A.C. Grayling: privacy and right to life

Went to A.C. Grayling lecture tonight. He quoted Benjamin Franklin, 1775: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

He says we should resist having Google and Facebook harvesting all our details, and governments being able to read all our emails. What if our govt isn’t benign one day?

Also, people from conservative cultures might become the dominant online force — maybe we will be made to go back to the days of Mad Men and a lack of equality?

He said some countries (eg. Russia) don’t even have a word for “privacy”.

He told some scary anecdotes about people from countries where privacy doesn’t exist and the govt monitors everything — I won’t mention them here, as he’s on tour in Sydney for the Writer’s Festival and you can see him yourself.

Right to Life: he means quality of life. So, actually: a right to die with dignity when the quality of life plummets.

A pretty radical character with an interesting history.

Bisexual trivia nite

Joined the Bisexual table at a general trivia night. The quiz master must have been used to serious quizgoers, as he kept enforcing strict rules about keeping mobile phones off and during True and False game team members weren’t allowed to help each other.

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A’s birthday party

Went to A’s birthday. T and R were there and T said she’d mainly seen punk bands and alternative, indie music, but she went to see Britney and it was “totally fantastic!” “I’d been told all my life that the mainstream was CRAP, but it wasn’t! The escalators – going up to our seats – even had glittery lights!”

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‘Let’s sit around a fire’

Went to a workshop held by Richard Downs, one of about 30-40 Aboriginal Elders who took part in the Ampilatwatja walk-off in June last year – they walked away from their community in the NT to set up camp in the bush. He’s the spokesman for the Alyawarra people  living at the township of Ampilatwatcha, 350 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs.

They’re planning to install a bore and make the camp entirely self-sufficient with solar energy and permaculture.

Richard Downs. Photo: The Juice Media

Everyone wants to go and visit the camp, but he said they can’t have visitors until they’ve got water. Now they’re carting water from the nearby township. They’re looking for donations and are getting some union funding.

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Australian Style book review

9781920989767It’s a beautiful book. I bought it because I like interiors and was interested in a vision of “Australian” style. I couldn’t find many references to Australia, though.

I used to work with Penfold, sub-editing her Source column, and, after reading this book, I can affirm she walks the walk. She always looked glamorous and always had bright, chirpy anecdotes. She’d always say we were brilliant at our work (page 31). She always had a humorous comment to make about a trip to Monte Carlo or a fashion faux pas or the latest mishap by the tradies. She’d send herself up in an Ab Fab Patsy kind of way.

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Turning Point self-help course

Was on 60 Minutes. Will be interesting to see what the Coroner says.

I had a friend who did the course and he loved it. He recommended I do it, but – running it by my Thoreausian benchmark – “Do I feel attracted to doing this course?” – I didn’t want to.

I rang the course this week out of curiosity and the bloke said they still run it once a month (the website is temporarily down). He said he’d mail me some material but it hasn’t arrived. I said I couldn’t afford the $675 and he said they can arrange a payment plan. Anyway, I’m not keen on that sort of intense course as I feel they tend to be a temporary band-aid. When I meet people who’ve gone on that sort of thing (eg. est), they’re all keyed up and evangelical for a few weeks but the glow wears off.

I dislike the 60 Minutes spin so it gets the Tulip of the Week Award. Lots of people go through courses and don’t end up psychotic.

On another track: I’ve known people who were drug-dependent or caught up in self-destructive lifestyles who’ve joined crazy cults and ended up getting their lives back on track. Sure, the cults always had an element that was “unacceptable” and kept them on the fringe (eg. free-for-all sex or a weird guru or a belief in aliens) but at least they learnt how to live much more productive lives. And some of them got disillusioned and left and lead more conventional lives.

As a stepping stone upwards, fringe cults are essential and great. Apart from the ones where everyone suicides. You have to know when to get out before it goes too bad.

If you know people who’ve been in cults – or have accidentally ended up in one yourself – you’ll know there are a lot of good things about them, especially if you can get what you need and then move on.