If the Answer isn’t Violence, Neither is Your Silence

Panic
David Marr
Politics and journalism
Black Inc
2011

panicDavid Marr was, for a little while there, what I wanted to be when I grew up.  We’re talking high school here, which I started in 2001, deep in the Howard era and quite shortly before the terror panic gripped much of the “western” world.  For extra context, the first political protest I ever remember going to was one against the incarceration of refugees in the Woomera Detention Centre in 1999.  David Marr was one of an assortment of public figures who espoused opinions aligned with my own, one who was just as angry as I was about everything Wrong with Australia.

This book is a collection of edited pieces by Marr in his capacity as a journalist, tracking the bloom and boom of several panics that have gripped the Australian public, focusing especially on the time since 1997.  Even more especially, it focuses on the extremely vexed question of race as it pertains to immigration, in the wake of backlash against the revocation of the White Australia Policy, and to Australia opening its doors (kinda) to (hold onto your hats) refugees who are not white.  But there are other scandals thrown into the mix too; Jim Henson’s naked children, drugs, hommus-ectuality and that kind of thing.  The point Marr wants to make is that as a people Australians are pretty partial to getting in a flap about things.  Unfortunately, we see as a consequence such draconian and often poorly drafted laws as 2006’s anti terror legislation, or anti bikie laws introduced in various states in the last few years*. Continue reading

Be the Best That You Can Be, Best to Your Ability

CREATING CAPABILITIES: THE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT APPROACH
Martha C. Nussbaum (Belknap Harvard, 2011) ISBN: 9780674050549

I think I may have fallen in love with Martha C. Nussbaum.  Law professor, ethicist, feminist, philosopher, confident teacher and elegant writer, she is a source of inspiration, even if I don’t subscribe wholeheartedly to her political biases.  Creating Capabilities is but one of her numerous contributions to discourse on human rights and starts with a simple proposition: living beings are more important than money.  GDP, which measures the economic wellbeing of a country in purely monetary form, is an at best unhelpful measure of any given nation’s actual prosperity.  In its place, Nussbaum and other proponents, such as the originator of the school, Amartya Sen, nominate the “capabilities approach” to measuring human (and animal) development, suggesting several different benchmarks that should first be aimed for and then improved upon by the world’s nations.  Creating Capabilities forms something of a manifesto for this approach.

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The Scandinavian Wit

KILLING HOPEkill

Blum, William (Common Courage Press, updated edition October 2008, ISBN 978-1567512526)

In 2009, President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” [1]

Many thought the prize undeserved – on the grounds that Obama appeared too much the enemy of peace. Had he won it, they asked, for prosecuting a war in Afghanistan? Or instead for his proposal to expand the United States military? Or for his plan to send “at least” two additional American combat brigades to Afghanistan? Continue reading

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      THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS Poul Anderson ISBN 0-441-80822-0 Three Hearts and Three Lions was published in 1953, well after Tolkien’s The Hobbit but approximately contemporary with The Lord of the Rings. Whether Poul Anderson had read The Hobbit isn’t easy to determine, but it’s safe to say this is … Continue reading