Football fixes terrorism, says Australia

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus on Meet the Press: click for program segmentBoston could have been spared a lot of grief last week if Americans had just paid more attention to football — at least if the wisdom of attorney-general Mark Dreyfus here in sports-loving Australia means anything.

Here’s what Dreyfus (pictured) said on Channel TEN’s Meet the Press on Sunday, part of an interview which pondered whether the Boston bombing was a “wake-up call” for Australia:

[T]his goes to your question about what is sometimes referred to as lone-wolf, or people who are disconnected from any organised group — we’ve got a very large program that’s directed at countering violent extremism.

And that’s about working with communities. That’s about working with community leaders; it’s about getting young men out on the sporting field, getting them out playing soccer, playing footy, playing rugby, because that’s where we want them — not sitting at computer screens looking at videos about jihad.

None of this faggoty basketball or tennis for Freedom, no Sir! It’s all proper, manly and not-at-all-homoerotic football!

What about swimming, one of Australia’s most successful sports? No, that’s obviously out because beards and turbans and water resistance. And rowing? Hell no! They had a boat in Boston, and you saw what happened!

Sigh. Is this 1954 again?

“Sitting at computer screens” — always portrayed as a passive, dull-minded activity because, presumably, politicians never use their own computers for creating or interacting, so they never see them as anything more than TVs with dangly bits — versus the traditional, healthy outdoor and above all Australian pastime of blokes group-kicking an inflated pig.

Do politicians not understand that for a significant proportion of us, the mere idea of government-encouraged team sportsball with a bunch of boofheads makes it more likely that we’ll wash the curry out of the pressure cooker and fill it with nails?

Do politicians not understand that if young Mohammed has an interest in physics and chemistry, and is used to researching stuff on the internet, that he might have the potential to be a useful part of — oh, what’s that phrase again? — oh yeah, the “digital economy”, rather than being just another suburban also-ran with his nose shoved up some hairy bloke’s arse in a scrum?

Maybe he could even become part of this cyber thing we keep hearing about — the good part, not the part involving kindergarten kids and trousers around the ankles.

Deep breath.

I’m sure — or at least I’m hoping — that our nation’s programs to deal with violent extremism are just a tad more sophisticated that the Attorney-General makes out. He’s new in the job, and maybe he hasn’t been properly briefed yet. I might ask around. If it’s OK with you, Attorney-General, I might sit in front of a computer screen while doing that.

But I’d have thought that when you’re reassuring the public after a high-profile terrorism incident overseas that your message could be a bit better crafted than “Yeah, we’ll get ’em playing footy, that’ll sort ’em out.”

And before you ask, girls don’t do terrorism. What even are you thinking?

Talking geek stuff on Purser Explores the World

Angry Beanie logoA curious article claiming that We are in the final years of our internet — I disagree — led to a conversation on Twitter which led, in turn, to me appearing on a podcast.

The podcast in question was in James Purser’s series Purser Explores the World, and the episode was entitled Tomorrow’s Geek.

I ended up talking about my path into geekery via an interest in the space program, railways, and the Angle Park Computing Centre; old-school programming styles; my thoughts on how the internet is changing power relationships; my opinion of consumer pseudo-geeks; how future geeks will be hacking DNA and drones, and other stuff.

Also appearing in this episode are network engineer Mark Newton and notable geek Liz Quilty.

Play

That audio is precisely as posted by Mr Purser, i.e. I haven’t turned it into my usual Conversations format.

Weekly Wrap 46

A weekly summary of what I’ve been doing elsewhere on the internets. I didn’t bother including a photo this week because I didn’t take any interesting photos. Suffer. Besides, it’s a short working week thanks to Easter.

Podcasts

Articles

Media Appearances

  • On Tuesday I was interviewed for Panorama on SYN Radio in Melbourne about Facebook regulation. While the do post some items as podcasts, they haven’t done so yet, so I’ve posted the audio on this website.
  • I would’ve also been on ABC News 24’s discussion show The Drum, had I not been in Katoomba for the day and unable to make it to Sydney in time. Geography is not quite dead yet.

Corporate Largesse

None.

Elsewhere

Most of my day-to-day observations are on my high-volume Twitter stream, and random photos and other observations turn up on my Posterous stream. The photos also appear on Flickr, where I eventually add geolocation data and tags.

Pia Waugh: An interview for Ada Lovelace Day 2009

Painting of Ada Lovelace

It’s Ada Lovelace Day! 24th March has been selected by Suw Charman-Anderson as an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. This is my contribution.

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, known in modern times simply as Ada Lovelace, was the daughter of Lord Byron of poetry fame. A mathematician, she’s widely regarded as the world’s first computer programmer.

“Women’s contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised,” says Charman-Anderson. “We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines.”

For my contribution, I decided to interview Australian geek girl Pia Waugh, and this is the result — the first time I’ve actually edited video with my own hands. Well, with a computer. Enjoy. It runs for just under nine minutes.

If the embedded video player (above) doesn’t work, try over at Viddler.

This is is also my first attempt at building a workflow for recording video interviews. There may more in the future.

Eurovision for Geeks 2008

Eurovision 2008 logo

Eurovision for Geeks! After an evolving conversation on Twitter, on Sunday 25 May we’re organizing a night at our local “Irish” pub, Kelly’s On King, Newtown, to watch the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2008. The delayed broadcast starts 7.30pm Sydney time on SBS TV, so we’ll be avoiding spoilers. We’re probably also organising a live Internet link-up with pubs in other cities — because we can. Details to come later, but is “Eurovision for Geeks” an OK name? Geekvision?

How & Why Wonder Books were… wonderful!

Collage of covers from How & Why Wonder Books from 1960 through to the 1970sI’m currently writing an essay to explain what I mean by “middle class values”, but I’ve been sidetracked into childhood memories about cows (don’t ask!) and rediscovering one truly wond’rous part of my childhood: the How & Why Wonder Book series.

If you can point to one thing that made me the geek I am today, it’s this series of books.

Each one was just 48 pages long, and the illustrations were usually paintings — pretty corny by today’s standards. But they really did create a sense of wonder for the Science and Technology which was unfolding in The Space Age. The first one was issued in 1960 and they ran well into the 1970s.

Looking through the lists put together by collectors intabits and Joe Roberts, I reckon I had at least 23 of the titles.

My favourites were The How & Why Wonder Book of Planets and Interplanetary Travel (insanely optimistic, in hindsight), Rockets and Missiles, Atomic Energy (no nuclear waste here, just atomic trains!) and The How & Why Wonder Book of Robots and Electronic Brains — man, there’s a whole essay in that last title alone, eh?

I bet my mother still has them stashed away in a cupboard somewhere.