Showing posts from 2010

Farewell and All That

Well, this is it. I said, once the Federal election was over, I would wrap up my blog - as I've said in posts over the last few months, I've completely lost my mojo and the timing seems right. But now that the time for the last post is here, I'm not quite sure what to say, except for one thing. Thank you. Thank you to everyone who's ever read a post, come back to see what else I have written, left a comment (supportive or otherwise!), looked at the photos, followed a link, thought about what I have said. Many of you over the years have said that you've enjoyed what I've written, which has meant the world to me. When I look back at my first post , it doesn't feel like all that long since I wrote it, and yet. When I started this blog, I was 24, living alone in Newcastle, and Xander was a kitten. I'm now in my thirties, married, living in Sydney, and Xander is "mature" according to veterinary standards (which puts a slight lump in my throat when I

The Penultimate

Best laid plans being worth the blank fields they're typed on, I was intending to do a last-ever post here the day after the election, then finally get started on my new blog. That plan was predicated on the notion that we'd know who had actually won the damn thing by then. So, I'm going to keep on keeping on here, and wrap up when this whole electoral mess does. May God have mercy on us all.

Time To Farewell?

Dear readers. I've been running this blog for nearly seven years now. I never thought it would last this long, not in my worst nightmares. And in recent months, I've hardly been posting at all. This is because I think I've pretty much said everything I have to say. I've complained about politics and every day life as much as they can be complained about. The fact that there's a Federal election upon us and I can't bring myself to write about it is a clue. I've already covered two elections, you know? Makeovers aren't helping; this blog has been through nearly as many colours as my hair over the duration. So, although it will hurt - a lot - I am thinking of letting the Xander and Nico Pod die a natural death. I want to focus on something else, like an idea for a local photography blog I have in mind. I've got nothing left to say and I can't force it anymore. I think some of what I've written over the years was actually pretty good, but whateve

Once A Socialist

"The man who is not a socialist at 20 has no heart, but the man who is a socialist at 40 has no brain". We've all heard that quote. I know I have many times, mainly from people who expect I will grow out of my politics, just as they hope I will grow out of being a Goth. I'm afraid that the latter hasn't happened yet , and I'm guessing the former won't either. As I get older I'm shifting more to the left, and I'm not alone. Last week I went to see Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens, speak at Leichhardt Town Hall (one of the joys of community involvement is spending a lot of time in cold halls eating cake). I expected the audience to be full of dreadlocked student types, but instead the bulk of the crowd was aged between 40 and 60. It could be because students are a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings who didn't want to shell out $15 on a rainy winter night, but I rather think that the more decent people get to look at the world, the more lef

Where I Briefly, Despairingly, Comment on the Election

Yes it has been a long time since I last posted, certainly in light of there's a Federal election coming up soon. But I've been busy...we were in between computers for a time...and also the whole thing is so depressing it makes me want to flush my own head down the toilet. Maybe I'm getting cynical in my old age. I've seen quite a few elections now (especially since I took an active interest in the things long before I was old enough to vote), and even though I didn't agree with them on everything, I at least always wanted Labor to win before. But I'm so disgusted by their current shift to the right I can't bring myself to make a 2PP choice at all (God knows, if Turnbull was leading the Liberals right now, is it just possible I may have given my preferences to them? Surely not, but I wonder). Everyone has their own bugbears - here's mine: Equal Marriage Rights - two unmarried, atheist female ministers (one the PM and the other herself a lesbian) oppose t

So We Have a New PM (Or, Labor Eats Its Own)

Remind me never to serve in a Labor government. I'm rather a sensitive sort, and I don't think I could handle the hurt and monumental ingratitude of being dumped by my own party, in my first term, so shortly after being Australia's most popular ever PM. But hey, that's me. It's a ridiculous situation when looked at that way. The Australian electorate, it must seems, are pretty darn ungrateful. It's not enough that Rudd saved us from the GFC , oh no; at the first thing people are brainwashed into not liking (the mining tax) everyone gets cold feet. It's like walking out of a marriage at the first argument over which in-laws to spend Christmas with. Even that may be understandable (the electorate have pretty short memories, after all) but what's unforgivable is that Labor, instead of standing by Rudd, threw him out on his ass at the first opportunity. That's what's wrong with non-Conservatives. They care too much about being liked; they spook too e

Where I Apologise

We've been enjoying the World Cup around here lately, but it turns out I'm quite out of touch. I thought Ronaldo was this guy: But it turns out he's someone else now: Who's to know these things? I wish someone would call and tell me. Anyway, to get to my title, unlike in 2006 I am unable to devote my blog to the World Cup or anything else right now. I'm frantically trying to write my portfolio to prove I can be a good youth worker...once that's done, I've so much I'm dying to share with you all but for now, I need to devote what little brain energy I have to the writing I have to do, not the writing I want to do!

