IPA: “be like Gough.” Me: don’t make me lough. #auspol

It’s been reported that among the items on the IPA’s “to-do” list, handed to Head Boy Abbott on his first day at Big School, was an exhortation to emulate the bold, uncompromising vision of Gough Whitlam, the PM who did more in his single term to create the nation we know today than any other, before or since, and who more or less weaponised  bloody-minded determination. 

I would humbly suggest that the fundamental differences between the two are too stark to be reconciled and that the IPA must surely have been huffing nitrous to think Tony could walk that particular walk, or even do a passable impression of the talk. 

Gough had a vision, based in humanism and social justice, which he followed through and largely realised, conservative obstructionism be damned. He had a litany of simple but radical ideas; their single unifying concept was to improve the lives of all Australians. He pursued it with an enviable vigour that sustained him through his cooked-up dismissal and well into his later years.

Abbott, however, had a shopping list from self-interested arch-capitalist science-denialists, little more than half of which he’s filled. Many of his wins have been to simply de-fund or destroy social or scientific programs or initiatives that conflict with his masters’ dogmatic ideologies (many victims of the LNP razor gang had their roots in the Whitlam era); all he’s actually built off his own bat is a less fair, more frightened society while destroying what little trust we had left in our representatives after Labor’s obsessive factionalists handed him the election.

No, Abbott’s no Whitlam-style radical pursuing a bold reform agenda, caution being thrown to the wind. He’s a toadying throwback – an errand boy for anyone with a large enough bank account to get a seat at the table. His vision – or what passes for it – is prescribed to him by others; it is to enable greater profiteering, less accountability and greater access to to government for the billionaires who already dictate conservative policy. 

Abbott’s legacy will not be one of a bold vision for the future, but of a shortsighted smash & grab: a ram-raid where Abbott broke down the door and his overseers filled their pockets and strolled away. 


#LoveWins – Australian Christian Lobby needs to DEAL

Dear Australian Christian Lobby
Regarding your recent Facebook posts of the usual “defence of marriage” kind:
Equality for our friends in America is its own reward – as justice always is – and bodes very well for the future of LGBT people in Australia. After all, we’re not going to have a front bench packed with conservative religious scolds and finger-waggers forever, and equality might even be achieved during their administration, despite their best efforts (which won’t stop them claiming credit for it down the track). 
In the meantime, watching assorted religious authoritarians, fundamentalists and button-down sexual throwbacks freak out and implode is icing on the rainbow cake. Keep swimming against the tide, keep prophesying doom and gloom, keep ignoring the happiness and joy and tangible benefits brought to countries that have removed obstacles to equality – and we’ll keep laughing at your impotent rage. 
However, despite my (and many others’) schadenfreude at watching homophobes the world over gnash their teeth and rend their garments, I hold a small hope that many of you will realise that equality is actually no threat to you, your faith, your marriages, your children, your society or your country, in any way, shape or form, and that you will embrace it as the net gain for human happiness that it is. And I hope for your sake that that realisation will come before history demonstrates with great clarity just how far on the wrong side of history you’ve strayed. 
To those of you intractable in your hatred or fear of those unlike yourselves, those who will never relinquish their claim to privileged and superior status based on your sexuality, as unchosen as that of LGBT people, those who cling to ancient spells to protect you from demons of your own invention: you can go to hell. Or, more accurately, you can stay in the hell of your own foolish fears and shameful hatred.

Movie Corner: Grave of The Fireflies. [h/t/ @TheAVClub]

“Grave of The Fireflies” was beautiful, poignant and explored the effects of war on civilians in a way I’d never seen before. It is an important pacifist film; ironically though, it destroyed me.

Watch it only once. Do not watch it alone. Do not watch it if you’re uncomfortable with sobbing uncontrollably in front of loved ones. Do not show to children, EVER (you – you monster!). Do not recommend that others watch it unless you provide them with the previous caveats, otherwise you will lose those people as friends. This film is as harrowing as it is unforgettable, and they will hold you personally responsible for what it does to them.

Remember that bit in the animated “Animal Farm” where Boxer…is sent away?
Remember that bit in “Neverending Story” where Artax…got stuck in the swamp?
Remember that bit in “Watership Down” where the rabbits…were nothing like the ones in Beatrix Potter stories?

This movie is literally four hundred billion times more sad than all of those things combined and is much longer. Watch with extreme caution. Perhaps from within a little fort made of couch cushions and Kleenex boxes.

Or perhaps not at all. I watched this film not knowing what to expect. “Ooh, Studio Ghibli!” I said. “This will be interesting,” I said, like a damned fool, not imagining for a nanosecond that a cartoon, of all things, could possibly betray me so cold-heartedly. I will never watch this amazing, gorgeous, dispiriting film again. Men in my family have a history of heart trouble, you see.

Nonetheless, I award this film five stars. Five heartbroken little stars, endlessly weeping their twinkly tears into the cold vacuum of an unthinking, uncaring universe.

Pictured: the least harrowing frame from “Fireflies”

Reminder of this film’s existence provided by The AV Club

#gamergate et al., may you quickly become a bad memory (H/T @steve_shives)

Via the facebooks (where this post is doubled) I found an interesting article re hysterical MRAs, #gamergate trolls, pickup artists and angry douches on the web in general. Takeaway message: they’re not angry “nerds” lashing out. They’re just arseholes. The linked article’s a whole four months old (!) but is still accurate in large part.

Money quote:

“These anonymous men aren’t underdogs who have been unfairly excluded from pop culture due to their dense interest in quirky topics. They’re antisocial hatemongers, and one way or another, they will be left behind.”

That’s the thing – the key difference between the comic/gaming/fantasy/scifi/etc fans I’m familiar with (and am) and petulant little online anonymous arse-parrots who want to wreck other people’s shit: “nerds” don’t give a mouldy turd if they’re shut out of “popular culture”. They have their own culture and they didn’t – don’t – actually care if it’s popular. Occasionally you’ll encounter people who prefer it that way – indeed, there may well be a small number of uber-hardcore fans who appear (or just are) utterly unwelcoming to noobs (such people are culturally ubiquitous though, not just limited to niche pursuits), but by and large it’s my experience that fans of so-called “nerd” culture love sharing their love with new fans. After all, what’s so wrong with having more people to share your favourite stuff with?

When I started high school in 1989 I’d come from a tiny primary school (four kids in my final year!) in a little rural bubble. Like most others in my demographic I’d read as many comics as living miles from the nearest newsagent would allow, grown up on ’80s TV and I had a decent C-64 library to while away the hours, but the guys I quickly formed friendships with expanded my cultural horizons in ways I’ll always be grateful for. Library sessions of D&D, Tolkien-worship, C-64 game swapping (and occasional pirating – hopefully the statute of limitations on that little misdemeanour has expired) hours poring over 2000AD comics, endless discussions of hypothetical T-800/Jason Voorhees death-matches, equally endless bong-fuelled Zeppelin-soundtracked SNES/Mega Drive marathons, all leading to later obsessions with Asimov, Iain M Banks, death metal, prog-rock, PC gaming, Terry Goodkind – the things I still love and pursue are in large part thanks to the guys I made friends with at school (and soon afterwards), and whose deep love for their favourite things was both infectious and freely shared.

Again, that’s the key difference between guys who just love comics/gaming/etc and the troll-hordes online. The anonymous wannabe stormtroopers of gamergate and the various other misogynist sub-cultures online simply don’t want to share and they don’t play well with others. And there’s no love in what they do; only a desire to protect what they perceive as their kingdoms against encroachment by the unworthy, based on a mistaken belief that others want to take them away or (especially in the case of the hordes attacking women in gaming) dumb them down or dilute all the fun out of them in the service of social justice (the latest four-letter word among the manchildren, it’s synonymous with “political correctness gone mad”).

So, to those standing on their ramparts (or, more appropriately, hiding in their keeps and sending endless poison-pen missives) and waxing loathsome about how Feminazis or social justice warriors or Beta males are going to ruin their cultures, whether online or meatspace: good. I hope they do. Your cultures, as they stand, are opposed to equality and to inclusiveness and, crucially, are not based on love for what you do. They’re toxic, jealous and far more more cliquish than any adolescent gang I ever encountered in high school. The people in the cultures I’ve long identified with – the movie and music obsessives, lifelong gamers (33 years and counting), fantasy and comic fans, the lovers of all things science-fiction (and science fact) – know very well that the more, the merrier.

This picture better illustrates both my point and that of the linked article. Maybe I should've just posted it with the caption

This picture better illustrates both my point and that of the linked article. Maybe I should’ve just posted it with the caption “OMG THIS”