March 29, 2008
One of the lowlights of ’007 was the “don’t tase me bro” incident, which was converted into a brilliant remix (check in video); and plenty of re-remixes on the tube. Some commentators said he was an attention-seeking git; i prefer the term performance artist.
If only that dead Canadian guy had heard the song, he might have been able to rap out a quick defensive beatbox.
You have to be ready when they come to get you. And you too could make the most memorable phrase of the year. So what’s your catchphrase gonna be? And what kind of incident would you like to make the news?
December 13, 2007
I’ve found some references to Naomi Wolf’s latest book, and it is scarier than the one by Richard Flanagan. “The End of America” is apparently about the ten steps any would-be dictator can take to rapidly shut down a democracy. She’s done her research on the early years of several dictators .. and here’s the crazy stuff – she suggests that Bush’s US government has taken all ten steps.
In this interview she speaks mainly of the first four of the ten steps:
1) Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy (Osama, Saddam ..
2) Create a gulag – an off-shore prison with different laws (Guantanamera ..
3) Develop a thug caste – a paramilitary force not answerable to the people (apparently a private army called Blackwater already operates in the USA?
4) Set up an internal surveillance system aimed at ordinary citizens (make sure everyone has a fridge magnet, break down trust and stir up discontent between different social groups ..
Having a vote doesn’t mean you’re living in an open society with the underpinnings of civil rights and freedoms; because closed societies (countries without freedom) do have elections, and they do have newspapers.
Why does the President have the right to federalise the national guard, to torture people, to detain citizens without charge? Naomi sees this as a war on the citizens of democracy.. that our apathy and our terror has blinded us to the rapid onslaught of tyranny.
People in Alabama being put in prison for donating to the Democratic party? Time to wake up, says Ms Wolf. Now! Every day counts. Let us restore the rule of law.
Blimey! Surely it can’t be that bad? I mean America is land of the free, isn’t it?
You don’t think we’re going to see vigilantes in the streets? Concentration camps? Invading other countries for colonialist gain .. oh ..
December 11, 2007
Hasan Elahi – the Visible Man – found himself on the wrong side of federal government agencies. “Where were you on september twelfth?” they asked him, before grilling the guy with nine lie detector tests.
So Hasan decided to publish every tiny morsel of his life. Many times during each day, images from his location are broadcast live in the name of art and safety.
Will this transparency be required of all citizens in the future? Are we heading in the Right Direction? Would you be prepared to wear a GPS Ankle Bracelet for your own safety?
Here’s an interview with the artist.
December 5, 2007
More from the media: book reviewer Rosemary Sorenson, writing in the Weekend Australian Review (02 dec), reckons that it (that Cairns pub incident) all depends where you were standing at the time, and regurgitates the patrons’ version of events.
(.. a version i heartily disagree with ..)
Rosemary also claims that management have declared they were acting to protect the ‘provocative interloper‘ from potential violence.
Well a blessed relief. Good to know that any (allegedly) potentially violent people are left inside the hotel, where they can’t do any damage. Wouldn’t want them out on the streets.
It’s an interesting version of events: i’ve read similar things on comment pages all around the country. One web cruiser wrote that Queensland must have gone soft because “a few years ago he would have been shark bait“.
I guess that the security workers were protecting that Indigenous woman too. She was probably escorted to the door for her own benefit. Don’t you reckon?
Still i’m glad to learn that management didn’t seriously think i was a security threat. Because it would be disturbing to learn they let a potential threat go to the next pub down the road. Wooden it?
ugh, i’m sure i’ll get over the whole thing very soon. Smile.
Love to youse all.
from the unknown reader
(thanks a bundle for fighting statue by mmarchin, and the attacker by kodama (home); both from flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.)
December 4, 2007
Do the Nut Bush. Do the Funky Gibbon. Do the Expressive Chicken. Yah!
Or .. Do the Motionless Standstill.
It’s the latest craze.
Mm-hm, the Stock-still (apparently).
