Tuesday, June 30, 2009

John Kerr

I know who John Kerr is, and I have to admit I'm not too excited to write about him. I'm tired of the Dismissal.

People say it's my blog, and I don't have to write about what I don't want to write about.

Actually, I think it's just Tim who said that.

I still feel obligated to write this post though. But maybe I don't have to talk about the Dismissal so much. Maybe I can talk about other stuff. Yeah, that's like ignoring the big elephant in the room.

I'm sure I'll have to talk about the Dismissal at least a little. Maybe I just won't DWELL on it.

I'll go and start my meeting with Lord Wiki.

Baby John was born on 24 September 1914. That would make him a Libra like my younger sister.

Birthday website

Kerr is a 3 in numerology. That's the number that's social and expressive.

So here we have a 3 Libra. I picture that person being outgoing and romantic; the type who'd write poetry and sing songs under your window.

Is Kerr that person?

I sort of doubt it.

But he could surprise us.

Kerr shares a birthday with Jim Henson and Phil Hartman. I liked both of those guys, and I was sad when they died.

Oh, here's something fun on the birthday website. If Kerr was still alive, and if he were a dog; he'd be thirteen years old. That's a cool piece of trivia there.

In the year Kerr was born, the population of Australia was only about five million.

All right. Let's move on.....

Kerr was born in Balmain.

We went to Balmain. That was the place where we had the "energy" mango smoothie; then Tim and I became totally lethargic.

Today Balmain is cute and expensive looking. Back in Kerr's day it was working class.

Daddy Kerr was a boilermaker. Lord Wiki says that's a craftsman who works with steel.

Kerr went to Fort Street High School. Lord Wiki says it was selective and prestigious. I'm doubting the family had money, so I'm guessing Kerr had some smarts.

The school is actually a government school.

I'm looking at other famous people who have gone there.....

Edmund Barton
Michael Kirby

That's all the names I recognize. But there are TONS of names.

I don't remember talking about this school before, but I did a post on Kirby. I guess I've just forgotten.

Lord Wiki says Kerr won scholarships to the University of Sydney. He graduated in law with honors. Impressive. I'm getting the point here. The guy did well in school.

He was called to the bar in 1938.

Lord Wiki says Kerr met a guy named H.V Evatt when he was at the Fort Street school. Evatt did go to Fort Street, but he was twenty years older than Kerr. Maybe he became a teacher there? Lord Wiki doesn't mention him being a teacher though. Maybe he did some kind of alumni volunteer work in the school.

Anyway. He was there somehow when Kerr was there. It seems Kerr saw him a sort of mentor. Evatt became a judge in in the High Court of Australia. I guess maybe that's what inspired Kerr to get into law?

In the same year Kerr was called to the bar, he got married. He and his wife Alison ended up having three kids. I wonder if any of them are still alive.

During World War II, Kerr worked for an intelligence agency; Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs. Lord Wiki says this group is somewhat mysterious, and Kerr's involvement has inspired conspiracy theories. Fun!

In the late 1940's, Kerr became principal of the Australian School of Public Administration. This was basically a training facility for teachers who'd be sent to Papa New Guinea. The school was located in Mosman Sydney. Interesting.....

Around this time, Kerr was also the secretary-general of The South Pacific Commission. What the hell is that? I shall go read and see.

Well, it was founded in 1947. Kerr was the FIRST secretary-general. That's a pretty big honor, I think.

Lord Wiki says it's a group of countries who got together to protect the Pacific area. It's a political military type thing. In the beginning the participating countries were Australia, France, The Netherlands, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and France.

The United Kingdom and The Netherlands eventually dropped out.

Today other countries have joined in the game...a lot of the small island countries.

In 1948, Kerr went back to doing law stuff. He represented trade union clients.

He joined the Labor Party. I wonder why he ended up causing the Dismissal of a Labor Prime Minister. And why did he allow a Liberal PM to take his place?

Well, I guess Kerr didn't really stay Labor. Lord Wiki says he became disillusioned from it all when the party split in 1955. Ah, I guess what happened is it split into the Labor Party and Democratic Labor Party. The former was too leftie for Kerr. And for some reason he didn't like the latter party either. Maybe Kerr is just too picky.

In the 1960's Kerr was a big time lawyer.

Oh this is so boring.

I feel like I'm writing this guy's resume.

I'm just going to try to skip all that.

I'm going to read through and find the important interesting stuff.

For example, in the late 1960's, Kerr started becoming more conservative. He joined a group called Association for Cultural Freedom. It was eventually revealed that it received funding from the CIA. Wow, there's a conspiracy theory for you.

The Association for Cultural Freedom was an anti-communist organization.

In 1972, Kerr was appointed Chief Justice of New South Wales. Yeah, more resume stuff. I hope someone out there is finding this interesting, because I'm sure not.

In 1974, the current Governor-General retired. Whitlam offered Kerr the job. The two didn't know each other that well. They weren't buddies. But Kerr was friends with people in Whitlam's Ministry. I think? I may be reading this wrong. I guess it was a friend of a friend type thing.

Wife Alison had also been a school peer of Margaret Whitlam.

I guess all these things made Whitlam feel he could trust Kerr.

Whitlam thought Kerr was Laborish. He didn't quite realize that Kerr had crossed over to the other side. Oops.

Ah! Here's some soap opera stuff.

Shortly after Kerr became Governor General, his wife died. I sort of remember reading that in Whitlam's book. Anyway, shortly after his wife died, Kerr found himself a new wife. He married her six months after his wife died. In situations like that, I often wonder if the new lovebirds had something going on BEFORE the death of the first spouse. I'm not saying they were engaged in adultery. It could have been PG-rated, and then moved up a rating when the other spouse was out of the way. Who knows......

Lord Wiki says that in those days, the role of the Governor-General was seen as mostly being just ceremonial. And that's how Whitlam saw it. You know, it's something you put on your resume or your headstone. It makes you look cool. Kerr saw things differently. He didn't care what the current beliefs were. He cared what the constitution said. And the constitution says the Governor-General has POWER. He can wave his wand and do all type of wicked things.

The Whitlam government won the election for their second term. They had one itsy bitsy problem. They didn't have control of the senate. Uh oh! The senate blocked the budget. Ouch.

There's tons of stuff on the Dismissal. I'm skimming over it. I'd tired of it. Sorry.

I'll skip to the after effects.

Kerr became super popular. People threw parties in his honor. At bakeries, his face on the cake was the most popular pastry purchased for children's birthday parties.

No, I'm joking...of course.

Kerr became a much hated man. Lord Wiki says he couldn't go out in public without facing angry demonstrations.

All the hatred towards Kerr was hard on him. It's believed he turned to alcohol.

I do feel sorry for the guy. But I feel sorry for anyone who's hated that much....even when they do something very wrong.

Kerr eventually moved to Europe with his wife. He died in 1991. That's the year I graduated from high school.

I'm done with Lord Wiki.

Now I'll look elsewhere.

This dismissal website says this about Kerr. The man appointed by Whitlam to the position of Governor-General in 1974 is variously portrayed as a man of principle, a deceiver, an insecure man desperate to make his mark on history, a drunk.

It's funny how each of us is perceived in different ways.

We're all complicated human beings. Each one of us is liked by some and despised by others. I guess the better situation would be to be loved by those who know us well and despised by the people who hardly know us. If it's reverse....well, that's sad.

I guess what I'm saying is I think it would be better to be a man despised by a nation, but loved and trusted by his family; than a man celebrated by a nation and feared and despised by his family. I guess there are exceptions of course...like if you're a mass murderer, but your family supports it because they don't like the people you're killing. That wouldn't be good at all!

Here's an article about the dismissal.

It says that Kerr went behind Whitlam's back and talked to a Liberal High Court chief justice...Garfield Barwick. I'm getting that this guy told Kerr he could do the whole dismissal thing.

The article has a excerpt from The Age in 1975. It says, Yesterday was the most extraordinary in the political life of this nation. It was also one of the most regrettable. The decision of the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, to dismiss the Whitlam Government was, we believe, a triumph of narrow legalism over common sense and popular feeling.

Narrow legalism. It reminds me of when horrible criminals don't get punished because they get off on some trivial legality.

Here's something that might be interesting. It's on that dismissal site again. It's Paul Keating's condolence speech after Kerr died.

Keating says, Sir John Kerr was a person of substance. He was very interested in public affairs and public life. He is like a lot of frustrated people of quality: they want to be in public life, but never ever make the jump; they never quite take the chance. He was such a person.

I can't say I understand that very much. He's quality. I got that. He wants to be in public life. I got that. I just don't get the part about him not making a jump. He jumped into the role of Governor-General. And then later he jumped into the whole Dismissal mess.

