Saturday, February 08, 2003

Eco-vandals
Gianna at She Sells Sanctuary provides a good example of eco-vandalism with her posting on arsonists, the law and bushfires. But there is a more subtle kind that is visible in Adelaide's parklands and street trees and the reserves at Victor Harbor----the destruction of trees that have been newly planted. It is systematic form of vandalism and persistent mostly by kids--or so people say. The West Australian flowering gums that we planted in the road curb outside our place and in the opposite side of the road in the reserve keep being broken and snapped. They were planted to bring colour into a dry high summer landscape.

But adults are deeply into the practice too, especially if the trees get in the way of their sea views. This is what we see all the time around and about our holiday house at Victor Harbor.

There is little logic to it. People at Victor Harbor will buy a property or house near a reserve or a creek bed that is tree lined and full of bird life. After moving in the start attacking the trees to get their sea views. Why not buy a property up the hill and above the tree line? I have no idea.

Others, like our next door neighbour, buy into property with lots of native trees----eucalypts and acacias----around it and then start complaining about the gum trees. They have an image of a holiday house in Italy and detest the gum trees ---everything is gum trees-- and loathe the bird life because of the noise. Any of the branches that drop from the gum trees--the trees bound our property and theres but are in their property---are deposited on our property. The reasoning? I guess these Europhiles reckon that the branches and twigs have fallen from that part of the tree that grows over our property line and to their property. So they are returning the rubbish to the appropriate property owner.

Others around the reserve hate the gum trees because of the litter they make ----they have to sweep their paths and clean their gutters. Gum trees are dirty and filthy. Others want to plant exotics that need lots of water or palm trees. They seem think they are living in Queensland.

There is a proper little war going on between those who want to re regreen the landscape stripped bare by the dairy farmers (who also hated gum trees and aborigines) in the name of progress and those who detest the native Australian landscape.

See how nature is coded with culture?
This is different

This is a different world to the tatty, neocon circus world.Have a read of 'About the Work.'

Friday, February 07, 2003

Rightes on their little ponies

Gianna at She Sells Sanctuary has a very good line about 'about Righties on their little circus ponies.' And, she adds, 'there's plenty of those (see PP McGuinness, Jonesy, Lawsy, Piers Akerman and Angela Shanahan, for example).' She fails to mention our good friend Greg Sheridan.In his latest act for the crowds he performed his circus trick called Despising America. It is full of stock phrases about the 'hysterical anti-Americanism afflicting our chattering classes' and Anti-Americanism 'being a serious psychological affliction, a pathological condition which paralyses the mind's analytical capacity.'

That was just the intro. Then we have this:

"Many Western baby boomers have never passed psychologically beyond the stage of adolescence, with the US as their simultaneously forbidding and indulgent parents. One of the quintessential syndromes of adolescence is the ability to rebel against your parents, safe in the knowledge that they'll love you and protect you anyway....Many of the chattering classes cherish the image of themselves as rebels. But they live and breathe in the security provided ultimately by the US alliance system. They're rebelling against mum and dad. No one is more celebrated in contemporary Western culture than the individualistic rebel."

But the circus act gets even better.Greg is winding up now:

"There is also, in the special hatred of the chattering classes for Bush, a virulent anti-Christian quality. That this is echoed in the official church bureaucracies here, all of them now wholly owned subsidiaries of the Left, is not surprising. The US is the most church-going of modern Western societies. George W. Bush is an avowed orthodox Christian."

I can understand why Gianni did not include Greg amongst the little show ponies. He is the big circus clown. His act is to amuse us.

Tim Blair loved the the clown's act. He clapped and clapped as he ate the junk circus food. Much taken by the pop psychology apparently. As did the Adelaide's favorite neo-con. He thought 'anti-Americanism a soothing substitute after trhe failure of socialism in his weekly column in The Weekend Australian.' However, John Jay Ray was not in the audience and missed the act.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Bush Fires & Culture

A culture of bush fires?

