new site takes leaf outa wikileaks book

the instructions for contributing source material to this new site, Unileaks, remind me of what some have been telling us about for some time – it has come to this – surveillance is everywhere, and if you want to engage in the rights of democracy and its so-called free speech, you need to be able to anonymously contribute documents and ‘evidence’ to third parties who will guarantee that it doesn’t come back to bite you…

unfortunately, in australia, the quality of our higher education has been steadily eroded by the commercialisation and business-savvy orientation of the previous government – spruiking a right-wing, neo-liberal attitude, and whose mantra was always “let the market decide”, and who of course, was against free govt-funded education, since it would rather use taxes to pay for other things the country obviously needed more… detention centres for those who could not pay the high university fees in order to come into australia “legally”, via a market-based education economy, for example.

so now we have a debased tertiary education system, due to this user pays mentality – and students, being customers, want to get their piece of paper, and the university admins want to get more students…er, i mean paying customers…so, everybody should go to university shouldn’t they? whether they are able or not! as long as they can pay, we should take em all, and just shunt them through….everybody deserves an education!

but wait! if they really had a proper education, they might question authority, they might realise that working smarter not harder is not satisfactory, they might not accept that the economy and material well-being are the greatest good… so, it is useful to promulgate the idea of universal education -how inclusive- and at the same time, make it so piss-weak that it actually trains students to expect to get what they paid for! neat! a non-education, where you do not learn anything, you just do things in order to get marks. and, if you do not get marks, you can always complain about your tutors or lecturers not doing what you wanted them to do (since you paid for this) – even though you don’t come to lectures (some students must also work to earn money at the same time as ostensibly attending) and do not prepare for tutorials so you can complain you dont understand what is being talked about either! perfection.

and who cares that the graduates go back to their home countries (some of them) where it is discovered by one and all that they have not been trained properly at all – because australian universities have already taken their money under false pretenses, and the dean or the chancellor who encouraged this fiscally-responsible behaviour has moved on to another business deal after being paid themselves a whole heap of bye-bye and thank-you dollar for earning the uni a zillion bucks from fees, and from cutting down on teaching staff. it all makes perfect neo-liberal sense.

OK, obviously this is a little close to my socially-aware bones.
but in any case, the problem is that no one is keen to speak out about what is going on, for fear of reprisals, and the loss of job and income in the education field. employment is not secure these days in academia, and even more so in that most people are not supportive of academics anyway – hey they are fodder for jokes and disdain – we do not want to pay people for just thinking and writing stuff, why don’t they shut up and get a real job?

so, as a taste of what the world has come to, and what the site has taken from the wikileaks broo-hah-hah, a short excerpt for contributors of material follows:

If your leak is extremely high risk, you may wish to post away from your local post office at a location that has no witnesses or video monitoring.

Many CD and DVD writers will include the serial number of the DVD or CD writer onto the CD/DVDs they write. If the post is intercepted this information can in theory be used to track down the manufacturer and with their co-operation, the distributor, the sales agent and so on. Consider whether there are financial records connecting you to the CD/DVD writer sale if your adversary is capable of intercepting your letter to us and has the will to do this type of expensive investigation. Pay cash if you can for the CD/DVD writer.

Similarly, CD and DVD media themselves include a non-unique manufacturing “batch number” for each group of around 10,000 CD/DVDs made. Pay cash when buying the CD or DVD. Try to choose a store without video cameras at the register.

Although we are aware of no instances where the above has been successfully used to trace an individual, anti-piracy operations have used the information to trace piracy outfits who sell tens or hundreds of thousands of counterfeit CDs or DVDs.

If you post it to us, a good option is to encrypt the USB file/CD file and then contact us at a later date via live online chat with the encryptin passphrase. That way if the post is intercepted, the data can not be copied.

If you suspect you are under physical surveillance, discreetly give the letter to a trusted friend or relative to post. On some rare occasions, targets of substantial political surveillance have been followed to the post office and have had their posted mail seized covertly. In this rare case if you are not intending to encrypt the data and if the police or intelligence services in your country are equipped to perform DNA and/or fingerprint analysis you may wish to take the appropriate handling precautions.

