Category Archives: Community

Scott Morrison needs to ‘obey God’s message’

2 Oct 2019, 5:35pm

Family sit against a fence holding a sign that reads: "Thanks you Biloela and people around Australia. You give us hope".

ABC News, 2 October 2019, Photo: The family had been living in the central Queensland town of Biloela. (Supplied: @HometoBilo)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This article was first published in On Line Opinion, 4 September 2019.

What will it take for ScoMo to practise what he preaches? I’ve seen the pictures of him with raised hands in worship in his church on Sunday. I applaud him for worshipping the Lord God Almighty and allowing the mass media cameras to see a demonstration of his faith.

His faith needs more than lifting hands in praise. Australians need to see him practise his Christian faith with Priya, her husband Nadesalingam (Nades), with daughters Kopika, 4, and Tharunicaa, 2.

They have become household names as they challenge the deportation orders to return them to Sri Lanka.

The small regional town of Biloela, Qld, wants them to stay. They have integrated well into that region and Nades has been employed in the meat works.

Morrison resists: ‘I do understand the real feeling about this and the desire for there to be an exception but I know what the consequences are of allowing those exceptions’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 September 2019). Based on the 10 Daily report in September 2019,

(Australian Border Force officials) have told the family they need to learn to adjust to what they’re got on Christmas Island because they’re not going to be brought back to the mainland,” Tamil Refugee Council spokesman Aran Mylvaganam told AAP after speaking to the family….

“Priya, she is saying that she came from the war zone and regardless of how difficult it is, she’s able to put up with it.

“But it’s the children that she’s worried about, who were born here”….

It’s expected to be months before a trial decides whether Tharunicaa’s (the youngest child) bid for a protection visa should be accepted by the Australian government. Her parents and sibling have already been denied refugee status (10 Daily).

This is not about ‘real feeling’ towards this family but about a demonstration of real Christianity by Morrison and his Christian colleagues in government.

Both Morrison and I are evangelical Christians. We have this divine responsibility,

‘Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves. Help people who are in trouble. Stand up for what you know is right, and judge all people fairly. Protect the rights of the poor and those who need help’ (Proverbs 31:8-9).

This is a special time when ScoMo can act for this family that does not have the political voice, clout or the emotional strength to stand up to the assertions of Peter Dutton that they are not owed protection’ because they ‘are not refugees’.

Morrison claimed ‘they didn’t come to the country in the appropriate way. They have not been found to have an asylum claim’.

Neither would I if I were fleeing persecution. It was reported in the Liverpool City Champion (Narellan, NSW) that ‘Priya told AAP she saw her fiancé and five other men from her village burned alive before she fled. Her entire family now live as refugees in India’.

Prime Minister, it’s time to step up and demonstrate your genuine Christian convictions.

‘Someone might argue, “Some people have faith, and others have good works.” My answer would be that you can’t show me your faith if you don’t do anything. But I will show you my faith by the good I do’ (James 2:18).

Your Bible-based Christian faith will live up to this requirement, ‘’If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord—and he will repay you’ (Proverbs 19:17).

The two children of asylum seekers Nadesalingam and Priya.

Photo: The two girls were born in Australia but are not Australian citizens. (Supplied: Tamil Refugee Council)

Morrison’s heartless comment was, ‘They can return to Sri Lanka and they can make an application to come to Australia under the same processes as everyone else, anywhere else in the world. And I would hope they do. I would hope they do’ (SMH).

Sending people on meagre wages back to Sri Lanka and hoping they’ll make application to come to Australia as everyone else does is not practising Christianity’s Golden Rule: ‘In everything, do to others what you would want them to do to you’.

Is that how you want to be treated, Mr Morrison? Do you want this harshness inflicted on you? ‘The prime minister says he cannot “in good conscience” allow a Tamil couple and their Australian-born children facing deportation to stay in Australia’.

That’s not a ‘Christian conscience’ based on the Golden Rule’ and God’s care for the needy.

Now Ray Hadley joins with the Honourable Peter Dutton, Minister for Home Affairs, in choofing the family back to Sri Lanka. Why?

“It’s very simple… they lied,” says Ray (on 2GB, 3 September 2019).

“The woman came from Chennai, which is in India. That’s where she set sail from and she’d been living there for an extended period.

“The now-husband had travelled from Sri Lanka to the Middle East on three separate occasions and had returned on three separate occasions”.

ABC News confirmed, ‘He frequently travelled between Sri Lanka, Kuwait and Qatar between 2004 and 2010 for work, during the civil war that ended in 2009’.

Ray: Why was Niya in Chennai? She has made it clear her persecuted family in Sri Lanka had sought asylum in India. The Guardian reported, ‘She initially fled to India, not a refugee convention country and which does not offer protection, with family members’.

Contrary to Ray Hadley’s statement, she was not lying about her circumstances when she left the Indian city of Chennai to seek asylum in Australia. She had fled Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2000 to India, which is not a signatory of the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).

The UNHCR stated although India was not party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, India’s national refugee protection framework ‘continues to grant asylum to a large number of refugees from neighbouring States and respects UNHCR’s mandate for other nationals’.

In 2018, Mr Dutton intervened to prevent two European nannies (au pairs) from being deported from Australia.

‘”It’s quite clear if you look at the ministerial intervention guidelines, this case [of the Tamil family] meets those guidelines more clearly than the two au pair cases in which the minister [Mr Dutton] acted within hours,” said Abul Rizvi, former deputy secretary of the Immigration Department’ (ABC News).

