Friday

On politics without vision [updated]

Politics in our age is not defined by leadership or intelligence, but by bumbling incompetence. It's my default interpretation for why it goes wrong so often, and so spectacularly. As though it's regressing or degenerating somehow, in every sense of the term.

My feeling is that if you want to be a moral, effective and productive person in society today, you're more likely to succeed by doing and thinking the exact opposite of what our leaders say and do.

When we should have trustworthy and principled leaders with vision, we instead have media-egos, moral hypocrites working to their 'base' or party-room bottom line, or to thinly veiled corporate/industrial interests.

Let me reiterate that the politicians in power do not have a vision. They see as far as the news cycle only. They are managers of spin and message, locked in a PR bubble that drones with buzzwords, dog whistles and polls.

They are not the custodians of our future. They can't articulate — let alone imagine — what Australia could look like in five or ten years, and establish some guiding principles to make that happen. They can barely manage the fiscal aspects of government.

They are not the productive enablers of society's improvement — and by that I mean everyone's improvement, not just the privileged few.

Or look at Brexit (bumbling), Trumpism (insane incompetence), Barnaby Joyce (staggering hypocrisy*). Let's not talk about the streak of populism (government by the ignorant for the ignorant) or harmful conservatism**.

Let's not talk about our offshore prison camps. Our significant energy problem. The cost of living and stagnant wages. Housing unaffordability. Lack of civic planning. Incompetent infrastructure development. The environment, jobs, our waste problem.

I just want a clear and fair vision to align with, that respects consensus and our basic humanity, so that we can rally to solve these problems, and not just 'manage' them away. I don't mean an ‘ideology’ as of old, nor an 'image' - I mean a vision.

Australia can be and deserves so much better.



* (Just) one example of Barnaby Joyce's condescending, paternalistic hypocrisy*** - in a scandal that had numerous gaffes and trainwrecks - the headline says it all:
'A grey area': Barnaby Joyce raises doubts over whether he's the biological father of Vikki Campion's baby
Now hear Barnaby in 2012: "The closer that mother and father figure is to the genetic make-up of the child, the better it is."

From the full Hansard (worth a read for its thick conservatism):
...fathers matter... a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in 2006 found that living in a broken home at age eight increases the chances of children committing criminal offences in late adolescence. These findings are confirmed by a study in the Journal of Pediatrics, which found that children and families without a father are more likely to be in fair or poor health.
...this is not a statement that every child who is in a broken home ends up in poor health or ends up with a criminal record. It is not saying that at all. It is just talking about the realities of the probabilities. Stability in structure that confirms and reaffirms both a mother and father figure is the best environment for a child to grow up in—and, the closer that mother and father figure is to the genetic make-up of the child, the better it is.
** Whose 'vision' is usually retrograde or isolationist or both.

*** For context: Barnaby (deputy prime minister then), espouses conservative family values, voted against the marriage equality bill; Barnaby had an extramarital affair with a staffer, who then got pregnant and which made huge media waves when the story broke (it was an open secret in Parliament); Barnaby is leaving his wife and family to be with said staffer, made a complete hash of her career (and privacy and dignity), claims these are all strictly private matters in several interviews (one of which is a top 5 all-time trainwreck in itself), then says he's not sure of the baby's paternity... and keeps the story front and centre for weeks. This man has no awareness (ie completely tone deaf in the #MeToo era), has an out-of-control ego, is paternalistic and disrespectful to all the women in his life... this man doesn't see there's a problem with all this... This man has a classic manproblem. As well as just being a bumbling fool.

Thursday

Brisbane demolition: O'Reilly's Bonded Stores and Hotpoint House




Demolition in progress.
The Queensland Heritage Council has voted against State heritage listing of three brick buildings located at 105 to 113A Margaret Street in Brisbane city.

Queensland Heritage Council Chair, Professor Peter Coaldrake, said O’Reilly’s buildings, also known as the ‘Bonded Stores’, did not meet the threshold of heritage significance to the State as a whole.

and

"We looked long and hard at how to reuse the facades but the buildings are of such poor quality design and in such a sad state of disrepair that demolition is the only economic option,'' Mr Robinson said.

Demolition approval had been given for previous applications by other developers and he expected demolition to occur within months, so that a "green pocket park'' could be ready before the G20 summit.


http://brisbaneheritage.org.au/category/the-bonded-stores/
http://brisbaneheritage.org.au/a-glimpse-inside-the-bonded-stores/

Tuesday

The collapsing feeling of self-publishing

[Note: I tried giving this article away. One particular place, the *blog* of the Queensland Writer's Centre —  that is, a centre supporting writers — passed on it. Now, if you can't get a blog to accept your work, then you've been insulted. I present it below for you instead.]

The publishing industry has changed, but very little has changed. Maybe I should be more specific and say the publishing process has changed, that the overall model of what's possible has opened up so that it's both more accessible and cheaper to produce books — especially outside of the regular old channels — in digital or print. Anyone can get into the magic of books; which is a minor revolution, I'd say.

But what hasn't changed? Look at the bookshop window displays: lots of colourful books; lots of diversity. If you think about it, the books on display and reviewed in newspapers, journals and magazines are still largely, or rather almost all, representative of the standard publishing model. By which I mean the large (consolidated, international) publishing houses and the medium trade presses, the industry players.

The window display — our window on publishing — says the industry is healthy because there's so much great stuff being produced. There's familiar and prize-winning authors, authors who can't not get published; there's non-fiction and biographies by the dozen, profile-leveraging tie-ins, young adult and bright fantasy. Now and then a renegade success story, a blockbuster everyone reads on planes or whenever they're not looking at their phone, because everyone else is.

Sunday

Apple pie

So, what cuisine is specifically Dutch? I would argue (cynically, exhaustively) that there isn't any such thing - that isn't somewhat Germanic or even Flemish in influence or source. On the latter score I'd indicate the rich assortment of condiments applied to fries - I'm sure chips & mayo is Flemish, as is chips and chilli sauce and mayo, but then, perhaps exceptionally, chips and satay sauce isn't. OK, I'd make a concession, chips AND mayo AND satay sauce is perhaps uniquely Dutch: 'patatje oorlog' (chips war) is a unique achievement for which the former Dutch occupation of Indonesia may have played a minor causal, historical role. For anyone traveling to Holland, I'd say head to the nearest 'friet tent' and get your hands on a serve of this truly authentic culinary wonder. It's a flavourgasm.
By which preamble to say: the real test of Dutch food is apple pie (appeltaart). Almost any cafe in Holland serves and prides itself on its apple pie. Even train station restaurants, even the Hema department store. Sit down, order coffee and pie (koffie met gebak; there's usually a combo price), and dig into the true taste. House-made? Fresh? Not too soggy? Not too sweet or laden with cinnamon or sultanas? Evenly cooked, finely textured all the way through? A good match with cream? Does the pastry dough have good mouth-feel? Do you want a second piece, and is the view and the setting nice? Is there some vaguely German oompah music playing in the background somewhere...
That's how you get the real cuisine, methinks.

Monday

Pat Metheny - Orchestrion

Pat Metheny - orchestrion review
The Orchestrion in action - this video explains all.
And I realise, watching this now, that Pat probably uses a mix of programmed and live triggers with midi controls on his guitar, to give even more variety/precision.