Yeah, I don't get it.

I like this quote better. He was a person of substance. But, in the end, one has to follow that substance with integrity. He lacked the integrity in dealing politically with the Prime Minister and he has suffered history's admonition as a result.

I like Keating's speech. I think it's fairly balanced in terms of talking about the recently deceased. It's not all flowery...making the dead person seem like a saint. That's annoying. But he doesn't cruelly trash Kerr as Germaine Greer did to Steve Irwin.

I think I'm going to quit. I've been playing on Google for the last ten minutes and haven't found anything that really catches my interest. I was kind of hoping to find some more early biographical stuff about the guy. I'm not finding much.

I'll try one more time. I don't like giving up.

There's an autobiography book about the guy. Maybe I should read it someday....

Well, I'm still not finding anything.

I'm going to say good-bye, and go eat lunch with my family.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Harry Jenkins

Harry Jenkins is another name that is a complete mystery to me.

I'm wondering if I added him to the list in Canberra, the South Coast, or Sydney.

I shall go and talk to Lord Wiki.

Oh! I'm so excited.

I knew who this guy was as soon as I saw his photo on Google. He's the Speaker of the House! I don't know what that is EXACTLY. From what I saw in Parliament, he seems to be the one who gives the MP's permission to speak.

Lord Wiki doesn't say much about the guy. We have a few short paragraphs.

Baby Harry was born 18, August 1952. His birthday is two days before Jack's. I'm not sure if he's a Leo or Cancer. I guess my beloved birthday website will tell me.

He's a Leo.

And he's a 7 like me. The 7 is about learning.

This website says this about the Leo. They are ambitious, courageous, dominant, strong-willed, positive, independent, self-confident there is no such a word as doubt in their vocabularies, and they are self-controlled.

I think I'd really like a 7 Leo.

Jenkins has been the Speaker of the House of Representatives since 2008. He hasn't been in the position for very long. Prior to that he was a member of the House of Representatives.

He's part of the Labor party.

He was born in Melbourne.

He went to Australian National University in Canberra.

Jenkins sounds fairly humble. He is entitled to use the prefix the Honorable in his name, but he prefers not to do it.

That's about it for Lord Wiki and Harry Jenkins.

I want to read a little bit of what Lord Wiki has to say about the job of being Speaker of the House.

There are two houses in Parliament. There's the lower house which is the House of Representatives. I guess the Prime Minister is in that, since we saw Kevin Rudd when we visited Parliament. You'd think the Prime Minister would be in the upper house which is the senate. Or maybe he is? Maybe he's in both? I'm so confused.

Anyway, the upper house is bossed around by the President of the Senate.

Okay....so....here's my confession.  When I read the first speeches of MP's, they sometimes refer to Mr. President. Being an ethnocentric American, I at first believed Bush was visiting. I thought the MP's were being polite hosts—acknowledging his visit.

I'm trying to figure out, though, how this is all divided. Out of the people I have researched, who's in the Senate and who's in the House of Representatives? I never really paid attention. I just thought of them as MP's period.

Lord Wiki says the Speaker of the House is elected with a secret ballot by the House of Representatives.

If I'm reading this right, when a new party is elected into power, an election is also often done for the Speaker of the House. The Opposition party might nominate someone, but Lord Wiki says this is more of a symbolic gesture. It seems the Speaker of the House is usually (or always) a part of the same party as the party in power.

Lord Wiki says the Speaker of the House is supposed to try to be impartial, but they tend to sometimes side with their own party. That's understandable. It's a shame you can't give an objective robot the job. Then there might be true impartiality.

Now I get to learn about my own government. It seems in America, we have a Speaker of the House too. The difference between ours and Australia's is the American one takes part in debates and voting. No, wait. I had to hit another link here. The American one has the RIGHT to debate and vote, but Lord Wiki says they rarely do so.

The Speaker in Australia is not supposed to vote. The exception is when there's a tied vote. Lord Wiki says this is rare.

The Speaker has two deputy speakers. One comes from the opposition party. That's a pretty fair idea. Lord Wiki says it's by convention. I'm not positive what that means. I THINK it means it's a tradition rather than a law written in stone.

Lord Wiki says the Australian Parliament is rowdy. I agree! And that's what makes it so fun to watch. Since this is so; sometimes the Speaker has to play the role of disciplinarian. He may ask an MP to leave for an hour. Sometimes MP's are suspended for 24 hours. I think this happened to members of the Green Party when they didn't kiss the feet of George. W. Bush.

In the past, the Speaker actually had the power to permanently suspend an MP. The last time that happened was in 1920. But that honor has been stripped away. I'm sure it would give the Speaker a huge power trip. I don't like you. You're out of here!

If that still happened, Parliament TV ratings would be super high. Why watch Australian Idol if you could watch that?

There actually has been a female Speaker. This was from 1986 until 1989. I think that was Keating's time? I'm going to add her to my list.

I'm done with Lord Wiki for now. I'm going to....

Oh wait. I missed something here. Jenkin's daddy was also a Speaker of the House. He had the job from 1983-1986. I think those were the Hawke years.

Now I'm going to leave and go to Jenkin's official website. I think he looks like one of my dad's old business associates.

There's a biography page.

He's married. That's about all the personal stuff he has here.

The website lists all of his various positions and stuff. I'm not going to list them all.

He has some of his speeches on the site. I'm going to read the speech he did on 8 July 2008. It's a PDF file.

Jenkins refers to the German Philosopher Goethe. He says Goethe was not fond of revolutions, because he believed they not only did away with the bad, but they also did away with the good. Jenkins says, The keynote of parliamentary change is evolution rather than revolution. To maintain the relevance of the Parliament to the people it serves will on occasion mean dispensing with tradition to “modernise” the practices. However, care should be exercised not to dispense with much of the good in the process.

I like that. It's like that saying Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Do you guys have that saying or a similar one in Australia?

This website says it originated in Germany in the 16th century, so I'm guessing it's likely to have traveled to both America and Australia.

The speech is a little bit boring to me, but I'm reading it anyway because my Internet keeps freezing. The only thing I can really do, while waiting, is read the PDF file.

Jenkins talks about opening ceremonies.

I guess there's an opening of Parliament in February. That's when we were there! I wonder if we were in Canberra the week of the opening.

 I'm betting it happened earlier.

In 2001, there was an inquiry done to try to change the opening ceremony stuff. There was the idea that the old stuff was a bit outdated. Jenkins said they wanted something more Australian and more modern.

The procedure committee decided that the original custodians of the land should do a welcoming ceremony; and they decided the current Australian of the year should make a little speech.

That sounds quite lovely to me.

I like this line in Jenkin's speech. He says, parliament must be more than a word shop, and there should be more interactivity in the views expressed rather than the delivery of pre- determined positions.

This reminds me of what I was talking about the other day. Was it yesterday? No, I think it was a few days before. Too often we go into discussion with our minds already made up. We refuse to budge; and because we refuse to budge, we really don't listen well. Why listen if you've already made up your mind?

We don't listen. And when we do listen, we often deny, invalidate, and twist other people's words. We do this so the other person's position doesn't shatter our own beliefs.

I read a recent troubling debate about eating disorders. One side believed that environment plays a big role. The relationship between the child and the parents is troubled; sometimes to the point of abuse and sometimes not. The other side believes that it's all genetics. Parents have nothing to do with it...EVER. The environment side, for the most part, recognizes there's a genetic component as well. Some of the zealots on the genetic side refuse to accept there might be environmental factors that play into it all. There were posts in the discussion that inferred the patients, a therapist had dealt with, were likely lying or delusional about what happened between them and their parents. I'm sure SOME patients do lie. I'm sure it happens sometimes. And I'm sure there are close-to-perfect families that develop eating disorders. I just think it's wrong to assume someone is lying because their experience pokes a hole into your preconceived theories.

I did a guest post on another blog, not realizing it was run by some of these genetic zealots. I told my story which does NOT include abuse, by the way. But it does talk about how certain things in my environment partly led to the eating disorder. Most of the responses I got were very kind and encouraging.  These are ones I got from fellow sufferers. They could relate to what I was saying. But a parent then came on and implied I had been lying. Why? Because my story didn't fit in with her preconceived ideas. I poked holes in the beliefs she clung too. Instead of listening and being willing to moderate her viewpoint; it was easier to believe I was making things up or hadn't gotten my facts straight.

We can apply all this to Parliament. When an MP speaks up with an opposing viewpoint, do people listen? And if they do manage to listen; instead of thinking about what they're going to think about next....What if the MP tells a story that pokes holes into the other MP's theories? Will he adjust his viewpoint a little, or will he assume the MP is lying or got his facts mixed up?