Mr Rizvi was more compassionate towards this family than Morrison, Dutton or Hadley. He told the ABC, ‘We have a clear contest between human decency and appropriate use of the ministerial intervention powers and the minister’s ego’.

Some will be shouting: Keep religion out of politics. That’s impossible to do because all people see life thorough their world views. A world view is like lenses through which we look at reality. Our beliefs about all aspects of life colour our perspective of what happens in the universe.

A Christian world view includes: ‘We must obey God rather than human beings!’ The Scriptures I’ve quoted in this essay demonstrate how the Christian ScoMo, as our national leader, ought to be treating this Tamil family. Instead, his government has put the family through 18 months of trauma, which is hardly a demonstration of Christian kindness.

Glen Campbell’s song comes to mind as I consider what the Coalition government should be doing to the Tamil family,

If you see your brother standing by the road
With a heavy load from the seeds he’s sowed
And if you see your sister falling by the way
Just stop and say, you’re going the wrong way

You got to try a little kindness
Yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you’ll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets

(composers: Curt Sapaugh and Bobby Austin)

This is what we need from the government led by a Christian Prime Minister.

The Tamil family is in our country so we can act christianly towards them. Prime Minister Morrison, you are a Christian. This is how you can demonstrate your Christianity to this family: ‘God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So your new life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind, humble, gentle, and patient’ (Colossians 3:12).

Please intervene immediately. What could be more pointed than this call to you Mr Morrison?

‘Do what God’s teaching says; don’t just listen and do nothing. When you only sit and listen, you are fooling yourselves…. But when you look into God’s perfect law that sets people free, pay attention to it. If you do what it says, you will have God’s blessing. Never just listen to his teaching and forget what you heard’ (James 2:22, 25).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 19 January 2020.

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‘Inclusiveness’ that prostitutes the English language

Image result for clipart Inclusiveness

By Spencer D Gear PhD

The debate over Israel Folau’s statement about sinners, including homosexuals, has led to a prostitution of the English language. I use prostitution in the sense of ‘the act or process of misusing and wasting’ (Macmillan Dictionary 2019. s.v. prostitution).

Read the words of …

1. Rugby League & Union officials who violate the meaning of inclusive

Rugby ball vector clip artPeter Beattie, former chairman of the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) told Fox Sports (5 June 2019):

“Our position on Israel Folau remains the same,” Beattie told AAP.

“We are an inclusive game with respect for all. Israel has social media posts online that go against what our game stands for.

“As it stands, he will not be considered for registration. What Israel chooses to do in relation to his social media posts and his faith is a matter for him”.

Rugby ball vector clip artTwo days after he was announced as the new ARLC chairman, Mr Peter V’landys AM, violated the meaning of inclusiveness with this statement:

The inclusivity of rugby league changed his life as an immigrant child and he has zero tolerance for Folau’s anti-gay messaging.

Former chairman Peter Beattie had previously shut down an attempt by the sacked rugby union star to resume his NRL career, and V’landys has supported the move.

“The game is inclusive. Israel’s comments are not inclusive,” V’landys said (news.com.au, 1 November 2019).

V’landys was adamant: ‘I think we need to be more inclusive and I think the greatest asset our game has is it is very inclusive’.

Rugby ball vector clip artBeattie and V’landys repeated the assessment of Rachel Castle, CEO of Rugby Australia, ‘”Inclusion means inclusion for everybody, and we’ve got portions of our community who were very hurt and upset by Israel’s comments, hence why we are in this situation’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August 2019).

‘Inclusion means inclusion for everybody’. Really? That’s with the exception of being a Christian sportsman who posts on external social media with a warning from the Christian Scriptures:

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(Photo: The image Folau posted on Instagram was accompanied by direct scripture quotes. (Supplied: @izzyfolau), courtesy abc.net.au, 11 May 2019)

Here are three sports’ leaders trumpeting inclusiveness but who have adopted a view of adding an exclusion to the meaning of inclusion. How do we know?

2. The meaning of ‘inclusive’

Dictionary clipartsThe Collins Dictionary (2019. s.v. inclusive) defines the adjective ‘inclusive’ as: ‘If you describe a group or organization as inclusive, you mean that it allows all kinds of people to belong to it, rather than just one kind of person’.

Dictionary clipartsLexico.com (Oxford dictionary) (2019. s.v. inclusive) provides the meaning as: ‘Not excluding any section of society or any party involved in something’.

Dictionary clipartsThe MacMillan Dictionary (2019. s.v. inclusive) describes inclusive as ‘deliberately aiming to involve all types of people’.

Therefore, to have an inclusive policy for Rugby League and Rugby Union teams means ‘all kinds of people’ should belong to them and not ‘just one kind of person’. It involves all types of people, including the secular, various religions (including Christianity), and those with no religion.

To require that a certain religion not express itself in activities outside of the sporting club – especially external to practice and playing games – is to violate the definition of ‘inclusive’. It is another issue if this anti-religious activity is written into the sports’ person’s contract.

Making an exclusion as part of the understanding of inclusion seems to be part of the definition for Peter Beattie, Peter V’landys and Rachel Castle.

3. Inclusive means excluding Christianity

If ‘inclusion’ is ‘for everybody’, why is it not for Folau’s Christianity? Castle, Beattie and V’landys have thus caused ‘inclusion’ to incorporate an exclusion. If Castle agreed with the Collins Dictionary, she would not be in the challenge of the Folau contract. That’s because Christianity must be a part of an inclusive rugby union code.

