The Null Device
I just logged into tribe.net for the first time in many months; the first thing I saw on the home page, in the list of "recent listings from my network" was three posts from someone in the US in my 2nd degree about Howard Dean campaign meetings. One of these was crossposted to a group named "PDX pagans".
There are Howard Dean campaign meetings on tribe.net, Howard Dean meetup.com meetups, Howard Dean blogs, probably even Howard Dean flashmobs, machinima, MP3 mashups and stencil graffiti. And all this for a candidate for the Democratic Party, a political machine every bit as vast and beholden to special interests as the Republican Party.
I don't know much about this Dean person (except that he's somewhat of a centrist); though even if he had the charisma of a cult leader, I doubt he would singlehandedly bend the Democratic Party to his will. If he gets elected, chances are that all that will change is which special interests will be favoured (out with the oil companies, in with the copyright industry) and a few token attempts at social justice, stopping short of anything anyone would accuse of "socialism" or "class warfare". The War On Drugs will continue apace, perhaps even accelerating to deflect accusations that the goddamnliberals are "soft on crime". Though perhaps the Patriot Act III may never happen, or may be watered down. One of these decades, the rights lost to Bush/Ashcroft's "anti-terrorism" legislation (none of which would have stopped 9/11) may even be restored.
The fact that a machine-man from the lesser of two evils is seen as an almost messianic figure (an American Gough Whitlam, as it were) is testament to how loathed the Bush administration is in the more liberal, cosmopolitan parts of America. Mind you, with the US political system, Dean is as good as it gets; last election around, the best Ralph Nader could do was to bleed votes away from the Lesser Evil towards the Greater.
For the first time in history, Australia's private schools are getting more government funding than its public universities. To be fair, the private schools aren't all blue-ribbon institutions catering to the scions of Australia's elite; many of them are run by that socially progressive and ethically impeccable institution, the Catholic church.
Meanwhile, if you intend to have kids and wish them to be able to go on to university, you'd better start saving from the day they are born, as they do in America. If you don't, well, maybe there'll be enough military-reserve scholarships for low-income students or something. (via Beth P.)