Showing posts from 2009

Seaside Rest

It's only now as we're about to leave the Eastern Suburbs that we're exploring it a little. Recently we visited Waverley Cememtery, possibly one of the best photo opporunities I've ever seen. Although I didn't do the place justice, please enjoy the small fruits of my labours... The headland above A-ha, there it is (after our long walk!) Rock fishers, waiting to be swept off. I have no idea how they got there. So muh money once spent on monuments now neglected... Not a bad view for all eternity Suburban conformity can last forever Or the vaults - the Eastern Suburbs' finest real estate for the deceased An unexpected, and unexpectedly touching, memorial to the 1981 Irish Hunger Strikers Sorry to end on that melancholy note. Wine anyone?

NSW: Let's Keep Things In Perspective

Like many in NSW, I could only roll my eyes and groan last week as the Sate Labor leadership spill took place. This, I thought, is just getting ridiculous. Nathan Rees finishing out the term was the best prospect Labor had. In different circumstances, he could have been wildly popular; a garbage collector from the Western Suburbs who also has a degree in English literature. I wasn't a raving fan - the damn Metro is foolhardy and unnecessary, and this coming from someone who loves the inner west and trains - but he was trying to clean up the factional system, and for this he gets the toss. When will this bunch of clowns get their act together, I wondered. Then I saw this cartoon in the Daily Telegraph, and I had to wonder some more: What can anyone have suffered at the hands of the NSW government which would possibly justify that sort of reaction? I too have had to wait hours for hospital treatment, been stuck on the train, despaired that the train journey from Sydney to Newcastle

In Praise of St Erma

Today I tracked down two Erma Bombeck books I'd not read before in a Newtown bookshop, and my squeals of delight were such that DF insisited on purchasing both for me. I've read and enjoyed Bombeck before, but read her work with a special poignancy now I'm about to be married and start a family myself. It's a different era now. Ms Bombeck was born the year after my grandmothers, her children are the same age as my parents, so how come so much of what she writes hits home to this feminist in 2009? Bombeck has been attacked by feminists before. A supporter said "Did these women think, come the revolution, that husbands would stop watching football, or that socks would stop getting lost in the machine?" It's Ms Bombeck's - Erma's (I want to call her that, she feels like a friend) - ability to poke fun at all this that points to why she is still relevant. It can be hard to laugh sometimes. Around our place, DF pays the bills and I run the place. "

Looking for a New Feminism

According to the "Things You Should Know By Now" column in today's Sunday Life magazine, "you'll never catch a husband" if, as a young lady, you cannot hem a skirt. I asked my husband-to-be-in-two-months if he loved me any less because I can't hem a skirt. (I don't even iron). The answer was no, he couldn't possibly love me any less. Seriously though, the question was demeaning to both of us. Where the hell did this new conservatism and desire to return to traditional gender roles come from? There's been a creepy anti-feminism backlash going on for a few years now. Lady Gaga shared this gem withv the world: "There's a stigma around feminism that's a little bit man-hating. And I don't promote hatred, ever". She doesn't want to be known as a feminist, you see. She's all about the empowerment, in this case by writhing around half naked, singing about taking a ride on a disco stick. Seems today you can iron your ma

Parking with Kevin Rudd

So, the Rudd government looks set to veto the ACT same sex civil union legislation passed in the ACT parliament yesterday because it is contravenes Australia's heterosexist Marriage Act. Still, not quite as bad as the Governor of Rhode Island, U.S., who has vetoed the right of gay couples to be buried together . It's just what we've come to expect from the Rudd Government. Over the last year or so, I've had numerous people say to me "You must be really disappointed by how Rudd has gone in government". Not really. I've lost the innocence and optimism I had at 20 when I believed every word Michael Moore said. I no longer expect that politicians will try to change public opinion rather than respond to it. Especially not a media tart (let's not deny it) like Rudd - who's always keen to take the most populist, knee jerk position he can manage. No, Kevin, Bill Henson is a bit creepy, not absolutely revolting. And as has been pointed out, Moses and Oskar