Bush fires are not just raw nature that has become a monster which needs to be bought under control; but when it escapes---as with Ash Wednesday 1983 or the broad front of fire sweeping across Victoria now----it becomes the holocaust driven by the desert winds across a parched landscape.

There is the culture bit. Nature is coded. Consider the way bush fires are coded with meaning as a spectre that is deeply feared by us. Culture is also the lack of research, the lack of bush fire protection and individual responsibility, the fatalism and complacency, prescribed burning to reduce bush levels and enduring the fire or escaping from it.

To live with the bush is to live with fire. In many cases we humans actually create the bush fires that devastate us: eg., grinding or burning domestic rubbish on a day of total fire bans, the casual cigerette butt; back burning that gets out of control and so on. We live with bush fire but we see it as a kind of lottery rather than something we need to engage with and be responsible for.
American Empire

I came across this weblog courtesy of Scott Wickstein at The Eye of the Beholder. I was intrigued as I had been thinking about the US national security state walking along the path to becoming an empire. Alas, it was an empire of ideas (of liberty) that requires constant vigilance. That is the American way. Presumably, eternal vigilance is required to defend freedom from its enemies who are opposed to freedom.

Pity. I was thinking along the lines of America as a new Roman empire--- as the new hegemonic power that uses a variety of power strategies to ensure order in an anarchic world. Diplomacy & the threat of military force to preserve a peace that is favourable to the USA.
Strong Stuff

If you are a lefty and want a good brace of ideas on the Iraq war then try this THE DISMALIST'S BLOGCYCLOPAEDIA OF THE IRAQ 'DEBATE'. Its very good. Nice work Rob. Keep it up.

Righties be warned though. Its been designed to get under your skin and annoy you deeply.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

The Advertiser's Silence

Once again The Advertiser has nothing to say on the proposed nuclear waste dump in South Australia. It did its duty yesterday. Now it can turn back to looking after the advertisers whilst The Australian keeps investigating the issue.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Interesting books reviewed

There is a review of some interesting cultural criticism books on 9/11 at the Electronic Book Review.

The books are Jean Baudrillard, The Spirit of Terrorism and Requiem for the Twin Towers; Paul Virilio, Ground Zero and Slavoj Zizek,Welcome to the Desert of the Real: Five Essays on September 11 and Related Dates All are published by Verso, 2002.

The reviewer is Nick Spencer. He says:

"Driven by a reassessment of the political (and intellectual) relationship between Europe and the United States, these three texts exemplify how the implied politics of decades of critical theory are now becoming explicit under the conditions of the hegemony of American neocolonialism."

Link courtesy of wood s lot

I have read Slavoj Zizek's Welcome to the Desert of the Real and its psychoanalytic insights have informed the cultural criticism of the recent postings of a heap of junk for code.

Monday, February 03, 2003

Kris Hanna's defection from the ALP to the Greens

Finally some comment on the left-wing Kris Hanna, the state Member for Mitchell in South Australia, quitting the ALP and joining the Greens. It is from Rex Jory at The Advertiser. I offer this comment as another example of junk journalism.

Jory uses this political event to bash the Australian Greens. Its all in the headline Green's dreams could be our nightmare. Who does the 'our' refer to?

Jory says:

"The policies of the Australian Greens are little short of economic madness.They are unworkable economic daydreaming cobbled together by theoretical social engineers and political idealists ....Superficially, the Greens environmental concerns and influence are electorally appealing and deserve applause.... Some of their policies are astonishing."

Which policies does Jory have mind? Well the social justice ones, such as high quality public health care regardless of income; increased public funding for public schools and universities; social security reform so that the unemployed would receive income support without the need to seek work and raising company taxes. These Jory claims, would impoverish middle-class Australians and businesses would be savaged by the tax increases required to finance expensive social programs.


