Sunday, January 18, 2009

Michael Leunig (Thanks, Tracey)

My friend Tracey suggested I write about Michael Leunig. I think she was trying to cheer me up during my dark David Hicks/Mamdouh Habib days. Those days are past me. Unfortunately, my toe still hurts. I guess this is a long-term kind of injury. The good thing is I can still walk. It's just hard to wear any shoes besides Sandals or flip-flops (thongs). I'm glad it's summer in Australia.

Tracey said Michael Leunig is a cartoonist. At least I think she said that.

I shall go and read about him.

Yes, he's a cartoonist.

He was born 2 June 1945.

Birthday Website time!

He's a Gemini and an 8. 8 is the money one. It's about success.

Here are some words Lord Wiki associates with the Gemini: intellectual, fickle, charming, tense, superficial, cynical, and clever.

I can picture a successful artist being an 8 and a Gemini. This could actually fit Michael Leunig.


Lord Wiki says Leunig is a fifth generation Australian. That's the first time I've seen Lord Wiki say something like that about an Australian. How far back would five generations be? I guess that would mean his great-great grandparents were the immigrants.

Would that go back to the beginning of (White) Australia? I'm trying to do the math here. I guess each generation would go back about 20-30 years. Leunig is the fifth, so is parents would be the fourth. That would take us to the 1920's. The third generation back would go to the turn of the century. The second would go to about 1880 and then the last would be around the 1850's and 1860's.

Okay, so it's not like they were on the first fleet. And I've probably completely embarrassed myself with my horrible mathematical estimations.

Leunig was born in Melbourne. He grew up in Footscray. That sounds a bit familiar to me. I have no idea why. Maybe it was in a book I read. I don't think I've encountered it during research. Oh! Maybe I read about it in a blog. Do any of you Victoria people talk about Footscray?

Lord Wiki says Footscray has a lot of Ethiopian Restaurants. I've had Ethiopian food only once in my life. I liked it and would love to try it again someday. Maybe we'll find an Ethiopian restaurant in Sydney.

Ah! Maybe this is it! The Lonely Planet headquarters are in Footscray. That could be how I've heard of it.

The secondary school Leunig went to was Maribyrnong College. It's a public/government school and has a very strong emphasis on sports. Well, I can say it's probably not my type of place. It does sound like a great school though for kids who love sports. They say, Our innovative Sporting Excellence Program will assist students to balance their academic and sporting goals in a supportive and flexible "athlete friendly setting" setting. I think it's great to have a school that specializes in a special interest or talent.

Lord Wiki says the sport thing didn't happen until 2005, so it seems it wasn't a sports school when Leunig was there.

After Maribyrnong, Leunig went to Monash University. This is the same school that the Costello brothers went to. And Simon Crean went there as well. Leunig studied art ,and his first cartoons were in the school's newspaper.

Lord Wiki says he was drafted for the Vietnam War. He tried to get out of it as a conscientious objector, and then ended up getting rejected because he was deaf in one ear. What if he hadn't been deaf? Would he have been forced to go to war; or does objection get you out of the whole thing?

When he finished with Monash, Leunig went to a school in Melbourne called Swinburne School of Film and Television. Lord Wiki says that Leunig was at first more interested in doing documentaries. Did the school have a program for cartoonists? Did he complete a degree there, or did he realize he was pursuing the wrong career and quit?

Anyway, it seems he found success. Lord Wiki says his work has been featured in Nation Review, Woman's Day, Oz Magazine, Sydney Morning Herald, and The Age. I think I remember Oz Magazine. It's the one that Robert Hughes was involved with in the UK.

Lord Wiki describes his work a bit. He says his characters have exaggerated features. I'm betting I've seen some of his work before. Way back several months ago, I spent some time looking at Australian political cartoons. Some museum website had a whole feature about it.

Maybe it was the National Museum in Canberra?

Leunig's work makes social commentary, and he targets such things as Americanisation, capitalism, consumerism, corporate stuff, and warmongering.

He doesn't just do cartoons regarding politics. He also does religious/spiritual stuff.

Lord Wiki says his work has attracted some controversy. There's something about a stay-at-creche baby. I'm a stay at creche-baby so she doesn't have to be a stay-at-home mom. Is that an attack on stay-at-home moms or working moms? I'm a bit lost here. I'll probably find more information on that later.

Some folks have accused Leunig of being anti-Israel.

There is also some controversy surrounding the Holocaust. I don't quite get it. I'll have to read this SLOWLY......

In a Danish newspaper, twelve cartoons were published that dealt with Mohammad, the Islamic prophet. Many people thought the cartoons were anti-Islam and offensive. There were protests.

How in the hell did I miss all this? My head must have been totally in the sand.

Some of the Muslim people were so angry that they started setting fire to Danish Embassies. In response, people on the other side of the fight started buying Danish products as a sign of support. I guess that's the opposite of a boycott.

The Danish newspapers claimed it was an exercise in free speech. I agree with free speech. I don't think offensive materials should result in violence. That being said, maybe it was a bit much publishing twelve anti-Islamic cartoons at once. South Park once had an episode that I found to be anti-semitic. I didn't really take offense or feel hurt by it. South Park targets pretty much everyone. But if Comedy Central sponsored a whole marathon of antisemitic programming, I probably would be hurt and offended. Would I go out and kill anyone? No. I'd probably just bitch about it in my blog.