4. Conclusion

With both the NRL and ARU, it seems to me that we have leaders of the organisations that have written a new, idiosyncratic definition of ‘inclusion’ to exclude those whose beliefs (expressed externally) are those with which they disagree.

I’m of the view, based on the definition of ‘inclusive’, that both the NRL and ARU should have this policy with regard to all players: ‘We welcome players of all religious and non-religious perspectives. What you do off the field is your business, even if it is in public. You will never be excluded from our sports because of your religion’.

The prostitution of the English language by these sporting leaders has required that inclusive incorporate an exclusion – the message of Christianity.

They exclude those whose world views differ from theirs. It’s time for them to get back to the common explanation of ‘inclusive’ that excludes nobody.

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 06 November 2019.

Journalist is out of biblical depth

 

By Spencer D Gear PhD

 

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(photo Israel Folau courtesy The South African)

 

I came across this excellent secular article by Harry Richardson in The Pickering Post, ‘Israel Sparks a Holy War’, 21 April 2019

I consider it to be an excellent well constructed defence of Folau from a secular source. In the article, he makes it obvious he is not supportive of supernatural Christianity.
I’d like to pick up on one of Richardson’s comments: Nowhere in the Bible does it say that equality is a virtue. Tolerance, inclusiveness and diversity don’t get a mention either‘.

How does this statement line up with biblical content?

  • If equality is not a virtue, how do we interpret Adam & Eve being made in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27) and after the Fall, human beings were still said to be in God’s image (Genesis 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7) and likeness of God (James 3:9). Does that mean the Bible teaches equality by all of us being made in God’s image?

For an explanation of the meaning of human beings being made in God’s image, see: ‘What does it mean that humanity is made in the image of God (imago dei)?’ (Got Questions 2019)

  • What about the warning against prejudice/favouritism in James 2 (NLT)?
  • Equality as a virtue is taught in Rom 2:11, ‘For God does not show favoritism’. Human beings demonstrate inequality but God doesn’t.
  • As for tolerance, it is a Christian virtue. As a foundation for life and the nations, it is the belief that the truth will come out eventually. This is a Christian understanding of tolerance: ‘Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love’ (Eph 4:2). In fact, the Christian advocates much more than tolerance. We are told to love our neighbours and our enemies (Mark 12:31; Luke 6:27-36);
  • Is inclusiveness a biblical virtue? Yes it is (see Gal 3:28 for believers). What about for unbelievers? See Mark 2:15-17 (NLT).
  • Diversity is promoted in the multiplicity of gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12; Eph 4:11-12; Rom 12:6-8).

I think Richardson should take a couple Bible courses such as ‘Introduction to the New Testament’ and ‘Survey of the Bible’. He doesn’t know his Bible well enough to make an informed comment like he has made.

 

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 14 July 2019.

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Cricket ball-tampering disease in all of us

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By Spencer D Gear PhD

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(photo of Cameron Bancroft’s cricket ball-tampering, courtesy thesportsrush.com)

This article first appeared in Australia’s e-journal, On Line Opinion, on 13 April 2018, Cricket ball-tampering disease in all of us.

Steve Smith, Dave Warner and Cameron Bancroft have been banned from first-class cricket for ball-tampering in the fourth test in South Africa, 22-26 March 2018. Smith and Warner were banned from all forms of professional cricket for a year while the penalty was a ban of 9 months for Bancroft.

They could play local grade cricket and engage in coaching around the world but could not engage in professional cricket at any level.

Why did they do it? Smith admitted, “We spoke about it and thought it was a possible way to get an advantage … poor choice and, yeah, we’re deeply regrettable”. Bancroft admitted, ‘I saw an opportunity to potentially use some tape and get some granules from the rough patches of the wicket and try to change the ball condition’.

It is easy to pass this off as a violation of cricket’s rules and not being in ‘the spirit of the game’. Also, there have been other ball-tampering incidents with less punishment than for Smith, Warner and Bancroft.

1.  The bigger problem

I have not read the mainstream media’s diagnosis of what I consider is the greater infection. It runs through many sports. Rugby league uses the sin bin, as do rugby union, basketball, ice hockey, soccer and other sports. A player is sent off the playing field for a time, after breaking rules of the game that are not serious enough to deserve expulsion.

There’s a bigger problem that many journalists will avoid describing because it comes from a Christian worldview. Could you imagine this headline?

2.  ‘We are all infected with the ball-tampering virus.’

This would not be a theme in the mass media’s diagnosis of the cricket crisis as it is an analysis from a Judeo-Christian worldview – and that’s too religious for worldly-wise readers.

Related image(image courtesy Pinterest)

The prophet Jeremiah blamed the inside of all individuals for the problems we see in society: ‘The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?’ (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV) So, the headline should be: ‘A deceitful heart is real problem for Australian cricketers’. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) nails the reason for the crisis not only for cricket, ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it’.

It is a major problem for the whole human race. Not one person is exempt from the ball-tampering ‘virus’.

We saw it openly in the Nazi Holocaust, Stalin and Mao’s genocides, terrorism and mass shootings around the world, lies, bullying, theft and adultery. It runs through every human being from infancy to old age.

3.  The cricketers need consequences BUT….

I urge you not to single out the banned Australian cricketers for their deceitful actions. The core problem is devastating for all human beings. The Aussie cricketers provide one more visible example of this evil heart.

