You dreamed of a big star. He played a mean guitar… Review of @RowanDean’s unreadable ‘Corkscrewed’

It is impossible to say anything that is both honest and positive about Rowan Dean’s Corkscrewed.  Even the font is all over the shop.  Its main joke is about how the protagonist (some thin kind of Mary Sue) keeps trying to sexually assault women while he’s drunk.  By the time you get to the scene where a near victim throws up truffle vomit into his mouth while he’s trying to assault her while she’s passed out from alcohol intake, you realise that you could be doing literally anything else with your life except read this trash.

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Quick Update: Still Alive

With the mad rush of everything, I haven’t been making enough time to sit down and write.  It’s a weird dynamic.  I feel much better after I’ve written something, but I have recently found myself too stressed, too tired, or too miserable to write.  We need some way of bringing the future psychological reward of an activity back through time to immediately before you undertake the activity.  Get cracking, STEM nerds.

I keep feeling like I haven’t achieved very much this year.  And it’s weird how that feeling — a feeling which often severely interferes with my day — doesn’t align with objective facts.  Although it has been an extremely rough year for me personally, I got my postgrad degree, started two more postgraduate degrees (but one of them is a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice, so it doesn’t really count), and am now more firmly on the pathway to my PhD.  It feels like those achievements were so long ago; I graduated in July.

Anyway, I hope you are all well.  Write back soon.


Gimme all your love so I can fill you up with hate… 5 policies for @TonyAbbottMHR to support Western Values

A friend of mine argues that the reason old white guys are so anxious about the Fall of Western Civilisation is that there’s no longer much content to it.  Whatever culture we had, it has been replaced with the blandest and cheapest form of capitalism.  Our education system is about preparing people to exchange their labour for sub-poverty salaries.  Our ability to enjoy nature is tempered by our desire to dig up whatever might be profitable underneath.  And school children read Harry Potter because they can always watch the movies and buy the merchandise if they struggle with the prose.

So when former Prime Minister Tony Abbott gets up to the podium and praises Western Values, we know — even without hearing the speech — that there is something not serious about his claims.  Back in May, Abbott’s account of Western Values somehow necessitated the amendment of s 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.  Apparently, creating a safe haven for people to say the ‘N-word’ is an essential part of our cultural heritage.  More recently, he claimed that Indigenous Australia prior to colonisation by the Bristish was ‘prehistory‘.

‘Western Values’ should not be a cloak for racism.  One of my concerns, as a conservative, is what conservatism looks like in a multicultural society following the colonial period.  How do you reconcile an Anglo-Australian with their cultural heritage when their prosperity depends upon extremely recent atrocities against Indigenous populations?  How do you encourage everybody (regardless of cultural background) to connect with the best and most inspirational of their cultural heritage to shape their ongoing identity and contribute to the ongoing development of contemporary multicultural society?

Worse, ‘Western Values’ should not be treated like a monolith of pap liberalism.  The same enterprising spirit of individual values was the same motivating force behind the global slave trade.  John Locke wrote the Californian Constitution which defended the rights of slave owners against interference from the legislators.  It’s the dynamic energy of Western Values — the constant synthesis of theses and antitheses — that makes it a fertile place for innovation and expansion.  Sure, our conception of the individual was an interesting creation of Western culture, but our concept of the community is even more interesting.  It is the tension and how we — through historical accident — conceptualised them and reconciled them that created our present condition.  That’s the bit that’s worth both celebration and critique.

Here are five policies that Abbott would back if he were serious about promoting Western Values.

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Forever isn’t for everyone; Is forever for you?… The Attack of s 44

Holy shit!  Who would have guessed that s 44 of the Australian Constitution would bite as hard as it has over the past year or so?  Rod Culleton (One Nation), Bob Day (Family First), Scott Ludlam (Greens), and now Larissa Waters (Greens) have all fallen victim of s 44, either through High Court intervention or through voluntary resignation to inevitability.  Technically, Bob Day was twice ineligible under s 44.  And there’s another case on the boil: National Party MP, David Gillespie.

What I find interesting — really interesting — is how difficult it is to intuit the purpose of s 44.  It’s a provision that excites popular imagination.  Perhaps it’s a relic of a racist past.  Perhaps it is a protection against foreign interference.  Perhaps it should be amended.  Perhaps it shouldn’t be.

But perhaps it’s not the technicality of the provision that we should consider, but bigger theories about constitutional democracies.  Why should there be restrictions on who can become a parliamentarian?  Shouldn’t we be able to elect whomever we want?

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Quick Post: Pauline Hanson and the Burqa Ban

There is no good argument to ban the burqa.  It’s a racist proposal, pure and simple.  There is a smokescreen that racists use to hide their racism: they argue that we need to be able to see faces because it helps with security.  This is not a reasonable argument, and it flows from an intuition that anonymity is a threat and that everybody should present themselves for scrutiny at all times.

Senator Jacqui Lambie has introduced a Bill to the Senate to ban the burqa.  Senator Pauline Hanson has proposed some amendments.  It is helpful to understand what is being proposed and debated by our Parliamentarians.

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All those rumors, they have big teeth… Quick updates and rambles

I remember being weirdly religious when I was a child, but not specifically religious.  I knew for an utter certainty that there was a God and we should pray to Him, but this rock solid conviction that I believed as a child was born of nothing in particular.  My family life wasn’t religious.  My mother was some kind of eclectic hybrid of ‘spiritualities’; my father fell asleep during mass and would wake on cue to stand, mumble the recitations, and then fall back to sleep. When my parents separated, I remember there being a very beautiful picture of St Francis of Assisi in my mother’s cupboard that belonged to my father… but my father didn’t seem to want it, and mum never seemed bothered to just throw it out.  I know now that it was St Francis; at the time, I had no idea.  It was just a very beautiful piece of religious art that stirred within me all those things that good art should stir: awe, marvel, and interest.

When I was very young, my mother would encourage me and my younger brothers to pray each night before bed.  I would later wonder why she would do this; I was an extremely difficult child and wouldn’t explain why I was angry and frustrated.  The ritual of prayer was hijacked to get me to sit down and list all the things I was anxious about.

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