Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Nordic Princess Marit Larsen Sparkles

On the day before the last month of the year begins, I’ve undoubtedly concluded that my favourite album of this year is Marit Larsen’s Spark by a fair margin. Long time readers will of course know that I have been a devoted fan of her solo work from day one. Her third album though is utterly captivating, surpassing her already stellar back catalogue.

Marit was playing Taylor Swift’s game before Taylor became perhaps the world’s most admired pop star. Like Taylor, Marit fills her songs with lush instrumentation and sweet melodies that mask cutting lyrics. While it's safe to say that Marit has Taylor’s measure in both songwriting and composition, essentially the Norwegian treads the same ground as her American counterpart, making the former’s lack of success all the more bewildering.

Spark continues in the tradition of both Under The Surface and The Chase with the album's best songs dominated by orchestral arrangements. Longtime fans can also trace Marit's evolution as a songwriter. This is particularly so on the second track of the album, What If?, a love parable, fall of regret and sorrow that perfectly captures the conflicting emotions of intense heartbreak. Similarly, first single Coming Home opens with the brilliant first line. 'I wonder if you know when you kiss me like that, you ruin me for anyone else? Relatable lyrics that paint such evocative pictures are perhaps Marit's trademark.

One of the standout tracks for me is Fine Line, which is both romantic and bitter in the same breath. Indeed the chorus of 'It’s a fine line between love and hate, I’d rather be fighting than losing you babe.' demonstrates this contradiction beautifully. The build up to the last third track is magnificent sending tingles up my spine on each occasion.

Possibly the best track on the album though is Don’t Move, which has a very catchy chorus, a fantastic story that almost borders on a traditional folk tale with a modern twist. It is certainly Marit’s most adept piece of work so far, both sonically and on an emotional level.

The biggest problem with this album is that (so far) the album is unavailable in this country. Sometimes I wonder whether I’m Marit's only Australian fan. If so, this is such a shame. This album deserves to be enjoyed, consumed and appreciated by those who love great pop music.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Swings and Roundabouts

Sometimes I wish I kept my old Myspace blog.

Towards the end of 2004, I was feeling particularly lovelorn, so I decided to have a rant about love as a biological construct. 'Is it any wonder that generally men are horny all time, whereas women are more selective?' I pondered. 'After all they only have one egg to procreate and us males have thousands upon thousands of sperm. Yes, we are wankers!'

This particular entry crossed my mind today as I checked in with FS . The concept of 'love' came up. More specifically if you are in a relationship, particularly in its new stages, everything seems to be more exciting, fresh, and new, to the point that I once equated it to hearing a record for the first time.  If you’re not, or in a bad relationship everything can seem like a festering pile of crap, particularly in the over sharing society of Facebook and Twitter. So the instinctive, telling question is: what does one do to prevent this tendency from becoming too immersed in relationships?

So called ‘relationship experts’ talk about basic things like developing outside interests beyond your partner, but this doesn’t seem to counter the biological or hormonal tendency to drown in the glory of a promising relationship. I know my tendency to become enveloped in a new potential relationship is one of my biggest flaws. I preach moderation, but fail spectacularly when practicing it.

Sometimes its best to not keep pushing higher, and learning to wait for your turn.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Progressive Failure.

The old saying goes that 'A week is a long time in politics’. If that is true than four years is a lifetime. Four years ago tonight was the high point of my political life as the Rudd Government won the 2007 Federal Election. A lot has changed since. Rudd is no longer in office, I no longer belong to the ALP, and the party itself is massively floundering. The question is why? The simplistic answer is the burden of expectation. While the electorate expects ‘Conservative’ leaders to keep things steady, provide safe and secure government, voters tend to elect ‘progressive leaders’ because they believe the previous government has presided over a system that is flawed in ways big or small. As a consequence, anything short of a complete restructure of the system is perceived as a failure for an elected ‘progressive’ government. And yet no reasonable government whatever their persuasion can achieve this. The bigger question is whether a ‘progressive’ agenda such as the one that Rudd proposed during the 2007 election campaign was always doomed to failure?