Sometimes people DO lie. I know THAT from experience.
Sometimes people do get their facts mixed up.

But when we start to suspect this, I think we need to consider the idea that maybe we WANT them to be lying or getting their facts mixed up.

I've had enough of the speech.

I'm going to go swimming. Then I'll come back and look at other stuff.

Okay. I'm back. Now I'm going to look at his Parliament site. I'm going to read Jenkin's first speech which I didn't see on the other site. I don't think it was there, or maybe I missed it.

The speech was done in April of 1986. He starts by thanking the Deputy Speaker. Did he know at this point that one day he'd be THE Speaker. Was that in his aspirations?

This must have been done right when the female speaker got her job. Jenkins talks about it in the first paragraph. He congratulates her.

He talks about a lot of local stuff.  It's about Scullin, his electoral division in Victoria.

Someone interjects during his speech...someone named Mr. Hollis. I wish I understood what was going on here.

Jenkins says, It is a pity that a member such as Ted Peters should spend his 20 years in this place on the Opposition benches.

Mr. Hollis says, You won't.

Maybe it's saying Jenkins won't be stuck in the opposition? Which team was in power at the time? 1986? I'd think it was Bob Hawke. Was it not?

Yeah. It was him. Maybe Hollis was saying that he believed Labor would STAY in power.

Jenkin's wife is named Michele. He has two sons. One is named Emlyn. I've never heard that name before. I wonder where it comes from. This baby name website says it's Welsh. It also says it's very rare. I like it. I like how it sounds; well at least the way I imagine it's pronounced.

The website has American statistics, though. The name could be more common in Australia.

There's a second interjection in the speech. This one is from Mr. Gear. He says, A good minister.

I'm looking for conflict, but I think these interjections are more in agreement or support.

Jenkins talks about how Scullin has a high number of immigrants. 38% of the population was born overseas. Jenkins applauds the minister of immigration for announcing a modest increase in annual migrate intake. He says the the migrants have made positive contributions to Australia, and that this decision is based on sound economic assessment of the positive effect of such levels of intake, and it should be welcomed.

I like that kind of attitude in people.

Jenkins doesn't want migrants to be just welcomed to Australia. He wants to provide services that make things easier for them. He wants important information provided in more languages. I do agree with this. I think countries should do what they can to make it easier for people to understand and adjust. But I also believe migrants should eventually learn the established main language. I'm all for being bilingual or multilingual. But I don't really support people who permanently migrate to another country and never put effort into learning the language.

I also think it's very nice for the old timers in the country to learn a little bit of the language of the newcomers. I remember having a Chinese friend in elementary school. She learned English VERY fast. But as she did, she also taught me and some of my friends a few words in Chinese. I greatly enjoyed learning them.

I like what Jenkins says here....just because it's kind of cute. It is a pity that the time allotted for me to speak is so relatively short, especially when one has such an attentive audience.

He should just start a blog. Then he can talk on and on. People can wish for him to shut up, but he can ignore them and keep on going and going.

Ah! The day this speech was done, something awful happened in the Mediterranean. I have to find out what is is. I guess I need to look at the date BEFORE the speech, because it would be a day earlier in the Mediterranean.

Lord Wiki says on the 14th of April, the US bombed Libya. Is Libya in the Mediterranean? I guess it is.

Jenkins says, Such events as those that occurred in the Mediterranean today are very distressing, especially to our young people who live in horror and fear of possible nuclear holocausts as a result of escalating world tension.

The world is a terrifying place sometimes.

Jenkins concludes with a beautiful quote.

Justice and humanity demand interference whenever the weak are being crushed by the strong.

But this sentiment will only bring change when people interfere even when the strong are on THEIR side.

It's fairly easy to speak up when OUR people are being trampled on. But it's much harder to speak up when it's someone from the other "team" is being hurt.

I gave Jack a mini-lecture about something like this today. Jack often likes to fight for fairness. He often says the classic that's not fair! What I told him basically is it's admirable to fight for fairness, but not if you only fight when you're the one being wronged. If you're going to whine that your cousin got more turns then you, you also need to speak up if your cousin doesn't get enough turns.

Peace can come to the Middle East only when more Palestinians protest the death and mistreatment of Jews and more Jews protest the death and mistreatment of Palestinians.

I'm going to look at Google News now. This article says that recently two MP's were suspended by Jenkins. They were making way too many interjections.

I want to go watch some Parliament videos on YouTube now. That should be fun.

Here's a good video of Jenkins playing Mr. Discipline. One thing that adds to the whole thing is he doesn't refer to people by name. They're referred to by their division. In this video, he's scolding part of the Opposition. I forgot the guy's name, but he was in The Howard Years, I think. Anyway, when Jenkin talks to him, he does so in third person. The Member of North Sydney will.....

I'm trying to understand the conflict here. I think Jenkins wouldn't allow some kind of question. Mr North Sydney is trying to argue that a previous Speaker allowed such questions. It's kind of like what kids say, But Daddy lets me do it!

Jenkins also refers to himself in third person. He doesn't say I. He says The Speaker. Is there a law that states the speaker must speak of himself in third person, or is it just a custom? What if someone broke the world? Would everyone in Parliament gasp in shock?

I'm at the lake house now and trying to imagine if my family did that.

My dad could say:

The grandfather is calling everyone to dinner now.
The middle daughter will be there in a minute. She must first use the toilet.

The oldest grandson would like the father to help him get some food.
The grandmother is going to lower the music. It's too loud.
The youngest granddaughter does not want any chicken. It tastes yucky.

Okay. This video has nothing to do with Jenkins, but it is SO cute. It IS Parliament, so it's not totally off the subject.

This video is FULL of drama. Ah, I might have to disagree with Jenkins at about 1:30 in the video. He asks for a vote and he says the ayes win. I think the no's win. What they're voting for is whether a member should be removed from the House. I'm betting that those in the Opposition are voting for him to stay. Those in the Labor government are wanting him to leave. I'd be impressed if any of them voted the other way.

Okay. Now it gets more fair. They actually do a count. And Jenkins is right. The ayes win. Maybe the no's sounded louder to me because the camera was closer to them.

The Speaker suggests to the Outed Member that he apologize before leaving. Does he do it? Does he not? The suspense is killing me here!

I don't think he does. Jenkins say Well, we'll deal with him when he returns.

Oh, now the Member of Dickson is being naughty. I love the facial expressions of the guy sitting to the right of Gillard.

All right. I think I'm done watching for now.

I'm going to see if Jenkins is on Twitter, and then I quit. There's a lot of Harry Jenkins on Twitter, but I don't think any of these guys are the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

People ARE talking about Jenkins. Ethelmay has a lot to say about him. She says, Harry Jenkins Speaker earned his money today,I want to know how Harry Relaxes and does he speak to POLIES out of Work. LOL LOL LOL.

A day before that she said, Im in Love with Harry Jenkins Speaker of the House OZ.Go GILLARD DPM carve them up like yesterdays corn beef stuart put out again good start.

Ethelmay does NOT like the Liberals. That's for sure. I guess she wouldn't agree with me about Turnbull being sexy.

Oh well.

And I'm done here for now......

TO THE PEOPLE OF IRAN: I stand behind all of you who are seeking freedom. I wish for a day where we can all be truly free and not treated like total crap.

I guess I should say I stand behind EVERYONE in the world who is currently oppressed.

I stand behind those who feel tortured.
I stand behind those who feel trapped.
I stand behind those who feel forgotten.
I stand behind those who feel neglected.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Nick Xenophon

I think I remember Nick Xenophon. He's an independent Member of Parliament. And I think he's the one who voted against Rudd's stimulus package. Or maybe he hesitated in voting for it? I can't remember it exactly.

I guess I shall go talk to Lord Wiki.

I'm right at least about him being an independent.

Baby Nick was born on 29 January 1959. His birthday is around my brother-in-law's birthday. We sadly keep forgetting which date is his birthday. Actually, I have a hard time remembering both of my brother-in-law's birthdays. I know one's birthday is in the last few days of March. The other's is in the last days of January. You know, now that I think of it....I also forget the birthday of one of my nieces. Hers is in the last days of December. I'm thinking maybe I have trouble remembering birthdays that are on the 29, 30, and 31. I get them confused.

Anyway, back to baby Nick. Let's check out the Birthday website!

Xenophon is an Aquarius like my dad.  Oh and also like my brother-in-law! I never thought about the fact that he's an Aquarius too.

Xenophon is a 9 in numerology. My sister is a 9 in numerology; the same sister that's married to the Aquarius. They should invite Xenophon over for dinner someday. He might fit in well with them.