Please Don't Diet

It's ridiculous. It's heartbreaking. It's a joke. After weeks of extremely careful, no-fat, 1000 calorie a day dieting and an hour's exercise five times a week, I had lost 2Kg. Over the weekend, I ate two hamburgers and a big plate of spaghetti and gained a kilo. It's karma. There's a photo of me when I was twenty five. You could hang fine art on my stomach. A strong breeze would have swept me to Victoria. I had no discernable bosoms to speak of. All this required no effort whatsoever; in fact, I didn't like it and tried to eat more to gain weight. Okay, since then I've turned thirty, quit smoking and quit treating my body like a receptacle for hazardous chemicals. But how did I end up being nearly twice the woman I used to be, by weight? Oh, I love my food. But I always did, and it never turned on me like this before. So what with getting married in a minute, I decided to lose some weight so I don't need to pay a surplus on my wedding dress for exce

Sydney vs Melbourne

Those of you with disturbingly long memories may remember this post from a few years ago, when I wrote of how desperately I needed a holiday. Earlier this month, I finally got away. It was just three days, and DF and I only made it to Melbourne, but after waiting so long anything would have been an epic journey. Anyway whenever anyone from Sydney or Melbourne visits the "other" city, they're obliged to make comparisons. Sydney-Melbourne rivalry is the national sport. Just today this article from the SMH website posited that Sydney comes up short to Melbourne in terms of intellectual vibrancy. Truth be told we found very little difference between the cities. Being in Melbourne's CBD felt no different to Sydney's, tram tracks and sunshine aside. Where in the city you live has more to do with it; a resident of Fitzroy would have more in common with the lifestyle of a resident of Newtown than either person would have with people who lived in the outer suburbs of the

Down In The Park

Now that we've all made it to Friday, I think we deserve a trip to Centennial Park. Just a few of the many black swans In the Column Garden The infamous, though very pretty, Busbys Pond Unable to find any clues in the recent murder , we staged our own re-creation See? I don't hate all birds In fact, I got up close with the geese Sunset studies, that slightly melancholy time and never a better way to finish

Child Protection - Let's Think Again

NSW has just banned smoking in cars with child passengers, several years after smoking was banned in pubs. That should tell you everything about the importance we place on children's safety - at least at the hands of their parents. The Department of Community Services (DOCS) mandatory reporting line, where those dealing with children on a professional basis are required to report suspicions of abuse, receives over 1,000 calls a day. To deal with this, rather than hiring more workers, mandatory reporting has been changed from "children at risk of harm" to "children at serious risk of harm". Can we try a third way? Can we make it clear to parents that they have to stop abusing their children? Government intervention is never resented so much as when it involves one's own family. Even the UN Declaration of Human Rights declares that "Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children." We live in an age of

News of the Friday Follies

In jubillant mood today because of the end of my first term at TAFE, I bring you the unawaited return of the Friday follies. This week: Follies in the news. A robot computer to mark English essays . What happens when the artificial intelligence is greater than the actual intelligence in the essays? Lily Allen quits music over illegal file sharing? Let's see how long this lasts... (I hope she changes her mind, I like her stuff. I own a copy of It's Not Me, It's You on CD. You cannot rip the tracks to MP3s, forcing you to either buy her music twice, or use illegal sites in order to listen to "22" on the bus to work. May want to rethink that policy, Ms Allen?) Fox News attacks Obama's safe schools Czar (their term) as a radical, calling him unsafe for schools. Fox thinks children should remain safe to express their homophobia. Just how far will one man go to avoid paying for an ambulance ? (Seventy kilometres). Of all the reasons a nation migght have to ban Fa

What's Wrong With Marriage? What's Wrong With Weddings!

