Pixelated Semantics

A schizotypical inventory

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December 03, 2007

Finally: Australia ratifies Kyoto Protocol

On December 3, 2007, 4:28PM; the SMH has just reported "Australia has ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd signed the instrument of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in his first act after being sworn in this morning."

Good to see the conservative neuropathy that prevented the former PM from lifting his pen for over 11 years seems to have been confined to that dreadful period of recent history.

July 16, 2007

Pig City (no time for paradise)

Pig City, 14 July 2007 at Uni of Qld: the first reunion of one of the world's oldest punk scenes. Saints first played UQ in 1974 (kicked out for playing 'No Time' Bailey says). A strong crowd of mostly over-40 types file in through the afternoon. Security tries to be intimidating, and the half dozen cops in uniform stroll around to make a presence, but it doesn't really work. The ban on leaving the venue to smoke lasts all of about 30 minutes or less, with Dusan B. leading the charge. By the time the Saints play there is a solid cloud of weed-scented smoke inside the 'no smoking' venue itself. Nobody is bothered.

A fenced-off oval on a warm winter's day holds a caricature of an amusement park-the red and blue flashing police lights on the marquee entrance a nice touch. Queues for beer become half an hour waits, social encounters of their own to palliate the wait. Dusty ground trampled by lots of grey haired black jacketed oldies in boots and sunnies.

4ZZZ has a live broadcast from a small tent just inside. Sonn after kick-off The Black Assassins make an impromtu appearance, thrashing 'Death Take Me Now' in balaclavas while band members, and audience (including at least one prominent writer) attack and destroy a mannequin strongly resembling the PM, while two of Qld's finest observe with curiosity. Hilarious and liberating--all live to air on ZZZ.

In the big top, The Apartments play a moving, emotive set, almost hauntingly beautiful, with some fine bass from John Wilsteed and taut delivery from Peter M Walsh.

The crowd builds to about 7000 through the day. Fashion tone of the day is not the dressed-up punk look that came late to the Aussie scene in the 70s, but the non-uniform non-conformism of a generation that started something that has become codified and imitated. As exemplified by the Saints. The greatest reunion of Brisbane ratbags in memory is well underway.

Highlight of the afternoon is Kev Carmody's set, including 'The Bitchin Song' and a deeply moving 'Little Things'. Kev delivers a strong sense of injustice, history, and poetry, and a great dose of motivation to resist the backwards conservatism of the time--full circle back to the late 70s under Joh Bjelke (who is unfondly remembered during the day.)

Pineapples from the Dawn of Time deliver a potent set, climaxing in an orgy of noise with 'Too Much Acid'. The Riptides take nearly the whole set to find their stride (with only one original member), but 'Sunset Strip' is gloriously delivered. The Parameters, led by Tony K., get to play 'Pig City', to the delight of the crowd--many old politicos in the front rows with huge grins. Regurgitator almost steal the day's thunder, in Kung Fu style. A solid set of old and new tunes, flawlessly and energetically played.

The lines for the beer tent get longer; the temperature starts heading for 5 or 6 degrees as the sun sets. The dust, the reunions, the smell of food waft on the night air. Like an Ekka for freaks and lefties of the old school.

The Go-Betweens tribute, in the form of Kate Miller-Heidke and a brass band play three numbers, but it falls short of the mark in some ways, although the songs are beautifully delivered. 'Cattle and Cane' is the highlight, working well with the slightly jazz style.

And then it was time for the Saints. The anticipation continued to build to almost agonizing levels, the crowd surged towards the stage. Keupper appears and starts up the guitar, and then the band is onstage thumping out 'Swing for the crime'. The audience soaks up the amazing scene of Keupper, Bailey, and Hay together again, working their magic as if they'd never been away. The set drawns heavily from 'Prehistoric Sounds'; the intervening years just fade away. They follow with 'Perfect Day', 'All Times Through Paradise', 'No Time', 'Stranded', 'The Prisoner', and into a glorious 'Nights in Venice'. Bailey stalks the stage like a man who's just buried Elvis and wants to dance on the grave; Keupper is attacking his beloved Strat with a screwdriver; Hay is thrashing away at the kit like a demon; and everything is perfect with the world.

Highlights: Black Assassins' guerilla performance; Kev Carmody; The Saints from start to finish; the cop who pulled us over afterwards and asked about the gig before confessing to being a punk fan. And this dialogue about a security guard come on far too heavy with crowd control, witnessed during the exodus after the Saints:

Andy Nehl: How about that f.....ing bouncer!
Andrew Stafford: Pig City!

(To continue as RSI allows over next few days.)