I want to read about the Aquarius and see if it fits my brother-in-law and/or my dad.

This astrology website says, Both types are strong willed and forceful in their different ways and have strong convictions, though as they seek truth above all things, they are usually honest enough to change their opinions, however firmly held, if evidence comes to light which persuades them that they have been mistaken. They have a breadth of vision that brings diverse factors into a whole, and can see both sides of an argument without shilly-shallying as to which side to take. Consequently they are unprejudiced and tolerant of other points of view. This is because they can see the validity of the argument, even if they do not accept it themselves.

That reminds me of my dad a lot. He has strong opinions, but is often at least somewhat open to hearing alternative viewpoints. I'm not sure yet if it applies to my brother-in-law. I need to get to know him better.

Let's return to our man of the day.

There's not much said about Xenophon's childhood, except that he went to Prince Alfred College. That's located in Adelaide. I'd like to go to Adelaide someday.

He then did law at The University of Adelaide.

Xenophon was a member of Young Liberals. So I guess at least in the beginning, he was more on the conservative side.

Lord Wiki has something interesting. I'm not sure if I understand it or not.

If I'm reading this right, he was given a position through the use of vote-rigging. He was made editor of the University of Adelaide's newspaper. On Dit.

Xenophon later said he regrets what happens, and he claims this is what turned him off of party politics. At the age of about twenty-five, Xenophon started his own law firm. It dealt mostly with personal injury claims.

Between 1994 and 1997 he was president of the South Australian branch of the Australian Plaintiff Lawyers' Association.

One issue that is big for Xenophon is gambling. I guess he's against it. In 1992 poker machines were introduced in South Australia. Xenophon didn't support that. I think what happened maybe (I'm majorly inferring here!) is Xenophon had clients who developed problems because of the poker machines. The exact words of Lord Wiki are the increased incidence of problem gambling came to Xenophon's attention in his legal practice.

In 1997, Xenophon put himself into the election for the South Australian Legislative Council. He was an independent, standing on the platform of No Pokies. No Pokies. That sounds incredibly cute; like someone who doesn't want to be tickled or something. Or maybe it's what a very nervous virgin says on the night of her wedding.

Lord Wiki gives some statistics about the election. I'm not even going to TRY to understand these.

I do understand when Lord Wiki says that Xenophon was the first independent to be elected to the council in sixty years. Wow. That's a long time!

Another issue that became important to Xenophon was hit and run accidents. He was vocal in something called the Kapunda Road Royal Commission. This commission was created after a bicyclist was hit and killed by a driver.

In October 2007, Xenophon announced his resignation from the South Australian Legislative Council. He wanted to be part of Federal Government. He made it in.  Lord Wiki goes into details of how he got in, but it goes way above my head.

The media describes Xenophon as being left of center.

Okay and here's the stimulus package stuff. He voted against the package; but after some changes were made, he voted for it.

All right. I'm done with Lord Wiki.

I guess I'll go to the official Nick Xenophon site now.

The color orange dominates his site. I wonder if that's his favorite color. It makes me think of pumpkin.

Here is his page on poker machines. It's very sad that poker machines cause people such huge problems; that they drive families apart. But there are SO many things out there that can do that. Any addiction can cause problems: alcohol, heroin, pornography, social network sites, shopping, etc. I have an eating disorder. I'm almost constantly bombarded with images of stick-thin women. Even our Disney Sorry game joins in the fun. Has anyone noticed how thin those princesses are?! Almost every day I find emails on how to lose weight. So many websites I visit have ads promoting the latest diet pill and/or crash diet.

It's hard to have good mental health in this world!

I'm not sure if outlawing stuff is the answer.

What is the answer?

I am at a loss here. I truly am.

Let's look at his other campaigns.

He's big on Aged Care. I like what he says here. It's probably best if you read it for yourselves, but I'll try to give a brief summary. Basically he says the subject of aged care is difficult and complicated. It's often hard to keep our parents at home with us because we might be working. He also says that couples sometimes have to be separated because one center doesn't meet the needs of both partners. It's all very sad.

Xenophon says, We face large challenges with the shortage of high-level care, lack of new or refurbished places, adequate staffing arrangements and the ever growing demand as Australians live longer.
Adding to this is the growing pressure to get nurses and carers into the profession. With low pay, demanding conditions and limited long-term career prospects, it is hard to attract and keep.

It really is a tough situation. I applaud Xenophon for standing behind it.

He's not a climate change skeptic. He says,
I am not a climate change skeptic. I believe that global warming is real and that the overwhelming scientific evidence is that it is caused by human activity. So, we must take responsibility for finding a way to reverse this dangerous trend. 

He's not happy with the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. He says it seems like all stick and no carrot.

Speaking of carrots, I almost ate a yucky mushy one the other day. That's SO gross. I mean a RAW yucky mushy one. A yucky mushy cooked carrot would be much less gross.

I guess what's happening, in the scheme, is that all companies are heavily taxed. Xenophon believes that only the ones using bad dirty energy should be taxed. That makes sense to me.

The government has a whole website about the scheme. I glanced over it and can't find the part that Xenophon is referring to. I don't have the time or energy to read the whole thing carefully. Or we could just say I'm being lazy again.

He wants fuel prices to go down in Australia. Tim would strongly agree with him. That's probably one of his biggest concerns about us possibly one day moving to Australia. How the hell would we be afford to drive.  Well, that and how would we ever afford a house?

Oh! How funny. That's the next campaign that Xenophon lists. Housing Affordability. Xenophon says,
There is a growing divide between those who are in the property market and those who can't afford to be.

You know, so far I am liking this guy.

He wants to use more stormwater. I don't know much about that, but it sounds like a good idea to me. Xenophon says,
Stormwater projects offer a great, relatively inexpensive and environmentally friendly way for major cities, as well as countless regional towns and communities, to wean themselves off river water, in turn easing the burden on our river systems.

He wants to help the Murray-Darling River. I think that's good too. He says, We need to focus on increasing farming efficiencies up and down the river system, so that water isn't wasted and the rivers won't run dry. That makes sense to me.

Here's his biography page. He says he's not a big fan of talking about himself. Well, THERE'S something we don't have in common. He doesn't say much exciting stuff here. I mean it's lovely. It's just nothing much that I didn't already learn from Lord Wiki.

I LOVE his last quote though.
I would rather go down fighting, than still be standing because I stayed silent.

That's BEAUTIFUL. I hope I always follow that advice. Isn't there a line from Harry Potter?

Here it is.
Remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort.

Wait. What is that trying to say? Take the easy path or the right path? Or do we take the right path UNLESS Voldomort is involved? Maybe it's saying you should take the right path no matter what...but understand that sometimes it might kill you. But that's okay, because a few years later you'll come back as an extremely popular and sexy vampire.

Before I move onto Xenophon....I must say this. I'm not into worshipping. But if I had to pick one person to worship, it would probably be JK Rowling.

Now I'm going to look at Xenophon's Parliament website. I'm going to read his first speech. I haven't read one of those in a long time! It was done on 27 August 2008.

I like this paragraph.
So as I stand here making my first speech I am actually thinking a lot about what I am going to say in my last speech. Will I have made a difference? Will I have fought the battles that needed fighting and helped those who needed helping? Will I have sought every opportunity to make life a little better for people, a little fairer for people and maybe even a little easier for people.

Maybe that's something we all need to think about. When it comes to our end, will we able to say we did mostly good things?

I like what he says here. I know I am an Independent, but over the years I have been absolutely dependent on a loyal band of supporters who were ready to help me fight for what I believed in. I still struggle to comprehend how 1,200 volunteers saw fit to give up their time and their labour to help me on election day.

I admire his gratitude.

His parents are from Greek and Cyprus. I kind of guessed that from his name.

How sweet. He thanks his son.

I like what Xenophon says here:   A lot of people ask me where I am on the political spectrum: am I conservative or progressive? Apart from a youthful indiscretion while at uni where I flirted briefly with the Young Libs, for most of my life and in my political career I have tended not to see things in terms of Left or Right. Instead, I try to think about what is right and what is wrong.

I want to be more like that. I know most of my political beliefs swing to the far left, but I want to think for myself and not agree with something just because a left party pushes the idea. I want to feel okay with sometimes siding with the right. Basically, I want to be more of a free thinker.
He quotes from a past British politician. First they ignore you, then they say you’re mad, then dangerous, then there’s a pause and then you can’t find anyone who disagrees with you.
I like that. I think it's probably true in many ways.

Oh cool. He talks about Donald Horne. Donald Horne referred to Australia, with calculated irony, as the ‘lucky country’ to make the point that we should not rely on luck alone, and I think he was right. Luck is great, as long as you do not count on it. We must never take our luck for granted and we must work hard to protect what we have.


