Listened from
Cameron, I really enjoyed your discussion of education not in the news. Really intrigued by the promise of an eight episode podcast series.

Also enjoyed Steven Kolber’s discussion of zombie data with Jennifer Clutterbuck and Rafaan Daliri-Ngametua.

We found excessive, purposeless and redundant data – ‘zombie data’. Those in the technology, economics, business, and “regtech” fields indicate an awareness that zombie data, while considered dead, ‘lurks around…waiting to be called to life again” (Datastreams, 2017). Such data has also been referred to as “huge waves of numbers without meaning or relevance” (Balleny, 2013) that create datasets “without any purpose or clear use case in mind” (Kaufmann, 2014 in D‘Ignazio & Klein, 2020).

Bookmarked Why the WHO took two years to say COVID is airborne (

Early in the pandemic, the World Health Organization stated that SARS-CoV-2 was not transmitted through the air. That mistake and the prolonged process of correcting it sowed confusion and raises questions about what will happen in the next pandemic.

This lengthy piece unpacking why it took the World Health Organisation so long to recognise that COVID is airborne is a demonstration of how this is very much a political pandemic.
Liked How Putin’s Oligarchs Bought London by Patrick Radden Keefe (The New Yorker)

Invoking Dean Acheson’s famous observation, in 1962, that Britain had “lost an empire but not yet found a role,” Bullough suggests that it did find a role, as a no-questions-asked service provider to the crooked élite, offering access to capital markets, prime real estate, shopping at Harrods, and illustrious private schools, along with accountants for tax tricks, attorneys for legal squabbles, and “reputation managers” for inconvenient backstories. It starts with visas; any foreigner with adequate funds can buy one, by investing two million pounds in the U.K. (Ten million can buy you permanent residency.)

London property is always an option for such investments. After King Constantine II was ousted in the wake of a military coup in Greece, in 1967, he moved into a mansion overlooking Hampstead Heath; ever since, global plutocrats have sought safe harbor in the city’s leafy precincts. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian buyers raced into London’s housing market. One real-estate agent described his Russian clients “gleefully plonking saddlebags of cash on the desk.” According to new figures from Transparency International, Russians who have been accused of corruption or of having links to the Kremlin have bought at least 1.5 billion pounds’ worth of property in Great Britain. The real number is no doubt higher, but it is virtually impossible to ascertain, because so many of these transactions are obscured by layers of secrecy. The Economist describes London as “a slop-bucket for dodgy Russian wealth.”

Bookmarked What does the fuel excise cut mean? What happened to the beer excise cut? Five quick questions about the federal budget by Peta Fuller (ABC News)

Want a shortcut guide to the federal budget? Here are the answers to five quick questions from tonight’s announcement.

Listening to or reading discussions on the budget always intrigues me. I am not sure if I have become too cynical, but I always wonder why each decision might be made. I can understand the decision to cut the fuel excise, however this does not actually solve the situation and takes money out of revenue. Overall, it would seem that I am not the only person cynical about the decisions:

And look, even if all the measures announced were fair dinkum and definitely going to happen, this budget is elaborate and messy. It looks like an economic theory having a nervous breakdown in the street.

Josh Frydenberg says this is “a plan” for a strong economy and a stronger future. But it looks more like a weather forecast.

Bookmarked The Party Room (

Want to know what’s really going on in Parliament House? Fran Kelly and Patricia Karvelas give you the political analysis that matters and explain what it means for you.

Along with Annabel Crabb’s politics newsletter, I find The Party Room a refreshing take on politics. Never sure if I am being played by marketing, I prefer to consume my content through a trusted lens.
Bookmarked Monday 14 March, 2022 | Memex 1.1 (

There’s clearly no Russian Plan B for Ukraine. If that is indeed the case, then we know what’s likely to happen.

When Chechnya was being obliterated in 1999, most of us paid little attention. After all, it wasn’t a European country. But Ukraine is.

Our complacent post-1946 holiday has really come to an end.

John Naughton wonders if the situation in Ukraine is history repeating and whether our post-1946 holiday is over.
Bookmarked Why the West May Have to Offer Putin a Way Out by Tom McTague (

The question for world leaders is how to ensure the Russian president is defeated while nevertheless providing him a route out of the crisis.

Tom McTague discusses the challenges associated with resolving the situation in Ukraine. This includes giving Putin a means of getting out with a win.

