As the festival is now upon us in Melbourne anyway, I’m sticking it up the front of Troppo for a while for your delectation. Below is a timetable of the French Film Festival in Melbourne together with a table of the films rating better than most. I hope it helps you get to see a film. And if you want to find the films in cities other than Melbourne, then feel free to hightail it to the festival website.
|Friends from France
|Jules and Jim
|Me, Myself and Mum
|Our Heroes Died Tonight
|The 400 Blows
|Venus in Fur
One year ago our daughter died and was born.
We called her Sakura, for the cherry blossom. Sakura is a thing of beauty that does not, and cannot last, longer than a short time. But we meet its brief time in this world with joy and not sorrow.
Not surprisingly, I guess, thinking about her this way doesn’t make it hurt any less.
This is no epic tragedy. There are no scoundrels or blackguards here. No might-have-beens or woeful choices. No one to blame – not even ourselves as much as we have tried. It was just an indifferent shuffling of chromosomes that determined that she should never live.
So why am I writing this? To prove that she existed? We have the papers to prove that, and a tiny urn in the bedroom holding that part of her ashes I could not bear to give to the sea. To let others know that they are not alone? Why? I cannot offer them any comfort, or pretend it is there to be had.
Maybe we just want to know why we miss so much someone we never knew.
All we know is she was beautiful.
“This hand is not the color of yours. But if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand, you also feel pain. The blood that will flow from mine will be the same color as yours. I am a man.”
Standing Bear to a Nebraska court, May 1879. More here. HT Three Quarks
I recall seeing an exciting young player from Canberra at a Doberl Cup about seven or eight years ago. (The Doberl Cup is a regular fixture of the Canberra calendar. The comp was endowed by Mr Doberl with enough money so that the best from Australia and a few additional grandmasters from further afield come and fight for the cup.)
Junta Ikeda was the kid’s name and he was given to sharp and clever play, unafraid to sacrifice to gain an edge. So it was fun as I looked at today’s chess problem from Chessgames.com to see his name. Sure enough the problem was to see how he won. I worked it out I’m pleased to say. And if you play through the game you can see what I mean about his swashbuckling style.
I don’t pretend to understand the detail of the current situation between Russia and Ukraine, but it seems entirely reasonable to fear that this may well be the most significant threat to world peace since the Berlin Wall Crisis and Cuban Missile Crisis of the early 1960s.
Even if the situation does not spiral into open warfare (which thankfully still currently seems unlikely), it already poses a significant threat to the entire international order of stable national sovereignty and territorial integrity that has developed under the auspices of the United Nations in the wake of World War II. Situations where a nation invades a neighbour for the purpose of territorial aggrandisement are now so rare as to be almost unheard of, at least in the First World. We tend to forget that “might is right” was pretty much the international behavioural norm for the whole of human history up until that time. Indeed the entire phenomenon of European colonialism was based on a combination of the “might is right” philosophy and the inherently racist assumption of the manifest inferiority of non-white races.
It may well be that Russia has a plausible relatively recent historical claim that Crimea was once part of its territory, and its desire to secure ongoing access to the port city of Sevastopol for its navy fleet is at least understandable in geopolitical terms. Nevertheless, Russia’s apparent invasion of Crimea over the last few days is undeniably totally contrary to modern international law. If allowed to stand completely unchallenged, the modern system of national sovereignty underpinned by the United Nations may be imperilled. For example, one could imagine China using this precedent to justify a later invasion of Taiwan, to which it has historical territorial claims at least as plausible as Russia’s claims to Crimea.
Vanavil is a school for the poorest of the poor in the middle of Tamil Nadu, India. It started in 2005 as an orphanage/school for the children of two historically nomadic communities left stranded by the devastating tsunami of 2004. Many of the children of these two communities (the Narikuravar and Boom Boom Mattukarar) who were taken in had lost their parents and were destined for a life of begging or worse. Their luck was that a few well-to-do committed people decided to look after them. Now, it is a school of around 140 children drawn from all ethnicities in Tamil Nadu. Located in the countryside, where land and buildings are cheaper and there is less temptation for the children to turn to begging, 10 low-paid teachers are running an orphanage plus elementary school.