I feel I don't have to do much work in this post. Xenophon says it all so well. Maybe he should be come a blogger--or at least his speechwriter should.

So far, I'm still loving Xenophon.

Now I'm going to move onto that website I found yesterday....the online opinion one. I want to read some editorials about Xenophon. He actually wrote something for them as well. I guess I shall read that first.

It was written in 2005, and it's about drug abuse. It says that in Sweden they made a law in 1982 to aim for a drug free society. That surprises me. I kind of pictured them as the type of country who would make drugs legal. Maybe I totally misjudged, or maybe later they did become that.

One of Sweden's laws pushed mandatory six month rehabilitation for people effected by drugs.

Wow. Xenophon is really making me think here. I've always believed in the legalization of drugs, but Xenophon is trying to convince me otherwise. He's not doing a bad job of it. He talks about how Sweden has MUCH lower drug abuse than Australia. He talks about all the problems that Australians have with drugs.

It's so damn complicated. I know in America we outlawed alcohol for awhile and that had its problems. I don't know the details though.

What should we do?

I feel lost.

Should we outlaw everything that is harmful to us: alcohol, drugs, super thin models, trans fat, gambling.....

Where do we draw the line then?

There's that whole clash between protecting people and personal freedom. I used to visit this Disney World message board. There were some angry people on there. Why? Disney decided to get rid of some very unhealthy food they provided. People felt this imposed on their right to eat junk. Their argument was just because it's there; it doesn't mean you have to eat it.

I agree with them to a point.

I also disagree.

The problem is some people really can't help themselves. Or they can help themselves, but it takes a HUGE horrific inner struggle.

A part of me feels we should outlaw stuff. A part of me thinks it's good that NYC passed a law making it illegal for restaurants to have artificial trans fat in their food.

Again though, where do you draw the line?

Disney World still has a wide variety of yummy junk food. What if it comes to a point that the only food you can get at Disney World is raw carrots, raw apples, and steamed broccoli?

But the draw the line statement is often a way to avoid the issue. We already HAVE drawn a line. It's out there. The question is do we need to make that line more relaxed or more strict?

Now here is an editorial ABOUT Xenophon. It's written by Malcolm King who has been involved with the Labor Party and Australian Democrats. I like how you can find out who wrote these editorials. 

King wrote this 20 November 2007. That's when my family was on a Disney Cruise.

King says Harradine, a former ALP Senator before he turned Independent was openly anti-abortion, anti-IVF and anti-gay rights. Mr Xenophon is not so reactionary - or at least I don’t think he is. One can't tell and that’s part of the problem. He’s everyman.

I sometimes fear people think that about me. I'm often unable to take sides in an issue. I feel people might think I'm trying to play both sides. I'm not trying to be like that. I just often don't know where I stand.

King talks about something that Lord Wiki mentioned. Xenophon is known for using props to get the media attention. He has used goats, toy cars, trains and giraffes as visual props with stunning effect.
I'm not sure if that's necessarily a bad thing. I think it's okay to put on a show to get attention as long as it's not about being manipulative, exploitive, or sensationalist.

For example, us bloggers often try to think of creative post titles to attract more readers. I think it's fine to say something like I am So Excited. Many people will want to know what you're excited about. But what if someone's blog title is My Child is in the Hospital! You read the post, and find out the child is in the hospital because her girl scout troupe is singing for the sick kids. That is NOT right. Yikes. Now I'm trying to think back. I hope I've never done something like that. If I did, I sincerely apologize.

 I don't think I've done it though......

King says, Mr Xenophon appeals to the underdog while at the same time espouses a Christian ethic. He's pro-family values and pro-green. He doesn't want to raise taxes, but he wants to solve SA's water crisis. Mr Xenophon’s a conservative, a radical and a mate.

And what's so wrong with that? Is it better when people fit into nice little boxes? One of my blogging friends is strongly pro-life, believes in the raw food diet, and is a fan of New Kids on the Block and REM. Should I get mad at her? Should I inform her that she's doing things wrong....pro-life people are supposed to eat lots of meat, love hunting, and listen only to Christian rock?

King compares Xenophon to Krusty the Clown in the title of his editorial, and within the last few paragraphs. I don't get that. Maybe I haven't watched enough of The Simpsons. I just can't see how his criticisms of Xenophon have anything to do with him being like Krusty the Clown.

I'm getting a bit tired and I need to exercise, shower, and start packing. So, I'm going to start putting an end to this.

I'm going to look at Google News and see if there's anything current.

Here's a recent editorial in The Australian.

The Premier of South Australia, Mike Rann and Xenophon are apparently not best friends. I know of Mike Rann. I follow him on Twitter. He's quite prolific with his twittering.

Apparently Rann accused Xenophon of having a personality disorder, an inflated sense of self-importance, and ego-driven self-love. That's probably not too far off the mark. But I think that can apply to most people at least some of the time. When my self-esteem isn't all crazy low, sometimes it can go a bit too high.

Sometimes I love myself not enough.
Sometimes I love myself too much.
Once in a while I love myself the exact right amount.

At this point, I'm loving myself too much. I'm thinking of making a holiday named after me. Then we can all say Happy Dina Day.

Rann said, Nick criticising spin is like Colonel Sanders criticising chickens.
That's a cute analogy. Apparently Xenophon accused Rann of being a leak to the media. That was Rann's response.

Oh my.

I hope those two guys can kiss and make up.

I think Rann is on my list so eventually I'll probably hear his side of the story.

Speaking of Twitter though. I wonder if Xenophon is there.

He's not! At least from what I can see.

Is anyone talking about him on Twitter?

says Back in Adelaide. Kate Ellis was in business class, Nick Xenophon in economy.
I don't get that. Is this symbolic or literal? Are we really talking about planes here? If we are, I wonder if Xenophon got that awful clunky video machine. Was it a Jetstar Flight?

Well, Wayne does talk a lot about flights and airports in his Tweets. Perhaps he was being literal.

Fang says
Podcast of Sen Nick Xenophon at the PlanetMuse launch party for the LearnDog foundation. Fang provides this link. I think the link is to his blog....not Xenophon's, but Fang's.

What is the Learndog Foundation? I'm not finding much about it.

Wait. Fang has a link. Good because Google just failed me. I'm shocked. What will I do if Google stops being there for me?

Well, actually I can understand why Google failed to find this link for me. The website really doesn't say all that much. I'm not learning a lot here.

I am lost and confused.

I'm going to quit in a minute.

First I want to watch a video of Xenophon on YouTube. I often forget to do that; see what these people look and sound like. Although maybe that's good. Maybe that way I'm less likely to judge people on superficial things.

I'm going to watch this video with Xenophon. I love watching parliament. Oh! Steve Fielding is on the video too.

Ooh...Xenophon has a evil smile in one part of this video. He takes a sip of water and does this awesome wicked grin. It's at 1:57 of the video.

I'm finding it delightfully disturbing that I recognize and know the names of so many politicians in this video.

Do you know what would be so awesome? I think Australian Parliament should stop being a suit and tie place. I think they should totally go casual. Jeans and t-shirts. That would make it so much more fun to watch!

Although I probably don't agree with Malcolm Turnbull's politics, I can't help thinking he's incredibly sexy.

You know I have realized something important. I waxed poetic about Parliament in Australia, but I really haven't watched much of it since I've been back. I need to! I need to indulge myself more often. This stuff is too awesome.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Woman With Purple Hair

We saw Dame Edna tonight. She came to Fort Worth.

I hesitated a bit in writing this post, because in doing so, I might give something away.

Let's just say then that this post might have spoilers. If you're planning to see the show and want to be surprised; stop reading now.

This is not going to be long because it's close to bedtime, and tomorrow we have a 6:30 am plane to catch.

Anyway...the show was good, but a bit terrifying.

Dame Edna likes to use audience participation. I think I read about that a little, but I didn't realize how central that is to her program.

I was so terrified she'd pick on me.

She didn't.


After the show, as I was relieving my about-to-burst-bladder, I thought about what was discussed recently in one of my posts. I think of myself as being totally not self-effacing. I like attention. I LOVE attention. I don't like hiding in the background. But then here in the show, I was so scared of any attention. Does that mean I'm not as attention-seeking as I originally thought? Or is that a type of attention that NO one likes? Does anyone like being picked on during a show? And yeah, Dame Edna is a bit "mean". She insults people. I started thinking maybe no one wants to be picked on, because they're afraid she's going to hurt their feelings. But even when someone is nice, I feel uncomfortable. You know how, in some shows, a singer will come over and sing to a member of the audience? I'm scared of that too.