In retaliation to the Danish attack of Islam, an Iranian newspaper sponsored a competition for comics that made fun of the Holocaust. Hey, that's not fair! Why didn't they publish cartoons that made fun of Danish people? Maybe the anti-Islam cartoons were done by Danish Jews? I don't know that yet. But Lord Wiki says an Iranian leader blamed a Zionist conspiracy for the cartoons.

One of Leunig's cartoons was in the contest. Leunig denied submitting it and demanded that it be withdrawn from the contest. I actually don't find the cartoon offensive. In it, one panel has the infamous sign Work Brings Freedom. In the other panel, it says War Brings Peace. I actually like that a lot. I think it's a bold statement. Work doesn't bring freedom in a Nazi death camp. War does not bring peace. Both are profound lies that we allow ourselves to believe. Now I guess what can be seen as offensive is the use of the Holocaust itself to attack Israel. I do find that a bit distasteful. But I don't think it's distasteful to compare war in general to the death camp sign.

The Iranian newspaper withdrew the cartoon and apologized to Leunig. It later was revealed that someone had submitted it as a prank. Oops.

I think this is funny. In response to the contest, an Israeli group decided to hold their own anti-semitic cartoon contest. One founder of the contest said, We’ll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published! No Iranian will beat us on our home turf.

I think that's a much better response than the response that occurred with the Danish incident. But Jews don't always have a good sense of humor about what offends them. I've not heard of violence occurring, but at times I feel some anti-semitic statements and incidents are given too much attention. I think maybe the Danish incident had some positive results. Perhaps the response was idiotic enough to inspire other people to react to comedy with humor instead of anger. Maybe we can learn to laugh at ourselves...or at least not try to kill those who laugh at us.

Okay. Here's something trivial. Leunig's four kids were all born on significant days. One was born on Guy Fawkes Day, one was born on Australia Day, one was born on Valentines Day, and the other was born on Christmas. That's pretty cute.

I'm done with Lord Wiki. I look forward to reading more stuff. I'm finding this topic very interesting.

I guess I'll look at Leunig's official website next.

He has an interesting hairstyle.

His dad worked in a slaughterhouse. He had four siblings. The website says that Leunig fled from formal education and pursued a career in factory work and meat work.

He lives on a farm in Victoria with his second wife and two kids.

I like what he says in this essay. .....for it became evident that young men from wealthy, influential backgrounds had developed methods of ducking and weaving to avoid conscription via the miracle of deferments and overseas jaunts. You couldn't blame them, except that some of these cunning gentlemen later became politicians, academics and media commentators in favour of violent military solutions to humanitarian problems.

That could very well be true and it's disturbing. Is it easier to believe in war if you don't have to fight it? I wonder if there's been any studies done that compare attitudes towards war in higher social economic groups to attitudes in lower socio-economic groups.

I'm glancing through a study about it. They say that during the Vietnam war, the wealthy people were more likely to support war. But these days, there's less socio-economic differences in attitudes toward war.

Okay. Cool. Here's a poll that shows American attitudes toward the Iraqi war. This was done in 2003 though. I have a feeling that opinions have changed since then.

Only 5% of Republicans opposed the war. 44% of Democrats opposed it. If I'm reading this right, the higher the education level the less likely there's support for the war. BUT as Leunig said, there is a correlation between income and support of the war.

Here's a very sad paragraph. A friend who was the funniest of all my schoolmates, and a formative influence on my sense of comedy, came home from the war and sat in our lounge room, but his radiant eccentric humour was gone. If he'd lost only a limb he wouldn't have seemed as mutilated. This rare and delightful humour had existed at the very heart of his personality and was his bridge and his gift to the world. The disasters of war can be infinitely eerie and poignant.

War has so many victims.  I imagine not only how this man was effected, but also his friends and family.

He has an essay about Israel. I like what he says here. My views about Israel are that I want Israel to survive and prosper as a secure, healthy and peaceful nation. Like many Israelis, I have had grave doubts about Sharon's approach, which I fear may have been ultimately damaging to the progress of Israel's healthy nationhood.

I find it disturbing when criticisms of Israeli policy are automatically labeled as anti-semitic.

I also find it disturbing that people can attack the existence of Israel and Zionism and then claim they're not anti-semitic.

That's like me saying I'm not against the Irish. I just don't think there should be an Ireland.

I love also what Leunig says here. And isn't that the point: this whole bitter, cruel tragedy of Palestine and Israel increasingly appears to be a stubborn, crazed fight to the death with the world getting dragged in.

I think his words are beautiful and so true. I'm loving this guy and haven't even taken a look at his artwork yet. It will be funny if I totally hate it.

His website has links to various articles.

This one is about the man who entered Leunig's poem in the Iranian anti-antisemitism contest. He says he has no good reasons for what he did. He didn't actually enter the cartoon in the contest. He sent it to a media watch thing and forged a letter from Leunig. I think that's very unethical. I guess the positive side of the story is the Iranian newspaper was kind enough to remove it, and the hoaxer did finally come forward to clear Leunig's name.

