What was I up to in January 2002?

These entries via rare remnants of my Diary-X site. Some names may be edited to conform with my later practice.

NOTE 2017:

Diary-X (commonly abbreviated dx) was the name of an online journaling service which allowed Internet users to create and maintain a journal or diary. It was launched in 2000, and between half and three-quarters of its users were between 14 and 19 years old. Basic use was free, though for a small fee users could email their entries. The creator and webmaster was Stephen Deken.

In early 2006, the server’s hard drive failed. Since there was no backup, the entire website and all of the users’ diaries were lost irretrievably.


Ninglun Report

22 Jan 2002

This one really covers a lot of ground 🙂

Watched the Golden Globe Awards last night, a splendid opportunity to feel patriotic as an Australian 😉 What do Rabbit, Russell Crowe and I have in common? I will give a clue to the knowing: the colours brown and blue are relevant.

Robin (United Kingdom) on the OUT site messaged me that he had just read my Diary — and I think he meant all of it; he complained that he was about to become impoverished as he now had to visit his book shop! Meanwhile the Empress has been furnishing her embassy on OUT and was visited by a Rabbit recently. OUT seems to be very good for Rabbits; I may have to start identifying which Rabbit I am talking about by adding some further identifier to the name… I must also thank Lord Byron (despite the name not a dead poet but a very living young English person) for accepting my somewhat forward compliments on his picture (which really is one of the cutest on OUT) with such good grace.

Now for a shock: Ninglun says something nice about the Australian government: I agree entirely with the Education Minister (“Don’t push students, says Nelson “) in what he says about expecting all 17 and 18-year-old students to do the HSC.

On the other hand, the Immigration Minister, while impressing some with his toughness, is driving me to fresh waves of nausea each time I see him. (There is an article by Professor David Flint in the latest Quadrant where Howard and Ruddock are ably defended, and yet Flint does not convince me. More perhaps later.) I reproduce one letter from today’s Sydney Morning Herald without joy, but believing it to be a profoundly important letter:

Ruddock’s concentration camps for kids

If children were in the care of a parent who left them exposed to violence and did not provide adequate education or a place for safe play and development, we would remove those children and consider prosecuting the guardian. This is the condition of children in the Woomera Detention Centre.

The Immigration Minister, Philip Ruddock, is the guardian of about 50 unaccompanied children there. The remaining 240 children in Woomera who have a parent with them are little better off.

Mr Ruddock’s policies make adequate parenting in immigration detention impossible. The harsh, dehumanising environment and the prolonged time in limbo undermines even the most resourceful. Asylum-seekers are already vulnerable and traumatised. Does any other country lock children and families behind walls of razor wire in the desert?
We recently visited children and families in Woomera and Villawood Detention Centres and saw their conditions of detention and the effects of these on children first-hand. At Woomera, people were introduced to us by number rather than their name. There was evidence of violence and despair in the filthy and blood-stained toilets the detainees use. There was not shade or a blade of grass in the compound, except the administration building. Younger children asked us why there are no flowers in Australia. Keeping children in conditions akin to concentration camps is medically and morally wrong.

Dr Michael Dudley, Chair, Suicide Prevention Australia,
Dr Sarah Mares, Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, RANZCP,
Dr Fran Gale,

Sydney, January 20.

I note that M. got the newspaper before me this morning and has made his own notes beside some of the letters. Next to a series on the US abuse of Human Rights in Guantanamo Bay (yes, that is what I think it is) he has written a rather obvious point on the murder of thousands on and after September 11: “millions people died from hunger”.

To proceed: There is some very good sense in Gerard Henderson’s opinion piece “Slogans belie a complicated truth”. He considers the relevance or otherwise post September 11 of the Huntington 1993 “Clash of Civilisations” thesis, for more on which see The Atlantic Monthly. Among other things Henderson, a conservative and head of the think-tank The Sydney Institute, writes:

In the November 2001 issue of Prospect, the American writer Michael Lind argued that “humanist civilisation is threatened today both from beyond its borders and from inside them”. He maintained that “liberal democracies may be able to resist Muslim terrorism”. According to Lind, however, “the greatest long-running threat to secularism, democracy and science could come from within, from the emerging coalition of the religious Right and the romantic Left brought together by a loathing for open society that they share with each other – and with Osama bin Laden”.

