Friday, 8 June 2007

A canonical 'narrative' emerged in the media when the Pasha Bulker, a very large coal transport waiting off the port of Newcastle, ran aground this morning at around 9am. Highly inclement weather caused the grounding, with strong winds churning the sea into a maelstrom.

Today's rain and wind follows bruising rain yesterday morning, turning to hail breifly in my front yard. When I told my colleagues I wanted to go to a talk this afternoon the first thing they said was that it was a bad day for it. Regardless, I went.

Kate Crawford, the speaker, was on a panel at the recent Sydney Writers' Festival. She also won a non-fiction award in December for her book, Adult Themes: Rewriting the Rules of Adulthood.

Her talk today in the Refectory at Sydney Uni's Quad was titled Bad Adults: The Cultural Politics of Growing Up. It was very interesting. Why do some young people refuse to buy into the standard-issue preoccupations of grown-ups, she asked. Getting a mortgage, starting a family, working on a career.

Some things we take for granted — things that are 'normative' — have no interest for these young people who are, derogatarily, dubbed 'adultescents' in the media. But home ownership, she avers, is a very recent aspiration, dating from the post-war years. The Menzies government deliberately encouraged people to own their own homes in an effort to stymie Communist sympathies. Hansard bears her out, it seems.

The title of her talk echoes a book published in 1997 by Catharine Lumby: Bad Girls: The Media, Sex and Feminism in the 90s. Lumby, a founder of the media program at Sydney Uni, was compere tonight. She also chaired question time.

After the talk, we gathered round a few bottles of wine, discussing Paris Hilton.

Today's downpour is extremely atypical. Australia has borne severe drought for most of the past decade. Urban catchments have harvested a welcome and fulsome influx. The rain reestablished the classical narrative in the nightly news. A tanker aground. Helicopter rescue of the 22 Philippino crew. Emergency team members join each other to celebrate with a hug the timely rescue.

But despite the satisfaction of the canonical 'narrative' that the ship's story sets up, we are comforted by the perennial visage of Alan Kohler, the ABC's finance guru, telling us that the stock market had slipped during the day. Given the prevailing economic climate, it will resume its rise next week, after Monday's Queen's Birthday holiday.

2 comments: said...

Those are some great pictures of an amazing story. I've been coverign it all night from the States for our Maritime Blog ( ). It's good to start getting some first hand reports. Thanks!

Matthew da Silva said...

Probably the worst storm we've had in a decade. Also probably an accident waiting to happen. Unprecedented numbers of coal ships are waiting off this and other ports due to spectacular demand from China and India. Penalties being paid due to delays amount to billions of dollars. The Australian economy extremely robust with unemployment at 32-year lows (4.2%). Yen exchange rate is over 100 to the dollar.