As Australians, our home is known as the 'lucky country'. We learnt recently that five of
But not everyone in the world is so lucky.
'We are living in an isolation that would have been unimaginable to our ancestors, and yet we have never been more accessible...We have never been more detached from one another, or lonelier. In a world consumed by ever more novel modes of socializing, we have less and less actual society' ('Facebook Is Making Us Lonely' by Stephen Marche).
In an age when everyone is looking at the screen in their hand, how can we find time to look up and notice those around us? To connect with other people, form friendships or even... fall in love? For many people online dating and social media sites provide opportunities to bump into the right (or wrong) kind of person.
Author of 'WTF Is Up With My Love Life?!' Jessica Massa says that people are increasingly engaging in techno-romance: 'the rampant use of technologies to cultivate and explore romantic, sexual and flirtatious interactions, and even relationships'.
'The digital and physical are increasingly meshed [they] dialectically co-construct each other...This is opposed to the notion that the Internet is like the Matrix, where there is a “real” (Zion) that you leave when you enter the virtual space (the Matrix) - an outdated perspective as Facebook is increasingly real and our physical world increasingly digital' (Social Media commentator Nathan Jurgenson).
When Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975, part of its justification was that the then ruling Fretilin intended to allow the country to become a regional base for China. Fretilin had recently assumed power, having defeated the conservative UDT’s attempted coup in August of that year. But Fretilin’s victory was viewed in Indonesia as establishing a communist base in the middle of its archipelago at a time when the Cold War was running hot and communism in the region seemed in the ascendency. At that time, Indonesia was vehemently anti-communist, having destroyed its own communist party less than a decade before and broken off diplomatic relations with China as part of the purge. The idea of China having a base, or at least a friendly country, in its midst was intolerable to Indonesia’s generals. Whether or not Fretilin intended to establish close relations with China is a moot point.
East Timorese newspaper Tempo Semanal published an article this week which claims that the new Timorese Government represents "an oligarchy", and criticises the new government for its size and for the fact that it contained some brothers and sisters. There was criticism of the last Timorese Government for many reasons, including corruption. However, this same government established the Anti-Corruption Commission (KAK) which has led to some former ministers being investigated and in one case found guilty.
When Timor-Leste's new Cabinet was announced, there was a flurry of critical comment within Timor-Leste, about both the size and composition of the ministry. Some critics were unhappy that an expanded ministry would cost more and potentially lead to more corruption while others railed against Timor-Leste becoming an ‘oligarchy’ rather than a democracy.
The positive aspect of this commentary is that is shows that Timor-Leste is a plural political society expressing a range of political views. It is also important to note that while some of the commentary reflected partisan political positions, much of it also reflected a genuine concern over the size and capacity of the government.
The new ministry, with 17 ministers, is not especially large by any standard and is much smaller than many of other countries. The criticism therefore reflects on the inclusion of vice-ministers and secretaries of state, who exercise quasi-ministerial functions.
When you walk into Hungry Jacks, or McDonalds, or Kentucky Fried Chicken, and order your Whopper Value Meal, Big Mac Value Meal, or Ultimate Burger Meal, what does 1430kj, 2590kj and 3800kj (approx.) mean to you? Probably not very much.
But, instead of esoteric energy counts, what if you were confronted with something more comprehensible, like 75 minutes of sprinting (Medium Whopper Value Meal), or a 2 hour game of squash (Large Big Mac Value Meal), or, perhaps 5 hours of fast swimming (Ultimate Burger Meal)? Would you think again about buying all that food?
I think you would.
My childhood was influenced in some measure by two great icons that no longer exist. The first was Kodak – I adored my Box Brownie and I still have the wonderful grainy black and white pics. The second great icon was larger than Kodak: it was a stack of books known as Encyclopaedia Britannica.
The childhood I experienced was not unusual. For baby boomers, Kodak was our memory collector of choice and Encyclopaedia Britannica the Google of its day. But neither has survived the remorseless advance of the digital economy.
The invention of the internet, the inevitable convergence to a mobile phone or tablet, and the discovery of how to monetise a digital transaction have been death blows to these two icons and to so many others we can all name. And this transformation is far from finished.