This is an overstatement, yet it contains some truth, particularly with respect to North America. As Bernard Lewis pointed out in The New Yorker (November 19, 2001), the term “fundamentalist” developed in the US and was “used to designate Protestant churches that differed in some respects from the mainstream churches”. There is a strain within US society which disapproves of modernity and rejects the pervading secular humanism that invariably accompanies Western democracies. Fundamentalism and extremism can be found in most civilisations.


Where would this diary be without the ABC, SBS, and The Sydney Morning Herald? 😉

And later in 2002:

Ninglun’s Books and Ideas: new series: On keeping an online diary

Monday, March 25, 2002

On my Diary Key page I have three other diaries linked, all with permission obtained some time back. I thought I’d tell you a little about each one today, and think about why we do this.

I’ll begin with the youngest diarist, Lucas in Montreal. He is about eighteen and uses this diary (he has another) to reflect on his feelings, what happens, his growing definition of himself, and what appears to be quite a battle sometimes with depression. I like his sense of humour and his touch of self-irony. He is a very aware young man.

Queer Scribe is also a North American. His diary is often raunchy as he is much more, shall we say active, than I am. He is a bit younger than I am, but not all that much. He is also very reflective, very self-aware, and, it seems to me, very honest. This is a sample from the latest entry, not so raunchy this time. He is telling of his contribution to a talk-back show:

“But, you know,” persisted Tracey, “I’m not so sure I like this having to watch what we say. I mean, doesn’t language constantly evolve? Like the ‘that’s so gay’ thing; sure, maybe it was once a homophobic slur but when we use it now without knowing that, isn’t it ok?”
“Well,” I said, “I don’t lose too much sleep over whether this phrase gets said or not. But I think it’s good for us all to be sensitive about the language we use. That’s not political correctness, it’s just about recognizing that the words we choose have an impact on who feels a part of or apart from the dialogue.”
(I’m not sure that last sentence is verbatim; I doubt I said anything quite so “articulate”.)
…It’s good to be a little uncomfortable because it makes us think about what we’re saying and who our words might be trampling upon. That’s not censorship so much as it is a desire to communicate.

The last one linked from my Diary Key is Drew. He is a thirty-something English guy, very bright. He writes very well indeed. When I first came upon his diary he was living in New York, and his entries around September 2001 make very interesting reading. He is now back in the UK. He has a section explaining his reasons for keeping an online diary–that is what the link in this paragraph takes you to. I rather like what he says, which includes:

I’m a shy self-effacing person in my daily life, but my alter-ego craves attention. I get a kick out of seeing my words, thoughts and observations published on the web and out of knowing that someone else might see them too.

But there are more noble and important reasons as well: The knowledge that I have an online journal to maintain gives me a new sense of responsibility towards my diary. It disciplines me into writing daily, or almost daily. It also encourages me to write well, or as well as I am able.
And I know that I’m a happier person when writing is part of my life.

My diary began also as a discipline, and as a way of getting control over certain things in my life. That was before it went online. Going online was in a way to launch the longest letter to a friend ever written 😉 and it has continued that function, but one knows others read it, and the feedback has often been encouraging. I think I too am “a happier person when writing is part of my life.”

…I can’t stop without correcting an omission. One of the first sites of this kind (though it is not strictly a diary) that I encountered is Yawning Bread, a very articulate gay man in Singapore. It is well worth visiting for all sorts of reasons. He writes beautifully and thinks…boy, can he think! His entries for March 2002 are just up and deal with religion, culture and gayness from an Asian perspective. The bill of fare on this site is extraordinarily rich, sustaining, sane and humane. You would be mad not to read it regularly, as it is better than mine!…

Yawning Bread is still going strong!