Friday, June 20, 2003

Tim Dunlop has the political blog scene pegged today: the public intellectual as inspired punk rocker. Political bloggers are exposed as closet sons and daughters of "Garageland", amateur public intellectualism with a point, yet more often with an individual impact resembling that of a bit of inspired air guitar in one's bedroom.

Says our Tim, who penned this peice for the prestigious Labor-associated think tank the Evatt Foundation:

Just as punk rock shook a fist at the pretentious, bloated "progressive" thing that rock music had become, and found a way for anybody with the guts, the inclination and something to say to pick up a guitar and command an audience, so blogging has risen up to challenge the soundbitten, amnesiac, pale little thing that PR-spun democratic politics has become.

But if all this public intellectualism isn't channeled into a political party or political action, what use is it ultimately? Do we want to just blog the world, or to help change it?

Remember the erstwhile Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who suggested this week that people who download music from the Internet should have their computers automatically destroyed?

Wired reports the discovery of an unemployed systems administrator who was enraged by his comments. It seems Hatch himself is using unlicensed software on his official website, which would qualify his web site as fit to be destroyed under his own mooted law.

How very Republican, Senator!

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Carnegie Mellon University's "Virtual Agora Project" researchers say that we are on the cusp of major breakthroughs in both the form and content of online deliberative democracy.

According to the blurb for their latest seminar, "Advances in broadband enable high telepresence and maturing experience with HCI principles leads to more functionality in online conversations." This will lead to greater citizen involvement, so they say.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

When Bishops Go Bad

Phoenix Archbishop Thomas O'Brien has been a very naughty boy. First he was forced to relinquish some of his authority in an agreement with prosecutors that prevented certain indictment for protecting priests who had molested children.

Now, he's been arrested for killing 43-year-old Jim Reed, who died after he was struck by the Bishop's car and another vehicle while crossing the street.

Diocese spokesman Jose Robles said Bishop O'Brien ''was very exhausted.''

"The most disturbing betrayal of our own laws has been the automatic, unreviewable, long-term detention of child asylum seekers," according for former Federal Court Justice Marcus Enfeld said a couple of weeks back in Sydney at the release of Chilout's report on children asylum seekers.

Most of the world would simply have no idea that currently Australia has locked up 315 kids in the desert, and that both major parties support this odious and inhumane policy. Philip Ruddock MP escorts assorted bastards from Banladesh and Qatar, allowing them to roam freely as "genuine refugees" after paying generous baksheesh to the Australian Liberal Party.

"There can be no excuse or valid explanation for the adoption by both of the major political parties in this country of this policy," says Enfiled at the all but ignored release of this damning report.

Time for Mr Crean to do the right thing and change Labor's policies towards refugees now.

Monday, June 16, 2003

The District Court in Brisbane has ruled that the aptly named Sunshine Coast businessman Rob Purvis was guilty of stalking Maroochy mayor Alison Grosse.

Judge Tony Skoein ordered Purvis to pay $178,000 in damages together with interest.

U.S. Forces Mix Carrots and Sticks


"The idea is to demonstrate that there are certain bad guys that we are targeting, with all the force necessary, but that we are also prepared to use every asset we have to provide assistance for the Iraqi people," a military spokesman, Sgt. Brian Thomas, said in Baghdad.

Second Lt. Kevin Siegrist of the 10th Combat Engineers put it more succinctly: "The message I want to give them is, hey, we're just building a soccer field, okay? So don't keep shooting at us."

Update: guess that strategy didn't work.
Robert Manne's vitriolic piece takes on new meaning today, as a former ONA Analyst for the Commonwealth is asked to witness for the inquiry into British intelligence handling on Iraq's WMDs.

Writes Manne in todays SMH, "It is gradually becoming transparent that the endlessly repeated claim used to justify the invasion of Iraq - that Saddam Hussein possessed a vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction - was false."

Manne calls it one of the "greatest foreign policy scandals involving Western governments since 1945. "

Sunday, June 15, 2003

The Sydney Morning Herald tells us that "Sugar Zafar", a corrupt former prime minister of Bangladesh who was convicted of "stealing food from his flood-ravaged people and selling it" in absentia after he fled the country, was recently granted refugee status by the Howard Government.

Kazi Zafar Ahmed is living in Sydney with his family and drawing a disability support pension.
These carbon fibres are "tougher than any natural or synthetic fibre described so far," says this article on a new invention. Coolest bit: They have already spun the fibres into cloth, making supercapacitors — devices that store electricity.

"Promising electronic-textile applications for these fibres, which are easy to weave and sew, include distributed sensors, electronic interconnects, electromagnetic shields, antennas and batteries," the authors write.
A hydrogen economy could create bigger, longer-lasting ozone holes over the polar regions, according to new research published in the journal Science. The results imply that hydrogen might not be quite the perfect green fuel it is sometimes made out to be.

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