Weekend reflections

This regular feature is back. The idea is that, over the weekend, you should post your thoughts in a more leisurely fashion than in ordinary comments or the Monday Message Board.

Please post your thoughts on any topic, at whatever length seems appropriate to you. Civilised discussion and no coarse language, please.

10 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. Hi John – yup, the new layout looks fine .. you have some overlapping text in the left sidebar. Yer testimonials are crossed (grin).

    I am running a blog on business/corruption and the share market – but I pop into yours regularly to see what you’re up to.



  2. It never ceases to amaze how much of what passes for news and information in the Australian media is filtered to remove data inconvenient for the maintenance of a Howard/Bush view of the world. I have seen no reference anywhere to the recent Israeli government decision to confiscate (naturally without any compensation) all property in East Jerusalem belonging to Palestinians resident in the West Bank. The Israeli press is full of debate about it (see http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/530147.html). It’s a decision that encapsulates neatly the attitudes of Israeli officialdom towards Palestinians and makes comprehensible Palestinian fears about ethnic cleansing and genocide. There is much reporting of specific violent incidents – suicide bombings, assassinations and the like – but this serves to confuse more than inform.

    The Israel-Palestine conflict is at the very centre of conflict throughout the middle east and also much of it elsewhere in the world. To use the American colloquialism, it’s like the elephant in the corner of the room that no-one talks about. It is pretty much impossible to make sense of the conflict unless the observer can understand the historical context and the perceptions of the participants. So much of how this conflict is received in Australia relies on repeated assertion substituting for fact – eg. the Barak ‘generous concessions’ at Camp David ‘rejected’ by Arafat who ‘chose the path of violence’. Comprehensive exposure of what actually happened has not prevented the canard being trotted out at every available opportunity. There is a good dispassionate brief history of the conflict as seen by the two sides at Uri Avnery’s site http://www.gush-shalom.org/english if anyone is interested.

  3. It may well be that the filtering is mostly due to lack of general interest in the conflict, rather than aimed to maintain a particular view of the world. As in most developed countries, views are normally centred on what is seen as directly affecting Australians. The Middle East conflict may have some impact on Australians’ lives but the news often prefer the most direct and immediate effects.

  4. Harry Thornton: thanks for the links. “O Jerusalem” (Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins) has got to go close to being the definitive non-partisan work on this sad story.

  5. JQ, this morning I found that recent changes made your pages stop loading on my main browser after the first paragraph or so, well before any content. I’m posting this with my fallback browser. I shall confirm whether this behaviour is still occuring on my main browser this evening. If so I shall email you with an attachment showing an example of what I have been able to load.

  6. Some thoughts on the blogosphere and intellectual craftsmanship.
    Mark Bahnisch has threatened to use his blog to display some selected bits of his thesis. This is a reminder that the net and its cognate facilities open up huge opportunities for creative dicussion of theses and research projects in general. For example, slow reading of texts on an email discussion group is a great writing exercise for the reader even if nobody feeds back.
    I am not suggesting slow reads on a blog, that is more appropriate for a special interest email group, but would John like to consider a regular feature, maybe monthly or quarterly rather than weekly, along the lines of “thesis and research project workshop”?
    C Wright Mills wrote a great appendix on intellectual craftsmanship at the end of “The Sociological Imagination”. This is good to read every few years to keep on track, along with Orwell’s fine essay on clear writing Politics and the English Language which is now on line. This is a review of The Sociological Imagination with some extracts from the appendix.
    Finally, ways to put people to sleep at presentations, maybe anticipating some of John’s thoughts on conferences.

  7. Mark Bahnisch has threatened to use his blog to display some selected bits of his thesis.

    Come on, Rafe, it’s not “my” blog but a collaborative blog and hopefully my posting bits of my thesis (suitably edited) doesn’t constitute a threat!

  8. Sorry Mark, bad choice of words! Far from being a threat, it is a great idea and that was the implication of my comment – “huge opportunities for creative discussion” etc.

  9. I was just doing some thinking on the privatisation of Telstra which most Australians are against. 66% according to Newspoll in 2002 and 96% according to over 3000 members of the New England, Kennedy and Calare federal electorates are against privatising (which was put together for Esten’s).

    A survey conducted by Senator Len Harris in Queensland said 92% of respondents were firmly against any further privatisation.

    I believe the Professor has advocated and the ACCC has advocated (it may be his work they cite) that sell off the offshoots but keep the infrastructure of the exchange.

    How, if at all would this affect jobs within Telstra?

    How will it effect the Bigpond ISP?

    Bigpond is privatised but still has to hire lines from Telstra, Telstra continues to provide dismal service in some areas, instead of the end consumer telling Telstra, Bigpond is or will because thats who the consumer will report it to, isn’t this creating an unnecessary middle man? Or is it just the government saying we don’t really care about people, we only listen to corporations. Or yet another way for companies and governments to give people the runaround and not actually achieve anything.

    Either way it seems illogical to me.

    And thats only one aspect.

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