Love and hate

Monday, 1 March 2021

Trigger warning: sexual assault, medical abuse, suicide

 Despite everything that's happened in my life (and pretty much everyone my age has had something awful happen in their lives), I try to be a forgiving person. To not hold on to resentment, or let bad feelings develop into hatred in the first place.  The saying is true: holding on to resentment is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die. I've seen people eaten alive by that resentment, and how the hatred has poisoned everyone around them, without hurting the object of their hatred in any way.

But what am I to do with the white hot rage I feel today at Scott Morrison? I've never cared for the bloke. He's a smug, slimy git, with a glib turn of phrase, condescending manner, and complete lack of humanity since his turn as immigration minister in the Abbott government. My Facebook memories pop up regularly with various horrible things Morrison said 5, 6, 7 years about the people trying to seek asylum in Australia. Then he became - God help us - Prime Minister, and somehow managed to be worse than Abbott himself. He's like a shapeshifting cipher programmed by an AI scripted from political launch videos, but has now been infected with malware. Former Labor speech writer Don Watson says it best:

All that, we could (reluctantly, angrily) live with. But what to make of Morrison today? On Friday, an historical allegation of rape against a senior member of the Morrison government became public; a letter outlining details of the allegation was sent to several members of Parliament, including the Prime Minister. Over the weekend, Morrison responded to this grave matter with silence; he probably wondered if he could head off to Hawaii again, as he did at the height of the 2019-20 bushfires.  

Today Morrison reacted, with irritation, that he is being bothered by this unseemly business when questioned by reporters. Regarding allegations of the rape of a 16 year old girl by a senior member of the government, Morrison had this to say:

“I had a discussion with the individual, who absolutely rejects the allegations,” Mr Morrison said.

“At this stage there are no matters that require my immediate attention.”

“That is a matter for the police. I’m not the commissioner of police. Allegations of criminal conduct should be dealt with by competent and authorised agencies."


Emphasis mine. It's "I don't hold a hose, mate" all over again. This is not my problem, it's got nothing to do with me. I asked the bloke in question, he said he didn't do it, I'm not the police, what more do you want?

It was a disgusting display, even for Morrison, whose regurgitated sludge we are, alas, used to. He's expecting that we'll all just forget that one of his senior ministers has been credibly accused of rape.

Morrison forgets he is not an individual here. He is the leader of the government, and paid $10,000 a week for it to be his business. And that's why I am so angry. It is horrible enough to be violated by an individual. But when you are failed by the institutions that are supposed to be in place to protect you, that's a whole other layer of violation, one that, for me, was so much worse to deal with.

In the late stages of pregnancy with my son, I realised prior experiences would make it too traumatic for me to have a "normal" delivery, so I told the birthing unit staff that I wanted a caesarean section. Instead of being referred to an obstetrician, I was sent to see a mental health nurse, who told me I should have thought of this before if I wanted a c-section, and no I couldn't have one. Then, when my pregnancy went way overdue, I agreed to the induction on the understanding that once it was started, I could go back home to wait it out. After the induction was underway, however, I was told I couldn't leave. I started to panic, as for the next 48 hours I was subject against my will to a series of physical examinations and attempts to further the induction, but he wasn't going anywhere, and finally the c-section was performed.

It was an experience of being held against my will and repeatedly assaulted, under coercion, for 48 hours.

Obviously that's all horrible - and still, nearly ten years later, very difficult to write. But that's not the part that made me furious with our Prime Minister today. What made me so mad is the experience of complaining through the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. Despite the many hospital staff involved, what I wanted was fairly simple: for the nurse who'd denied me the c-section at the start (which she had no right to do) to be in some way reprimanded, an apology, and to be there when the reprimand was handed down. 

Not knowing the HCCC procedure, I wrote a 2-3 page outline of my experiences in hospital and sent it off, focusing on the nurse at the centre of it and not the numerous other staff who refused to let me leave or speak to an obstetrician (or any sort of counsellor or social worker, I might add, despite my obvious distress). What I thought would happen from there is the HCCC would get in contact with me and conduct some sort of an investigation. Instead, it was many months later when the HCCC informed me that my complaint was being closed; they had put my claims to the hospital and the hospital denied it all. End of story. 

