Dr Peter White's Blog

Thoughts and comments from Dr Peter White -- political, philosophical, spiritual, musical and more

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Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

I am retired from the Uni. of Queensland, and have numerous interests inside and outside of the uni. I play classical, bluegrass, country and folk guitar (hows that for a mix?) I am a member of the Australian Labor Party and am currently branch secretary of the Mt Coot-tha branch. I'm also involved in developing virtual reality builds and websites. Never bored!

Sunday, August 29, 2004


Who do ya trust? Remember that?

Well, having just seen Farenheit 9/11, and listening to the increasing concern both in Australia and the USA about the Iraqi war, I do wonder about the future of our democracy.

As a sort of counter-point, I have found myself reading the "Wit and Wisdom of Harry Truman". Truman was a man who should be elevated into the ranks of exceptional leaders -- he is an American Cincinnatus, and while serving as President, still retained a deep humanity and compassion.

Would that we could say the same for our current crop of leaders.

"Where there is no vision, the people perish", said the scriptures and we have leaders by vote, but not leaders by morality or vision. In Australia there is no vision -- just an ongoing deadly pragmatism grafted on to the body politic's hip pocket nerve. In the USA, a nation of cannon fodder for the rich and richer, with the great lie pushed over and over.

Whoopee. Who do we trust?

Our trust in our leaders has led us down the primrose path to where the veneer of democracy may be all that holds the fragile edifice together because the timber of politics under it has been eroded away through greed, ignorance, and the lack of us -- the body politic -- to learn and do something about it.

Do we deserve what we will get? Probably [sigh]...

And to brighten our day here in the great south land, we have another election on 9th October. Will it be more than the proverbial deck chair re-arrangement on the Titanic? One wonders.

'nuff for now.

Peter W

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Refugees & people smuggling

Over the past three years, the Australian government has initiated policies that very harshly punish people attempting to get into Oz through people smuggling schemes.

Unfortunately, this also means many women and children. They are kept in detention centres in remote places. Some people have been in detention for 3+ years.

People came here -- albeit illicitly -- because there was no hope for them where they were: Afghanistan and Iraq particularly. When all hope is lost, and a lifeline is offered -- even a dodgy one, would seem to me to be a preferred option.

Many of these people have paid a lot of money to get onto a leaky boat with dubious credentials and crew to escape an intolerable situation.

And when they get here -- guess what? They're in an intolerable situation.

I think that the Oz policy needs to change. First, grant an amnesty to all those who are currently in detention, or who are on 'limited protection visas', to full immigration rights.

Secondly, work more assiduously to 1) eliminate unscrupulous people smugglers and the organisations that support them, and 2) open up immigration to those in desparate situations.

It's ironic that the people the government most fears -- illegal entry immigrants -- are frequently praised highly by the communities they live in, as good citizens, hard workers, and keen to make a go of it all.

We might also note that terrorists usually don't invade a country on a leaky boat. They come on an airplane with sound credentials (forged maybe?)

The way the Oz government has treated the 'boat people' is more than shameful, and it embarrasses the whole country.

'nuff for now.

Peter W

Monday, August 16, 2004

Is there honesty in the 4th estate?

In a word -- yes, and if it's sometimes hard to find, there are occasional gems that because of their brilliance grab and hang on.

One such is Margo Kingston's book "Not Happy, John!" recently published and launched in Australia. I won't attempt to do a book review here, but suffice to say that for Australians at least, it's a very important read and couldn't have come out at a better time.

Like Mike Moore in the USA, Margot Kingston brings to our attention some of the deep and underlying pathologies that current rignt-wing governments are reluctant to share with us.

The book launch statements, reviews, etc. may be found at

Go there -- read -- enjoy -- weep...

Peter W

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Results of actions...

One of the phenomena that has fascinated me for many years is the interplay of people's actions -- on each other and on the environment. With over six billion humans, all interacting in some way or other, the total result is astronomical.

Who does what to whom, and what is the result, and what is the longer-term outcome?

What grain of sand triggers the landslide?

Network scientists are working on this; religious leaders have discussed this; we as a race have set up rules to try to put boundaries on acceptable interactions.

The mass media (all of 'em) make their living by describing or telling stories about interactions.

We see the actions of our leaders in the mass media -- and the results such as the fiasco (sorry, war) in Iraq; the incarceration of refugee children in Australia; the kidnapping and murdering of children by very disturbed adults, and so on ad infinitum.

What causes all this? What can we do as individual people?

What do our actions do? Is one of our less salubrious actions one that has ultimately caused mayhem further down the timeline?

I'm not a preacher nor a guru -- but the questions are interesting.

Happy pondering.

Peter W

Saturday, August 14, 2004

A tool for democracy?

I've just been reading an article in the magazine Internet.au on blogging (Blogging for Revolution, Penny Lake) which has prompted me to set up my own.

I have been teaching postgraduate students to use computing technology for language teaching for the past 8 years, as well as being a 'webmaster' for personal and professional academic sites.
Lake's article put a new and urgent spin on the use of blogs due to the nature of the medium, and the growing pervasiveness of the Internet, to enable citizens across the globe to speak their minds.

More and more our mass media are under the control of fewer and fewer owners, who are generally in it for the mass profit; opinions and stories relevant to citizens are often never heard, seen, spoken about, and when they are -- frequently discounted.

I will use this blog for comments on political issues, social justice issues, ethical and philosophical issues, and others from time to time.

I'll say more when my 'ranting' gene is activated. But for now, th-th-th-that's all, folks.

Peter W

Ref: Lake, Penny (2004). Blogging for revolution. Internet.au (99) Feb 2004. 30-34.