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Showing posts from 2016

I used to be (more) racist.

I used to be racist. Oh, not the overt sort of racist. I didn't call people the n word or think black people were inferior or anything. In fact, I thought everyone was the same and we should all be treated equally. I was the good sort of racist! One that doesn't think they are racist at all.  When the first season of Australian Idol aired in 2003, with several of the contestants being people of colour, I thought "why are there so many non-Australians on it?" When Aboriginal boy TJ Hickey died in 2004 when he crashed into a fence whilst fleeing from police on his bike, I thought "well, that's very sad, but if he hadn't been running away he wouldn't have died." When I heard of high rates of disadvantage among Aboriginal people, I thought "well, that's very sad, but there are so many programs to help them". When I first heard of white privilege, I got very indignant. I thought "how dare you, my life has been anything but privilege

Ten days of distraction from a shrinking economy

Australia's economy shrank by 0.5% in the September quarter , the largest contraction since the GFC. Such things happen, but of course Prime Minister Turnbull, Treasurer Scott Morrison and the rest of the Government quickly and soberly announced plans to get the nation back on track. Nope, I'm just kidding. The entire government, enthusiastically aided by the Murdoch press, launched a campaign of obfuscation and downright bizarre distraction, refocusing the national pique on issues so marginal, so trivial, that you actually might have to give grudging credit for a brilliant piece of political play.  In ten days: Immigration Minister Peter Dutton bought into the "War on Christmas" , declaring Australia is a Christian country, that people want their kids brought up in a normal environment and that a lack of Christmas carols in schools is - what else? - "political correctness gone mad".  Treasurer Scott Morrison f ired up the barbie for a roast of Newstart reci

Australian Trump supporters betray those lost on MH17

Newly elected One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts is off on his Christmas holidays. He and his family are going to the United States to visit relatives. And whilst I strenuously disagree with his politics, I wouldn't wish Senator Roberts and his family anything other than a happy trip. It won't all be fun and games, though: Because like pretty much all of Australia's new, and newly emboldened, alt right, Senator Roberts is just smitten with President Elect Donald Trump. From One Nation leader Pauline Hanson toasting Trump's victory with champagne in front of Parliament House (way to show you're in touch with ordinary workers there), to Cory Bernardi proudly wearing a Make America Great Again cap and saying the same sentiment should apply to Australia, to George Christensen, elated by Trump's victory and pondering the lessons to be learned for us, they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude. They believe he stands for what they believe they stand f

Bi By Now

I first had a crush on a girl when I was about 11, I think, in my first year of high school; she was a couple of grades above. But it was fairly innocent, as crushes usually are at that age, and in one of the ancient Advice To A Teenage Girl books still swimming through the school library system there was a healthy dose of homophobia, with some of the less noxious wisdom being that adolescent girls often have crushes on older girls, it's a harmless normal stage they'll grow out of. Considering the great big globs of weirdness I was saddled with in almost all other areas of my life, this was welcome news. Hooray! I'm normal! And this was a different time. It was years even before Ellen came out, and that was such big news on the cover of Time magazine. I knew there were lesbians, but I thought it meant you had to crop your hair short and ride a motorcycle. But I liked pretty dresses! And there were no visible bisexuals at all. Homophobic jokes abounded. I'm pretty sugg

Greens aren't driving voters to Pauline Hanson - but we must reach out to them

Crikey recently published an article by William Bourke, founder of the Sustainable Australia Party, claiming the elitism of the Greens and their disdain for the concerns of "ordinary" Australians  is sending those ordinary Australians to vote for One Nation . It's a demonstrably false assertion - at the 2016 Federal election , the Greens gained slightly in their primary vote, alongside a large increase for the ALP - those switching their vote to One Nation were largely coming from the Liberal party, along with the Palmer United Party, touted as a new independent force in Australian politics following their gains in 2013, only to be wiped out in 2016, with their share of the national vote plummeting from 5.5% to zero. Let's be honest. I'm sure there are Greens voters of long standing who, seeing one reference to fascism too many, have suddenly shifted their allegiance to One Nation - but they could probably all fit around the same table to discuss it. And at the e

How Scott Adams went nuts (and I'm sorry and it wasn't my fault and I won't let it happen again)

False modesty aside, there are things I know I'm good at - cooking, writing essays, figuring out maps and timetables. Then there are things I am not so good at - driving, wrapping presents, following along in exercise classes (basically anything that requires a sense of spatial awareness). And I am not - to disastrous effect - a good judge of character. It might be from lack of ability to interpret facial and vocal cues, or an inability to read people combined with a naive tendency to take people at their word. How bad is it? Well, when Bill Clinton said, way back in 1998, "now you listen to me, I did not have sexual relations with that woman", I believed him . I know better now than to trust any politician lying about sex, but I've still been taken in and trusted people who turned out to be not what they seemed - or worse, exactly what they seemed, but I ignored the warning signs and thought the shitty things they did to other people, they wouldn't do to me, unt