Other reviews & views:

The Black Assassins: http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=119657765&blogID=289023033 and Assassins live at Pig City video: http://www.blackassassins.net/pigcity.html

'Good at the time': http://goodtimemusic-overhere.blogspot.com/2007/07/pig-city-retrospective_21.html

Senator Bartlett's blogged on the gig: http://andrewbartlett.com/blog/?p=1588

Courier-Mail: http://blogs.news.com.au/couriermail/showbritz/index.php/couriermail/comments/pig_city

News.com gallery: http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/gallery/0,23816,5024294-5007115-1,00.html

ABC review: http://www.abc.net.au/brisbane/stories/s1979152.htm?brisbane and http://www.abc.net.au/brisbane/stories/s1978931.htm?brisbane (with pics in sidebar)

Pix from blogger John Cran: http://jonsbigadventure.blogspot.com/2007/07/pig-city.html

May 01, 2007

Life imitates android

From the SMH; how PK Dick, and other sci-fi authors, have demonstrated prescience and foresight, with their writings increasingly becoming reality.

February 06, 2007

Workin' for the Bot

From today's SMH:

A behavioural scientist, Stephen Juan, said young Australians were gripped by a 'crisis of rising expectations'.

'The promise was that ... machines would do the drudge work. Instead, people are working harder to pay for their machines,' Dr Juan said.

October 13, 2006

The pixelated garden #1: poetry by Karoline Sandborg

Early summers

Fragile happy child
wrapped in the clingy sweat of the night
lying awake with wide eyes listening
to rapid rabbits heartbeats and sneaky demons
outside the trembling wooden door.
Little did I know that the demons lurking between shadows
were nothing but thousands of diamonds on the black neck of the skies
and seagulls snoring softly.

A quick knock through the walls,
only to hear it repeated from the other side,
along with the drowsy rustling of bed linen.

To see the slow breeze in the pine trees outside sea sprayed windows first thing in the morning is to be born again.
And outside, the white town across the ocean and
my gold teethed grandma humming African songs in the kitchen while making milky tea.

I can see us now, my grandma and me, sipping tea on the veranda slowly, slowly
watching the white tips of the ocean
in the quiet mornings of June.
Her furrowed hands reach towards the sun, she says
now this is a good moment isn't it?

Brown Angel and Mother Theresa

You revealed yourself in the strangest place
grazing by the waterhole of your dark green forests
10 reais and a new condom in the pocket of your signature shorts
Tiny yellow tube and cloth, take your turn brown angel before you inhale and

I'm already there.
Selfish Mother Theresa barefoot in
stripy hotpants
smells of Caipriniha and sweat
She dances with the locals, knee deep in mud water
happily blinded by testosterone
Usually saving the world from their sins but tonight simply smiling
revitalised by a tiny yellow tube and the contents of several broken
plastic cups and
some serious attention from a sky high angel.

Manic Virus Mail

LOL the light reflecting from you
what they call charisma
is the sparkle of screens and the manic division of your cells

They tell me you're psychotic I bet it's true
Internet is your plastic religion your ulcerous prayers run through empty ether
you live on the shiny timber floorboards of a Oslo West apartment hoping to upgrade it to living in an 87 story skyscraper in Baerum
where your life will be the same
but closer to the stars and some sort of infinity

Hey baby take it easy you didn't sleep for two days sending spoofs to me
I wrote this mail because I am worried you'll end up slitting your throat
I'm telling you do not pay attention to nervous infectious uncool others
you do and then suddenly your screen goes green and the virus spreads to every corner
and the news of your death will be broadcasted followed by a bulletin on Beef Week
and the garden gnomes' butchers aprons will darken the sky red
I'm sure of it
am I wasting my time or what

(C) Copyright 2006 Karoline Sandborg. Permission is required for reproduction.

Gardening in the desert of the real

Pixelated Semantics is now accepting submissions of original, passionate, and distinctive writing, of any form, up to approximately 1000 words. This publication will be presenting a range of writing over the next six months, while the editor recovers from RSI.

We're pleased to announce the first publication will be some compelling poetry from Brisbane-based Norwegian poet Karoline Sandborg.

July 06, 2006

New paternalism, old racism

MP Tony Abbott reveals 'new paternalism' as old racism with a vote-catching makeover, denigrating millenia old mourning ceremonies of Australia's Indigenous in observing 'There seems to be an inordinate amount of time taken up with funerals and ceremonies.' Of course, to a credibility-lacking mouthpiece like that Minister, it's the aboriginals who must 'develop a work culture', never the white blow-ins who need to develop much better appreciation of the ancient society that has survived despite 200 years of being 'assimilated'. Seems to be continuing the forceful imposition of a foreign society and then elevating complaints of a 'culture of dysfunction' when assimilation fails.

