Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Some links

Thursday, November 23, 2006


I found this very amusing; Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Chevalier D'Eon

Here's an entertaining passage from J. S. Goldstein's War and Gender: How Gender Shapes the War System and Vice Versa;
Commonalities across cultures do not prevent individuals from breaking the mold, either. For example, the fluidity of male gender roles around war is illustrated by Chevalier D'Eon in the eighteenth century. He had a successful military and diplomatic career, and then - as a public personality, prominent in the press - hinted and finally confessed that he was a woman in male disguise. She then lived her last three decades in women's clothing - forbidden to cross-dress as a man, by order of the French king. Nonetheless, D'Eon's autopsy found "unquestionably male" genitalia. His decision... "[made] because he deeply admired the moral character of women and wanted to live as one of them"


Friday, November 17, 2006

Skip James

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting ...well, I thought it was funny.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Last night I dreamt that someone had stolen all my belongings and replaced them with perfect replicas.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Next semester's subjects

I have enrolled in my two subjects for next semester. They are;
HST310 : Twentieth Century Europe

This unit deals with the main issues of European social, cultural, political, economic and military development predominantly in the period 1914 to 1945. Was the age, as suggested by some, an age of catastrophe, an increasingly barbaric age or an age when modernity went wrong? Was Europe the dark continent that some historians have suggested? Students will explore the violence of two world wars, civil wars in Russia and Spain, political polarisation and instability, ideological conflict, the Great Depression and the horrors of the Holocaust.

HST210 : Women in Australian History

This unit examines the unique history of women's experience in Australia. Students will examine continuities and changes for women. Beginning with the differences between convict women and the construction and realities of the lives of free women and girls. The unit then explores the agency of women in the twentieth century including their role in wartime and the subsequent explosion of second wave feminism. Throughout the unit, students will examine the diversities of Australian women and the ways in which class, sexuality, race and ethnicity impacted and interacted with gender.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Forester v1.3

My essay on nineteenth century Russian anarchist terrorism, or 'propaganda by the deed' to use the parlance of the time, is pretty much finished. I just have to tweak the introduction and conclusion tomorrow, then send it off. Then I begin reading for my next essay striaght away - on the impact of the war in the Pacific on Australian national identity. I've been heavily addicted to Leafcutter John's Forester software these last few days. If you have a Mac, enjoy making endless droning soundscapes, and have little musical talent, then check it out.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Triple-Scoop of Revolution!

Fun Fact: Russian-American anarchist Emma Goldman lived in a ménage à trois relationship with other Russian émigré anarchist Alexander Berkman, and a young anarchist artist named Fedya. They all ran an ice-cream parlour together in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1891.

I think this would make for a great sit-com; a nineteenth century ice-cream parlour run by a ménage à trois of Russian anarchists. The scene is set!

It was whilst I was imagining all the japes that could occur in this sit-com (which I'm tempted to title A Triple-Scoop of Revolution!), that I remembered I still have the first volume of Emma Goldman's autobiography, Living My Life, out on loan from the library. A quick scan of my bookshelves and I located it - it is now 15 years overdue! I think we've all got a book like this, never returned to a library we've long since moved away from. On principle, I certainly don't condone this kind of thing, but in my case the book eventually came in handy - 15 years down the track. I'm thinking of ringing Eastern Regional Libraries to ask if I can renew it, as that would clear things up both bureaucratically and ethically. So I found the passage where she describes the ice-cream parlour;

Our savings consisted of fifty dollars. Our landlord, who had suggested the idea, said he would lend us a hundred and fifty dollars. We secured a store, and within a couple of weeks Sasha's (aka Berkman) skill with hammer and saw, Fedya's with his paint and brush, and my own good German housekeeping training succeeded in turning the neglected ramshackle place into an attractive lunch-room. It was spring and not yet warm enough for an ice-cream rush, but the coffee I brewed, our sandwiches and dainty dishes, were beginning to be appreciated, and soon we were kept busy till early morning hours.
In the sit-com, the problem of the weather not being warm enough for ice-cream could be an on-going joke - their inability to sell ice-cream is always explained away by them as being due to the weather.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I've been playing Battleship against a friend via email and SMS. We've each got a board at home. I just got an email from said friend, stating that a friend of her housemate moved all her ships around. Idiot! Now we have to start again!

