Greek Film Festival

Top Picks

Six average guys are on a private yacht in the Aegean Sea for who-really-knows-what reason. When a mechanical hiccup leaves them marooned at sea, they choose to wile away the time playing a game of one-upmanship called ‘Chevalier’. Amid the penis measuring, Ikea furniture assemblage and comparison of cellular ringtones, an insightful and wry unpicking of human male pack behaviour occurs, as well as the revelation of personalities within the pack. But, as one of the participants admits, “Even if you win, it doesn’t mean you’re best in general.”
☆☆☆☆ Cine Vue
☆☆☆☆☆ Eye For Film
☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB
☆☆☆☆☆ Slant Magazine

Three separate narratives each following a love story between a foreigner and a Greek. Each story represents a different generation falling in love during a time of socioeconomic turmoil that dominates Southern Europe as a whole, only to connect as a single story in the end.
☆☆☆☆☆ Cine Pivates
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Kostis arrives on the little island of Antiparos in the middle of winter where he is the new GP. What starts as a drab community transforms into an island paradise as soon as the summer swings around. When the much younger, sexually liberated tourist Anna arrives, Kostis does everything he can to impress her, even if it means outstaying his welcome. A visually seductive depiction of a Greek summer, Suntan is an enthralling exercise in voyeurism and the violent depths of one man’s obsession.
☆☆☆☆ Cine Pivates
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

The Lobster is a love story set in a dystopian future. In this future, according to the rules of The City, single people are arrested and transferred to The Hotel. Upon check-in, they are obliged to find a love match in 45 days and, if they fail, they are transformed into an animal of their choosing and released into The Woods. David, a desperate Man, escapes from The Hotel to The Woods where The Loners live. Unwittingly, he falls in love, although ‘coupling’ is against the rules of The Loners who live in proud defiance of The City.
☆☆☆☆ Cine Vue
☆☆☆☆☆ Eye For Film
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
☆☆☆☆☆ Slant Magazine

Stories of terminal cancer are unlikely to be audience favourites but Smac well and truly bucks this trend with its profound, loving and ultimately fulfilling depiction of one woman’s fight against her mortality. Eleni is a middle-aged gay woman who has just been diagnosed with cancer. After overcoming the initial shock, she’s given a chance to look at her life in a different way. She brings a homeless man into her home to stave off her fear of dying alone but soon realises it is not death she fears – it is something else.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

A series of secret journals were found buried beneath an olive tree on the island of Trikeri, the site of a concentration camp during the Greek Civil War of 1946 to 1949. Inside were stories of thousands of everyday women – political exiles – accused of crimes they did not commit.
Despite being suppressed for years, their stories were so fierce they stretched across the decades to inspire a young Greek woman in New York, Stavroula Toska, to track down the few surviving women who were teenagers at the time. Two of the original notebook writers even emerged. And little did she know that asking her own mother a simple question about the civil war would change her life forever.
☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB

A young opera singer in her final year of studies in Poland is struck by a mysterious affliction that renders her unable to speak. She returns to her intellectual family in Greece but finds they treat her – and her silence – with hostility. She detaches herself and retreats into an isolated world where she spirals into the darkness of the past.
☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB

A poor man has one purpose in life: to immigrate to America. But when that moment comes thanks to the help of a loyal friend and his fiancée, he gets sidetracked and all dreams of greater things fall through.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

The first Greek film to make official selection at the Cannes Film Festival in a decade and winner of the festival’s prestigious Un Certain Regard award, the highly stylised and absurdist Dogtooth sees a father and mother construct a domestic ‘Eden’ where their docile teens can be protected from a contaminated world.
Unfolding in a deadpan fashion with a satirical black comic vein, the film depicts a hermetically enclosed compound, which even has its own innocuous vocabulary, where a ‘vagina’ is a keyboard, a ‘zombie’ is a yellow flower and cats are considered ruthless predators. Very few outsiders venture inside their walls, until the father engages a female security worker to assist his son with a necessary bodily function – sexual release.
☆☆☆☆☆ Eye For Film
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
☆☆☆☆☆ Slant Magazine

Under company auspices known as Alps, a paramedic who calls himself Mont Blanc creates a ‘service for hire’ where the employees – a nurse, a gymnast and her coach – stand in for dead people by appointment, as hired by the relatives, friends or colleagues of the deceased. Although the paramedic as leader demands a strict discipline regime from his employees, the nurse thinks otherwise.
☆☆☆☆ Cine Vue
☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB
☆☆☆☆☆ Slant Magazine
☆☆☆☆ The Guardian

Posted in Films and TV | Leave a comment

It’s a Puzzle

Black to play
N Batsiashvili vs N Zhukova

22. …?
See game for solution.
Difficulty Scale

This may be a two star puzzle, but I couldn’t get it out. Can you? Click through to the game for the answer.

