Entries from April 2008 ↓

Online Highlights from Islam and Democracy Debate

ABC Radio National’s Counterpoint program have ‘selected highlights‘ from the recent debate on Islam and democracy.  It’s not the entire debate but begins with Daniel Pipes making the case for the affirmative (that Islam is incompatible with democracy).

Outrage at 2020

The Australian reports today:

In the absence of halal food – prepared in accordance to sharia dietary laws – the Islamic delegates were forced to eat “salad sandwiches and vegetarian pies”.

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Open Thread — 27/4/2008


Patri Friedman (son of David and grandson of Milton) has just launched an interesting initiative; backed by Peter Thiel, founder of Paypal, the Seasteading Institute has been founded to establish “permanent, autonomous open communities” based on private man-made structures or islands built in the ocean. The view being that such communities would allow political, legal and social competition as different groups, free from the strictures of government and nation, could experiment and innovate.

They explain:

Currently, it is very difficult to experiment with alternative social, political, and legal systems on a small scale. Countries are so enormous that no individual can make much difference in how they work, and the existing entrenched power structures have tremendous inertia. Seasteaders believe that government shouldn’t be like the cellphone or operating system industry, with a tiny number of providers who offer few choices and make it hard to switch. Instead, they envision something more like web 2.0, where many small governments serve different niche markets, a dynamic system where small groups experiment, and everyone copies what works, discards what doesn’t, and remixes the remainder.

Patri expands further on this idea of competitive government in this essay and in Seasteading: A Practical Guide to Homesteading the High Seas.

The Journey to Talkfest 2020

In an inspiring and moving series of videos, one Australian talks about her long journey to the Prime Minister’s 2020 talkfest this weekend:

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Youth Talkfest 2020 Communique

The Youth Talkfest 2020 was held in Canberra over the weekend and the communique is now available online.  Amongst the ideas:  paid-parental leave for all, compulsory climate change education in schools, nationalised broadband, more “humanitarian intervention” abroad, enforcement of mandatory study of a second language in schools, implement a London-style congestion tax. and cease all federal road funding that will result in increased car use (in areas where there is public transport).

The life and loves of VS Naipul

the equally pompus current Mrs NaipulVidia Naipul regards himself as the greatest living writer of the English language. Those who know him best have a different and much less flattering view.

This word “master”, used often in the letters, is interesting. It is a slave word. In role playing – and most of these love letters refer to highly eroticised power games – the master is regarded as dominant; but, paradoxically, it is usually the submissive person, the masochist, who has the ultimate power – maddening for the sadist.

Here is one instance. Margaret shows up unexpectedly in Wiltshire. Naipaul is displeased with her. He beats her and afterwards explains, “I was very violent with her for two days with my hand; my hand began to hurt . . . She didn’t mind at all. She thought of it in terms of my passion for her. Her face was bad. She couldn’t appear really in public. My hand was swollen.”

And later:

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Open Thread — 12/4/2008

An open thread where you can discuss anything you like…

Make Talkfest 2020 Submissions Online

As Dave Bath points out, if you want to make a submission to the government’s Talkfest 2020, you have until 5pm tomorrow to do so.  Submissions can be made online at this site.  A few bloggers have made submissions and put them online.

Club Troppo’s Jacque Chester has some interesting suggestions around open government.   I would add that it would be great if government started making more data available and started publishing content such as Hansard in XML.  This would then make it easier for people to analyse and present that data in interesting and insightful ways.  The great They Work For You and Public Whip sites in the UK are examples of what can be done.

Catallaxy have also published a long list of reader suggestions: some of which are great, and some of which are no so great.  I like the idea of all government actions having to pass a cost benefits test, and the idea of sunset clauses on all legislation is brilliant.

So, what are your big ideas?


Islamhub is a useful site; aggregating the latest posts from a number of popular Islamic websites and blogs on to a single page.  It’s basically an Islamic version of Popurls.