One of these committed do-gooders is a friend of mine, Matthew Wennersten, a Jewish American married to an Indian wife who, as a former school teacher, became interested in the fate of these kids. He doesn’t teach at the school nor does he tell them what to do, but he does smooth over things with the state schooling administrators and with corporate sponsors. He wants to increase the shoe-string budget of this school and asked me whether I knew any Australians willing to help out. Thus this bleg. See over the fold for more on this school.
I went to visit this school last week. Continue reading
From Chessbase where you can play the game
In the above video we see a bullet game, played in Kragerø (Norway), between Magnus Carlsen and his second Laurent Fressinet. It was posted on August 6 2013 on Magnus’ Facebook page, where it apprears with the remark: “Winning a blitz game against my good friend at Kragerø. He’s too weak and too slow, but a very nice guy” and a big smiley. The video shows the world number one getting into trouble against his second (ranked number three in France), but then pulling off a wonderful mate in the middle of the board. Once again the Carlsen strategy seems to be: always give your opponent ample opportunity to make mistakes.
Attentive Troppodillians will recall Rooter, one of Troppo’s stable of cars, frequently flown to locations around the world in order for the winners of our comps to to take do a few doughies with it. Now comes the learned journal article on Rooter (pdf). It’s a hoax generated by a computer program. And more than a hundred of them have been accepted to conference databases. Pretty amazing stuff.
Is there any area of public policy in Australia that gets weaker treatment than agriculture these days? Whether it’s milk prices or agricultural investment, the normal Australian tough-mindedness about policy gets shunted aside in favour of emotive puffery. Not too many people want to be tough-minded when it comes to our farmers – not nearly as tough-minded, anyway, as they were when they were taking the subsidies away from the TCF industries employing migrant women in Melbourne in the 1980s.
Now I can think of a few reasons for this.
- Lack of adaptability: People who have lived on a farm all their lives will find it really hard to do anything else. They may be tough but they’re really not that adaptable that they could just move into town and settle down running a milk bar. And no-one wants to shove them off the farm just because they can’t make a go of it.
- Effort: Farmers are actually working extremely hard, which to most people (me included) makes them more deserving than some.
- Nostalgia: Clem Smith, Manangatang farmer, has a higher and longer-established place in our national mythos than Vera Dimopoulos, Coburg house cleaner and former seamstress.
- Distance: Most of us live a long way from farming communities, so we are free to breathe in the myth of farming without observing the less pleasant realities.
- Our emotional relationship to food: The food issue somehow trigger things in our psyche that make us more amenable to bad policy solutions.
So as we prepare to read the coverage of the latest drought relief announcement, here are a few ideas on drought relief and farm policy that seem in danger of getting lost in the dust:
Relaxing Occupational Licensing Requirements: Analyzing Wages and Prices for a Medical Service
by Morris M. Kleiner, Allison Marier, Kyoung Won Park, Coady Wing
Occupational licensing laws have been relaxed in a large number of U.S. states to give nurse practitioners the ability to perform more tasks without the supervision of medical doctors. We investigate how these regulations may affect wages, employment, costs, and quality of providing certain types of medical services. We find that when only physicians are allowed to prescribe controlled substances that this is associated with a reduction in nurse practitioner wages, and increases in physician wages suggesting some substitution among these occupations. Furthermore, our estimates show that prescription restrictions lead to a reduction in hours worked by nurse practitioners and are associated with increases in physician hours worked. Our analysis of insurance claims data shows that the more rigid regulations increase the price of a well-child medical exam by 3 to 16 %. However, our analysis finds no evidence that the changes in regulatory policy are reflected in outcomes such as infant mortality rates or malpractice premiums. Overall, our results suggest that these more restrictive state licensing practices are associated with changes in wages and employment patterns, and also increase the costs of routine medical care, but do not seem to influence health care quality.