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Showing posts from July, 2005

Hobart bound

Ari is off to Tassie today for a four day adventure at the Australian Adult Debating Tournament. Should be a fun couple of days away. Any Tasweigans who want to get in touch, drop me an email. (And before you all ask, no, I don't need a map - schoolboy snigger, schoolboy snigger).

Carr to go Federal?

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Catching some by surprise, NSW Premier Bob Carr has called it quits... for now. Strangely, the media have been remarkably coy about speculating on Carr's true motivation, naively taking the man on his word that he is keen to "spend more of (his) time in a nice way". Normally a euphemism like this would be pounced on by the media, and held up to the ridicule that it deserves. Not this time around.

Speaking purely from educated speculation, it seems clear that Carr is keen to be the next Labor Prime Minister. Carr is 58 this year, so still has plenty of good years ahead of him. He has a national profile, a high approval rating, and plenty of achievements under his political belt. Carr would be an ideal member of the Federal Labor team, clearing away some of the dead wood and injecting some ideas and passion into an otherwise moribund front bench.

Consider the timing: the next Federal election is a little over two years away, and Labor preselections will take place ea…

Melbourne Uni: stuck in a rut?

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Being the university nerd that I am, last Thursday I headed to Parkville to hear from the Vice-Chancellor, Glyn Davis (a person I knew remarkably little about beforehand, including but not only the pronunciation of his first name). VC Davis - I don't think he refers to me as UG Sharp, but he might one day - was speaking about the Melbourne Agenda, a grand document which spells out what most organisations would all a "Corporate Plan". The original was a twenty year plan launched in 1996, and the current round of consultations is part of the half-way review. This latest round has been given the rather grand title: "Growing Esteem: Choices for the University of Melbourne". Whatever. For more info on that stuff, head this way.



Anyhow, last Thursday the VC was speaking about the discussion paper for the review, and said plenty of things worth noting. Sadly, it was a room filled with ageing academics, and there were few of the undergraduate students who constitu…

Pilger's racism

As another bomb scare hits London (no, not Glenn McGrath's five wickets in the last session), it's worth having a look at what that great Australian apologist for terror John Pilger has to say. Writing in The New Stateman this week, the activist who masquerades as a journalist writes:

Blair brought home to this country his and George W Bush's illegal, unprovoked and blood-soaked adventure in the Middle East. Were it not for his epic irresponsibility, the Londoners who died in the Tube and on the No 30 bus almost certainly would be alive today.

One thing that hasn't been examined (until now) and deserves plenty of attention is the anti-Muslim racism inherant in this oft-repeated arguement by Pilger et al. To justify the terror attacks of the past few years as the product of US/UK/Australian foreign policy is to suggest that those who carry out the attacks have a complete lack of responsibility for their own actions. It is based on the premise that Muslims are so depriv…

North Korea: book review and more

Gavan McCormack is a veteran Asia watcher from ANU, and his latest book is Target North Korea, a new and surprisingly generous take on North Korea and the nuclear issue. McCormack argues that North Korea's woes are largely the fault of the US, whom he argues has pushed the DPRK into a diplomatic and intellectual corner. Faced with humiliation at the hands of an arrogant US, the North has reacted as any other state would under the same pressure, and lashed out.

Some of the background provided by McCormack is illuminating to me as a relatively new Korea watcher. The account of the Korean War are interesting, and suggest that the truth lies somewhere part way between that told at the Korean War Museum in Seoul and the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang. From McCormack's account, the US was brutal in the long and fruitless war, with many of the most vicious acts all its own. Equally, the history of South Korea was checkered. Up until its 1987 "democ…

A Devil Inside: Mechanics Institute, Brunswick

Economist John Maynard Keynes once said that “in the long run, we’re all dead,” and it was perhaps this saying that inspired lively American playwright David Lindsay-Abaire in his quirky comedy-drama A Devil Inside. Without giving away too much of the thrilling climax, at the end the lights go out with more than half the cast lying dead on stage. Thankfully, though, the murder and mayhem doesn’t seem forced or labourered at all, and seems like a natural conclusion to a hyper-bizarre series of coincidences.