Short Memory: midnight oil, bin burnin

here’s peter garrett front man for the oils back in 1983 doing one of my favourite oils songs. his reference to afghanistan and a watchdog in another’s land was obviously pre the present occupational farce. nowadays peter’s more likely to be seen loping about in a suit and doing battle with deadshit lily-livered labour pollies behind closed doors in caucas. minister for the environment – a job made for him – in the last parliament, julia has now put him in her former horrid portfolio: education.
well, indeed, there’s trouble in education. at all levels. but not to go into that. here. now.

meanwhile, over on the SFL-related blog, i’ve posted a draft of a comparative analysis i did last year, using three pieces about australia from three different times and perspectives…in our his-story.. the peter garratt/midnight oil reference is apparent there, since one of the pieces i used is the lyrics of a midnight oil song, The Dead Heart.

last night, after the friday SFL presentation i was down the pub with the usual suspects and i was talking about the poem Australia by A.D. Hope, and how much i like it, then went on to talk about the analysis i had done using that piece and one of midnight oil’s. one of the people i was talking to said that the one i had chosen to use was his favourite midnight oil song, and so i felt bound to put up my draft analysis so he could at least read the AD hope piece that i’d been speaking about….

things people do

[a slightly rant-like post, with inspiration from some of our more outlandish and nauseating local public speakers and spruikers, e.g. alan bond, piers ackerman, miranda devine, and andrew bolt ]

recently i lamented on the list that the majority of us in the land of oz were not likely to put up much complaint other than complaint itself when government and/or big business threaten to take over our lives or encroach on civil liberties, our so-called ‘rights’ to privacy and so on. i mean in the light of “the threat of terrorism” (now that “communism” does not hold us all in its thrall of scaredydom), the previous govt here put sniffer dogs on the streets. they also prevented people from publicly expressing their disapproval of bush coming to town, spending many of our tax dollars on enormous surveillance cameras in downtown sydney – for our own protection of course. meanwhile, people line up at hospitals to be seen, and the river systems on which we all depend for something we can’t do without are being sucked dry… for me, govt promises of “we will cut taxes” has a hollow ring to it, when they spend the taxes i would willingly give, on items that do not benefit anyone except those who have enough income to avoid paying what they should in the first place… and i say the ability to control and survey the media, and other means of public and private communication does not benefit the public in any way.
to me, there will always be criminals – but it depends on who makes the laws as to who or what acts are deemed as ‘criminal’. i would rather put up with petty criminals and burglars (which btw i may not need to put up with if 1) smack was supplied by govt, 2) poor or unemployed people were given a place to live and a living income, and 3) advertisers were not paid as much by rich companies to entice us to desire and think we need more crap in order to make us feel better about ourselves) than the big corporate criminals and government criminals who sometimes indirectly are allowed to get away with murder, or at least a whole pile of booty earned off the back of their poor gullible workers who dutifully complain when their company cannot employ them anymore since they cannot make enough profit off them to enable their profligate and eminently enviable lifestyles to continue in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed.

but then those with the wherewithal – either in brains, aesthetic skills, or financial backing – are occasionally called upon to show their cards. and right on cue, after me saying we are not about to do anything down here.. well one of us has flown the coop to do his crowing, over to europe and various bunkers (such as iceland) i don’t doubt… julian assange thinks it about time to release a whole pile of documents to the media. just to see what they will make of it. naturally, he didn’t give them to the SMH (sydney morning herald), but the SMH had to get in on some of the act, and have posted a mashed-up video with some editorial comment by the ed. see this video article from today’s SMH for example for the local take on the matter.
but probably better to check out the guardian UK who have a video of assange defending his decision to release the documents.

here is thewikileaks link posted previously on netdynam – but i’m guessing maybe you won’t be able to get a service there for a while…

and now, today, dick smith, notable self-proclained capitalist, entrepreneur and start-up businessman responsible for dick smith electronics stores nationwide…. uses his spare cash for amusing (to me) advertisements in the local murdoch press

it’s on another matter, content-wise, but it is another approach to the “what’s to be done” lament i often intone…

song for anzac day

the pogues didn’t make a video clip that youtube will play – but anyway, this is the best version of a pretty dolorous anti-war song written by scottish immigrant to australia, eric bogle. it’s pretty much a ‘country music’ song, and those that sing it usually are country singers. there’s even a version by joan baez, but i really can’t stand her voice.