Unlike Khrushchev, Putin has not simply walked up to a line, but crossed it, unleashing a terror for which he should be held accountable. The horrible reality, though, is that the best option for the West might involve finding a way for him to not be held as accountable as he should be—but then to never forget what he has done.

This is also something Ezra Klein and Fiona Hill discuss on The Daily podcast.

Alternatively, Stan Grant touches on the wider political implications in regards to China and Taiwan.

Xi Jinping is the puzzle. He says he is a champion of globalisation and multilateralism. But he sounds and acts increasingly despotic.

Who is the true Xi? If it is the authoritarian who believes his time has come — if he will not talk Putin down — then we face the prospect of an even more deadly conflict in the near future.

In that case, we must accept that Vladimir Putin has not only invaded Ukraine, he has invaded Taiwan as well.

Liked We Should Not Endure a King by Cory Doctorow (

The point of antitrust isn’t to make companies work better. It’s to make them fail better. It’s to ensure that abusive employers can’t buy off the NLRB, that payday lenders can’t buy off the CFPB, that polluting industrialists can’t buy off the EPA, that murderously reckless aerospace companies can’t buy off the FAA, that intergenerational pharma crime families can’t buy off the FDA.

It doesn’t matter if a monopoly is efficient. If we let rich people structure our lives — if we yield to the right’s eugenic insistence that some are born to rule, the rest to be ruled —we pay a price so high that it erases any “efficiency” gains.

In the short term, it’s “efficient” to build an apartment complex with no fire doors; to toss your waste into the street; to drive drunk rather than paying for a taxi.

“Cory Doctorow” in Pluralistic: 28 Feb 2022 – Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow ()
Bookmarked How the Crisis in Ukraine May End by Derek Thompson (

There is a useful analogy with Pearl Harbor. In the late 1930s, Japan had invaded Manchuria and was engaged in a war with China. And the U.S., which was supporting China at the time, imposed an oil embargo on Japan. We squeezed the Japanese government until they realized they only had about a year and a half of resources left. They were desperate to stop the oil embargo. So they took the gamble of Pearl Harbor and paid for it with a costly war in the Pacific. I think we have to consider a question: If we apply similar economic pressure to Russia, could Putin make a similar decision to what Japan did in 1941?

Derek Thompson speaks with Paul Poast about ways in which the current crisis in Ukraine may play out:

There are now five ways that the aggression in Ukraine can end, according to Paul Poast, a professor of foreign policy and war at the University of Chicago. They are: a disastrous quagmire or retreat for Russia; violent regime change in Kyiv; the full conquest of Ukraine; the beginning of a new Russian empire; or a chaotic stumble into something like World War III.

Bryan Alexander also provides his own collection of simulations and scenarios.

Liked For a few short days, we experienced the awesome power of personal responsibility by Mark Humphries (The Age)

After nearly two years of the Prime Minister informing us that various issues were “a matter for the states”, is it any wonder that our Premier would embrace this spirit of buck-passing in determining that the issue of mask-wearing should be a matter for the individual? What a thrill to be able to tell our grandchildren that we were there to witness the birth of the next big thing in political theory: trickle-down responsibility. It went about as well as trickle-down economics.

Liked Morrison’s climate ‘plan’ reveals a spectacular new model of political leadership in Australia by Annabel Crabb (ABC News)

Given Morrison’s evisceration of Bill Shorten just three years ago for failing to provide precise modelling for Labor’s proposed emissions targets, how is it that he can now breezily commit to a target 29 years away with the assurance that a substantial amount of the heavy lifting will be done by technological wizardry currently beyond our ken?

Can you trust a man who exempts himself so readily from the standards he imposes on his opponent?

There are other questions: The tidal shift of global finance is not new. There is zero chance that either the Treasurer or the PM was unaware back in 2019 that Australia would be penalised by global markets for clinging to coal. Did the Treasurer just fail to spot this? Did the PM? Or was winning government in 2019 — courtesy of the climate scare — more important than looking after the national interest?

Further: Glasgow has been in the diary for five years now; the Government’s been aware of it for all that time, and it’s the same Government.

How likely is it, honestly, that a Government that leaves a five-year deadline until the Tuesday before is going to make timely, hard decisions to work towards a target with 30 years left on the clock?