Nechayev and the Black Hand

I finished my essay for the History of War subject, which compared the experiences of Aborigines and Maoris in their conflicts with European settlers. I should receive the results in the next few days. Right now I'm in the thick of an essay on Russian anarchist terrorism of the late nineteenth century - this is for my other current subject; Terrorism: Causes & Consequences. There was something else I was going to write about, but it now escapes me. Last week I picked up Alice Coltrane's Illuminations LP for $5, which was quite a find. Anyway, here's a couple of excerpts I enjoyed from Andrew Sinclair's An Anatomy of Terror: A History of Terrorism... On the shifty Nechayev, the "godfather of nihilism";
Nechayev left Switzerland to bring about a revolution in Russia. He formed a society and a newspaper named The Retribution of the People. He organized groups of conspirators on the principles of the Illuminanti - each cell of five members had a chief who reported to a central committee, which was responsible to Nechayev alone. Defied for his authoritarianism by Ivanov, a member of the committee, Nechayev killed him in a park, where his body was weighted with bricks and thrown into a pond. Nechayev implicated other revolutionaries in a blood brotherhood of the crime.
...and on the Pan-Slavist secret society the Black Hand;
Its initiation ceremonies were ghoulish. The insignia was a clenched hand around a skull and crossbones beside a dagger, a bomb and a phial of poison. The oath was not Christian, but 'by the sun which warms me, by the earth which feeds me, by God and by the blood of my ancestors, by my honour and my life.' The cell pattern of the Illuminanti and the Obladina was reproduced: each recruit had to enlist five new members. These small groups were known as a 'hand' and were led by a 'thumb', the only one in contact with other groups. All were sworn in across a table covered with black cloth, which held a candle and a cross, a poniard and a revolver. Death was the instant answer to any treachery.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

More on MySpace

What's the deal with music pages on MySpace? Do people really think they're communicating with the artists? When people leave messages on John Fahey's MySpace page, they surely know that a) he's dead, and b) even if he was alive, he surely wouldn't be checking in on his MySpace page to read the comments left by people (or who knows, maybe he would). And when people leave messages for, say, the Rolling Stones or Madonna or Coldplay or whoever, they surely must know that their message, which simply reads "I love your music", is not going to be read by the artist. Or do they. The whole phenomenon has not yet ceased to mystify me. I'm sure MySpace is the equivalent of the 'blogging revolution' for people with essentially nothing to say.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Aries Apartments

The north-west corner of Nicholson Street and Brunswick Road has, for as long as I recall, been a vacant block littered with scrub, weeds, and rubbish. I've been told by those who've lived in the area longer, that it used to be a petrol station. A billboard was recently erected, announcing that the land will soon become Aries Apartments. This is not an inherently bad thing - unlike some people, I have nothing against apartments at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. But the advertising campaign is pretty tacky; promoting itself as a slice of European sophistication. Apart from being within walking distance of the excellent Maria's Coffee House, there's nothing particularly 'European' about the area, unless you count the overall Greek influence on Brunswick, although even this has dissolved at the outer edges of Brunswick, which is where these apartments are located.

Then there's this 'artists' impression' of what life will be like at Aries Apartments:

I'm guessing the depiction of public transport in some way alludes to a 'European' lifestyle. The #96 tram heads into the city, and that bus route (#504) runs between Clifton Hill and Moonee Ponds, but I can't imagine people with aspirations of European sophistication actually catching the bus to Clifton Hill.

