Australia Day: Triple J, MLA, and the Symbolic Smokescreen

07/06/2021

(The following piece is my essay assessment for Media and Society at the University of Queensland).

The Australia Day debate surrounding the “Change the Date” movement has generated growing controversy every year as we get closer and closer to January 26th. The aim of the movement is to move Australia Day away from the darker and more brutal aspects of Australia’s history, much of which sprung from the declaration of a British penal colony in 1788. Rather than a celebration, many dissident voices view the day as one of mourning, the beginning of an invasion and wiping out of the indigenous populations and their land and traditions. Much has been done in recent decades to cement the dominant hegemonic view of a celebratory white (and generally male) experience, including attempts to sanitise this image (Brooker, 2017)1.

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On George Orwell

08/05/2021

George Orwell is a name everyone learns, at least in the West as far as I know, during school. Animal Farm and 1984 are the two books written by him that we are told to read and write some analysis of. They are both antitotalitarian works, with Animal Farm being based on the Russian Revolution and led by Lenin and the Bolsheviks, and 1984 being a scary predictor of surveillance. And that’s about it. That’s all I learned about him in school. Of course, there’s much more, and not all of it is good.

The Twitter hellscape was quick to mob me on that.

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The Abolition of Borders Requires Abolishing the State

02/05/2021

It has become a bit of a cliché in movies, TV shows, games, etc. when in or around some walled off or secure location to suggest, “what if it was not meant to keep us out, but to keep something in”. The Flood in Halo, for some reason, is the first that comes to mind. I recently finished reading Against the Grain by James C. Scott about the earliest history of whar we would now call “States”, the beginnings of “civilisation”. When we think of walls and borders, it’s usually in relation to keeping things or people out. But it has the inverse effect too – borders keep us in thrall to the State.

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The Management of Meaning in Australian Journalism

20/03/2021

The art of communication has become highly coveted in today’s global and highly connected societies and economies. Whether it’s PR spinning a positive image for a corporation, a creative team selling a hit advertising campaign, or journalists telling the news, professional communicators reach into every aspect of our lives. Some can, and do, have immense power over our perceptions of reality, particularly in the political realm. But while these communicators have the power to disperse meaning, they aren’t always the ones making it.

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First Year Textbook DESTROYS My Career

13/03/2021

Due to a complete lack of direction in life and an astounding cynicism towards the systems that govern it, I have returned to university to study the so-called final and sacred vanguard holding the world’s democracies up like Atlas does the globe – journalism! Buckle up, it’s a journey to piss off some academics and “professional communicators”!

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All Must Suffer as History Did: Student Debt

07/02/2021

This is a strange argument I see from a lot of “conservative” voices online, usually in the form of a disingenuous attack on decent social and economic policy and as a defense for the “free market”. The rationale behind it is that past generations had to work hard and pay their dues to reach where they are today, so all these entitled young folk need to sit down and wait in line. They must struggle and face the same uphill battles, otherwise it is (somehow) an injustice to those who came before.

But isn’t life supposed to get better for future generations as society “improves”?

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Outsourcing Deliberation: Political Misinformation Online

04/02/2021

Through the rambling redundant sections, forced jokes (except the one that sounded like something straight out of a Discworld novel*), and seemingly irrelevant personal anecdotes, the book The Knowledge Illusion: The myth of individual thought and the power of collective wisdom has (thankfully) offered up a few worthwhile points as I read it. In particular, the discussion on intuition and deliberation was interesting. Intuition is your immediate response to something, whereas deliberation is taking a moment to properly consider and reflect on it beforehand (or in hindsight). With social media today however, especially in political circles, many people do “deliberate” – they just get someone else to do it for them.

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Communities of Knowledge: The Power of Networks

30/01/2021

I recently bought a book (which has joined my daunting and ever growing to-be-read pile) called The Knowledge Illusion. The subtitle really caught my eye: “The myth of individual thought and the power of collective wisdom”. Perhaps the book may change my mind on the individual thought front – I think individual thought is still extremely important and powerful – but the notion of collective wisdom had me making parallels with other fields, from neuroscience to the cosmos. I think it is undeniable, if not plainly obvious, that creating a community of open knowledge is a natural and necessary part of any society or group.

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My 2020 Reading List

30/12/2020

As this rather wretched and exhausting year comes to a close, I looked back at my list from 2019 and laughed sadly at my optimistic plans to read more in 2020. Perhaps I did when you count news, analysis, etc. online, but in terms of books it was disastrously minimal. However, the books I did read offered brilliant insights or just fascinating bits of knowledge. So, in no real order:

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Historical Amnesia Goes Both Ways

07/12/2020

The first time I heard the term historical amnesia, it was in relation to a discussion about American exceptionalism and the masses “forgetting” the more bothersome parts of their history of involvement (ironically, I can’t recall the specific source or case I first came across). But, rereading Noam Chomsky’s On Anarchism (again, ironically because at the time I read it, I did so without any real focus or retention), the now seemingly obvious opposite is also true: that the true victories and battles fought by the masses themselves are also victim to this international blank slate.

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