Like Scott Morrison did today, the HCCC took the hospital's word for it, and that was good enough for them. (I was bemused to see that in the refutation to my claims, the nurse involved stated that being rude to patients was "not her usual practice". I don't get why medical staff get to cite their "usual practice" as defence to claims. It's like Lee Harvey Oswald claiming that shooting presidents wasn't his usual practice. Sometimes, we need to be judged by our one offs). 

Reviewing the letter from the HCCC, I noted that the nurse claimed that I'd never asked her for a c-section. This gave me hope that some justice would be done; I had an earlier letter from the hospital where the nurse said I had asked her for a caesarean. I had proof, in writing, that she lied. Well, if subjecting an abuse survivor to a 2 day long traumatic ordeal wasn't considered professional misconduct, surely openly lying to the HCCC would be? I sent the HCCC a copy of the letter in question.

And months later, I got another reply. It didn't matter that the nurse lied. The hospital said they had no case to answer, so case closed.

My heart broke. I failed. The reason why I'd been so passionate about pursuing an official complaint is because I knew this nurse was the chief mental health contact for other vulnerable people birthing at one of NSW's busiest hospitals. I knew I had to do something so this couldn't happen to anyone else, no matter how much pain it caused me. As a last resort, I sent a letter to the NSW Health Minister at the time, Jillian Skinner. Ms Skinner's office got back to me with a copy of the HCCC letter saying my complaint had been closed. The bureaucratic machinery which is theoretically in place to protect the public and ensure good practice failed, and it sent me into a very dark place for a very long time.   

But it's not surprising when you consider the head of the HCCC at the time of my complaint, Kieran Pehm, was the guy who kept his job despite being in charge of the HCCC for years whilst it was ignoring complaints about the "Butcher of Bega", Graham Reeves, later jailed for mutilating women he was operating on. Pehm was also at the helm when the HCCC closed an allegation of child sex abuse because the doctor responsible failed to respond in time; the doctor in question was later jailed.

The memory of all this flooded back today as I watched Scott Morrison deny responsibility for any action in the face of the allegation of sexual assault against one of his ministers. It's not my problem, he said he didn't do it, leave it to the police. But there is little the police can do in this instance. Police in NSW, where the assault was alleged to have taken place, cannot investigate sexual assault without a complainant; the complainant in this case tragically took her own life. The Australian Federal Police wouldn't investigate a sexual assault that took place in NSW, as it is a crime under state based legislation. So whilst the cry of "innocent until proven guilty in a court of law" goes up every time a prominent individual is accused of assault, with only a tiny percentage of assaults ever going to court, the lack of a court judgement does not mean the assault in question never happened

When the machine of the Federal Government - whose primary duty is to protect Australian citizens - fails to step up in this case, we all have a right to be angry. Morrison is using the machinery of the Federal government to protect an alleged rapist - and doing so in his usual slimy, condescending way (when being questioned about the alleged assault, a frustrated Morrison asked if any of the journalists present had questions about the Covid-19 vaccine). 

The Prime Minister should announce that an independent investigation by an eminent former judge will be convened to examine all available materials and decide whether the minister who has been accused is a fit and proper person to be a minister of the Crown.

This way, the accuser has her allegation investigated and the minister has a chance to clear his name. Morrison can’t be reproached for protecting an alleged rapist in his cabinet room. And Australia can’t be condemned for tolerating the possibility that it is allowing a person who has been alleged to have committed a depraved crime to shape its laws and policies at the highest level.


I quite agree, but I doubt that will happen. My prediction is that Morrison will continue to dig his heels in, until the Minister against who the allegations have been made is named publicly, and either Peter Dutton or Josh Frydenberg* will try to gather supporters for a leadership challenge - they may be doing the numbers already. But an investigation? What justice can be found? I don't know. Since the hospital incident I've dedicated my career to social justice, thinking maybe i can do some good some place else. I know what an impossible slog it is.

