Cutting the chord
Civic was bustling with the usual crowd of public servants queuing their subarus on Northbourne while the chic young crowd pedalled serenely along the broad walkways that surround the Sydney and Melbourne building, themselves a gentle reminder of a different era. Outside April’s caravan sat on some plastic grass while the Moochers continued another tradition. Perhaps what is good remains.
Not so the iconic bookshop that has occupied the heart of Canberra for as long as I can remember. A victim of change, rendered uneconomic by the technological juggernaut of this age it has been transformed into what the chief minister described as a venue were the alternative culture of Canberra survives and prospers (or words to that effect).
Domenic Mico and Jorian Gardner have easily adapted the pokey little bookshop into a tidy little venue with April’s wares complementing the nice little stage and a baby grand piano that occupies the centre of the room. A few books remain and I was struck by how many of those were the large picture variety, particularly well represented was the range of erotica. If pictures are worth thousands of words, then maybe the abundance of pictures makes up for the lack of words in print.
So the pollies came, speeches were given, Jorian presented a tasselled pastie to Ms Gallagher, drinks were drunk and the band played on. As an alternative to Mooseheads or Transit, Smiths is a welcome addition to Canberra’s entertainment scene but as a sign of the declining influence of books in our lives Smiths Alternative punctuates the narrative of these times.
Adele is quick to blame “high wages, high input costs including energy and rental costs’ for the high cost of living in Oz without any mention of the fundamental cost of having a roof over your head.
Adele’s analysis is overly simplistic but dangerously prescient. According to Adele something has to give if we are to compete in the global economy. This sentiment strikes me as very similar to adjustments taking place elsewhere in the name of austerity. Places like Greece and Spain where wages have been attacked by wholesale unemployment and government social services have been severely curtailed. Perhaps this isn’t what Adele has in mind but that begs the question of exactly what is in the mind of those who see Australia as just another place to do business.
Perhaps we can take a leaf out of Campbell Newman’s book of good government and consider what a Abbott led coalition might mean for this country. In Queensland, unemployment is up and wages are down as both government and private sector employers ‘cut costs’.
But the problem here is obvious, someone’s wage, as a cost to business is the only thing that pays for a roof over someone’s head. And house prices since the late 80′s have far outstripped household incomes.Furthermore, and this is by far the biggest threat to the Australian economy, household debt has climbed to almost 100% of GDP in the same period, most of that locked up in house prices.
Australian House Price Index since 1880
House prices and household income
Australian Household debt as percentage of GDP
I’m going to go out on a limb here. The sort of serious structural adjustment required to bring wages and business costs down so that others can compete in the world economy is going to crash the domestic housing market. It’s the bitter pill Tony Abbott is going to administer in the name of global competition. Some people will be able to weather this storm but most of us will see hard times. For what? A better Australia? A fairer Australia or one where the rich can live well and the rest of us have to bow and scrape and be grateful for it…
Australia: The costs are spiralling.
I read it here but then it happened! Up popped the little ‘friendly’ facebook window with the added option of paying a $1 to send my message…wtf? You have to be fucking kidding me, an sms cost me a few cents, a phone call costs me 25 but a dollar for a facebook message ??? and I have no idea if the message gets read.
Zuckerberg must really think we are just suckers for his drug. No wonder Forbes thinks it is a good idea!
Fortunately there is a simple fix, don’t put facebook on your phone. While it probably won’t make a lot of difference to your privacy in the real world, since the government can tap your mobile device on just about any whim and the telcos collect plenty of data, not to mention what Google, Apple and Microsoft do, at least you will have the small satisfaction of not making Zuckerberg’s business any bigger. And that ladies and gents is the bottom line, Zuckerberg Inc, the pimply college boy who borrowed his ideas from a friend is really all about selling your data to whoever can pay.
Deals with devils and so on…
Facebook ‘erodes any idea of privacy’.
A fan of Twitter? The cacophony of inane one liners and official media savvy utterances generated by self made new media experts in the employ of those who can afford such things…well here’s a way of visualising it
As a matter of disclosure, I did get the link from a page that I got in my twitter stream but it’s not that often I dip my toes into that muddy torrent. Frankly I’ve got better things to do. Yet there is a certain skill associated with twitter that seems to go with the media, that is the tendency or capacity to skim the surface of our turbulent times.
