Understanding one’s mistake

I would have thought in this country of ours that telling a few people where to get off occasionally was not a crime, but the sad thing is to see a once-great newspaper like the Herald buckle to the bullies.

Mike Carlton quoted in ‘Mike Carlton resigns from The Sydney Morning Herald‘.

Here’s the problem, Mike Carlton. Your responsibility is to improve the discourse in the country via the paper you write for. You chose to respond to emails in the way that you did, just like you chose to resign when you were only looking at a suspension (and possibly with pay).

For a journalist and commentator as practised as you to so misunderstand the potential consequences of one’s own actions should be shameful. Of course, that’s assuming you really don’t know what you were doing.

There’s an alternative possibility here. There’s the possibility that you know exactly what you were doing. That you published a purposefully antisemitic piece because you knew it would get coverage. There’s the possibility that you responded in a way that your employer deemed inappropriate because you were looking for an opportunity to become a martyr for some bigoted cause.

The language you used in your comments above imply a conspiracy: an outside force controlling the management and editorial decisions of the paper. That’s what you mean by “bullies”, isn’t it?

Either way you don’t look good. In one scenario you are weak and reactive and in the other you are dedicating yourself as an instrument of evil.

Also, in ‘this country of ours’ we used to tell people where to get off in imaginative plays on the English language. As a man of letters you should relish in that rather than resort to vulgarity. Go and read some of Paul Keating’s hansard entries and get back to me.

Quacks against the Machine

There is so much I love about the following quote. It’s a comment by someone who calls themselves “oztronix”. They posted it on a video of a news article from NTDTV, a New York-based broadcaster trying to get non-censored material into China. The video is about Paul Hogan being held on tax evasion. The comment ends with some misguided call to nocturnal revolution. The person’s own youtube channel is filled with videos of ducklings.


The value of human life and words

It doesn’t matter who dies. It doesn’t matter how many. What matters is that their lives – and especially their deaths – can be used in the service of the story they are so desperate to tell.

via MH17, Gaza and the value of human life by Waleed Aly.

Waleed Aly put into words here a more beautiful summary of the major problem of this week. Criticism of others is less about the subject than it is in service of the critic.

Nice feelings

Unlike other podcasts I’ve listened to, Hookturn shows or maybe properties is a better word? seem designed in the sense that they are focussed with any extraneous parts removed. The first Hookturn show, The Nudge isn’t just about design, it’s about "being better designers". That’s a pretty important, and interesting, difference.

from “You should be listening to Hookturn.” in A Blog by Ben Kraal.

Sometimes people just get it, and when they do, it’s a really nice feeling.

Legitimate outrage

In 2012, when Sri Lanka’s human rights record was reviewed by the UN, the Australian government told the Sri Lankan government to eliminate all cases of abuse, torture and mistreatment by police and security forces. Two years later, we are directly returning asylum seekers to those forces.

via “Sri Lanka is a refugee producing country. Here's why” by Emily Howie in

At the very least, as a country we should not be handing people back to their oppressors. Either as a nation we value human life or we don’t. Either we are willing to help or we are not.

Of course there are nuances. There are ways to help and there are ways to not help.

What the government has done in this situation is the opposite of helping and so much worse than the absence of helping. We know that these people are likely to be harmed and we handed them over into that situation.

Our government has lost site of what it means to be human and to have humanity.

Humanity shouldn’t end at one’s borders (no matter how obscurely you define them, or migration zones or whatever boundaries you put on your country).

You can hear Emily Howie discuss this topic in greater detail on the first episode of Devil’s Avocado: ‘Regugees, Asylum Seekers and Boat People’

It may as well be a picture of me.

He is a fun loving guy really funny and can make anyone laugh.He is very quiet at first and seems shy but when you get to know him you will fall in love.He has very good style and always looks handsome.He also always smells really good :

via Urban Dictionary: josh.

I have nothing else to say.

Humans, death and nuance

This tweet was retweeted into my timeline. I took offence but didn’t engage with the author or the retweeter because no mind was ever changed on Twitter. What once was a service to tell people what you were having lunch has become a service to further confirmation bias and justify outrage.

I took offence because three teenage boys were kidnapped and murdered and I don’t believe an expression of sympathy should ever be used for political points.

I took offence because there is, deep within this tweet (so deep that the author could easily argue plausible deniability), a sense of antisemitism. There is the suggestion that Israel gets different treatment not because of its strategic position as a diplomatic ally in a troubled region or because of the scientific and technological advances it has given the world, but because it is controlled by Jews.