A similar conundrum is being faced in the United States at the moment as Obama begins his re-election campaign. A superb article published yesterday in New York Magazine by political blogger Jonathon Chait argues that ‘progressives’ or ‘liberals’ as he refers to them (Not to be confused with Australia’s conservative Liberal Party), are always bound to be disappointed no matter what is achieved. A few choice quotes from the article are below:
The cultural enthusiasm sparked by Obama’s candidacy drained away almost immediately after his election. All the passion now lies with the critics, and it is hard to find a liberal willing to muster any stronger support than halfhearted murmuring about the tough situation Obama inherited, or vague hope that maybe in a second term he can really start doing things. (“I’m like everybody, I want more action,” an apologetic Chris Rock said earlier this month. “I believe wholeheartedly if he’s back in, he’s going to do some gangsta shit.”) Obama has already given up on any hope of running a positive reelection campaign and is girding up for a grim slog of lesser-of-two-evils-ism.
Here is my explanation: Liberals are dissatisfied with Obama because liberals, on the whole, are incapable of feeling satisfied with a Democratic president. They can be happy with the idea of a Democratic president—indeed, dancing-in-the-streets delirious—but not with the real thing. The various theories of disconsolate liberals all suffer from a failure to compare Obama with any plausible baseline. Instead they compare Obama with an imaginary president—either an imaginary Obama or a fantasy version of a past president.

Of course, the mere fact that the same people make the same complaints all the time does not render all those complaints false. All presidents screw up at least some of the time, and some of them, like Carter, screw things up almost all the time. What’s more, constructive criticism serves a vital role in democracy, and even unreasonable criticism can helpfully push the boundaries of the possible. Yet none of this justifies or explains liberals’ constant depression.
There is a catchphrase, which you’ve probably seen on bumper stickers or T-shirts, that captures the reason liberals have trouble maintaining political power: “Stop bitching, start a revolution.” At first blush it sounds constructive. If you consider it for a moment, though, the line assumes that there are two modes of political behavior, bitching and revolution. Since the glorious triumph of revolution never really pans out, eventually you’ll return to the alternative, bitching. But there is a third option that lies between the two—the ceaseless grind of politics.
If the best that ‘progressives’ can hope for is ‘the ceaseless grind of politics’ than what do they in fact hope to achieve? As I pointed out at the time of Rudd’s exit, it can be argued that he instituted more reform in two and a half years than Howard did in 12, and yet he holds the infamous record of being the only Labor Prime Minister deposed before he could face re-election. When you also consider that Hawke, the ALP’s most electorally successful leader was deposed by his own party despite winning four elections, you can see a huge anomaly within the ALP and in particular with its modern leaders. How do party members, and more importantly voters in general, bridge the gap between political fantasy and the pragmatism of reality?

In order to answer this question there must be a measurable way that  success for political leaders can be judged, and in particular those who classify themselves as ‘progressive’. Is it through the number of policies implemented? On that score, Gillard does exceptionally well with her government passing over 250 pieces of legislation since being elected 15 months ago, yet she is doing abysmally in the polls. Or is it delivering on the promises made during an election campaign? In this regard Rudd delivered all his big ticket items promised in 2007, yet was unable to remain as leader in the long term. Or do ‘progressives’ measure current leaders in historical terms. In Australia, the ghost of Whitlam looms large, but his spectacular fall from grace hardly provides an instructive example of effective governance.

As long as ‘progressive’ supporters continue to regard their leaders as mythical figures, none of the long term goals will be achieved: whether it be an effective policy to combat green house gas emissions, or much needed international macroeconomic reform. It seems political discourse is doomed to failure because ‘progressives’ lack a much needed dose of realism.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Goodbye Horrible, Terrible, Truly Shitty Year

'When a man is pushed, tormented, defeated, he has a chance to learn something; he has been put on his wits ... he has gained facts, learned his ignorance, is cured of the insanity of conceit, has got moderation and real skill.'

