Here are today's must-reads:
As an outsider, I won't pretend a sophisticated understanding of the cultural relationship between Australia and New Zealand, except to say that hearing Aussies and Kiwis muse on it reminds me of how Germans and Austrians or Americans and Canadians speak about their respective neighbors. There is something like a sibling rivalry -- affectionate if occasionally tense relations, differences enough to be the butts of one another's jokes, and mutual understanding such that both sides grasp the rivalry with more sophistication than any outsider.
We're left to puzzle over questionable Wikipedia articles and satiric sketches from Flight of the Conchords.
I happen to enjoy that sort of puzzling, for understanding is never so enjoyable as when it comes with much laughter. And I must admit that I laughed a lot at the following story, found in a copy of The Christchurch Press that I perused while eating my Eggs Benedict in a Greymouth, New Zealand diner. Headlined "Being called Aussie judged 'racist,'" it's one of those stories that juxtaposes the awful with the absurd, so that you feel bad laughing, but can hardly help it as the villain turns from mean-spirited harangues to blowing raspberries. Beyond the ugliness and the amusement, no study of trans-Tasman relations is complete without this case study.
But I also felt, as I do increasingly in movie theaters, the pleasure and relief of knowing that for two-and-a-half hours, I would be permitted the grace of concentration. I would not be answering e-mail, or the phone, or gazing guilty over at a basket of laundry in need of folding or dog hair in need of vacuuming—the sorts of things I too often do when I’m watching a movie on TV or on a laptop at home. I would be given a reprieve from multitasking. And when I wept or laughed or gasped in dismay, I knew I would be doing it in the company of strangers who were there in that theater for the same purpose: To be transported by, immersed in, somebody else’s intricately realized vision of life.
That communion in the dark is an experience that many fewer of us are having in the age of home entertainment and instant downloads. In 2011, movie theater ticket sales fell to their lowest point since 1995, and took another dip this past summer, perhaps partly in response to the Colorado movie theater shootings.
Prime Minister David Cameron dismissed the Leveson proposal today with waffling noises instead of marshaling a defense of a free press. “I’m not convinced at this stage that statute is necessary,” he said, testing the wind, leaving himself room to call for a statute if he needed it for a future campaign. What he should have told the public was, yes, British newspapers have caused great and unnecessary injuries to private citizens, they have pilloried celebrities for being celebrities, they appear to have bribed public officials, they have obstructed justice, and some of their corporate overlords have covered up their crimes and misdemeanors. But you’re the customer. Why do you keep buying this stuff? There are plenty of laws on the books to prosecute the criminal element in the press for their behavior—why don’t we do a better job of using well-defined, well-tested laws rather than create a quasi-court that could easily be turned into a free-press killer?
Then I’d have him invite the British press to make their case for press freedom. Because it’s incumbent upon the British press to explain to its readers why they can’t do their job with a regulator’s thumb poking them in the eye. If they can’t make that case, especially with the example of the United States standing so close, then maybe they don’t deserve a free press.
These are some of the other things I've been tweeting about today:
- "Is It Racist to Call Someone an Australian?" http://pjblack.me/SuwjmH
- should australia play north korea this week?: "The Socceroos must not give this vile man a free PR kick" http://pjblack.me/WFassb
- "Mark Z. Danielewski’s The Fifty Year Sword enhanced e-book will change Kindle and iPad reading." http://pjblack.me/Rxt7tq
- "Project to help users 'see' data" http://pjblack.me/YIJXaL
- "The 61 Countries a Mad Despot Could Instantly Unplug From the Internet" http://pjblack.me/St1YER
- "The Man Who Smelled Too Much" http://pjblack.me/St0YRd
- i love this app (on mac and now on iphone): "Review: Fantastical for iPhone shines despite iOS-caused limitations" http://pjblack.me/SsYDG1
- deciding the strange 1876 presidential election: "Swing Vote" http://pjblack.me/RxogZg
- "Britain’s press needs more freedom, not more regulation" says @jackshafer http://pjblack.me/Vqn4rM
- "A Point of View: When students answer back" http://pjblack.me/Srx1RG #highered
- i love @awayfind and @sanebox: "Apps bring e-mail barrage under control" http://pjblack.me/Srwgbi
- a danish company that only employs autistic workers: "The Autism Advantage" http://pjblack.me/Rvy1qW
- "Maria Popova Has Some Big Ideas" http://pjblack.me/SrcnRC
- "'Creamy & Crunchy,' A History of Peanut Butter, by Jon Krampner, Reviewed" http://pjblack.me/Srb3y1
- hear, hear!: "Why It's Better to Watch Movies in a Theater" http://pjblack.me/Sr8VGK
- i think qut needs one: "All You Need Is (Facebook) Love: ‘Compliments’ Accounts Go Viral at Colleges and Universities" http://pjblack.me/SraMLE
- "Why virtual currency Bitcoin can’t save the Iranian economy" http://pjblack.me/Sr9Syz
- "The Science Behind Those Obama Campaign E-Mails" http://pjblack.me/Sraswv
- "Top 5 Spotify Apps For Music Discovery" http://pjblack.me/RvvY5Z
- i can't wait: "Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained wins critical plaudits on Twitter" http://pjblack.me/RxDFIR
- "The forgotten cause of the Red Ribbon" http://pjblack.me/WF4XtG /cc @sponnypete @ryyder
- "What’s Up With Whatsapp? Facebook Might Want To Buy It, That’s What" http://pjblack.me/Sr9LDl
- i wonder what the statistics for australia are: "America's pet obsession" http://pjblack.me/RvvcpI
- "Is BitTorrent The Future Of Book Publishing? Tim Ferriss Is Banking On It" http://pjblack.me/Sr98ti
- "The Bookstore Strikes Back" http://pjblack.me/RvuxVj
- "How Two Presidents Helped Me Deal With Love, Guilt, and Fatherhood" http://pjblack.me/UjKZET
- links to the stories i discussed on @612brisbane this morning http://pjblack.me/RvKL0u
Follow me on Twitter @peterjblack.
And you can get my latest links anytime on my Rebelmouse social media front page.