Monthly Archives: September, 2006

Chancellor's Human Rights Lecture

This was Malcolm Fraser’s lecture, on 28 Nov 2005. It was entitled “Human Rights and Responsibilities in the Age of Terror.”

Malcolm Fraser was: first elected to government in 1955; PM 1975-83; head of CARE for a while; the 2000 HREOC medal winner.

Usual caveat applies: these are my notes, and what went into my ears and out of my pen doesn’t necessarily, consistently, reflect what was said!

*Currently there is wrong discussion among democratic leaders, that liberty and rule of law cannot stay while defending ourselves.
** Discrimination and fear are based on race and religion
** Governments used deception for war on Iraq, over the WMD
***Papers show Bush had decided to go to war vs Iraq as early as July 2000.
** John Stewart Mill (sp?) – something about going to war for an idea, if aggressive not defensive, is as bad as going to war for land or revenue. Forcing ideas is bad.

*Terrorism is not new. And they have different motivations – which we need to understand.
*Rule of law must be applied to all, regardless of race/religion/etc.

*Torture: English courts started outlawing evidence from torture since the Magna Carta!! How then can we be having discussions of what is ‘acceptable’??

*New laws enable people suspected of having information to be held with no charge, with no access to anyone else (even a lawyer). The onus of proof is on the detainee, not the detainer. And no mention is allowed of this for two years afterwards, otherwise a jail term is likely. These laws are unlikely to stop terrorists.

*We have no Bill of Rights – almost every other Western democracy does, and this is quite a problem today.

*New sedition laws say the person does not need to have intent, but could simply be ‘reckless’; also doesn’t seem to have to be a direct cause of violence undertaken.
**Control orders/preventative detention orders do not go through a judge: is up to the Executive Branch. (Hello!? Separation of powers??) Rule of law abandoned… police state….

*We must be able to uphold the liberty and rights of those whose opinions we abhor. To preserve our own liberty, we must preserve that of our enemy.

Q: civil disobedience? No; breaking the law to uphold the law doesn’t make sense. Must be done peacefully.

Q: the UN? Is, after all, only as good as the governments that make it up – the US and others have always had the capability to either destroy or strengthen the UN. When government leaders criticise the UN, they criticise themselves.

Equipped for Eternity

I love public lectures, and I love taking notes – I still have my notebooks from my BA, and even I am sometimes amazed at how much I wrote in those lectures. I loved my degree. However, now I do not have one central place for my notes, and sometimes I lose them. So I figure – why not put them here? Easy to find, and other people might also find them useful. So, the first lot of notes, which reflect what went into my head and not necessarily what came out of the presenters’ mouth:

Equipped for Eernity: The Continuity of Ancient Egyptian Beliefs in the Afterlife. From a lecture of that name at the Melbourne Museum, 02/08/05

*The dead sometimes have gilded masks, because the gods were thought to have skins of gold, so this is drawing an association between the dead and the gods.
*Tombs, or “Houses of Eternity,” were decorated not with pictures of daily life, but of perfection – designed to provide for the dead forever.
*What was the role of the body itself, in their beliefs? Possibly, early on, it was thought to be reanimated. However, this idea slowly changed; they thought instead that it would be the ‘ka’, or animating force, that lived on – so the food etc is an offering to the ka.
** also the ‘ba’: spirit/soul/personality. Shown as a human-headed bird; can leave and participate invisibly in the real world. Must return to the tomb at night though.
** beliefs were always that you lived in the spirit world, so why all the gear? We don’t know. Perhaps, by pharaonic times, it was just keeping hold of old beliefs (c.7-6000 BC is the time of first identified beliefs).