I'm liking this guy more and more. Here he talks about his controversial childcare cartoon. He defends it saying, But I was watching a creche industry develop you see, a childcare industry develop which was putting out some pernicious ideas to women saying - look if you stay home with your child, your baby, you will go brain dead and you will be less than you know you should be, you'll be less of a human being. you'll go brain dead, you've got to get on with your career. I was watching a generation of young women, pregnant, starting to feel almost worthless because they were wanting to make that old choice. And so it was really a shot into the childcare industry which has now, seems to be getting out of control.

I respect that some mothers have to work. I respect that some mothers WANT to work. I don't agree with Mem Fox's idea that putting kids in a child care center is abusive.

What I strongly dislike is when childcare is promoted as a necessity. I've encountered nonworking mothers who put their toddlers in childcare. The idea is toddlers NEED this seperation and inter-child socialization. I would be perfectly fine with a mother saying I put my 2 year old in childcare twice a week because I need a break. I need time to go to the fitness center and get a massage. I'd say good on her for recognizing her needs and doing something about it.

I lose respect for that woman when she justifies her decision with ridiculous excuses.

We had plans to homeschool Jack from a very early age. But when he reached the age of three and a half, I did start considering sending him to part-time camp or classe. There was a local daycare center that held a summer camp. I thought it might be beneficial for both of us if he went there for a few hours a week. I was working on an intensive video project and needed some time alone to think. And when we drove by the place, Jack seemed delighted by the playground. I thought....hey, this might be good for both of us!

Jack had problems the first few days and I became suspicious. I decided it might be best if I spend the day there with him. I thought it would give me insights into what went on in the center. And I also felt maybe my temporary presence would help transition him.

The daycare worker seemed very annoyed with my presence, as if it was ridiculous for a mother to want to see the classroom her child was spending time in. Not only that, but she was very degrading towards the fact that my child (who was only 3.5!) had never separated from me in a program before.

I must confess that as a homeschooling mom, I think the idea of school being a necessity for any aged child is a myth too many people believe. But I can manage some respect for people who disagree with that. I can't tolerate when people believe that children under five NEED to be in a daycare or preschool.

I have to say that Michael Leunig's website is the best official website I've worked with yet. It's saving me so much work. I almost feel like I'm cheating here because the site links to all this other good stuff. I'm not really having to google. I'm just clicking, reading, and blabbing on and on.

Anyway, now here's a link to his interview with Andrew Denton.

The guy has a thing with ducks. He said as a child a duck followed him (the whole imprinting thing) and now he follows ducks.


Leunig had a bad accident as a child and was unable to walk for several months.

He talks about walking out on his first marriage. It was what happens to a lot of people that marriages fail after lots of trying. I mean, it was a long marriage and there were two children and it was a difficult thing and it saddens me, but who knows why, at a certain age, at the age of 42, as so often happens for males, something happens, something awakens, and somewhere you feel like you're living a lie.

I think this happens to a lot of people. I know some people who believe marriage is forever and that is that. You choose one person and unless there's severe abuse you stick with it. I can agree with that to a point. I think some people do give up too easily. But if we're going to say find a person, make that choice, and stick with it....shouldn't we all be with our first boyfriends or girlfriends? I think if I follow that philosophy, I should be with my first boyfriend--the guy from my freshman year in college. Some could say that doesn't count because we weren't married, but we DID make a commitment. Maybe it wasn't official or legal, but it was there and I broke it.

I know people who are very content in second and/or third marriages. And I know of beautiful children who exist because their parents got divorced and found someone new. Because of these things, I can't be completely against divorce.

Leunig's not close to his siblings. He's the black sheep of his family. His description of the situation is very reasonable. It doesn't seem like there's a lot of hatred towards his family--more like an acceptance. Not every family is going to get along. Siblings are not always going to be best friends. Sometimes, a sister or brother doesn't fit in well with the others.

He HOMESCHOOLS his children!!!!

This guy might be my favorite Australian ever. And no I'm not being horribly prejudice. It's just I was already totally loving this guy. Now I find out he homeschools and that makes him even more wonderful to me. If I hated him and I found out he homeschooled, I wouldn't suddenly love him.

Oh and it sounds like they're Unschooling. He doesn't use the term, but his description sounds very Unschooling. Well, they learn, you see, children want to learn. I think healthy children just, you can't stop them learning and so you've got to provide, it's a matter of provision. You create an environment where they are keen and eager to, and curious, and so, for instance, my daughter, Minna, loves her horses. She has a couple of horses and the horse is the teacher at that point. When they're walking across the paddock, paddock is the teacher, the snake that crawls in front of them is the teacher. When they're helping fix a fence or fix the pump, that is the teacher. Children's eyes go to things, they sparkle when they see something, so you say, "OK, we'll go there. We follow that". You follow things.

Okay. It's official now. Leunig is my favorite Australian ever. He even beats Peter Singer.

Onto another interview. This one is from a radio show called The Spirit of Things.

Leunig talks about how Australians seem to have an aversion to seriousness. They hide behind jokes. I think that applies to a lot of people...not just Australians. I like humor. It can diffuse an uncomfortable situation. But I do think there's a time to stop stop the joke. Sometimes we have friendships that are filled with teasing and sarcasm. It's like a sitcom; a contest of wits. I like these relationships. But I do think it's nice to sometimes stop and say Hey, in all seriousness. I love you. It's a bit awkward, but at the same time it's lovely.