So 'our' refers to neo-liberals who have repudiated the Don Dunstan heritage of the social democratic welfare state. Who are these neo-liberals? We get some insight from Jory's reactions to the Australian Green's environmental policies. Jory identifies the ones that are unworrkable:

..."tax reforms [that] would favour firms using sustainable resources and work against those using unsustainable power. Levies would be applied to carbon dioxide emissions and environmental and social agreements would take precedence over trade agreements. Tax breaks and subsidies would be scrapped for firms which encourage resource waste, pollution and environmental degradation."

This sounds pretty reasonable to me. It points in the direction that SA needs to go. However, they just raise Jory's conservative animus which constructs the Greens the hated Other. The 'our' who has nightmares about green dreams is business. Business cannot see any point in shifting way from its unsustainable practices.

So why are these proposed environmental policies deemed to be unworkable daydreams? Because they would send Australia towards financial ruin. How woudl they do this? Nothing is said. Nor need it be. We just intuitively know that using tax reforms that favour firms using sustainable resources and work against those using unsustainable power' would financially ruin SA.

Its junk journalism. It consists of wild assertions that tries to arouse fear and loathing about a hated object. The Greens are going to gain more parliamentary power in the state, force the major parties to go green and send the state broke. Already, Jory says, "there are mutterings about Green policies on the native vegetation preservation being respsnsible for some bushfire damage in the eastern states." You have to admire the willingness to parade intellectual poverty for all to see.

But why think about public policy?Isn't public policy just a matter of keeping the economic machine ticking over and keeping the rabble in their place and happy with accepting the benefits from economic growth that trickle down by way of the odd new job created.

This junk journalism is being spoken in a state that is currently being forced by its dependence on a stressed River Murray to make the shift to more sustainable practices. Clearly Jory is not thinking about the significance of a major river that no longer flows from source to sea. By not using the old brain cells Jory's hack journalism is emptying out the meaning of the River Murray as signifying the need for South Australians to create a more sustainable mode of living than the one they have now.
The Advertiser fails again
I was interested in following up the story about SA being a repository for Australia's nuclear junk and the Defence Department's opposition to the proposed site 52a that was mentioned by Public Opinion Radioactive Idiots. I was curious. What would the SA Government, which opposes the construction of a radioactive dump near Woomera, do?

So I read The Advertiser closely. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. According to The Advertiser there was no story. So I turned to The Australian Financial Review and there it was, "Nuke dump: 'no coverups' plea." But nothing in The Age. Though it was mentioned by The Australian under, 'Rann calls on Hill to release nuclear advice'. But the article was not online. Now you would expect SA's newspaper to run the story when SA is on a collision course with Commonwealth.

Rann had called for the federal government to release the Defence Department document opposing site 52a and the public release of all submissions about the proposed construction of a low-level radioactive waste dump, just 3km from the bombing range in the Woomera Prohibited Area. The Office of Senator Hill, the federal Defence Minister, refused the request saying that would not be released as it was an internal government submission. All inquiries about the draft EIS process and the submissions are to be directed to David Kemp, the federal Minister of Environment. Kemp's office said that the Defence submission would be considered after an assessment by Environment Australia was completed in the coming weeks. Peter McGauran, the federal Minister of Science, said that the scientific experts had okayed site 52a.

Premier Rann said he would consider using freedom of information if the Defence Report was not released by the federal government's two ministers, Hill and McGauran.

Defence Department officials said they had prepared the submission to the Draft EIS on the assumption that it would be made public, since it was a counter argument to the draft EIS one. The final EIS statement did not even mention the Defence Department submission.

Thats a big state story. Premier Rann issues challenge to Robert Hill; Defence Department officials contradict Minister; politicized EIS process. And the The Advertiser ignores the story completely.

