Saturday, March 25, 2006

Hi Ho!

I recently prodded Marco for not posting anything much for a while, and now I find myself in the same position. I am not entirely sure, but I may have already said everything I wanted to say.

I am sure 'Et tu' means 'And you', but I can't be bothered looking it up just now.

I read Jared Diamond's 'Guns, Germs and Steel,' on the suggestion of winstoninabox (the other one wasn't in the library) and didn't find much in it to disagree with. It all seemed very reasonable. You all ought to read it too, so there isn't much point in me trying to condense it to a few paragraphs. As far as it giving guidance to the cultures that are most likely to be successful, it strongly suggests that ones with a range of different power centres, where no single bureaucracy has the power to stifle innovation, are the way to go.

I am following the West Papuan situation with interest. This is one of those rare occasions where what Australia does will make a significant difference to the world.
It seems to me that the Australia/Indonesia relationship is nuch like the US/China relationship writ small and involves pretty much the same essential quandaries.

Every day I thank God that Latham is not Prime Minister. I am disappointed that politicians are lying weasels, but lying about your position on the foundation of our foreign policy is an order of magnitude more significant than lying about whether you will introduce a GST or whether you are giving hundreds of millions of dollars to Saddam Hussein. Rotten weasels. It would be nice if there was a working opposition party in Australia. It would be nicer if it had some principles. It would be even nicer if it had principles that were vaguely sensible. I finally got to see 'Serenity' the other day and was rather disappointed. Politically it was sound, though, and confirmed me in my earlier opinion that there is a 'Buffy Conservatism' which is different from, and nicer, than 'South Park Conservatism'. I should like to see a political movement based on the work of Joss Whedon. Perhaps I should see if there is something on 'Serenity' in 'Film Forensics' that I could comment on? I shall wander off and check...


winstoninabox said...

Damn, now I feel that I have to read it.

And I should so be playing my PSP instead of educating my mindthingy.

Dr. Clam said...

Good, good! Today is also the Annnciation, I have discovered, so I will quote a fragment of my favourite recent Marian hymn, by Green Day:

She sings the revolution
the dawning of our lives
she brings this liberation
that I just can't define
nothing comes to mind

She's a rebel
She's a saint
She's salt of the earth
And she's dangerous

She's a rebel
Missing link on the brink
Of destruction

winstoninabox said...

I've bought Guns, Germs, and Steel, but now I have to read the bugger. I'm a pretty slow reader so don't expect any epiphanies from me about this issue in the near future.

Don't stop blogging Mr. da'Clam. I feel smarter everytime I come here.

Dave said...

With GG&S, I noticed that you can start skimming pretty comfortably in the second half of the book, because it merely expands on all the (innovative, well-reasoned and basically not-very-arguable-with) theories of the first half.

It's quite a decent piece of work though. I'm rather looking forward to getting around to Collapse, his book about failed civilisations, which I expect to be rather mroe controversial.

Dave said...

I also look forward to the Clam take on Serenity, which I suspect I enjoyed a bit more than you did (even if there are one or two holes that it was a bit difficult to miss)...

Marco said...

What do you mean "rare occasions where what Australia does will make a significant difference to the world". I think the various endeavours of our military are extremely world-influencing. The West Papuan (and Sierra Leaonean) people seeking asylum (to me) only demonstrates our rough consistency of going by the book with asylum seekers in general. If they reach our mainland, then they are to be given a fair hearing. If not, they are kept out our system with little thought to fairness. Doesn't seem so world changing to me. Free trade in banananananas - that's world changing.

Dr. Clam said...

Nope, you have the book wrong. I don't think the mainland really comes into it.
If we are the country of first refuge, and the asylum seekers haven't destroyed their documents, they can expect a very favourable hearing.
If potential refugees have passed through n+1 other countries to get here and have destroyed their documents, like the typical 2001 Tampa passenger, they deserve to be treated with a fair dose of suspicion.
The Indonesian rule over West Papua is as illegitimate as the Communist rule over the renegade mainland provinces, but you can't say so if you are anyone more exalted than a lowly blogger. If this suddenly becomes a media cause celebre with tens of thousands of refugees taking their chances, the immediate geopolitical neighbourhood will become more tricksy than at any other time post-1965. While the endeavours of our military have been pretty spiffy, I don't think they have had an appreciable impact on American policy, but since Indonesia is not a significant slice of the American foreign policy pie-chart, I think this is a case where what the tail does has a good chance of wagging the dog.

Marco said...

I think we will have as much influence as we had in East Timor, Solomon Islands and Papua new Guinea to name a few. West Papua really is part of our sphere of influence. But if you think there is going to be a torrent of follow-up refugees from West Papua, you have mis-read the details also. Even in East Timor, there was only limited passage of refugees to Australia. West Papuan asylum seekers are just another diplomatic Indonesia-OZ spanner in the works like Bali bombings, Schapelle, east timor, illegal fishing, people traffickers etc.