I live in a secular world where I continue to face the argument that criticising Israel or declaring oneself to be “anti-zionist” is not the same as being an anti-semite. Semantically this argument is correct. People should have the right to disagree with the zionist philosophy and they should have the right to question the actions of any government. I wish the world were as straight-forward as that.

I feel no affinity to Israel as a country. I have family there and they are lovely people. Many people I grew up with moved there. I visited Israel when I was 15 years old and, while I understood its importance in my heritage, I didn’t love it in the way that I love Melbourne or New York.

Yet when I see a tweet like the one above, I am offended because it brings with it a hatred of Jews that smells vaguely of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a text that breeds hatred of Jews through the false argument that as a people we control governments, media, banks, etcetera.

As simple evidence we only need to see the replies that the tweet received:

There are more.

The ease with which we can broadcast our opinion or rebroadcast someone else’s has removed the time required to think about what we are actually saying and the impact that may have.

What happened to three teenagers in Israel is a tragedy for their families, their friends and the people in the area who may discover acts of terrorism around the corner. Our society differentiates between terrorist and military acts. The USA’s society does too. There are also laws around what governments can and cannot do within the bounds of military acts and there is protocol on how other countries’ governments should react when one country’s military acts outside of those laws.

It is very rare for USA’s President Obama to name other nations’ dead civilians in any situation, but he has expressed condolences to Palestinian people after actions by the Israeli military:

We also express our deepest condolences for the deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza yesterday. We stress the importance of calm and urge all parties to do everything in their power to prevent further violence and civilian casualties.

From the Office of the Press Secretary of the White House

The teenagers found murdered in Israel also held American citizenship, so it’s possible he saw a cultural difference there.

But it doesn’t matter. This blog post isn’t going to change anyone’s mind. The way people think about death, politics and discourse has not changed for hundreds of years. We keep hoping for a better future but do humans actually have the capacity to make it happen? Probably not as long as we keep avoiding debate by hiding behind a 140 character limit.

Life Achievements and New Directions

Needing a new direction, he gained his commercial pilot’s license, hoping to become a flight instructor, but eventually took a job at a large bookstore.

As of 2007, he began DJing weekly at a Dallas music venue, Lee Harvey’s, located in the Cedars neighborhood near downtown. According to their calendar, December 19, 2009 may have been the last time he performed there.

MC 900 Ft. Jesus entry in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

I’m always impressed with people who are able to gain some success but then realise that they don’t want to pursue it any further.

I wonder how MC900 Ft Jesus’s career would have been different if he’d had access to the internet-based distribution models that came about 10 years after his last album or if he still would have been disillusioned with artistic pursuits.

A Pleasure in Grammar

iOS 8 makes typing easier by suggesting contextually appropriate words to complete your sentences. It even recognizes to whom you’re typing and whether you’re in Mail or Messages. Because your tone in an email may be different from your tone in a message.

via Apple—iOS 8 – Overview.

It’s rare to see correct use of “whom” in modern marketing material. Nicely done, apple.

Spending 27 years with one mindset

A 1987 news report has surfaced showing a 22-year-old Joe Hockey protesting university fees in Sydney.

via Video shows Joe Hockey protesting university fees in 1987 | SBS News.

I’m no fan of Joe Hockey. I never have been. Sometimes I call him “Joe Cock-ey” privately because I like to be infantile at times. Also, because sometimes he acts like a cock*.

He has presided over one of the most punitive budgets in recent memory, so it’s clear he’s no fan of mine, either.

What I’m saying is there’s a lot not to like about Joe Hockey.

But I don’t think that means that we have to hold people to account for something they believed in strongly 27 years ago.

I also don’t think that we should take delight in old footage, photos or audio that exists just to embarrass someone while not actually talking about the issues.

Somewhere there is a photo of me and my brother wearing matching tracksuits AND sneakers. We don’t do that anymore. Don’t call us on it. We just changed the way we like to dress (or who we allowed to dress us).

People change their minds over time. Sometimes their minds are changed for them with briefcases over-loaded with cash. Sometimes it just takes a convincing argument or an understanding of new evidence.

So, stop the chortling about implied hypocrisy and focus back on the issue so that we can actually solve it rather than just whinge.

* Please take this with the cheeky ambiguity with which it was intended (and don’t sue).