Friday, 18 November 2011

Just Numbers?

I’ve thought about this all day but have decided that as painful as it I have to mark today publicly. It is a year since I began my failed first attempt at independence. Tuesday is also my birthday, which will be another painful and complicated day and so I will mark it without fanfare, to the point where I’d like to take a large sleeping pill and ignore the day entirely. The next few weeks will be full of painful milestones, so please forgive the crabbiness in advance.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

So Not The Time Of My Life: High School Reflections A Decade Later

At 1030pm I hear the fifth customised version of Green Day’s Time Of Your Life performed by the self appointed ‘charismatic males’ All I can think of is ‘I can’t wait to get the fuck out of here!’ That was ten years ago today, November 17, 2001. I was involuntarily at my High School Graduation/Formal. There I was in a suit I didn’t want to wear, with people I didn’t want to be with. Most were already nostalgic, some of the girls were already in tears inconceivably. The ‘charismatic males’ had no doubt reached the high point of their lives. I cannily predicted that one of them would turn out to be a PE teacher, just so he could kick the football and perv on girls with short skirts, while the other would remain unemployed because he was ‘living life to the fullest’. I would be correct on both predictions.

Whoever said ‘High School is the best years of your life’ obviously had no appreciation for me. High School will always remain one of the more darker periods of my life. I quite literally had no friends because I wasn’t interested in mixing with any of the people in my year level. Why should I? I was reading political theory during break times, while the two ‘popular groups’ sat under two rotundas behaving immaturely, in some form of sexual Darwinism execise, while the others would engage in other pointless activities. In an ideal world we’d forget about the indignity of the 45 minute morning tea break and work straight through so others could go home and I could do my homework by myself.

I was at school to work. I just wanted to do the best I could, and get out of there as quickly as I could, but even the academics didn’t quite get me. It was school policy that everyone was required to do Maths, so I had to endure that painful torture. I barely passed Level 1 Math due to my disability, consequently dragging my otherwise excellent marks in English, Modern History, Economics and Legal Studies down. As a consequence where I should have got a final score that reflected the effort and hard work I put in, my score was disappointingly mediocre. It shouldn’t bother me, but it always will. I remember being required to do a scrapbook for my last ever English assignment. In it I combined my early attempts at social democratic theory with my rapid evolving anti-theism (My word, meaning I believe in no religion not even atheism or being agnostic). As I expected, the early incarnation of Toddocracy received an A+

Inconceivably I was a school leader in year 11, mostly I suspect through staff intervention, rather than student popularity. In the final school assembly the principal of the school, a dictatorial bully whom I always despised, but loved me, singled me out twice as a model for other students at the school, which made my mother cry. That was nice, but such admiration only went so far. I was passed over for valedictorian probably because I chose to quote Marx in my proposed speech.

That last day neatly sums up my high school experience. I had no respect or kinship with my fellow students, nor they with me. I was respected by the staff of the school to a certain extent because I was part of an ‘inclusive education’ doing academic work, while the rest of the kids with ‘special needs’ were locked up in the ‘special needs room’ never interacting with other students. But obviously I wasn’t respected enough to change the conventional wisdom of the day. The school only seemed to want my opinion when it needed me for PR.

I ultimately left high school with a rush five days before my 18th birthday. No tears were shed, I hadn’t done anything particularly noteworthy, and I couldn’t care less if I ever saw my classmates again. Rather fittingly I was invited to my 10 year high school reunion this week with only 4 days notice for a RSVP, at a venue that is not accessible for my electric wheelchair. It is just as well because it gives me an extremely credible excuse not to go. I don’t want to hear Time Of Your Life again for as long as I live.    

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A Bit of BIFF: Week 2

Through sheer coincidence, the four films that TCF and I chose to see during the second week of BIFF were all thematically connected to some form of oppression. Thus it really gave us a nice through line to compare and contrast all of the films as well to assess how important objectivity is within storytelling. Some were far more successful than others.