I'm getting married because I'm needy, insecure, and have abandonment issues. There, I said it. This article in the SMH created quite a bit of controversy. The writer, Catherine Deveny, labels weddings and marriage as antiquated, conservative traditions, "the reinforcement of unrealistic expectations, outdated gender stereotypes and proof we're still being sucked in to happily-ever-after endings. It's also a scathing indictment of our lack of cultural maturity and spiritual imagination. And proof we're emotionally medieval." Well, okay. Marriage is Ms Deveny's bugbear, I understand. I've got mine - circumcision and people who drive cars, and I'll happily see everyone who practices either slowly put to death. Marriage though? Well it doesn't really hurt anyone, as long as two parties go into it equally and willingly. I used to hold similar views to Ms Deveny, and in a way still do. I'm not going to use my personal situation to prove her

Die, Badman, Die!

There can be few issues in our society which whip people to the same level of frenzy as paedophilia. We're reminded of this every time Dennis Ferguson does anything at all. Okay, Ferguson is a horrible sort. He's been convicted of ghastly crimes. However, the issue now is that it's come out that Ferguson, freed after serving his prison terms, has been living in Ryde , in north west Sydney, for the past few weeks. The residents are not happy, and as continually happens with Ferguson, they've vowed not to rest until he leaves their suburb. As usual, all rational thought has gone, long before Ferguson will. One resident has described the neighbourhood as being "like a candy shop", for Ferguson. It's as if paedophilia was some sort of virus; merely having a paedophile nearby is enough to infect all the local children. Even Hetty Johnson, head of child sexual abuse support group Bravehearts, has come out saying paedophiles just don't work that way: "Th

Friday Grab Bag

Jockeys have gone on strike over new rules which restrict them to using padded whips, and also limit the number of times per race they can beat the horse. They're not happy. Racing figures have claimed that whips don't actually hurt the horse (then what's the point?) and that whipping is actually for the horse's benefit: "Whipping is just to encourage a horse at the peak of it's fitness to perform it's best". Oh yes, I'm sure the horses love it. In fact, why not whip Usain Bolt to see if he can run a bit faster? No one should be allowed to race, train or attend horse races until they have submitted to being hit with a horsewhip to see for themselves how much it hurts. (Alcohol consumption, and the numbing effects of such, on race day notwithstanding. Actually, living near a racecourse and seeing the behaviour of some racegoers, a whipping is just what they need regardless). ~~~~~ A 19 year old woman In Queensland has been charged with procuring a

When Love Dies

It's always gruelling to watch the sad, slow death of a loved one. I'm dealing with the trauma at the moment - the sad demise of my beloved Sichuan chicken. The Dixon House food court in Sydney's Chinatown isn't much to look at. It was almost, but not quite, enough to put me off on my first visit, but I was hungry, and decided to order the Sichuan chicken from Joy Luck Cuisine. I'd only ever had Sichuan Chicken from a packet mix before, and thought I'd see what it was like cooked fresh. Well, I was stunned. I simply could not believe I'd lived more than a quarter of a century without this delight in my life. A huge, sizzling platter piled with tender breast chicken meat and onion in the most devine spicy sauce you can imagine, for a mere $7.50 (it went up to $8.90 over time). I wanted to weep with pleasure. (In fact it was so spicy I did weep a little). At the time, I was new to Sydney and homesick for Newcastle, but this dish on its own made living here wor

Never Before Seen Outtakes!

In deciding to post every day, I've had to think of things to post about. Most ideas seem to be sound, but not quite weighty enough to sustain a whole post. Here are some Xander and Nico posts that never quite made it: It was Legacy day this week. Schoolkids swarming the city to sell Legacy badges - 16 years ago, I was one of them. It's a noble idea, Legacy; to support the families of deceased veterans. But how many deceased veterans are there these days? There have been less than 20 Australian soldiers killed in combat in the past 20 years. And most of those men had partners with their own careers. We've already gotten rid of the widow's pension. Maybe it's time to admit that Legacy is a cause who's time has passed. Would those people who whinge about the extra benefits Aboriginal people receive want to be Aboriginal themselves? Would they, for that matter, tell Holocuast victims to "get over it"? (The answers are probably no and yes). There is a new