This predicament of what is behind ball-tampering runs through us and it springs from the heart. The prophet Jeremiah and the wise man of Proverbs dealt with.…

4.  The heart of the matter

The source of all human difficulties is the total inner being of a person, including reasoning and the will. It’s a comprehensive internal wickedness (depravity) that is the root problem. The heart is more corrupt and incurable – from a human perspective.

You’ll see it with classroom cheats, lies to cover up, bullying, speeding on streets, drugs, crime, violence, terrorism, adultery and sexual abuse. The list goes on and on. Some sports get close to the cause when a severe infraction of rules causes a player to be sin-binned.

(photo of rugby league player sent to the sin bin, courtesy Wikipedia)

Cameron Smith, captain of the Melbourne Storm, experienced it in a Good Friday 2018 match against the Sharks. It was his first sin-binning in a 362 game NRL career for some backchat towards referee Matt Cecchi.

This is a problem that a secular society doesn’t want to diagnose in this way. There are examples on the sporting field and in the law courts. It is a sin problem.

What is sin? According to the Judeo-Christian worldview, it is breaking God’s standards (1 John 3:4-5; Isaiah 64:6).

It runs through all of us – not only criminals, murderers and terrorists.

I, the writer, am infected with the same ‘disease’. I’ve lied to get my own way, had outbursts of anger, and times of withholding certain information. Even though my heart has been changed through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, to my dying day I have to battle this sinful nature within that wants to follow the theme of Frank Sinatra’s song, ‘I did it my way’. But I do have added strength to deal with my sin through God’s power.

5.  Cricketers sought forgiveness

Why would banned cricketers seek forgiveness – a very Christian action – from the cricketing public? There is a solution for those who want to experience radical inner change. It has brought change to Queens and no-hopers, sports people, music superstars, and ordinary folks on the streets or in the country.
Who wants to quit cheating (ball tampering, on exams, work pilfering), lying, deceit and adultery through this radical commitment to Jesus Christ?

It’s for all who seek God’s forgiveness.

When former captain, Steve Smith, arrived back in Australia on 29 March 2018, he said: ‘I am sorry…. I hope in time I can earn back respect and forgiveness. I’ve been so privileged and honoured to represent my country and captain the Australian cricket team. Cricket is the greatest game in the world. It’s been my life and I hope it can be again.’

Bancroft explained: ‘It is something I will regret for the rest of my life. All I can do in the short term is ask for forgiveness‘.

Warner: ‘I’m here to take full responsibility for the part I played in this. It’s extremely regrettable. I’m very sorry‘ (31 March 2018).

When Darren Lehmann quit as coach of the Australian cricket team, on 29 March 2018 at Johannesburg, a day prior to the start of the fourth and last test against South Africa, he echoed similar repentant sentiments: ‘I hope the team rebuilds from this and the Australian public finds it in their hearts to forgive these young men and get behind the XI who are going to take the field tomorrow’.

6.  What is forgiveness?

It was a coincidence that these announcements came the day before Good Friday which celebrates the greatest act of sacrifice for sins committed – Jesus’ crucifixion – to provide forgiveness for sin.

To forgive, is to surrender my right to get even with or hurt someone who has hurt me. It means to wipe the slate clean after some sin against me. I am pardoned and the debt is cancelled when I am forgiven. We don’t forgive because the other person deserves forgiveness. We do it out of grace love and mercy.

The Christian worldview maintains we forgive others because God has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32).

The love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13:5 confirms that if God’s unconditional love has changed a person, ‘it keeps no record of being wronged’.

Wouldn’t it be a game changer if Australians so understood the need for loving forgiveness towards the three Australian cricketers that they will return to first-class cricket and no record of their wrong-doing will be kept, to be repeated.

The issue is the sin nature running through all of us and the cricket ball-tampering is one public example that has exploded in coverage through the mass and social media.

7.  Hang on! There are serious objections to your indoctrination.

I anticipate some harsh opposition:

  • That’s only your opinion;
  • You’re forcing your religious view on people;
  • It’s propaganda and you are using the Aussie cricket cheating fiasco to promote your religious fairy tale;
  • How dare you push religion like this!

This originally was an On Line Opinion piece. Such writings uphold the writer’s views. I could address these protests, but that is for another time. For objections to the content of my article seee the ‘Comments’ section. Note some of the logical fallacies used by commentors rather than dealing with the issues I raised.

8.  Telling the truth

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(image courtesy YouTube)

One of the New Testament Greek words for truth or truthfulness is aletheia, which sometimes means true to reality as opposed to mere appearance. As this article has attempted to show, not only the ball-tampering scandal, but all of humanity is contaminated by the sinful nature. That’s the truth, the reality.

A secular society needs to face the music of consequences of a non-religious worldview.

The cricket scandal was played out for most of us to see via the media. What about that stolen exercise book from school, slipping a Mars Bar into your pocket as you pass through the check-out, self-service check-out fraud at supermarkets, lies of convenience, and sexual immorality? Turn on the TV or read newspapers to see examples of crime and violence, killing by speedsters on the roads, mass killings of students in schools or on the streets.

These examples are not exceptions. They are the norm and should be expected because all people have problems with deceitful hearts.

9. The solution

There is a permanent fix for the problem but the solution is very Christian. We need to follow the advice of the newly released persecuted prisoners, Paul and Silas, to the Philippian jailer: ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus. Then you and everyone living in your house will be saved’.

Some NRL players are unashamed to display and promote the solution through Jesus Christ’s salvation. Kevin Naiqama of NRL team, Wests Tigers, has tattoos of the Last Supper across his lower back and Jesus Christ’s crucifixion on his upper back. The Bible verses John 3:16 and Romans 10:9 are on his chest.

