James Bond Fridays – Dr No

So after receiving the very fun gift of all the James Bond films on DVD, the Matheson Family are embarking on James Bond Friday nights: working chronologically through the Bond films from start to finish. So obviously we got going with Dr No.

The most obvious thing about this film is how well it stands up for a 50 year old film. Certainly all the standard Bond aspects are there: the girls, the action and the witticisms, and it is no surprise that this film sets up such an epic franchise given a solid foundation. From the moment Connery shows up he rides that delicate balance between James Dean über cool and actually being likeable.

Naturally this film is outright sexist, though I have a feeling it will get worse in the franchise before it gets better. Ursula Andress is renowned for looking fantastic in this film, but is wholly unbelievable as a generically European diver. The villain, Dr No is not the strongest Bond villain by any measure, but he works well enough. This is a good Bond, and it holds up remarkably well in 2012, but it is clear that the Bond films picked up momentum later from this start.

No idea if I’ll keep blogging the Bonds, but this was fun to start with.


The Awareness Myth

I realise that it’s always a shock to see something actually being posted on this blog, but meh.

My current favourite hobby horse is the degree to which “awareness” has become the new model of social action. In some ways it really started (at least in my mind) with the Make Poverty History campaign and Bono’s call that “we don’t want your money, we want your voice”. And while I get that, it seems to me that the vast majority of Gen Y is being passed a pale imitation of activism: where it doesn’t cost you anything except for a little badge on your Twitter avatar or a Facebook status message. The grand-mother of them all is the ubiquitous Breast Cancer Awareness campaigns. Is it too terse to say that perhaps the battle for Breast Cancer Awareness(TM) has been run and won? Are there really women still out there not aware of the need to check with their doctor about any lumps?

This was spurred on by seeing the magnificent opposite. Last night I saw “The Most Dangerous Man In America”, a doco on Daniel Ellsberg who released the Pentagon Papers. He was an defence analyst who made the decision to release masses of documents on the Vietnam War: showing that the US were essentially in it to save face. I was incredibly struck by an press-conference in the film where Ellsberg was being asked whether he was concerned that he was risking a jail term by releasing these papers. He replied: “Wouldn’t you go to jail to end this war?”

Now I’m not on my way to jail, but I refuse to believe that anything of value comes without a cost. Much as I love U2’s music, I’ll take Ellsberg’s activism over Bono’s any day.

Fantasy Election

Having voiced my distaste for the current options in the Federal Election, and with lots of people (myself included) getting caught up in fantasy football competitions like SuperCoach and DreamTeam, I wondered what this election might instead look like with the party leaders I’d prefer to have the option of voting for. So here it is, my Fantasy Election dream team.

Labor Party: Lindsay Tanner

Sure Lindsay is officially stepping down at this election, but you can’t tell me that the Labor leadership wouldn’t tempt this man to make a run at glory. And Lindsay is one of the best things about the Rudd government: the one member of the “gang of four” you felt could genuinely be trusted and a man who genuinely believes in things and speaks intelligently about why he does so.

Interchange: Penny Wong impressed me on Q and A last night. Mind you I reckon I’d almost take anyn of the Labor politicians without the “faceless back-room hacks”.

Liberal Party: Malcolm Turnbull

Maybe he just feels let off the leash now he’s a glorified back-bencher, but Malcolm was very impressive last night on Q&A. He showed that he actually had vision for the nation that didn’t involve shutting the front door and bagging out the other guy. While I think he got a bit lost in his first attempt at the Liberal Party leadership I’m pretty certain that he wouldn’t take the same crap if he got another go around.

Interchange: Ummmm. Well. Would it be too late to get Fraser back? Perhaps Joe Hockey on a really good day, but it’d be touch and go.

Greens: Christine Milne

Bob Brown is a little past it for my liking, and while I have little doubt the man is passionate he usually comes across as though he’s just watched “How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days” for every day for four months and has completely lost the will to keep his eyes open. Christine Milne in contrast actually composes well constructed arguments in response to the sort of lines that have historically always been used against the Greens (blah blah hippies, blah blah unrealistic, blah blah blah).