today, here in australia, and over there in NZ too, it’s anzac day, a national holiday which is meant to honour the veterans of war. when i was a kid a lot of WWII vets would be marching all morning down the main street of sydney. i remember watching it on TV with my grandparents who were really into the anzac day march. they were also scottish immigrants just by the by. i guess you could say they lived through the war, with my father’s sister marrying an american soldier who was on R&R in sydney from the pacific theatre. one of my cousins was born in the same suburb as i was born… after the war, they all went back to the US and settled in pontiac, detroit. we are no longer in contact with our five cousins and their families. which i spose is a pity.

today is sunday, but in compensation, tomorrow will be a national public holiday…
after the marches – which now include vets from vietnam, afghanistan, and iraq as well – most of the guys (and gals now i guess) will go and do some drinking. in the past, they’d play two-up, a gambling game that was banned in the old days, but very easy to set up with just a flat stick and two pennies. it was already old hat by the time i was a kid, and i never actually saw it played. but it was a type of anzac day ritual for the survivors of the 2 world wars it seems.

the song clipped here plays around the popularity of what many people think is our real national anthem, “waltzing matilda”, strains of which can be heard at most patriotic celebrations. well, traditionally, australians of my generation are not ‘patriotic’, the word rhyming as it does with ‘idiotic’. we have a national day, called funnily enough ‘australia day’, but in my youth it was just another holiday, and a good time to go out and do what one would normally want to do on a summer day – go to the beach, or have a picnic, or visit friends. certainly no need to fly damn flags. nowadays, after 11 years of jingoistic government encouragement of pap and empty ceremony, we also indulge in so much flag waving and burning of highly-priced multi-coloured gunpowders with the best of them on ‘australia day’…
but anzac day is the other ‘australia day’, it seems to me – building as it does on the legend of mateship and courage in the face of terrible odds, etc, etc.

the song ‘waltzing matilda’ deserves an exigesis in itself… a set of words in a story which no longer applies to any of us at all, but pointing to both history and a type of cultural psyche that compels us (i believe) to travel far afield searching for good ole freedom of some sort, coupled with a healthy, extreme sense of distaste for and antipathy towards any sort of authority, and not minding the underdog putting it to the man in a good cause: the hero of the song, a thief, a vagabond needing food, preferring to die rather than be taken prisoner for his ‘crime’… written when? there are arguments about its origins, and its tune. some say henry lawson wrote the popular version we hear these days.

and so, eric bogle, another vagabond of sorts, arrives in australia and writes this song many years ago now, a story of the empty glory of war, through the eyes of one veteran of WWI and the gallipoli ‘legend’. it’s possible, being scottich, bogle had his own anti-english axe to grind, but certainly the history of gallipoli causes teeth-grinding against the poms on the part of australians when the full story is learnt.
here, anyway, is bogle’s song sung by an irish folk-punk band from the 80s. it’s longish, but the lyrics never fail to do their job….

When I was a young man I carried me pack
And I lived the free life of the rover
From the Murray’s green basin to the dusty outback
I waltzed my Matilda all over
Then in 1915 my country said: Son,
It’s time to stop rambling, there’s work to be done
So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun
And they sent me away to the war

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
When the ship pulled away from the quay
And amid all the tears, flag waving and cheers
We sailed off for Gallipoli

It well I remember that terrible day
When our blood stained the sand and the water
And how in that hell they call Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter
Johnny Turk, he was ready, he primed himself well
He rained us with bullets, and he showered us with shell
And in five minutes flat, he’d blown us all to hell
Then he blew us back home to Australia

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
When we stopped to bury our slain
Well we buried ours and the Turks buried theirs
Then it started all over again

Oh those that were living did their best to survive
In that mad world of blood, death and fire
And for seven long weeks I kept myself alive
While around me the corpses piled higher
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over tit
And when I awoke in me hospital bed
And saw what it had done, Christ I wished I was dead
Never knew there was worse things than dying

And no more I’ll go Waltzing Matilda
All around the green bush far and near
For to hump tent and pegs, a man needs two legs
No more waltzing Matilda for me

They collected the wounded, the crippled, the maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia
The armless, the legless, the blind and insane
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla
And when the ship pulled into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where me legs used to be
And thank Christ there was no one there waiting for me
To grieve and to mourn and to pity

And the Band played Waltzing Matilda
As they carried us down the gangway
Oh nobody cheered, they just stood and stared
Then they turned all their faces away

Now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
I see my old comrades, how proudly they march
Renewing their dreams of past glories
I see the old men all tired, stiff and worn
The forgotten heroes of a forgotten war
And the young people ask me “What are they marching for?”
And I ask myself the same question