But what's most puzzling about this picture is that it places the city skyline out where Brunswick West would normally be. If you were looking at the proposed building from that angle, the city would actually be behind you. And the quaint terrace houses framed by lush greenery - is in reality a couple of ugly '80s brick warehouses. At least they have Our Lady Help in the right place.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006


I can't log into my old Blogger account, because it's been merged into a Blogger Beta account, and because of this; "Unfortunately, you cannot post a comment on a non-beta blog or claim a mobile blog using your Google Account. These features are coming soon". Lame.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


From John Keegan's A History of Warfare:
In short, it is at the cultural level that Clausewitz's answer to his question, What is war?, is defective. That is not altogether surprising. We all find it difficult to stand far enough outside our own culture to perceive how it makes us, as individuals, what we are. Modern Westerners, with their commitment to the creed of individuality, find the difficulty as acute as others elsewhere have. Clausewitz was a man of his times, a child of the Enlightenment, a contemporary of the German Romantics, an intellectual, a practical reformer, a man of action, a critic of his society and a passionate believer in the necessity for it to change.. He was a keen observer of the present and a devotee of the future. Where he failed was in seeing how deeply rooted he was in his own past, the past of the professional officer class of a centralised European state. Had his mind been furnished with just one extra intellectual dimension - and it was already a very sophisticated mind indeed - he might have been able to perceive that war embraces much more than politics: that it is always an expression of culture, often a determinant of cultural forms, in some societies the culture itself.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006


The other day I had lunch at Spicy Fish. The young couple sitting at the table next to mine had been speaking in another language the whole time, until my meal arrived and I began to eat, at which point the young man remarked at my chopsticks skills. His companion added that they don't encounter many Australians who can use chopsticks. They both had very thick accents, and I found them difficult to understand, especially when the young fellow started rambling on about the benefits of MSG. I'm not sure if they were tourists or residents, but the fact that they said 'Australians' to imply 'white Australians' was interesting.

Oh, and the missus now has a blog.

Otherwise, I've been listening to The Postmarks, Isobel Campbell, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Edith Frost, and, erm, the Killers.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006


BookMooch is a book-swapping community. It's more like a little economy, really. There are some flaws in the system, but essentially it's a great idea. You list all the books in your collection that you no longer want, and can then request books from the lists of other members. I received my first 'mooched' book today; Daniel J. Boorstin's The Discoverers: A History of Man's Search to Know His World and Himself.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

151 / 1

This is my 151st post, and my 1st using Blogger Beta.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Rangiriri Hotel

I went to the State Library to study today. After alighing from the tram, I headed to the library to put my backpack in one of their rentable lockers. I then went to Big W to purchase some socks, and then to Safeway to buy a bottle of water, so that I could stay hydrated whilst studying. I then went back to the locker to drop off the socks, before heading into the library itself. When I got to my corral I realised I'd brought the socks in with me, and put my water away in the locker. Such are the interesting tales I have to tell about my life at the moment (you can understand why this blog is somewhat neglected of late).

I'm in the initial stages of writing an essay comparing the experiences of indigenous people from Australia and New Zealand, in their encounters with European colonisers, and asking the question of whether the conflicts they engaged in could / should be considered 'wars'.

I'm becoming a fan of introductions, prologues, and prefaces in books. They're an untapped source of witicisms, insights, and 'delightful' little yarns. This is from the 'author's note' in Peter Maxwell's Frontier: The Battle for the North Island of New Zealand (I think the ending is a overly dramatic, but his point is nicely put):

One afternoon in the summer of 1985 on a drive between Auckland and Hamilton my father insisted that we stop at the Rangiriri Hotel. I accepted the invitation with reluctance, he seldom drank outside the confines of his club and had never taken me to a hotel in his life.

It occurred to me that he had something of importance to say, possibly in connection with our family. I hoped that he was not about to burden me with something I might find embarrassing to discuss. We sat at a window with a view of a neighbouring hilltop. "On the slopes of that hill," he said, "a British naval party was cut down."

I did not understand his terminology. For a moment I literally did not know what he was talking about, but while we finished our drinks he explained. The sailors had stormed the hill from gunboats moored against the river bank he told me, pointing to a line of willows on the opposite side of the highway. Then he led me from the hotel into the nearby cemetery and showed me their graves. I was genuinely intrigued. By what circumstances could three dozen sailors have been killed on a hillside 30 miles from the sea?

For the first time it was impressed upon me that I knew nothing of my country's history. At home I began to inquire, discovering at once that among my acquaintances ignorance of New Zealand's past was universal.