Sunday Arts - Mark Ryden

I do more than just launch half-assed ramblings about how things ought to be. So today I'd like to share with you the work of one of my favourite artists, Mark Ryden. I just really dig the awesome combination of nursery rhyme cute and creepy. The guy's done more than just this stuff though - he actually designed the album art for Michael Jackson's Dangerous, along with art for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Ringo Starr and Jack Off Jill (so he doesn't have a "type"). For more, I enthusiastically refer you to Mr Ryden's website . Next week - Victoria Frances (who else?!)

Tenants' Rights, By God!

I'm a big fan of "Modern Guru" in the Good Weekend , where dilemmas of modern manners ("What's the appropriate response if a friend invites you over for an exquisite dinner...then requests $50 a head for the meal?") are explored. 2010 is a confusing, crazy place. We need help. But there was one correspondent recently who made my well-mannered blood boil. She asked was it okay, since her household no longer received delivery of the local paper, for her to help herself to copies from the letter boxes of rented homes? It's not as if those who rent care about the local community. This was in contrast to the tears of envy I felt when reading of five-year leases in Europe. One third of NSW households are now rented, up from one quarter ten years ago, but there's still a sense that renters are the scum of the Earth. Everyone wants to own their own home, surely; it's the great Australian dream, so the only people who rent must be young or poor. New chang

Oh, Israel

Imagine having a friend who has had, let's be frank, a whole heap of shit happen to them in their life. They, for the main, haven't let it overwhelm them. In fact, they've triumphed in spite of the obstacles. They've gone on to achieve amazing things, more so than many others with fewer resources. You're really proud. But sometimes, just sometimes, what they've suffered gets the better of them. They act out. They behave in a way you find reprehensible. You can sort of understand, you can try to forgive. But when it gets too much, you can only shake their head and hope they'll snap out of it. So it is with Israel. They've done it again . They're far. You don't understand. They have problems. You're not always there. They did what they had to do. They're sorry you're upset, but not sorry they did it. It's nothing new for Israel , as I wrote last year. There's a sense in sections of the international community th

Why Christians Are Wrong

Christian cultural commentators seem very alarmed by the rise in prominence of atheism in recent years. Alarmed perhaps inevitably, because it's obvious they have no clue what it's all about. Christians speak of a rejection of God; in this review of The Rage Against God , Peter Hitchens (brother of Christopher) story of his re-embrace of Christianity after a period of secular humanism, the reviwer writes that Hitchens' generation "...came to see God as a nuisance and religion as an embarrassment." It's not an uncommon sentiment. Christians, seeing their god as an absolute rather than one of many gods that a person can choose to believe in or not, seem to think that atheists believe in God, but have deliberately choosen to ignore him/her/it because it's all too hard. It's not true. Atheist do not reject God. They don't rage against God. They simply do not believe in any god - they don't reject yours , Christians. But the Christians don't un

Ten Things Wrong With The New Liberal Party Ad

So Tony Abbott has kicked off the 2010 election campaign with a nice shiny new campaign ad . He is to be admired, I guess, for packing so many weasel words, mistruths and scare tactics into a mere thirty seconds. Here are just some of the fundamental flaws the seep from every pore of this man's being (it may not be exactly ten - at least I can admit when things aren't quite right). Strong action to reduce Australia's massive debt - Australia's debt as a percentage of GDP is the lowest in the OECD. What debt we do have is a result of the fiscal stimulus that kept Australia well shielded from harsh effects of the GFC. Kevin Rudd has taken a decisive step to reduce this debt - the tax on mining profits. Tony Abbott and his ilk are jumping up and down screaming about this. Okay Mr Abbott, what measures do you want to take? Would they by any chance involve the slashing of services and untold misery for Australian families - as per the early days of the Howard government per