Dancing With Dictators
Unlike all the films we saw this week, Dancing With Dictators had no problem portraying its protagonist as a complete and utter twat. Ross Dunkley is an unlikeable man, a selfish person with a messiah complex. But he is also the only foreigner to be part owner of a newspaper in Burma: 
When Ross Dunkley, the Australian editor and co-owner of Burma's leading newspaper, the Myanmar Times, agreed to let a film crew into his offices, he couldn't have imagined the headlines that would follow. His intention was to offer a vehicle to see inside this notoriously repressive country; however, following Burma's first elections in 20 years, Dunkley's disaffection with his government-backed partner comes to a head and the story's focus switches dramatically to his arrest and imprisonment.
The problems with the film are based on texture. Although the viewer is very much aware of the political situation, we are unaware of Dunkley’s motivations for seemingly compromising his journalistic integrity on a regular basis. As the Burmese government contradict the intentions of original headlines and delete entire articles through the spectre of ‘censorship’ we are told that this is merely the cost of ‘doing business’. Even more frustratingly the film’s most interesting potential subplot, the complicated relationship between Dunkley and his deputy Bill Clough is left largely unexplored. B

Sons of Perdition
As an insight into the more extreme elements of Mormonism this documentary is intensely fascinating, as an insight into human behaviour the film is troubling, and as a family drama this film is harrowing.
The film tracks with three young men, who have broken with a sect/cult and, as a result, are cast out of "the Crick," their hometown of Colorado City, Arizona; they are allowed no access to their families and no support of any kind. Joe is 17 years old, as is Sam; Sam's cousin Bruce is 15. We first meet them when they're two months removed from "the Crick," living 30 miles away in St. George, Utah, and while they all miss their families, they're excited to be really living their lives for the first time. In FLDS, they have no contact with the outside world and no recreation--no books, no television, no radio, no public schools, no sports, no nothing. They are allowed to work (starting at about age 14), to study scripture, and to listen to devotional messages from "the prophet." Those creepy recordings of Jeffs pontificating show up in the film, full of splendid advice to his followers (to the wives: "obey and do what Father wants").
The film explores the devastating effect that a religious upbringing can have those who are indoctrinated from birth. By breaking away from the cult they are not only leaving their religion behind, but also their famiiles and entire social structure. The film makes clear that such choices are not easy as other family members try to flee the cult only to be forced back soon after. Brilliantly directed, this is a simultaneously eye opening and enthralling text. B+

Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene 
Following on the same path, the only non documentary we saw this week was perhaps a contender for the best film that we saw. It was superbly written, acted and very much worthy of the praise it received at Sundance earlier this year.
Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) has had things go wrong earlier in her life. Their nature is left murky in this persuasive film. When she escapes the cult and picks up a phone to call Lucy, her older married sister (Sarah Paulson), we sense no joy when she hears Lucy's voice. Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. Lucy lives with her husband, Ted (Hugh Dancy), in a lakeside "cottage" large enough to be a bed and breakfast. Ted is a British architect, stuffed with pretension. Lucy is sensible and cares for Martha but doesn't seem to pick up on how damaged the younger girl really is.
While the film’s subject is very intense, there’s an inherent vulnerability to Martha that is compulsively watchable, as this traumatised young girl is trapped in her own mind and surrounded by dark experiences. Her natural mannerisms developed from socially aberrant behaviour further bring out this tension. The viewer is left to wonder what the cause of this behaviour truly is. Highly recommended A-