Would you believe the Very Slow Robot?
The Freeze Frame? The Matrix Slow-Mo?
Sigh! Will i ever live this down? Standing still on a dancefloor !?
No way .. i wasn’t .. i didn’t .. those people, they’re being disingenuous!
Look i’m sorry you got called ‘paranoid’.
i know you’re just Normal within a Paranoid Society.
Can’t we just be mates? Maaaaate?
That’s it for me and dancefloors, we’re over!
I’m just going to sit still at a table with my beer and a my mates,
staring at the chicks on the chequered squares
.. like a Normal Aussie Bloke.
“You say, Everything’s All right. I Say, Nothing can go right Babe. Chequered Love.”
December 1, 2007
If you’ve just tuned in, i’ve been writing because my story appeared in newspapers around Australia (and Europe): cairns, brisbane, adelaide, sydney, melbourne, perth, tassie, england, the.uk, ireland and yes – sweden. (plus: front cover of cairns post! pdf 900kb)
This was a bit of a buzz for me, especially as the story was faintly ridiculous. People get kicked out of pubs all the time for being not-what-the-locals-ordered. Or a bit weird. Maybe even “socially undesirable”. In fact an Indigenous woman got kicked out the same pub five minutes before i did – and her face didn’t get in the media, did it?
Yes i got kicked out of a pub for having a book with me. A book with the T-word in the title. Plus wires hanging out me pocket. And staring in shock when that dark-skinned lady got chucked out the door. She was a good dancer.
The locals thought i was going to blow the place up. Apparently.
My friend Avril was shocked and wrote a letter to the Editor of the Cairns Post who found it a worthy headline and chased me down. Thank heavens i had the wits in the interview to pose as a tosser, and claim that i was “Absolutely flabbergasted”. Yeah, go michael !
Many people, gathered around water coolers, found this to be a sign that we’ve lost the plot, gone to hell in a hand-basket, and that hard-right governments are turning to tyranny. Also that the government and media hype is really about subduing Western populations and centralising control.
Following this, the people of Australia kicked out their conservative government. Yeah, go The People!
So, what do you think? Are we on track? Should we be going to war to stop all this anti-civilian violence. Rounding up folk who look different? Surrendering our civil rights in the interests of public safety? Sending suspects overseas where we can torture them ‘legally’?
Time to get some ring-ins .. yep just ring this number and chat to us now .. oh how do i make the switchboard work?
(images: thanks for takin it to the banksy by guano at flickr)
November 30, 2007
Stating its reasons as public safety, the Japanese government is passing legislation to enforce fingerprinting for all foreigners. Vegetable Japan posts a strong protest, noting that all of the anti-civilian violence in Japan has been carried out by the locals rather than Gaijin.
She believes that the government is using widespread fear to crack down on individual liberties, and refers to an article by John Mueller. Writing from the US, for Foreign Affairs, Mueller wonders whether the threat of the T-word is now used primarily to curtail civilian freedoms, rather than to maintain public safety.
(image of delicious food taken without permission from Vegetable Japan)
November 23, 2007
Today’s letter-to-the-editor writers suggest that the Liberal party hacks caught distributing fake pamphlets are another example of a party machine that is thoroughly “beneath contempt“. There’s plenty of community anger over this episode.
Of course the wives knew nothing, and the heads of the party knew nothing.
Just like the heads of the party knew nothing about the Wheat Board giving kickbacks to Saddam. Just like the heads of the party knew nothing about the lies and deliberate deception involved in the ‘children overboard’ case, or in the ‘evidence’ for going to war.
Just like that radio host knew nothing about the effect his words would have on a mob in Cronulla. Just like the Minister knew nothing about the effects his words would have on locals who viciously attacked a young Sudanese man in Melbourne.
What i believe is this:
- African people DO integrate well and happily into mainstream Australian culture, the same as Middle-Eastern people, South-East Asian people, European people and people from all over this wonderful world.
- Nobody threw their children overboard from that boat, but the heads of government happily lied to the people of Australia.