Feminsim Goes Again

Last Saturday's Good Weekend was the annual "women's issue". These things have thankfully moved on from the days of glossy fashion spreads and beauty tips - interviews with women in power on the status of women today, and a lengthy article on feminism, specifically women in the workplace. Or more specifically, how women are obstructed from the career fast track in the corporate world. Can the mainstream media talk about something else please? Yes, it is good to see feminism at least being discussed. And yes, the way that the structure of the corporate/business world prevents women from achieving positions of power is an important issue; I would be bitterly frustrated if I were one of these women. But yet again, feminism risks alienating many women through it's elitism. Most women aren't on a corporate fast track, usually through choice - there are many other fulfilling careers which women pursue than chasing corporate success. Yet these career women are the on

Future Schlock

Recently I imagined how it would be if my eleven year old self could travel through time and visit me to see what life is like in 2010. Frankly I don't think she would be very impressed. The glorious technological future we were promised never arrived. Consider commercial air travel. With the execption of personal entertainment, air travel hasn't really changed in forty years - the planes are the same, the airports are the same, the delays are the same. (Security screening takes longer). It takes pretty much the same amount of time to fly from Sydney to London now as it did in 1970 when the 747 came into widespread use. Every few years you see a news story about how in five years or so, there will be aircraft that can fly to London in four hours, but nothing ever comes of it (in fact, I think I remember seeing the first of these stories when I was about eleven). It's not just air travel. Nothing predicted by The Jetsons, or our imaginations ,  came to pass. We never went b

F Club

Over the weekend, I attended the F Conference , the first major feminist conference held in Australia in many years (no one seemed to agree just how many). It was enriching and inspiring. It was also confusing, perplexing and briefly infuriating. I consider myself a feminist but good grief, half the time I had no idea what these people were talking about. The conference seemed to divide between the older, second wave feminists active through the 1960s, 70s and 80s (who received a deserved round of applause in the opening session) and the fresh young feminists leading the charge now. I felt quite out of touch - someone in between age-wise, who considers herself a feminist but has mostly been in the corporate world for the past many years and has done something between very little and bugger all for the feminist movement. So I spent much of the conference struggling to comprehend the language, the vocabulary, the nuances. There was the usual mix of panels and workshops that these events

A Thing Of The Past?

Back in 2004, when I heard of the death of Thomas "TJ" Hickey, the young Aboriginal man who died after crashing his bike and being impaled on a fence following a police chase through Redfern, I thought it was just an accident, and anyway why was he running if he hadn't done anything wrong? I'm ashamed of my ignorance when I look back now. But I thought police racism and brutality were things of the past. I was really, really wrong. There was an outstanding warrant for TJ's arrest at the time of his death, and when he saw a police car in the area, he assumed it was seeking him. (Police later admitted they were in fact chasing him). So he fled. I'm not making any statements as to Mr Hickey's innocence or guilt, for either way he had good reason to run; the continuing harassment of Aboriginal people - especially young men - in inner Sydney. The general public has no idea; I know I didn't. The allegations here , of police behaviour immediately following T

Have You Ever Wondered...

Ever wondered who if anyone clicks on spam emails? This graphic gives an interesting snapshot. Of a spambot that sent 35 million emails in 2008... 8 million were received (the rest were bouncebacks or sent to non-existent email addresses). 10,500 people clicked on the link in the email. 28 bought products. That's a conversion rate of 0.000008% - roughly the same level of success I had in my dating days. ~~~~~ Ever wondered how to get a letter published in the newspaper - particularly News Ltd publications? Try any of these handy templates: “When is _____ going to do something about _____? This is an outrage and _____ has lost my vote!” “I’ve never voted ______ before, but after ______ you can be sure I’ll be voting _____ at the next election!” “Once again _____ has proven that all ______ are _______. When are ordinary _______ going to stand up and do something about this?” “The recent actions/decision/ruling by _______ is PC gone mad!” "______ are causing all the problems in

