The NTEU Starts “Striketember” Industrial Action at UQ

01/09/2022

Today I was able to attend and participate in the National Tertiary Education Union’s strike action at the University of Queensland, where I am currently a student. It is the first of what will hopefully be many such actions taken both at UQ’s St Lucia campus and across other universities in Queensland and other states, with a clear message and clear demands – secure work, a real pay rise, and more control.

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Random Writings on Gender

26/08/2022

The following collection of miniature essays is partially random in that they are answers to short answer exam questions I wrote this week for university. Given the stunted word limit of 330 words, I thought I’d elaborate on some points, and add thoughts and content I couldn’t include in the assessment. The particular unit this was for is Gender and Global Politics, a political science unit from the perspective of those much derided, but incredibly useful and fascinating, gender studies. As a straight cis man, studying such topics and applying a feminist lens to global politics is insightful, in much the same way studying Indigenous politics last semester was as a white person.

Each section will start with the question, followed by the exam response then any additional points at the end with references.

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On Accepting the Consensus View of Science

19/07/2022

I had someone reach out to me recently under the pretext of asking a few questions about science and given they perceived me, from my online posts, to be intelligent. Putting aside the fact my scientific knowledge is more that of a keen hobbyist, it pretty quickly became clear the person in question wasn’t just asking questions they were confused about – they were on a personal crusade against what they believed was a conspiracy from the top, and they didn’t get how I, someone “against the grain” so to speak, could accept the lies we had apparently been fed. This is my rather rambling thoughts on the matter.

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2021 Reading List (Part 3)

This is part 3 of my 2021 reading list, following on from parts 1 and 2, and the final one reaching a total of thirty books for the year. Given that last year I only read twelve, I would call that quite an improvement, and I somehow doubt I’ll read quite as many in the coming year, fingers crossed. Part 1 was fairly good, part 2 was hit and miss, but the last ten books I read this year were all great reads that I’d recommend, for the most part. Enjoy!

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Authoritarian Socialism and the Anarchist Alternative

This is the second of two essays I submitted for university this week. For this one the question prompt I chose was “Does socialism always tend towards authoritarianism?” Short answer was no, but I had to write about 1799 more words so this is the long answer talking about the State, Russia, Spain, and anarchism and a bit of democratic confederalism. Title is iffy and unimaginative because screw putting effort into that. All references are down the bottom. Enjoy

Socialism is a school of thought most simply defined by its opposition to capitalism (Heywood 2021: 75). This is, however, an extremely broad range of ideas and there has been much conflict within and between nations, parties and movements about what, and who, constitutes true socialist ideals. Perhaps the greatest of these is the antagonism between democratic and authoritarian visions of socialism. The Twentieth Century saw the rise of authoritarian socialism, manifested primarily through the Russian Revolution in October 1917 and the horrors of the Stalinist regime, and in China under Mao’s Communist Party.

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The Monopoly of Australia’s Major Parties and Political Disenfranchisement

This essay was written for one of my political science units at UQ. It is a response to the question of whether Australia’s major parties enhance or damage our political system. While (hopefully) sticking to the criteria and constraints of the assessment, I have argued the latter. A full reference list is at the end. Enjoy.

Australia’s political system has been dominated by two major contenders dating back to 1909, between the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and what is now the Coalition parties (the Liberal Party of Australia (LPA), the National Party, and, in Queensland, the Liberal National Party (LNP)). While the latter has gone through several iterations and name changes, these two blocs have maintained power between themselves with only tentative challenge from minor parties and Independents in recent years. (Kefford et al 2018). It is the purpose of this article to explore some of the key issues such a restrained system has and the damage it has had on Australian politics and policy.

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Article Review on the Internet and States of Nature

01/09/2021

As with the other piece posted today, this is an assessment item from university (again, that I hope makes sense), this one a review of one of the course readings so far in the semester. I chose this one because, well, mostly I was very low on time because I’m an utter idiot. But also because it was about the internet, which I do happen to know a thing or two about. The TL;DR here is discussing whether the Internet is similar to Hobbes’ State of Nature, as depicted in The Leviathan, or a ‘state within a state’ based on Rousseau’s notion that society is corrupt. My conclusion was that it absolutely is a digital state within many other physical states, and that I disagreed with the author’s (Reeven) middle ground approach and intense focus on net neutrality.

Not as confident with this one as I am with the previous piece, but ah well, here it is.

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Conflicts Within Australia’s Liberal Democracy: Press Freedom and the Right to Privacy

01/09/2021

The following piece is an essay I have written for a university assessment. I seriously hope it makes sense, otherwise there is only disappointment ahead. For a TL;DR, the purpose was to discuss conflicts between two integral parts of the Australian system – liberalism and democracy. This essay essentially puts forward the argument that Australia’s liberal democracy suffers due to assaults on a free press by both the government and corporate power and influences, as well as the invasive domestic surveillance carried out by the government (the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) in particular). The result is a clash between the liberal concepts of the state and private enterprise with the more democratic ideals of the right to information and accountability from the government (in this case through the lens of a genuinely free press), and the right to privacy.

The reference list is also at the end, which happily contains books I have read (and written about) previously. Enjoy, I suppose.

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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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