obama was accused of calling for reparations. He did not call for reparations, but that did not stop the rest of us from discussing it. I’ve had a blast reading up on the arguments of others and defending my own viewpoints.
    Number of words: 60

  74. 74 Luz Ma from Mexico
    August 5, 2008 at 15:25


    If you want to read a good book on International Human Rights, I recommend International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics, Morals: Text … by Henry J. Steiner, Philip Alston, Ryan Goodman.

    It was my coursebook when I took International Human Rights law at the University. It has a good selection of major human rights violations cases and the index is very good so you can find specific information easily.

    It is an expensive book, but I am sure you can find it in any library.

  75. 75 Shirley
    August 5, 2008 at 16:23

    UN in Myanmar
    There is a new UN human rights envoy to Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana. He replaced Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, who (the article says) was outspoken against the junta for its human rights abuses. Quintana has been touring Myanmar and talking to the people there. Is the UN trying a softer approach? Will it work?
    Number of words: 56

  76. 76 Shirley
    August 5, 2008 at 17:30

    Luz María, have you studied international law in a university setting? Or just international human rights law? I am wondering if you have any text recommendations for international law itself.

  77. 77 steve
    August 5, 2008 at 17:38

    @ Shirley

    I would recommend a nutshell or at treatise. Any “text” would be using the case method, and you’d have to read cases and figure out the actual law, which is a waste of time unless you want to be a lawyer.


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