Imagine this scene – a personal trainer barking at his flabby pen-pushing charges to push themselves through the pain barrier and climb those steps because “the human body wasn’t designed to sit at a computer all day”. It’s easy to imagine because of the common perception that the root cause of the current obesity epidemic is a radical shift in human behaviour – from the hunter-gatherer ways of our ancient ancestors to our current sedentary lifestyles with diets high in energy-dense and highly-processed foods.
On July 6th the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation hosted the National Symposium on Multiculturalism in Australia: from theorising to policy making. The aim of the symposium was to gauge current debates and trends concerning ‘multiculturalism’ in the academic, government and community sectors. There were key themes and concerns both new and longstanding that became apparent from this event. These included a repositioning of our understanding of an “Australian multiculturalism” to include concerns of migration and citizenship, away from the traditional academic and policy tendency to attempt to isolate multicultural and settlement concerns from debates on immigration and population.
‘Heaven knows, I'm not comparing the internet to a hurtling death trap. But the internet has its destructive side just as the automobile does ... As with the car, criticism of the internet's shortcomings, risks, and perils has been silenced, or ignored’ (Lee Siegel) .
The cyborg-ish figure of the terminator (the T-800) blurred the boundaries between human and machine, hope and apprehension. Arnie came back in the sequels hardwired to sacrifice himself for the preferred life form (humans) and this was reassuring: machines know who their masters are.
The sci-fi series Caprica picked these ideas apart with a ‘rise of the machines’ type of plot. Fantasy and reality are woven together as characters interact in a virtual world. This machine-human narrative of the 21st century looks to unsettle rather than reassure us. What if the machines don't come back to save us? What if they decide they are better than us?
On Sunday evening, 15 July 2012, a congress of CNRT party members in Dili voted to go into an alliance with the Democratic Party and Frenti Mudanca to form a new alliance to make up Timor-Leste’s Fifth Constitutional Government. In response, members of Fretilin rioted, burning more than 50 cars and stoning UN police sent to quell the trouble. While it seemed as though Timor-Leste was again reverting to its violent past, this was less a return to politics by fire and more the last gasp of an out of touch political leadership on the verge of become irrelevant.
It had always been expected that, should CNRT not achieve an absolute majority in its own right, that the Democratic Party would enter an alliance with it to form a majority. With Mudanca’s two seats, CNRT only needed one more seat to form a majority and PD’s eight seats took the new alliance well over the threshold 33 seats to a compelling 40 in the 65 seat parliament.
'Amidst the swirling maelstrom of technological progress so often heralded as the imminent salvation to all our ills, it can be necessary to remind ourselves that humanity sits at the centre, not technology... It's difficult to separate us from our creations but it's imperative that we examine this odd relationship' (Chris Arkenburg).
It's been called a fad with a disloyal fan base and a home for 'generic blathering', yet around the world people are signing up and logging into Twitter. With somewhere between 200 and 500 million users - numbers are debated - Twitter has the ultimate 'send to all' option. This is a place in which the technologically-savvy and journalists can engage in new patterns of communication - witnesses tweet from the scene, while journalists have the opportunity to uncover breaking news from their desks.
The results of the parliamentary elections in Timor-Leste on Saturday have resulted in two outcomes, the first of which is a major boost in the vote for CNRT, the party of prime minister Xanana Gusmao, from 24 per cent to 36 per cent of the total vote. The second and more important outcome has been the consolidation of the democratic process in Timor-Leste just ten years after achieving independence.
After changing government in 2007, the people of Timor-Leste have again voted strategically, to focus their vote on the major parties, with CNRT taking much of the vote away from the many smaller parties which tended to reflect personalities rather than policies or party positions.
CNRT will probably form government with one or possible two coalition partners. Of the 21 parties that contested the poll, 17 now appear to have missed the cut-off threshold of three per cent, leaving just four, possibly five, represented in the parliament.
Our Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation held last week (6 July 2012) a national symposium on 'multiculturalism' which attempted to connect theory and academic research to policy making and community practice.
Indeed, and whilst the speakers from academe reflected on such concepts as feminism, cosmopolitanism, liberal demacratic theoy and social justice, a panel with prominent policy and community representatives provided amlple pointers as to where the real gaps lie in this often polarised debate.