Liked Are the Melbourne protests Australia’s own Capitol riots? (ABC Religion & Ethics)

It’s time for those who produce and those who consume the media to find new frames through which to represent and attempt to understand the can of social unrest we’ve seen in Melbourne. These new frames would attempt to understand how government policies and pronouncements (no matter how well-intentioned) can ostracise and alienate certain groups (such as tradespeople), and make their particular grievances vulnerable to co-option by nefarious actors. To put it bluntly, if we want to stem the rise of the far right, it’s advisable not to push people into their arms.

Framing the Melbourne protests as our very own Capitol riots is inappropriate. Such framing misrepresents the participants and the issues at stake in the Melbourne events, and thus stands in the way of knowing how to reduce the likelihood of repeat performances.

Replied to

The idea of ‘no no no no no yes to framework no no no yes’ presented by Steven Dennis as the way congress works reminds me of Kim Stanley Robinson’s description of change and time in The Ministry for the Future:

The world in their time. In all the blooming buzzing confusion of their moment, they would take stock and get some clarity on the situation, and act. And if Badim’s black wing had anything to it, they would act there too. The hidden sheriff; she was ready for that now, that and the hidden prison. The guillotine for that matter. The gun in the night, the drone from nowhere. Whatever it took. Lose, lose, lose, lose, lose, lose, fuck it— win.

“Susan B. Glasser” in It’s Too Early to Consign Joe Biden to the Ash Heap of History | The New Yorker ()

Liked State Premiers have led Australia in the pandemic – not Scott Morrison (The New Daily)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison made two decisions last year that defined his, and Australia’s, response to the pandemic and became a historic turning point for national politics.

First, he conceded leadership of the pandemic to the states to reduce his political risk. It was a momentous, unnecessary decision.

Second, he tried to put local manufacturing first when sourcing vaccines, which meant the more expensive mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna, which can’t be made here, were ignored.

Bookmarked Was US failure in Afghanistan inevitable? (ABC Radio National)

The chaos of the American’s leaving and the associated logistical and humanitarian catastrophe that is now unfolding at Kabul airport, have produced two seemingly incommensurable conclusions:

  1. This proves that despite twenty years of “nation building”, international support, military training, and the expenditure of around US$2.3 trillion, the Afghan government was never going to be able to survive on its own. If the departure of US soldiers and diplomats was inevitably going to precipitate the collapse of the Afghan government, why stay?
  2. This proves that a tolerably small US presence in Afghanistan was enough to provide political and social stability (to say nothing of protection for women, girls, and vulnerable minorities), keep the Taliban “at bay”, and permit the Afghan government to find its feet. If the departure of US soldiers and diplomats was going to precipitate the collapse of the Afghan government, why not stay — at least for a little longer?

The fact that both conclusions can claim a degree of truth, and yet seem mutually exclusive, points to a deeper contradiction at the heart of the involvement of the United States and its allies in the affairs of the non-Western world.

If there is one thing that I learnt from the conversation between Stephen Wertheim, Scott Stephens and Waleed Aly and the Taliban’s retaking of Afghanistan it is that nothing is ever as simple as we might desire. Werheim sums up the situation with three problems:

The United States still faces two major problems in Afghanistan. The first is how to rescue vulnerable Afghans who wish to leave their country and settle in the United States or elsewhere. The second is how to drive a wedge between Afghanistan’s new government and al-Qaeda so as to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States. These are significant challenges, but they do not diminish the decision to withdraw.

For Americans, a third challenge may prove most important of all: coming to terms with defeat instead of indulging the fantasy that somehow, in some way, an unwinnable war could have been won.

As a Vietnamese refugee, Viet Thanh Nguyen makes the connection with the fall of Saigon in 1975, while Robin Wright wonders if it will serve as a ‘bookend for the era of U.S. global power’, an end of an era?

The fall of Kabul may serve as a bookend for the era of U.S. global power. In the nineteen-forties, the United States launched the Great Rescue to help liberate Western Europe from the powerful Nazi war machine. It then used its vast land, sea, and air power to defeat the formidable Japanese empire in East Asia. Eighty years later, the U.S. is engaged in what historians may someday call a Great Retreat from a ragtag militia that has no air power or significant armor and artillery, in one of the poorest countries in the world.

