Portfolio

Here are some bits and pieces I’ve written that are scattered across the net.

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The Disrupted
 – An exploration of automation and the future of work I wrote for Melbourne Knowledge Week 2017.

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…

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Why We Still Need Philosophy
 – An essay about why, in spite of the dismissal of high-profile scientists like Stephen Hawking and Lawrence Krauss, philosophy is more relevant that ever. This was originally published in a digital magazine called The Philosopher’s Lunchclub which is no longer online, so I’ve put it up here.

…Vocation, vocation, vocation. In education, culture and society at large, the entire project of the humanities is being more or less dismantled by a neoliberal orthodoxy that considers profit the only measure of worth. But the study of sages is barely even being defended. More and more, philosophy seems to be seen as a rarefied refuge for pedants and poseurs, a teetering ivory tower that ought to be demolished to make room for something useful. But in an era of profound uncertainty, where unconscious structures and dangerous ideas ride roughshod lives, that demolition is the last thing we need…

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Cold Water – A personal essay I wrote about Bali, Tony Blair and the perennial struggle to be present in the world when we’ve internalised a culture of distraction. There’s other travel writing on this site too.

As I rode the violent fast boat from Gili Air to Amed, Bali, deafened, fume-headed and focusing all of my will on trying not to munt, I couldn’t stop thinking about Tony Blair. What does he want? Does he self-medicate? What’s his golf handicap? Why don’t I think about him more often? I tried to contemplate something else, but just as my eyes were fixed on the spirit level of the horizon, my mind was stubbornly glued to that aging, mild-mannered war criminal. It was as if Tony Blair was my sea-sickness, chaperoning me across the furious depths like a grinning, nervous tapeworm…

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Finally, here are some older pieces from this blog I think are worth a gander:

Chocolate and Rubber – An essay on the disjunct between the way we remember the victims of WWI and the victims of colonialism. It touches on Belgium, the Congo Free State, resource exploitation, racism, propaganda and memory.

Close the Pod By Doors, Siri – In which I argue that the Turing Test and a lot of the hype around AI should be taken with a grain of salt, and that our obsession with building minds is symptomatic of a creeping contempt for human experience.

A Meaty Proposal – An essay about ethical consumption, vegetarianism, hypocrisy and bioethics which includes the worst sentence I have ever written: “Sam Kekovich understands that the industrial production of meat is environmentally catastrophic, intensely cruel and predominantly unhealthy.

Randomocracy – A discussion about democracy that springs from the 2016 Australian Senate reforms. I make the case that our parliamentary system is so enmeshed with power and privilege that it’s less democratic than elections based on random chance.

Roy’s Three Little Lines of Surprise – Me making fun of a lame cartoonist.