Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kundip Shack # 3

Lonely Graves

This last photograph is of Noongar graves, separated by a hundred metres, a hundred years and no markings until 2009. Commonsense, humanity and geo-imaging prevails.
Ravensthorpe, 2011.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kimba's Downfall

She was named after the white lion who bounded across our fizzy screens in the 1980s. The other two are orpingtons that I inherited from Bob. They lay green eggs. Kimba laid brown eggs, until last week. She came unstuck, poor girl. That's what happens when you eat dog biscuts.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

How the West Was Won #2

I read a post from a fellow blogger on how bored he felt with writers blogging about the process of writing; (how hard it all is, how to do it, how to get published etc etc.) I can't help but agree with him. HowtoWrite blogs tend to make me simultaneously glaze over and bind up - no fun at either end of the transaction.

Why not just tell ripping yarns and be done with it? Hear hear, says Toa. Deckying on a fishing boat with the likes of Old Salt, writing a history thesis and generally living a chaotic but happy life will supply A WineDark Sea with plentiful stories.

The problem is, this week I was thinking about writing much the same kind of post as the ones Tom tends to click 'exit' from. Well, maybe not a HowtoWrite but a few thoughts on the process of this blogging thang, editing and Search Politics

So here goes, anyway. If I write a post on an issue that is currently surfacing and then I edit that same post over the next few days, as the story progresses and new angles emerge - is that unethical? Probably. It could be quite misleading in an historical sense. The date of publish stays the same on my blog - and that word 'publish' is the clinch.

Online journalism can get a story out twenty four hours before newsprint, a biggie in the current news cycle. It can also provide 'user content'. That is, the payer provides the media -  via the media - comments, feedback and free, insightful articles. (I'm not going to mention how much money this advancement saves the Murdochs of this world. Oh I just did? Sorry.)
A story uploaded online can be altered as the story progresses. This is quite a different situation to newsprint, which anyone who has ever read a newspaper or accessed archives on microfiche will know.

I'm kind of straying here. At some stage I really want to get back to the video stoush between the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation and Fortesque Metals Group that has been working the room this week. As I watched it unfold, I began to update on my original post and add links to Crikey articles and Supreme Court pdfs that were available. I also felt very tempted to alter the original post to reflect the challenging politics that were emerging around the story. I wasn't sure whether to edit or not and that is why I am writing now.

Apparently, no one at FMG took YAC's video seriously until it went viral. Once that happened, FMG released a counter video a few days ago to speak against the YAC's campaign.  This new video is narrated in soothing, gentle tones and is nothing like the angry 'heavily edited' work of the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation's film that got taken down by Vimeo after threats of legal action. Since then, the online media community, including Crikey, has gone completely silent on the issue of Yindjibarndi Aboriginal politics/contemporary paternalism/native title/taxation relief for the Big Miners.

Perhaps they are completely freaked out on thinking they may be weighing into an Aboriginal politics shitfight. Perhaps it is just the weekend, and five days off over Easter without taking on Fortesque Metals Group sounds like a good thing.

Which leads me to another point and it is not the looming public holiday. 

Search Politics is always connected to the ethics of online media. My pithy reservations about editing my blog are rather minuscule in the face of this.
If you type in a search for 'Yindjibarndi' and 'FMG', the FMG's new counter-video will come up, highlighted, at the top of the page. Every time.
How much money did that cost?
I'm certainly not going to link it for free.
Think about it next time you click on search.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How the West Was Won

I should be working but have spent most of the morning transfixed by footage of a meeting between the richest man in Australia, his lawyers and the Yindjibardi people of Australia's north west. Twiggy wants their land ... but only for the next few generations or until the iron ore runs out.

When the Yindjibarndi people began to prove difficult, citing the proposed agreement as unequitable and offensive, FMG called a Native Title meeting and stacked it with a paid, voting splinter group. FMG also paid the lawyer representing the splinter group. This lawyer chaired the meeting when an independant native title chairman walked out.

A public discrediting of traditional owners' Native Title testimonies followed, including that of a 105 year old man who was present. One agenda motion called for the dissenting claimants (four out of the seven) to be removed from the entire decision-making and voting process.

The footage of this meeting gets more and more appalling. I have never seen anything like it. Thank goodness it was filmed. This is the real, dirty face of Western Australia's 'resources boom.'
You can find the video and more information about the Yindjibarndi people's fight here.

Note for today: Vimeo pulled the video last night, saying they'd been contacted by FMG lawyers concerning defammatory and misleading statements about the FMG CEO ... but if you follow the link above, you can still see it streaming on You Tube. To read the YAC response to this situation, go here. 
For Crikey's article on the FMG public relations officer's overnight editing of Wikipedia pages, go here. 