July 03, 2006

Dirty deeds, dirtier lies

Two parallel news stories in the last week demonstrate an apparent unwillingness of the media to make even fairly obvious connections between events, especially when it comes to 'fighting terror':

1. The two British special forces soldiers killed last week in an ambush in Helmand, Afghanistan were operating in an area where there was considerable anger over bounced cheques paid by the Brits to supposedly stop farmers growing opium poppies.

2. The two American soldiers slain last month after being kidnapped in Yusufiya, Iraq were from the same regiment as five other soldiers currently being investigated for raping and killing a young woman in that same area.

In both of these cases a measure of plain retaliation for percieved wrongs is evident; however the media prefers the legend of 'insurgency' and 'terror' to admitting bad blood caused by Coalition actions. With journalists publishing (even researching) stories that undermine official credibility increasingly being harassed and punished on an unprecedented scale, perhaps the willingness to correlate and publish is diminishing.

June 22, 2006

Mary was a good bloke

The new female head of the Episcopal Church in the US uses some interesting communication strategies in her sermons:

"Mother Jesus gives birth to a new creation--and you and I are His children. If we're going to keep on growing into Christ images for the world around us, we're going to have to give up fear."
Apparently there is 'a long tradition of writings by women theologians that use the metaphor of Jesus as mother'. Biblical interpretations based on male mother figures parallel the confusing distortions of contemporary political speech.

June 21, 2006

The little accountant rides again

The increasingly fascist Australian Government this morning confirms by its actions that it has abandoned propriety, integrity, and democracy in their operations, judging by today's news reports. It's obviously essential now to gain votes and support by lying about refugees and denying human rights, to treat the Indigenous paternalistically, to appease foreign powers, and to destroy the fabric of the Senate at the whim of a Prime Minister who gives all the appearance of confirming his popular status as a spiteful little accountant who hates to be seen losing an argument.

June 14, 2006

Perpetuating the War on Language with a distinctively American form of torture

Showing the humanity inherent in an administration that perpetuates torture, spokesmen in the US have called recent Gitmo suicides 'a good PR move', and 'an act of asymetrical warfare'. History professor Alfred McCoy (author of the classic The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade) last night labelled that establishment 'an ad hoc laboratory for the perfection of the CIA psychological torture.' ABC News also provides a solid parallel thesis for on the political abuse of meaning:

'One of the less noted aspects of the Bush Administrations' "War on Terror" is the government's simultaneous War on Language, a calculated use of Orwellian double speak. Post 9-11, the invasion of other countries became a "preemptive strike", the capture and torture of civilians "extraordinary rendition".'

June 09, 2006

The artificial leg that lied

For events in an 'asymmetrical' military campaign, the life and death of Zarqawi has characteristics that seem to strangely mirror Coalition strategy. This is subtly identified by The Australian's unnamed 'correspondents in Dubai' who write:

'By the time he was killed this week in a US airstrike, Zarqawi was more powerful as a myth than as a man. The killings he masterminded were carefully calibrated to have the maximum psychological effect and feed his legend. His repertoire of violence was a guerrilla version of the "shock and awe" tactics of his American foes. Suicide bombings were planned with great precision but rarely aimed at targets of military value - their symbolic effect was more important. The killing of hostages was also choreographed for maximum shock value and followed a ritual that became grimly familiar.'
This mythmaking seems to be a double-edged sword, cutting the throat of humanitarian values in two directions at once:
'US forces also sometimes found it convenient to feed the Zarqawi myth. Most experts believe his foreign fighters make up only a fraction of the insurgency, but the US military portrayed Zarqawi as its most dangerous foe in Iraq.'
The Washington Post reported earlier this year that the US military mounted a psychological operations campaign to 'magnify the role of Zarqawi' in Iraq's 'insurgency'. However, that wasn't the only magnification. There's also the notional artificial leg that became part of the pretext for the invasion itself:
'He was long said to have an artificial leg, fitted in Baghdad during Saddam Hussein's rule - a claim some US officials used to bolster their case that the Iraqi president was conspiring with al-Qaeda. The tale about the leg - like so many of the myths around Zarqawi - turned out to be false.'
The symmetrical commentary also has his death conform to a wider Coalition agenda, with Rummy observing 'on the very day he gets killed, the [Iraqi] government gets formed'.

