Monday, October 05, 2015

Wait and see

Ziggy Switkowski, head of Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN), predicts that it and video on demand services make broadcast television irrelevant. I'm more interested in the NBN's implications for education, distance learning, and libraries. Whatever may happen, it will definitely make tertiary education more accessible for a wider range of students.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Seeing the world through green-coloured glasses

The Greens are an international movement that has established political parties in most Western democracies. They're consistently anti-war, with an idealistic belief in non-violent methods of conflict resolution. Their policy platform is consistent worldwide.

Just like the UK, Australia has passed legislation to make it illegal for citizens to join Islamic State. The British Greens leader, Natalie Bennett, believes that it should not be a crime to join it. Never mind that there is a very real risk that Western citizens may return from fighting with Islamic State, and then carry out terrorist attacks in their home countries. The very real security risk these people pose makes this legislation necessary.

Perhaps Bennett and her fellow Greens envisage sitting down with these terrorists over stuffed vine leaves, hummus, and hookah, civilly talking through their grievances. Never mind that they're dealing with zealots who are not the least bit interested in negotiating. To them, the West is an enemy. They are infidels. They offer them three choices. Convert to their form of Islam, accept dhimmitude, or death.

Bennett made her statement on the very same day that another media report appeared about the genocide that Islamic State is carrying against Christians in its conquered territories.

No smiley face stamp for you

When I was a university undergraduate, I remember one my lecturers having to set aside a lecture to give a remedial lesson in grammar and the correct use of apostrophes. Too many students were being marked down for submitting essays in which they confused it's and its. It's is short for it is, and its is possessive.

Perhaps one of the Age's sub-editors could have benefited from this lesson. The lecturer was clearly embarassed that he needed to teach university students written English skills that they should have mastered before entering high school.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Rumours of my death are greatly exaggerated

Book industry observers have long predicted that the ebook would eventually put the bookstore out of business, just like what happened to Borders in 2011. Ebooks have definitely caused market disruption, but it remains to be seen what their lasting impact will be. Some ebook retailers, such as Amazon, report increasing sales year on year. However, looking at the industry as a whole, the majority of book sales are still in print. The resilience of paper books over electronic also bodes well for the future of libraries.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Remedial spelling for fun and profit

The next Australian federal election is still 12 months away, but already the parties are gearing up for the campaign. The other day I received a pamphlet from the Australian Labor Party, attacking the federal government for its cuts to health funding. 
It was printed and posted before the recent dumping of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister, so it's not their fault that this pamphlet is now out of date. I couldn't help but notice the misspelling of his surname. To my mind, lapses of attention to detail shake my confidence in a party's capacity to govern the nation competently.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ultra-conservative firebrand

My brother and I were among the hundreds of people who attended a rally in support of traditional marriage this Sunday. The ethnic diversity of both the crowd, and the speakers who addressed the rally meant that the small number of people attempting to disrupt it soon realised that they couldn't use one of their rehearsed chants. I forget the words they used, but it implied that being opposed to same sex marriage is just like supporting the racist anti-miscegnation laws of the past.

The authorities did an excellent job of maintaining order at this event. In an attempt at provocation, one pair of trouble makers kissed each other in front of the crowd, while their comrades played loud music by artists such as George Michael and Bronski Beat in an attempt to drown out the speakers.

I was pleased to see that after the rally finished, and the crowd dispersed, people on both sides of this debate were having a civil discussion with each other. On the other hand, this event received no media coverage, nor did any of the other rallies held in Australian capital cities last Sunday. This disappointed me, but the mainstream media is blatantly biased towards same sex marriage, so I wasn't expecting them to report on the rallies.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


About two weeks ago the story broke that the Victorian Labor Party rorted hundreds of thousands of dollars in parliamentary allowances to pay for election campaigning in the November 2014 state election.

I am glad this story has not gone away. If anyone is involved in any wrongdoing, or had knowledge of it and did nothing, I hope that they will be brought to account, and that applies to senior Labor figures too.  Even it is not illegal, it certainly is unethical.