The Null Device


An Age piece on the Scott Parkin incident:

"For me, some of the really disturbing aspects of this situation have been the way that the authorities have come to conflate activism and terrorism," Dias says. "It basically means the end of freedom of expression, the end of being able to question the policy of the current government."
With state premiers preparing for the Council of Australian Government's summit on terror powers, Parkin's treatment led Victorian Premier Steve Bracks to sound a note of caution. "Without a proper explanation of why Scott Parkin was detained, there is the potential for the public to question the necessity of the law and whether it should be in place," Bracks said.

Joh Bjelke-Petersen would be proud, if not envious; compared to the present state of affairs, to say nothing of the new anti-terrorism laws being drafted as we speak, 1980s Queensland was a veritable Interzone of freedom.

And details have emerged of Parkin's extremist politics and dangerous history:

Too often physical confrontation becomes the story of a protest rather than the issue that drives the protest. Parkin teaches what Hollows calls "de-escalation techniques" to defuse potentially violent situations, and to avoid provoking police. He also advises on non-violent physical blockading methods.
A spokesman for Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said ASIO had not opposed the original visa application, but its understanding of his intentions had changed during his trip. Parkin was detained for "encouraging spirited protest".

It has been pointed out that the reason for this extraordinary action (which, incidentally, the Labor opposition fully backs; don't look for troublesome questions there) is that Parkin is a thorn in the side of Halliburton, who, as a contractor to the Australian military, are a matter of national security (a phrase Australians will be hearing a lot more of in future).

And more here:

Asked what advice he might give other travellers, he replied: "Be careful where you go and what you say, and look around at who's following you. We have to be careful, but we still need to stand up for what we're doing."
Or, alternately, "don't let the sun set on you in Australia, hippie". Left-wing troublemakers are on notice that they and their politics are not welcome in Australia.
The bill for his Australian adventure will top $11,000, including $777 for his imprisonment, $4235 for his air fare to Los Angeles, and $6675 in fares and accommodation for his two minders, whose tasks included accompanying Parkin to the toilet. The account will be presented to him should he return to Australia, which he says he has been forbidden from doing for three years.
Perhaps this is another sign that those of a liberal inclination should boycott Australia? Doing so would have an economic impact; for one, most of the Americans who travel abroad for personal reasons are towards the liberal side of the spectrum, and the cosmopolitanist trend is probably similar for other nations. If those who disagree with the present state of affairs boycott Australia, the tourism industry will take a hit, and I can't see an Australian Government ad campaign on Christian cable stations in Mississippi and Texas or right-wing satellite radio, promoting Australia as an ideologically sound destination for conservative holidaymakers, turning that around. Cultural exchange with the great redneck wonderland down under would also suffer, with the OFLC losing the opportunity to ban more arthouse films, progressive-leaning bands from abroad no longer stopping to play gigs at the Corner or Metro, and international arts festivals in Australia, stripped of first-tier international talent, looking increasingly parochial and small. Of course, such an action would hasten the destruction of the cosmopolitan inner-city culture and further alienate those latte-sipping refugee-loving tree-hugging vegetarian bicyclists Andrew Bolt and his ascendant ilk so despise; but for them, there is an alternative. To paraphrase Momus (substitutions in square brackets):
So just leave. [Australia] doesn't deserve you. Walk away. [Australia] doesn't need your talent, your creativity and your intelligence. Or rather, it needs them desperately, but it will never acknowledge that. It's too stupid to understand that. If it calls for you, it will call for you for the wrong reasons. It will call you up as a soldier. It will call for you as canon-fodder in some spurious and unnecessary war that serves the interests of 1% of its population and an even smaller percentage of the world's population. Even if it lets you live in relative peace as a mere civilian, it will force you to live in ways that destroy the world's weather systems and its environment. It will use your tax to fund pre-emptive wars of aggressive imperialism against impoverished nations with energy resources.
Get a passport, get a visa. Work a job, save some money. Come to Europe, come to Japan. Life is more civilised here. Come as you are, come to work, come to play, come to stay. Make love to foreigners, not [Australians]. Make non-[Australian] babies. Make your children world citizens, as you make yourself one.
John Howard, the Methodist Mahathir presiding over this new age of repressiveness, has described those whose lifestyles, politics or beliefs he disagrees with as "un-Australian". Perhaps now it's time to take the hint and exit this Roman shell?

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I just received a spam with fragments of The Master and Margarita (in English) at the end (to fool filters). It looks like the spammers are working their way forward through the Russian literary canon.

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Bill Maher's open letter to the Commander of the Free World:

"Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you any more. There's no more money to spend--you used up all of that. You can't start another war because you used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Listen to your Mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit cards maxed out. No one's speaking to you. Mission accomplished.
"Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service and the oil company and the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or space man? Now I know what you're saying: there's so many other things that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don't. I know, I know. There's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela. Eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote.

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