June 02, 2006

A purist Big Brother approach

Man of Steel dissembles on smartcard fascism:

'If you want to take a purist Big Brother approach, well, you don't have cards for anything. You don't have your photograph on your car licence.'
Say what? Very notably, in announcing a monumental backdown over the Snowy sale proposal, the Man also reckons:
'...it is important that on occasions a government have both the courage and the willingness to change its mind on something.'
Why the 'courage and the willingness' suddenly appear over this issue, and not nuclear power, refugees, Iraq, IR, health, land rights, or any other issue confronting parliament in the last 10 years is not yet apparent, although he does offer, in shades of Big Brother puritanism
'It has never been part of my master plan to sell the Snowy'.
Perhaps the Man could share this 'master plan' with the public that elected him.

June 01, 2006

Simulacra (2)

Speaking of fake humans, within a day of the 'fake company' revelation, a 'Japanese acoustics expert' has devised a method to hear what the Mona Lisa's voice 'would have sounded like'. Reuters report:

'Dr Matsumi Suzuki, who generally uses his skills to help with criminal investigations, measured the face and hands of Leonardo da Vinci's famous 16th century portrait to estimate her height and create a model of her skull.

"Once we have that, we can create a voice very similar to that of the person concerned," Suzuki told Reuters in an interview at his Tokyo office last week. "We have recreated the voices of a lot of famous people that were very close to the real thing and have been used in film dubbing."'
How they know the voices are close to 'the real thing' in the absence of benchmark voice recordings (for example from the 16th century, or prior to the 1890s in any case) is not discussed. The story does disclose that
'The scientists brought in an Italian woman to add the necessary intonation to the voice.

"We then had to think about what to have her say," Suzuki said. "We tried having her speak Japanese, but it didn't suit her image."'

The uselessness of data seduction

Insightful article at the SMH on the uselessness of most consumer data, and the problem of 'mistaking data as the insight', called 'data seduction'.

May 30, 2006


Taking commercial piracy to the ultimate edge, the SMH reports that NEC Corporation have discovered an outfit in China who were faking the entire company. I wonder, in shades of PK Dick, if there were other gangs unaware of the operation who were faking the fakes. The pirates apparently 'went as far as developing their own range of consumer electronic products'. As Dick wrote:

'Fake realities will create fake humans. Or, fake humans will generate fake realities and then sell them to other humans, turning them, eventually, into forgeries of themselves. So we wind up with fake humans inventing fake realities and then peddling them to other fake humans.'
-How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later, Philip K. Dick, 1978.

May 28, 2006

Absurd hallmarks

Finally, implicit parallels of the War on Terror with the Cold War are made overt by GW Bush:

' Like the Cold War, our enemies believe that the innocent can be murdered to serve a political vision [...] Like the Cold War, they're seeking weapons of mass murder that will allow them to deliver catastrophic destruction to our country. If our enemies succeed in acquiring such weapons, they will not hesitate to use them, which means they would pose a threat to America as great as the Soviet Union.'
However the tacit proliferation being fostered by the US is left of out the 'threat'. As El Baradei of the UN says:
'Mutually assured destruction will once again be the absurd hallmark of civilisation at its technological peak.'

May 26, 2006

More differentiated

The Oz reports on the latest damage control from the White House:

'Mr Bush expressed regret for calling for terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden to be brought in "dead or alive" and taunting Iraqi insurgents by saying "bring 'em on".

The blunt-speaking Texan said it was "kind of tough talk that sent the wrong signal to people. I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe a little in a more sophisticated manner [...] I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted and so I learned from that."'
'I think that probably in retrospect, though at the time it was very difficult to argue this, we could have done de-Baathification in a more differentiated way than we did.'
The Australian describes the speechifying as 'extraordinarily humble', which could be taken to either be bias in favour of Bush, or a backhander that implies he's very rarely anything but arrogant. In contrast, here is part of the transcript from NPR:
"Saying 'Bring it on.' Kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong signal to people. That I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner. You know, 'Wanted dead or alive,' that kind of talk. I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted."

House of unrepresentatives

Man of Steel champions representative democracy, from the SMH:

'There are occasions where I make decisions [...] which are based clearly on the majority view of the public, and there are occasions when I don't.'
In a related issue, is this statement on the Australian Government Attorneys General's Department 'Hot Topics' page a proper use of taxpayer funded information delivery (and reflective of the separation of powers), or a politicised platform for the minister to attack legitimate critics of legislation?

It is clear the most vocal critics and commentators have not read the legislation - that is the only way of explaining why many have ignored the existence of a "good faith" defence or the fact a person would need to have intentionally urged the use of force or violence to be prosecuted for the offence of sedition. For those who would like to know what the legislation actually states, here is the link (see Schedule 7): Anti-Terrorism Bill (No2) 2005.'
[Note, the supplied link to the Bill no longer functions. Also note public criticism arose from the previous draft of the laws, which the minister objected to being released by the ACT Chief Minister. After changing the Bill, the AG continued to criticise objectors to the wording that was removed - Ed.]