Leunig isn't against humor. He says, And in our jokes we speak our truths that we can’t say seriously. And I like that; the jokey tendency is often a way of accessing what we really feel.

I agree with that. Then there's the situation where someone says something very hurtful. You act wounded and they say But I was only joking! You need a thicker skin. The thing is though there's usually truth behind jokes. And I'm not saying every joke is offensive. I like to be teased. Some teasing is actually a compliment in a way. It's like saying I know you. I understand you. But some teasing hits below the belt and it hurts. It doesn't matter whether it was meant in jest or seriousness.

Leunig is less open-minded about daycare than I am. Maybe. He does worry about babies being there. I was most concerned about and speculating about, because I was watching something in my society which was the promotion of this notion that a child might be left in a creche at three months old, etc. etc., you know the whole thing. And I just instinctively, strongly felt that this was wrong.

He says he's not attacking the parents, and that he's just worried about the child. I disagree with him here. This would be like someone saying to me. I'm not criticizing you because you homeschool your child. I'm just worried about Jack. Well, if you're worried about my parenting choice, you ARE criticizing me.

That being said though....I do agree it's sad for a three month old baby to be in a full time daycare center. For the most part, I blame our governments for that.

I'm starting to believe this guy is one of my soulmates. He's talking about so many issues I feel passionate about.

One of the things I have pondered (I think in past blogs) is the whole thing of holding lavish events to raise money for charity. Let's get drunk and eat expensive caviar so we can raise money for starving children in third world countries! Yes, there's some good in it. But it's also somewhat ironic and obscene. Leunig did a cartoon based on this. It had Tina Turner and Mick Jagger having sex on stage. With each sex act, they make money for starving people in Ethiopia.

He talks a little about religion. He grew up Christian, but as an adult he's open to a variety of religious experiences.

He puts down Atheism and Agnosticism a bit. In some ways, I relate to what he says. Oh I think so much bragging has gone on about being an atheist or an agnostic and lots of jokes to be made, and proudly agnostic and stuff, and sometimes I hear people almost confessing an incapacity, something that’s dead, or some impotence, and I find this rather sad you see, and this denigrating of religious sensitivity. And this kind of, you know the denigration, it’s as if it’s more intelligent to be agnostic or atheistic.

I do find this with some Atheists--a mocking of spirituality. I don't respect that. I think faith (or lack of) is a choice. I'm spiritual. I don't think I'm THAT dumb.

But Atheists are too often attacked. I've heard statements such as well, as long as you believe in God, it's fine. Okay, but what if you don't?

I think atheists too often make the assumption that us believers are stupid.

Religious people too often make the assumption that atheists have inferior morals.

I think both those ideas are incredibly ignorant and misguided.

I'm done with his website now. There weren't a lot of his cartoons on it, actually.

I'm going to look at some of the cartoons now.

This September 11 one is biting, but has brilliant truth to it.

I find this September 11 one to be offensive. It seems to be insulting the twin towers. I don't know--almost as if it's good it was knocked down because we should have smaller buildings anyway. But besides that, I think it has some lovely ideas in it.

I think this one pokes fun at people like me. And I probably totally deserve it!

Ah. Okay. I think I found the easier way to find his cartoons. Google IMAGES. Thank you, brain for finally figuring that one out.

Oooh. This one is so good. It gave me goosebumps. Based on theLink website I found it on, I was able to deduce that it's in the defense of the Hijab. Beautifully done.

This website has the infamous Holocaust/Israel cartoon. I can understand how it could be seen as offensive, but I still think there's an important truth to it.

I think this one has a powerful message about the murder of innocents in a war. But from what I've been seeing in some cartoons, Leunig does seem very sympathetic towards Palestinians/Muslims and strongly against the Israeli treatment of Palestinians. The thing is people from all sides of this fight have killed innocent people...children. Yes, the numbers on some sides is worse than others. But I don't it should be about comparing body counts. The point is people have killed children with the idea that this was a noble and justifiable act.

I am slightly disturbed by how Leunig seems to target Israel. Now this might be premature to say this because I haven't seen hundreds of his cartoons yet. But the ones I've seen that deal with oppression and abuse are about Israel. I don't deny that Israel has done some bad things. And I think it's fine to point this out. But if someone targets Israel and not other oppressors, I do find myself suspecting anti-semitism.

Let's say someone has a blog where they frequently talk about atrocities. They talk about Native Americans being oppressed in the United States. They talk about anti-gay violence. They bring up Darfar and Tibet. They talk about Rwanda. They talk about what happened to the Tasmanian Aborigines. They talk about what happened to the Jews in the Holocaust. They talk about people being killed by Islamic terrorists. They talk about Bosnia. It make sense to include the Palestinian situation in that too.

But some people seem to have an isolated obsession with the Israeli-Palestinian situation. They go on and on about how horrible Israel is. It's a bit one-sided. And that makes me think there's anti-semitism involved. I'm not sure how else you'd explain it. I guess that person has been brainwashed by the media and hasn't educated themselves about what's going on in the rest of the world.

Is Michael Leunig like this? I don't know yet. There could be a reasonable explanation. Right now we have the war in Iraq. It's affecting a lot of us. The war is a misguided response to terrorism. Part of the reason that the United States was attacked is the United States supports Israel. So, Israel is a timely topic.

