"The written word hasn't kept up with the age. The movies have outmanoeuvered it. We have the talkies, but as yet no Readies." So wrote Rob Brown in 1930 in his book The Readies. Putting his money where his mouth was, he made a prototype readie, which has since been lost. Brown's story is recounted by Jennifer Schuessler in The New York Times. Brown expert Craig Saper has created a replica Readie online, which includes amongst others texts by Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, F. T. Marinetti as well as translations from Horace by Ezra Pound. [Some of the texts shock modern sensibilities]
And we're off! Prime Minister John Howard has set the date for the Australian Federal election as November 24th, meaning we're up for a long six-week campaign. With Kevin Rudd leading the PM by between 16 to 18 points (depending on who you read) in recent opinion polls, this election seems the most likely to provide a change of Government since Howard was first elected 11 years ago. Antony Green's usual excellent election guide is up and running here, along with an excellent calculator which shows which seats are up for grabs dependent on a 2 party preferred swing. You might also want to check out the Vote-O-Matic, a fun but entirely disposable quiz which aims to help you decide who you'll vote for. [more inside]
The SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) isn’t a particularly novel way of stifling dissent: indeed, there are laws in California and other US States to prevent them. Their potential for misuse has also been identified in the Australian context, which has no clear definition of protected free speech. The latest effort at a SLAPP is by Gunns Ltd., a successful forestry company based in Tasmania. They’re suing the ”Gunns 20” for charges including conspiracy and ‘vilification’ (which is not actually a tort). Defendants include a Senator, Dr Bob Brown of the Australian Greens political party. The case is being compared (by the defendants) to the infamous PR disaster McLibel case, however Gunns should perhaps get a better lawyer: their initial pleading has been described by the judge as an "unintelligible embarrassment", showing that a bit of judicial common sense can still work wonders.