*To be able to live for eternity, you must live an upright and moral life (because the heart is weighed against the Feather of Universal Order).
*Alexander takes over in 332BC; Macedonian rulers until 30BC. They make a conscious effort to Hellenise Egypt; native Egyptian ideas etc become very much inferior – you had to take on Greek ideas in order to get ahead in careers. However, the peasants did cling to their old ideas.
*When Rome is ruling, there’s a problem: for the first time, the ruler is not resident, which weakens greatly the idea of the divine king given to Egypt by their gods and Egypt being a chosen land. This made the other areas of their traditional religion even more important – to maintain national identity.
*As time went on, nobles – who previously absorbed Hellenistic ideas – began to take on/bring back more native ideas, themes. Tombs became less common, though – coffins started to take over this role. Bodies still were preserved, though, against the Hellenistic idea of cremation.
*This guy’s work in the el-Dakhla oasis (c. 800km from Cairo), and area annexed by Egypt in c.2000BC, and imposing their culture on the native people (don’t really know what happened to them), has been going on since 1978. First settled this particular oasis c. first century: hey-day until AD390s
**includes cemetaries; temples (eg with Greek and Egyptian paintings, on the same wall); houses
**appearances are kept up: grave goods and other things that make it look Egyptian. However (again): almost no one could read or write the hieroglyphics by the first century AD, so although they are there, they mean nothing. Also, the art of mummification is almost lost. Still, bodies are still being preserved, as per ancient beliefs.

* What really changed beliefs was the introduction of Christianity: no grave goods, no mummification; however, people still being preserved – a facotr in early Christian beliefs too.

Updates links

Finally, I’ve got around to adding more links to the sidebar. All highly recommended, of course.

Human Rights education

So apparently there is going to be an inaugural Human Rights education conference next Feb. I was sent a flyer about it, and it was suggested that I might want to consider presenting something. Eek. I’m not sure that I do anything that interesting or novel… I will have to do some thinking about that.

Pompeii

It’s always a bit weird when you read or watch something where you already know the basic storyline. I thought that when I saw Macbeth – hell, I know half the lines of the play, but I still got into the presentation of the thing. So reading a novel about the eruption of Vesuvius, and the happenings around the Bay, was quite funny, because obviously you know the main thing that is going to happen, but it’s how Robert Harris (the author) gets there that’s the interesting thing.

And he did do a very good job, I think. The engineer was an excellent idea for the main character, because he’s obviously going to have a stake in finding out what’s happening on the mountain. And he’s just a great guy. I was very happy that Harris included Pliny – I mean, obviously you you have to, but I was a bit concerned about how he would come across. I had never thought that he would be fat – I always imagined him to be emaciated if anything, obsessed with science and writing – but his eye for detail – which he must have had for real, to write his books – comes across very clearly. Someone should write a bio of him, I reckon, if it hasn’t been done yet.

Anyway, it’s a good read (I read the whole thing in a day or so). The variety of characters was good, although some of them are caricatures (which is, sometimes, fun).

The Devil may wear Prada…

but Meryl Streep does it so very well.

It probably wasn’t quite as funny, overall, as we had thought, but it was still a fun movie. The opening particularly was very clever, setting up the whole tension between Anne Hathaway’s character and the fashionista types at the magazine. Simon Baker’s character was a bit of a strange one. I think the one thing that makes this movie make a bit more sense, in a strange way, is knowing that it is at least loosely based on someone’s real experience. So the bizarro motivations of people, and the odd things they do – they actually make a bit more sense, because in real life people just don’t make sense.

I liked it. Not often I like comedies.

There are definite bonus points for working in the insult “Glamazon.”

Did I mention the echidnas?

We saw echidnas after the whale – just by the side of the road; we didn’t get a chance to stop and see them. Also several FBCs,* which is always entertaining.

Our stay at Blanket Bay was quite nice – the beach there is great, a nice little treasure trove of rock pools and tesselated rock formations.

From Blanket Bay we went to Apollo Bay. I wanted to go to Shelly Beach, but it turned out that the gate was locked so we would have had to walk… and my shoes were hurting me a bit by that stage.

From Apollo Bay to Lake Elizabeth and Forrest where, J had heard, there is good mountain-biking. It was a bit hard to find, but J did do some good riding. We had thought we might stay at Lake Elizabeth – but it was a camp ground separated from the carpark, which is no good when you’re in a truck – and then we tried Gellibrand (I think), but there were already a few people there, and Stevensons Falls were closed to the public (the renovations were meant to have been finished by the start of spring… say the signs at the start of spring…). So, in the end, we decided just to come back to Ballarat. So we had a pleasant evening in front of the fire, with an electric blanket-heated bed.