I'm not the type of audience member who wants to be chosen.

I'm the one at a Bingo game who dreads winning (even tons of money), because I'm too embarrassed to yell Bingo.

So there you have it. The truth. I'm outgoing in the blogging world. I'm a bit shy in the real world.

Enough about that, though.

Here's the spoiler bit.

At the end Barry Humphries comes on stage!!!! It's a brief moment. But I was all excited and emotional. I was thinking Barry Humphries. THE Barry Humphries is standing so close to me (we had excellent seats). He can see me! He might even notice me!

I was so excited about Barry Humphries.

I had no such feelings for Dame Edna. She had stood on stage for about two hours. She was entertaining, but I felt nothing for her.

I KNOW they're the same person. My brain knows that. My heart does not.

Dame Edna is this amusing yet somewhat annoying woman. I like her. But I feel no real love for her.

Barry Humphries is this adorable genius.

It's so hard for me to think of them as the same person.

As we were walking back to our car, I started gushing about it all.

I told Tim this was the first time I've been in the same room as a victim of my blog.

But we both quickly realized that's not true. I saw all those Parliament people. I've been in the same room as Kevin Rudd. That was SUPER exciting for me too.

Anyway, that was my adventure with the lady who has purple hair. I am SO glad she didn't notice me. I'm hoping though that Barry Humphries did. I might have a little tiny crush on him.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Steve Fielding

I have no earthly idea who Steve Fielding is. All I know is he was added to the list when we were in Australia.

This is exciting.

Who can he be? I'm going to guess he's a political person. I sometimes enjoyed watching Parliament stuff on TV. I might have found Fielding on there.

Let's go see.

Ah! He IS political.

He's the leader of Family First which leads me to think I probably won't love the guy. Isn't it sad that when a political party has the word family in it, I know it's going to be contrary to my own values?

I think someone should start a party with the word family in it that doesn't push Christianity; is pro-gay marriage; and is pro-choice. That would be cool. Maybe one already exists? Do any of you know of one?

Fielding was born on 17 October 1960. He's either a Libra or Scorpio; probably a Libra.

I'll go to the birthday website.

He's a 7 like me, and he's a Libra like my sister.

I think I'd love a 7 Libra. They'd be very educated and full of passion.

Does Fielding with this description? Who knows? What if he did? Could I like him despite the fact that our politics may be so far apart?

Onto the guy's childhood.....

He was born in Melbourne. His parents had fifteen children. Wow. I'm guessing they have a lot of grandchildren running around Australia.

Lord Wiki doesn't say much about Fielding's early education. He says for uni, Fielding went to RMIT university. He got a degree in engineering. Next he went to Monash University and got a MBA.

Fielding worked as an engineer and something called a superannuation. I have no idea what that is.

Okay. Lord Wiki says it's a pension theme. That's all I want to know about that. Sorry.

Fielding is married. He doesn't have fifteen kids...just three.

He belongs to a Pentecostal church in Melbourne called CityLife church.

I'm going to explore their website a bit. I like learning about religions.

Here are their values. There's nothing there that horribly offends or shocks me. I'm not a big fan of evangelism, personally. I don't like people pressuring me to believe what they believe. But if done politely....well, it's not as bad as other things people do to each other.

Well, I can't find anything too exciting on their website.

Let's move on to politics.

Lord Wiki says Fielding is the first Family First representative to be elected to Federal Parliament.

Fielding said that although his party is conservative, he will not automatically take the side of the opposition party in Parliament. Well, that's good. It's nice to know he tries to be a free-thinker.

Fielding has said that he believes divorce effects global warming. It causes people to live "resource-inefficient lifestyles". I can't disagree with him. But in that case, we should probably be squishing as many people into one house as possible. Not only should husbands and wives stay together in one house; but all their in-laws should be there as well.

There's political stuff here that goes over my head. I THINK Lord Wiki is saying that Fielding voted against Howard in certain things. But I'm not entirely sure. The wording confuses me a bit. It's probably more about my own ignorance and less about the way Lord Wiki explains it.

Okay, here is one thing I am beginning to understand. Although in this, I think he was on the same side as Howard. He voted in support of voluntary student unionism. What this means is students can CHOOSE whether or not they want to join a student union while at uni. Prior to 2006, membership was required. And membership included fees. That sounds unfair to me. I'm glad they changed the law. And here I have at least one thing that Fielding and I agree on.

I'm trying to read the arguments against the law. I guess basically it's like taxes. And now I'm starting to see the opposite point. What if taxes in a country were voluntary? What would that do? What problems would that cause?

Probably a lot.

Maybe I'm no longer on Fielding's team regarding this.

At one point, Fielding wanted to break away from the ultra-conservative reputation of Family First. He considered forming his own party. It didn't work out. Lord Wiki says this idea came when Fielding changed his opinion on abortion. Ah, that sounds interesting. I hope to read more about it later.

He does support internet censorship. He wants X-rated content banned for everyone, including adults. And how do you determine what is X-rated? If I was in charge of Internet censorship, I'd want child pornography and vile hate speech banned. Someone else might want to ban all images of homosexual affection, and/or images of mothers breastfeeding. Who gets to draw the line?

I don't believe in government censorship. I think it's scary. I DO believe in private censorship. I believe websites should exercise their right to say We will not tolerate this on our site. And the definition of "this" is for them to determine. If I disagree with their "this", I can go to another website.

I'm done with Lord Wiki. Now I'm moving onto his official site.

Fielding has four issues featured on the front page of his site. They are: alcohol abuse, jobs, recycling, and helping parents of children who have gone missing overseas.

I'll read a little bit about each issue.

He makes Australia seem quite awful in terms of drinking. If I read this description before we went to Australia, I might have canceled our flights. Haven’t we all had enough of drunken yobbos taunting people walking by, of young women lying sprawled on the street with vomit down their party dresses and groups of grog-fuelled men wandering our streets looking for a fight?

I'm sure that IS a realistic painting of some areas and events in Australia. And I know binge-drinking is a problem. I personally think it's pretty damn disgusting. I just think his description might be a little dramatic. It gives me this idea that you walk through Australia and see everyone falling down drunk.

There's a video of Fielding on the site. He's cute. He kind of reminds me of Rick Moranis.

I miss Moranis. Whatever happened to him?

As for jobs, Fielding believes in keeping Australians working. He talks about some program where you can propose new projects (that would give people jobs); and then you can get government grants to help pay for it. There's a link to the program, but it's not working.  It sounds like a good idea though.

For recycling, he has a program called Cash for Trash. I guess it's basically paying people for recycling. I wish people would do it for free. But if paying people increases recycling, I think it should be done. And these days, people need the money; so it's kind of killing two birds with one stone.

For missing children overseas, Fielding wants people to sign a petition to help families. See, this is a FAMILY thing I can stand behind.

This is what they want to change.

A) If a child is reported missing in a foreign country, the family in Australia needs to be notified right away. A family who has lost their child (the Lapthornes) weren't informed until six days after the child had been reported missing to Australian authorities. That's insane!

B) The Australian government should help families; give them what they need to find their child.

C) He wants Australia to have established agreements with countries so plans and regulations are set in place.

I can't disagree with any of that. I'm going to sign the petition.

Never mind. You have to be Australian.

I guess that's fair.

Here's Steve's biography information.

Lord Wiki made a mistake. There were sixteen kids in the family, not fifteen. I have to give them an even bigger WOW.

Fielding has been married for twenty-four years. His children range from age thirteen to twenty.

He lives in a suburb of Melbourne called Wantirna South. It's south east of the CBD. Lord Wiki says there's a popular shopping center there. Knox City Shopping Center. I wonder if Fielding and his family hang out there sometimes.

Speaking of shopping, Tim and I debated the other day whether or not Australia has Costco. He thinks they don't. I think they do.

Now I shall see who is right.

Ah, we both kind of are.

There is no Costco store...yet. So, Tim is right.

But one is coming soon. It might open in July.

I'm not a big fan of American businesses invading Australia. I do love Costco though. They actually have some fairly decent products.

Back to Fielding....

He was born in a northern suburb called Reservoir.

His parents were both only children. That's interesting. One of the things I've considered about having an only child is I might not have any grandchildren. But who knows. Jack might end up wanting the opposite of what I wanted. I might end up with TONS of grandkids. And according to Jack, they're going to be Australian. He's still intent on having an Australian wife.

Fielding has seven sisters and eight brothers.

Daddy Fielding worked in a Hardware store.

The Fielding kids went to Keon Park Primary School. I can't find a website for them; just a brief listing on another site.

Later they went to Merrilands High School.