What is his purpose in doing this? His words were, ‘I want them to identify me with my faith and know that I am a follower of Jesus and not ashamed. It’s my identity‘.

There is a permanent solution to the ‘cricket cheating’ disease infecting all of us. It offers a worldview of a difference.

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 13 April 2018.

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Another scam email

Scam Laptop Shows Scheming Hoax Deceit And Fraud Online

(courtesy dreamstime.com)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This is a  scam email I received on 23 January 2016:

Subject: ACCOUNT 7.0 UPDATE
Date: Sat, 23 Jan 2016 07:20:53 +0100
From: Mail iiNet <[email protected]>

DEAR iiNet USER,

We have upgraded the security on all account due to complain on identity theft, You are advised to update your account. Click, Updated Page for instant update
Regards,

©2016 iiNet Web, Inc

The indicators of a hoax

Fraud Warning(courtesy dreamstime.com)

 

These hoax indicators are mixed with signs of the real thing. My Internet provider is iinet.com.au. The hoax is from ‘Mail iiNet’ that looks like iinet and is addressed to ‘DEAR iiNet USER’. It is signed, ‘©2016 iiNet Web, Inc’. This reads oh so normal.

BUT, there is a give-away indicator and it is one that should always be checked with unknown and unexpected messages that come from one’s Internet provider or from any other source. Who is the email from? The full address of the person or organisation is, ‘Mail iiNet <[email protected]>’ The address in this line gives it away: [email protected]. That is not iinet but a scam, hoax, fraud – however you want to put it.

That email address told me it was not from iinet, but was a scam, designed to get me to link to some scam website that was called ‘Updated Page’ for security. Who knows what I would have encountered if I had clicked on ‘Updated Page’, What would have happened to my PC?

There is another indicator of it being a possible hoax. That is found in the incorrect grammar used in the email: ‘We have upgraded the security on all account (sic) due to complain (sic) on identity theft’. These two spelling errors signify it was possibly sent from an overseas and foreign source without knowledge of some fundamental English grammar and spelling.

What to do with the spam email

Computer Monitor Screen ...(courtesy shutterstock)

 

I immediately forwarded it to iinet Provisioning Team at: [email protected], advising that ‘this is a hoax email I received re iinet and thought I should advise you of this’.

Then I removed it from my email inbox by choosing the letter j to send it to the junk folder (I use Thunderbird as my email programme).

Be warned!

If an email looks fishy in its title or content, it probably is. Make sure you read the sender’s email address carefully. There you will pick up the hoax or scam email signs in a wrong address. If you have any doubts, forward a copy to your Internet provider and ask if this email is sourced from that provider.

The more emails that come into our inbox, the higher the risk of receiving hoax and potentially dangerous email will be. We can be caught, unless we remain vigilant all of the time.

May you enjoy your computing, while taking the necessary precautions.

 

Copyright © 2016 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 25 January 2016.

I fell for an email hoax

an attack happened here by Andy_Gardner

The hoax email sounded so plausible

By Spencer D Gear PhD

I have been warning people on this homepage since 2013 about the damage done by hoax email and misinformation on the Internet.

However, on 7 January 2016 I was a sucker to such an email myself. When I woke up to its content and origin, I deleted it immediately. This is how it happened.

Hoax email content

I received an email with a heading that incorporated UPS [United Parcel Service]. Since I have lived in the USA, I knew of the extensive delivery of packages by UPS. The email stated that a UPS package was unable to be delivered to me and that I should pick it up at my local UPS agency. There was an attachment that gave the details.

What caused me to query such a statement in my mind was that I live in Australia and do not know of a local UPS agency. UPS is a USA based agency that has a worldwide distribution network.

What made it sound plausible was that it gave a delivery number and there was an attachment that I attempted to open. It was then that I realised this was a hoax with a nasty intent. My virus protector kicked in with a scan.

I immediately looked at the sender’s email address and it had no connection to UPS.

Confirmation of evil intent

I went searching to find if this kind of hoax had been experienced by others. Snopes.com confirmed the fraudulent nature of this email:

#We have become aware there is a fraudulent email being sent that says it is coming from UPS and leads the reader to believe that a UPS shipment could not be delivered. The reader is advised to open an attachment reportedly containing a waybill for the shipment to be picked up.
This email attachment contains a virus. We recommend that you do not open the attachment, but delete the email immediately.
UPS may send official notification messages on occasion, but they rarely include attachments. If you receive a notification message that includes an attachment and are in doubt about its authenticity, please contact [email protected].
Please note that UPS takes its customer relationships very seriously, but cannot take responsibility for the unauthorized actions of third parties (snopes.com 1995-2016, ‘Package Delivery Virus’).

address book

The UPS offers this warning on its website, ‘New Fraudulent Email Circulating’. It stated:

View Examples of Fraudulent Emails

Please be advised that UPS does not request payments, personal information, financial information, account numbers, IDs, passwords, or copies of invoices in an unsolicited manner through email, mail, phone, or fax or specifically in exchange for the transportation of goods or services. UPS accepts no responsibility for any costs or charges incurred as a result of fraudulent activity.