Trapped In The Noise

It's hard to think of an issue that creates as much division and furore as post-abortion grief (or post-abortion stress syndrome - PASS), nor one that deserves such lack of compassion less. Recently I was enjoying reading Princesses and Pornstars , Emily Maguire's exploration of modern female culture and how feminism has lost it's way, replaced by meaningless "empowerment" that sees women thinking they gain esteem by pole dancing. I've written about this myself, so the book was really singing to the choir. Until that is, I reached the following passages, which I read with a heavy sigh of familiar disappointment: "In 2005, Liberal backbencher Danna Vale, calling for a national enquiry into abortion, said that while she believed 'in a woman's right to choice', she worried that women don't understand 'the tragedy of post-abortion depression'. This sounds like she is concerned with women's well-being. If so, she can rest easy: a

Cynical Tuesday

Are there any easy solutions regarding police pursuits? Of course, we can't just let any speeding crook get away with it and all. But according to this article , 13% of pursuits end in crashes. Over half of fatal pursuits involve stolen cars and traffic offenses. Are these crimes worth risking people's lives for? No one hates a reckless driver more than I, and I don't buy the "these are just scared kids" reasoning. They may not know how to control a car at speed, but they must know that what they are doing is stupid and wrong. But what about others on the roads? Unless police are chasing a prison escapee or suspect fleeing from a serious crime, it's hard to see that police chases are worth it. ~~~~~ So, Google has finally upped and pulled out of China , rather than imposing self-censorship in order to continue operations there with Chinese government approval. Is this Google standing up for what's right, and abandoning the world's largest internet audi

Pizza Lovers

Whenever I hear someone say something about how they had pizza a week ago, and therefore don't want it that day, I am perplexed. To me, there is no such thing as too much pizza. It's bread, it's melted cheese (usually), it's an ever-changing multitude of toppings. What more could you want in a food? I was always a latent pizza addict, but whilst living in Newcastle my choices were pretty much limited to the major chains. I didn't miss what I'd never had, but my true inner pizza aficionado wasn't awakened till I moved to Sydney, specifically Leichhardt where I fetched up on first moving to the city. On my first night I was introduced to the independent pizza parlour, and the range on offer - prosciutto, chorizo, bocconcini - and the joy of the thin, handspun crust. It was a moment of deep happiness, and as I moved around the inner west I fully explored the range of pizza on offer. This cost me a fortune. It was time to upgrade to that essential piece of equip

I Don't Get It

You'd think paid parental leave would be a no-brainer. Surely most people would think it's a good idea to receive at least some financial support whilst giving birth to and caring for new babies? No. Singles don't want it, which is understandable in a selfish sort of way - why should you keep working to pay for others' failure to remember a condom? Business groups don't want it - it means having to pay for two employees at once, the regular worker on parental leave and also their replacement. Bizarrely enough though, older people are crying foul here as well. We didn't have parental leave, they moan; we had to raise our kids on one income and bread and dripping so why should today's parents have it any easier? There are a lot of people out there feeling very hard done by. ~~~~~ You'd think smacking would be a no-brainer as well. Surely in this day and age, no decent parent would want to hit their kids? I don't know about the decent part, but there a

On Being Retrenched - One Year Later

Approximately 100,000 Australians lost their job during the Global Financial Crisis. I was one of them. Tomorrow marks a year to the day since I arrived at the office, the one with a great view of Circular Quay where I'd worked as an advertising account exec for just under two years, on an ordinary Tuesday with little more pressing on my mind than wondering what I would have for lunch, and found myself two hours later clutching a cardboard box laden with my possessions, wandering blindly around Wynyard station trying to find a taxi and wondering what the hell just happened? The GFC never really hit Australia, we have been told. Certainly I never thought it would hit me. I knew job losses were coming but thought, as one of the longer serving members of the team, I would be safe; failing to take into account that I was also one of the best paid. Who knows? Anyway the shock was pretty much total. I managed to keep it together at the office while I was being told...and as I packed my

My Wedding Rules

So, recently I got married, as I believe I may have mentioned once or twice. Those of you who may have read this blog in previous years will know something of my disastrous relationship history, so to get married was a minor miracle in itself. In order to get married one generally has to have a wedding, and this led to my months of battle with the monster that is the Bridal industry. There's nothing like the mention of a wedding for supplier's eyes to start rolling with dollar signs in the manner of a poker machine. Although I managed to get married without ever setting foot in a bridal shop, I still had to do battle with wedding suppliers, and apparently I did it all wrong. You have never run into so many rules in your life as when organising a wedding. I've never had much time for the Way Things Should Be Done, though I did actually buy one bridal magazine during the lead up. It really had little of relevance to our wedding, though every newsagent I visited seemed to hav

