Today, April 25, is ANZAC Day in Australia & New Zealand. A most reverent & sacred day in this part of the world, it commemorates the day in 1915 when Australia and New Zealand Army Corp troops (the nominal ANZACs) made a landing at Gallipoli on the coast of Turkey (a place now called ANZAC Cove).
The day certainly isn’t a celebration of a great victory – the Gallipoli campaign (the brainchild of a young Winston Churchill, then chief of the navy) was an abject failure and cost tens of thousands of ANZACs their lives before their eventual withdrawal by British high command after having gained mere yards. A mistake by the planners meant that instead of landing at a lightly defended beach, the ANZACs landed at a steep, mountainous cove peppered with Turkish machine-gun positions. With the advantage of height and numbers, the Turkish guns made a complete mess of the troops storming the beach. The ANZACs were tenacious, made small gains, dug in and held on as they were ordered to for months, but made no appreciable ground and were pulled out months later, their ranks decimated by superior numbers and by the privations of trench warfare.
But why remember such horror? Our troops had certainly been involved in military action before and with more success, in places like the Crimea and during the Boer War. Well, despite having first been colonised by the British in 1788, Australia didn’t become a federated nation until 1901. ANZAC Day marks the first time Australian troops went into battle representing their own nation and not just a colony of Imperial Britain. It is considered by some an important step in the building of our national character – the baptism by fire of our fledgling democratic nation in international conflict. Others see it as a warning not to simply do the military bidding of another nation (a warning that’s rarely been heeded).
These days it has chiefly become a day of rememberance and for thanksgiving for the sacrifices of all our fallen soldiers, sailors & airmen and a day to spare a thought for those currently serving around the world. Today, Australians & New Zealanders will be attending parades or watching them on TV, having barbecues (thought it is autumn and getting chilly), playing two-up, going to church services, many will be in Turkey at ANZAC Cove itself for a dawn service, or just taking a minute whenever they can to remember Australians that risked or gave their lives for our country. Far from glorifying war or violence, ANZAC Day is a day of quiet reflection, of appreciation of sacrifice … and to remember how those bastard Brits shafted us at Gallipoli.
Well, it will if the Australian government gets its way on its internet censorship bill. That’s right. The ACMA seems to have placed Wikileaks on its potential web blacklist and seems set on throwing fines of up to $11,000 at anyone who links to it.
I’d happily go all out on this one, but a fellow Antipodean has already got this one in his sights:
I’m posting this on my American blog because the Australian government, through the Australian Communications and Media Authority is fining people on Australian sites who give the links below the fold $11,000/day. Pretty well everything I feared about censorship by the internet filter and heavy handed government action is coming true.
First of all, it transpires that only one bureaucrat at ACMA is required to block and ban a site, with no further oversight or redress. Second, it turns out that yes, ordinary and popular pornography sites are being blocked, so that if the filter becomes mandatory, these legal sites will effectively become censored for no apparent reason (other than political whim or special privileges). Thirdly, the whistleblower site Wikileaks is blocked by the ACMA blacklist.
John follows with the excerpt from a Crikey article:
Like New Labour in the UK, the ALP has now abandoned that [civil liberties movement], for a number of reasons. Once it committed itself to neoliberal economics (“social capitalism”) Labo(u)r became freaked about the social dissolution and rupture, the desocialisation created by turning the polis into a giant market of winners and losers. The tough answer to this is genuine social democracy, in which people have a social being not entirely defined by whether they’re a “winner” or a “loser”. The easy answer is to let the market rip, allow it to change the culture, and then seek to control and reshape people’s behaviour, selling it to them as “protecting the many against the few”.
eriophora biapicata Thought I’d post something different – a little taste of home. Literally from my own backyard in fact. This is a female eriophora biapicata, or Garden Orb-weaving spider (females are about one-quarter to one-third bigger than males). Unlike many Australian arachnids (and most Australian wildlife in general), this species doesn’t want to kill [...]
As (to the best of my knowledge – please correct me if I’m wrong) I’m the only Aussie here, I thought I’d give you a quick primer on the land of my birth. But not by my own hand. I’d just bugger it up.
Douglas Adams, writer of the five-part and inaccurately-named Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy Trilogy, seemed to equally adore and fear this wide brown land and penned the following survival guide to Australia, pre-dating Lonely Planet by many years and being a lot more accurate with the information he provided. Except for the bit about snakes: Australia is crawling with the bastards. Of the top dozen deadly snake species on this planet, we have more or less all of them. But I can forgive Douglas a small error. After all, it’s impolite to call attention to the grievous errors of a deceased person. Unless they’re named Hitler.
[Photo: Douglas Adams signing books (2000). (from Wikimedia Commons)]
Anyway, without further ado, I present:
DOUGLAS ADAMS’ GUIDE TO AUSTRALIA
Australia is a very confusing place, taking up a large amount of the Bottom half of the planet. It is recognisable from orbit because of many unusual features, including what at first looks like an enormous bite taken out of its southern edge; a wall of sheer cliffs which plunge deep into the girting sea. Geologists assure us that this is simply an accident of geomorphology and plate tectonics, but they still call it the “Great Australian Bight” proving that not only are they covering up a more frightening theory, but they can’t spell either.
The first of the confusing things about Australia is the status of the place. Where other land masses and sovereign lands are classified as either continent, island, or country, Australia is considered all three. Typically, it is unique in this . . .
In the aftermath of California’s passing of the shameful Proposition 8, I bring good tidings (and hope) from Australia. I’ll post most of the article From the Canberra Times because it’s short and to the point: Gay and lesbian couples are a step closer to equality before the law after two Bills passed through the Senate. The [...]