The Trouble With Mary’s
This quintessentially Brisbane film was hampered rather than enhanced by its locality. The film had so much potential, but ultimately fell flat due to poor filmmaking and disastrous choices.
When seventy two year old Father Peter Kennedy is sacked by the Catholic Church for unorthodox practices, a fight ensues that will result in one of the biggest rifts in the history of the Australian Catholic Church. The sacking not only removes Peter Kennedy from the Church, but also effectively exiles over 1,000 members of his community who have followed him for almost thirty years. The Trouble with St Mary's follows the journey of a rebel priest and his community and their attempt to find a new way forward outside of the Catholic Church. Will they survive their struggle with the authority of a powerful establishment, and can they remain a united community under a common spirituality?
The filmmakers proved to have absolutely no objectivity and were far too close to Father Kennedy and the Church. No real reason was given to the audience as to why Kennedy made the life changing decision to leave the Catholic faith. Nor were there any outside influences to comment on the events objectively. Perhaps most importantly the apparent charisma that Kennedy must have had on his followers in order for them to leave the Church is not evident. It didn’t help that we sat directly in front of Kennedy, and in amongst many of his followers during the screening. They all seemed to laugh at inside jokes and at the end of the screening they embarked upon congratulatory applause like they had just seen an Oscar Winner. They are easily fooled it seems. They do believe in Christ after all. D

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Fast Friends

One would think I would have acquired a lot of determination, persistence and stubbornness over the course of my lifetime. Lord knows there are too many fucking obstacles to overcome. For all my attempts at carving a diverse life recently, I keep getting and feeling rejected. This does not help my fragile self esteem at this particular point in time given that this is a sensitive time of year.

It would help if I actually knew what I want. The thought of a long term relationship scares the shit out of me, given that I still have massive scars from the last one. Sex would be great, but is a rarity. Do you know girls who would ‘casually date’ a crip (if so let me know) with all the physical and emotional challenges that creates? Yet I know if it was just ‘casual’, it would not be enough.

So what to do? The foray into online dating has been a mixed blessing. I have found a great friend out of the experience. Yet she is the only one who has contacted me across the 3 ‘dating websites’ I have tried. Remember that fragile ego I mentioned? 1/54 ain’t helping matters. 54 seems a lot but I’m very, very picky, I think I’ve seen over 1000 profiles. Yesterday I thought I found a girl with potential. She was smart, we had things in common I thought, she made me smile, seemed fairly open minded and was good looking. Her reply: like 37 others: ‘I don’t think we would have much in common’ There are several translations for this, which in itself would take up several blog posts, none of them pleasant.

Yes I’m doing all these great things with few people, but I’m scared, really, really scared. Things seem great now, they always do in the heady stages. Then something happens, I get too intense and I’m back to where I started. Wise beyond my years because my soul has been skin grafted within an inch of itself, with supposedly ‘close friends’ drifting off the face of the earth. Most of the time I doubt whether I can in fact have a ‘healthy relationship’ with anyone in the long term romantic or otherwise. Next week is a decade since I graduated high school (more on that in another post) and I have gone through not one, but three distinctive social groups, and none of them have stuck. I float through life trying to find people who understand me, yet nothing sticks. No wonder I haven’t found what I’m looking for.

After the tragedy that was Christmas I made a pact: I would make 5 new friends that I could hangout with in 2011. I have made 1. I’ve tried new things, made myself feel uncomfortable, and done everything I can emotionally cope with. And yet here I am consciously trying very hard not to repeat the same patterns, but ultimately feeling unsatisfied. How uncomfortable do I have to be? It is almost like I have to create  new behaviour to try and dilute my intensity in order to keep people interested in being my friend in the long term. And yet, that is not me.

I have no idea what to do.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Chomsky's (Fleeting) Comrade

There is a reason I travelled 800+ kilometres to see Noam Chomsky

Imagine a young Todd, 17 years old in the library of his high school reading Manufacturing Consent. Not exactly typical fare for your average year 12 student, whose peers seemed more concerned with getting shit faced and using as many prophylactic devices as possible. Chomsky was a refuge in an otherwise boring and mundane school environment.

There I was a decade later in the hallowed halls of the Sydney Opera House listening to an 86 year old Chomsky actually talk about issues that meant something. The ninety minute Q&A this past Thursday covered 12 broad ranging topics from foreign policy to linguistics and corporate governance. Rarely does a man command an audience with such a softly spoken voice, yet domineering presence. Words drifted out of Chomsky’s mouth as if they were being quoted from mountaintops. Listening carefully the audience hung on every syllable because they knew they were witnessing an intellectual titian. Despite careful choice of language (naturally) one got the feeling however that some of the responses were dumbed down to cater for all intelligence levels. Regardless I felt my IQ jump 20 points as soon as I left the theatre.