I cannot be helped but be reminded of the Old Italian Man speaking with Nately in Catch-22:

The old man laughed indulgently, holding in check a deeper, more explosive delight. His goading remained gentle. “Rome was destroyed, Greece was destroyed, Persia was destroyed, Spain was destroyed. All great countries are destroyed. Why not yours? How much longer do you really think your own country will last? Forever? Keep in mind that the earth itself is destined to be destroyed by the sun in twenty-five million years or so.”

Nately squirmed uncomfortably. “Well, forever is a long time, I guess.”

Bookmarked Rebecca Solnit: How Donald Trump Wanted the End of History (Literary Hub)

A Hundred Days Into the New Era, Looking Back on the Old

Rebecca Solnit looks back on Donald Trump’s legacy and reflects on his effort to ‘end history’. I remember trying to make sense of Trump’s election win, thinking that it might be bad, but I never considered it would be this absurd. What I like about Solnit’s piece is that she is not naive enough to think that she can explain what happened simply. In some attempt to make sense of it all, Solnit instead turns to poetics:

The years felt like a constant barrage of insults to fact, truth, science, of attacks on laws, on rights, on targeted populations

Whether or not you were buying what he was selling, he was winning by making noise and getting away with it.

It was like living in the aftermath of an earthquake, when the aftershocks can come at any time, or in a place where explosions happen unpredictably, or with an unstable abuser, and in fact it was living with an unstable abuser, who was on one hand not in the house with us and on the other hand was our president and the most powerful person on earth.

In the first months of the Trump presidency, I saw a journalist joking on Twitter, “I went out to lunch. WHAT HAPPENED?” because the sheer unpredictability meant you might miss something dramatic if you took your eyes off the drama for even the length of a lunchtime.

[W]e were Sisyphus, forever pushing boulders of coherence up a slippery hill, and the supply of boulders seemed inexhaustible, and they had a tendency to roll down again.

We were forever discovering and forgetting and rediscovering this story, as though a kind of amnesia had seized us, and that was another way that time itself seemed disordered. It was as though we were living in a version of Groundhog Day in which, unlike the plot of that movie, we would never get the story right enough for it to escape the cycle.

It felt as if the United States was a woman who had filed for divorce from her abuser, and here he came in all his furious confusion, convinced he could terrorize her into patching things up.

Listened Hope is a discipline by Miriame Kaba in conversation with Brian Sonenstein and Kim Wilson from

In Episode 19 of Beyond Prisons, hosts Brian Sonenstein and Kim Wilson catch up with activist, writer, and educator Mariame Kaba.

Mariame shares her experiences advocating on behalf of Bresha Meadows, a teenage girl who killed her abusive father and was detained while facing the possibility of trial as an adult and a lifetime of incarceration. She recount’s Bresha’s story and explains how activists worked to make sure the family’s needs were met and help them navigate the collateral consequences of detention, including an enormous financial burden and the shame and stigma that makes people internalize their struggle.

The conversation continues with Mariame’s view of abolition as a collective project that embraces people who sense there is a problem with American institutions and are interested in figuring out what to do about it. She explains what she means when she says hope is a discipline, not an emotion or sense of optimism, and how this informs her organizing. Self care is examined as a community project. Finally, Mariame shares what books are on her shelf and what she’s reading right now.

In this interview, Mariame Kaba talks about the prison industrial complex and the requirement to have ‘hope as a discipline’ to maintain the effort for the long haul:

I don’t also take a short-time view, I take a long view, understanding full well that I’m just a tiny, little part of a story that already has a huge antecedent and has something that is going to come after that, that I’m definitely not going to be even close to around for seeing the end of. So, that also puts me in the right frame of mind, that my little friggin’ thing I’m doing, is actually pretty insignificant in world history, but [if] it’s significant to one or two people, I feel good about that.

Continuing the conversation around hope, Kaba suggests that the care starts from where you are.

You don’t have to go anywhere to care for yourself.

” wiobyrne” in YOLO – Digitally Literate ()

Liked How Thomas Mann Turned against the German Right (

A new edition of Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man and other writings offers an excellent opportunity to explore Thomas Mann’s political transformation. In a new introduction, Mark Lilla argues that Reflections advocated for the freedom of the artist outside of politics. But as the experience of the Weimar Republic showed, that can be hard to do. Thomas Mann, who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1929, had his books burned by the Nazis. There was a clear choice to be made.