Justice Still No Blinder

There's been the predictable outrage over the release of Phillip Choon Tee Lim, who served 18 years of a 24 year sentence for the 1991 murder of Dr Victor Chang. The feeling seems to be that, for killing such a "great bloke", Lim ought never be released. Notwithstanding that this was a heinous crime, murder is always heinous. The average sentence served for murder in NSW is between 12 and 15 years - several years less than Lim served. The argument in the tabloids and on talkback radio runs that Lim should have been kept in jail, circumstance such as good behaviour aside, because of who his victim was. Barring special circumstances such as the murders of children and police officers in the line of duty, should penalties be harsher depending on the identity of the victim? Are some victims more deserving of our, and the justice system's, sympathy (and wrath) than others? Imagine if death scene pictures of Anita Cobby were shown on TV. There would be outrage whipped to

There's Something Fishy Going On Around Here...

Where are all the Scientologists ? Scientology claims to have over 100,000 members in Australia. Where are they? Between myself, my husband and friends I have asked, spread across several cities, having attended several universities and worked for assorted companies and large organisations , one would assume in all that time, if there were 100,000 Scientologists out there, someone would have met one of them. No one has. Maybe because the actual number of Scientologists in Australia, according to the 2006 Census, is more like this: South Australia - 124 Victoria - 626 New South Wales - 1089 ACT - 51 Queensland - 301 Northern Territory - 8 Western Australia - 284 Tasmania - 25 Total - 2508 (And I sure hope the Scientologists in the NT all get along, or it would be pretty lonely for those on the outer). Even those numbers are an exaggeration; people who list their children's religion as "Scientology" even though young children cannot have any real religious conviction at

Capital Shitty

The following things happened during our visit to Canberra: Our train to Canberra was stuck at a place called Tarago, NSW, for over an hour due to an obstruction on the tracks (at one stage we were told we would have to get off the train and wait for a road coach). Upon arrival at the hotel, over an hour after check-in time, we had to wait for our room due to a system failure. The air-conditioning in the room was stuck on Arctic, and could not be repaired. The hotel had no spare rooms, despite it being midweek, out of season, and parliament not sitting, so we had to make do with a blow heater, which was full of dust and smelt funny. At least the paintings were good . We waited at a taxi rank in the busiest part of the Canberra CBD for nearly 45 minutes from 4pm. No taxis. It's not that there was a queue for cabs; there were simply no vehicles at all. Having missed our train because of this, and unable to arrange coach travel, we went to the airport. The good folk at Virgin Blue wer

Walk This Way

I've never understood people who would disdain walking 500 meters to their local shops in favour of driving for 15 minutes to walk 500 meters across a featureless carpark to a shopping centre. DF and I walk everywhere, and what we can walk to nearby is the major factor in choosing where we live. (I also don't understand people who state that they have to drive because of poor public transport in their area - did they end up living there by accident?) Anyway that's why I'm so excited by Walk Score . You can rate the walkability of anywhere to live based on proximity to essential services, as well as those that aren't essential but nice to have nonetheless, like bars. The site isn't perfect - trees make a huge difference to how pleasant a place is to walk around, but trees are difficult to quantify in this sort of project. Of more concern is the grocery store purported to be 120 meters from us not actually exisiting, and a nearby school actually being a driving sc

Once and for all, proof Piers Akerman is Insane

"[I]n the lead-up to this week’s parliamentary session, the Labor Government, led by Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, has chosen to focus on the sex lives of teenage girls. The new Opposition leader Tony Abbott has a smorgasbord of issues with which to confront the Rudd Government, which is a master of spin and obfuscation. Like a good editor, Abbott and his team must cut through the verbiage. It is important he does not get distracted by the frippery with which elements of the media are obsessed, but concentrates on the matters that are important to Australians." Yes, he actually said this, whilst slamming Kevin Rudd for not mentioning climate change lately (proof Rudd knows he defeated, according to Akerman). At least Ann Coulter is mildly amusing from rare time to time.