Saturday, March 08, 2003

Broadband/Internet

As the take up of internet broadband services continues to rise I wonder what the future will look like.This is an interesting scenario by Dakach CompHobby.org

"I also believe in this new webscape the death of dialup is only a matter of time. The future packages could perhaps be defined this way, basic half speed broadband for $39.95 or unlimited full speed broadband for $59.95 plus additional services at about $5.95 per month for each service selected. Sort of like cable tv works. First the ISPs would have to kill off P2P though and tiered product offerings would be a way to try and accomplish this."

This is probably on the money. Still, broadband is dammed expensive for households at the moment.The above prices are US $. The figures I've seen are similar but in Australian $. The high cost is due to a monopoly telecom acting like a robber baron in the marketplace.

To invest the money per month we need some idea of what the Internet is about within the newly-forming information or network society. This offering from Doc Searls and David Weinberger has lots of ideas. The text is a number of theses with a brief commentary about what the Internet is and How to Stop Mistaking It for Something Else. In a nutshell they are saying:

"1. The Internet isn't complicated
2. The Internet isn't a thing. It's an agreement.
3. The Internet is stupid.
4. Adding value to the Internet lowers its value.
5. All the Internet's value grows on its edges.
6. Money moves to the suburbs.
7. The end of the world? Nah, the world of ends.
8. The Internet’s three virtues:
a. No one owns it
b. Everyone can use it
c. Anyone can improve it
9. If the Internet is so simple, why have so many been so boneheaded about it?
10. Some mistakes we can stop making already."


Lots to engage with here. For a response to it, see EmptyBottle.org. Its a thoughtful, ribbing response.

I find it a bit too technology orientated. Searles and Weinberger are freewheeling entrepreneurs with a libertarian perspective and do not engage with the network as a cultural framing, a kind of writing and various practices of interpretation.

This cyberculture perspective is important at a time when the techno-sciences have taken hold and displaced the humanities in the corporate university; and the cultural framing traditionally performed by the universities has been displaced by the deregulated market. Can we think of cyberculture being contra the freewheeling market?
Tim Blair is a revhead & other stories

Its official. Tim is seduced by the fast cars of Formula I. See Australian Grand Prix Notes. Explains a lot don't you think?

The good professor of the bilabong gets his rocks off on a good flogging. (Saturday, March 08, 2003)

Where's the sex? Thats what is missing from a fascination with fast cars, glamour and flogging. The body is the key to all of this but it strangely absent. Don't these guys like the fleshy, sexy disruptive body? Surely they are not into the old repression sexuality game? And so stoking the burgeoning junk porn industry where sex is equivalent to domination, the assertion of masculine power over women's bodies and the liquidation of individuality.

Friday, March 07, 2003

The myth of the Don
In an earlier post, Mark Latham on Cricket, I gestured towards the way that the Prime Minister is making Don Bradman into an icon of the Liberal Party. I did so as part of my case of professional sport being deeply intertwined with politics. What I was gesturing to was Don Bradman as a coded mythical figure, which circulates on many levels through the nation's mass culture. What I was pointing to with this gesture is the way this figure is being appropriated for political purposes to legitimate a return to traditional values.

This book by Brett Hutchins, Don Bradman: Challenging the Myth, (Cambridge University Press) carries my gesture much further. it sets the figure of this iconic cricketer in the cultural setting of cricket and the wider national culture. Bradman is located firmly within an Anglophile social conservative tradition. Within the wider national culture the 'Don' has become the representative of authority and legitimacy that reinforces dominant social values. This figure stands for an older conservative-aligned Australian (white) nationalism.
the branding continues

Well the Stones are in Australia doing their shows. Its all been very quiet. The reviews have been, well flat. the music certainly does not burn up the town. Just another show biz act really.

Apparently the group has left grey Melbourne and is now in sunny Brisbane.

Yeah its been quiet apart from the spin. Yes sir, the spin that keeps the rebel brand going.it is being spun by Keith Richards, who says that being a Rolling Stone was a licence to misbehave. His words:

"To be in the Rolling Stones, you get a licence to do what everybody else wanted to do, but couldn't due to the constraints of life...It's almost as if you were given a free ticket to do it. Of course, when you took it literally, that's when you went to jail...I think society always wanted us to be the bad boys, and we absolutely obliged."

Well, it evokes more laughter than Tim Blair. And we all need a laugh in tragic times.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Blogging: technology and writing

I have just come across bertramonline, the weblog courtesy of John Quiggin. There is an interesting piece here about technology and writing. A couple of paragraphs caught my eye:

"And don’t think that your tools do not influence your output. Think about the first IDE and how programming was no longer about structure and analysis, but rather throwing together a quick GUI and some event handlers? Or – shudder – what about PowerPoint? You know that there are corporations where the only way to get a message through is to squeeze it into those infernal slides? Nothing that cannot be summarized in 5 to 7 seven bullets is no longer worth communicating, it seems. "

Point taken. Powerpoint! Loved by the bureaucracy. The technology was like hitting a concrete wall. I did not even bother trying to use it. People used to send me their talk in PowerPoint Slides through email --but I had no idea what was being said when I scanned them. I could see no argument or logical progression/inference in the points. They were just points grouped into a heap bounded by the boundaries of a slide.