I've been quiet for a bit. And whilst I am keenly aware that there is a severe lack of opinion pieces on U.S. election, I've been a bit busy. For one, I moved house, and we all know how that can be (except for those lucky people who've lived all their lives in one house. I wish I was one of them. As long as it was a nice house).  It's hard not to be fascinated by the U.S. election, especially given Australian politics is currently oscillating between dull and creepy. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, aware that former PM Tony Abbott was roundly criticised for just about everything he did, has apparently decided to avoid this pitfall by not doing anything at all. Meanwhile, Abbott is sticking his nose in everywhere, with speculation he might be angling for another crack at the top job. And then there's the business about Attorney General George Brandis, who got in a spat with the Solicitor-General over restricting ministers' access to legal advice from the latter

Should I teach my son about female empowerment by shaving my head?

When my small family moved to my hometown of Newcastle in 2012 , I did a grown up thing I'd been wanting to do in the many years since I became a grown up: I got my own hairdresser. I mean a proper hairdresser where we knew each others' names, and I returned regularly, and she knew my quirks and didn't mind if I stared and my lap, and she didn't even make me feel squirmingly uncomfortable, like all the hairdressers I'd visited previously, from $10 cuts at Central Station to the time I spent $120 for a basic haircut in Newtown (oy vey, those were the days of plentiful disposable income - I want to go back in time and slap myself silly for not saving). Hair length went up and down. A fringe was acquired. I looked presentable - a small miracle. But at the end of 2014, I made the fateful decision to accompany my husband to Sydney to try and save our marriage. It didn't work, and as if that wasn't bad enough, I lost my hairdresser . And until I finally got the s

Tiahleigh Palmer - hard questions and heartbreak

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about the failures of the child protection system , including the worrisome process of vetting and approving foster parents. I couldn't have imagined that those fears would be realised in such a heartbreaking way. Eleven months after her death, the former foster family of 12 year old Tiahleigh Palmer were charged with offences relating to her murder . The allegation is that her former foster father murdered Tiahleigh to cover the fact that his 19 year old son had sexually assaulted her and feared she was pregnant. Her former foster mother and the couple's other son have been charged with perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice.  Tiahleigh Palmer was in foster care because it was deemed her mother could not look after her, and she required protection. Protection. So how the hell was she sent to live with a family who did this to her? An adult son who allegedly raped a child, and a father who allegedly murdered that child to co

Shopping Mad

So I went into a city outlet of a national health and beauty retailer. A staff member greeted me brightly at the door. "Hi! Welcome to national health and beauty retailer. Can I help you with anything today?"  "Uhh...I was just after some nail scissors." So she walked me over to a display of such implements and took a packet off the shelf. "We have these ones, they're twelve dollars. Was that what you were after?" Tired and grumpy, and expecting a pair of nail scissors to cost about four bucks, I replied with possibly less grace than was warranted, "not for twelve dollars I'm not." We looked at each other for several uncomfortable seconds. We then looked at each other for several even more uncomfortable seconds. I spoke first. "This is why it's for the best if I do my shopping on my own", I said before me and my long toe nails made our exit.  Am I the only one who just fucking hates this? I know from working in retail that a

Fighting Pauline Hanson with facts is just feeding the beast

Following Pauline Hanson's appalling maiden speech to the Senate last week, there were those who, whilst abhorring Hanson's views, disagreed with the Greens' decision to walk out on her in protest . Don't walk out, they said - stay and fight her with the facts. This seems a reasonable thing to do, but we are not dealing with reasonable people here. You cannot fight them on the facts. It goes beyond that. Facts are not merely irrelevant to them; they see facts as a product of the left wing universities and socioeconomic systems that oppress them. Hanson supporters tend to be older, have fewer years of education, to be economically disadvantaged - and overwhelmingly white. Ms Hanson herself left school at 15. This was typical for young, working class Australian women at the time, and I don't mean to disparage her for that, but without further education she had missed the opportunity to develop logic and critical thinking skills, the ability to assess the validity of s

Why The Greens' Hanson Walkout Meant So Much

Wednesday afternoon I picked G up from preschool. He was finishing off a Lego creation, which his teacher deemed of such structural integrity as to merit being placed on the display shelf. And I was thinking of that lovely lady later that evening, who has taken my son under her wing since my husband and I separated a year ago; cheering him up on his sad days, gently integrating him into the group, always there for a cuddle. I was thinking how much this hijab wearing lady and my blonde son love each other, because that's Australia isn't it? I was thinking of her, and thousands like her, as newly elected Senator Pauline Hanson declared, in her maiden speech , that "we are in danger of being swamped by Muslims, who bear a culture and ideology that is incompatible with our own...Australia is now seeing changes in suburbs predominantly Muslim. Tolerance towards other Australians is no longer the case. Our law courts are disrespected and prisons have become breeding grounds for