But dear God I'm so sick of seeing the bastards get away with it. But worse, I am absolutely sick of seeing those in power close ranks to protect one of their own. 

* Everyone seems to agree neither of them are the accused party. At any rate, neither of their Wikipedia pages have been in the last few days the subject of extensive revisions as to their whereabouts in 1988.

Book review: Starfish by Patty Dann

Thursday, 25 February 2021

The film Mermaids meant a lot to me in my early teens, as I guess it did to a lot of women of my generation. Teenage films were pretty much dead as a genre between the John Hughes/Molly Ringwald era of the 1980s and the release of Clueless in 1995. The success of Clueless lead to an explosion in the release of teen movies, from sexploitation (American Pie) to horror (Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer) then cheerleaders (Bring It On) and mean girls (one mean girl in Cruel Intentions, then a whole eponymous film of them). By the time Clueless was released, I was way too depressed for anything that looked as blithe as the poster suggested - though I did watch, and love, the film several years later, then many times since. 

But in the early 1990s, it was slim pickings. Mermaids was it. Not that Mermaids, a coming of age story set in a small Massachusetts* town in 1963, is expressly a teen movie; the wonderful performances of Cher and Bob Hoskins make it so much more. But it was a film whose central character was a girl who wasn't blonde or perky or popular, in a delightful turn by Winona Ryder; a girl who read books and had unusual interests and never went to the mall. I loved it, and was too young to grasp the problematic nature of the central plot point - a 15 year old girl who falls in love with a 28 year old man...a man who returns her affections. Yeesh. I loved it enough to hunt down at the library and read the book it was based upon, Mermaids by Patty Dann, which I remember not liking quite as well as the film. Though I've seen the movie several times, I never read the book again.  

By accident, I found out that Ms Dann has written a sequel to Mermaids, Starfish. And although I was wary, remembering that even as an unsophisticated 13 year old I'd been unimpressed by the original tome - and for perspective, in those days I loved reading V.C. Andrews - I decided I did rather want to know became of Charlotte, Kate, Lou and Mrs Flax.

Warning - heavy spoilers to follow, which is to say, total spoilers to follow. 

I was sorry that I bothered. In a word, this was disappointing. In another word... I don't want to be that cruel. I gave the book two stars only because of my echoing fondness of the film Mermaids.

It's now 1991, Charlotte is all grown up at 42 and has returned to Grove to live in her old house and throw a birthday party for her mother, the incomparable Mrs. Flax, whose greater presence would have livened up this novel considerably. Alas, we are stuck with just Charlotte, who has random sex with an (adult) student from her English class she's barely spoken with, which at least gives her a change from her usual routine of constantly driving to outlet malls and wandering around the grounds of the former convent that played such a big role in the first novel, hallucinating that she can still see the nuns. (So much for not going to the mall). Charlotte does finally hear from her long lost father via an aerogramme, and invites him to Mrs Flax's birthday party, seemingly uncaring as to whether her mother would appreciate her party being crashed by her first boyfriend who she hasn't seen in 43 years. This is all about Charlotte. Her solipsism makes you dislike her so much you want things to turn out badly for her (was she this insufferable in the first book? I can't remember). She reminds me of my son when he was 3 and would shout "only I have feelings!". Only Charlotte's feelings count, and Charlotte's feelings must be acted on by Charlotte, immediately.

We are soon joined by Kate, Charlotte's younger sister, who turns up to stay with her 3 year old son (who seems to exhibit signs of global development delay that Charlotte, as a teacher, should recognise but doesn't). Charlotte remembers examples of Kate's wild behaviour, sneaking out at night to see boys, but given the age gap between the sisters and that Charlotte was attending college by 18, Kate's offending behaviour would have started when she was ten.

And you thought Charlotte having sex at 14 with a 30 year old man was bad.