Why The Sex Diaries are a BOBS

Oh dear, and I didn't want to think about it at all. More and more salacious details of the affairs of former NSW Health Minister John Della Bosca have been revealed in the Daily Telegraph . (No wait, that headline refers to something else. Two affairs! I can barely find energy for one engagement. Anyway, according to blogger Sam de Brito, it was never about the sex; Della Bosca just wanted to be wanted . Maybe he's one of the poor dears whining their penises off in The Sex Diaries . I'm a few months late here, but I recently read Bettina Arndt's tome of marital woe, in which ordinary Australian couples relate how differing sex drives are damaging their relationships. Or as Ardnt puts it, "different libidos [are] creating a generation of men who were "miserable, angry and really disappointed" that their need for sex was "being totally disregarded in their relationship". Man after man in this book complains that they don't get all the sex the

Smack Addicts

There are many people I'll never understand. People who enjoyed the single "All Summer Long." People who leave the gherkins on Big Macs. Men who wear shorts with socks. Women who wear otherwise elegant outfits with thongs. And the people who think it is their right, or even somehow helpful, to "physically discipline" their children. Society pretends to be deeply concerned with the welfare of children. But really, in terms of attitudes to child abuse, we're at the stage now that we were with domestic violence thirty years ago - that it's a family matter, a parent's right, that we shouldn't get involved. It baffles logic that if an older child hits a younger one, this is "bullying", but if an adult hits a child, this is acceptable. And only if that adult is the child's parent - if smacking is such an effective form of discipline, why is it only parents - not babysitters, teachers, childcare workers, other family members, or anyone els

Shopping for Introverts

In a perfect world, I'd never eat at McDonalds again. I loathe everything they stand for. Same with any anonymous commerical enterprise. But in this world, I'm shopping at chain stores like there's no tomorrow. Why? Because I'm shy. I love the idea of supporting independent businesses. But when I walk into a tiny shop and the sales assistant wants to be my new BFF, I'm tempted to run away. There's no easy solution to this for timid people - except to patronise massive, uncaring corporations because by not caring about you, they leave you alone. I'm not altogether sure that small business owners realise the, effect they have when, for instance, you linger a moment at a cafe blackboard and they come running over, squawking "Can I help you?" It's pretty offputting to the shy. Small clothes shops are even worse. "I just came in for a look. Yes it's a lovely day and I'm feeling fine, but following me around making irrelevant comments wo

Gay Marriage for Dummies

It's often amusing to see the excuses contrived in an attempt to defend the morally indefensible. In the case of the opposition to gay marriage, however, the convoluted arguments aren't funny. A lot of people are being hurt and denied their human rights. Me, I'm getting kinda pissed off about living in a country with such a sizeable minority of intolerant dickwads and even more disappointed with Kevin Rudd . The delightful Ann Coulter opines that leftists are way more intolerant than any conservative (which is why you so often hear of Christian bashings in San Francisco). Well, today I'm going to be tolerant, so here is a simple rebuttal of some of the stupid "arguments" against gay marriage: If we let a man marry a man, next he'll be allowed to marry a dog. And while we're at it, why not then let that dog vote, drive a car and buy beer? The man can't legally have sex with the dog either, and he can with another man (as long as, you know, everyone

Justice and Punishment

What with the recent fortieth anniversary of the Manson family murders , it's worth asking - why are the Manson women still in prison? They are now all in their early sixties, serving time for crimes they committed while only just old enough to vote. They've expressed remorse for what they've done. They are highly unlikely to re offend and are little danger to society. But there's no likelihood they will be released in the near future. So - what purpose does society fulfill keeping them in jail? Are some crimes simply too monstrous to forgive? The overwhelming reason the Manson women are likely to die in jail is, of course, that no politician wants to be known as the person that freed the Manson girls; it would cause community outrage. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger knows he'd be eaten alive by Fox News if it happened. But what about the feelings of the victims' families? Whilst I have great compassion for their sufferings, it's important to note