Nothing Edgy in Opposing Safe Spaces

I read the  account of Yassmin Abdel-Magied , who had to walk out of an address given at he Brisbane Writers Festival by Lionel Shriver, who mocked the concept of identity. Shriver, author of We Need To Talk About Kevin amongst other books, proudly declares herself anti-authoritarian and a scandalising provocateur; she recently appeared at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas to peddle her notion of breaking a rule a day. But there's nothing dangerous about mocking safe spaces, trauma, PC culture or triggers. Everyone who who wants to appear "edgy" or show their version of "common sense", is posting on their blogs and Facebook pages, mocking safe spaces and microaggressions, and finding the whole thing hilarious. Tacos are cultural appropriation! Getting PTSD from Tumblr! I'm a straight white male, where's my safe space? (Shroedinger's shitlord: denigrates safe spaces whilst wanting one for themselves). It's an extremely simplistic view of extremely

At Risk Kids - PROFIT

We know the child protection system in Australia is a basket case. As Lisa Pryor reported in this harrowing article on child protection services , and the horrifying choices caseworkers are forced to make, there are simply too many children at risk of serious harm, and too few caseworkers to investigate and help them. Imagine a hospital emergency room where only a handful of cases deemed by the triage system as being in need of urgent medical attention got to see a doctor; the rest were simply sent home to an uncertain fate. Well, that's what happens to most children at risk of serious harm in NSW. Calls are made to the helpline, trained staff assess that a child is genuinely at risk, and then - di nada for most of them. Child protection knocking on your door because you post on Facebook that your child has a bruise? Forget it. Due to workloads, most children at risk of sexual, physical and psychological abuse will never get a visit from a caseworker. Of course, once kids are actu

Welcome Back (Breakdown)

I've been a huge fan of gymnastics for years. I'm sure I could have been a top gymnast, apart from being too tall, uncoordinated, unathletic, having very little drive or determination, and not actually ever taking gymnastics. But I love to watch, so the recent Olympics were a treat, especially the  astonishingly good Simone Biles. And as ever, whenever the gymnasts made a mistake, a misstep, a stumble, a flubbed move, I reflected in pity that they'd no doubt performed that routine flawlessly, hundreds of mind-numbing times, in their home gyms. But it turns out gymnasts don't endlessly practice their complete routines. The individual elements, yep; but to try and reduce the punishing wear and tear on their bodies, elite gymnasts rarely practice the most jarring elements of their routines, the dismounts; what you see in competition isn't a routine they've practiced into muscle memorial; usually, it combines special skills they may only have accomplished a few time

No McDonalds in Glebe? It's Not So Simple

Now, I've spent a lot of time in Glebe over the years, including an 8 month stint living in the place. So when I heard about the proposal for McDonald's to set up a pop-up outlet in the old Valhalla cinema on Glebe Point Road, with a view to a possible permanent store, my first reaction was to think "no! No way! Glebe doesn't want McDonalds. Keep your rampant multinational commercialisation out of Glebe". So I went to join up with the opposition campaign on Facebook, and what I saw there actually changed my mind. Comments against the commercialisation encroaching on Glebe, sure. But there were also comments that McDonalds is just too downmarket. Glebe has a sophisticated café culture, wrote one poster. We don't want the likes of McDonalds in our suburb. Well, sure, a sophisticated café culture is great...if you can afford it. Glebe is a very socio-economically diverse suburb; or as the Sydney Morning Herald put it, "an almost schizophrenic mix of wealth a

Labor vs Greens: This Can't End Well

"Greens leader Richard Di Natale floats Greens alliance with the Liberals" proclaimed the headlines a week ago. The quote was all over twitter; Di Natale had said of an alliance "never say never". That doesn't sound right, I thought, so I did what I always do in these circumstances: go straight to the source - an interview Di Natale did with GQ magazine - to get the full quote, in context. Here's what Di Natale actually said about a possible Liberal alliance:  "It’s a question for the party but I think it’s never going to happen. I don’t see a time when we can form a coalition with the Liberal Party, particularly this Liberal Party, because our views are so far apart. [Still], 'Never say never' is the quote I'd use about everything in politics."  That's it, I thought? An alliance is nearly impossible, but taking a pragmatic view on politics generally? I could see why "Greens-Liberal alliance" would prove irresistible to he

Let's do the decent thing and change the date of Australia Day

Quite a lot of debate about the celebration of Australia Day on January 26 at the moment. There's little point trying to reason with the hard core nutters who think the invasion was good for the indigenous population, brought civilisation to primitive wretches. Those people are too far gone. But what about the moderates who object to the use of the term Invasion Day, who are proud to be Australian and see criticism of their day to celebrate being Australian as an attack on Australia itself? To them I say, sure we should have a day to celebrate all that's great about being Australian - and wouldn't it be great to have a day to celebrate freely, a day without negative connotations and a tragic history? Because for Aboriginal people, 26 January marks not a day to celebrate Australia by getting drunk in Australian flag boardies, but the day that began the slaughter, the dispossession, the loss of land and home and rights and children and culture and spirituality, the effects o