Then we have this insight into Moveable Type and Blogger, which is the technology that I use for my weblogs.

"Actually, one thing that is wrong (in a sense) [with these] is the mode they put you in: a quick tour around the Web; a Blog This! click or two, et voila… You do your writing in a tiny text box in the browser, with no spell checking or whatever. Not that anything is wrong with all that: it just influences your writing."

I find that. Look at this post for example.

I detest the lack of spell check on Moveable Type. (Though Blogger Pro has one.) The technology imposes limits that I brush up against all the time. It suits this type of writing or this or this or this. Its a particular kind of writing.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Tim Blair Watch

What does the Tim Blair Watch turn up today?

Tim's pathbreaking column, The Continuing Crisis has a bit of a pot shot at the well-known watchdog website,Crikey.com.au website for failure to disclose that one of its prominent columnists is a staffer at the ABC's Media Watchdog Program; tells the carnivalesque anti-war protestors to get a job and wear suits; and says that Hugh McKay using the word 'values' is an example of cliched thinking.

These are the absurdities of life that are meant to effect a big belly laughter. Sorry Tim. It didn't happen this week. I turned the page to read Maxine McKew's lunch interview with Bob Hawke.

What did I get from the Tim watch this week? That Tim has no time for ethics. That's cynical reason for you. Cynical because Tim reckons that going to war is a good thing to do. Tim keeps his values in his back pocket.

And Tim does not like carnivals or fleshy bodies. Such a stick in the mud. Or is it the old puritan sitting under the cynical reason?

And if we put the two fragments (no ethics & dislike of carnivals) together? What we get is a cynical reason as a conformist reason. This says that we accept, work within, and remain close to, the established conventions of society. Thats a good working definition of Australian conservatism as any, don't you think?

And me? Am I just a bit of slimey data trash who gazes on the neo-cons? No way. I'm no internet junkie. I'm more interested in love affairs than being data trash. True. The erotic passion of the body pulls against staying close to the established conventions of society. And I feel so vulnerable, because love affairs and their emotional attachments can go so badly, as well as going well. Living such a life is putting my own life at the mercy of luck.

Still, living on the razor edge of luck gives me a critical distance from which to watch the textual comings and goings of Tim Blair.
Crikey.com, Warne, Drugs
There is a great montage photo of Shane Warne here. I guess that the free-wheeling crikey.com crowd are not convinced by Warne's 'mum gave me the tablet' line. I think they got that right.

Not convinced. This is more considered and serious. Either way he wasn't all that smart.
Mark Latham on Cricket

I don't like Mark Latham much. Not that I have ever met the Member for Werriwa. Its just that I don't like his political attack dog image, nor am I much enthused about his Third Way between socialism and the free market. But he sure spotted the dirt under the carpet for why Australia played cricket in Zimbabwe. As reported by Alan Ramsay Latham says:

"...the reason our cricketers are being asked to put their safety at risk in Zimbabwe is that the ICC had to choose between cash and player safety - and chose the cash. The ICC would rather risk player safety than risk its broadcasting rights money by changing fixtures."

Yeah. I could smell the corruption. And while we on the topic have yopu ever noticed the way that the Prime Minister is making Don Bradman into an icon of the Liberal Party?

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Ivory Towers Revisited

Joseph over at reading & writing has been writing about universities as ivory towers in response to comments made by Dorothea here on surviving in an academia. Dorothea had argued that the university has the institutional power to cause people to lead damaged lives. I wholeheartedly concur.

Joseph makes a good argument in response to this:

"I'm an existentialist at heart: I can accept the power of institutions to fuck people up, but ultimately each human being has to come to terms with his or her place beneath the cold, hard sky glittering with stars... Before we can have any meaningful discussion about the role of individuals in contemporary universities, we must acknowledge this historical fait accompli. The ivory tower was torn down for good more than fifty years ago, though its shadow lingers on..... the university is just one more institution among other institutions. Every institution, of course, ought to be subject to critique & I'm not here to "defend" academics & academia so much as to suggest that the terms of the critique need to be revised."

It is hard to find an objection to this. And I won't. Joseph, bless his soul, is 'a Humanist at a "technological university."' The shadow of the two cultures (at 11.12.2002) is a long one(at 12.12.2002)

Joseph knows about the moral law in his heart whilst walking that lonesome highway by himself with the starry skies above. He would understand the terror that assails us at that stilliest hour; aa terror that seizes our hearts and causes the blood to drain from our faces and us to weep uncontrollably.

What I would do is add a bit. The ivory tower shadow is a long one indeed. The walls of university are firmly in place, the culture is deeply insular, there is little connection to region or community, the research of most academics have little connection to the public concerns of citizens and there is little in the way of education for democratic citizenship. In fact the big disgust towards everyday life and mass culture is the norm amongst the academic higher types. Yes all this is changing in Australia but few can sing their songs in such a place. Most get sick. Few are free spirits.