And I do know that some people put a strong focus on the Tibet situation. Free Tibet! If these people ignore the Palestinian situation and what's happening in Darfur, can I assume they're anti-Chinese. No. But I might be slightly suspicious.

Oh! This one is damn brilliant. It deals with the whole idea of ending terrorism by killing the leader.

This one is beautiful too....a great message about peace.

I'm having trouble finding the daycare cartoon.

All right. I found it. It is a bit biting and painful. I'll say that.

I think instead of looking at Google News today, I'm going to look at Google Blogs. There must be a variety of interesting opinions regarding Leunig.

This blogger puts down Leunig's homeschooling. He also admitting to home-schooling his kids, a frightening prospect where they will no doubt receive an education of the quality provided by the average run of the mill fanatic madras.

I'm not sure what a madras is. Why is there a belief that fanatic teachers exist only as homeschooling parents? Are there not fanatics teaching in state schools? What about in private religious schools? You might say no. I say yes. I had religious fanatic teachers. And I went to public schools. I had a biology teacher try to push creationism on us. I had a psychology teacher who tried to convince us we should believe in Jesus.

You know who strongly opposed homeschooling? Hitler. He made it illegal in 1938. He believed children needed to be educated by the state. Yes, homeschooling parents sometimes brainwash their children. But schools are capable of doing that too.

This guy seems to share my opinion about Leunig's Palestinian views. He says, Leunig has defended these cartoons on the basis that they are allegedly “anti-war”, but it would be more accurate to classify them as reflecting a pro-Palestinian bias since they support one particular side in an armed national conflict. To be genuinely anti-war, the cartoons would need to celebrate moderates and condemn extremists and violence on both sides.

I don't agree with what he says here though regarding the death camp cartoon. This cartoon can only be viewed as a deliberate attempt to diminish and trivialise the extent of Jewish suffering in the Holocaust by comparing Jews with Nazis. It was particularly hurtful to Holocaust survivors. I guess you can read things into it, but I personally don't think it trivializes the Holocaust.

I think he kind of makes sense here. There are legitimate criticisms to be made of Israeli government policies, but comparisons with the Holocaust are not only disproportionate and hurtful to Jewish survivors, but factually wrong. In drawing an analogy between Auschwitz and Israel.

Is it wrong to compare what's happening to the Palestinians to the Holocaust? I don't know. People compare things to the Holocaust quite often. I got in trouble for comparing animal factory farms to the Holocaust. I think I had some good points, but later talked to my husband and realized it might have made more sense to compare animal factory farms to the slavery of Africans. We don't systematically kill animals to get rid of them. We hurt them because we want to USE them. We're greedy.

Israeli's are not killing Palestinians because they think the world would be better off without Palestinians. This is what the Holocaust was about. It wasn't about greed or exploitation. It was about wanting to rid the world of Jews. So comparing what's happening in Gaza to the Holocaust is pretty weak. It's a horrible atrocity. But the intent is different. If you want to make a comparison, I think it would make more sense to compare what's happening in Gaza to what happened to Indigenous Australians and Americans.

Anyway, Holocaust comparisons are everywhere. Pro-life people compare the death of a fetus to the Holocaust. I once said that the rude and strict sales people at Old Navy were like Nazis. People who are pro-breastfeeding are labeled the breastfeeding Nazis.

We throw the word Holocaust and Nazi around quite freely.

Remember Seinfeld and The Soup Nazi?

So, whether it's wrong or right to compare things to the Holocaust....who knows? But it's definitely common.

Now when you touch upon Jews and/or Israeli's it might be a bit more offensive and painful. It's one thing to compare a lactivist to a Nazi. It's another thing to call the children of Holocaust survivors a Nazi.

Here. I though of an analogy. Let's say Tom marries Jenny. Jenny was severely abused as a child. She was beat up and sexually assaulted on a regular basis. She saw things that no child should ever have to see. Her parents did disgusting experiments on her.

Despite her traumas, Jenny does relatively okay in life. Or so we think. She gets married. She finishes school. She has a career. She has a child. One day the child spills his milk and Jenny completely snaps. She was not as okay as we imagined. She slaps her child across the face and screams at her.

Tom screams at Jenny. You are no different than your parents!

Yes, Tom needs to intervene in this situation. Yes, the child needs to be protected. Yes, Jenny needs help....especially if this incident is not an isolated one. But should Tom have compared Jenny to her parents? Should he have brought up her awful childhood? No, I don't think so.

I think it's fine for people to compare the Palestinian situation to other atrocities. There are plenty of ones to choose from. But I think they should lay off the Holocaust. It's tacky.

There is so much more I could research and so much more I could say.

But I have to go pee and then eat dinner.

So, I shall say farewell.

I enjoyed my time with Michael Leunig. I can't agree with everything he says, but I'm still quite fond of the man. There's something lovely and passionate about him.

If you'd like to read more of my biography posts, here's a list of them.


  1. Some of the Muslim people were so angry that they started setting fire to Danish Embassies.

    Talk about mob mentality and religious passion. Maybe they were atheists...

    I find it disturbing when criticisms of Israeli policy are automatically labeled as anti-semitic.

    I completely agree with you. Anti-zionism exists is not an attack on Jewish faith; it is an attack on Israeli policy.

    I think atheists too often make the assumption that us believers are stupid.

