Lazy Luddite Log


Melbourne Romp

I keep forgetting to report that a few weeks back I participated in the inaugural Melbourne Romp. The Romp is a new annual charity event that is like a kind of scavenger hunt (collecting information rather than objects) with the city of Melbourne as its focus. I was part of a team of choristers with the name Five Monarchs On A Rock.

Five of us are from the Monash University Choral Society (MonUCS) while the sixth is from the RMIT Occasional Choral Society (ROCS). We even had slapdash costumes of Roman, medieval, fantasy, Tudor and Regency monarchs.

The biggest contribution I made to the group was in drawing the team logo from which those costume concepts came. Other than that I just clicked into follower mode and let my younger and cleverer peers do the thinking. We did a whole lotta walking and got a bit too much Sun. We saw lots of our hometown and crossed paths with many other teams (some of them in themed dress) - it was as if half of Melbourne was participating in the Romp. The use of mobile phones to report in answers to clues at one time crashed the network! Clues would take teams to all sorts of historic and contemporary sites in the City (from the well-known Shot Tower to the more obscure but fantastic skyscraper at 333 Collins Street).

If you enjoy walking and chatting with friends and discovering all the secret bits of your City then I recommend the Melbourne Romp to you.

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FOME Turns Thirty

On Saturday I attended the Thirieth Anniversary Dinner Dance of the Fellowship of Middle Earth. FOME is the fantasy and science fiction society of Monash University. It was started in 1977 by fans (in particular) of the works of J R R Tolkien and C S Lewis. Since then it has evolved into a group of fans of both fantasy and science fiction genres across all media.

My first encounter with FOME was in my youth (lower secondary) during a family visit to Monash Uni Open Day. We visited the stall of FOME and I was impressed by the group of young adults all wearing cloaks and the maps of Middle Earth on the walls. Then on becomming a uni student I got involved in a number of groups but was most active in FOME.

As Thain (FOMEish for President) in 1992-93 I organised the Fifteenth Anniversary Dinner (at the one-time Hobbit Hill restaurant) so I felt it was important for me to attend this one as it has been such a part of my own life.

So I have now attendend two thirtieth anniversary events in recent months. The FOME event was fun. The comunity hall was the right size for us and gave us room for both dining and dancing. I had the honour of preparing the playlists for the night (always a fun task for me) but as we danced I was reminded of other FOME events (e.g. masquerade balls) and of the absent friends who once cut a rug at those events. The dinner dance was well attended both in terms of numbers and of the many generations of FOME represented and yet there were others that I missed.

The current Council added a few new innovations to the event such as a door prize of some excellent Lord Of The Rings action-figures and the provision of crayons so that we could draw stuff on the paper table cloths if ever we were in a non-chatting non-dancing mood (something worth remembering for a group that attracts more than its share of introverts). There were also many well-worn traditions such as the mathom exchange and the singing of Happy Birthday (Volga Boatman version).

It was also fun because my date Sara instructed me in some Salsa dance moves (I had anticipated this and thrown in some vaguely Latin popular tracks). I am a far from competent student and yet she made me kinda look like I knew what to do.

I am happy I went and more than happy to have been part of FOME all this time. The friends and experiences I have got as a 'fellow' have very much enriched my life.

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Federal Election Begins

The Prime Minister has finally announced the date of the 2007 Federal Election for Saturday 24 November. And I have once more thrown my hat into the ring as an Australian Democrats candidate. This time I am standing as our candidate for the Federal Division of Chisholm.

My campaign effectively started a week before the announcement of the date. I was invited as one of the prospective candidates for Chisholm to participate in a panel discussion at the Syndal Baptist Church. I have been a candidate in the past but I had never spoken before a church congregation so I accepted the invitation with some trepidation. This was accentuated by the fact that I am agnostic and lack experience in interacting with the religious elements of our community. My concerns however were put to rest by the very welcoming and accepting nature of our hosts. They were interested in what we had to say and withheld any personal judgements they may have had for the ballot box.

Every candidate was asked the same questions. The pivotal one was what two or three things we would want to change in Australia if we were Prime Minister. I think the spirit of this question is to ask us what our wishes are for our nation but I focused on the letter of the question in that it refers to the Prime Minister whose powers are in truth very limited. I therefore stressed that the PM is merely the most important of our Federal Parliamentarians and that nobody in our democratic society gets things exactly as they want them. I stated that if I were PM I would hope that there would be limits put on my power - in particular I wished for nobody to have a majority in the Senate so that debate and compromise were once more necessary aspects of government decision-making.

This is principally why I am standing - to draw attention to the good work of the Australian Democrats in the Senate and to assist in the re-election of Senator Lyn Allison.

I also described how I wanted to see political relations in Australia conducted with respect and regard for others despite the differences that exist between us. In saying this I stressed that these differences take many forms but are all deserving of understanding. These included...

* Differences of birth such as gender or ethnicity: Too much of politics in Australia has been catering to base prejudice.

* Differences of circumstances such as income level: How well-off we are is only ever something we partly control and we deserve the consideration and support of others.

* Differences of personal life choice: The best decisions are well-informed decisions that are freely made. Everyone thinks differently and will make different decisions as a result and we have to accept these if we are to survive as a society.

The intersect between religion and politics is a tricky one. I am a strong supporter of the separation of church and state but I also recognise that in a democracy the values of religious persons will affect the political actions they take. With this in mind I have observed that Australian politics attracts both 'Compulsion Christians' (those who want to compel us to all live as they do) and 'Compassion Christians' (those who accept that they have a mission to improve the quality-of-life of all living in this world). I deem those I met on that Sunday morning to be very much the latter. For me it was a challenging but invigorating start to the campaign.


I have since been to two more church forums in Chisholm. They are all interesting and challenging events. They have provided me with an oportunity to engage with voters and with different perspectives from my own. They have also allowed me to inform those of a different position on issues like sexuality why I have a different position from them.



Ein Deutches Requiem & Te Deum

On the date this entry is postmarked I wrote the following:

On Friday 19 October from 8pm the Monash University Choral Society (MonUCS) will perform both Ein Deutches Requim by Brahms and Te Deum by Dvorak. We will be performing with instrumentalists and the music will be lovely. The concert will be held at Saint Mark's Anglican Church... in Fitzroy... I am happy to sell tickets to all comers. In fact I will be bugging some of you personally to come to this excellent event!

Well I managed to sell four tickets (family and friends) and thankfully the efforts of the group overall got a decent audience along which was just as well since we pulled off another cracking performance. We were feeling pretty shaky till the last week but then it all seemed to come together suddenly and was alright on the night. I wonder at that phenomenon: Can one get better suddenly or is it that we were getting better bit-by-bit but only in ways we could notice in the last few rehearsals. Anyway...

It was a fun night despite the tiredness and soreness that comes from standing still in formal shoes for too long. The cameraderie of the group and the fun of the post-concert party all made it worthwhile... O and the joy of the music in some of its more powerful or beautiful moments.