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Showing posts from February, 2006

Bringing competition to politics

It's preselection time again, and the intensity of the battle seems a little stronger than usual. Here in Victoria half a dozen sitting Labor MPs (Corcoran, Crean, Jenkins, O'Connor, Sercombe, Vamvakinou) are facing carefully orchestrated challenges. There are plenty of commentators tut-tutting it, dismissing it as a source of disunity and observing that many of the challenges are merely the result of the shifting sands of faction politics.

I, for one, would like to stand up for the challengers.

Free markets are wonderful things. Healthy competition keeps all players on their toes and requires them to strive for quality and innovation to survive in a Darwinian marketplace. The same is true of members of parliament. Without the threat of competition, MPs can become self-absorbed, slothful and lazy and do little more than, quite literally, occupy a seat. It's bad for them, it's bad for their constituents, and it's bad for their party.

Given that many Labor MPs f…

Ari's on the Beat

It may have taken 1001 issues, but I've made it into the hallowed inky printed halls of Beat Magazine (no, not this one) as a freelancer. Eager beavers can pick up the free streetpress mag all around town (page 28, up the top), or enjoy its fruits in the comfort of your own seedy internet cafe, right here, right now. Though the finished product was editted a little, here's the original. For what it's worth, the Latin American Film Festival is most definately worth a look if you're in Melbourne this weekend:

Festival: Melbourne Latin American Film Festival 2006
By Ari Sharp

Australians first flocked to see Latin America on film several years ago when the Buena Vista Social Club hit our screens. With a sumptuous mix of cool Cuban beats, lively but ageing rockers and a romanticism of Castro's socialism, the film provided a window on a part of the world that otherwise remained mysterious and distant. Though it was seen through the discerning eye of German director Wi…

As you do...

Two very different responses to the Mohammed cartoons.

Firstly, the Muslim population of Nigeria demonstrate why it's offensive and absurd to suggest they might be prone to violence, and why those of us who make the suggestion should be flaggelating as we speak:

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria -- Nigerian Muslims protesting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad attacked Christians and burned churches Saturday, killing at least 15 people in the deadliest confrontation yet in the whirlwind of Muslim anger over the drawings.

It was the first major protest to erupt over the issue in Africa's most populous nation. Mobs of Muslim protesters swarmed through the city center with machetes, sticks and iron rods. One group threw a tire around a man, poured gasoline on him and set him ablaze.

Rioters burned 15 churches in Maiduguri in a three-hour rampage before troops and police reinforcements restored order, Nigerian police spokesman Haz Iwendi said. He said security forces arrested dozens of people in th…

Deregistered Democrats?

Of late I've received some news on the fate of the party of which I was once a member and electioncandidate: the Democrats. In this case, the Victorian division. It seems that the Victorian Electoral Commission are mounting an audit of the membership of the beleagured party, and are seeking to determine whether it has the 500 members required to be a registered political party.

As the VEC explains on its website:

To be eligible for registration, a political party must have at least 500 members who are Victorian electors, are members in accordance with the rules of the party and are not members of another registered political party or of a party applying for registration.

According to one source, the cut off time for the audit is sometime in June, but the party is well short of the 500 required and so is unlikely to make the grade. Democrats internal structures are notorious for being highly bureaucratic and labour-intensive, with various committees and sub-committees used to gover…

Speed thrills

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Finally, a cheap and easy way for me to chrome speed at my own convenience:



An energy drink, as purchased in the blink-and-you-miss-it town of Metung. Where, incidentally, three of the fifteen shops in town are real estate agencies, so when the property bubble bursts, it may well start there. I guess the speed might come in handy.

The Holocaust: A real side-splitter

The question has been posed about what my position is on the holocaust cartoon competition being run by the Iranian newspaper, Hamshahri, and whether I would consider publishing the cartoons. My position on this one is unlikely to make me many friends. I will defend the right of a newspaper to publish a cartoon, regardless of how offensive it might be. If a bunch of anti-Semites in Tehran decide they want to deny a basic fact of history, then it is their right to do so. Naive as a might be, I have enough faith in the integrity of the horrific stories of the holocaust that I believe they can withstand a fringe of raving loonies.

As to publishing them, in the interests of free speech and public debate, I would. If I could get a copy of them. Thus far, it has proven a little tricky. I've found a few of them through this site here, although it's not clear if those are actual entries, or just generic examples of holocaust denying cartoons. Perhaps I should cut out the middle m…

Books: Blowback / Electronic Whorehouse

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Oprah might have got herself into some hot water with her book club, but I'm prepared to give it a shot. As I mentioned at the start of the summer, since November I've had a chance to be unusually bookish. Rather than keeping my brilliantly thought out response to these books all to myself, I figured I ought to share them with the rest of the world. Not reviews, as such. Just a few musings.


Thanks to Wen Jie Li in allowing me to scandalously breach copyright in using this caricature which is near completely irrelevant to the post.

Blowback, by veteran American Asia-watcher Chalmers Johnson, was hailed as one of the few texts which offered anything close to a prediction of September 11. With a bit of a stretch of the imagination, there is some truth to the claim, and a new prologue is there to help you with the stretching. Johnson takes hackneyed left-wing anti-Americanism and gives some substance to it. Covering examples as diverse as the horrors of Reagan's CIA in C…

"I'm on the road again..."

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AOTW is hitting the road for a week, and will be appearing in small country towns in eastern Victoria. Any readers in Lakes Entrance (Where the Lakes meet the Sea) or Bairnsdale (Gateway to East Gippsland) should drop me an email, since I'm heading in your direction.

While I'm away, I urge you all to immerse yourself in the Flash-loving, frame-using, angelically lit homepage of The Hon Paul J. Keating. Not a spoof, my friends: keating.org.au is the real deal.



Who da man? He da man.

Publish and be fatwa'ed

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How pathetic to see the whipped up controversy in Muslim countries around the world. So deluded are these poor people about their own circumstances that they are too busy burning Danish flags and boycotting Haagen Dazs to realise the real source of their ills. Rather than obsessing over what appears in a foreign newspaper, there are much more fundamental concerns that are deserving of protest: the inability to speak freely, to vote in and vote out governments, to move around safely and to live without fear of domestic violence. For a start.

It appears that there are strange parallels between the manufactured rage over the Danish cartoons and the Chinese demonstrations against the Japanese last year. In both cases, ordinary folks with strong legitimate grievences against their own government have their anger turned outward by those governments toward a foreign enemy. That way, using the uniting force of a foriegn enemy, a national government can entrench its authority and blunt any…