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Showing posts from 2021

How to get a free ride to the airport!

 Now that travel is opening up again, I'm sure we're all keen to escape Scott Morrison's prison island*, or at least the bit of it we've been locked down in. But as we excitedly book airfares and accomodation, we're also reminded of one of the least enjoyable parts of travel: getting to and from the airport. Driving yourself isn't an option; with the amount airports charge for daily parking, you might as well abandon your car there and buy a new one when you get back. There's the airport train or sky bus, but they're privatised services and charge a fortune; having to add $40 or more in fares for a service that doesn't even get you to your house makes those discount airfares seem decidedly less of a bargain. You could ask a friend to give you a lift, but you know they're going to wait until you're in the car then ask you to help them move, and you won't be able to say no because they're doing you a favour, and it will just become a

This bird can change (or, the disclaimer).

  I recently watched the Lynyrd Skynyrd documentary, If I Leave Here Tomorrow , a history of the band before and after Free Bird, Sweet Home Alabama and that horrible plane crash in a Mississippi swamp. It's very moving, but I was rather taken aback by the frequent display of the Confederate flag in archival concert footage. The Confederate flag, for all those who claim it's about "States Rights", essentially represents slavery, the subjugation of one people by another. I didn't even know if I wanted to be watching this. Partway through the film, the band members addressed the issue directly. There wasn't much awareness of Southern Rock outside of the Deep South, so being from the South became their gimmick, with the Confederate Flag a big part of the marketing, enthusiastically pushed by the record company. Drummer Artimus Pyle said "it didn't bother me, it didn't represent slavery to me, I didn't think about it that deeply at the time...but

Xander, 2003-2021

On a cold winter's day in 2003, I looked down at the adorable face of the new kitten my best friend had bought me as a birthday present. "I just feel like his name is Xander", I said, not quite knowing where that name had come from. "Wow, I'll have him till I'm nearly forty!", although surely I would never get that old. We both exceeded expectations.  Today, Xander died at home, cradled in my arms. Together right until the very end, as I'd always promised. I couldn't have imagined, in 2003, the journey we'd go on together. We moved from Newcastle to Sydney to Newcastle to Sydney to the Central Coast and back to Sydney (don't ask). Xander got a Dad, then became a big brother.  "So...we're really keeping this thing, then?" And then, when things didn't work out, it was just the two of us, again. I would clutch him to my chest and say "at least I've still got you" as he wiggled free. I'd forgotten what an a

Bradford Exchange has the worst things for sale

If you're as old as I am, you may remember in the days of actual magazines made of trees, in the TV guides that came free with the newspapers and the trash mags at the doctor's waiting room, the regular full page ads for the company Bradford Exchange, hawking overpiced themed clocks and commemorative plates.  If you've thought about that organisation at all in the intervening years, you may have wondered if there was a place for such a company in the modern world, or if they'd gone out of business.  Good heavens, no. Bradford Exchange is still a thing and. unhampered by the limits of paid advertising space, they're able to let their young hearts run free, selling the absolute worst overpriced "collectible" shit you can imagine to whoever on Earth is buying it. A sample:   If your decor philosophy is "too much Elvis is never enough", then you're going to need an Elvis lotion dispenser . An Elvis lotion dispenser that's part of an $80 bathr

Kathleen Folbigg is a monster who should not be in jail - update 2021

This post was originally published in 2015. In light of new developments in the case, I'm republishing this edited and updated version now.  What could be more devastating to consider, more disturbing to the fundamental principles of humanity - and more likely to incite public anger - than the idea of a mother who kills her children? There are some events which are so horrific that people, unable to make sense of what has occured, lose sense all together, and lash out in strange and damaging directions. In the case of the Sandy Hook massacre, the deaths of 20 small children were so devastating that some people couldn't comprehend that those children existed at all, and started lashing out at the grieving families, accusing them of being actors milking public sympathy. When terrible crimes occur, you'll frequently see comments on social media that the accused doesn't deserve a trial - upending the fundamental principle of the justice system that everyone gets a trial. A

Why isn't pay per news a thing?

  It happens all the time. You want to read a story from The New York Times , but you accidentally clicked on yet another story about Andrew Cuomo that you didn't even want to read, and you've run out of free articles for the month. Or you want to read a long form article from a local news source, but you can't read anything at all without a subscription, and while you want to read about how local women have changed a culture of silence and cover ups of sexual assault, you have very little need to pay $15 a month to be kept up to date on the town's political dust ups and traffic snafus. What can you do? Whilst there are ways around these paywalls, many of us recognise that good journalism costs money, and we want to pay for it, without ending up with nine recurring monthly subscriptions to sources we don't have time to read. Why can't we just pay for the articles we want? A pay-per-news service doesn't seem to me to be complicated*. A news subscriber goes to

International Women's Day 2021: the bad, the worse, and the WTF

Well, it's International Women's Day*, again . So in honour of the day that began as a communist holiday before being co-opted by the corporate and liberal forces of white feminism, here's a selection of the most rage, or at least cringe, inducing moments from the day. We kick off the day with this effort from the West Australian. Whilst the headline is actually given as an example of the abuse women at the publication receive and a show of support for its female journalists, you have to read the article to ascertain this. And plenty of people don't read the article, especially when they just see the headline on posters outside newsagent windows or when queing up to buy petrol. Nice idea, terrible execution. Federal MP Dave Sharma was also off to an early start today, handing out (pink!) flowers to women at a Sydney train station in honour of the occasion. Just what you want on your bleary eyed, crowded Monday commute through the city's train network; a strange man

Love and hate

Trigger warning: sexual assault, medical abuse, suicide  Despite everything that's happened in my life (and pretty much everyone my age has had something awful happen in their lives), I try to be a forgiving person. To not hold on to resentment, or let bad feelings develop into hatred in the first place.  The saying is true: holding on to resentment is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die. I've seen people eaten alive by that resentment, and how the hatred has poisoned everyone around them, without hurting the object of their hatred in any way. But what am I to do with the white hot rage I feel today at Scott Morrison? I've never cared for the bloke. He's a smug, slimy git, with a glib turn of phrase, condescending manner, and complete lack of humanity since his turn as immigration minister in the Abbott government. My Facebook memories pop up regularly with various horrible things Morrison said 5, 6, 7 years about the people trying to seek asyl

Book review: Starfish by Patty Dann

The film Mermaids  meant a lot to me in my early teens, as I guess it did to a lot of women of my generation. Teenage films were pretty much dead as a genre between the John Hughes/Molly Ringwald era of the 1980s and the release of Clueless in 1995. The success of Clueless lead to an explosion in the release of teen movies, from sexploitation ( American Pie ) to horror ( Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer ) then cheerleaders ( Bring It On ) and mean girls (one mean girl in Cruel Intentions , then a whole eponymous film of them). By the time Clueless was released, I was way too depressed for anything that looked as blithe as the poster suggested - though I did watch, and love, the film several years later, then many times since.  But in the early 1990s, it was slim pickings. Mermaids was it. Not that Mermaids, a coming of age story set in a small Massachusetts* town in 1963, is expressly a teen movie; the wonderful performances of Cher and Bob Hoskins make it so much more. But i