by Darragh on May 15, 2013
Alecia Simmonds article “Why Australia hates thinkers” has been doing the rounds about the Australian corner of the Internet.
It’s a great read and one I encourage you to have a look through, but her take down of those who tweet to Q&A pretty much sums up a lot of my problems with both the show and twitter as a medium. Here it is in blockquote:
….And secondly, [Academics] may not want to engage with a knife-drawn public prone to Goldstein-style Two-Minute Twitter Hate Rituals. Academics are often timorous folk who specialise in showing the complexity of issues, not offering tweet-sized solutions. Social media doesn’t democratise debate. It limits it to the resilient. Snark triumphs over insight, and commentary is reserved for those with voluminous folds of scar-tissue. Sensitive thinkers rarely fit this bill.
by Darragh on May 13, 2013
I’m not sure if it’s worrying or not that I’ve gotten to a stage with my running when I can glance at my training schedule, see that I’m down for a 15 kilometre run, and sigh with relief.
Fifteen kilometres for a run would be oh so sweet, particularly considering that my longest runs are now thirty kilometres plus. Fifteen is a welcome relief – something others who are not as far down the rabbit hole as I might be - may baulk at. I guess that’s what the punishing regime of marathon training might do to your mind.
I’m still training for the Gold Coast Marathon and am now just recovering from my usual Sunday long run session (a 32 kilometre monster through wetlands to the east of Brisbane) and just getting around to looking at what’s been happening with running over the past month or so.
On Saturday I went out to parkrun with my partner who is doing the couch to 5k program. I decided to run, lent the Garmin to the girlfriend and ran with the New Farm parkrun crowd. I wasn’t consciously looking to set a PB but I just ran at a comfortably fast pace and managed to come in 33rd with a 21 minute 30 second run – cutting 45 seconds off my previous 5k time.
I see this as reward for the massive amount of running I’ve been doing in preparation for the marathon.
I’ve been running – a lot, with 180 kilometres logged in April. It’s the 12th of May today, and I’ve already clocked up 96 kilometres. I had set my annual running goal at 1,200 kilometres and as of today I’ve gone passed halfway – a full month and a half ahead of the half way through the year. And I’ll probably do another 400 or so kilometres prior to lining up at the start line at the Gold Coast. This is the training you need to do to make sure the full marathon doesn’t destroy you.
Things are looking ok, although I’m starting to find a few niggles popping up on the body, with various calf aches and feet pain combined with my usual knee and back pain. These things can play on your mind. Strangely, I never feel bad while running. These things pop up when I’m at rest.
I could probably still afford to drop a few more kilograms before the run. Strangely it seems that I’m starting to put on weight despite running ludicrous distances which either means that I’m getting too hungry and simply replacing calories burned or that I’m building lots of muscle. Still, I hope some of it evaporates before the marathon so I can go in feeling in top shape.
by Darragh on April 20, 2013
The terrible events of the last week in America may significantly alter western perceptions of jihadist terrorism should those suspected of undertaking the Boston Marathon attacks be eventually proved to be culpable.
Two young Chechen males were singled out with the use of photographs. One of those suspects is now dead, and the other critically injured after a gun battle with Boston police (one police officer has also passed away). As The Guardian writes, “if it established that Chechens had planted the bombs in Boston, it would mark an unprecedented development: the first time militants from the former Soviet republic have carried out a deadly attack outside Russia.”
For those who are not aware, the province of Chechnya in southern Russia is demographically dominated by Muslims. They’ve been involved with a decades-old struggle for autonomy with Russia for some time, and have, at different times, been linked with the activities of al-Qaeda, with many young Chechen’s receiving training in other theatres of jihad such as Afghanistan.
However, many in the west have always presumed the Chechen conflict to be one that was rationalised within the boundaries of secession, a struggle not explicitly congruent with the goals of groups like al-Qaeda (saying that, al-Qaeda has shown time and again that they’re more than willing to support struggles of Islam against ‘foreign’ influence). For instance a 2009 report by the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism stated that despite the visible presence of jihadist fighters associated with al-Qaeda, “the conflict in Chechnya is one of secession and not Islamic fundamentalism. The objective of the resistance is the creation of an independent Chechnya and not a fight against the west” (Scher 2009).
