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Thursday, April 24, 2008

War! (Wo!.. Good God! Huh!) What is it good for...

April 25th is ANZAC day in Australia and represents our national day of remembrance of those who fought in the various conflicts to which Australia has committed troops.
The date chosen commemorates the landing of Australian troops at Gallipoli in Turkey in 1915 . The Gallipoli campaign is infamous for its poor planning and execution, which saw Australian troops land on a beach only to be faced with towering cliffs which they had to scale under heavy machine gun fire from entrenched Turkish forces. After approximately nine months of throwing men "over the top", heavy casualties on both sides, and very little territorial gain, the Allied forces conceded defeat and retreated in what was perhaps ironically the greatest tactical manoeuvre of the whole campaign. Given the terrain, and weather conditions, large causalities were expected in the evacuation. However, through the using of self-firing rifles, (which worked by dripping water into a tin connected to the trigger so that rifles would fire sporadically and give the impression that the Allied troops were still in their trenches) the evacutation was carried out without the loss of a single life.

The battle of Gallipoli was significant for both sides, being widely regarded as the birthplace of the national consciousness in Australia (After Gallipoli, Australian forces demanded to fight under the command of Australia Generals rather than British ones - a significant mental step in our ongoing transition from British colony to independent nation), while at the same time laying the foundations for the Turkish Republic and the rise of its first president Atatürk, who was a military commander in the campaign.

At the dawn service at ANZAC Cove that occurs on the 25th of April every year, it has become a tradition to read the following words written by Atatürk to the mothers of the Allied dead:
"Those heroes that shed their blood
and lost their lives;
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
who sent their sons from far away countries,
wipe away your tears;
your sons are now lying in our bosom
and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land they have
become our sons as well."

The Ode, a stanza from English poet Laurence Binyon's For The Fallen, is also read out, after which there is the playing of the Last Post:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

The last Australian Anzac, Alec Campbell, died in 2002, aged 103.
This slide show recently appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and shows another side to the war we usually commemorate. Click on the above image to check it out.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Australia in 'Focus' - (focus as in camera, as in photo... it's like a pun... and stuff)

The Sydney Morning Herald is celebrating 100 years of herald photography. To see a collection of photos of Australians at work and play over the last 100 years, click the above image.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Australia's 2020 Summit

"Without a vision, the people do perish."
- Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia, opening of Australia 2020 Summit.

"A stand may be made against the invasion of an army; no stand can be made against invasion by an idea." - Victor Hugo.
The Australian Government is currently hosting the Australia 2020 summit in Canberra, a conference bringing together 1000 prominent Australians in various fields to debate and develop long term options to the challenges facing Australia's future. The idea is to "throw open the windows of our democracy to let a little bit of fresh air in", by turning to the people of Australia, "indigenous and non-indigenous, early settler families and those recently arrived, city and country, industry and labour, academics and non-academics, women and men, our youth and let's face it our not so youthful" to identify new ideas and directions for Australia's future as well as insights into possible ways of governing Australia as a nation.


In opening the summit, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd lamented the fact that, "The old way of governing has been creaking and growning, often and triumph of the short term over the long term, often and triumph of the trivial over the substantial, often and triumph of partisan over positive."

Mr Rudd stated the necessity of such a summit was intensified by the unprecedented complexity of the challenges facing Australia's future:
  1. Climate change
  2. The drying of what is already the world's driest continent
  3. Economic rise of India and China
  4. The rolling structural vulnerabilities of an increasingly inter-dependent global order.

The "summiteers" will discuss 10 critical areas of Australian governance:
  1. The Productivity Agenda – education, skills, training, science and innovation
  2. The Future of the Australian Economy
  3. Population, sustainability, climate change and water
  4. Future directions for rural industries and rural communities
  5. A long-term national health strategy – including the challenges of preventative health, workforce planning and the ageing population
  6. Strengthening communities, supporting families and social inclusion
  7. Options for the future of indigenous Australia
  8. Towards a creative Australia: the future of the arts, film and design
  9. The future of Australian governance: renewed democracy, a more open government (including the role of the media), the structure of the Federation and the rights and responsibilities of citizens
  10. Australia’s future security and prosperity in a rapidly changing region and world.
The summit has the following objectives:
  • To harness the best ideas across the nation
  • To apply those ideas to the 10 core challenges that the Government has identified for Australia – to secure our long-term future through to 2020
  • To provide a forum for free and open public debate in which there are no predetermined right or wrong answers
  • For each of the Summit’s 10 areas to produce following the Summit options for consideration by government
  • For the Government to produce a public response to these options papers by the end of 2008 with a view to shaping the nation’s long-term direction from 2009 and beyond.
REACTION to the Summit has been mixed. Some have called the Summit a mere talkfest (see Clarke and Dawe sketch here), an opportunity for the government to engage in a process of aimless gasbagging and backslapping, little more than a democratic charade masking the government's already pre-determined policy objectives.

Already the summit has produced some novel ideas, including the adoption of a high school by corporations, the installation of a bill of rights in Australia, the legalisation of all drugs, the move to become a Republic within two years, the overhaul of Australia's tax and child care systems, the creation of a scheme to encourage an enable renting Australians to by their own homes, as well as the signing of a treaty between "black and white Australians".

No matter what side of the fence you wall on, the summit must be said to represent a divergent approach to governance than the one employed by the previous Australian government, which preferred a highly centralized power structure, which involved leading ministers making a concerted effort to limit and discourage public debate on important issues. In this sense, the summit does represent "a breath of fresh air". In this instance, just the fact that justice is seen to be done can be comforting, regardless of whether justice actually ends up being done or not.

See the closing address here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Les examens: Tout un monde entre mon lit et mon bureau

Being exams, my world pretty much consists of these two places, my bed and my desk, and the one metre space between them.
Look how nice it is outside!

Dr Nelson tries to outrun the past

Another installment from the vault of Clarke and Dawe, this time on Dr Nelson, the leader of the Liberal Party (who, contrary to their name, are the conservative party in Australia), and are currently in opposition.

Dr Nelson's popularity is pretty much at an all time low. It couldn't get much lower, (see previous post). This sketch alludes to the fact that the old guard in the Liberal Party still linger on and that Nelson cannot miraculously distance himself from his role in endorsing the policies which recently led to the Liberal Party losing office (ie. The decision to go to war in Iraq, lack of funding for education, interest rate and inflation management, hardline immigration and refugee policy etc).

My favourite line = "If [Australian Prime Minister] Kevin Rudd's popularity comes back maybe 60, 70 per cent, wooof! Watch me go, Bryan, I'm in."

Click on the above photo to watch the video or if not, click here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Beached Whale

This is an animation by Jarod Green, a friend of mine from university. I had a chuckle. For those who don't know, New Zealand accents sound funny.

He's also responsible for this:

Monday, April 07, 2008

Exams and Papers: In the form of Rodin

I'm currently in the middle of writing papers and studying for exams. I'd like to feel like this:However, unfortunately, I have to admit I feel more like this:
And quite frankly would rather be doing this:

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Dylan Moran: Men, Women and Relationships and his take on Australia

On the female design:
"Funny stuff, a secret thing, drinks holder, get them out there."

la petite mort:
"After a romantic night in with yourself, there's a very acute sensation of failed suicide."

In this performance in front of an Australian audience, he opens up with, "We're travelling in Australia and... It's a jail and... you're all prisoners."

Nice work.

"In the plane the children were pressing the buttons and not sleeping and actually getting energy from the hatred they inspire in you."