Kate now is still supposed to be "wild". But the worst she seems to do is sleep with men she doesn't know very well - no worse than Charlotte does herself. There's no substance abuse, unless you count Kate's habit of being seized by the uncontrollable desire to go as a nurse in a local emergency room, which she does multiple times in the book. First, don't you need a licence or something to work as a nurse in a different state? Does Kate just show up at the ER saying "please help me! I GOTTA take a temperature and blood pressure. Come on man, I'm dying here"?

Anyway the party happens and oh of course look who it is, Joe Peretti, who Charlotte rudely snubs at the party but later shows up at her house to make amends. Charlotte began a campaign to stop her house being taken by developers and I was looking forward to her taking on the big guys, but that fizzles out. Kate takes off for ERs in pastures anew and leaves Irving behind; Charlotte then again leaves a child unsupervised so she can have spontaneous sex with Joe Peretti, which is exactly what causes her sister's near-death experience in the first book but doesn't stop Charlotte from being so overcome with lust that she leaves her nephew wandering around outside alone so she can sin with Joe on the floor.

 Charlotte's dad finally shows up, and leaves again promptly after an awkward and disinterested visit - the guy who blew off a shotgun marriage at 16 having become a genealogy obsessed English professor. Oh, and Mrs Flax and Lou hook up again after 27 years apart. Will they finally get married after all this time? Who knows, but basically everything is tied up in a neat little package with a bow I sometimes wanted to wrap around Charlotte's neck.

I guess the second star is also due to the fact that Starfish is set the same time period as the film Mermaids came out. I like that kind of wink at the audience. There wasn't much else to like in this clumsy, awkward book with its clichéd situations, stilted prose, and insufferable protagonist. If they ever make a film of this turgid mess, I'll be rushing to get tickets to anything else.

Follow me on Good Reads for more reviews. (Although my reviews, like my posts here, tend to be rather sporadic).

* I spelt Massachusetts right on the fourth try!

QAnon - the truth is out there

Friday, 12 June 2020
Proponents of QAnon - the theory that says that a cabal of Deep State, Satanist Elite Paedophiles are secretly running the world - urge scoffers to "do their own research" into Q. Seems that the evidence of all this devil worshipping sex trafficking is either unavailable to the mainstream media, with all their contacts, research and insiders, or ignored by them - thousands and thousands of people in a struggling industry ignoring a story that would both greatly benefit their business and protect children, all because they want to protect the paedophiles involved. Without the fourth estate willing to expose the secretive, child abusing, Lucifer adoring types who run the world, the only thing stopping them is the tireless efforts of Donald Trump, working quietly to bring the whole thing down, supported by his rag tag band of patriots and believers, adamant that the proof of all this is out there for the ordinary citizen to find, if only they take the time to look.  

I went to scoff but came away convinced. I'm convinced Donald Trump is quietly letting the whole Prince of Darkness sex slavery thing get away with it, for whatever reasons of his own. Look at the evidence, or lack of it. Donald Trump has been in office for over 1200 days. In that time, what have we seen happen to stop the nefarious cabal? No major arrests. No whistleblowers have come forward. No survivors of the cabal have come forward. Of course, we know of the survivors of Jeffrey Epstein and Prince Andrew; they should be heard and believed. But of the major players usually associated with QAnon's theories - Hilary Clinton, George Soros, Bill Gates, most of Hollywood apparently - nothing. QAnon regularly drops hints that major arrests are coming, but nothing ever happens. 

If I believed that child sex abuse had been happening at high levels for many years, I'd be demanding the President's removal if he hadn't put a stop to it in six months. What could be more important policy to focus on?

What's the most likely scenario here? That Trump is letting paedophiles get away with it for years in service of some sort of "long game"? 

Or that there is no secret group of devil worshipping sex abusers running the world and instead, Q themselves is an operative of US intelligence, posting bizarre and outlandish theories so supporters of those theories can be easily identified from their social media posts and flushed out, if needs be? 

It's quite a simple strategy, really. What could be an easier way for intelligence agencies to find and monitor crackpots than to put crackpot theories on the internet and see who will happily post the memes and videos to their social media accounts along with exhortations to "WAKE UP, SHEEPLE!" (and I'm naming my next child Sheeple so I can go into his room every morning and yell WAKE UP SHEEPLE). 