Joseph says that "you owe it to yourself & to the rest of us to find a place where you can sing. Or, minimally, work to change the place you are so that you can sing." Fair enough. I got out. These were no blissful islands. As Nietzsche says in 'Of Scholars' in Thus Spake Zarathustra:

"For this is the truth: I have left the house of scholars and slammed the door behind me. Too long did my soul sit hungry at their table; I have not been schooled, as they have, to crack knowledge as one cracks nuts..... They keep a sharp eye on one another and do not trust one another as well as they might. Inventive in small slynesses, they lie in wait for those whose wills go upon lame feet---they lie in wait like spiders... They also know how to play with loaded dice; and I found them playing so zealously that they were sweating."

There is a big sadness in Australian universities. I got out of living in the ruins so that I could sing Nietzsche's Song of Melancholy (Thus Spake Zarathustra). I just wanted to take the hump out of my hunched back.

Joseph's argument leaves me puzzled. What are the new terms of critique? What are the terms of critique in a dark time when the old traditions and conventions lie shattered on the ground and the new ones are yet to be formed?

Monday, March 03, 2003

Ho hum election battles
It is often observed that political parties at election time is a contest between Tweddle Dum and Tweddle Dee. Both have more or less the same product wrapped in different packaging (the personality of the leader). Many citizens are bored by the choice on offer ----its all too close to the choice of soap powder on a supermarket shelf.

Do we make a rational choice based on good information there?

Well Meat pies or sausage rolls? says it all.

Junk food junk policies.
Jingoism and cricket

Lets hope that Sachin Tendulkar does to Australia what he did to Pakistan. I will be cheering India from the sidelines.

Though a nationalist I detest the culture of jingoism around professional sport. The commentary by the culture industry is so one eyed. It is all Australia Australia Australia. The Australians are the greatest; they cut everybody else; none can come close to these heroes. Its jingoism not nationality.

The commentators give you no idea how cricket is seen and played in India, Pakistan and the West Indies. It is just assumed that the culture of cricket is the same there as it is in Austrralia.

The jingoism makes me sick in the stomach. There is very little self-reflection on this culture or the way that a once great game has been taken in hand by the culture industry.
Bush's poodle

If Tony Blair is George Bush's poodle, then what is John Howard?

Bush's labrador?

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Junk psychology abounds

There has been a lot of junk psychology circulating through the circuits of the corporate media about the psychology of the dictators of rogue states. "Psychopathic dictators" is frequently slipped into the columnists in the Murdoch Press. But this psychological spin took a new turn with James BoneChildhood wounds of the Butcher of Baghdad' in the Weekend Australian (no link, March 1, p. 14), with its appeals to science. But see here for the link courtesy of Media Watch

The claim was that the trauma of rejection by his mother turned the Iraqi leader into a murderous tyrant.

Since this weblog is tuned into, and a nodal point of, the movement of the World Spirit, we thought we could do a political psychology of the neo-cons. We have turned to Dr. Adorno and this research on Negative Dialectics for guidance on this important matter.

Your typical neo-con almost didn't make it out of mummy's womb. They did so only because of massive medical intervention in a public hospital. As a young child they watched their parents torture the family dog, and turn it into a savage beast that guarded the suburban house from strangers and killed any other animal that moved. The backyard was filled with dead rats and the stench of cadavers filled the air. The sweet smell of rotting cadavers in the high summer was accepted as normal---much like the household rubbish sitting the rubbish bin.

The brutal torture of the family pet by their anal retentive parents was their first image of what it was to be human.

As a teenager the young child left home to get themselves an education at the sandstone university in the heart of the city. This was a turning point for them and for liberal civilization because they meet future politicians and businessmen who were latter to become the movers and shakers in the country. All celebrated bourgeois freedom (Dr. Adorno was a bit of a Marxist you understand. If you don't like the word 'bourgeois' cross it out or replace it with 'liberal').

By this time they had forgotten the cause of their image of human being but this image was seared into their unconscious. The civilizing university taught them that culture is based on forgetting but the unconscious power of the human image whispered to them what was repressed by a civilized education. They became the defenders of a triumphant liberal culture that abhorred stench because it stinks (the great unwashed, the rabble, the mob); raged about the cultural bolshevism of the liberal left; and always tacitly understood that culture was built on death.

They are very insecure because they did not have the power to shape their society to mirror their psychology and so they are very frustrated and angry at those who cross their path. They have an arrogant facade;identify with the nation; take pleasure in hurting people; have no empathy for the pain and suffering of those people they sink their fangs into; have a defensive comportment as see themselves as under threat from all sides; and consider attack to be the best form of defense. They consider using whatever means is necessary to accomplish their goals because they are at war with those left liberals who do not accept their view of things.

That's the political psychology of the 'lets-have-war-now' neo-con. It is just as good as those we find on the dictators of rogue regimes in the Murdoch-owned war media, don't you think?
Great website

Check out Dublog when you have a moment. Lots of visuals to view and links to explore.