Megan Garber at The Atlantic says it’s
“the connective power of our new communications technologies — the flattening effect of the Internet, the democratizing abilities of the web”
but I think those words deserve some examination. Yes I might be connected to Tim O’Reilly via twitter whose tweet prompted me to this site but what of the nature of that connection? Tim wouldn’t know me from a bar of soap, I’m just one of the sparrows dining out on his daily bowl of tweets.
Megan says the internet is flattening something, or making more level the communications game in the name of democracy. I think Megan is taking the piss.Surely democracy is not measured by what we think we know, because someone we have no real world connection with told us so. Rather it must be measured in outcomes, democracy as a process or as Derrida liked to put it, democracy to come.
But rather than a process called democracy, what about the idea that democracy is a mechanism for sharing power? And here I part ways with the libertarian champions of the internet because it seems to me that information sharing is in danger of becoming a smokescreen for the activities of those who profit hugely from the status quo. Consider just what passes for the “information” we so eagerly share, Facebook to take just one example. The only world changing feature of Facebook is how it created billionaires like Zucks, and in the final analysis, do we need more billionaires?
Here’s a question, if you have read this far, why is it that almost everywhere we care to look, so-called democratic governments are busy installing surveillance and security measures on the internet, trying to control this so-called democratic technology? In the mean time alternative information sources to the internet are rapidly dying either by capital starvation or declining use. If you think Facebook or Twitter has it covered, good luck to you.
Glenn Greenwald writes in the Guardian
It has become a virtual consensus among the elites that their members are so indispensable to the running of American society that vesting them with immunity from prosecution – even for the most egregious crimes – is not only in their interest but in our interest, too.
So if money laundering is ok, I guess murder is probably ok too or anything else. How convenient this news “broke” just before christmas…actually it probably doesn’t matter unless someone likes it on Facebook.
via HSBC, too big to jail, is the new poster child for US two-tiered justice system | | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.
The first telemovie production based on Peter Temple’s brilliant book is just short of appalling. Forget about the bastardisation of the plot because that’s the least of the problems. The biggest problem and one Peter Temple himself must have been conscious of when he publicly stated Pearce had a lot to offer in the role is Guy Pearce isn’t Jack Irish. He’s too small, he’s not funny enough, he’s not tough enough and he’s not really deep enough to do Jack any justice.
The second really serious problem is the rest of the movie lacks any feel for Temple’s unique grasp of Australiana. The language and its delivery seems pedestrian and commonplace. The wintry scenery of Victoria is replaced with largely clear skies, presumably because it’s easier to produce and less depressing for the viewers. The movie totally misrepresents Jack’s relationship with Charlie and the carpentry work, nor does the movie do anything decent with Jack’s other life with Harry and Cam. Instead we are presented with some kind of superior Pearce who just happens to do a bit of woodwork and hangs around with a funny little man who likes to bet on the horses. If you didn’t know the story it might just seem ok but the depth of character doesn’t come through on the small screen nor is there any real motivation for anything other than the plot to uncover Danny’s killers (in movie #1).
Some other rather serious problems include the modernisation of the story’s setting, moving it tardis like from the early 90′s to 2012. Again it’s hard not to form the view that a modern setting was easier to produce (read cheaper) but it removes a powerful force from the story, the sense of history which pervades Temple’s original stories. Then there are the bad guys, read the bit about bastardisations to plot above. It’s almost like the producers assume Guy Pearce’s name would sell the show to the audience and potential backers but forgot to actually produce anything remotely sympathetic to the original Temple story.
I guess it had to be made but I’m almost cringing at the lack of imagination or sophistication on show here. These stories are classy examples of a particular genre that just happen to be situated in Melbourne and I would have thought something better could have been done with them. Instead we get what really looks like a second rate production, hamstrung by budget and the choice of leads which might fulfil some ABC charter for Australian production but is hardly something to put in our trophy cabinet. Shame really.
I know it’s the silly season and maybe the Grimes needs to publish stuff just to stay alive but really this “story” is so lame I feel compelled to point out the bleeding obvious, a point the author avoided possibly because it might offend the very readers the Grimes is trying to cultivate, namely the great hordes in Tuggeranong.