Isn't it strange that the same patriots who oppose any sort of firearms registry on the grounds that come the day of tyranny, it will tell the tyrants exactly where the guns are so they can come take them away, will happily put their name and often personal photos, location, and family photos next to the QAnon theories they support?

Unfollow Trump

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Poor Donald Trump. Being President was supposed to be all about power, money and perks, and getting his name in history for something other than being a reality TV host and saying a bunch of gross things to a radio shock jock whose other career stand out is the 1992 release of his film Butt Bongo Fiesta. And for a while it went okay. He cut taxes, the economy was doing well, and he got to bask in the adoration of fans who will backflip, twist and spin reality at a pace that would make Simone Biles dizzy in order to convince themselves of their hero’s infallibility.


But right now it’s not fun anymore. There’s a global pandemic on, and it’s hitting the US hard, and despite banning arrivals from Chi-nuh and what else do you people expect him to do? He keeps getting criticised. So many nasty questions. And worst of all, he’s bored. Why won’t this just go away so he can get back to golf and not being a husband and father?

But hey, his ratings are great.


And isn’t that what makes Trump’s Covid-19 response a success? He’s getting great ratings. People are watching the press briefings, even if he’s taken off in a sulk for getting nasty questions. Trump doesn’t understand that people are laughing at him, not with him. He sees everything in terms of numbers: profits, ratings, crowd sizes; and if he doesn’t get the numbers he wants, he’ll make them up.


Trump dismisses all criticism of himself and his presidential administration as fake news. Americans, and the rest of the world which pays attention to America (which is most of the rest of the world) have been appalled by Trump’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis. From dismissing it as a little problem that will soon go away, to forcing states to compete with each other for resources, to not knowing the difference between a virus and a bacteria, to praising armed protests against the lockdown, and suggesting bleach injections as a cure for the disease. And people, unable to march in the streets, have voiced their outrage on social media, comedians have lampooned him, journalists of character have eviscerated the administration, governors have argued with him, world leaders have taken him to task. It doesn’t matter. Trump isn’t listening. And the despair and death toll grows. What can we do?


Well, there’s one thing ordinary people can do that will really get his attention. One thing that he won’t be able to brush off. One thing that will actually pierce and possibly even deflate his massive ego that looms like a blimp of a massive angry toddler.


And it won’t even take you a few seconds. Just log onto your Twitter account, and unfollow Trump.


Trump has 79.7 million followers on Twitter. It would never cross his mind that they aren’t all there in support of his great and good glory. The one way everyday people, scared and sad and angry and frustrated, can get his attention is to hit him where it will really hurt: his follower numbers. If everyone who doesn’t support Trump but follows him anyway were to click that unfollow button, his numbers would plunge and he’d take notice. He might lash out like an angry child, claiming Twitter was censoring him and kicking actual followers off, or that the accounts that unfollowed were all fake anyway, but he wouldn’t be able to deny it. A few days of watching his numbers fall would get Trump’s attention in a way that protests, monologues on late night comedy shows and think pieces in the Washington Post never could. The man’s ego is predicated on his follower numbers. He sees his 79.7 million Twitter followers and tweets away, confident he is basking in the glowing admiration of 79.7 million ardent fans.


If you don’t support Trump, why follow him on Twitter? My Twitter feed is blissfully MAGA free, yet at least 100 of the 500+ Twitter accounts I follow are also following Trump. Of course, he’s the leader of the free world, and we need to know what he’s up to however much we hate him. But you’ll find out anyway. Of course, if you’re a journalist you need to be across breaking news – and Trump’s reality warping tweets frequently qualify as news – as it happens. But if you’re not in that category, rest assured that if Trump says something stupid – and he will – you’ll find out soon enough. It will be retweeted and quote tweeted and mentioned in news articles. There's even Twitter accounts that automatically retweet all Trump's tweets, like @RealPressSecBot.