In its preventive work to fight fraud, UPS recommended this approach:

Help Us Prevent Email Fraud

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If you suspect someone is fraudulently claiming to be UPS, let us know. Email us at [email protected]. Reporting fake or bogus emails helps us in our fight against criminal activity.
UPS is a global company with one of the most recognized and admired brands in the world. Occasionally, fraudsters take advantage of UPS’s reputation by using our name or services to target your personal and sensitive business information. By creating tempting downloads and attractive websites, fraudsters can lure you to links that prompt you to enter sensitive information or download malware — malicious software such as viruses or spyware. While UPS is not liable for the actions of third parties, we are working to prevent and detect fraud where possible (Fight Fraud, 1994-2016. United Parcel Service of America Inc).

Unfortunately, I had deleted the email I received before I was able to report it to UPS. In fact, it was only after deletion that I investigated what UPS recommended that I should do.

Criteria for identifying email and Internet hoaxes

The Australian government has online help with its article, ‘Recognise scam or hoax emails and websites’ (Department of Communications and the Arts).

WikiHow has a valuable article on How to Spot an Email Hoax or Phishing Scam. This article deals with:

# Understanding Phishing

# Spotting the Hoax

# When Not to Reply (Most Times)

# Hoax-Proofing Yourself and Your Family Questions and Answers

Alert

On 7 January 2016, I learned these criteria from the mistakes I made:

1. If the wording of the heading of the email sounds strange, it probably is and warning bells should be ringing not to open it.

2. I should have recognised this as I’ve had nothing to do with UPS and knew of nobody who was sending me a parcel via UPS. My three overseas books from the UK had arrived in the last few days and I knew they were coming through Australia Post.

3. Then look at the email address of the sender. Is it an email with which you are unfamiliar or is it a variation of a familiar email, but with some contamination?

4. If so, do not open the email but go searching the hoax sites (see below), using the exact wording of your email content, to investigate if this is a phishing method that has been used previously and is being used on you.

5. If possible, advise the reputable source that may be associated with the hoax email so that it knows of this contamination of its product.

Beware of those email fraudsters

Many people are falling victim to circulating Internet and email hoaxes about various subjects. I got caught myself yesterday. We are all vulnerable to these con men and women on the Internet who want our money and to ruin our computers and reputations through spreading viruses.

Many of these hoaxes can be checked out at various sites on the Internet that investigate possible hoax emails and Internet smears. These are the ones I use regularly:

#Snopes.com;

#Urban Legends;

#Hoax-Slayer; and

#TruthorFiction.com.

 

Copyright © 2016 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 8 January 2016.

Logical fallacies hijack discussions[1]

By Spencer D Gear

Over the last 15 years, I have participated in 6 Christian forums[2] and one secular forum worldwide.  I’ve discovered that one of the most common ways to high jack a discussion has been with the use of logical fallacies.

What is a logical fallacy? To put it simply, it is an error in reasoning. It is a way of stating an argument where the the premises given do not support the conclusion in a statement. It is illogic in action. When this happens, it is difficult to have a logical discussion with a person.

I’ve been greatly helped in understanding the use of logical fallacies by Dr. Michael C. Labossiere, the author of a fallacy tutorial. You can find his material on The Nizkor Project site.

I mention two common fallacies that I see on Christian forum sites:

File:Kipper.JPG

kipper (wikimedia)

A.    The red herring fallacy

Labossiere explains:

A Red Herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to “win” an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic. This sort of “reasoning” has the following form:

1. Topic A is under discussion.

2. Topic B is introduced under the guise of being relevant to topic A (when topic B is actually not relevant to topic A).

3. Topic A is abandoned.

This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because merely changing the topic of discussion hardly counts as an argument against a claim (Fallacy: Red Herring).

This can happen on any Christian forum when a person, say, is discussing reasons for opposing once-saved-always-saved (OSAS) with Bible verses. A person can reply that that is not what the Bible teaches and then give a group of Bible verses to oppose the person who opposed OSAS. What does this do? It does not deal with the exact verses that a person used to oppose OSAS. The response was off and running with pro-OSAS verses. This is using a red herring fallacy and logical discussion is brought to a halt as the issue is not being dealt with – the verses that oppose OSAS.

Another fallacy that often arises is:

B.    The straw man fallacy

Labossiere’s explanation is:

The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position. This sort of “reasoning” has the following pattern:

1. Person A has position X.

2. Person B presents position Y (which is a distorted version of X).

3. Person B attacks position Y.

4. Therefore X is false/incorrect/flawed.

This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because attacking a distorted version of a position simply does not constitute an attack on the position itself. One might as well expect an attack on a poor drawing of a person to hurt the person (Fallacy: Straw Man).

I have seen this fallacy from time to time in two situations:

(a) When anti-charismatics try to expose the ‘error’ of Pentecostals. A false view of Pentecostals is not difficult to construct when one sees extremism in the movement. However, when all Pentecostals are painted with the extremist brush, it is using a straw man fallacy.

(b) Calvinists who paint Arminians as Pelagians or semi-Pelagians. This is using a straw man fallacy.

There are a number of other fallacies I’ve seen used on Christian forums. These have included:

Image result for clipart stars

Ad hominem. Most moderators of Christian forums exclude this fallacy because it most often is a flaming or goading technique.

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Begging the question (or circular reasoning). This is where a person reaches a conclusion but it is based on his/her premise. Of course that will be the conclusion reached because the person’s presuppositions demand that conclusion.

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Appeal to authority;

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Genetic fallacy.

The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Do any logical fallacies bother you in discussions with people on Christian and other forums or in discussions with people? Do you remind them of these fallacies? It is good to know the name and nature of logical fallacies. A professor of IT attends my church and he tells me that it really gets under his skin when students and staff use logical fallacies.

