Thursday, 20 June 2013

Odds and Ends

A few odds and ends based on a perusal of Tweets over the last day or so.
Tax Avoidance
Montfort Tadier Tweets that "More misreporting again in today's @JEPnews by Jo Hutchinson. I never did talk of 'evasion' to @siobhankennedy4 C4. Even media confuse the two".
Jim Perchard: comments in a Tweet "Most of us don't understand why you would wish to criticise Jerseys finance industry to C4 anyway."
And Monty replies "How is stating a fact dispassionately being critical?"
Now Montfort is right – the JEP said evasion, when he used the term; he did say "avoidance" and not "evasion". He also said that of course tax avoidance went on in Jersey. But he didn't name any cases.
I find this problematic. It reminds me of a paragraph in a book by the science fiction writer Philip K Dick called "The World Jones Made". In the book, the State enforces Hoff's Relativism, which is a political philosophy which came about after so much distrust of absolutes, of people proclaiming they had the truth. Here's the paragraph in question:
"Jones can disagree with us. Jones can believe anything he wants; he can believe the Earth is flat, that God is an onion, that babies are born in cellophane bags. He can have any opinion he wants; but once he starts peddling it as Absolute Truth -"
 "Then you put him in prison," Nina said tightly.
 "No," Cussick corrected. "Then we put out our hand; we say simply: Put up or shut up. Prove what you're saying. If you want to say the Jews are the root of all evil - prove it. You can say it - if you can back it up. Otherwise, into the work camp."
Now I've no wish for a repressive relativism like that, or for Deputy Tadier to be carted off to a work camp! But it shows the basic difference between opinion and fact. Opinion is something I may believe to be true. Fact is something I can prove to be true. So if Deputy Tadier is "stating a fact" when he is talking about tax avoidance in Jersey, I have no problem with that – providing he can back it up, and name names. I'd like to see him disclose details of tax avoidance happening now, not historical incidents like Jimmy Carr and K2. 
Can Facebook bring bullies to book?
Kevin Pamplin tweets on an alarming trend:
"A recent rise in sexual shaming pages on #Facebook has left teenagers "hysterical" also in #JerseyCI read more here"
The report in question is on "BBC Newsbeat":
Newsbeat's spoken to one 22-year-old victim. We've changed her name to Nadia. She said three pages dedicated to her ruined her life.  "They managed to get photos off my actual Facebook page," she said. "It was saying I was a slag, a tart, a home wrecker. Really degrading stuff, to be quite honest.  "I still don't know why anyone would ever do it. "I was a very confident person before and now I've become a very quiet, timid person."
These pages have been called "slut shaming pages" and claim to expose the sexual behaviour of young people. They are not, of course – they are a new form of cyber-bullying, in which fictions masquerade and it seems to be something of a trend, mainly targeted at women.
Megan Tyler, Lecturer in Sociology at Victoria University has looked at this on her blog, and says "It is perhaps most accurate to see slut shaming as the electronic equivalent of street harassment. When women are wolf whistled, or propositioned, or called sluts by (usually male) passers by, they're targeted because they are women. These pages do not singly aim to embarrass or harass women seen as publicly promiscuous. They just aim to demean women."
Facebook have said they were closing the pages as quickly as they could. It is an improvement, as around 2012, they showed a certain reluctance to act. But what effort can be made to prevent this? At the moment, anyone can create a bogus "identity" on Facebook, and use it to create groups like these. 
There's a disconnect between identity in the virtual world, and identity in the real world, and while that remains the case, there will always be a cloak of anonymity behind which these malicious individuals can hide.
Science Matters
The Guardian tweet mentions that "Mars had an oxygen-rich atmosphere four billion years ago"
The paper itself reports that:
"An examination of meteorites and rocks on the planet suggests that oxygen was affecting the Martian surface four billion years ago. On Earth, oxygen did not build up to appreciable quantities in the atmosphere for at least another 1.5bn years"
Curiously it seems to support the old belief, based on Laplace's Nebular Hypothesis, that Mars was a more ancient world, a dying planet because of its longevity compared with earth. But it seems that if life did exist, its foothold was precarious in the extreme, and it did not evolve into the complexity of life which we have on earth.
Quirky Tweets
Adam Hess: "The song 'Rock Around the Clock' has only ever been played at events that have finished before 11."
States of Jsy Police: "Battle of Jersey re-enactment between 6pm & 8pm this evening in the Royal Square. Musket fire , pyrotechnics and a film crew". Reading this tweet makes it sound as if  there was a film crew when Major Peirson was fighting against Baron de Rullecourt in the Royal Square, along with the Musket fire! And why aren't they shown in the famous Copley painting "The Death of Peirson"?
As the Naked Rambler goes to prison again, Jennifer Bridge ‏tweets: "Is there a village out there willing to let the Naked Rambler ramble freely? Maybe Jersey could invite him to wander the coastal paths?" I remember when there was a serious proposal that Beauport Bay should be a nudist beach!
Lucy Stephenson Tweets that: "The hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge will give birth has a wine list so you can toast new arrivals!" #randomfact
On the matter of edibles, Richard Coles ‏tweets that "Driving back from assembly I discover the unwonted sun has oven baked my on-board wine gums to a sweet sour sludge."
And Eamonn Clarke (a doctor at a UK hospital) tweets: "I have (no joke) just received an email from Aslan asking if I can do a GP locum. The Lion, the Witch and the Ward Round?"


No comments: