Advance Australia Fair: ignore the other national histories on offer.

National history is the story that binds ‘us who make up the nation’ into a single entity with a collective memory. It has a purpose and as such we can choose what historical events and realities to put into that story, whilst forgetting the rest. Of the four main current contenders for our national history, I think we should pick ‘Advance Australia Fair’ as the only truly useful one.

In nearly all Western countries, national history binds those who live somewhere with a story of what those who previously lived there were up to, even when the ancestors came from lots of other places. This is particularly true of Australians, some 30% of whom were not born in Australia and some 70% of whom will have one or more grandparents who were not born in Australia. But it also holds for the history of Great Britain, the USA, France, and even Germany: their national histories are not the histories of the ancestors of those who are now British, American, French, or German.

It is crucial for national historians to realise that it is irrelevant whether national history is accurate or balanced. A national history unites those who live in a place into harmony and productivity. We are free to accentuate whatever aspect of the past we need for the purposes of binding the current population in a fruitful story; free to ignore and forget the rest. It is said that winners write history. So let us be winners and choose wisely.

When it comes to the history of Australia, one can currently choose four stories with some historical truth to them. Continue reading

Posted in Cultural Critique, Death and taxes, Democracy, Ethics, Geeky Musings, History, Humour, Indigenous, Life, Politics - national, Race and indigenous, Social, Society | 10 Comments

Latino Film Festival 2017

Top Picks

You’re Killing Me Susana tells the story of Eligio, a man who wakes up one day to find out that his wife Susana has left him without warning. What follows is Eligio’s earnest quest to win his wife back by following her into the United States where he must navigate cross-cultural differences and come to terms with his own chauvinistic masculinity. While Eligio is certainly presented as a caricature of macho insufferability, his wife Susana is not much better – both are equally self-obsessed to the point of interpersonal destruction.
☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB
☆☆☆☆☆ Spectrum Culture
☆☆☆☆ True View Reviews

Eight directors band together to make this omnibus feature Tales of Mexico – a portfolio of Mexican history and its inevitable repetition. Spanning from before the Mexican Revolution to the present day, it depicts key historical events through its portrayal of various families who lived in one particular house over many decades. A diversity of people/residents of the house appear in each of the eight episodic bites encapsulating violence, classism, persecution and nostalgia as a set of shifting paradigms. The hopes, dreams and ideals of these various tenants give birth to a filmic metaphor for Mexico’s transformation. It all comes fully contained and fully expressed within a singular, domestic space.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Partially inspired true events, Woodpeckers is an impossible, intriguing and energetic love story centred on two inmates who communicate with sign language between their respective male and female prisons. Julián is a petty thief who finds himself in the overcrowded Najayo men’s prison after being caught stealing a motorcycle. As he adjusts to his new surroundings, he learns to manipulate the prison system to his own advantage. Against the odds, Julián enters into an unlikely romance with Yanelly, who is herself confined to the Najayo women’s prison next door. In order to communicate, they must learn an elaborate form of sign language, known as woodpecking, right under the noses of the prison guards.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Two elderly spouses, Candelaria and Victor Hugo, live out their days during a period of strict trade embargo in the ‘90s, and have reached the point where they share the bed only for sleeping. She works tirelessly in a hotel laundry, cleaning blankets that are sent through ducts, and the couple’s only passion is a quintuplet of chickens they keep in the house and fawn over as though they were their own children.
Things continue smoothly enough, until the discovery of an illegally smuggled camera turns their lives upside-down. When Victor begins to film his wife, it turns into a sexual game that unwittingly reignites his passion for her. Excited by this revelation, they slowly shift their marriage into the fictional space of the camera lens, blurring the line between what is real and what is make-believe to tell a story rarely told.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Violence is ever-present in the Ecuadorian city of Guayaquil, a product of the anger of those with no voice. Emilio was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and recently inherited a plot of land inhabited by a community of families. In order to force their eviction, he hires an agent to help – the same double-crosser who has been collecting money from the squatters in order to supposedly improve their living standards.
The squatters are not willing to let go of the land – which is all they possess in this world – without putting up a fight. Their leader is willing to negotiate but talks are guaranteed to be tense on either side. Meanwhile, Emilio is caught up in his own dramas over a stray bullet that accidentally killed a person. What results is a disconcerting depiction of what can result from fiscal inequality.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

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Why Blockchain has no economic future.

[expanded from the post on JohnMenadue]

When Bitcoin went public in 2009 it introduced to the world of finance and economics the technology of blockchain. Even the many who thought Bitcoin would never make it as a major currency were intrigued by the BlockChain technology and a large set of new companies have tried to figure out how to offer new services based on blockchain technology. It is still fair to say that very few economists and social scientists understand blockchain, and governments are even further behind.

I will argue that blockchain has no economic future in the regular economy. I will give you the bottom-line, then describe blockchain, discuss its key supposed advantages, and then take it apart as a viable technology by giving you a much more efficient alternative to the same market demand opportunities.

The bottom line for those not interested in the intricacies of blockchains and public trust

The essence of my argument is that a large country can organise a much more trustworthy information system than a distributed network using blockchain can, and at lower costs, meaning that any large economic role for blockchain is easily displaced by a cheaper and even larger national institution.

So in the 19th century, large private companies circulated their own money, in competition with towns and princedoms. In that competition, national governments won, as they will again now.

The reason that the tech community is investing in blockchain companies is partially because some are in love with the technicalities of blockchain, some hope to attract the same criminal and gullible element that Bitcoin has, some lack awareness of the evolution and reality of political systems, and some see a second-best opportunity not yet taken by others. But even in this brief period of missing-in-action governments, large companies will easily outperform blockchain communities on any mayor market. Except the criminal markets, which is hence the only real future of blockchain communities. Continue reading

Posted in bubble, Business, Climate Change, History, Information, Innovation, IT and Internet, Political theory, Politics - national, Science, Social Policy | 9 Comments

Brexit and the considered will of the British People: the Interview

Posted in Democracy, Economics and public policy, Politics - international | 2 Comments

Let’s have another World War!

Sometimes, it feels like 1910 all over again.

Then, a confident Germany was the up-and-coming industrial power house, fearing an even more up-and-coming Russia, with the UK and France desperately holding on to their colonial empires.

Now, a confident China is the up-and-coming industrial powerhouse, fearing an even more up-and-coming India, with the US and its European allies desperately holding on to its global empire.

Then, an international in-bred elite was holding on to far more wealth than it deserved in term of productivity, leading them to support extremism, nationalism, and populism as a means of holding off the tide of socialism and mass discontent.

Now, an international in-bred elite is holding on to far more wealth than it produces, supporting Clinton and Trump, Boris and Macron.

Then, science was threatening to re-structure the world of work radically, with automobiles and telephones making the world a far smaller place than it was before, and with new technology leading to widespread loss of jobs in agriculture and basic trades.

Now, science is re-structuring the world of work radically, with long-distance trade in services and IA driving out the procedural cognitive jobs that keep the peasants and tradesmen of this age busy: administrators, middle-management and I-follow-orders professionals.

Then, belief in magic was still rife, with new migrants in the US and Australia burying shoes in the foundations of the new houses to appease the spirits, and with romantic nationalism blossoming on the Balkans to kick-start a jolly-good-scrap.

Now, belief in magic is even more rife, with witch hunts, fake news, and fairytales in the US (#MeToo, ‘great again’, and DSM V), where the masses reject the notions of innocent till proven guilty and the idea of rationality, and with romantic nationalism blossoming in Scotland, Catalonia, Padania, and god-knows-where.

Then, dooms-sayers were having a field day, ranging from Halley’s Comet that was prophesised to swallow up earth in its 1910 visit, to regular Armageddon following the sinfulness of the times.

Now, there are even more doom-scenarios with widespread support, ranging from the threats to our climate to Islamic fundamentalism to the take-over by robots.

Then, the corrupt were in power, with monarchies, landed aristocrats, oligarchs, and self-congratulating scientists dominating the West, glorifying wars and preaching purity.

Now, well, need I really say it?

So, shall we have another jolly good scrap then to blow away the cobwebs?


Posted in Bullshit, Business, Climate Change, Cultural Critique, Death and taxes, Democracy, Economics and public policy, Employment, Environment, Ethics, Geeky Musings, Gender, History, Humour, Immigration and refugees, Indigenous, Inequality, Information, Innovation, Intellectual Monopoly Privileges, Journalism, Media, Miscellaneous, Music, Philosophy, Political theory, Politics - international, Politics - national, Public and Private Goods, Race and indigenous, regulation, Religion, Science, Social, Social Policy, Society, Sport-general, Theatre, Travel | 5 Comments

Forget Soylent Green – let’s make money out of ‘em

The following is a guest post by RHONDA PRYOR, a recently retired senior manager in the Australian aged care sector. We are hoping Rhonda may become a regular contributor to Troppo.

If you woke up to read the Government had announced that they have a totally new approach to State Schooling, which was to use it solely to make a profit for private and faith based organisations, what would you think?

You read on to discover some of the more chilling features of this new approach include no teacher/pupil ratios – just have as many kids in the class as you want. Oh, and yes, in our new approach to education we won’t even have to employ trained teachers, or if we do it will be ok to employ those that no one else wants. And don’t worry if, in this new corporate profit-making model, the kids get out of hand; it will be ok to medicate them into submission. As for the school canteen you can feed them anything or, on some days nothing at all, and make a profit out of that as well. This opening up of the education system for the sole purpose of being a profit-making enterprise will mean that not only private schools can charge fees, but to ensure a place for your kid in this visionary model of schooling, you might have to sell the family home.

If you read this I suspect you would be outraged, and the Education Minister soon looking at their options, yet this is how we operate aged care in this country.

Continue reading

Posted in Economics and public policy, Ethics, Health | 29 Comments

The #MeToo moment: another disaster for the Democrats?

The #MeToo flood of stories of women who feel abused by men – ranging from lurid stares to straightforward rape – seems like a disaster to me for the Democrats. Not because of the stories themselves, but because of how the progressive media and commentators have reacted to it. It has turned into open man-bashing which will cost the Democrats both votes and funding, whilst buying precious few female votes.

Let’s talk about the man-bashing first.

How did the Huffington Post, that bastion of progressivity, report the issue? It ran with a story by an editor that said

“Women can turn the whole internet into a list of “Me toos,” but it won’t make a difference until men ― all men ― acknowledge how they perpetuate misogyny and commit to making a change.”

This is textbook sexism: ‘all men … perpetuate misogyny’? I should be fired within ten minutes if I asserted that ‘all women’ were guilty of something that bad, but instead of this editor being instantly fired and then derided by senior Democrats, this openly sexist man-bashing has gone unpunished. It’s not too late, you know, this editor could still be fired tomorrow or next week. But it’s not going to happen and that is poisonous for the Democrats. This is their issue and their newspaper, and an editor of it openly advocates male-hatred of the kind that is illegal in many countries. The fact that half of white women voted for Trump despite him being the groper-in-chief tells you not many women change their vote on this issue, but white men have deserted the Democrats in drove and this open hatred of them will keep them away.

Am I over-reacting, picking on an isolated case of zealotry? Nope, the Huffington Post piece was a common reaction amongst the progressive commentariat. Leah Fessle in Quartz thus got away with saying that “our culture raises all men with toxic ideals about masculinity.”

Again, textbook sexism. If she were a man saying similar things about ‘all women’ in the same newspaper, instant unemployment and public humiliation would have been his fate. Again, it’s not too late to fire her next week, but it won’t happen. Continue reading

Posted in bubble, Bullshit, Cultural Critique, Gender, Health, Humour, Information, IT and Internet, Law, Libertarian Musings, Life, Media, Miscellaneous, Philosophy, Religion, Social | 18 Comments