What say that we watch each other and the fallacies we might use in any responses on Christian forums or in personal discussions?

Some other sites dealing with logical fallacies include:

Image result for clipart colored arrow public domain

A list of fallacious arguments’,

Image result for clipart colored arrow public domain

Logical fallacies’;

Image result for clipart colored arrow public domain

‘Logical fallacies and the art of debate’;

Image result for clipart colored arrow public domain

Logical fallacies’;

Image result for clipart colored arrow public domain

Online Writing Lab: Logical fallacies’ (20wl, Purdue).

Image result for clipart colored arrow public domain

 ‘Logically Fallacious‘. This is a very large website with the most extensive range of logical fallacies I’ve encountered online.

Notes


[1] I started a thread with this title at Christianity Board, Christian debate forum, ‘Logical fallacies high jack discussion’, OzSpen#1, available at: http://www.christianityboard.com/topic/21503-logical-fallacies-high-jack-discussion/ (Accessed 26 May 2015).

[2] These have included Christian Fellowship Forum, Christian Forums.com, Christian Forums.net, Christianity Board, UK Christian Web, another UK forum whose exact title I forget, and On Line Opinion (Australian e-journal). Christian Fellowship Forum has been closed.

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 30 July 2019.

     

The Coalition’s NBN lemon

clip_image002

Fibre to the premises design (courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

If I were in charge of building a new highway from Brisbane to my hometown of Bundaberg, Qld., Australia, I’d want it to be the best bitumen highway for the 21st century all the way – 373 km or 232 miles (courtesy travelmath).

Imagine if it was bitumen for about 360 km of the road and a dirt, corrugated road for the remaining 13km. Well that’s the parallel we have with the Coalition government’s National Broadband Network (NBN) Internet plan. This is a statement about that plan:

The new NBN model will now see the massive infrastructure project rolled out to 26 per cent of premises with direct fibre connections by 2020, while a further 44 per cent would have fibre to the node — which uses Telstra’s existing copper network for the final few hundred metres to homes. Thirty per cent would get a service using hybrid fibre coaxial pay-TV cables (Mitchell Bingemann, ‘Coalition orders “technology mix” to officially replace Labor’s NBN plan’, The Australian, April 09, 2014).

While this article said the Coalition model would cost less than the Labor plan, the facts for this model are that 44% of people will be receiving fibre to the node and the remaining copper network will be used to the house. It is like a bitumen highway for all but 13km of the trip from Brisbane to Bundaberg.

It was put brilliantly by a person who wrote to the Brisbane Times on the topic of ‘TPG declares dial-up dead’ (January 16, 2015):

3rd world internet and this mob think leaving the copper in place with some fibre bits will make a difference? a bit like building a freeway that ends in cobbles and dung at the exit for the last couple of km home, or a bullet train that stops while you change for the horse towed tram on the last bit .. you still can’t get even ADSL where we live on coast 200km south of Sydney, the plug in USB stick aerial on my roof works now and again at snail speeds if not too many people are on it (amateur hour, 16 January 2015).

Savings at a galloping slow pace

BUT, Malcolm Turnbull, Minister of Communications, and the one responsible for the government’s roll-out of the NBN, tells us that

the NBN Co’s Strategic Review published in December 2013 found that if we had continued the project under the settings in Labor’s plan, typical household broadband bills would have increased by up to 80 per cent or $43 per month. And that is the inevitable consequence of a more expensive network (‘Why Labor Got It Wrong on Broadband in the Bush’, Malcolm Turnbull, 12 December 2014)

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(NBN Co wireless outdoor antenna, courtesy Wikipedia)

Mitchell Bingemann summarised the differences between Labor and the Coalition on the NBN:

While Labor’s model proposed to roll out super-fast optic fibre to premises for 93 per cent of Australian homes, the Coalition’s strategic review into the NBN found that model would have needed $29bn more in peak funding than the $44bn forecast because of cost blowouts and revenue targets that were never achievable.

In that review it was estimated that in total, Labor’s plan would have cost $73bn and missed its 2021 deadline by three years (source HERE).

It’s a lemon

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(courtesy Healthmad, public domain)

Before the Coalition won the federal election to government on 7th September 2013 (The Sydney Morning Herald, Sept 12, 2013), there was this provocative interchange that was reported by The Australian newspaper (online), ‘Coalition NBN policy is a lemon: critics’, 9 April 2013:[1]

RMIT University telecommunications expert and senior lecturer Mike Gregory said the policy wasn’t a sensible answer to Australia’s communications needs.

“This is the biggest lemon in Australia’s history,” Dr Gregory told AAP.

“What they are trying to do is offer us a bag of lollies by saying we can do it cheaper and faster, but what we are really being sold is a lemon.”

The coalition’s NBN would cut costs by using Telstra’s copper network from the node to premises in city and most rural areas – bypassing Labor’s plan to roll out optic fibre cable all the way.

“We will build fibre-to-the-node and that eliminates two-thirds of the cost,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Sydney.

Conclusion

When new fibre cable directly to the house is not there for 44% of houses we are being sold a bummer of an NBN. I consider this to be a foolish plan that will offer a large chunk of Aussies a stingy broadband Internet service. They will have a horse and sulky service for the last few kilometres at the end of the freeway.

A friend who is an IT professional told me that he is livid about what the Coalition is doing to super fast broadband services that are needed for the 21st century.