Anyway, if you do unfollow him, what will you be missing out on really? Him flogging books he can't read, insulting women who don't agree with him, peddling conspiracy theories like "Obamagate" based off a 2018 press release from the office of a Republican Senator?

And making every candidate he supports sound like the exact same person, as if they were churned out of some huge MAGA factory? (I guess that's one thing he would have done to get America manufacturing again)


And thank goodness Trump supports candidates who love the military and veterans, because he seems to rather dislike them himself (his record of unethical behaviour toward the armed forces is astonishing even to seasoned Trump watchers). 

We're all scared of what's to come at the moment, of the unsure and potentially disastrous results of opening up countries and economies too soon (and Scott Morrison seems to be taking a terrifying tip from Trump on this). But we know Trump won't listen, not to journalists, not to signatories of open letters, no one. But millions of people unfollowing him on Twitter might be the one thing he pays attention to. I'm not saying it will work - if it happened, Trump would find some way to dismiss it, unless the fall in numbers became too big for him to ignore. But if there's a tiny chance it will make him sit up, put down the Double Quarter Pounder and pay attention, it's worth a try. And hey, it would at least hurt his feelings, and that's something we could take some enjoyment of at this horrid time.


We all know what we need to do. Stay home. Save lives. Unfollow Trump.

Birth and Death

Tuesday, 14 April 2020
My mother worried about me as a teenager. She worried a lot. And one of the things she worried about was my choice in reading materials. With few entertainment options in our little town in regional NSW, the library was my life. I spent a lot of time there avoiding home, reading 3 month old copies of The Face and wishing I lived in Manchester (Cool Britannia! Britpop! Manbreak Ocean Colour Scene Manic Street Preachers Pulp The Bluetones heck Tony Blair before he turned evil who would want to live in an Australia falling under the grip of John Howard?).

But I also discovered the 340 subdivision of the Dewey Decimal System. Specifically, I discovered true crime. Before the Internet and streaming, people still dug true crime, mostly in the form of pulp magazines and mass market paperbacks detailing grisly things that had happened to murdered people, most of whom seemed to be young, beautiful white women. I couldn't get my hands on the magazines, but I devoured the books, bringing home stacks of them, which were inevitably discovered and led to parental grilling. My mother in particular was convinced that my avid reading of true crime books was a sure sign that I was fantasising about murdering someone myself, that I would grow up to become a serial killer (actually, in those days I would fantasise about becoming a victim, but there's a can of worms I'm in no mood to have to clean up if it spills open everywhere). 

Anyway, she really needn't have worried. The passage of twenty years would prove that my interest is pretty much normal; mass adoption of the internet saw a huge rise in crime blogs and crime forums, and the advent of streaming settled the debate. (There's also the fact that I'm still yet to murder anyone). But look at the top shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Stan; true crime is everywhere. People want mysteries. People want to know about serial killers. People listened to Serial and want to hear from Ted Bundy's long term partner and binge watch Forensic Files and So I Married A Murderer. Sure, there's a few unhealthy obsessives, like the creeps who hang out on Tumblr detailing their sexual fantasies about Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, girls who weren't even born until after Columbine. But as South Park devoted an episode to showing, there's a whole bunch of "normal people" living their normal lives who like to spend their spare time hearing about gruesome things that have happened to other normal people. People just like them. 

This obsession goes beyond crime to a fascination with death itself. Having read a glut of crime books, my own interest now runs more to death in and of itself, not so much the people who dramatically speed the process up. Again, I'm not alone; there's the popularity of books such as Stiff, by Mary Roach, outlining the many and sometimes bizarre things that can happen to dead bodies; and Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, examining the tough life and death decisions brought on by advances in life span and medical technology.

And of course there's the internet, again, with YouTube series such as Ask a Mortician, run by LA Mortician Caitlin Doughty (I'm a big fan, obviously). Her videos cover everything from the rights of trans people after death to what happened to the bodies that went down with the Titanic.

Ask a Mortician has over one million subscribers and something like 90 million views; clearly not all of these people are gloomy teenagers or aspiring spree killers. People - ordinary, well balanced, emotionally healthy people - are just really into death.