    Bravo. You've done a spectacular job of tarring us atheists with one brush. Of course, believers don't do likewise...what with not having to rely on evidence, logic or facts.

  2. RVB,

    I'm sorry. I should have said "I think SOME atheists too often make the assumption that us believers are stupid."

    I didn't mean to paint all atheists with one brush. Although I do paint you with that brush. You're the most fanatic angry Atheist I've ever encountered.

    But I do apologize for my remark on the post. I said the wrong thing and I really don't think all atheists are as fanatic and closed-minded as you. The other ones I've encountered in my life are very intelligent and reasonable. I don't feel attacked when I'm talking to them.

  3. RVB's not that angry really, just assertive and maybe a bit blunt. Its just hard to empathise with belivers or theists when you have logic on your side. (If I was saying that sentence out loud I would have a very genial and warm tone because I don't mean any offence or illwill or destruction of the Earth by voicing these well worn opinions) :)

    And I agree with your lengthy but entirely accurate analysis of Mr Leunig. Well done for all that sustained typing, or rather, well done hand appendages!

    I would also like to say that wanting to become an Australian is a very admirable quality, well done you on being fab.

  4. doctawho42,

    Hey you guys might have logic, but I have fantasy and imagination ; )

    I LIKE my paranoid delusions...thank you very much. They actually keep me sane. I know that sounds crazy, but it's true.

    I need to believe in SOMETHING. If I start to think there's nothing, I get depressed. I feel scared. I feel alone. I feel lost. I feel all is hopeless.

    So anytime, I get any logical Atheist type thoughts, I push them away and replace them with my delusions.

    Thank you for the typing compliment. I'm very impressed with myself here. I'm writing about ten pages a day. It's like I'm back in school. Actually, I don't think I worked this hard when I was in school.

  5. What Hannah (doctawho48) said. I don't consider theists to be stupid, but I consider what they believe in to be the same way that I think economic rationalism is stupid.

  6. RVB,

    I understand. That makes sense. It's fair.

    I'm technically not a theist because I don't believe in God (or Gods).

    But I AM still pretty stupid because I don't know what economic rationalism is. I shall go look it up. Will I understand it? Probably not.

  7. Okay. I read about it. And I actually understood it.

    I don't know if I'd call it stupid, but I strongly disagree with the philosophy.

  8. Well yeah...

    Anyway, I hope I haven't scared you away from Australia. The most dangerous thing here is probably the wildlife (many of which can kill someone within a few minutes).

    And going back on track, I think Leunig has a too much a simplistic view of Israel - as do I. I'm merely forming an opinion on what I is everyone in truth. But I have to admit, some of his comics are quite funny.

  9. RVB,

    You have scared me away from Australia. But it's too late to get a refund on those plane tickets.

    Maybe I'll encounter a blue ring octopus. I'll come back to haunt you. And then you'll become a paranoid delusional believer. I shall scare that atheism right out of you.

    I agree about Leunig's cartoons. I think most of them are very well done.

  10. Come to think of it, Australians have an abnormally high chance of dying at the beach; sun-cancer, tidal waves/drowning and of course the 67% of the sea creatures that won't hesitate to give your bloodstream some delightful neurotoxins.

    Don't worry, Australian Atheists won't bite...we're not very organised (a bit like Melbourne's railway network, but without the excuses).

  11. was that your longest post ever? lol ;)

    I think 30 years could be generous for some generations. I've been trying to trace back some of hubby's family tree and am finding many babies born before their parents were 20 in the 1800's/early 1920's.

    And can I just say that in my 35 years of living in australia that I have never been in danger of being killed by our 'dangerous' wildlife, drowned or washed away by tidal waves.

  12. I found this very interesting to read and was most interested in the way your research lead you to various aspects of his life and beliefs that I knew little about. I guess I always read the Australian themed cartoons and the political based ones. Which is why I thought he would be perfect for you to research. I love his simplicity and deep meaning in his cartoons. They make you think. They make you smile (well some).

    I need to email you btw re: flight details and phone numbers and the like. Just been crazy with part time work and school holidays.


  13. Mistress B: You're right 20-30 years is generous. I'm not good at genealogy stuff. I signed up for and could hardly find anything! I'm so lost when it comes to that stuff.

    Thanks for the reassurance about the wildlife. I hope you knocked on wood for that one. Do you guys knock on wood in Australia?

    Tracey: You got part-time work. That's good. I think? Yeah. We need to talk about phone numbers...all that stuff.

    I think Leunig's cartoons are great. Thanks for suggesting him!

  14. I'm 7th generation, and my family came here in 1838. I am descended from a long line of 2nd eldests. In 1988 we had 4 generations at reproductive age, so it's hard to pick.

    With respect to the under fives and structured care - from what I've read there are pros and cons for both. They don't *need* it, the different environments foster different strengths but are not determinant.

    That cartoon about the forces of good? I immediately thought of Iraq, not Israel. Not sure what that says - lopsided wars look especially unjust I suspect.

    I do take some exception to the assertion that pride in atheism and agnosticism is inappropriate. Most people who have put a lot of thought into their beliefs are reasonably proud of the fact that they feel internally coherent and valid. There is plenty of derision on both sides of the faith divide, and being rude about it is never acceptable. Unfortunately, an internally coherent belief system tends to lead all of us to believe we are right, and it's pretty hard not feel a little superior to the other positions, which are, by extension, wrong. No-one has a monopoly in the smug department.

