Facebook does it for me again…

A couple of times in the past I have mentioned the Britannia Hotel and especially two friends I met there.

This is Morehead Street, which I first got to know way back in 1985 when two of my first gay friends from The Britannia Hotel lived there – Philip and Dean. They were much younger than I was – 21 and 19 respectively — but took me, a neophyte, under their wing, as it were. Later, in 1990, M and I were to take a room at Philip’s place in George St Redfern, our first joint address. Philip was a great friend, now living in Melbourne.

Well not any more he doesn’t. Facebook has delivered both as “friends” in the past few days! Smile One lives in New York, and the other in East Timor – and bemedalled as well though I am not sure what that is about. And here they are as I first knew them, pretty much.


Both have stories to tell and both I greatly admire and recall with real warmth. Good to see that they have got on so well these days.

Meantime local politics can be darkly amusing. The latest poll shows that anyone except the current leaders are the ones Aussies want right now, and I have to say I rather agree.


I think we are all just sick of the bickering, the relentless  negativity of the Opposition under Abbott and the unseemly self-inflicted wounds Julia has suffered over asylum seekers by deliberately embracing options that are really worse than those of the Coalition!

But Julia is saying very much the right things in Wollongong today. Let’s hope they deliver and the other mob don’t out of sheer bloody-mindedness  get the wrecking ball out again. They probably will, of course.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard will bring with her two major announcements when she touches down in Wollongong today, both aimed at cushioning the impact of manufacturing job cuts, while also helping to transform the region’s economy.

Most significantly, Ms Gillard will name Wollongong as the first major beneficiary of the National Broadband Network, following furious lobbying from the region’s representatives.

The NBN will give a considerable boost to the region’s emerging technological sector fuelled by the information and communication graduates from the University of Wollongong.

As the fibre optic network spreads across the Illawarra, homes will have access to internet more than a 100 times faster than the existing speeds in some cases. The network uses fibre optic cables – vastly superior to the existing copper wire network – which it is hoped will lead to the creation of ‘‘garage businesses’’ able to sell their wares to international clients.

It also holds the potential to revolutionise health care, enabling doctors to diagnose and monitor patients remotely from great distances.

The network will be laid progressively across the Wollongong area, via a series of nodes, connecting directly to homes and businesses…

News of the NBN will be accompanied by an announcement of an extra $25million for the Maldon to Dombarton rail link. The funds will pay for detailed engineering design plans, a ‘‘realistic’’ construction timetable and new cost estimates.

The news does not represent the green light that proponents of the project were hoping for, but instead will make the project ‘‘shovel ready’’ if it is eventually approved. The total cost of the project, if approved, has been estimated at $550million and would involve the laying of 35km of track. If approved, the rail-link would connect the existing main Southern line directly to Port Kembla via Dombarton.

The final decision, however, rests with Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese together with his statutory authority Infrastructure Australia.

That’s all very vague. See my post Niggling example of political short-sightedness: Maldon-Dombarton rail link. It really ought to be an urgent priority and former NSW Premier Nick Greiner’s [Liberal Party] termination of the project was one of the many blows Sydney has rained down on this region. The NBN is a goer though. It is already live just south of here.

And tonight I will be intrigued and/or annoyed by All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace on SBS1 at 8.30. There’s some good discussion on the comment thread there.

There’s a lovely put-down in the comments on that YouTube:

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves hobbits, elves, and wizards.

See also the Sydney Morning Herald TV Guide and a negative review from New Statesman.

How does Adam Curtis get away with it? In the past, this question, falling from my own lips, was implicitly admiring. What I meant was: how, in a world of dross and fearfulness, does he get his brilliant but difficult films screened? Now, though, I’m asking it in a more straightforward way. Whisper it softly, but I’m not sure that his new documentary series – All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace (Mondays, 9pm) – adds up to much.

Yes, it’s full of arcane information, dizzying rhetorical leaps and serendipitous footage (no one uses a news archive like Curtis does, which is why, when I picture him in my mind’s eye, he always looks like a mole). But as a thesis, or even as a provocation – 21st-century connectivity has nothing to do with freedom; we are merely slaves to the corporations that sell us this chimera – it never really gets going. He loses you at every turn, with the somewhat ironic result that, when the thing is over, you resort to one of the machines he so despises – your laptop – to clear up the mess. (Oh, the hours that I have spent googling the followers of Ayn Rand’s stupid Collective!)…