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Showing posts from September, 2009

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labels weddings and marriage as antiquated, conservative traditions, "the reinforcement of unrealistic expectations, outdated gender stereotypes and proof we're still being sucked in to happily-ever-after endings.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