12 March, 2008

Deaf parents chosing deaf babies

The background to this is that some deaf parents have demanded the right, when using treatments such as IVF to select for deafness in their child. Their arguments tend to focus around the idea that the deaf community, of which they are part, cannot be wholly welcoming to a hearing person so, as a result of being able to hear, the child will be excluded from their parents' community and that this is bad.

Hmmmm, well, instinctively, being able to select for deafness seems wrong. Whilst a deaf child is no doubt morally, legally and ethically equal with a hearing child, the fact remains that they will be acting under some level of disability in their interactions for the rest of their life.

If their deafness is not so severe that a hearing aid can help then, then what is the point of selecting for deafness in the first place when technology has helped them hear? If they are so profoundly deaf that a hearing aid cannot help them then they will miss out on a large part of the human experience because their interaction with other people is automatically limited. If a parent in a wheelchair wished their child to be born unable to walk because it would help them engage better with the wheel-chaired community, we would consider it a travesty. How is deafness different?

The one exception would be that many deaf people are able to lip read. Reading the background of the deaf groups mentioned in the article, many of these groups oppose lip reading on the grounds that in some way it's 'selling out' from being deaf. Hmmmmm.

If two deaf parents have a hearing child, the child will no doubt learn sign-language from his parents and therefore be able to engage in the deaf community. The child will also be able to fully engage in the non-deaf community. This child would seen to be in a good position in being able to be part of both communities as he wishes. What right do the parent's have to deliberately and artificially restrict this choice?

11 March, 2008

Taxes and the Welfare State

Completely agree with this article on the welfare state.

On a similar vein, I'm not sure what the point of paying teachers and nurses etc out of the state purse - and then taxing them - is. Why not give all people who are employed solely by the state a letter at the beginning of their tax code and make their salaries tax free.

Better yet. A flat tax.

06 March, 2008

Cost of Iraq. $3 000 000 000 000 ?

Iraq war = $3 trillion

I'm fairly sure this will become a standard debating statistic very soon, so I'll be the first debater to start disputing it. Here.

04 March, 2008


Found a recipe for Yakka on the SSDC blog.

For one bin of yakka:

Tools needed:
1 bin (buy a new one)
1 stirring stick (a metre long ruler is fine. Or a yard long one for American types).

6, 7 or 8 litre bottles of vodka
1 litre bottle of lime cordial
1 kilogram of sugar
As many lemons and limes as you can get (cut into halfs)

A big bag of ice


1) 24 hours before you want to drink the yakka. Pour one of the bottles of vodka into the bottom of the bin. Pour about a 6th of the sugar in and a 6th of the lime cordial. Chuck some lemons and limes in as well. You can if you wish squeeze the limes and lemons (I normally don't as the limes/lemons are crucial to the flavour and fermentation). Stir vigorously.
2) Do this with each bottle of vodka. Each time put some of the sugar, lime cordial and fruit in. The reason for doing it in dribs and drabs is so that the sugar, lime cordial and fruit are equally dispersed. Stir throughout this process.
3) When all the ingredients are in, throw in some of the ice (not very much - a couple of handfuls maybe).
4) Store in a cool place. Stir vigorously every 4-6 hours (more often if you can).
5) Just before serving throw lots of ice in!
6) Serve to a glut of people

Obviously, if you want more bins you just go through the same process numerous times. I’ve made the yakka with varying amounts of booze. The first time I made it I used 6 x 1.5 litre bottles (so 9 litres) but it was fine. I’d recommend 6 or 7 litres of vodka. Lots of fruit and lots of ice (last minute) are crucial. One, the ice stops people necking what is effectively super-strength straight vodka. Two, the more fruit, the less alcoholly the taste which is good and bad!

There is a school of thought that says if you make the yakka 48 hours before it is even better. I'm not convinced. 24 hours makes good yakka and is, self-evidently, less time consuming. Some people will say that they have left the yakka for a month to ferment... again, I suppose if you can be bothered that must be great. However, rudimentary science suggests that the longer the lemons and limes are in the juice, the more bitter the taste willl become. 24 hours is just fine.

There are some interesting developments in South Africa using gin and cane rather than vodka. I'm sure both work admirably. Maybe someone could invent a yakkacello sort of liquor? Any white spirit (tequilla?) in principle should work. However, cheap Union vodka is the classic taste.