So, we’re coming to the end of our holiday… but that’s okay. It’s been a good one.

*A term coined during our first trip to Tasmania, when we couldn’t figure out whether those Furry Bouncy Critters were paddymelons or potaroos (a very important distinction).

Pyramids LIVE!

See the pyramids live! Pyramidcam! So cool!

J thinks it’s tacky. I don’t care.

The Forest meets the Sea – having a whale of a time

Today we didn’t really know where we were going to end up. We started off going back through Warnambool, and passing a sign saying “Whale watching – June to September.” We both liked the sound of that, but didn’t much like our chances, it being the very end of Sept. Nonetheless, we thought we would check out the beach for the heck of it. We actually went past the turn-off, but J being the lovely boy that he is hauled the truck around and off we went looking for the beach. I was trying very hard not to get my hopes up – I don’t often have much luck at the best of times, and this is the end of Sept – so I was very, very impressed to see a whale!! And a calf!! !!!!! When I say ‘see’, I mean of course ‘caught a glimpse of its back and flipper, and the occasional spurt of water’. Most of the time it just looked like a shadow under the water; in fact, at first we both thought it was just kelp. It was so exciting to see. And quite funny, too: J and I have a running joke that on lots of our trips bush, I [jokingly] demand that he show me some animal I’ve never seen before. I think this really started when we went up to Mt Buffalo a few years ago; we passed all these lyrebird signs, so I told him I wanted to see one. On our last day there, there was a lyrebird basically making its nest in the carpark. J therefore claims never to have let me down – and the whale today backs him up.

Anyway, after that excitement, we headed down the Great Ocean Road. We stopped at the Bay of Islands – sea stacks, very nice; skipped the Bay of Martyrs; stopped at London Bridge (which, of course, has fallen down); skipped Loch Ard Gorge; then went to the Twelve Apostles. The last time I saw them, you could still park basically right next to them. But no longer: now, you park in this massive supermarket-like carpark; go through some ‘Discovery Centre’ thing (which I don’t think had anything commercial, for which I am thankful), then under the road out to the lookouts. Come on people, they’re just sea stacks!! Quite pretty and impressive, but sea stacks nonetheless. And then there were these idiots who ignored the warnings about the crumbly cliffs and jumped the fence….

Next we drove up to Lavers Hill, then to Triplet Falls. It was nice enough – quite a pretty little walking track. From there we went down through the Otways, back to the coast, on quite a fun track (few too many potholes, and lots of curves that made me glad J was driving). We ended up at Blanket Bay, which we thought might be full but turns out isn’t – getting there, though; I’m glad we arrived early-ish.

A surprise-filled adventure

Well, it was a surprise that we ended up spending the first night in Port Fairy: that was because J, he-who-laughs at my geographical ineptness, managed to get us lost. I think he is blaming the instructions his dad gave us (we stayed the weekend in Ballarat first) – we were meant to be heading for Colac, but instead ended up going to Hamilton. So we decided that Port Fairy was a perfectly fine place to spend the first night.

So we drove to Port Fairy. It’s a lovely drive down there – all green and rolling – a bit like Gippsland really. We ended up in a caravan park at one end of the town which was half-closed; we had expected the town to be crawling with people, thanks to the holidays, but no. Which was very nice for us. We walked along the wharf, past the boats (another of J’s obsessions), and out to the lighthouse on Muttonbird Island (and saw one of my students… she didn’t recognise me, I think). We then walked back to the truck, and this is impressive because I was walking in my new Scarpas (thanks Mum!!), and they didn’t hurt. Well, they didn’t give me blisters; the left one hurt on the bridge of the foot, but this is a small price to pay for what I know will be the best shoes in the world once I’ve worn them in a bit.

We ended the day with fish n chips (incredibly average whiting, unfortunately, but it was made up for by the six battered scallops I got – after J only ordered two…), and reading in the truck. Truly a lovely day.

And it was an adventure holiday because J insists that all holidays in the truck must be adventures. By default.