The Department's own publication Australia's National Framework for Human Rights - National Action Plan states:
'Australia has a strong and representative democracy, signifying government by the people through their representatives.'
'Signifying' but not guaranteeing.

The Australian Government Information Management Office publication Guidance on Departmental and Ministerial Websites clearly is at odds with the AG's practice:
14. Nor should departmentally funded websites contain material of a party political nature. [...] It is not in order, however, for material that relates solely to party political issues [...] to be placed on a departmentally funded site.'
To 'attack the policies of the Opposition' is a very different proposition to attacking critics of unpopular law. Whether the critics of the Sedition laws were right or not is not at issue here: the use of government websites for political purposes in supporting that law by criticising the public demands consideration.

The AG is currently contemplating expanding the Sedition provisions to allow banning of books and other publications.

May 24, 2006

Peaceful and lawful dissent

Man of Steel was ambushed in Ireland yesterday by questions and protests on the Australian role in Iraq, East Timor oil and gas, children overboard, and 'anti-union' and 'criminal' industrial relations legislation. The SMH and The Age report the response:

"Part of the joy of democracy is the right of peaceful and lawful dissent," he said. "The Irish brought many things to Australia, and one of them was dissent. So they are living exemplars of that Irish spirit. God bless them."

May 23, 2006

Shock and flaws

One columnist seems to be pre-emptively striking at Cindy Sheehan with invective like:

'Cindy Sheehan, pin-up girl for the loopy Left, global terrorists, and the anti-US, anti-Howard, anti-Iraq war push, is entertaining her addled fans in Sydney tonight. '
It seems the only defense left for the pro-Howard pro-invasion minority is to create offense with phrases like 'loopy Left, global terrorists' and 'addled fans': obviously a lack of WMD or any other proper excuse for post-9/11 misadventures has taken its toll on the critics ability to present a coherent reason for involvement. Here's what Cindy Sheehan has said in Australia today:
'I think Australians, they just need to get out on the streets and they need to say, "John Howard, you work for us" [...] George Bush isn't even popular in America any more so I don't know why any leaders in any countries who claim to govern their countries with the consent of the people they govern would align themselves closer with George Bush [...] I believe George Bush is the greatest recruiter for Al Qaeda in Al Qaeda's history [...] You don't kill innocent Iraqi people, you don't fight a war on terror with a war of terror and that's what George Bush is doing and that's what [the Australian] Government is doing in support of George Bush. To say I'm a tool of the loopy Left, let me tell you almost 70 per cent of Americans agree with me.'

Effectively inhumane

You've got to wonder about the humanity of the 40 people who left a man to die on the side of Mt. Everest so that they could claim the fleeting 'glory' of making it to the summit (according to the SMH today.) The excuse:

'...at 8,500 metres it's extremely difficult to keep yourself alive--let alone keep anyone else alive [...] He was effectively dead ... so we carried on'.
Though equal or worse lapses are recorded every day in war zones, the competitiveness of these adventurers forms absolutely no excuse for choosing to let someone die rather than forgo 15 minutes of fame. The result of a lifetime of infamy apparently did not occur to them as being a consequence. According to the Telegraph, the path to the top is the 'dead zone':
'About 200 people have died on Everest since the first expeditions in the 1920s. The corpses are stepped over by climbers travelling the most popular routes.'

May 22, 2006

Australia's nightmare (revisited)

As the SMH observes, PM Howard has again 'ramped up his rhetoric' in making increasingly frequent calls for 'a full-blooded debate' on uranium and nuclear energy 'like the GST' (with no apparent irony--the GST in Australia of course was implemented without debate or mandate).

Man of Steel is winding up the public again: this time using nuclear energy to make comparisons without a basis ('cleaner and greener' than what?), and to have a tilt at pre-selecting an audience ('some of the people') by arguing:

'...the environmental advantages of going to nuclear power are there for all to see. It is cleaner and greener and therefore some of the people who in the past have opposed it should support it.'
Uranium enrichment (whether as a forerunner to nuclear power or not) is also being hastily pushed in concert by other senior figures in government--leaving the explanation that enrichment is also 'a step on the road to building nuclear weapons' to journalists. Countries close to here are already expressing alarm.

By the way, according to former deputy PM Anthony in his Australian editorial, a nuclear waste deposit is not a 'dump', its a 'hi-tech operation'.