Apparently Senator Xenophon has decided to withdraw his support for Conroy's censorship legislation. I have a bad feeling we haven't seen the end of this one though, especially if Conroy's career is riding on its implementation.
Here's more from the ABC.
On the balance I will take this as evidence that my subscription to the EFA is doing some good...
At The Ritz with Jen.
Subtitled Home of the Somerville Collection. I took a leisurely drive from Orange back to Sydney, and happened to remember this museum in Bathurst. Apparently it has been in operation for quite a while, perhaps since 2004, in an old school building quite similar to the assembly hall at Orange Public, and incidentally, the church down the road where Gonk got married. The town didn't look so different, though almost everyone I knew has moved on, and the number of empty shops waiting for new businesses to spring forth was worrying.
The museum contains a lot of mineral and rock samples, and so would be fascinating to a geologist or chemist, I guess. The fossil collection is relatively small with the highlight being a full size cast of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It is impressive but also not very integrated with the ambient narrative of slowly evolving life. Something to get the kids in, perhaps.
I probably wouldn't have bothered looking in if it weren't for the nostalgia of loitering in Bathurst for an afternoon.
I picked this one up whilst waiting for Andrew T. It was just sitting in the window of Sappho Books, someone thinking it a hook, and for $14 I figured I may as well be the mug. (The last thing I bought there was Ray Monk's biography of Bertrand Russell.) I'm a fan of McLennan's short pieces, especially those in the Griffith Review, and the Smage gave this memoir a glowing review.
Here he recounts his recent experience, at the age of fifty, of joining an old-school tent boxing troupe on a journey from Tullamore (near the centre of New South Wales) to Far North Queensland. There's a lot of drinking, a bit of fighting, a lot of male bonding, some aggro, some scenery, and a lot more drinking. Of course he has a go himself, and of course that was ill-advised. I always liked how he expresses his regrets and fears, the dangers and his responses to them. There's plenty of quiet reflection here, in a Henry Lawson sort of a way.
Despite what the Smage opined, I preferred his earlier Rowing to Alaska, which I found more naturally episodic and more diverse in its episodes. On the topic of boxing, his earlier piece for the Griffith Review is quite riveting.
I finished reading this back in mid-January but have only now found the time to write it up. I've forgotten why I picked it up, probably on the strength of a blog review or something.
This is a very Americentric take on probability and decision theory, with a smattering of public choice, game theory and random other things. Math is almost absent, so there is almost no support for all the "trust me"s the author throws in. A bibliography would have ameliorated this. There are some good pop-sci treatments of various things, but it ends up being a ramble with too much opinion and not enough evidence. The ultimate advice is formulate-then-compute, and stick to it.
His take on Arrow's Theorem is a bit naive and uninteresting; a more insightful approach would have furnished some perspective through the later work of Amartya Sen (and many others) or perhaps May's Theorem, but clearly there's more table-thumping to be had in banging on about how impossible voting is.
Gonk recommended this book to me ages ago, and I ended up buying a Penguin classic-cover edition on the strength of that, the price, the account of crossing Lake Victoria I heard on Radio National, and the first page, where the author promises to cut through the televised myth of Africa-the-poor. To an extent he does.
The story is a sprawling, slightly flabby account of Theroux's return-to-Africa around 2001, an overland trip from Cairo to Cape Town via some of the places he spent time as a Peace Corps volunteer in the early 1960s. There's a solid focus on the individuals he met that time and this, the wildlife and the flora. Politicking gets some time in the sun but lacks sufficient background for non-Africophiles to really get to grips with.
Theroux clearly has an intense dislike of the kind of tourism Africa was once famous for — Hemingway-esque big game hunting — and the "agents of virtue", of which he was once one. I guess he wants to drive a wedge between those who attempted to provide a secular education (or similar, i.e. a worthy long term investment in the people, not infrastructure) and those who try to save souls or build monuments to aid agencies. He argues strongly that Africa has not developed, but is as bereft as anyone and everyone for what to try next. Less short-termism? More projects where Africans provide the labour and materials? A return to subsistence?
Theroux got kicked out of the Peace Corps, and you can read a great account of those days here. I think this book makes it quite clear that he benefited more from his experience than Malawi did, and that it could never have been any other way.