One day in the following winter, during a motorcycle journey through the Waikato, I remembered Rangiriri. Thirty minutes later I climbed the hill in a rainstorm. I remember squatting on its summit in the wet grass listening to the cars on the highway below, certain that none of the travellers knew any more of the events that had taken place there than did I.

The passing traffic symbolised the issue. We were all going... somewhere? But none of us knew where we had come from. There are ghosts on that hilltop. I felt faint. I sank to my knees, then inexplicably - burst into tears.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Blue Grenadier

We bought some blue grenadier from Canals on Nicholson Street.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Thirty Three

Birthday round-up in full. On the night of my birthday, I had dinner at Yu-u with the missus. It was really nice; a Japanese restaurant hidden from the world, seemingly drawing customers by word-of-mouth, as there is no signage ourside its factory-like door other than an A5-sized plaque. The food was beautiful, particularly the scallops and mushrooms cooked in butter, and the gyoza, and calamari, and the chicken yakitori. Two big glasses of Asahi to wash it all down. Nice. Next we went to Madame Brussels for a drink on their fantastic balcony, overlooking the sparkly city.

On Friday evening I had dinner with friends at Woodstock Cafe on Nicholson Street. The word is spreading that this place is overtaking I Carusi as home of Melbourne's best pizza. I'm not much of a pizza connoisseur, but my gorgonzola and double-smoked prosciutto pizza was certainly delicious. Unfortunately, we only managed to coax one friend out of the 11 in attendance to come back to ours for a wine.

Last night I had dinner at Mecca with my family. I went to Mecca last year for my birthday, with just the missus. The menu was totally different this time; gone was the za'atar encrusted lamb, African olives, and Turkish delight. I had spatchcock with bulgar and pistachio - very nice, and a Dalwhinnie for dessert, because I ain't really got a sweet-tooth.

Oh, and presents; from the missus I got a Japanese teacup which is intended as a pen-holder (to replace the jam-jar I've been using for years), a summer dressing-gown, and Peter Watson's From Fire To Freud: A History of Ideas. From friends; wine, records, and an issue of the New York Review of Books. From my parents; a new desk, which I must write about soon, and from my brother; a bottle of Chivas Regal. All up, a nice way to turn 33.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


It's my birthday today! I'm 33. Full report later.

Despite my wariness and general confusion, I've been poking around Myspace over the last few days. At first I planned on only 'adding' people I know, but as practically none of my friends are on Myspace, my profile was looking pretty sad. So I started adding people I knew of, or people I had met briefly through mutual acquantances, or people I had threadbare connections with via the old fanzine days. Then I started wondering what the point of doing this was - I'm never going to see or speak to most of these people. Then I read this article about the history of Myspace, and how it's just one big marketing enterprise.

I understand the buzz about a lot of (useful) internet things; blogs, RSS, social bookmarking, podcasts, wikis, tagging etc. I really love wasting time at sites like Wikipedia, del.icio.us, Livejournal, Digg, Reddit, ILM, Rate Your Music, IMDB, Metafilter, Flickr, and many blogs. But I've never quite got Myspace. So at the moment, I'm on the verge of de-activating my account and disappearing from the Myspace world.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


After repeated prompting from students at work who wanted to 'add' me, I finally set up a MySpace page. Now that I've been poking around it for a few days, I can report with confidence that I still don't 'get it'. The interface confuses me, nothing's clear-cut, and almost every user-page is a CSS mess. I don't understand what you're supposed to do with it - apart from 'add' as many people as you can. People seem to use it to communicate, but I'm not sure how it's any better than good ol' e-mail. As for the blogging function, I can't understand why anyone would use it over proper blogs with RSS feeds. And they call individual posts 'blogs'! A post is not a blog, it's a post. So when MySpace asks if you want to create a new 'blog', what they mean is a new post to your blog. Confusing.

I sent out a group e-mail to varioous friends and acquaintances, to see if anyone I knew had a MySpace page. The universal response was 'no'. Anyway, should you wish to add me, my MySpace is here.

Anyway, I love dinner on Friday nights...