Interchange: Do the Greens have anyone else in parliament? Let’s leave this as is.

Democrats (or perhaps just as an independent): Andrew Bartlett

Sure he’s running for the Greens in the House of Reps this year, and the Dems are well and truly dead (buried and cremated?) but Andrew Bartlett is still one of the best thinkers in Aussie politics, and the parliament is much much poorer for his absence. His blog is still worth a read.

That’s my ideal election: at least with the poor standard of politicians we have on offer right at the moment. Feel free to submit your own if you’re the kind of politics nerd who thinks about these things too.

Policy is dead, long live the Spin

I watched the “Great Debate” (or should that be “Grate Debate”, given the vocal characteristics of both our leadership options in this election) last night. Has there ever been two parties more desperately trying to convince you that the other is unelectable, without actually providing any compelling reason to vote for them? It will surprise nobody that I lean well to the left, but I was hoping at least that the nominally left Labor Party (whose current leader I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at a TFA event) would provide some positive policy focus, but instead all she seemed willing to talk about was the ways in which a Liberal government would hurt the world.

Abbott was worse: even his summation failed to provide any positive policy that wasn’t just a reaction to the Labor party. The sole time he impressed was when he got on the subject of paid parental leave: a position that is surely from the playbook of the other party and a clever attempt to bring some dissatisfied Labor supporters across.

But the saddest part about politics this year and every year for as long as I’ve been allowed to vote is that the migration of about 2000 desperate people a year (in a country who reportedly takes about 300,000 a year) will define how a huge percentage of constituents vote, and will likely decide the election whichever way it goes. It’s the most pathetic issue, and apparently the only way to make it work for you is to see who can possibly be the nastiest.

So I’ll be voting, but certainly not for either of these two disgraceful attempts at political parties, and I’m definitely not happy about having to vote for the guys who will end up with it. Politics is very hard to love these days.

The “iPad Revolution”

Here’s a video, and two thoughts that are sadly in conflict:

  1. I can’t watch this video without believing, at least for a moment or two – that this piece of technology would make me a happier, more complete person. It’s a fantastically brilliant piece of advertising.
  2. Promises like this feel to me to be an alternate gospel.

Google taking on China

We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

via Official Google Blog: A new approach to China.

While I realise lots of you will have heard this news already, congratulations are in order to Google who have decided that it’s not enough just to say you’re not going to be evil, and are instead doing something about it as well.

Making the rules help the bad guy

I found this and thought it summed up the Western world’s response to terrorism as best as I can understand it. For the uninitiated LeBron James is probably the best basketball player in the world at the moment (other’s might tell you it’s Kobe Bryant, but they’re wrong).

“I’m quite sure I could beat LeBron James in a game of one on one basketball. The game merely needs to feature two special rules: It lasts until I score, and as soon as I score I win. Such a game might last several hours, or even a week or two, and James would probably score hundreds and possibly thousands of points before my ultimate victory, but eventually I’m going to find a way to put the ball in the basket.

Our national government and almost all of the establishment media have decided to play a similar game, which could be called Terrorball. The first two rules of Terrorball are:

(1) The game lasts until there are no longer any terrorists, and;
(2) If terrorists manage to ever kill or injure or seriously frighten any Americans, they win.”

Sourced from: Lawyers, Guns and Money: Terrorball

The (un)balance of power

Rich white straight-acting blokes who believe in God, or pretend to, hold a disproportionate amount of the world’s power and have for centuries. It’s not because, as many would like you to believe, it’s a case of ‘we are the best, chuck out the rest’. It’s simply due to circumstance. Class, freedom, money and education are the basis of power. And access to these is almost entirely due to where you were born and to whom. Sexually transmitted hereditary privilege and genitally determined advantage.

via Sexism | discrimination | God | Catherine Deveny.

This quote has been waiting in my draft posts for over a month now, waiting for me to have something valuable to add to it. And like her or hate her (and there are plenty on both sides of that divide), I don’t think that you can really argue that Catherine Deveny is actually wrong here.