Posted in Chess | Leave a comment

Penalty rates how valuable are they: some evidence

Valuing Alternative Work Arrangements
by Alexandre Mas, Amanda Pallais – #22708 (LS)

Abstract:

We use a field experiment to study how workers value alternative work
arrangements. During the application process to staff a national
call center, we randomly offered applicants choices between
traditional M-F 9 am – 5 pm office positions and alternatives. These
alternatives include flexible scheduling, working from home, and
positions that give the employer discretion over scheduling. We
randomly varied the wage difference between the traditional option
and the alternative, allowing us to estimate the entire distribution
of willingness to pay (WTP) for these alternatives. We validate our
results using a nationally-representative survey. The great majority
of workers are not willing to pay for flexible scheduling relative to
a traditional schedule: either the ability to choose the days and
times of work or the number of hours they work. However, the average
worker is willing to give up 20% of wages to avoid a schedule set by
an employer on a week’s notice. This largely represents workers’
aversion to evening and weekend work, not scheduling
unpredictability. Traditional M-F 9 am – 5 pm schedules are
preferred by most jobseekers. Despite the fact that the average
worker isn’t willing to pay for scheduling flexibility, a tail of
workers with high WTP allows for sizable compensating differentials.
Of the worker-friendly options we test, workers are willing to pay
the most (8% of wages) for the option of working from home. Women,
particularly those with young children, have higher WTP for work from
home and to avoid employer scheduling discretion. They are slightly
more likely to be in jobs with these amenities, but the differences
are not large enough to explain any wage gaps.

Posted in Economics and public policy | 2 Comments

Care: the essay

Image result for care

This essay is the third of three starting with my essay on the Evaluator General in two parts followed by an essay responding to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into competition in human services.

Part One

A couple of days ago I came upon care ethics via Virginia Held’s book The Ethics of Care (2006) with some excitement. The ethics of care grew out of feminism, but I think the issues it raises transcend feminism and I’ll conclude by arguing that in some ways its feminist roots are holding back its potential power. Though of course, it had antecedents, care ethics is associated with Carol Gilligan’s argument that dominant ethical frameworks embody masculine psychology or, if you like, dramaturgy. Gilligan developed her moral theory in contrast to her mentor Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. Gilligan’s In a Different Voice argued that men’s and women’s ethical frames are different. Where men’s ethical frames embodied notions of justice and abstract duties or obligations tested in Kohlberg’s approach, womens’ perspectives privileged empathy and compassion which were defined in concrete relationships.   1 Continue reading

  1.  From Wikipedia: Subsequent research suggests that the discrepancy in being oriented towards care-based or justice-based ethical approaches may be based on gender differences, or on differences in actual current life situations of the genders.
Posted in Cultural Critique, Economics and public policy, Innovation, Philosophy, Political theory | 20 Comments

Care

Part One

Screen Shot 2016-09-28 at 12.30.44 AM

Note: this post has been superseded by the full essay.

A couple of days ago I came upon care ethics via Virginia Held’s book The Ethics of Care (2006) with some excitement. The ethics of care grew out of feminism, but I think the issues it raises transcend feminism and I’ll conclude by arguing that in some ways its feminist roots are holding back its potential power. Though of course, it had antecedents, care ethics is associated with Carol Gilligan’s argument that dominant ethical frameworks embody masculine psychology or, if you like, dramaturgy. Gilligan developed her moral theory in contrast to her mentor Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. Gilligan’s In a Different Voice argued that men’s and women’s ethical frames are different. Where men’s ethical frames embodied notions of justice and abstract duties or obligations tested in Kohlberg’s approach, womens’ perspectives privileged empathy and compassion which were defined in concrete relationships.   1

Here’s an outline of the structure of ‘care ethics’ in a review of Virginia Held’s book.

Held’s account of the ethics of care starts with a list of five defining features. First, “the focus of the ethics of care is on the compelling moral salience of attending to and meeting the needs of the particular others for whom we take responsibility” (10). Second, from an epistemological perspective the ethics of care values emotions, and appreciates emotions and relational capabilities that enable morally concerned persons in actual interpersonal contexts to understand what would be best. Third, “the ethics of care rejects the view of the dominant moral theories that the more abstract the reasoning about a moral problem, the better because the more likely [to?] avoid bias and arbitrariness, the more nearly to achieve impartiality. The ethics of care respects rather than removes itself from the claims of particular others with whom we share actual relationships” (11). Fourth, the ethics of care proposes a novel conceptualization of the distinction between private and public and of their respective importance. Finally, the ethics of care adopts a relational conception of persons, which is in stark contrast to Liberal individualism.

