Sunday, February 28, 2010

Paul McDermott

Who is Paul McDermott?

Well, Lord Wiki says he's a performer. His thing now is being the host of a quiz show called Good News Week. The other thing he's well known for is being part of the musical comedy group, Doug Anthony All Stars. I think I've mentioned them before; but I don't remember why.

Baby Paul was born in Adelaide, on 13 May 1962. He had five siblings; one of them is his fraternal twin.

The McDermott family was Catholic. Daddy McDermott was a public servant; and Lord Wiki says that Mommy McDermott was a home-manager. Is that another word for home-maker/stay-at-home mom? Or is it something different?

When McDermott was three, his family moved to Canberra....I guess because his dad was a public servant. He went to a school that was part of a Catholic movement called The Marist Brothers. The Marist Brothers website says they're all about bringing Jesus to those in need. I guess they're missionaries for the most part.

During his school years, McDermott was a shy loner. I'm guessing he overcame some of that shyness.

After McDermott finished with high school, he attended the Canberra School of Art. He wanted to be a painter. This is funny. He says that painting is his first love, and the only reason he started performing was to pay for more art supplies. He said it was a choice between that and waiting tables.

Although he doesn't paint professionally, McDermott keeps it up as a private hobby. That's cool.

Lord Wiki says that McDermott is atheist. I guess the Catholic school failed to brainwash him. Politically, he's all over the board. Sometimes he's ultra-conservative, and other times he's way on the left. It sounds like he's a free-thinker. I admire that.

McDermott has a partner named Melissa. They have one child together named Xavier. The name Xavier makes me think of Xavier Roberts, the Cabbage Patch Doll man.

All right. Now I'm going to read what Lord Wiki has to say about the Doug Anthony All Stars. They did their thing from 1984-1995. McDermott, and a guy named Tim Ferguson, did the main vocals. Richard Fidler was the guitar guy.

They started off with busking in 1984.

In 1986, they won an award from the Adelaide Fringe Festival. After the win, they relocated to Melbourne. Why didn't they move to Adelaide? Well, since that was where the award came from? Plus, it's McDermott's birth town.

The Adelaide Fringe Festival still happens, and in fact....it's going on right now.

Lord Wiki says the Doug Anthony All Stars didn't really become successful until they went to that famous festival in Edinburgh. Their success wasn't with Australians though. It was the UK folks who liked the Doug Anthony thing. Australians barely noticed them. But then by 1989, that changed a bit when McDermott and friends made appearances on a show called The Big Gig.

Here's a clip of them on the show. I can't say this is making me laugh hysterically. I don't think my sense of humor matches theirs....at least not in this instance. The bit around 4:30, gave me a slight smile. That's about all I've managed so far.

Lord Wiki says the group got their attention and applause by saying controversial and politically incorrect things.

Oh! Now I remember why I recognized their name. They took it from a Deputy Prime Minister that I've written about. Do I remember anything about Deputy Prime Minister Doug Anderson? No, not really.

It looks like McDermott's next big thing was Good News Week. Lord Wiki says that was on from 1996-2000, and then back on again in 2008.

Originally, ABC was not keen on having McDermott as the host of their new show. They didn't like that he was best known as being the bad boy from the Doug Anthony All Stars. Plus, he had dreadlocks which further prejudiced the network against him.

McDermott chopped off the dreadlocks, and he also toned down his bad boy act a bit. He showed a more gentle side to himself. I guess it worked out. The show seems to have done well.

Sometimes he sang on the show. Here's one of the songs that was well received by viewers. He has a nice voice. I like their performance. I can see why it became popular.

In 2005, McDermott wrote, directed, and starred in his own play. It was called MOSH! Some critics found it to be quite funny, but others found it to be offensive.

Wow. He has quite a variety of work behind his name.

He acted as a columnist for various Australian newspapers. Some of the columns were published in a book called The Forgetting of Wisdom. That's a parody, right? Wasn't there The Getting of Wisdom? I think it was written by the guy dying of cancer.

Oh. No. I'm totally wrong. The Getting of Wisdom is that Australian book. I watched a clip of the movie a few weeks ago. I don't know how I forgot it. It's the one with the lesbian storyline.

What is the cancer book called then? Ah. The Last Lecture. How did I get that confused? I have no idea.

McDermott has written two children's books. One is Scree, and the other is The Girl Who Swallowed Bees. The latter sounds a little familar to me. It was turned into a short movie. I think I shall watch it now. In 2007, it won the AFI award for best animation short.

It's incredibly dark and creepy.

Well, now it's getting a little more sweet.

