Expect less

September 16, 2004 by  
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For anyone who’s been swinging by and wondering what the hell is going on here, I’m not blogging much lately. I either don’t have much to say or, when I do, no time to say it. That said, expect less from this blog.

“But we’d come to expect so much!” I hear you cry. Sarcasm aside, items of little substance will still appear occasionally, like these two things.

In the first hour of French class this week I had an exam. My disposition following that could only be described as sour. In the second hour I declared to Gary, “I’ve got better things to do than sit around here and not understand anything,” and walked out. Oh yes, French is looking up.

I have a wedding in the US to go to over New Year’s, and haven’t bought tickets yet. I’m a student who’s just received my first paycheck from a part-time job started last week. This means there isn’t much money to throw around, particularly as that first paycheck was 5 hours short. Good start guys, I look forward to working with you. Long story short, 100,000 Flybuys points had been won by someone and they were generously going to be given to me to help out. This was going to get me to Hawaii, effectively reducing the cost of the US trip by over half. My brother was in possession of these points (in Sydney), but forgot to post them, in which time they lapsed and became void. I found that out yesterday. I’m over the anger, I mean it wasn’t long ago I had no knowledge of the possibility, so would be paying for it as I will now. But acknowledgement would be nice. That’s a lot of money I’m going to be paying off for a long time. I forgive you. And WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?!?

That day

September 11, 2004 by  
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It’s 11.45pm, September 11, here in Australia. I wasn’t going to post anything, but I couldn’t just lie in bed and not…

Exactly three years ago today I was, as usual, running late to work in smalltown USA, throwing some cereal in a bowl as I turned on CNN behind me to try and catch some news before I ran out the door. I vaguely heard what was coming out of the TV as I poured my milk, turned around and saw the Twin Towers billowing smoke. I slowly sat down and watched, dumbfounded as I began to comprehend what was happening before my eyes. I left my untouched cereal on the coffeetable when I finally left for work.

Walking out of my apartment, to my car – everything around me seemed to be happening as normal, which was wrong. People should be dazed, like I was. At work the radio was on in the background, but everyone was working. I just wanted to huddle near it, to find out what was happening. Our world was changing, and I was scared.

Local paper today said, ‘Terror turns three’. Terror has been around much longer than three years, only it’s most visible and psychologically devastating outworking is remembered today. More accurately it would read, ‘Anti-terror turns three’. The change in the world has been the response to terror.

As I leave this 9-11 on one side of the world, and Americans begin to remember it on the other, we all mark this as a day that changed the world we live in. Let’s just hope that, unlike the horrific day three years ago that we remember, we effect change in a way that honours the innocent, wherever they are.

Peace.

Stuff I noticed

September 11, 2004 by  
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This is just a collection of things I thought noteworthy in the last 24 hours or so.

Turns out the Indonesian paramilitary police (Brimob) received an SMS 45 minutes before the Jakarta bomb blast, warning of an attack on western embassies, but didn’t pass on the information until 8 hours later. That was on the front page of The Weekend Australian this morning. Someone’s in trouble, and I’d hate to be them.

I’m taking a friend’s Palm Pilot for a test drive this week to decide if I want to buy it. I downloaded some software, as well as an eReader from Palm. Included in that is a bundle of book excerpts, and one ‘Mini Catalog’ with even smaller excerpts. One of those is from the latest book on US Presidential candidate John Kerry, Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War. That was an interesting read, but I noticed it was going on for a while… That particular entry in this ‘Mini Catalog’ is one of 20, but instead of taking up 5% of the pages (if they were spread evenly), it makes up 9.2%, or 83 out of 900 pages… Yes, I do realise how very sad I am that I went to the trouble of working that out, but I thought, “Hmmm, how very interesting. Who runs Palm, and in what other ways are they trying to promote John Kerry and the Democrats??” Continue browsing, and what else do I come across in the titles of this ‘Mini Catalog’? An excerpt from 365 Days of Spiritual Growth, a Xn book. Now I’m intrigued, Xn and not denouncing Kerry? But I’m not intrigued enough to be bothered finding out who the company is owned by, which kind of defeats the whole point…

That’s all I’ve got for today. Yeah, not very exciting.

Bringing it home

September 9, 2004 by  
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I was going to post tonight about the suppression of the press in Russia over the Beslan hostage situation…

As I walked in the door from a late tutorial, the SBS World News had already started. I thought there had been another bomb in Iraq or Russia, but noticed the writing on screen (taken from local news sources) and realised it was Indonesia. Stock footage? Something to do with the Bali bombers? And then it hit me.

A large bomb was detonated directly outside the front gate of the Australian embassy in Jakarta today (10.15am local). They say the building is bomb-proof, and for that reason there were only minor injuries inside. Outside at least 7 Indonesians were killed on the street, with 100s of injuries reported. The final number of dead is not expected to be high [Update: 11], but what is high? One is too many.

Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, said Jemaah Islamiyah, responsible for the Bali and Marriott Hotel bombings, was the most obvious suspect.

“Naturally enough, our suspicions turn to Jemaah Islamiyah.

“We had some advice a few days ago of possible… of a possible terrorist attack in Jakarta focusing on western-style hotels and we changed our travel advisory to take that into account,” he said.

Asked if he thought the blast was specifically timed to take place during the Australian election campaign, Mr Downer said there was no way of knowing.

“I think for somebody in my position it would be quite dangerous to speculate on that.

“I can only say to you I simply do not know,” he said, adding there has been no intelligence suggesting an attempted intervention in the election.

The Australian election is exactly one month away. I don’t know what to think. I’m still of the belief it won’t happen in Australia but…. am I just holding my hands over my ears screaming ‘la-la-la-la-la’? I’ll admit, it worries me. Which I guess is the point. No Australian’s have died, but it may have the more paranoid amongst us second-guessing the next move…

Anyway, here are some real news sources:

  • Google News – probably the most up-to-date/comprehensive
  • BBC NEWS – Massive blast at Jakarta embassy
  • SBS World News – Many killed in Jakarta bomb attack
  • Yahoo (Reuters) – Jakarta Embassy Blast Kills Four, Wounds Scores
  • CNN – Deadly car bomb rocks Jakarta
  • Downer’s doorstop interview transcript

    Most of those have additional links, audio and video, if you’re so inclined.

    Guerrilla News Network: S-11 Redux

    September 9, 2004 by  
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    I’d forgotten about GNN… I just watched a great short film they did, and recommend it to everyone. It got some awards as well, if that makes it any more appealling to you. It’s old now (December 2001), but the issue of the ‘war on terror’ gives it a currency that will last for some time yet, I fear. Here’s how they explained it:

    “Culled from over 20 hours of television footage recorded over a one month period and across 13 networks, S-11 Redux is a sound-bite blitzkrieg that challenges the messages we have been fed from our mainstream media and the government it serves.”

    If you’re interested and have some time to waste, more of their videos can be found on the News Videos page.

    You what now?

    September 8, 2004 by  
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    Yahoo! News – Russia Says Could Strike ‘Terrorist’ Bases Anywhere

    Talking about pre-emptive strikes, General Yuri Baluevsky said, “However, this does not mean that we will launch nuclear strikes.”

    Oh you crazy, cuddly Russians, always with the diplomacy. What’s with that? And there I was thinking, “Nuclear’s the only option I can see!”

    Ethnic tensions

    September 8, 2004 by  
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    Russia’s taken a bit of a beating by ‘terrorists’ in the last week or or so. Two planes, a car bomb in Moscow, and the latest attack on the school in Beslan. It’s all a bit frightening, but I would still maintain it’s not the norm, and it’s not going to happen here anytime soon. When people start talking about ethnicity, think for a minute about who belongs to each ‘ethnic’ group supposedly involved in a conflict. Who defined those groups? Where do their ethnic boundaries lie?

    Reporting the news is particularly difficult here. Do you take the time to report what happened, or why it happened? Often the why of an ethnic conflict is left out in the cold – explained away simply as decades-old, inbuilt, inevitable, tribal, or just the way ‘they’ are.

    This attack on the school in Beslan is starting to be talked about as ethnic tensions between two local groups, the Ingush and the Ossetians. Before it gets away, you might be interested to read a brief article explaining the history between the two.

    It will be interesting to see how it gets played by Russian President Vladimir Putin – as Ingush (Muslims who are apparently sympathetic to Chechens) and Ossetian (who identify themselves as Russian), or as part of the greater Chechnya v Russia conflict. There’s going to be much larger ramifications for the town of Besla if ethnic Ingush are attacked and driven from their homes in large numbers. Unfortunately, as a part of that, we could see the hardening of any extremist tendencies amongst disaffected Ingush, which will only bolster Chechen and wider Islamic fundamentalist groups. It was called, in today’s Australian I think, although I can’t find it online right now, Russia’s 9/11.

    Putin is still determined to use force against Chechen separatists, refusing to talk to them; he must do something differently, and soon, if he hopes to stop attacks.

    Some interesting, perhaps useful, story links:

    J-O-B

    September 5, 2004 by  
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    I have a post to write, but I’ve spent too much time reading everyone else’s! I spent all day Saturday at an ‘induction’ day for my new place of employment. Yes, celebrate and sing, I’m earning some cash. Of the many things I had to sign that day, one was an agreement not to publish anything in relation to the company. And this is a LARGE, multi-armed, beast of a company. As a journalist wanna-be, I balked. Is this casual job, which is just for extra money, worth the risk of being ‘silenced’ by the Corporation? Well, I can always quit if I really need to expose something. The second thing I thought of was this blog, because up until that point I had been writing down quotes I thought may end up being amusing. After deciding I could publish them without mentioning the company name I glowered and signed. They mainly come from those quality staff training videos, but I’ll leave you with one I can remember off the top of my head, from the facilitator herself. Let profundity reign.