I'm one of them. Emotionally healthy - well. But I have a good job, I have close friends who in normal times I see regularly, I've never been arrested. Death is just been something I've always had an interest in. I like visiting graveyards, an interest I inherited from my father; it was a sobering moment as a 13 year old to visit the ancient cemeteries in Ireland and see the dozens of mossy, uncarved, unadorned stones marking the graves of victims of the Great Famine who couldn't afford tombstones. On road trips with friends, I'd always want to stop in at local cemeteries, and the absence of protesting cries of "ugh, why?" told me I wasn't the only one who didn't mind having a look. And when I went to Los Angeles last year, although I missed Grauman's Chinese Theatre and the homes of the stars, you best believe I went on the Tragical History Tour and visited Hollywood Forever:

And I've taken forensics classes at university and looked into a career in forensic anthropology (the training isn't available in Australia, so I settled on working with the living) and even served as the Australian director for the Doe Network for a few years (and we desperately need a publicly accessible database of unidentified decedents in Australia, along the lines of NAMUS), so whilst I guess my interest has gone on much longer and deeper than many other people, I'm just one of the millions whom Caitlin Doughty of Ask a Mortician calls death enthusiasts.

 But something I've been wondering about is, why are so many people obsessed with death, but very few people into birth? Of course expectant parents are going to be browsing birth forums, reading books and blogs and watching videos. But imagine someone who didn't have or want kids, someone who had kids years ago or wasn't wanting them for years, reading birth stories and touring maternity wards. That would be creepy and weird (not even getting into the whole thing of fetishising pregnant people, which I'm not going to do today and probably not ever).

And yet birth is usually seen as a wonderful thing, the start of a new life, of hopes and dreams. Death is sad, tragic, inevitable for those who reach a great age first, shockingly painful for those who die young. One major life milestone good, one bad, but the good one just doesn't attract the interest of the bad, tragic life event. Is it because we've all been through birth already, ho hum, whereas none of us have died, and none of us can really say for sure what happens?

The religious can take some comfort in what their faith says will happen when they die, but the existence of other religions is a tell that none of them is certain, and as a semi agnostic progressive Christian (as much as the term "Christian" has been hijacked by some pretty awful people in the last few decades), I oscillate between thinking I'll get to be with Jesus per Revelations 3, and surety that it's just...nothing. Like going to sleep with no dreams. Blank, finito, that's it. (The thing that really worries me right now is that with restrictions in place due to Coronavirus, if I die now I won't get to have the big fancy funeral I've dreamed of since I was a little girl. The beautiful, the music, the readings, the epitaph chosen from Nick Drake lyrics, the pallbearers - although I'm kinda heavy and a trolley would probably be a better option. I've given way, way more thought to my funeral than I ever did to my kinda last minute wedding, where my preparations largely consisted of "yeah, that'll do").

What we do know is death is going to happen to everyone, yet none of us really knows about it. No wonder we're interested. And it's an alright interest to have. I'm sure the dead don't mind, after all.

Free dark words collage sheet

Saturday, 15 February 2020
Like me, love journaling but are absolutely sick of the relentless "live your best life" toxic positivity of all the journaling ephemera out there? My journals are where I vent my real self, not curate a fake life of friendship! coffee! happiness! for Instagram. Here's a quick collage sheet I threw together of some more realistic ephemera for the journals of a lot of us. Print, share, whatever I'm not your mom who probably doesn't care what you do that much anyway except that everything you do is wrong.

Pauline Hanson Weaponises Her Wilful Ignorance. Why Can’t We Call It Out?

Saturday, 18 January 2020
This post was originally published on New Matilda. Reproduced with permission.

Pauline Hanson has learnt nothing. With the recent bushfire crisis and the outpouring of evidence, from the Rural Fire Service to bushfire experts from around Australia, stating that the fires were largely not caused by arsonists or lack of fuel reduction burns, but were exacerbated by climate change, Hanson has used her media platform to repeat the false information spreading on social media via another of her regular spots on Seven Sunrise.
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