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

22 May 2009

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 coercion, this is perpetuated. We should teach young girls that men can't force you into doing anything you don't want, they don't have that ability, you can, must walk away. Better that than being the victim after.


Friends of mine often express amazement that despite the seemingly endless spate of gun massacres in the U.S., there's no nationwide call there to ban private gun ownership. They can't believe the deaths are just accepted. "Why not?" I say. "We just accept the road toll here. No one is giving up their cars".

The road toll is just seen as a fact of life. People rush to vaccinate their children, something I don't personally agree with, but regardless, they're putting them in greatest danger by driving them to the clinic. People teach their teenagers to drive so they'll be safe travelling to and from work, but when you consider the youth road toll versus the number of assaults and murders on public transport at night, it's the most dangerous thing parents can do.*

Today has been designated fatality free Friday in the hope of shaking the nation out of it's complacency by encouraging them to drive more safely. Can I go further - be safer still. Take the bus.


Whew! On a slightly lighter note than all that, recently my better half and I were watching TV, and an ad for shampoo appeared, in which the main actor was of Asian appearance. We discussed how it's not something you see much, even in multi cultural Australia today - the point was not that he was an Asian guy, but just that he was a guy.

But I got to thinking, how often do you see ads for anything cooking or cleaning related where it's Dad giving the kids a snack, Dad serving up dinner, Dad telling the kids how soft the fabric softener has made their jammies?

Maybe not so light after all. Anything resembling real gender equality is still a long, long way off.

* And adding to the irony is the children's cancer charity that raffles off cars. I've always wanted to ask them whether that isn't hypocritical and/or ridiculous, considering car exhausts are carcinogenic. When I get up the nerve I'll let you know how it goes.

Yet Another Ill-Informed Budget Analysis

13 May 2009

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 market works. Pay someone to work for you, or do the work yourself. Next you'll be complaining you have to clean your own house as you can't afford a lady who does.

Seriously, the Budget, and the Australian people, right now are reminding me of a homeowner who notices their house on fire and reacts by frantically ringing the post office to get them to hold their mail. We're not focussing on the real issue here. (Thank you Ross Gittins). There's a whole lot of recession to get through and we've barely even started - this is not the time to be worrying about how long it will take to pay off the deficit.

Anyway, there's no increase in Austudy, so the Budget isn't helping me. Stupid Rudd.

Good News, Bad News

07 May 2009

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 on "noticeably" drunk persons in public places (a step on from the current policy, which allows them to move on "seriously" drunk people). Some of the criteria they'll use to judge a person's level of intoxication is slurred speech and staggered gait.

What good will that do anyone? I have disabled friends who need to carry medical documentation of their condition with them when they go to bars, to prove that ttheir lack of coordination and speech difficulties are due to medical reasons, not overindulgence in alcohol. Are disabled people now to fear being accosted by the police for walking (if they can) down the street? What about those of us who are just plain clumsy? I fell down the stairs in the train station this morning and I haven't had a drink in days. Goddammit, I think I need one now though.

The Real Climate Changers

05 May 2009

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 important than reducing carbon emissions. For a start, these are the very jobs and industries which are creating the emissions in the first place. Anyway, if we applied this argument universally, we'd avoid all progress to save jobs. There would be no phones to keep messenger boys in work. Australia would still have a productive whaling industry. So what's so special about, say, the car manufacturing industry or coal production today? Yeah, I know first hand how tough things are right now. Which, if you think about it, the right wingnuts don't.
  • The Pigs Flew

    01 May 2009

    "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.

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