Many a thing you know you’d like to tell her… How to solve the problems with Australian media

Following the horrific tragedy in Christchurch, some people correctly began to discuss the role that the media had played in radicalising the attackers.  The Washington Post — which recently ran a completely insane take on the Dismissal — had a theory:

It remains unclear whether he had established links to far-right groups, but such groups have been active in Australia for decades. Some experts say that anti-Muslim rhetoric has been normalized by mainstream right-wing news outlets, many of which are owned by billionaire Rupert Murdoch.

There’s two issues which emerge from this.  First, is it true?  Second, what do we do about the media?

Continue reading “Many a thing you know you’d like to tell her… How to solve the problems with Australian media”


Another response to the Christchurch tragedy

In a recent post, I wrote about our need to make sure that people who do evil things are somehow distinguishable and distinguished from ourselves.  We’re not evil people.  We could never do evil things.  Therefore, there must be a factor which differentiates us from them.

They’re Muslim.  It’s such a handy explanation because it explains nothing.  To white middle Australia, absolutely no understanding of Islam is required, but it’s a monolithic Other.

But sometimes violent people aren’t Muslim.  There must be another reason why they’re not one of us.  Maybe they are mentally ill?  Autism has been particularly convenient on this front because we all know that autistic people are weird.  The ambiguous nature of mental illness really means that they either have a diagnosis or we can suspect that they were undiagnosed.

The more I thought about this schema, the more I realised there was a bit of a gap: and it’s when an atrocity occurs which is what the mainstream secretly want to see in the world.  What happens when somebody attacks those whom we already demonise, whom we already suspect are a problem in society, and who need to be dealt with?

Continue reading “Another response to the Christchurch tragedy”

Like a long stream I’ll bear all this echoing… Trying to revisit ‘The Legend of Zelda’ @NintendoAUNZ

The Legend of Zelda series is arguably one of the greatest video game series ever created; very possibly the greatest video game series.  Perhaps its real strength is how entry after entry in this series has captured the sense of exploration and adventure.  As a child playing A Link to the Past, I would dream about how I could solve an unsolvable dungeon, testing out my theories the next day about what might help me to push the game forward.

In 2019, I’ve decided to try to play all of the games in the series (with the exception of Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon).  I fired up my Switch to see if I could download any of the old games, but came up empty.  Confronted by this minor obstacle, I let myself become overwhelmed by theorising. Continue reading “Like a long stream I’ll bear all this echoing… Trying to revisit ‘The Legend of Zelda’ @NintendoAUNZ”

It was summer; now it’s autumn… National security law isn’t magic

The stabbing attack in Melbourne’s CBD on 9 November breathed more oxygen into the debate about how Australia’s national security laws should work.  The attacker, Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, had his passport cancelled in 2015; should he have been monitored more closely?  Mr Ali was out on bail for minor driving offences and had missed a number of court appearances; should the rules about granting bail be tightened?  Mr Ali appeared to have a history of mental illness and substance abuse; was this a failure of the mental health system rather than the national security system?  And Mr Ali was Muslim; wasn’t this more evidence that all Muslims are somehow, in some way, all collectively responsible if not actually guilty?

I want to dig around a bit in these intuitions, but it is worth highlighting an event that happened the day before in Canberra: the High Court handed down its decision in Strickland (a pseudonym) v the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.  This is a complex case, but it asks us to think about exactly how much power we want to give to authorities when people are suspected of engaging in illegal behaviour.

Continue reading “It was summer; now it’s autumn… National security law isn’t magic”

Quick post: Selections from Fraser Anning’s maiden speech

A few years ago, I had a look at Tony Abbott’s maiden speech (‘One of the depressing features of modern Australia is the low esteem in which governments and politicians are generally held‘) and Barnaby Joyce’s (‘Abortion is the slavery debate of our time‘).  Here’s some snippets from Fraser Anning’s maiden speech delivered today:

Continue reading “Quick post: Selections from Fraser Anning’s maiden speech”

You know the power of silence… A conservative take on ABC funding

There are a lot of hot takes about the ABC.  The problem with most of the hot takes is the unasked question at their heart: what is the point of the ABC?  Because people do not articulate clearly and precisely what they think its purpose is, we get a wild and stormy sea of opinions.  The ABC should do this, not do that, be run like this, or sold off like that.  The Charter, the Charter, the Charter.

One of the key policy intents behind the public broadcaster is outlined in the Budget papers:

Informed, educated and entertained audiences – throughout Australia and overseas – through innovative and comprehensive media and related services.

What this means in practice, however, is left open to people to interpret.  There are a wide variety of ways to meet this goal but, perhaps surprisingly, not a lot of ways objectively to fail to meet it.

I was interested in reading a new book on the subject by Chris Berg and Sinclair Davidson of RMIT’s Blockchain Innovation Hub.  A check of local bookstores, newsagents, and petrol stations came up empty, so I was disappointed not to know their argument for selling off the ABC.   Given their other books and work, I imagine it treads the path of other libertarian rightwing arguments: the ABC presents views which with some group of taxpayers disagree and this is morally wrong.

As a conservative myself, I’ve always been confused by this view.  It makes some sense intuitively but doesn’t hold up, thus the question of how to sell it off doesn’t arise.

Continue reading “You know the power of silence… A conservative take on ABC funding”

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.

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