Diatribe of a Temporary Housewife

All my life, I believed that women who chose home duties as a vocation were somehow "letting the side down". But that was before I was made redundant from my stressful if underpaid advertising career, moved in with DF, and found myself temporarily living as a housewife in all but name. According to reports such as this one on Sixty Minutes, being a housewife is the new black. Watching that story made me intimidated, and depressed. Domestic arts? Hell, I was a domestic sataness. I appreciate a basic level of cleanliness. I like to cook. But tupperware parties, padded hangers and time-release air fresheners are not me. Once the house was cleanish, I didn't know what to do with my days. And I don't know where they all went. If there is a Hell for housewives the first thing they'll say when you get there - and every day for the rest of eternity - is "What did you do all day?" It was a huge comedown from the Harbour view office, after work cocktails and shop

I Only Steal Hearts

If I may get personal for a moment... ...will you all please stop calling me a cradle snatcher? My Darling Finacé (DF) is everything I've ever wanted in a man...and eighteen months younger than me. He graduated high school just one year after I did. Not an age gap that would count among adults, you would think...and yet I'm continually called a cradle snatcher. Because he is the guy and supposed to be older than me. In Australia, grooms are on average 2.8 years older than brides in first marriages. The average age gap has declined over time, but still, in a majority of marriages the groom is older than the bride (taller, too). We equate age with power (in this context) so the guy is supposed to be older and more powerful. For all my jokes about being a woman in my thirties with a twenty-something lover, the truth is it's pretty grating, sexist and offensive. Thanks! I feel better.

In Due Season: A Tribute To The Chaser

Like many of you, I was alarmed on Wednesday night to learn that The Chaser's War On Everything is coming to an end in two weeks. Did the evil forces of talkback radio get them in the end? Was it all over? Fear not. According to the show website , the truth is: "As I've mentioned before, this series was always going to end at the end of July, and contain ten episodes. The ABC's decision to suspend the show had the effect of reducing that to eight (which means there will be a lot of stuff on the DVD!) But yeah, at this stage, we feel like we've done our dash with the War On Everything , and that's what Chris was referring to – not necessarily future Chaser projects, but this particular show. For one thing, it's become increasingly difficult to film the stunts we like to include in Australia because the guys are more recognisable. But more broadly, it feels like time to try something new." It would be a damn shame if it was the end for the Chaser. I und


Recently I visited a large, well-known hardware chain where no plastic bags are provided to customers. It's part of their feel-good drive to help the environment. I wouldn't mind, except that the only way to reach the place on foot, or from the buses, was walk around three sides of the warehouse-like building and pick my way through a huge car park. I asked the sales assistant if this was hypocritical, but all I got was a surly look and a threat to not sell me really cheap light bulbs, so I let it go. It's not like they were the nice, old fashioned flattering incandescent light bulbs either. All you can buy these days from many retailers is those awful energy saving things, which look like spare parts from the Tardis and give the whole room an awful greyish glow, as if you have the flu, but worse. Yet this week, some of these same damn retailers who are nannying to us about the environment and what we can and can't buy are offering huge discounts on petrol if you spend

This Blog Now Pre-Pay Only

We've recently moved from an area of Sydney serviced by trains, to a neighbourhood that isn't. This has forced us onto the buses, coinciding with buses in the CBD going prepay only. As usually in NSW, cashless bus services are a great idea in theory, but on the ground it doesn't actually work. (When things get desperate, Troy McLure would call all his suprise witnesses again; the NSW government simply announces a new metro that will never be built). Anyway, you're usually at the bus stop before you remember you can't buy a ticket on the bus anymore, so you check the list of nearby ticket vendors and set off to obtain one. The first shop you visit is out of the tickets you need. The second is inexplicably closed at 1pm on a weekday. The third seller don't sell no bus tickets and they never did. By now you're 2km away from the bus route, fractious and willing to buy an overpriced ticket valid for a much longer distance than you require, just because it's

Lots of Excuses

Well hey everyone. It's been a pretty hectic few months for Xander and Nico (well, talking about yourself in the third person is okay on Facebook!) starting with the fact that we're not just Xander and Nico anymore. Yep, I'm getting hitched. I've also given up on the corporate world to study to be a Youth Worker, moved house ( ugh ) and had a fairly serious chest infection requiring hospitalisation - not that I actually did go into hospital...anyway I've gone from single advertising executive to living as a housewife (temporarily!) in five monhs. So what I'm saying is, there's been a bunch of stuff going on and the past few weeks of current events have missed the Xander and Nico touch. Fear not though, life is getting to something approximating normal-ish, so we hope to be back with our over opinionated, ill-informed posts on the state of the world in early July...