Not entirely unexpectedly Chomsky played to the extreme left wing disposition of the audience, especially when comparing the foreign policies of Obama and George W. Bush. The former of course being more dangerous than the latter, because where Bush merely detained terrorists illegally, Obama seeks to assassinate them. This was followed by thoughts on the Middle East where he suggested that the United States were deliberately in cahoots with Israel to tarnish the peace process.

Much to my disappointment but expectation, Chomsky sang the praises of the ‘Occupy Movement' and forecast that they would become the most pivotal social movement in a generation. Yet paradoxically he later derided Generation Y for their primal consumer tendencies. Like the many who comprise the 'Occupy Movement', Chomsky can not have his cake and eat it too. How can one hope to criticise the masters of consumer destiny as well as be amongst its willing disciples?

The highlight of talk for me was the last portion where Chomsky briefly (Unfortunately) discussed the evolution of the tertiary sector during his fifty years at MIT. He particularly talked about the moral dilemmas that were brought about due to the progression of technology, and what happens when academics continue to work in a sheltered vaccum, limiting their ability to assess the impacts of their developments on the outside world. At the same time he declared ‘Universities are among the freest places in society’ acting as a melting pot for ideas where unique combination of ideas are celebrated and explored. He obviously hasn’t visited my Alma Mater.

Overall, Chomsky excuded the intelligence for which he is renowned. Obviously, ninety minutes was never going to be enough merely touching on broad topics that all needed to explored in every philiosphical discourse imaginable. Nonetheless, I doubt I will ever come across a more articulate, reasoned, calm yet passionate person in the course of my lifetime.   

Monday, 7 November 2011

A Bit of BIFF: Week 1

The delightful TCF and I began a two week stint at the Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF) last Friday night. I’ve always wanted to go, but until now have been unable to find a suitible friend who has been willing to accompany me to multiple showings of political documentaries, intellectually challenging cinema and geeky diversions. We chose seven films, three in the first week, four in the second week.

A Dangerous Method
The opening night of BIFF saw the Australian premiere of David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method: The film is described thus:
First seen arriving at Jung's Burgholzli Clinic in Zurich in 1904, Sabina (Keira Knightley) is a feral, convulsive wreck, A young doctor in his early 30s, Jung (Michael Fassbender) is just beginning to test his hero Freud's revolutionary methods and achieves considerable success in the case of Sabina, who quickly reveals her intelligence and emotional warmth. Two years later, Jung travels to Vienna to meet Freud (Viggo Mortensen), initiating a close but often uneasy bond with unexpected consequences when Freud asks him to treat a fellow psychiatrist, Otto Gross (Vincent Cassel). Unruly, defiant and disdainful of anything he perceives as a repressive social constraint, Otto encourages Jung to cross the lines of acceptable practice. Conveniently enough, Sabina, eager for healthy sexual experience, has given Jung an open invitation, one he is unable to resist for long despite his loyalty to his wife, Emma (Sarah Gadon), and their young children.
The film is particularly strong when exploring the complex relationship between Freud and Jung. They seem to embody their own psychological theories and although the actions of Sabrina keep the plot moving, the central antagonism between the two male protagonists seems to evolve into a love a dark, twisted and often tragic love story. Fassbender and Knightly are particularly good throughout and deserve to be nominated for many awards at year’s end A-

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey
This was one of the films I was looking forward to seeing most given my fondness for all things Muppet related:
The film traces Kevin Clash's rise from his modest beginnings in Baltimore to his current success as the man behind Elmo, one of the world's most recognizable and adored characters. Millions of children tune in daily to watch Elmo, yet when Kevin walks down the street he is not recognized. Pivotal to the film is the exploration of Jim Henson's meteoric rise, and Kevin's ultimate achievement of his goal to become part of the Henson family of puppeteers. In addition to puppeteering Elmo, Mr. Clash is arguably the creative force behind today's Sesame Street, producing, directing and traveling around the globe training other puppeteers.
The film is both heartwarming and fascinating in equal measure. The origins of Elmo’s creation are traced, but perhaps more importantly the magic and techniques of bringing the Muppets to life are examined. The audience gets to appreciate how intricate the creative process is, and discover why Clash is the best in his field. A must for all Muppet fans and their kids B+