- There was no real evidence to build any case for illegally invading Iraq.
- “Divide and conquer” is a very old and useful strategy: (social division + fear = power)
- As people get more fearful and desperate, they’re more open to irrational suggestions of blame.
- Targeting minorities is a way to conceal the deep imbalance in your economics.
- People at the top knew all about those kickbacks to Saddam.
- People at the top are prepared to try anything to grasp onto power.
People running the government for the last ten years know all about FEAR. They know the effect it has on people, and they know they can scare the bewittzies out of us; twisting people’s hearts and guts to fill their minds with bunk. Which they’ve done in every single election campaign this century.
i’m over the fears and lies, and i pray that the Australian people are finally coming to their senses. Wake Up Australia!
One of the wives (a former minister in the current federal government) said the pamphlet was a joke. Just like the Chaser. Ha Ha. Hoo hoo hee. Ho. What a chuckle. Would you like a video re-enactment with that?
Sure and Pauline Handsoff was just a joke too. Well that i could believe if she hadn’t exposed the frightened underbelly of Australian society and given the Leader of the Party something to tickle while he suffocated our freedoms with a huge legislative pillow in the night.
Yeah, no .. the Chaser team is actually Funny!
(Thanks heaps for these great images: toxic by what what, and banksy on the banks by Riv, both flickr)
November 22, 2007
Jon Faine asked me if Cairns was competing to be the most ignorant, rednecked place in Australia. i said it was in the running, but that this was just one pub. Let’s not go overboard with the generalisation, i tried to imply.
(But respectfully. Faine is one superhero.
(Link to interview below
Before i state that abusing people (and their cities) because of their behaviour isn’t always helpful, i’d like to add that Sydney is still in the lead for that competition, after the Cronulla riots of 2005.
A couple of people getting kicked out of a pub really doesn’t compete with that.
When you add in all the dog whistling coming out of another NSW town .. Canberra, then Cairns isn’t in the running at all. Did i say Canberra? Maybe the messages of fear and suspicion, of hatred and social division, have been emerging from Kiribilli all along.
So lets leave Cairns out of it. Cairns is a beautiful city full of wonderful people. So is Sydney. Wonderful people that deserve all the safety and first-rate public education we can muster.
Don’t shoot Brasilians because we think they look Middle Eastern and carry a backpack on the Tube. Stop blaming minorities for our global imbalances.
Elect governments that are far less committed to spreading social division and fear like honey on toast (just to conceal their out-of-balance economics).
Fund public education properly, so that people have a clue about how to live in this world.
.. but i might have a copy if you missed out. Okay, here’s a listening device:
powered by ODEO
Thanks for reading.
(thanks kalandrakas at flickr for “how to pray the japanese way“; abc images used without permission)
November 21, 2007
Well honey, thanks for your blessings and the kind reminder.
i really do consider myself lucky. i’m living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. i’m alive, i have a working fridge plus a roof over my head, and i currently have a huge whacking degree of freedom. This freedom i am celebrating every minute, with every breath. Albeit somewhat nervously right now. A misunderstanding can really turn your world around.
Way too many other people haven’t been as lucky as me.
Many have fallen into the clutches of a horribly murderous cult, and given their lives to kill, which they were brainwashed into thinking was the right thing to do.
Many have died because of the (insanely misguided) actions of these people.
Many have fallen before the armies out hunting for the leaders of this cult. Many in these armies have died also.
A fair few have died from mistakes in the hunt for the cult leaders, and
Plenty have been locked up for time without charge, while
The rest of us are apparently living in fear.
none of that seems good to me.
So, yes i feel very very lucky. Don’t you worry about that Joh.
Lucky to be alive, lucky i didn’t get beaten up, lucky i never joined a cult. Lucky to still have my freedom. If i’d been reported to the security hotline, it seems unlikely but i could in theory have been detained for fourteen days without charge. With nobody knowing why i didn’t come back from Cairns.
