Thursday, July 07, 2016

Chilcot Report: Rake - Bloody Good Show

It’s hard to miss the show’s rich, no-bullshit Australian vernacular, rare as that way of speaking is these days.

A lot of the reason that Richard Roxburgh gets away with it is that he just has bucket loads full of charm. And I think in the Australian version there’s always the sense that he is a genius underneath all his madness, whereas I didn’t really get that sense from Greg Kinnear, as talented as he is.

When Rake first hit our screens in 2010, it signalled a shift in Australian television. Based loosely on the life of barrister Charles Waterstreet (now a Sydney Morning Herald columnist), Rake’s lead character Cleaver Greene (Richard Roxburgh) is an unscrupulous, misanthropic but undeniably endearing scoundrel – one Australian television needs and deserves. While critic David Dale noted in the Sydney Morning Herald that the show isn’t always a ratings winner (not that surprising, given our collective love affair with reality TV), it consistently presents a smart take on Australian cultural life. Commentary on Rake from the likes of Lauren Carrol Harris,Karl Quinn, and Debi Enker suggests that the show has gradually nudged its way into Australian pop culture

Another trope of postmodern television is the figure of the anti-hero. With his many flaws, and blunt, dismissive outlook, Cleaver Greene joins a long list of charismatic television anti-heroes: Tony Soprano (The Sopranos), Dr House (House, 2004-2012), Dr Cox (Scrubs, 2001-2010), and Edmund Blackadder (Blackadder, 1983-1989).
 Bloody good TV: how Rake changed Australian television

       No surprise that this year's prix Jean Monnet de Littérature Européenne does not go to a UK author ..... I mean, none whatsoever -- Jean Monnet is spinning even more wildly in that grave 'Brexiters' have dug than the rest of us .... (Nice touch: the last UK author on the solid winners list for this prize was J.G.Ballard (2005) !)
       No, they've announced that this year's prize will go to Matéi Vișniec, for his novel Le marchand de premières phrases; see also the Actes Sud publicity page, or get your copy at
       Vișniec is better-known for his dramas -- and Seagull Books recently brought out a really nice-looking collection of his plays, How to Explain the History of Communism to Mental Patients; I have a copy, and expect to get to it -- this is good stuff. See their publicity page, or get your copy at or

The Chilcot report, released on Wednesday, found the flawed intelligence should have been challenged but wasn't, and the severity of the threat posed by Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction", which were never found, was presented to the public with "a certainty that was not justified".
*Paul Keating says John Howard should hang his head in shame over Iraq war

Kudos to Rakes and MEdiaDragons who took a day off on 7 of 7 2016 to place a shoulder to the crowdsourcing wheel of the big war data:

Perfect execution of crowdsourcing in news. 
ul/06/we-need-your-help-reporting-on-chilcot  Step 1: define the ask. Step 2: design the UX. Step 3. run the call out.

Citizen journalists’ have become powerful allies in the fight to afflict the comfortable

The Guardian turned to its audience on Wednesday for help telling a huge story: New, bombshell disclosures about the UK's flawed involvement with the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The revelations, contained in a lengthy report by government adviser John Chilcot, point to a British government that relied on faulty intelligence and was overly hawkish when there were non-military alternatives to war. But there's a lot more detail in the report, which is 2.6 million words long. For comparison, that's four times longer than "War and Peace," Leo Tolstoy's mammoth novel about the French invasion of Russia. If you want to help The Guardian sort through the Chilcot Report, you can do so here
How do you trawl through a 2-6 million word report the guardian is asking its readers for help

Chilcot report: 2003 Iraq war was ‘unnecessary’, invasion was not ‘last resort’ and Saddam Hussein was ‘no imminent threat’ Telegraph. Live blog. I was in Sydney in the runup to the war. It was obvious the US was going in because it had mobilized. The fact that Hans Blix (UN inspector) was in Iraq, and had already inspected 75% of the sites for WMD in order of priority (meaning if Saddam had anything, he was moving it around on trucks and the only people who were at risk were Iraqi citizens) was airbrushed out of the US media and I assume the UK MSM as well.
CODA: The Report of the Iraq Inquiry [The Chilcot Enquiry] was published on 6 July 2016 (the site includes a search engine). Sir John Chilcot’s  (Chair of the Inquiry) public statement can be read here.  It states: “We were appointed to consider the UK’s policy on Iraq from 2001 to 2009, and to identify lessons for the future. Our Report will be published on the Inquiry’s website after I finish speaking. In 2003, for the first time since the Second World War, the United Kingdom took part in an invasion and full-scale occupation of a sovereign State. That was a decision of the utmost gravity. Saddam Hussein was undoubtedly a brutal dictator who had attacked Iraq’s neighbours, repressed and killed many of his own people, and was in violation of obligations imposed by the UN Security Council  But the questions for the Inquiry were: whether it was right and necessary to invade Iraq in March 2003; and whether the UK could – and should – have been better prepared for what followed. We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort…”