The Advertiser is a junk newspaper. Now, we South Australians knew that already. But this silence confirms that it has become trash. Is it an wonder that the readers of this newspaper are turning away, is seen as not covering the regionaal community, nor an integral part of it, and is not recognized as one the leaders of the start. It has no respect. It is an instrument for advertisers-----a commercial machine. As the journalists at Rewrite! say 'newspapers are in trouble. Readers are straying in record numbers as papers become less essential to their lives.'

It well may be that households are now spending more on Internet access than they are on newspapers. The latter are becoming the old media: conservative, stuck in the rut and unwilling to embrace innovation.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Junk Journalism

Greg Kelton, the state political reporter for The Advertiser, is back from holidays. He kicked off the new year with a piece on the weekend about Kris Kenna's defection from the SA ALP to the Australian Greens last week.

The Xmas holiday may have relaxed him but not rejuvenated his journalism. The article is a rehash of what people had said last week & the news about ALP factional leaders 'working behind the scenes to limit the shock defection.' Thats it. Its hollow candyfloss.

Kelton could have explored what it meant in terms of new policy ideas by the Greens and how they would have contributed to the public debate about the future of SA: eg.,

about SA becoming a nuclear waste state by acting as the repository for everyone else's nuclear junk;

about how the Greens will act to save a dying River Murray;

what they propose to do about electricity now that retail bills have gone up by 30-36%.

Kelton could have used the ocassion to have asked some hard questions about state politics. Instead he dishes up stale puff. You can read it here.

A weblog that is concerned about the poor state the media and is written by working journalists is Rewrite. Have a look. Also Tim Porter's First Draft which starts from the premise that 'Newspaper are killing themselves with clich├ęd writing, formulaic stories, hackneyed photographs and adherence to a self-destructive, journalistic form that emphasizes breadth of news coverage over depth.'

Given the poor quality of journalism Infomaniac, which explores the interrelationship between webloggers, researchers, journalists and journalism blogs. And we have Dr. Cline's Rhetorica Network, which offers 'analysis and commentary about the rhetoric, propaganda, and spin of journalism and politics, including analysis of presidential speeches and election campaigns.'

For good media or journoblogs, see Hypergene Mediablog and Media Minded.
Makes my day

I have spend most of the day scrapping, filling gaps & cracks, and painting. I"m becoming ever more depressed. The more you do the more jobs you see that need doing. The list grows and becomes infinite. I'm not enjoying this business of renovating the electronic cottage. Its too old and it hasn't been cared for that well. So it needs lots of tender loving care.

The man in the Decorat shop said the key was to have fun and be happy. Well, I ain't got the renovating gene in me at all. it missed me out. I"m deformed. I feel like the hunchback of renovation.

And I got no pleasure from my reading the weekly column in the Weekend Australian by Christopher Pearson, my favourite Australia neo-con. Ther ewas no fun to be had. I actually agreed with him about urban noise and the lack of silence, and I detest Italian cafes that play loud music so the staff can feel hip and look cool. Its impossible to converse.

Then I came across this. Someone who quotes Nietzsche and understands the meaning of masks. Do read it. Its a big quote.

My spirits lifted. It made my day.
Junk Politics

What do ya think of Howard signing us to the American war with Iraq? Junk politics? I thought about it all day day whilst scrapping and painting the house.

I'm emotionally numb

I'm not happy John.. You are too too quick to put your finger on the trigger, and you always give the impression that you are itching to squeeze the trigger and say 'die scum'.

See this response from Jonathon Delacour The Sanctity of (American) Life. Australia has moved from being Deputy Sheriff to lapdog. Jonathon's not happy either.

And someone else who is not happy either.
SA to be a nuclear junkyard

All the political signs indicate that SA is to become the nuclear waste state. We are to become the repository site for the other state's radioactive nuclear junk. The preferred site to store thelow level junk is called 52A, and is 45 km from north of Woomera. The other two sites are also in South Australia.

South Australians are vehmently opposed to the dump in the desert. But it is being imposed on SA by the Commonwealth Government.