Mortigi Tempo

Mortigi Tempo

RAMDOM and inconsequential linkage:

Russell Turner is a champ. With the spotlight on unequal age of consent laws, the NT has to follow Carr and change fast.
The Daily Telegraph enjoys - nay, loves - using ‘social agenda’ in a pejorative sense.
Arnold Frolows has finally left Triple J. Everybody thinks they know what Triple J should play to increase ratings: more alternative, less alternative, more hip-hop, less hip-hop, more dance, get the point. However, Arnold’s replacement, Richard Kingsmill, is perhaps one of the few people that actually has a clue. The J’s may be saved yet.
The Australian thinks the ABC should be more like The Australian.
Radiohead’s Hail To The Thief will be their best album yet.

posted by Tim Stevens | 5/23/2003 12:41:00 AM |

BOTH Scott Wickstein and Ken Parish are reconsidering their position on detention and refugees following the Four Corners episode. Ken discusses the role of ACM, but the point I find interesting is the issue of the Swedish system:
There are viable alternatives to mandatory universal detention (especially of children and mothers), although detention will continue to be needed for all applicants during initial screening and for some on an ongoing basis. I've pointed out previously that Britain's horrendous record of absconding by unsuccessful asylum seekers allowed to remain at large in the community (around 70%) indicates that Australia should proceed with caution in implementing any such plan. I recall Tim Dunlop (tsk tsk) mentioning in a comment box somewhere that Sweden didn't appear to experience anywhere near as great a problem with absconding as Britain. I investigated that situation and discovered that Sweden, unlike Britain, has a universal national photo identity card system. I suspect that may well acount for much if not all of the difference in outcomes.

The British system is often cited as an example of a failing asylum system (which it is), and the lack of detention is given as the reason it is in such a mess. However, as I have attempted to explain in the past, and as Ken has now pointed out, the levels of absconding in Sweden is quite low. Sweden manages to have only minimum levels of detention (only until identification and health screening can be carried out) and yet it doesn’t have significant problems with absconding. This suggests to me there are problems with the overall British system, but the lack of detention is not necessarily a problem by itself.

Grant Mitchell, who used to work for the Swedish Migration Board, but now for the Asylum Seeker Project in Melbourne, has a good comparison of the two system here. He points out that following similar problems Australia had last year, Sweden removed the incompetent companies running their detention centres. Also, they increased media and NGO access to the asylum seekers.

But Mitchell says the ‘caseworker’ system is one of the main reasons for a smoother and relatively successful asylum process. An asylum seeker will have the same caseworker for the duration of their stay in detention, whose role is inform the seekers of their rights, to inform them of the state of their asylum case and appeal possibilities, as well as to prepare them for all possible outcomes of their application. This has lead to Sweden having success in deporting detainees when their application found to be not genuine. This is in contrast to Australia, where many of the problems arise from detainees stalling for years when their application is not approved. What Mitchell does not mention to any extent is the use of a national id card as part of the effectiveness of the Swedish system. Ken thinks a national id card is the main reason the Swedish system has worked. I’ll have to look at this issue a bit closer.

To be fair though, there are aspects of Australia’s system that are an improvement on Sweden’s. For example, Australia’s refugee program takes mainly off-shore applications, whereas Sweden only processes those who arrive at their borders.

The rights and wrongs of when and how asylum seekers arrive in Australia are important issues (and deserve a different post by themselves). But some of the improvements in the Swedish system (which may include a national id card, but I hope not) should be adopted here, considering the current system as exists in Australia does not attempt to minimise the misery of those who do arrive onshore. Though, I think we all know the chances of any changes being made to the system now are virtually zero. You only have to visit the Four Corners forum to see how impossible it would be.

posted by Tim Stevens | 5/20/2003 11:54:00 PM |

SINCE my local Murdoch tabloid is so consistently crap, I’ve been boycotting it for a while now. It’s not crap just because it makes Pauline Hanson look like a chardonnay swilling lefty, but because there is nothing original or worthwhile in it. I can get the same news by spending 10 minutes at I know Rupert is deeply troubled by my boycott. However, with a little luck, Rupert might survive without my 90 cents every day. Good luck with that Rupert.

Occasionally, however, I do get a chance to read the paper. If the front page is sensational enough, being the alert, unmanipulable media consumer that I am, I’ll pick it up and read it. Yesterday, for example, had the headline ‘BROKEN INTO’, with accompanying graphic attempting to show that everyone was at risk of being burgled at any moment. The article went on to suggest break and enters were at levels everyone should be extremely concerned about. Nothing too unusual about this kind of article really. But the accompanying editorial was the ripper:
There’s a form of terror lurking in our streets and suburbs.