Futility Free Friday (A Bunch of Stuff to Think About)

So the NRL is in trouble, yet again, for the attitudes of the football players towards women. Endless words have been written on this and I'll not rehash the whole saga. Respect for women is certainly needed. I'm speaking as a feminist here, so let me wade in... ...I'm not entirely sure that portraying women as delicate little flowers in need of protection is helpful to us. There are witnesses to the Christchurch incident who say the woman was a willing participant, including coworkers who report her bragging about it for days after. We run a risk when we allow regret to become rape after the fact. No means no, we shouldn't need to debate that, but now yes can become no. The issue of coercion at the time of the sex act is often raised. The problem with this is that coercion (as distinct from direct threats) implies that men are mentally and emotionally, as well as (usually) physically, stronger than women. It's dangerous territory all around. And by claiming coerci

Yet Another Ill-Informed Budget Analysis

Well, the 2009 Australian budget is a triumph for Wayne Swan and the Rudd Government. They've managed to save $150 billion. Wow. Yes, there is a budget deficit of $58 billion, an Australian record. But Treasury recieved $200 billion less in revenues this year due to the GFC. To make up that gap is remarkable. Well done to all involved. And yet. What's that I hear? Whingeing. The endless parade of people claiming there's "nothing in it for them". Another legacy of the Howard years: everyday people who see the budget not as the national economic plan, but as a hand out of goodies. (And oh, the clamour from the right wingnuts today! They claim to support unfetterred free markets, but try to shove their noses out of the trough, and woe is you). One particular man interviewed on Nine News last night claimed that as there were no perks for small business in the budget, he had no incentive to hire new people, and would have to work longer hours. Um, that's how the

Good News, Bad News

Those on the right are very fond of saying that the Rudd Government's stimulus package, which was intended to create 75,000 new jobs, "has not created a single new job". I wonder what they'll be saying now, as the suprise news comes thrrough that during April, the unemployment rate fell from 5.7% to 5.4%, with 49,100 net new full time jobs. As I've said before , thank God Kevin Rudd is PM right now. The stimulus package has worked. The economic policies the Coalition are so fond of brought the world the GFC and if they were in office now, Australia would be in the midst of a deep recession rather than a slow down. Now let's see how Rudd and Swan handle the budget. Deficit? Oh yes, there will be. Hopefully they'll shoulder some of that by winding back some of the middle class welfare that gouged $80+ billion out of the budget annually during the final Howard years. ~~~~~ Back here in the nanny premier state, the NSW police have floated a policy to move

The Real Climate Changers

Malcolm Turnbull has refused to allow the Government's emissions trading scheme through Federal Parliament, thereby raising the possibility of a double dissolution election on the issue of climate change. This will no doubt delight the right wingnuts. They're very confused on the issue of climate change; they just know they don't like it. Their opinion ranges from: There is no such thing as global warming; Okay, global warming is happening, but it's a natural event and not due to human activity; Fine, global warming is caused by human activity, but Australia is too insignificant a contributor to worry about taking action; And even if we should take action, we can't afford it. (I've seen Piers Akerman take all four positions in a single column, and still find time to heartily disparage Kevin Rudd. Considering all the energy he burns, it's hard to understand why he's so fat). Myself, I don't understand the argument that protecting jobs is more impor

The Pigs Flew

"If as many people had swine flu as those that are covering swine flu then it would be a pandemic to reckon with" Finally, some sense on the swine flu issue ! I dunno. All the confirmed swine flu victims I've seen on TV seem more bemused than anything. As I believe I may have said before, I'm not a people person. Today I took the remaining aspect of my flu, the awful cough, shopping. Unfortunatley I was unable to induce panic in anyone.