Fielding's maternal grandma spent a lot of time with the family. She lived with the family during the week, and helped out. I love that. I'm reading Sally Morgan's My Place. The grandma lives with the family. I think sometimes it can be a huge help having grandma there. I guess though it depends on the personality of the grandmother; and whether or not her children and in-laws get along well with her.

I guess the important deciding question is: Is she there to criticize and control? Or is she there to help?

When I move in with Jack to help him take care of my Aussie grandchildren, I shall TRY to be nice.

After uni, Fielding worked for Hewlett Packard. His future wife worked there too. That's how they met. My cousin met her husband at work. Sometimes those things DO work out.

From 1992-1995, Fielding and his family lived in New Zealand. There he worked with for Telecon NZ. It looks like it's a phone company.

When the family returned to Australia, Fielding worked for United Energy and Yellow Pages.

It was a passion for local issues that pushed Fielding into politics. It seems family economics is one of his main passions. He says:

It is well known that parents would like to have more children than they do and an Australian Institute of Family Studies report has found one-third of men and women will have fewer children than they would like. However, it seems that nothing can be done to change this situation. Many single incomes are no longer sufficient to support a family, but nobody asks why. Our tax-free threshold is below the subsistence level, but bringing the tax-free threshold up to this level is not the top priority for political parties. All the political parties talk about ‘family-friendly’ policies, but it seems they are really market-friendly.

You know maybe I somewhat misjudged this guy. Maybe the term family first is truly about family and not code for we want to impose our Christian values on everyone else. It still could be the latter. But I'm glad to see aspects of the party that I do agree with.

I'm not against mothers working....if this is what they want. But I wish we lived in a world where it truly was a CHOICE. I wish parents could choose to stay home if they wanted to without making huge sacrifices. And by sacrifices, I don't mean a week at a four star hotel, three cars, and designer clothing. I'm talking about affording the schools that parents feel are best for their kids; food that is healthy; internet connection; books on the bookshelf; moderate holidays, etc.

Parents should not have to choose between having a comfortable lifestyle and being a one income family.

Fielding has a blog. I'll read some of the entries.

From this entry, I'm getting the idea that he's skeptical about global warming. But wait. I decided that without reading beyond the first paragraph. Let me read more.

He met with Penny Wong.

He says he went to the meeting with an open-mind because he's not a skeptic. I do think that skeptics are closed-minded sometimes. I guess it can go either way. You can be an open-minded skeptic, or a closed-minded one. I'm fine with open-minded ones. The closed-minded ones to me are as annoying as doubtless believers.

He questions whether man-made carbon emissions are responsible for global warming.

I'm pretty sure they are. But even if they're not, I still think it would be wise to cut down on them. We're way too wasteful in this society. There's too much pollution. So.....

I just don't really understand the global warming skeptics. I DO understand questioning things, and not taking dogma and/or information at face value. But I think there's usually a reason behind the questioning. It seems to me to question the existence of a global warming problem, you have to WANT it not to exist. I mean we ALL want it not to exist; minus perhaps some crazy evil people. But my feeling is these global warming skeptics want it not to exist so they don't have to make lifestyle and/or corporate changes.

On this entry, Fielding tries to explain his position. I am not a climate skeptic and I am not a climate change extremist. What I am, however, is someone that actually wants to take a balanced view, look at the facts and then respond appropriately.

I think that's a fair statement.

I'm that way on a lot of issues.  In the middle.

I'm that way with vaccines. I'm not against vaccines. I'm grateful for them. I think they've saved millions of lives. But I'm also not a pro-vaccine extremist. I think people have the right to ask questions, and want research to be done...without being told they're personally responsible for a baby recently dying of the measles.

The recent extremists I've encountered are the eating disorder ones. From what I've seen, they seem to believe there is one and only one cause of eating disorders-genes. I've been reading their posts and comments, and they're incredibly narrow-minded.

It's like PETA with Obama's fly swatter. When you get THAT fanatical about something, you really don't help anyone. You just taint your message. And then people will ignore you when you talk about much more extreme atrocities against animal...such as veal and chicken cage issues.

Back to Fielding, he talks about balancing carbon issues with family economic needs. I guess that answers my question.

I guess there's two possibilities here.

1. We DO need to reduce emissions. If we don't, horrible things will happen to the earth. Cities will go underwater. It will be too hot. Life will suck. But people think we, in the present, need to just ignore the future because then current families won't have to make huge sacrifices.

2. There is no true threat and people want to force families to make huge sacrifices anyway.

If it's #2, my question is WHY?

My feeling is when people are extreme about issues there are usually three possible reasons behind it.

1) an economic benefit if people follow them
2) They truly believe their way is the right way, and if more people follow them the world will be improved
c) Validation for their own choices: If you do what I do then it makes me feel I'm doing the right thing.

I do feel for the most part, environmentalists fall into the second category. And I do think they're fears and concerns are valid. Who knows though. Maybe I've been brainwashed by Al Gore. My recent experiences with eating disorder and vaccine fanatics has made me try to be more open to the other side.

I feel I should let people question the whole carbon emissions thing without screaming at them. You don't care about the earth! You're wasteful and greedy! They probably ARE that, but I'm going to try and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Yeah. See that's my new game plan in life. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Make less assumptions. And remember what Wicked taught me. There's always two sides to every story.

Here Fielding criticizes Rudd's budget. He says, This is a Budget that punishes Australians who want to improve their lot in life. It punishes incentive. It tells pensioners that if you want to get a better pension, don’t stay married. Get divorced and you’ll get more help.

One of my friends in Australia has talked to me about this. She says that it's better for families to separate; that there are more tax benefits. She's very unhappy with that.

I went in the archives. Fielding's first blog post was about the Victorian fires. He talks about the fires that were set deliberately, and asks how people can do that. I asked the same question when we were in Australia. Now I understand. Some people truly are evil.  Or I guess we could use the term psychopathic.

At any moment, any one of us can have our lives destroyed simply because some heartless person decided to do something bad.

Now there's a lovely thought.

Steve Fielding here announces that he is not a friend of Danny Nalliah. It seems Nalliah was part of Family First, but was then asked to leave because he said negative remarks against a minority. What did he say? I need to find out.

Lord Wiki says he said was involved with anti-Islam stuff. Then later he declared that the bushfires came about because abortion was legalized.

Oh my.

I'm glad Steve Fielding publicly distanced himself from him. It's what Howard needed to do with Pauline Hanson. And Mel Gibson needed to do it regarding his father not believing in the Holocaust. Now I don't think they necessarily need to be hateful towards their family/friends. I think they can still even remain friends with them. But they need to be firm in saying they disagree with what this person has said and done. I also think it's a good idea to kick them out of your political party. Hey. I like you. We'll always be friends. I'm sorry though. Our party doesn't stand for that. You'll have to go elsewhere.

I think Fielding's words towards Nalliah are strong and effective. He says, Mr Nalliah’s recent comments about the victims and survivors of Victoria’s devastating bushfires are insulting and beneath contempt. They in no way represent the decent people who support Family First.

I think I'm going to stop reading the blog and look at Google News. That will help me get a better perspective on Fielding. I want to see what is said about him rather than just what he says about himself.

Here's an interview with him on ABC regarding climate change. Look, what was happening was that my major concern was if carbon emissions aren't driving up global temperature, what else could be? So I was then looking at other alternatives but my fundamental question remains - is carbon emissions driving up global temperatures.

That's an interesting twist. Is he saying that global warming IS a problem, but we're barking up the wrong tree? Or is it just a way to distract people from the issue?

Fielding says, As I said, I am not a skeptic. I am hoping the Minister can actually prove to my satisfaction that actually carbon emissions are driving up global temperatures. At the moment there is a big question mark and we need to resolve that before I move on.

That statement makes me rethink my paragraph above about open-minded and closed-minded skeptics. Maybe to me a skeptic is someone who asks questions in the hope they won't find evidence that proves the other person wrong. They're not truly trying to gain information or insight. The purpose of their question is to simply poke holes in someone's arguments or beliefs.

But then what would you call someone who asks questions because they truly want to understand? What if someone is simply trying to gather information so they can make an informed decision? And is Fielding truly this person?

Maybe a good name for these people are seekers. Ah! Like The Seekers!

Is Fielding a seeker or a skeptic? If he's truly a seeker, I admire him.

If he's a skeptic, I don't like him. Because then not only is he a skeptic (which I find to sometimes be annoying), but he's a skeptic trying to pose as a seeker. It would be dishonest.

Here's an insightful editorial. It says Fielding recently visited the United States to attend a conference on climate change. Now I saw this mentioned on his site. I didn't read much about it, but I assumed for some reason it was a government sponsored conference. I assumed incorrectly.