Yes, folks, terror lurks in your street. Being a recent (two nights ago!) victim of this break and enter ‘terror’, I have no doubt it is an un-nerving experience and not one I hope happens again any time soon. But, as that editorial was being written, other people were suffering from the other terror - the real terror which sees many people die. If it was not the editorial writer’s intention to invoke the horrors of actual terrorism in an attempt to make a sensational opening line to his or her editorial, then perhaps a more appropriate line could have been found. As it is though, the column is, at the very least, distasteful. And exactly why I wouldn’t hand over money to view such crap.

The editorial (and the paper more generally) is about fear. Fear of anything and everything. If we have no reason to fear actual international terrorism in this little part of the world, we have to fear something else. Pick anything: break and enters, Aboriginal people, SARS, crocodiles, dengue fever, tree-huggers or whatever. And there you have about 90% of the topics covered by the paper. At some point soon I should get motivated and read Barry Glassner’s book on this issue. It looks interesting. And it seems many links could be drawn to Australia on this issue.

posted by Tim Stevens | 5/18/2003 11:52:00 PM |

AFTER a near blog-meltdown, the comment facility seem to be working for the moment. Feel free to comment on anything. Just two points though, 1) a little civility would be nice, and 2) no defences of a certain columnist will be allowed. After all, making such an argument would necessarily be in direct contradiction of point 1. (Seriously though, if there are any Janet fans out there, you are most welcome to comment.)

posted by Tim Stevens | 5/18/2003 11:50:00 PM |

ADAM informs us, contrary to first reports, Colonel's Day did actually occur, complete with man in chicken suit. I can't express how disappointed I am to have missed out on the festivities of Colonel's Day.

posted by Tim Stevens | 5/18/2003 08:23:00 PM |

VALE Noel Redding.

posted by Tim Stevens | 5/14/2003 10:06:00 PM |

BUGDET night must have been busy for Pete, so Nick Minchin had the task of chatting with Tony Jones on Lateline. This is what Nick had to say about one of the most deregulated higher education systems in the world. A higher education system that sees its students pay a larger percentage of their fees than most other students:
Well, it's wrong to characterise this as a 30 per cent increase in fees.

It has been ridiculous for Canberra to centrally dictate to universities around Australia the fees they charge for every single course they offer.

Not even the Soviet Union tried that.

I think it is sensible for us to partially deregulate fees and allow universities to charge up to 30 per cent more than current fees.

Well, I guess there is no need for any sense of proportion when you have little one-liners like that.

posted by Tim Stevens | 5/14/2003 09:57:00 PM |

THE Donnas: role models for The Disaffected Kids™:
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Donnas! Officially the most Photoshopped band in the history of music. Of whom each I'm-rock-'n'-roll, look-at-me-I'm-real, 'spontaneous' picture requires more airbrushes than a Britney Spears photoshoot. Then again, maybe this is a prerequisite when the success of each of your vacuum-packaged pieces of corporate rock tat rests soleley on the assumption that the auidence will find your concept revolutionary. Your concept being - I'm female! I'm young! I'd be vaguely attractive after a few pints! And - giggle - I'm singing a song about - gasp - sex!

I loathe this; this continual heavy reliance on the masculine aspects of female sexuality that some women appear to think they must assume in order to be successful. We drink, we watch porn, we talk about blowjobs, therefore we must be punk icons, role models for The Disaffected Kids™. 'It takes genius to be this dumb', you say? No; it takes a vastly depressing surplus of unoriginality. By placing the emphasis on the fact that they are girls rather than the fact that they are musicians, The Donnas and their ilk make it that much easier for the wankers at the NME to label any group with a female in it part of the 'no cock revolution'. It doesn't have to be like this. Look at Karen O; she just gets on with it, and yes, she sings about sex - but when she does it's sexy, not desperate.

posted by Tim Stevens | 5/12/2003 10:57:00 PM |

ROB Schaap gives some advice:
Another tip for newbie bloggers. Don't.

Gah! Where was this little bit of advice two months ago?

posted by Tim Stevens | 5/10/2003 01:25:00 PM |

AGE of consent for gay males in NSW will be cut to 16:
The age of consent for homosexual men will be lowered to 16 but will be buffered by tough new penalties for child sexual assault by adults in positions of trust, under an overhaul of NSW sex crime laws.

The changes, which the Attorney-General, Bob Debus, will introduce in the lower house today, will create a uniform age of consent for men and women, bringing NSW into line with every other state except the Northern Territory.

About time. Kevin Drum often argues the Democrats should take up gay rights as an issue in the US. He points out that moderate voters would not be pushed toward a Democratic candidate by simply running a gay rights social agenda, but they may be nudged towards the Democrats if Bush could be painted as intolerant - or even insufficiently supportive - of gay people. Drawing too many connections to Australian politics is probably a flawed idea, but if the reaction of some Coalition members to the lowering of the age of consent is anything to go by, there may be some value in Labor following Kevin Drum's idea here:
Late yesterday it was clear the amendments had reopened divisions inside the Coalition, where reaction is as polarised as it is in the wider community.