Everyone's A Top Bloke After Death

During the Channel 9 bushfire appeal earlier this year, it was reported that Richard Pratt donated $250,000 to the victims. My reaction was, "Do you think he can spare it?" Mr Pratt, Australia's 4th richest man, died on Tuesday as a result of prostate cancer. Despite that he was facing charges of lying over allegations he was involved in price fixing - to which he admitted and for which his company was fined $36 million - Pratt is being eulogised as a hero, with many commentators pointing out that the charges were dropped the day before Pratt passed away. That is true, but only because the CDPP acknowledged his death was imminent. The Commonwealth Prosecutor Mark Dean believes the charges would have succeeded had they gone to trial. But according to large sections of the media, Richard Pratt died innocent; he was vindicated of all charges and should only be remembered as a great man. He did do much good, but the "price fixing scandal" was an appalling abuse of

Building A Better Nico

Yesterday morning - Sunday - someone started vacuuming their car right outside my bedroom window, therefore waking me. I checked the clock. 9am. No, hang on, daylight saving was over; it was 8am. It was a late night Saturday. This called for immediate action. I stuck my head out the window and said..."Can you do that somewhere else, please?" What is happening to me? A few months ago such behaviour would have unleashed a stream of such profanity that they keyboard would now melt if I tried to type it. But I'm the highly suggestible type, and am now under the influence of a better half so saintly, paediatric-nurse like that I am vaguely ashamed of a lot of my behaviour. I have quite a temper, that is clear, and far too little regard for my fellow humans. So these days I'm trying to be a better person. I no longer stomp on the feet of people who won't get up to let me past on the train. (I do still hit them with my bag a little, though).

There They Go Again

I ended up donating more money to the RSPCA Bushfire appeal than to the human ones. Yes, it was an appalling tragedy, but after hearing about the fifth plaint from the Victorian bushfire victims that "We don't need any inner-city greenies telling us how to run things" I thought, well it doesn't seem to stop you taking the inner-city greenies' money. You can do without mine. It's still got me beat why these people hate us so . Along with smokers, we're the only group remaining in society it is perfectly fine to say anything about. Sure, many of the bushfire victims were no doubt lovely people who didn't discriminate by postcode and realised everyone drinks lattés. But to the whingers, I'll say - apparently you do need some advice. Even the most cossetted of apartment dwellers knows that when there's big fires coming, you get the hell out.

In Theory...

There's nothing wrong with people with Asperger's syndrome; they could in fact even be consdiered as superior. Aspies could be said to be the first humans to evolve beyond the pack mentality. This is the stuff I come up with when I have too much time on my hands. (Why I have too much time on my hands but haven't been posting is something I'll get to this week). Anyway, I've both lived with and dated men with Asperger's syndrome (not at the same time - they weren't the same person). My ex actually suggested at the time we were dating I may have the condition myself, but I strenuously denied this, and didn't know much of the condition until recently when I got to reading about it. It's fascinating stuff . Myself, I've been wondering if perhaps Aspies have evolved beyond meaningless social interaction in order to persue higher goals. In the early days of human evolution, humans had to live as part of a pack/tribe/group to survive. A "yay, team!

Snort, Distort

As I've said before , we've veered into hysteria when it comes to child protection. Well, here we go again... ...A friend of mine is a primary school teacher, and was recently involved in an incident where two girls in his late-primary class reported an attempted abuction; claiming a man in a white van had called to them in the playground, telling them to get in. There were doubts over the story from the first, and it transpired that the white van was a government worker on legitimate business in the area. No attempted abduction. But naturally the school reported the incident to the police immediatley, and then the frenzy began. Parents descended on the school, verbalising teachers for not keeping their children safe. The children became hysterical, each reporting their own white van horror story. All this is understandable, but then the media circus started. The story caused a local frenzy, including detailed descriptions of the suspected abductor, venues, the van...none of wh

