The Urgent Need For Quotas

Published at Catallaxy Files on 30/03/2021

I was always opposed to the idea of quotas for women in Parliament. I operated under the delusion, not so much that selection on merit was a better idea, but that selection on merit could actually occur. Given the selection processes for the major parties, this was always a tenuous notion. But the revelation in Parliament over the past couple of weeks are so disturbing that it is no longer an option to be blind to the reality, and it can no longer be argued that the situation will correct itself through the good offices and goodwill of the parties, factions and people involved.

Accordingly, it is time for definite proposals for quotas for women in Parliament. Clearly, the necessary changes will not take place overnight, but ambitious targets are required. With sufficient will, the current parlous situation of Parliament can be corrected over the course of three Parliamentary terms. For maximum effectiveness the first opportunity must be seized: that is the next Federal election.

At the next election, I propose a quota of 25% of winnable seats to be allocated for women. At the following election, that should be 17.5%, and at the one after, 10%. More than any other conceivable measure, this would fix the current toxic environment in Federal Parliament. These are tough goals, but if respect for Parliament is to increased from its present lows, they are essential.

The Burden of Proof and the Pell Case

[Originally published by Quadrant Online on 30th December 2019. Published in Quadrant Magazine March 2020.]

The conviction of the guilty is just; it is the unremarkable business of a just criminal jurisprudence; but the conviction of the innocent strikes at the heart of Justice. If it happens through error or negligence, it is bad enough; when it happens by design, it is an abomination that corrodes trust in the law itself. 

Maimonides in the 12th century, in this commentary on Exodus 23:7 (Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked) concluded, “it is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent man to death once in a way.”

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The Pope’s Commission

[First published at The Orthosphere.]

Faithful Catholics are expected to accept that, although the Pope is elected by the Conclave of (eligible) Cardinals, the One who really selects the Pope is the Holy Ghost Himself: the cardinals are His catspaws, so to speak. It is a grave offence to leak the proceedings of the Conclave (which is why such leaking is so rare), but if the preceding is to be accepted, the machinations in the Conclave are irrelevant. Therefore, I can appreciate both the smile and the squirm of orthodox Catholics who, in these very pages, see the so-ordained Pope described as … ahem … Pope Fruit Loops I.

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Restoration as revolution

[This item was first published at Catallaxy Files. The version here is slightly modified.]

About a week ago, Steve posted the article Jordan Peterson trashes the left once again. He quoted from an article by Joy Pullman, called (big breath) The Left Is Actually Afraid Of Jordan Peterson Because He’s Leading A Revolt Against Their Corruption. It was published in The Federalist. Pullman starts her article by commenting on an earlier piece from The Atlantic, by Caitlin Flanagan . I had previously read, with amazement, Flanagan’s article.  It seemed to me to be schizophrenic.  The quote that Pullman utilises in her second paragraph encapsulates its central weirdness. I’ll quote her here again.

They “began listening to more and more podcasts and lectures by this man, Jordan Peterson,” she writes. “The young men voted for Hillary, they called home in shock when Trump won, they talked about flipping the House, and they followed Peterson to other podcasts — to Sam Harris and Dave Rubin and Joe Rogan. What they were getting from these lectures and discussions, often lengthy and often on arcane subjects, was perhaps the only sustained argument against identity politics they had heard in their lives.”

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Using environment.plist with Mountain Lion

UPDATE
This post is now obsolete. For the preferred method in both Mountain Lion and Mavericks, see  Setting environment variables in OS X Mountain Lion and Mavericks. With Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8), the environment settings from ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist are not taken into account when the background system environment is set up by launchd, the OS X initialisation process. Consequently, if you want settings like $JAVA_HOME to be available to Java applications you start from Finder, you must find an alternative for setting them.

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Candy Glass

I watched the last twenty minutes or so of the movie Ratatouille with a four year old boy the other night, doing my shift while his parents were having dinner with us. The animation was very good, and the visual syntax was varied, dramatic and assured. They sure know how to make animated movies nowadays.

One scene that struck me was when the girl, having walked out of the restaurant with all but one of the staff, for reasons I could not fathom due to ongoing discussions with the four year old, is stopped in traffic on her motorbike, and looks to the side at something which invokes remorse at her leaving. The lanes of traffic on either side of her drive off, with her sitting on the bike, and the traffic held up behind her. (It loses in translation.) Another is the previous scene when the staff walk out of the kitchen, and we have a rat’s eye view of the feet and legs in regulation black and white checks as they tramp out. Continue reading “Candy Glass”

Cathedral, after midnight

Let’s go back a decade, more or less. Find, in memory, some Friday night. After midnight, the Victory gradually quietens down. The groups of drunken kids wandering from pub to club along Charlotte Street, begin thin out. Wander up the ramp from the footpath into the grounds of St Stephen’s, past the lovely old two-storey house, past Bishop Quinn’s statue, to stand at the curved glass wall of the sacrament chapel. The water flowing along the inside of the wall from the baptismal fount might be matched by a semi-circle of water outside. Or, depending on how late in these years you choose to visit, there might be a dry bed of pebbles, as there is today. Continue reading “Cathedral, after midnight”

Winter…

Winter is coming. The sky this morning is a perfectly clear blue. A light breeze carries the chill, and a high pressure system sits over most of the continent. Across from the station where I wait, fuming slowly at the mess that’s been made of the timetables, one of the yellow-orange crane booms over the tennis centre building site is swinging around against the blue. Soon I’ll have to start wearing a jumper.

A Beenleigh train has just pulled up behind me, cutting off the sunlight except for the back of my head. It’s gone now, but the breeze has gusted, so I momentarily feel colder in the sunlight. The secret of Brisbane winters, when the drying westerlies blow cold, sweeping all cloud from the sky, is to stand in the morning sun in the lee of the wind, and bask in the warmth. But not today. This day is warming as the sun rises.

A speaker announces that the 7:12 service to the city is running approximately ten minutes late. Previous train 6:50. Next train 7:25. Not bad. I see a flash of red underwing and look for lorrikeets, but in a moment I realise that these are galahs. The birds are on the move. An unusual drone has me looking up from under my hat. Three Cessnas are flying in formation, quite high, towards Archerfield. I’ll wait for the 7:25. Winter’s coming.

The voice of the spider

Abeba rented a room in a weatherboard house in St. Lucia (the suburb of Brisbane, not the Caribbean nation). The ageing owner had set up a caravan and a shed for himself in the backyard, and rented the rooms to students. Of the tenants there, I remember only a Chinese girl with excellent English, and Abeba, who was from Eritrea. Bereket lived nearby, and Saba was also in St. Lucia. Continue reading “The voice of the spider”

A visit to Medjugorje

In the autumn of 1996 I took a ferry from Ancona across the Adriatic to Split. There was a reasonable swell, into which we heaved through the night. I slept little in the “aircraft style” seats, keeping an eye on my knapsack, in which all of my travelling possessions, and a significant portion of my worldly possessions were packed. I was travelling with cabin luggage only, which kept the volume down, and made the airports mercifully easy to leave. By dawn we were sailing down the Dalmatian coast. We moved in behind the shelter of the string of elongated islands that parallel the coast, and came into Split. I’d met a Kiwi on the boat who suggested we get accommodation together in Medjugorje. I agreed, having become all to aware of the cost of single rooms. It was a bad mistake. Continue reading “A visit to Medjugorje”