And the band plays Waltzing Matilda
And the old men still answer the call
But year after year, their numbers get fewer
Someday, no one will march there at all

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who’ll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?
And their ghosts may be heard as they march by the billabong
So who’ll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?

from little things big things grow

Gather round people let me tell you a story
An eight year long story of power and pride
British Lord Vestey and Vincent Lingiarri
Were opposite men on opposite sides

Vestey was fat with money and muscle< Beef was his business, broad was his door Vincent was lean and spoke very little< He had no bank balance, hard dirt was his floor

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Gurindji were working for nothing but rations
Where once they had gathered the wealth of the land< Daily the pressure got tighter and tighter Gurindju decided they must make a stand

They picked up their swags and started off walkin
At Wattie Creek they sat themselves down
Now it don’t sound like much but it sure got tongues talking
Back at the homestead and then in the town

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Vestey man said I’ll double your wages
Seven quid a week you’ll have in your hand
Vincent said uhuh we’re not talking about wages
We’re sitting right here till we get our land
Vestey man roared and Vestey man thundered
You don’t stand the chance of a cinder in snow
Vince said if we fall others are rising

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Then Vincent Lingiarri boarded an aeroplane
Landed in Sydney, big city of lights
And daily he went round softly speaking his story
To all kinds of men from all walks of life

And Vincent sat down with big politicians
This affair they told him is a matter of state
Let us sort it out, your people are hungry
Vincent said no thanks, we know how to wait

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Then Vincent Lingiarri returned in an aeroplane
Back to his country once more to sit down
And he told his people let the stars keep on turning
We have friends in the south, in the cities and towns

Eight years went by, eight long years of waiting
Till one day a tall stranger appeared in the land
And he came with lawyers and he came with great ceremony
And through Vincent’s fingers poured a handful of sand

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

That was the story of Vincent Lingairri
But this is the story of something much more
How power and privilege can not move a people
Who know where they stand and stand in the law

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow


former PM gough whitlam with vincent lingiari

stonemasons are becoming things of the past

here we are back in adelaide for the xmas-new year period. as usual i get sucked in to local things, and so i just registered to adopt the street tree out the front of our place. it has not looked well for a few years, when all the other ironbarks in the street look quite healthy. i think it is dying of thirst. since there are water restrictions in force, i need approval or assistance to lay drip hoses out the front of our property.
next door, all the trees have gone. people moved in, cut down all the trees and bushes higher than head height, and now do not live there but come occasionally to do renovations.

it’s a peculiarly australian failing, what robin boyd (1960: The Australian Ugliness) called “aboraphobia”. or, as the old aussie motto (sardonically) says: “If it moves, shoot it. If it doesn’t, chop it down”. two doors up, we have a vacant lot. when we moved here in 2005,  there was an old stone double villa, built about 1870. after it was sold to notable local developers, there was consternation about the house being demolished and also the trees being cut down in the back yard. i have detailed the story of the trees elsewhere…

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mr percival dies

an iconic australian star passes away, and with him it seems, the country about which colin thiele’s book was written is also dying….

the book, storm boy, was made into a movie in the mid 1970’s. although the story featured a young boy, the main character of the book was the country. in most of the movies and books that i remember from that era,  the notion of ‘trespass’ was an underlying theme. [tom keneally’s books are also in that camp – thinking of ‘a dutiful daughter’ and ‘the chant of jimmy blacksmith’ for example – and randolph stow’s ‘merry-go-round in the sea’ in particular]. in the movie ‘storm boy’, it is the land, the coorong, which was the constant presence, the actual star.

here’s a short trailer –

the coorong, a large area of land at the end of the great murray-darling river system, a series of lakes and wetlands, deprived of water by european intervention, is dying. what was once a beautiful dry sparkling strange place filled with birdlife, turns into a sad shadow of itself.

the local indignenous people stand by helpless as their ancestral country is ruined by pastoral greed and plain ignorance.

how can we sleep while our beds are burning?

it belongs to them – let’s give it back.

the local xtian lads wrote this back in the 80’s… peter garrett front man for the oils is now being regaled by his own words, hung by his own petard…. meantime, their lyrics still resonate for us [shortly, a treatise on midnight oil and the now member for kingsford, linked to some other traditional views on oz]…

beds are burning…

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