Canberra’s lakes are an interesting feature. On the one hand it is very difficult to imagine Canberra without them since aesthetically they provide substantial relief to an otherwise flat and monotonous suburban landscape. And large bodies of water are traditionally associated with certain aquatic activities like boating, fishing and even swimming. Unfortunately the lakes do have another feature, they are all collection points for urban run-off and the main lake is downstream of a sewage farm and suffers from heavy metal contamination from an upstream disused mine.
So the lesson folks here isn’t just to report selectively on the historical facts, rather the story here if the Canberra Times has got the guts is to actually say to people, these lakes naturally protect the river downstream of Canberra by trapping the crap Canberra is putting into the waterways. If we don’t like the consequences, things like algae blooms, high bacteria counts, smells and so on then we should do something about what ends up in the water, all of us. A large part of the stormwater is collected from our roadways which get washed clean every time there is some rain. . The sormwater system simplifies the construction of urban housing and roads but it provides an easy egress into the waterways for all manner of contaminations.
Pond on Hawdon Street
Trapping the stormwater run-off in the lakes is possibly the only realistic option we have. A possible refinement is to employ smaller stormwater holding ponds like those being deployed in north Canberra but if we are ever to achieve not only visually pleasing results but also functional water resources, we need to either figure out a way to remove or trap contaminants at the source or come up with another way of neutralising their effects in the water chain.
The smelly dirty lakes we have inherited are a consequence of our urban way of life but its possible we can actually do something positive with them if we apply ourselves to the task at hand. It might not deliver an economic benefit but clean water is still a very valuable result.
Creating a giant trap for pollution.
Nick’s question: “why (has) a political and social movement failed to convert scientific consensus into action” seems to attribute failure to the green movement yet the rhetorical question ending his article does have a rather straightforward answer.
Let’s reassess Nick’s question. Firstly it is premised on the belief that a scientific consensus should be sufficient for rational action. While this is a reasonable assumption, an apparent lack of consensus could easily persuade some not to act. Furthermore if you have an interest in others not acting in a certain way, then your interests are served by any apparent lack of consensus. The conclusion we should draw is that even if there is no smoking gun that connects vested interests with the anti-consensus brigade, it is still quite likely that those vested interests had an important influence on the outcome, ie, a perception that there was no consensus legitimised effective political inaction.
Even if we grant Nick’s basic argument, that the green movement has somehow failed to arrest catastrophic climate change, it seems equally obvious that alternative strategies do need to be employed, one’s that recognise the extent of the problem. One problem here is every time climate change is discussed as an issue, it immediately becomes a “green” issue. As soon as it is tainted “green” then people can distance themselves from it citing the degree to which they believe in certain things. It is almost as though the “green movement” was created as a divisive instrument, an artificial “other” that we could reject in favour of the comfort of our materialistic souls.
What was and still is needed is not just scientific consensus, rather we need effective political consensus and concrete action. The nature of the problem is not the science, the nature of the problem is revealed in the extent of vested interests in the status quo and our subjective distance from ideas that threaten our material comfort. Worse still, these things seem to key features of western civilisation which despairingly leads to the conclusion that our selfish greed will undoubtedly be our doom.
My answer to Nick’s question: the green movement was created in the public’s mind as some sort of bad guy who threatened to take away everyone’s cars and tv’s which shifted debate about global warming away from what was happening to the climate to what affected people’s relative comfort. This is not a green issue, this is really a straightforward survival issue for the entire human race. As someone once said, there is enough for everyone’s needs but not enough for everyone’s greed.
Nick Feik | Green movement has been an abject failure.
While Mr Mordant’s credentials as a patron of the arts seem impeccable and his public position as philanthropist make it difficult to criticise his appointment to the board of the ABC one has to wonder if this isn’t just a case of the ALP doing a bit of bridge building with the jewish community.
It also further entrenches a Sydney centric power base in the ABC, which is supposed to represent all Australians. No wonder the rest of the world believes Sydney is the capital of Australia.
Simon Mordant, philanthropist and according to The Power Index, one of the 23 Powerful people in Sydney alongside luminaries like Alan Jones, top cop Andrew Scipione, premier Barry O’Farrell, head of Ch 9 David Gyngell and Cardinal Georgie (I want the truth) Pell.
One wonders what Cate Blanchett does to compete with that lot.
via New appointments to the Boards of the ABC and SBS | Senator Stephen Conroy | Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.