So I’ve decided to drop Blogjune

Despite my early enthusiasm for Blogjune, saying I’d join various others in writing a blog post ever day this month, I’ve decided to give it a miss.

While I do want to be writing more of the essays I used to write, I’ve got plenty to be getting on with — including The 9pm Edict podcast, figuring out what to do with Corrupted Nerds, and of course generating more paying work.

Once I’d fallen a couple of days behind, the “commitment” to this arbitrary project was really only causing stress, without generating much in the way of benefits. So I’m quite happy to have dropped it.

The five Blogjune posts I did write are all tagged blogjune.

Operation Sovereign Borders, sinister and banal [blogjune05]

An Australian bureaucrat reacts to allegations that Operation Sovereign Borders removes safety gear from lifeboats: click to embiggenThis man’s name is Mick Kinley, and he’s shrugging with indifference at allegations that safety equipment is deliberately removed from the lifeboats used to return asylum seekers to Indonesia. But that OK, he’s the acting chief executive officer of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

I’ve never met Kinley. I know nothing of his work apart from this incident. But do we really need any further context? The bureaucrat in charge of maritime safety is challenged over what sounds like a breach of maritime safety, but, you know, “Whatever.”

I believe this is what’s called the banality of evil.

Hang on, I’d better scroll back a bit…

Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB) is the Australian government’s grand-sounding name for the grubby process of intercepting any boats at sea that contain asylum seekers and returning them to Indonesia. They’re put into standard orange lifeboats towed behind our ships, and once they’re within a certain distance of Indonesia they’re cast off and left to find their own way hone.

But as The Guardian’s Paul Farrell reported on 7 May, safety equipment is removed from those lifeboats beforehand — ropes, scissors, knives, a mirror, fishing line and even buckets.

On 27 May, Kinley was questioned about this in the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee by Senator Stephen Conroy, who was clearly unimpressed. You can read the transcript — the relevant exchange starts on page 86 — but you should really watch the video to see the body language for yourself.

Actually, it’s worth picking up the story a little before that video starts, on page 84…

Continue reading “Operation Sovereign Borders, sinister and banal [blogjune05]”

Guilty of being a teenager in a public place [blogjune04]

Police news clipping, click to embiggenEarlier this evening, Channel TEN journalist Hayden Nelson tweeted this news clipping, and oh how we laughed. But beyond the laughter, there’s something quite sinister here.

This item appears to be from one of the Murdochland local suburban papers, and it reads:

Mosman police were patrolling Rawson Park on Friday night, May 30, when they spotted two teenage males standing in the darkness at about 10.30pm. Police deemed it to be suspicious and thought they may have been there to consume alcohol or drugs. The 18-year-olds stated that they were just hanging out and eating lollies. After a search nothing was found but red frogs in their pockets. The pair were moved on from the area by the officers.

I know that the Sydney North Shore suburb of Mosman is a separate planet from the rest of human society, but I seem to recall that when I was 18 years old, some time shortly before the last of the mammoths died out, the local park was about the only place you could go for a private conversation with your mates about… well, life.

Home was obviously out, because your parents were there. Shopping malls were closing, and in any event you can’t just hang around in the mall without buying something. The same goes for pubs and cafés. Not everyone can afford to buy endless beverages, even in Mosman.

The increasing privatisation of public space is a problem. You can’t just walk around the Sydney Harbour Foreshore, for example, without coming under the management of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and their arbitrary rules enforced by private security guards.

The privatisation of public space even has its own story category at The Guardian.

The roads have been turned over to traffic, not people. What seats you can find to sit on are part of JCDecaux’s advertising empire masquerading as bus shelters, sited right at the edge of the road where their hoardings can be seen, rather than set back from the kerb so you can hear yourself think.

No, the local park is the place for a quiet chat about the hell of growing into adulthood.

“Hanging around” is precisely what public parks are for — and if that’s “in the darkness” it’s because the local council is either stingy with the lighting budget, or understands that it’s not actually healthy for the night to be lit up like a football stadium.

Actually no. It’s “in the darkness” because, der, that’s what happens at nighttime.

Maybe there’s more to this story than meets the eye. But as it’s reported, it seems like these two lads were “deemed to be suspicious” simply because they were teenagers outside after dark, and were asked to move on for no valid reason whatsoever, other than to cover the police officers’ embarrassment with having interfered with people going about their lawful business. And that’s wrong.

[Update 5 June 2014, 0805 AEST: In a comment below I’ve written about the law that apparently applies in this situation. It reinforces my view that what happened here was just plain wrong.]

[This is one of 30 daily posts I’m writing during Blogjune. See them all under the tag blogjune, or subscribe to the RSS feed.]

A loving profile of Tony Abbott [blogjune03]

Following my comments about Prime Minister Tony Abbott yesterday, this video profile of Abbott by American TV host John Oliver on Last Week Tonight seems a suitable counterpoint.


Tony Abbott – Last Week Tonight by Syd07

Besides, I’ve written enough today, namely two pieces related to Apple’s announcements, one for Crikey and one for ZDNet Australia.

[This is one of 30 daily posts I’m writing during Blogjune. See them all under the tag blogjune, or subscribe to the RSS feed.]

Tone-Deaf Abbott no statesman, never will be [blogjune02]

Screenshot from Tony Abbott D-Day video 600px: click to embiggen“At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we are open for business,” tweeted @bernieb last night, adding, “As I stand here on Anzac Cove, I’m reminded of just how terrible a place Australia was before I became Prime Minister.” An utterly crass scenario, no?

@bernieb’s scenario is fictional, but it precisely mirrors the tone-deaf pollution of a D-Day Commemoration message with grubby day-to-day politics committed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott yesterday.

My reaction was to groan rather than laugh. but there was plenty of laughter to be had watching the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) go into damage control.

Continue reading “Tone-Deaf Abbott no statesman, never will be [blogjune02]”