The Tall Man
Given my fondness for all things political I was really looking forward to this film, but I was ultimately disappointed in this incredibly bias, one note, yet technically proficient film.
This is the story of Palm Island, the tropical paradise where one morning Cameron Doomadgee swore at a policeman and forty-five minutes later lay dead in a watch-house cell. This is also the story of that policeman, the tall enigmatic Christopher Hurley who chose to work in some of the toughest and wildest places in Australia, and of the struggle to bring him to trial. The Tall Man is a story in luminous detail of two worlds clashing - and a haunting moral puzzle that no viewer will forget.
I find the description of ‘two world’s clashing’ an interesting concept because it was very clear the film makers were only intent on showing one side of the story. Despite the facts of case leaving little doubt that Hurley was guilty of striking the blows that ultimately led to the death of Cameron Doomaagee, the film failed to explore many of the gray issues surrounding the case. The film suffers from not conducting interviews with anyone in the Queensland Police Service (QPS), except for the occasionally militant union spokesmen. One can hardly blame the QPS given the way the material was presented.

The Q&A with some of the film's participants after the screening only exacerbated this bias. One of the Aboriginal elders suggesting a Darwinian approach to law reform by suggesting '...every copper should be bashed, just like they bash us' to applause from a self congratulatory audience. Such a disappointing outcome for a worthy subject. C

Friday, 4 November 2011

'And the Winner is Sydney...'

Regular readers of this blog will no doubt be aware that this year has been pretty shit. However, a trip to Sydney this week marked the brightest spot of 2011 for a number of reasons. The purpose of the trip to the Harbour City was to see a lecture at the Opera House by 2011 Sydney Peace Prize Winner, linguistics expert, and political theorist, Noam Chomsky, which I will write about in greater depth next week. The trip lasted less than 24 hours, but I learnt more about myself in that time than perhaps at any other time during this past year.

This was in no small part due to my travelling companion and friend (TCF) who accompanied me on the journey. The friendship I’ve developed with TCF is perhaps the most special thing I’ve acquired on my attempt to rediscover who I am as I begin to rebuild my life. I think the best time I spent on the trip to Sydney were enjoying the many deep philosophical and emotional conversations I had with TCF.

The trip to Sydney also allowed me to catch up with some wonderful people who I’ve waited a long time to see. Carly travelled to Sydney to continue her ever expanding love affair with Darren Hayes on his National Tour. As I fully expected with Carly, what you see and read on her blog is exactly what you get in person, as she regaled our fellow lunchtime companions with many entertaining stories. I was also able to catch up with another RampUp contributor and Sydney local, Leela, who unfortunately missed out on the chance to see Chomsky. I took great delight in recapping the main themes of the talk as well as undertaking a fascinating discussion on literature. Leela’s blog is full of wonderful writing and great stories, so be sure to check it out. Also enjoying the lunchtime gathering was a former student of mine (FS) who flew up and flew back in one day just to see Noam. Complete with customised shirt, I wondered if it was possible that an 86 year old political philosopher could have a groupie. FS certainly fits this bill as she hung off his every word. A wonderful lunch was had by all at a trendy Italian Café at Circular Quay overlooking both the Bridge and Opera House.

Each member of that lunchtime group had come from a diverse background and yet we had no problem gelling. That was really indicitive of the whole trip in a sense. With a push of encouragement from both TCF and FS who insisted that I take this journey to begin with I had one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. Sometimes life is not meant to be so hard. It proved to be the first time in 2011 I was at ease with both myself and other people. And that is a step in the right direction.