It’s a lemon of a plan, a sour end to what could have been a sweet, powerful National Broadband Network, because:

  • It is like allowing an old road, suitable for an old, old truck, to be allowed to continue when the road needs a super fast highway for the 21st century.
  • It’s like a freeway that ends in cobbles and dung;
  • It’s like having a bullet train that stops at the end so that passengers can be towed to their destination on a horse drawn tram.

(Single by the Mojo Singers, courtesy Wikipedia)

You can do better than that. Is it going to take a change of government to achieve a super fast communications highway, all the way from Brisbane to Bundaberg – and without 10 km of dirt track – and then all around the country?

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Partial map of the Internet based on the January 15, 2005 data found on opte.org. Each line is drawn between two nodes (courtesy Wikipedia)

Notes


[1] Accessed 21 January 2015.

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

Death by computer: An app may tell you

(courtesy public domain)

By Spencer D Gear

Would you believe that an app has been created to try to predict the date and time of your death?  What next? Take a read of this brief article in Time magazine, ‘This App Predicts When You’re Going to Die‘.

The Time magazine article explained: ‘Feed the app basic information about your medical history and lifestyle, and it spits out the date that might just appear on your tombstone, along with a countdown clock that lets you watch as the seconds evaporate into regret’. The article explained that Deadline’s ‘prediction is nothing more than a statistical estimation, and regular doctor visits are still a good idea’.

Deadline’s accuracy

(courtesy clker.com)

The app is called, ‘Deadline’, but when you go to that link it does at least admit the limitations of this app: ‘Deadline uses statistical information to attempt to determine your date of expiration, but no app can really accurately determine when you will die, so consider this a way to motivate yourself to be healthier, and consult a physician as necessary’.

A God’s-eye view

How do the Christian Scriptures regard the date and time of your expiration – your death? Let’s check out some verses:

1 Samuel 2:6, ‘The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up’ (NIV).[1]

Job 14:5, ‘A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed’.

Psalm 39:4, ‘”Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is’.

Psalm 104:29-30, ‘When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. 30 When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.

Psalm 139:16, ‘Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be’.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, 11, ‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot…. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end’.

James 4:13-15, ‘Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that”’.

Whom will you believe?

Which one are you going to believe? Will it be the word of the computer (a Deadline view)? Or will you choose the word of the Lord (the guaranteed originator of life and the one who determines the when and how of your death)?

I know the One to whom I am committed. He also is that one who said, ‘Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him’ (Hebrews 9:27-28).

Notes


[1] All Bible quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible.

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 20 November 2015.

How to get people to read Internet posts and email

Internet  Clip Art

clker.com

(courtesy )

Are there any techniques of the advertising trade that could help to attract people to read your posts to your homepage and Internet forums? Will these same tactics improve the rate of reading of email you send?

Do you suspect that many people don’t read your posts on the Internet? Do you have a hunch that your email often makes it to the delete bin rather quickly?

I contribute to a large forum, Christian Forums, and to the theological area. I’m of the view that many posts are not read because they are in directories that have official theological labels such as Soteriology; Paterology, Christology & Pneumatology; Ecclesiology; Hamartiology; etc. This is not the language of everyday folks. It is for theology buffs.

What can you do to prevent your posts from being consigned to the no-read file? Or email to the delete bucket?

How to get people to the first step: Read it

 

I came across this article in The Brisbane Times, ‘How to get people to read your emails‘. I found these principles just as important for Internet posts as for email and other writing. These are the same principles I used when writing advertising copy for radio and TV quite a few years ago.

Why don’t you take a read of this article? To give you a taste of the principles, the first two are:

  1. Use punchy subject lines;
  2. Write newsy no-nonsense copy.

There are 6 points that are easy to read and could be adapted quite easily to Internet forums and email.

What do you think is the sixth point?

Some examples of punchy subject lines

Let’s try a few examples of punchy subject lines in that Internet forum:

clip_image002 ‘Soteriology’ deals with the Christian teaching on salvation. Some punchy lines on this topic could be:

  • Bloody cure for bloody crimes;
  • Why would God waste his time?
  • Save the criminals.

clip_image002[1] ‘Hamartiology’ is the Christian teaching on sin. Could these be some punchy lines for an Internet forum?

  • It’s worse than you think.
  • All of us have the criminal in us.
  • Sinful stupidity.
  • Self-esteem nonsense.

clip_image002[2] Christian apologetics should provide plenty of opportunities for punchy subject lines. Let’s try a few:

  • Who made God?
  • Why doesn’t God stop all of the crap in the world?
  • Why does a loving God let paedophiles rape children?
  • Jesus’ resurrection is fanciful nonsense.

In these kinds of topics, there are plenty opportunities for ‘newsy no-nonsense copy’ to provide answers to these provocative topics. I consider that Christian Forums should drop its fancy theological names. Change

  • Soteriology     clip_image004 Salvation
  • Paterology      clip_image004[1] God the Father
  • Christology      clip_image004[2] Jesus Christ
  • Pneumatology clip_image004[3] The Holy Spirit
  • Ecclesiology    clip_image004[4] The Church
  • Hamartiology clip_image004[5] Sin

 

Conclusion

The principles stated in this article from The Brisbane Times are very simple and could be used by anyone. But there is a challenge: How does a person use these principles to gain clout with email and Internet posts? That will take practice and I recommend using a group experience to bounce ideas off people to help refine the methodology.

Anyone can improve his/her email and Internet forum titles, but it will take quite a bit of practice to make these principles work for you. I find them very practical and important in gaining clout in communication.

Email Clip Art

(courtesy  clker.com)

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 12 November 2015.