    I love Leunig's cartoons. I don't agree with all his positions, and I really object to his baby-in-daycare one. I don't believe he has any more insight into the inner life of a baby than anyone else. But I do love the way he expresses his feelings so beautifully, whether or not I agree with them.

  15. Ariane:

    4 generations at reproductive age??? That sounds interesting....

    In terms of under 5's. I didn't mean to imply it's WRONG to put them in daycare/preschool. I think there can be benefits. And it depends on what program the child is in. The programs I worked in at NYC were awesome. I think the kids greatly benefited from being there. Texas...that's another story. At least Fort Worth. I think it can be a good thing to put a child in preschool. I just don't think it's necessary. I think a child can be totally fine staying at home with their parents. So, I think it's wrong for society to imply a parent is being irresponsible for not being their child in a program.

    You might be right about Iraq. I still think Leunig is being one-sided though. I know Iraq is wrong and it's killed more people than 9/11. But did he do any cartoons that showed the horror and wrongness of 9/11? Maybe he did. I didn't do that much of an exhaustive search. But the 9/11 ones I did see put more criticism towards the U.S. In one, it makes a comment about small buildings--as if we should never have had the Twin Towers in the first place. I felt it was almost implying that we should be grateful it was knocked down. Then in another cartoon, it poked fun at the attacks being televised over and over ("instant replay") He condemns what the United States has done and what Israel has done. And in many ways, they deserve criticism. But does he ever criticize the other side?

    I think it's fine to have pride in your beliefs. I'm proud of my beliefs. I'm probably smug to a point. But there's a difference in feeling secure and happy with your beliefs...and putting other beliefs down.

    But I think you agree with me. It's just like you said. It's fine to be smug. It's not okay to be rude. Then I guess the question is what constitutes rudeness?

    I think you're right about the daycare thing. Maybe that's the most disturbing aspect of the cartoon--that it manipulates by pretending to know what goes in inside a baby's head.

    I read an attachment parenting book like that. It was very convincing. But then I realized they were doing exactly that. They were telling me what babies were thinking and feeling. How do they know? It's very manipulative.

  16. Yes we knock on wood :)

    and I personally to it a lot lol

  17. Mistress B,

    Good! You had me worried there. I thought I'd have to change my blog title to the-girl-who-is-scared-of-Australians-

    I feel much better now!

  18. "Hey you guys might have logic, but I have fantasy and imagination."

    Can I just say how deeply ignorant that statement is. Very.
    The two athiests who visited your blog are both writers.
    Writers: Imagination.

    If you were saying that sentance with the due sense of flippancy it requires, then I most humbly apologise. Have fun in Aust.
    Looking For Alibrandi is a good teen book but a shockingly awful movie.

  19. doctawho42,

    I was referring to your statement "Its just hard to empathize with believers or theists when you have logic on your side."

    WHEN it comes to a belief system, you have science/logic. I have fantasy and imagination.

    Were you trying to say that because I have spiritual beliefs, I have no logic whatsoever? I didn't think so. I didn't take it that way. I assumed you met lacking logic in the specific case of spiritual (and lack of) beliefs.

    So why in the world would you assume I believe Atheists have no imagination and fantasy whatsoever?

    I know about the guy who wrote the Golden Compass. He's an atheist. His story is full of fantasy. I'm sure there are a lot of other writers who are atheists. I'm sure some of them are fantasy writers.

    I'm not as ignorant as you'd like to imagine.

    I am not going to apologize for this misunderstanding. You gave me an insult in jest (about spiritual people having no logic). I didn't take offense because I thought we were having fun. I joked back and you took offense to it. Now it's totally fine to be offended by a joke. And usually I'd apologize. But not when you hit first.

  20. Believers have no logic to their arguments; I think you'll be hard-pressed to find a single believer that would justify their belief using evidence. Some use personal experience; others just use personal conviction - intuition and knee-jerk thoughts. In this regard, I would think it's believers that are more closed minded. It's very seductive to think there is a god. My intuition says I should think that...but my logic says otherwise. It took me a while to break out of my parent's attempted religious indoctrination.
    Evidence and logic does not 'narrow' one's perspective. Rather, it actually provides a documented reality from which one's ideas can develop.

  21. RVB,

    I think nonbelievers can be just as rigid as some believers.

    Let's say there's three people. Person A, Person B, Person C.

    None of them have had any previous episodes/signs of mental illness.

    Each one is sitting in their office and suddenly the lights flicker. They hear the voice of their dead grandmother saying "Go to South Korea."

    They all react in different ways.

    Person A drops what she's doing. She bursts into tears and calls out. "Grandma! Grandma! You're back. She rushes online to an airplane site and gets tickets to South Korea. She has no idea why she's going there. She's never had any connection to South Korea before. But there's no way she's ignoring her dead grandma.

    Person B KNOWS it's not her dead grandmother. There's no such thing as life after death. Science has proven this. She's worried though. What's going on? She looks around the room for evidence of a hoax. She searches for tape recorders. She interrogates her family asking if they did something. When that's pretty much ruled out, she decides it must have been an hallucination. That's the only explanation. She considers making an appointment with her physician. It could be the sign of a brain tumor.