Old Numbers, Fresh Thinking

If you're nostalgic for the heady days of the 1990s, this really is your time. The Dow Jones is now at it's lowest level since 1997 . Last time it was below 7000, Princess Diana was still alive, Chumbawumba still seemed like a fun song and I was still wearing a school uniform*. We could go into a detailed analysis of why this is happening, or alternatively just blame AIG. American Insurance Group reported the largest quarterly loss in U.S. corporate history, despite receiving $150 billion as part of the corporate bailout. Who the hell is the CEO at AIG, and can I have their job? I've absolutely no experience in insurance or managing anything more serious that asking the juniors to help with my paperwork. But I'm sure I could lose $62 billion in three months. Heck, I could even lose it in a more fun way. There are 116,000 AIG employees worldwide, so that's over $50,000 each for them all to take luxury vacations. Maybe it is time to look at how CEOs are nurtured and

Right Wing Reasoning

If you're not eating, hungover, or otherwise at risk of nausea, go read this article by Ann Coulter. Stopped screaming? Ann Coulter is not famed for her logic. But let me just blow her entire "argument" apart very simply... Most single mothers are not single by choice. Their poverty - which is the main risk to their children - is not their choice. And as for the college-educated single mothers by choice, there is no evidence that their children are harmed (and are likely to do well by having a committed, caring, older and better educated parent, and also likely a parental support network; having put this much thought into parenthood, these women are likely to make sure they get things right). There no doubt are women who irresponsibly enter into single parenthood without the resources to adequately support their children, but they would be a tiny minority of single mothers. Let's just thank heaven that Coulter has never met the right man for her and is so against si

The Definition of Bogans

I came across this on a Biggest Loser forum, and it was so apt, and amusing, I just had to share... "Live in the outer western suburbs and have low education levels. Usually work in low paid and menial jobs i.e. factories and supermarkets. Give BBQs where everyone brings their own meat, hamburger patties, cheap breakfast sausages and massive lumps of blade steak. If lucky, the host will provide a catering pack of nasty pre-prepared potato salad, half a wilted lettuce and a few tomatoes cut into chunks with a tin of beetroot and a couple of fried onions. There will be plenty of bottled but cheap brand BBQ sauce and tomato sauce. The hostess will also graciously provide a slab of semi frozen cheesecake, again in a caterer's pack. For the men, they will be seen entering the BBQ with a slab of beer on their shoulders (not their favourite brand, but the cheapest). They will attempt to leave with a slab of beer on their shoulders (their favourite brand). The women will arrive with a

Problems With Kevin's Package

As other events in the world slowly seep back in to news bulletins, Kevin Rudd is now relying on all seven of the cross bench senators to get his fiscal stimulus package passed. I dearly hope he succeeds. Of course I do - I want my $950! I promise I'll use it wisely. And I will be generous, if not quite as generous as the victims of the Ingham floods in Queensland who, having their homes and businesses themselves, donated their flood relief assistance payments to the Victorian bushfire victims. I'm staggered in the face of such altruism and heart. But us childless middle-income earners never, ever get any goodies from the Government. So you can imagine our excitement at being included. Let us do good with the money, but please don't take it away from us. Some are doing well from the downturn. JB Hi Fi have reported that their profits increased 40% in the second half of 2008 (due in no small part to myself) and McDonalds have reported increased takings as well. Too poor

The Victorian Bushfires

If I may attempt a moment of levity, Nathan Rees has offered Victoria the help of the NSW Government. John Brumby replied "Thanks, but things are enough of a disaster down here already." But in all seriousness, disaster doesn't even seem to cover it. Catastrophe perhaps. I don't know. There were warnings this would be worse than Ash Wedesday, but I thought that was the hyperbole used to make people take the threat seriously and make preparations. Then When I first woke on Sunday the death toll was reported at 25. How the hell do 25 people die in a bush fire in this day and age? I wondered. I was thinking of isolated deaths, people fleeing in cars. Not whole towns being destroyed, with residents in them. Through the day the death toll mounted - 35, 49, 66, 84. And then you couldn't take it in any more. The sight of the Victorian Premier and hardened newspeople breaking down. The stories of unimaginable horror. As I write this, the death toll from the Victorian bush