I’d still be asking for my mobile phone, so i could send a text to my mum.
(Thanks Eric Kilby for the image “All your needs .. and Coke”, at flickr and Cowtools for “how to enjoy better meals”)
(There are some other funny comments on that Register page. Lot of people running down Australians for not being able to read.)
November 16, 2007
When i went dancing in that hotel in Cairns, i really didn’t think too much about the consequences. But i did think about how people might perceive me – a fortyish male caucasian on my own. So i tried to be discreet, non-threatening .. not stare at anyone.
i moved about on the dancefloor for four or five songs.
(Including Dexy’s Midnight Runners, and Billie Jean. Okay, i was desperate for nightlife. i was on my own in a strange city. i was feeling a bit lonely and uncomfortable. But trying to look cool and relaxed about it.)
Then i stood to the side of the dancefloor watching the action for maybe three songs. Again, trying to be unobtrusive.
Whoops! It didn’t work. Somehow i came across to some people as potentially threatening, and the bouncer asked me to leave, saying that several patrons had complained about the book i was carrying. When story hit the front page those patrons wanted their say too.
Now i find out it wasn’t just the book.
Some of the patrons from that night are now upset at being labelled paranoid. They say that they saw a man “behaving strangely”, and that they felt intimidated. These people saw
- wires coming out of a man’s pocket (my mp3 player and headphones),
- a waist pouch (with my sunglasses),
- and a book with “the T word” on its cover (novel by Richard Flanagan).
They saw a man standing motionless on the dancefloor for twenty minutes ..
(that really baffles me. i’m sure i was dancing vigorously, and i meant to be friendly, but in my own space – intending fully to respect other people, not intrude on anyone else’s fun.
(Anyone who’s seen me on a dancefloor would be puzzled by that one. The reason i hit the dancefloor was because it was active. Usually i’m the one who gets up first, and starts other people going.)
Other people were also asked to leave
At the moment that the bouncer (#181) came up and moved me to the pavement, i was wondering whether to leave or to have another dance ..
.. because i’d just seen an Indigenous woman escorted out the door. She’d been dancing too. A very funky dancer, she was striking in appearance. Recalling the moment, I realise now that i did stare pointedly around me at that moment. i was stunned. This woman had also been dancing on her own, very well. She was well dressed and good looking. She looked to me like a good and interesting person.
i somehow leapt to the conclusion that she was asked to leave because she was “too black”. If that were true, then this was not the kind of hotel i wanted to dance in.
At that moment i stared around me in shock, trying to fathom why this had happened. i was outraged at the possibility that my conclusion could be right. i did stare at people then, wondering why everyone had let this black woman be kicked out for no reason.
- A man who looks different,
- who has wires coming out his pocket,
- who has a pouch around his waist and
- a book with the T word on the cover,
- as well as long frizzy black hair,
- who stares, indignantly.
Clear signals, to someone on the lookout. Someone who feels threatened by the world of difference. Someone who perhaps doesn’t notice an Indigenous woman being kicked out of the pub.
Atmosphere of fear
i’ve got to say that i think labelling people paranoid could be a mistake. i always thought Keating’s biggest mistake was to abuse his opponents, rather than lead them to a better place. People do get afraid, and their minds can leap to unfair conclusions. Abusing or making fun of people who feel threatened, or are in the grip of fear, is perhaps not the best approach.
This culture we live in has been brought to the point of hysterical frenzy, and individuals are not immune from these emotional currents. Most people don’t have much protection against the pressure-cooker emotions of the mass media, or from politicians who seek to embed their power by preying on those fears. i too have looked at strangers in bars and found myself wondering.
We urgently need leaders who can empathise and allay people’s fears, while at the same time evolving our understanding and our behaviour, sensibly and responsibly.
Personally i feel vulnerable and disturbed. Now i know how easy it is for people to get the wrong idea.
Just what the book is all about.
(image: thanks for “is that an iPod in your pocket by thespacesuitcatalyst at flickr)