Allpress Espresso. 101 Villiers Rd, Padstow Heights. After a long time searching the green train line in Sydney for promising cafes, I’d all but given up finding anything that was putting forward a quality cup of coffee. I’d noticed a sign on Henry Lawson Drive that mentioned the cafe, and thought I’d try it out. It’s in a refurbished corner store – major refurbishment, and a really homey space.
There’s a bit staff working behind the scenes, they’re very child-friendly, and their coffee is solid – even their espresso.
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Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion
I picked this one up in the bible college library, having read some of Alain de Botton’s work in the past. Many books written from an atheist perspective (notably Dawkins’ The God Delusion) takes the stance that religion is entirely a bad thing for the world. Botton takes a different approach, asking if there’s anything that we can learn from the way religion fills the gaps in modern life. In a series of chapters, different aspects of religion are covered (community, kindness, education, tenderness, pessimism, perspective, art, architecture), with the concept “what can we learn from this, remove the God aspects, and then put into practice”.
It’s a reflective work, and easy to read, while showing that Botton has read widely, and in depth on the topics he’s chosen to present. While certainly not supportive of religion, it at least doesn’t descend to the kind of ridicule or hostility that I’ve seen in other books and columns. In the final chapter, he cites Auguste Comte as the one in whose footsteps he treads) and his failed attempt to create a temple of humanity. It is in this unhappy light that we sense that all his recommendations will have little widespread impact, even as Christians might hope that a work like this might make the idea of religion seem a little less ridiculous to atheists.
Campos Coffee. 112-116 Broadway, Chippendale. In what was a car detailing place there’s now a cafe, and a new co-op bookshop. There’s a wide choice of sweets and pastries, and a choice of indoor or outdoor seating.
Coffee is well-made – yet another Campos venue that’s churning out good work.
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Movie: Red Cliff
I’d long heard of this John Woo movie, but not thought that it would be very good. It was only the offer to borrow the Blu-ray discs, and a rare consecutive free nights solo that meant I could take in both discs of this extravaganza. At 286 mins, it’s worth trying to split it up into two viewing sessions: the two discs make for a natural break. Woo has his trademark style on offer – there’s a lot of doves flying around, and even a (swords, and bow-and-arrow) Mexican stand-off!
It’s a Chinese historical epic, set in the 3rd century AD: there’s political drama, war action, western-style dialog, wire martial arts, and even a little bit of a romantic sub-plot. Visually excellent, moments of humour, great action sequences – it’s a great movie, and well worth a look.
Don’t Think Of An Elephant!/ How Democrats And Progressives Can Win: Know Your Values And Frame The Debate: The Essential Guide For Progressives
A friend recommended this book, and I managed to find a library copy and work my way through. It’s an easy enough read, with some profound things to say about the way that dialogue works, especially in the US political debate.
In putting forward an idea, the framing is more important than the facts. If you disagree with someone, don’y accept a frame with which you disagree: change the frame before giving an answer. There are two ways of phrasing political ideas – the strict father, and the nurturing parent (the latter is deliberately gender-neutral).
Short, easy-to-read chapters, George Lakoff has put together a book that is straightforward for political operatives to apply: US democrats at the time of writing (2004) were at a significant disadvantage from the conservative media machinery – they have spent decades creating think tanks, research centres, and media channels that reinforce their framing of the issues.
If you want to think through the effects of language choice on persuasion, this book is well worth a look.