I don’t know enough to say that this approach is ‘better’ than those it defines itself against, but it certainly speaks to my frustrations with the dominant paradigm – something I expressed in a comment on the Facebook post of Robert Wiblin, one of the (I think) founders of 80,000 hours a charity of which I’m a big fan) which asked “If you only had 3 minutes to give a random person (similar to your social network) advice, what’s the most useful thing you could tell them?” Amid lots of worthwhile tips for life, I wrote this. “Life is not a toy model, a trolley problem or a piece of inspiration porn. It’s life.”. I was trying to convey my unease at the question. It is, of course, a perfectly acceptable question to ask so no criticism was intended. Every discussion must start somewhere – with the universal or the particular, the abstract or the concrete – with the interest being in how each relates to the other.

Still our culture is awash with abstraction, universalism and instrumentalism and as such desperately in need of balancing with precisely the kind of thing that the ethics of care can offer. So here are some introductory reflections. This part concludes with some observations on Adam Smith as the original ‘care ethics’ guy. Subsequent parts at least as currently planned will talk about:

  • the implications of this framework for what we’re all assured is the ‘market’ in human services.
  • the way in which feminism as an ideological vehicle for women’s interests tends to underplay the wider universal significance I’ve intimated it has above.

Adam Smith and the ethics of care

Adam Smith’s work was built on the ethics of care. He was a very urbane guy, not easily roused to passion. But the two most passionate passages in his whole oeuvre (I’m not too sure what an “oeuvre” is – though I usually have mine poached – but I’m pretty sure it fits right here between the beginning and end of this sentence) are one referring to the tribes of Africa being captured as slaves as “those nations of heroes” and this one:  Continue reading

  1.  From Wikipedia: Subsequent research suggests that the discrepancy in being oriented towards care-based or justice-based ethical approaches may be based on gender differences, or on differences in actual current life situations of the genders.
Posted in Cultural Critique, Economics and public policy, Parenting, Philosophy, Political theory, Public and Private Goods | 12 Comments

Health care in pets and humans: the more things change …

Looks quite interesting

Is American Pet Health Care (Also) Uniquely Inefficient?
by Liran Einav, Amy Finkelstein, Atul Gupta – #22669 (AG HC PE)

Abstract:

We document four similarities between American human healthcare and
American pet care: (i) rapid growth in spending as a share of GDP
over the last two decades; (ii) strong income-spending gradient;
(iii) rapid growth in the employment of healthcare providers; and
(iv) similar propensity for high spending at the end of life. We
speculate about possible implications of these similar patterns in
two sectors that share many common features but differ markedly in
institutional features, such as the prevalence of insurance and of
public sector involvement.

Posted in Economics and public policy | 2 Comments

Would the High Court uphold sections 18C and 18D of the RDA on constitutional grounds?

Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (Cth) is a perennial favourite topic for right wing politicians, and conservative pundit Andrew Bolt has never stopped moaning about it ever since he ended up on the wrong side of a Federal Court decision Eatock v Bolt in 2011.

But there is also some respectable legal opinion questioning the constitutionality of section 18C. The most recent is an article by barrister Louise Clegg in the Australian Financial Review a couple of days ago.  She fearlessly asserts that the High Court is likely to strike it down when or if a suitable case comes before it.  She claims that High Court Chief Justice Robert French gave a thinly veiled warning to that effect in a speech late last year.

I’m nowhere near that certain, but I certainly have some doubts about the constitutionality of section 18C. I mused about them in a long and rather rambling post about 5 years ago, shortly after the Eatock v Bolt decision.   The occasion was a speech given at CDU  by then Federal Court Chief Justice Patrick Keane, who like French CJ also expressed some careful concerns about proscribing political speech which was merely “offensive” or “insulting”. Keane too is now a Justice of the High Court. His speech was titled “Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones but Names Will Never Hurt Me”. Despite that title and his expressed concerns, Keane CJ (as he then was) suggested that perhaps prohibiting free speech which undermined “human dignity” might be democratically (and presumably constitutionally) acceptable. He drew inspiration from American jurisprudential scholar Jeremy Waldron, who advocates human dignity as a suitable constitutional touchstone for courts to employ in reconciling and prioritising competing rights.

The problem with the notion of “human dignity” and its infringement as a determinant of whether political speech can properly be prohibited in a democratic society where political communication is constitutionally protected (e.g. Australia and the US)  is that it is potentially just as indeterminate as section 18C in its current terms.  In one sense it is a classic example of what Julius Stone called a “category of illusory reference”. A judge who disagrees subjectively with a particular exercise of free speech rights may have no more difficulty in labelling it a breach of “human dignity” than labelling it an act which “is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people”.

In any event, I thought it might be worth reproducing my musings about the constitutionality of section 18C over the fold:

Continue reading

Posted in Law | 8 Comments