The Disrupted

This essay about automation was written and published for Melbourne Knowledge Week 2017.

THE DISRPUTED

“Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.”

– Genesis 17:26, KJV

The weavers are coming to break the machines. They charge through streets that smell of kerosene and dung as the planets – still undimmed by smog – circle above the English midlands. The weavers carry lit torches and sledgehammers and cry the name of their leader, King Ludd. Ludd is a legend and an in-joke, a hero who doesn’t exist. A couple of the bearded weavers wears dresses and call themselves “Ludd’s Wives”. When the Luddites reach the mill they storm the door and swarm the floor to break the things that took their jobs. The guards have fled and the looms do not fight back.

The mechanised loom is an exciting advance for England’s economy and for humanity as a whole, but for the artisans it usurps it is a violent innovation. The Luddites fight for oldest reason: so their kids can eat. Tendons pull, elbows pivot, human cogs and levers break their iron competition. Cheers and splinters fill the mill. A dog howls in the distance.

Thick thread tumbles from a broken frame. It unspools through history, weaves through the red coats of the soldiers marching up from London and coalesces into ropes that loop around the throats of the weavers, then tighten as they fall. Ludd’s wives dangle in the breeze.

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I, Latham

‘What does the martyrdom of Christians in the Roman Empire between the reign of the Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus and Emperor Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus have to do with a defamation action commenced in Australia in 2017?’

Justice Michael Wigney on Mark Latham’s ‘extraordinary’ 76-page defence of his claim that journalist Osman Faruqi’s joke tweets were ‘anti-white racism’ that would incite terrorism.

latham

I, Marcus Williamus Externus Lathamus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles), who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my infinite enemies as ‘A Racist’, or ‘Bonecrusher’ or ‘What the Hell Mark, Are You Okay?’ or at best as ‘The Increasingly Erratic Former Leader of the Labor Party’ am now about to write this strange history of my post-political life; starting from when I was treacherously deposed by colleagues to this fateful point some thirteen years later, when, at the age of fifty-seven, I find myself persecuted by the Islamo-Femo-Eco-Homo-ABC-Communist New World Order.

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Their Melbourne

From Southbank to Carlton, the city of Melbourne is littered with sky-blue posters. They carry the slogan Our Melbourne and the beaming face of Lord Mayoral candidate Sally Capp. Capp is the frontrunner for the by-election that follows by the resignation of Lord Mayor Robert Doyle after an independent investigation found that he sexually harassed two women.

For interstate readers not familiar with outgoing mayor, imagine if Mr Toad of Toad Hall was a sexual predator. Some of the highlights of Doyle’s decade in the robes include using riot police to brutalise peaceful protesters and plotting to purge the city of homeless people, which advocates say would have probably killed some of them.

So Capp, if she wins, will surely be a breath of fresh air. The major parties certainly seem to think so. Both the Liberal Party – which Capp forgot she used to be a member of until a journalist helpfully reminded her – and “key local Labor figures” support the Lord Mayor for our Melbourne. But who does the “our” refer to?

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The Minister for Home Affairs

Content note: This piece includes graphic discussion of suicide and reference to abuse

Just as I said I wouldn’t, I forgot them, and their stories got tangled up with all the other distant horrors. In May, last year, two young refugees under Australian care set themselves on fire. Omid Masoumali, an 23 year old held in indefinite detention on Nauru, doused his body in petrol and burnt himself alive. Three days later Hodan Yasin, a 21 year old Somali woman, also set herself alight. Unlike Masoumali, she survived; with burns covering seventy per cent of her body. She lost several fingers in the blaze.

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Fields of Wheat

“Me and my friends sort of used to run through the fields of wheat…” the Prime Minister says, a gleam of merriment finding her eyes, “the farmers weren’t too pleased about that… Their cries were sort of like those of animals. Gosh, they ran and ran… their filthy, skinny haunches carrying them as best they could. But we were faster, of course – children often are – and because we were quite small they could rarely see us beneath the golden heads of wheat. We laughed a great deal when they swerved or swore or prayed. Blood takes on a different odour when it’s agitated, sort of like… marzipan. My friend April would always reach them first, then myself, then June. Farmers are rather well acquainted with dying. I imagine they learn it from their livestock. Goodness me… Nobody is ever perfectly behaved, are they?”

For UK readers who aren’t volunteering for Labour in today’s election because victory is still a long shot, even with the tightened polls, here’s a short letter from an Australian perspective.
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Satan Disendorses Trump

LUCIFER, Prince of Darkness and Emperor Apostate of hell, has officially disendorsed Republican presidential nominee Donald Jeronimo Trump.

“His actions comments are beyond the pale,” announced Satan, a key backer of the Reagan and Bush administrations. “On behalf of all of the legions of the damned, I’m cutting all ties to the Trump campaign. I may be the cloven-footed embodiment of evil, but being assosiciated with this blabbering fascist is starting to hurt my brand.”

Lucifer claimed that his stunning denouncement was inspired by Trump’s recent rise in the polls. “We put him up as a bit of a joke, but we never expected it to go this far. He’s facing over a dozen unresolved rape allegations, including from his ex-wife, and is still on the brink of becoming president? How can I support him when  I myself am a father? How could I look the abstract concept of lies in the eyes?”

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