Sunshine for the soul :)

Sunshine for the soul :)

This song is soooo on my mind… Mr Banhart has done it again… I want this as my silliest love song 🙂

It’s like gold honey droplets on your tongue

The silliest expression you can utter when you are in love

Like a giant ‘I don’t give a fuck about the world cause I’m sooooo happy’

And then there’s the official video in which the band disappears inside someone’s arse (Devendra’s lover’s?) within a capsule, then discover a kooky world with psychedelic creatures.. who doesn’t want to join them? 😛

A lovely note to leave the month of May on… hehehe

Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens is always worth watching. He’s been around politically and intellectually more than most and is always ready to say something fresh, riveting, funny, disturbingly frank and plain annoying… in the most wonderful way.

This video below is his Radio National breakfast interview for the recent Sydney Writers Festival..

He just published his memoirs titled ‘Hitch 22’, which I’ll definitely check out, despite some reviews that make it sound like he’s being a prat again… an incredibly witty, thoughtful, controversial, fascinating and knowledgeable prat, I’m sure.

Christopher Hitchens in interview for Radio National’s breakfast

I’m now reading the book and enjoying it a lot… you can see an extended Australian interview with Hitch on Big Ideas on ABC tv too.

Writers’ Festival, climate change debate and politics

Writers’ Festival, climate change debate and politics

So the Sydney Writers’ Festival has just happened. It almost always seems to pass me buy in a busy May, but this time I managed to attend at least one event.

Last Friday was the festival’s climate change discussion in the Town Hall. Illustrious experts lined up with prepared speeches and ready for friendly debate, in front of a packed hall. I soooo love how we can have a festival that makes both small and large literary events possible, from the obscure ones for fans or writers, to the vehemently political, such as this one.

Clive Hamilton, Bill McKibben, Ross Garnaut and Tim Flannery all had excellent speeches ranging from the factual to the highly rhetorical, some positive sounding and some decidedly pessimistic about humankind’s ability to stop climate change running away into something unmanageable that would threaten the existence of humanity.

Ross Garnaut is the author of the Garnaud report, Tim Flanery is an academic, environmentalist activist, writer and international expert on panels and commitees, Bill McKibben published one of the first books on climate change back in the 80s and is now the organiser of among other things, and Clive Hamilton is now a Greens candidate, popular political writer and think tank scrubber.

All presented highly valuable material, were very engaging and answered questions from the floor aptly. Hamilton is the weird one out for me as he’s one of the architects behind the scandalously awful and horrendously misguided mandatory internet filtering scheme that is bound to fail. He’s also connected to the right-wing Sydney Institute if I’m correct.

I have absolutely no idea how the Greens could embrace him and his selection makes me very worried about the next election in which I won’t know whom to vote for: Conservatives are obviously out for a variety of policies and a disastrous political (recent) past, Labor is now in government with a conservative Christian leader who often fails to draw the line correctly between church and state and is also moralising, anti-liberal on many issues and is slowly but surely failing at climate change action. Then there are the Greens who charge ahead with someone as conservative and anti-liberal as Clive Hamilton. I might just have to go with the Sex Party, but of course they are a very minor force with no chances.

Back to the festival: I’ve been following a lot of it online, streaming audio and video material make this festival very accessible. If you are thirsty for some ideas, head HERE 🙂

Crispy autumn

Crispy autumn

Crisp morning
Walking the dog
The sky blushes with russet light

Burning off
Fire crackles
Smoke curling through the trees

Sun setting
Long shadows
Leaves floating one by one

Dusk brings
cheeky possums
Scampering loudly through the trees

by Alison Cassidy

Access denied – internet filtering in Oz

Access denied - internet filtering in Oz

Mandatory national internet filtering, aka the ‘clean feed’ is again in the spotlight. The policy idea was canvassed about 1.5 years ago by the Rudd Labor government. Since then it’s received a barrage of criticisms, both on the grounds of feasibility and because it aims to limit citizens’ access to web material. Despite petitions, opinions polls to the contrary, industry protest and failed ISP tests the government is simply not giving up this ludicrous backward idea.

All this is explored, mostly in an infuriating way in the name of journalistic balance, in the 10th May 4 Corners program on ABC.

4 Corners Access Denied
(you can also watch it within Australia for another week or so on ABC’s iview)

Check out EFF, Electronic Frontiers Foundation Australia for more details of the whole saga and to read about the awesome fight they have put in so far.

Yes, children should be protected but the best method for this is filtering the household. ISPs have been providing this free service for a while and parents can put on extra filters at home. Yet the moral panic about the ‘corrupting effects’ of the internet just won’t die down. The communication minister Senator Conroy’s advisers and a right-wing think tank is largely responsible for this, backed by a very small conservative Christian minority. Australians do not want this retrograde censorship and the government is not listening. And this is a Labor government!! (headed, of course, by a vocal Christian, undermining separation of church and state, but that’s another story for next time…)

Some points to consider when watching this program, unless, of course, you are already on the progressive side of the debate, in which case the program might infuriate you and you are likely to already agree with me…

* Australians do not want internet censorship. Subsequent social studies have shown this decisively.

* If citizens’ morals are against some content, just don’t access it, it’s very simple. Fundamentalist Christian sermons offend me greatly but 1) in a liberal democracy you have the right to be offended and others have the right to offend you within limits and 2) I will fight for Christians’ rights to preach as long as my rights are also protected and respected.

* The internet filter is not technically workable. By now everyone knows this. Fortunately the very nature of the internet supports liberal norms. The government is trying to apply a static filter to a dynamic problem, in the technical jargon, it is spending money on a costly exercise that will result in little overall intended effect that will slow down connections and both under and overblock. Proxies will be a very simple way of getting around censorship.

* In pro filter arguments child porn is regularly equated with consensual bdsm sex. One is a highly illegal activity while the other is absolutely not. The moralising language is also incredibly vague: what counts as ‘extreme and perverse’ and why should someone else decide for me??

* Sites on euthanasia, abortion, graffiti etc will also likely be blocked. It is difficult to find out who and what will be on the banned list of sites and the unaccountable situation is absolutely ready for abuse. This amounts to our government controlling our information consumption on the ground of dubious, vague and widely unshared moral basis. Thanks for WikiLeaks for exposing previous versions of the banned list that otherwise would have been difficult to obtain.

* Towards the end one conservative commentator says ‘what sort of society do we live in where these sorts of materials (‘extreme and perverse porn’) are desired?’ The answer is simple: we live in a pluralistic liberal democracy where we each decide for ourselves what we want to access and use, as long as we do not incite for violence and avoid illegal activities such as robbery, bribery, blowing up people or inciting others to do so. This wonderful liberal democracy does not proscribe what people should believe or what values they should hold, this is why we are not a totalitarian regime, but a free one. We do not need to share all our values, we just need to have a democratic process within which all our values can be respected: whether this results in a Christian moralistic sermon or heavy consensual kinky sex.

* Interesting to see 80 year old pensioners and porn consumers in the same boat! (and I bet Conroy himself consumes porn) The former want information on euthanasia, the latter want to enjoy porn. Both are exercising their democratic civil rights, making choices about their lives and bodies.

*UPDATE, support the GetUp! campaign in their last ditch effort to stop this nonsense!!*