Image: Fortescue Metals Group's Andrew 'Twiggy' Forest and  Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation CEO  Michael Woodley.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Morning Story

Clad in a nighty, with bed hair and pillow-creased cheeks, 
I run, carrying a rake,
chasing two big dogs
up the street. 
One looks like a wolf,
the other a Struggletown mutt. 
Two of my best hens flap in their jaws.
The grassy verge
is snowy with feathers.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Five Go Down to the Waterfront

This afternoon I finished my tutorial and wandered down to the coast for a board meeting.
Wandered down to the coast. Sounds so windswept and interesting. The truth is, the coast was a rather domesticated groyne. Also, I knew this meeting would end after dark, which is why I walked.  My car's alternator is charging like a 3 am taxi driver - per headlight minute.

An easy equation to understand for those who have clawed their way out of welfare or lawn mowing rounds sufficiently enough to afford new cars (but have still actually lived a bit) is: every single headlight minute = one less start = ringing up someone with a jump starter/fortuitously encountering said person in supermarket car park/pushing the car down the road eventuating in loud cheers and puffs of smoke, etc etc.

It was hot today. A northerly started blowing in, about right for this time of year. A few days of a premenstrual barometre around here and you just know the system is gonna blow and start raining soon. I walked to the sea and put my feet in the water. At the back of my neck, my hair was wet with sweat. If it were not for the meeting in a few minutes I would have just ... fallen in.

A station wagon pulled up. On the back window, a sticker: "Stop the Toad!" This is a reference to the feral cane toad entering Western Australia. A young man jumped out with his black dog. He walked down to the shore, where I was standing in the water.

"Gidday." The dog, bristle-maned, greying, gnarled face, kelpie origins (I just love this. Every real Albany dog has a bit of kelpie blood) scooted in manic circles around his owner's legs, yapping, rounding him up.
The man pulled a towel out, and then a snorkel and goggles.
"You going for a swim?"
"Yeah. I go every arvo.
"D'you reckon she's flushing yet?" I asked him.
"Yeah, I think she's okay, so far."
"Seen any fish?"

The flushing thing was not a rude question. Going to the foreshore in town right now means navigating a brand new marina and groyne. There is no more tidal beachfront seething with flounder, seagrass, cobbler and herring but a stylised arrangement of blue granite and floating jetties. The granite sea walls are designed to hold the water back, to foil all her dastardly, natural intentions, to discourage the sea from taking back what was rightfully hers.
I know European cities have made successful incursions into the sea but I have always felt that reclaimed land is difficult to work with, both physically and psychically. Its existence is only due to the demands of real estate agents and 'waterfront' developers; at least in this country with so much space to spare.

Tonight at the board meeting, we organised the itinerary for the Big Day.
"(So and so) will do the Welcome to Country."
"What does that mean?"
"It's a formality. It means that we acknowledge the traditional owners of the land that we are standing on."
"But the land we are standing on used to be the sea." 

After the meeting we stood with a glass of wine, looking over the unfinished marina. Thousands of seagulls returned on their mission from the town dump to the brand new car park. I said, "I hope they don't put a big fuck-off gate over those jetties. Anyone who can afford these mooring fees must own the kind of boat they don't want the rabble near."
"There won't be fishing boats anyway," said the old fisherman, gloomily. "I doubt I'll be able to pull up here to offload mulies."
I thought about the bloke and his dog. "Swimming?"
"No swimming. There's a camera up there." Nick pointed. Sure enough, there is a CCTV camera on one of the brand new light towers. "The Rules. Well, you can swim, but only between here ... and ... here," he marks out exactly half of the beach with a sweep of his hands.

The beach is about fifty metres wide. It is not even a real beach; the sand has been brought in and it feels, when you dig your hands in, like proper sand hills sand, full of lime that gets into the cracks of your fingers, straight from the truck. I know the feel of this sand well because we used to surf it as kids, on sheets of cardboard, out near the maximum security prison. It is now the only beach on the whole northern side of the harbour.

It is all very pretty though. Walkways guide the potential people through neat delineations of commercial nursery-sourced gardens and designer concrete tiles. The last of the wild reeds that hung on over the last hundred or so years of port development have been ripped out and their corms paved over. The sun still sets an obligatory red during the bushfire season, behind the windmills in the west ... and the groyne has stopped that Sudden Ocean from its waterfront rapine: stopped it dead.

Image: Nik Rolph, Enid Blyton