    Person C is startled but delighted. She thinks that MIGHT really be my grandmother, but maybe it's not. She knows that even healthy people have hallucinations some time. But she also has spiritual beliefs. She thinks it IS possible that her grandmother is speaking but she refuses to assume that. She looks at the event as having many possible explanations. Her dead grandmother really sent a message. Another spirit pretending to be her grandma sent a message. Someone played a trick on her. She had a one time (not to worry about) hallucination. She could be becoming mentally ill. She believes any of those things are possible. She doesn't jump to any conclusions. She does research. She reads stories of people who claim to have seen ghosts. She reads about mental illness.

    She decides that maybe she should look into the South Korea thing. She doesn't jump up and buy tickets. But she goes online and reads about the country--tries to figure out if she has any sort of connection to it.

    Now who is most rigid in this story? I feel it is both person A and B. They each jump to conclusions based on their belief system. They refuse to even consider that they could be wrong.

    To me, it is NOT logical to be that rigid.

    SOME Christians rely only on the Bible. If the answer is not in the bible, it's not an answer. They ignore the books of other religions. They ignore science. To me, that's very rigid.

    SOME Atheists rely only on empirical science. If it can't be proven in a laboratory or a controlled experiment, it's not true. Anecdotal evidence is seen as worthless.

    Have you ever heard of lucid dreams...or had one yourself?

    It's dreaming and knowing you're in a dream. I have them fairly frequently. I KNOW I have them. I experience them. But can it be proven in a laboratory? All I have is anecdotal evidence.

    At one time, scientists refused to believe in lucid dreams. They couldn't prove them so they said they didn't exist.

    Anyway, I think person C is the most logical and open-minded. They don't jump to conclusions. They observe and think of the multiple possibilities.

    My other view of science is that it's impossible to disprove something.

    Let's say scientists do a study of tarot card readers. Their hypothesis is that all tarot card readers are frauds. They test out a large amount of readers and are able to prove each one is fake. They might declare that it's impossible to tell the future with tarot cards. But they really don't have proof for this. They've simply proven that the tarot card readers they looked at were fakes. There still might be a tarot card out there in the world who has powers.

    There's no proof that dragons don't exist. And no one can ever prove that. So if someone wants to believe in dragons, I see nothing wrong with it. Now if they insisted ALL of us believe in dragons, I'd say they were being rude and ridiculous.

  22. I was born in Footscray in the early 80s. It's very working-class, the more dingy side of the city of Melbourne. They have a local sports team that generally loses but still keeps its loyal supporter base.

    In the last 15 to 20 years the suburb has become very Vietnamese and recently Sudanese and other Africans. Many move there to start out because they know people there, or are refugees who simply get placed there. It's kind of a poor suburb although close to the city centre. A lot of the older Australians have moved out now and the ones who have stayed are the types of people you want to avoid. There are no really bad areas in Melbourne but if you're looking for drugs Footscray is a good start.

    I'm not keen on Leunig. He has good social commentaries on social inequality and on emotions but his politics are very far left to the point of being disgraceful. One of his cartoons in 2001 was 'a Christmas card to Bin Laden', fresh from the towers. He draws inflammatory cartoons about Israel and is almost a caricature of himself, in my opinion.

    Thank you for your comment on my blog!

  23. Now I've read your article and see you've already talked about the Israel stuff. The man is ok, I guess as people we are more than just what we believe politically. Leunig wrote about how we need to look past the shallowness of suburban living, past the shalowness of commerce and the banality of the media and those sort of things. In those moments I like the man, and I've kept a few of his cartoons.

  24. I see my commenting is wasted here. You have offered no reason for me to believe hallucinations are anything other than hallucinations. Your argument is based solely on the premise that we should trust our intuition before we trust our logic.

    Scientists don't jump to conclusions anyway. A scientist is almost expected to be wrong when they write-up a testable hypothesis for an experiment. Something exists to be true unless it is proven otherwise. Even the theory of gravity (who, I understand, you don't dispute) has been modified over the centuries. To suggest that scientists are narrow minded shows a very poor understanding of scientific theory.

  25. RVB,

    I don't think all scientists and atheists are narrow-minded. But I do think you are. I understand you're very young though, so I cut you some slack.

    "I see my commenting is wasted here."

    I think we FINALLY agree on something!

    I don't think reading my blog gives you any benefits. And I don't gain any benefits from reading your comments.

    I think it's best if we wish each other well and say good-bye.

    So...good luck to you.

    I can't stop you from coming to my blog. But I highly suggest you do that.

    I don't mind having open-minded discussions/debates with people who have different beliefs than me. Sometimes you can learn something. But with you, I don't leave the argument with new insights or knowledge. I just leave with frustration and bewilderment.

  26. Footscray's story sounds fairly typical. We have neighborhoods like that here. In fact, I'm sure every big city has a neighborhood like that.

    I think Leunig's complex. There are things I dislike about him, and there are things I really like.

    I liked how you felt way about him and then changed your mind. I think I did the opposite. I had him on this really high pedestal and then I saw all the anti-Israeli stuff and he went down a few notches.

    I think if we read too much about someone we admire, eventually we're going to read something that makes them fall from the pedestal. And if we read too much about someone we hate, it's likely we'll find something about them that's not so bad.

    Thanks for visiting my blog! I hope to see you around again. And I look forward to reading more of your blog.