This editorial says: The conference was organised by the Heartland Institute, one of those corporate-funded think tanks whose mission in life is to promote free enterprise, no matter what the cost to society or the environment.

Now since there are two sides of the story, I need to find out what the Heartland Institute says for themselves.

Here's their website.

They say, Heartland's mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. Such solutions include parental choice in education, choice and personal responsibility in health care, market-based approaches to environmental protection, privatization of public services, and deregulation in areas where property rights and markets do a better job than government bureaucracies.

So I guess they want a free-for-all kind of society. Every man for himself and let's hope sometimes he cares enough to do something for his fellow man.

I looked to see who funds the organization and the website refuses to reveal that. They say, People who disagree with our views have taken to selectively disclosing names of donors who they think are unpopular in order to avoid addressing the merits of our positions. Listing our donors makes this unfair and misleading tactic possible. By not disclosing our donors, we keep the focus on the issue.

Yeah, well sometimes these donors are unpopular for a REASON. Thank you very much.

I DO like to know who is funding a study before I take it seriously.

If an organization is pro-vaccine, I would not like it kept secret that they're funded by a big pharmaceutical company.

If an organization is anti-vaccine, I would not like it kept secret that they have stock in some alternative medicine tea that parents can give their children in lieu of shots.

Heartland says We do not take positions in order to appease or avoid losing support from individual donors. We have, in fact, a long record of standing behind our research even when it means losing the support of major donors.

I admire that. If it is true, I think they could list their donors without shame.

It surprises me that it's actually legal to hide big sponsors like that. I thought that was a requirement.

Oh well.

I just glanced around their website. They have a whole section defending smokers and smoking. Lovely. I can't be on their side there. I don't like smoking. I hate the smell, and it makes my eyes burn. If people want to smoke in their own homes, that's their business. But I love that laws have been enforced in many places to exclude smoking.

Remember when people could smoke on airplanes? We've really come along way. And I'm grateful for that.

Back to the editorial.

They say that Heartland is sponsored by companies like Phillip Morris and Exxon Mobile. I'm going to assume they got that information before Heartland became so secretive.

The author of the editorial says, Senator Fielding’s claim to have “kept an open mind on the road to Washington” seems a little disingenuous given he traveled to the US to attend a conference that was so obviously intended to discredit predictions of climate change.

I'm starting to get a whole different viewpoint here.

Back to my vaccine analogy. It's like me going up to some pro-vaccine people and asking questions. I just went to a conference. It made me think of stuff. I'm not a skeptic. I just want to learn more before deciding if Jack should get his next set of shots.

Now if that conference was an objective meeting of minds, not sponsored or dominated by any dogma, I think my statement is fair.

But what if the conference I went to was part of Jenny McCarthy's Generation Rescue? If I spent a weekend with these people, it's likely I'm going to have come out of it a little brainwashed.

I'm probably going to be approaching the subject of vaccines...not as a seeker, but as a skeptic.

This Heartland Institute Conference definitely had a slant to it. I'm thinking Fielding might have been a little brainwashed. But also the fact that he even attended such a conference makes me think he was already leaning to one side of the issue.

And I'm not saying all conferences that push a certain viewpoint are bad. I agree with what a lot of Generation Rescue says. I actually agreed with them on issues before I even knew they believed the same thing. I thought my ideas were unique and original. I was wrong there.

I think it's fine that Heartland Institute Exists. People have the right to believe what they believe. They have every right to start organizations based on those beliefs. They have every right to hold conferences. But when people are discussing, questioning, and debating.....I think they need to admit where they're coming from.

If I want to go to a Generation Rescue conference, that's my right. But if I'm going to meet with my pro-vaccine nurse-practitioner sister later and question her on things; she has a right to know what conference I just attended. And if she starts pushing some extra vaccine on me, she needs to tell me that she just attended a conference sponsored by the drug company that's making money off the vaccine.

Now I want to go back to the blog and read what Fielding himself has to say about the conference. Is he upfront about it, or not?

The blog entry is called Fact Finding Tour. He doesn't mention who's holding this conference he's attending. To his credit though he does say he's also talking to people in the Obama administration. So I think he might be at least attempting to get two sides of the story. I'm not sure if it's even though. How much time did he spend at the conference? How much time did he spend with the Obama people?

I can go to a conference full of Jenny McCarthy propaganda. I can spend all this time with fabulous speakers and meet parents who have cured their autistic children with gluten free diets. Then I go talk to my sister the nurse practitioner for an hour. She gives me her viewpoint. Is that enough to counteract what I learned at the Jenny McCarthy conference? I think what would be more fair is to next attend a pro-vaccine conference.

Now in all honesty, I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to read a book or attend a conference to give a counter viewpoint to everything I've learned or believe in.

After we attend the very radical unschooling conference in DFW, we don't later attend a very pro-traditional schooling conference.

I don't have the time or energy to do all that....nor do I have the stomach for it.

But if I told someone I just went to a conference to learn about education, I think it would be wrong of me not to reveal the conference pushed alternative education. It would be wrong to tell people I'm on a fact-finding mission if most of my facts are coming from one side of the issue.

I have to say the website where I got the editorial looks interesting to me. It's called Online Opinion-Australia's e-Journal of social and political debate. I wonder if they're fairly balanced, or if they're more to the left. I guess they could also be more to the right, and I just happened to read the one editorial that was a leftie one.

I know this is already getting very long because I ramble too much.

But before I go, I want to look at the Family First website. I want to know where they stand on things.

Here's all their policies. I'll see if there are any that particularly annoy or offend me.

I'm already annoyed. All their policies are in PDF files. My computer automatically saves PDF files so I end up with SO many files on my computer. Months later I'm sorting through stuff and find menus from restaurants we ate at months ago.

Anyway, I've already found something that has offended me as well. Family First says We believe Australia should be the best country in the world to raise a family.

That's just so ethnocentric and narrow minded. How about wishing ALL countries were good places to raise a family? You know there ARE people living outside of Australia. I mean maybe Family First would like to invite us all to live there. I'm all for that! But it might get a big overcrowded, and I'm sure that won't promote a healthy family atmosphere. We'll all be sleeping on top of each other.

In the same PDF file they say The best environment to raise children is for them to have both a mother and a father.

Yes, of course. It is better for a child to live with a mom and dad who hate each other than it is for a child to live with two men who are happily in love with each other.

On another PDF file they say • FAMILY FIRST believes that protecting our environment starts at home. FAMILY FIRST wants to help families live the environmentally responsible life because the best way to improve our environment is for everyone to take responsibility and do their bit to reduce their energy and water use. Andrew had a good blog post about this recently.

Family First believes in shared parenting in the case of divorce. On the surface, I can agree with this. If a child has two loving parents, I think he/she should spend equal time with both of them. But life doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes parents are abusive, neglectful, and selfish. I'm tired of hearing children need their father! or children need their mother! Children need GOOD mothers and fathers...or relatively good ones. I'm not saying parents need to be perfect or anything. But children shouldn't be forced to share their time between two parents when one parent is SO much better than the other parent.

They oppose abortion. That doesn't offend me or annoy me. I just disagree with them. I probably strongly disagree with them because they want to make abortion illegal. I don't see how that helps. I'd be more supportive of their position if they took the stance of reducing abortion rather than criminalizing it.

They're against Euthanasia. I disagree with them there.

They're pro-suicide prevention. I'm not against it. But I think it should be low priority and last resort. I think instead we should treat people nicely, and maybe less people will get to that point.

Here's a scenario. A guy is dumped by his girlfriend. He was madly in love with her. Now he's heartbroken. I don't blame the girlfriend. She has every right to want out of the relationship. We can't be asked to stay in relationships out of fear someone might get too depressed if we leave. I say the girlfriend has little responsibility here. She shouldn't be cruel. That would be very wrong. But she doesn't need to provide him comfort. That's not her job now. Whose job is it? His friends and family. They should be there for him. But let's say they're not. His dad just says Hey! Stop looking so down. It's annoying. There are other fish in the sea. His sister laughs at him. His brother pats him on the back and offers him twenty seconds worth of comfort.

His friends take him drinking one night to forget his trouble. Then they stop calling him because he's like such a downer!

The guy has lost his love of his life. He feels abandoned by friends and family. He feels worthless. He decides to commit suicide. People find out and try to stop him. Okay, that's nice. But where were they a few weeks ago? Why do people have to do something desperate to get help?

Life is incredibly shitty for some people. And I do believe in some cases, suicide is the only answer.

 I think we should make the world a better place. Then maybe less people will be driven to suicide.

All right. This post is reaching epic length. There's so much more I could talk about. But I'll shut up now.