However, it’s difficult to say that those accused of the atrocities in Boston are in fact linked explicitly to the run-of-the-mill jihadist terrorist groups America has been dealing with since September 11. It’s been written that those accused of the bombings grew up in America and were not known to be involved in militant activity. It’s actually pretty difficult to see what gains a Chechen would get from attacking American civillians, assuming that their raison d’etre is still dominated by dreams of Chechen autonomy.
Saying all that, radical Islam has proved to be a remarkably flexible ideological framework. It can both justify and motivate violence, but often acts a shroud for other context-specific grievances, such as competing value systems, political and social exclusion and territorial dispossession. These grievances could easily be one thing to motivate individuals to terrorism, even if their ethnicity might indicate some other rationalisation for violence.
What is clear to me, should those accused eventually be found guilty, it indicates the continued enigma that is terrorism. It’s difficult to pinpoint general root causes of these sorts of violent acts. In the case of jihadist terrorism, I personally favour the grievance-as-cause thesis behind terrorism. Studies of Muslim migrant communities have concluded that vulnerable parts of Muslim communities may attempt to recast their ‘otherness’ in a reactive identity (Roy 2004: 45) (ror the record, I reject the argument of Islam as a pathologically violent religion). Such reactions could be made reality through the act of bombing American civillians participating in a marathon.
We’ll have a to wait a bit longer to see the fog of conflict dissipate, until the truth about what exactly went on, that those suspected of the act are actually proved guilty, before we can draw strong conclusions. Whatever comes of it, these acts of violence have reverberated throughout the international system, and serve as a continued reminder of the lingering danger of terrorism.
 Scher, Gideon. 2009. ‘Chechen Jihad: An Analytical Overview’. International Institute for Counter-Terrorism. Accessed 30 September 2009. Available at http://ict.org.il/Articles/tabid/66/Articlsid/743/currentpage/1/Default.aspx.
 Roy, Oliver. 2004. Globalised Islam: The Search for a New Ummah. London: Hurst & Company.
by Darragh on April 16, 2013
There has been some terrible news from Boston this morning, with explosions going off at the finish of the Boston Marathon. Two people have been killed, many injured and there is still on going concern that more bombs will go off.
American marathoners are doing it tough at the moment. First, we had the cancellation of the New York Marathon last November during to Hurricane Sandy and now this tragedy. I really feel for the competitors and their families and anyone who has suffered due to this dog act.
Here’s some footage – but be warned – it’s distressing.
On a personal level, this is chilling. As you’ll see from the video footage floating around the internet showing the bombs going off, the race clock reads 4 hours 9 minutes. This is very close to the time I’m expecting to run in the Gold Coast Marathon in July. If I had been competing in Boston, I would have been coming in around the time of the explosions. Scary stuff.
The New Yorker has the human perspective. Read “After the Boston Marathon Explosion”.
by Darragh on April 7, 2013
627 kilometres and 7 months. That’s how much a beating my Brookes GTS-12 Adrenalines have taken before biting the dust.
Here’s a look at the tread.
They’ve held up fairly well, though the mid-sole now feels like a brick while I’m out running. The springyness has gone. These guys will be retired to the occasional outdoor working in the garden shoe.
Here’s the new member of the family – a pair of 2013 Asics GTS-2000.
While I could have gone the Brookes again – I am a fan of their shoes – it’s time for a change and the GTS-2000s are slightly lighter than the new Brookes. I’ll test them out for a bit, hopefully they’ll serve me as well as the Brookes did.
by Darragh on April 5, 2013
Roger Ebert, one of the most prominent film critics in the world, if not the most prominent – passed away overnight after a long battle with cancer.
As one who regularly visited his website to read his reviews, I’m saddened.
He had a great critical insight and had a great understanding of the process of reviewing. While I often disagreed with his opinions on certain movies, I’ll admit that his reviewing style was one I tried to emulate when I was regularly doing music reviews, albeit a poor imitation.
Rest In peace, Ebert.