This recent play from Lindsay-Abaire is being performed in Melbourne by Act-O-Matic 3000, a theatre group who have taken it upon themselves to bring to Australian audiences some innovative and cutting-edge plays. In the words of the program notes, A Devil Inside was a change of pace for the group, who have recognised the importance of a good laugh and aim “to share (this) with the gravitas-weary independent theatre goer.” Amen.

A Devil Inside is the ultimate ensemble performance. …

The Yes Men

For years Culture Jammers have taken a creative approach to the anti-corporate message. In the 1980s it was the clever defacement of cigarette advertisements, in the 1990s it was the era of the mass corproate protest, but what is it in the 2000s? If The Yes Men is any guide, the next step is sophisticated identity theft. The Yes Men is the latest in a growing collection of hip, streetwise, lefty documentaries, and even has the obligatory talking head of Michael Moore for no good reason other than the fact that his name on the poster sells tickets and give credibility (for some unknown reason) to any cause left of centre.

In this doco (or docu, to be more linguistically-correct), three spaced out young Americans travel around the world pretending to be representatives of the World Trade Organisation. The caper started out through a bogus website which was convincingly similar to the real one, and takes on a life of its own as our three protaganists head to conferences in Austria, Fi…

Africa: Trade or Aid?

I've made it into print (well, pixels, really) promoting quite a radical free-market solution to poverty in Africa. Here's the conclusion:

There is plenty of evidence that an aid-based solution to African poverty does not work. For decades since the colonial powers slowly withdrew from the continent, there has been a trillion dollars (according to the BBC) spent on aid since 1950, there is little to show in terms of quality of life, infrastructure or democracy. Even if the G8 commitment to aid is fulfilled, this is likely to merely add to the pile of squandered aid. Instead, a trade-based solution is needed. Politically, it’s a tough message to sell, and Blair, Bush and Chirac will face plenty of opposition from the loud farm lobby in each of their countries. For the sake of genuine change in Africa, though, it's a battle worth fighting, and with the might of the G8 countries behind it, it’s a magic wand worth tapping.

Read the rest on Vibewire.

UPDATE, 13/7 6:10PM. Well do…

Second Helping: North Melbourne Town Hall

A veteran teacher and a young student teacher debate the ways of teaching Aboriginal history to students. The matronly teacher insists on teaching the classic textbook variety of history, with the notion of an ice bridge from Asia being the original path taken by the First People. Discontent with this take on events, the student teacher – an Aboriginal woman - instead defends her method of teaching Aboriginal history, which involves helping students using dance to understand the spirituality of the animal world. Reaching a stalemate in their dispute, the two combatants do the only sensible thing: stage an almighty bitchfight to the throbbing tunes of Michael Jackson’s Beat It, and assume ridiculous confrontational poses seen only in Tarantino’s Kill Bill and Alexandra Gardens during early morning Tai Chi. As you do.

This unusual non-sequitur represents the high point of bizarreness in this collection of sketches, Second Helping. Second Helping is a performance with an unorthodox …

Corby as Reality TV

The Schapelle Corby case is the ulimate in reality TV, according to Media Studies academic Dr Krishna Sen. Public interest in the case was boosted by the lack of alternative reality TV shows at the time, and the media's telling of the story has resembled its gameshow counterparts. The event has several 'episodes', whilst series one came to its climax with the verdict in late May, and series two is just now commencing as the appeal process commences. Keeping us all entertained in the meantime was Douglas Wood doing his best Houdini impersonation in a TV series of his own. It's a persuasive argument, and perhaps takes post-modernism to new heights (or perhaps depths) in the uncomfortable fusion between news and entertainment.

Dr Sen was the most lively and original speaker amongst a panel of three at an Asialink event today discussing depictions of Asia in Australia. The other two were Dr Tim Lindsey - who joked that he felt like a "Professor of Corby Studies&qu…

Time to get connected

It's been a busy week for Ari-on-the-web, making the big move from the family home into a comfy little apartment in the tres-chic South Yarra. Posts will be a little slow until we get the internet connection happening at the new place. Any suggestions on a cheap and reliable internet service (and if these requirements didn't already rule out Telstra, then I will now. No Telstra, thanks)?