    If you want to change direction, use your feet

    1000th Visitor Crowned

    September 4, 2004 by  
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    There was a bit of confusion at the finish folks. It was a tight race, but proof has come through. The photo finish has been decided with a screen shot. Yes, that’s it there, sent in by…. ALLISTER!!!! Allister, Allister! Do you have a moment? Dave from the Earley Edition. The 1000th visitor to this blog! Congratulations, how does it feel??

    Yeah, yeah good mate. You know, I put in the hard yards, went 110% today, can’t be disappointed with the outcome.

    I think we can all agree here, that was a sterling effort. Well done! Anything else you’d like to add before we present the prize?

    Ah, sure. G’day mum!

    Haha, that’s the way. Kiddies at home, take note, you would do well to learn from this young man’s unassuming character. Look up to him. Be like him. It’s your only chance in this crazy, mixed up world. Nice sentiment there Allister.

    No, all I said was, g’da…

    That’s nice. Now Bob, tell him…what…he’s…oh, the suspense! Tell him what he’s WONNN!!!

    Dave, it’s a nnneeewwwww post!

    A what?

    I said Dave, it’s a nnneeewwwwww POST!!!

    Still not with you here Bob

    I don’t see it. This better be good.

    This is it Dave.

    You mean… THIS post.

    That’s right Dave, a nnnneee…

    Shutup Bob. Well…uhh..there, or rather, here, you have it Allister!! The lucky winner of this post ladies and gentl…

    You guys suck. I am so not coming back here.

    Ahhh…well, I don’t blame you. One man band, no budget, deadlines… it’s a tough news world my friend, and frankly, I’m not so sure this organisation has got what it takes to make it. And don’t even get me started on the benefits…..benefits?! You can take your stin…

    [The Earley Edition is experiencing difficulties. Sorry for the inconvenience. We’ll be right back. In the meantime, here’s some hold music. We suggest you think about puppies.]

    Dastardly day

    September 2, 2004 by  
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    It’s a special day for one blogger.

    The Dastard is celebrating his birthday on this fine day.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY DASTARD!

    This is undoubtedly the most widely recognised birthday in the blogging community to date. Send special birthday greetings to the Dastard at his blog, or visit these house parties to leave another comment!!

    I think I got them all…

    Lots of love to Celti and Aimee especially, who put the birthday post together! Also to contributors Lovisa (Alien) and Mike (audio to “Dastard of Blogging”

    Party Updates: Tricia found, and apparently Mike should be included, but is yet to get his ass in gear. Thanks Tricia for the tCj’s link, and Jamie for visiting as well. Late addition, Riz was in on the action too! Go visit their blogs. Spread the love!

    Random stuff

    September 2, 2004 by  
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    There are some people who can just get away with things. Take Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example. Out of no other politician’s mouth would, “Dohnt bee eckanahmic gehrly mehn!” be as funny. Australians won’t appreciate the Saturday Night Live reference, but it’s still funny.

    Speaking of girly-men, the only other guy in one of my tutorials dropped out of the course two weeks ago. I counted them today; it’s me and 11 females in Politics of Development. Now I’m not complaining, but guys, represent! Statistically (like how I say that, and provide no statistics?) not many of these ladies will make it into positions of political leadership where they can really effect policies of social responsibility. And yes, I do mean effect, as in ‘bring about’. The people who care are the ones who should be leading us.

    Haloscan

    September 1, 2004 by  
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    I’ve changed commenting over to haloscan. I’ve manually transferred the last 6 threads of comments or so. Hopefully they’ll be able to import all the rest of the comments, otherwise I’ll have to do those manually as well. Let me know what you think.

    By the way, I just noticed the etracker (sitemeter at left) is only 19 away from 1,000. If you’re the 1,000th visitor here, leave a comment! Ha, just noticed the etracker or watching the etracker like a hawk? It’s such a fine line.

    Be alert, not alarmed

    September 1, 2004 by  
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    Yahoo! News – Terror fears hang over Australian election
    So Richard Clarke, former US presidential adviser says. The article says we’re more likely to come under terrorist attack during the election because, like Spain, we have an opposition ‘promising’ to take our troops out of Iraq if they come to power. The majority of Washington is outspokenly opposed to Latham’s plans to withdraw Australian troops, and thus openly favoring Howard’s re-election.

    It will be interesting to see how the government, or the opposition for that matter, will use this information during the election campaign. John Howard is quoted as saying:

    “What I promise the Australian people is two things. Firstly, if there is any hard information that they should have, I will make it available and I will communicate it at the same time to the leader of the opposition.”

    Hopefully that doesn’t mean playing on the fears of the public by announcing ‘warnings’, strategically timed to coincide with, say, the announcement of Labor’s fiscal policy.

    At the moment there are no public fears to play on. I’m pretty sure Australians think that, while it may have happened in Bali, it could never actually happen here. Let’s pray.

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