The Opposition Leader, John Brogden, said the Liberals would be allowed a conscience vote but the National Party leader, Andrew Stoner, said the party room had not yet decided whether it would vote as a bloc or allow a free vote. It is understood Mr Stoner opposes the age of consent changes.

posted by Tim Stevens | 5/07/2003 06:28:00 PM |

NOW for a post that will probably only be interesting to me. But it's my blog, so what more reason do I need? I finally got around to reading Frank Webster's latest effort, Theories of the Information Society, which analyses a number of prominent, and sometimes competing, theories which focus on the role of information in society. He basically points out that some theorists view the increasingly important role of information as something new and unique, whereas others see information in terms of historical continuities. Webster comes down in favour of viewing information in terms of continuities and suggests a lack of anything that could be described as an information society.

Webster points to people like Daniel Bell and - to a lesser extent - Manuel Castells, as examples of those who's emphasis is constantly one which centres on the novelty of the role of information. In this approach the novelty of a new form of society is recurrently made, a novelty which marks a system break with what has gone before. For Bell it is the novel service-based (therefore information-based) post-industrial society.

This is in contrast to those like Anthony Giddens and Jürgen Habermas who argue we should conceive of the “informatisation of life", a process that has been ongoing, perhaps for several centuries. This informatisation has accelerated only recently. So, rather than a novelty, information developments are accounted for in terms of historical continuities.

I don't see why Webster creates such a dichotomy - either all continuity or all change. I see aspects of both change and continuity in the 'novelty' group of theorists. Also, expecting to find a distinct 'break' is probably unrealistic if you consider other changes that have taken place in the past. The lack of such a break does not suggest to me that information lacks a somewhat novel role in society.

What is the point of this post you say? Well, there's no point really. Just a topic of interest. Though, in an attempt make the post slightly relevant, I could question whether Daniel Bell really is a neo-conservative as some suggest. I stumbled across a post by much-missed blogger Don Arthur where he describes Bell as a neo-conservative, specifically in relation to his 1960s work The End of Ideology. I see Bell as being committed to both economic equality and cultural conservatism, but he didn't, as would be expected, have beginnings as a Trotskyist. Does this make him a neo-conservative? I'm not completely sure, but I doubt it.

posted by Tim Stevens | 5/07/2003 01:25:00 AM |

AND here I was expecting just another average episode of Media Watch. The claim now is that Media Watch failed to do their research and just happened to "get lucky" when it turned out the flag came from a gift shop. However, if it had turned out Blair was right, the exact same criticism could have been made about him. It seems neither Media Watch nor Blair did (sufficient) research before making their respective accusations. Whatever research either of them had done at the time of their initial accusations, it was clearly inadequate. Still, it slightly brightened up an otherwise dull Monday night.

posted by Tim Stevens | 5/07/2003 12:42:00 AM |

SHI'A PUNDIT posts on the new US cable network Bridges TV, citing a press release:
NEW YORK, NY, May 1, 2003-New York-based Bridges Network, Inc., announced today that it will launch Bridges TV, the first ever nationwide English-language Muslim television channel in North America. The expected launch date is summer 2004, depending on how quickly the network can gather the 10,000 paying members necessary to demonstrate public support. Bridges TV, which will be broadcast from Manhattan, will emphasize news stories, and talk shows, wholesome sitcoms, advice shows, children's programming and movies about Muslim life in America. Programming will mostly be created, since an English-language genre targeting American Muslims does not exist.

It's probably only a matter of time before such a move is described as exclusionary and divisive. Such a criticism would have to ignore the Sunday morning evangelizing so commonly seen on more mainstream networks. Bridges TV could be a positive development.

posted by Tim Stevens | 5/07/2003 12:16:00 AM |

HAVING only just pointing out how much I dislike Beattie, today he proves how effective he can be (compared to Crean at least). The criticism he made in parliament in realation to Hollingworth was:
Let me tell you what's inappropriate - child abuse is inappropriate - and there'll be no cover-up as far as I'm concerned

I think as Premier sometimes you've got to have the guts to do what's right - and I know that there'll be some criticism of me for doing this.

Yet, all Crean managed was:
[Dr Hollingworth] was diminishing the office of the Governor-General

Beattie's comments are far more effective than Crean's fairly obvious blip. Compared to Beattie, how does the Crean comment put Howard on the back foot? Perhaps Stew's idea wasn't so bad.

Edit: By the looks of some comments, it would seem it's unacceptable to criticise Howard in any way on this matter. No doubt this is primarily about Hollingworth and the position of GG. However, the secondary issue of Howard's judgment not to place pressure on Hollingworth to resign remains significant and open to criticism.

posted by Tim Stevens | 5/02/2003 01:31:00 AM |

JAMES Russell linked to this Van Gogh Museum as an example of what the web could/should be. Such sites are all too uncommon. But one of the best art related sites I have found is this Boards of Canada site. I find the idea of interacting with and manipulating their music fascinating. If only there was more of this stuff...

posted by Tim Stevens | 5/02/2003 01:04:00 AM |
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