I kind of hated it at first, but in the end it's kind of a good story.

Hugo Weaving does the narration. I saw that mentioned on YouTube. I'm not sure I'd have recognized his voice otherwise.

Now I'll watch Scree.

Oh! Ruth Cracknell is the narrator in this! I didn't recognize her voice either.

The younger version of Cracknell's character reminds me of Jessica from True Blood.

The movie is about a mysterious island with a dangerous monster. It's reminding me of Lost.

If Samara from The Ring ever wrote a children's book, I think it would be very much like the books that McDermott has created.

In 2009, McDermott did voice-work for a short movie called Tegan the Vegan. This website says it's about a twelve-year-old girl who learns where meat comes from, and decides to be vegan. She has to face peer ridicule and intolerance. I wouldn't mind seeing that someday. I know some vegetarians and vegans can be annoying at times, and MAYBE sometime I'm one of them. But I think the opposition is annoying too. Tim and I talked about this. With some people, you don't have to push your beliefs on them. All you have to do is HAVE the beliefs (or lifestyles) and they feel threatened.

It's one thing is a vegetarian starts yelling at her table mates. Do you know where your meat comes from? Do you? Do you! But if they get annoyed at her for simply skipping the steak and eating just the potatoes and steamed veggies, that's ridiculous.

I'm fortunate in that my family is very supportive of my vegetarian diet. My dad even goes and buys me special Vegetarian frozen dinners if he knows the meal we're eating at the lake house will be too meat-oriented. People joke around and tease me, but it's all good-natured...and I play along too.

I'm trying to think if anyone in my life has given me a hard time. I don't think so. It's more stuff I see online. One of the most ridiculous is the Hitler-was-a-Vegetarian. Yes, so that must make the rest of us vegetarians genocidal maniacs as well. Hitler also painted. Should we then be antagonistic against all artists? Ah, here's a great essay about the whole argument. It says what I just said, but in much better detail. It also questions whether Hitler was even a vegetarian in the first place. It seems his definition was a bit loose.

I should stop rambling on about this because I'm writing about a vegan in a few days. I can get more off my chest then.

Where should we go next?

Maybe I'll watch some more videos. Or no. I think I'll start with the news. There's something here with Kevin Rudd. I guess he was on Good News Weekly. The Herald Sun says that Rudd succeeded in being funny. They have the video. I'm laughing at them mispronouncing the place names. It makes me feel better knowing that even Australians struggle with it sometimes...although they could be just joking.

I like the bit about his friends declining in number. I like people who can make fun of themselves.

McDermott was in some controversy lately because he participated in an ad for Channel 10. The ad pokes fun at patients in a mental health support group. Mental health advocates weren't happy with that. Now I'll have to watch the ad to know if I find it offensive or not. But my initial feeling is that we should be able to laugh at stuff like this....perhaps not at the patients, but the whole world of psychology and psychiatry. I find a lot of it to be very ridiculous.

A person from the mental health community said They make a joke of what can be a really important process for those dealing with a mental health crisis and if it discourages even one person from seeking out this sort of help or support that is not on.

If a person lets one little ad discourage them from getting help, that's pretty sad. I personally feel there's a lot out there that could make someone distrustful of the whole mental health profession. I avoid it not because of the comedy I've seen, but rather the stories of overdiagnosis, electric shock therapy, over-prescribing of drugs, people experiencing rejection from therapists, etc.

I wonder if the mental health therapists complaining ever read Peter Kocan's book....or something like it.

I'm sure there are good therapists out there. And I'm sure some people are truly helped. But I think a lot of it is just plain shit.

Yeah. I'm like Tom Cruise when it comes to Psychiatry. But I'm not a Scientologist. I did almost buy The Dianetics book at the Goodwill store last Sunday. I've been curious about it, and there it was. But I flipped through it, and it looked boring. So I just bought The Handmaids Tail and some Australian epic thing instead.

I'm going to watch some videos now.

Here's McDermott on Rove. McDermott comes on wearing some kind of Christian crusade outfit.

I laughed a little at the part starting at 1:40...about the ARIA awards.

There's a gruesome eye injury story here. Yikes.

I'm kind of tired of watching videos. I think I'm going to quit here.










If you're interested....here is a link to more of my biography posts.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Helen Dallimore

Helen Dallimore is a woman. Why is she important? I don't know. I have no idea who she is. I shall go find out now.

She's another Wicked woman! I can't say that I'm too excited. I've kind of grown out of Wicked. But maybe this post will pull me back in. Wicked really is awesome, and it's not something one should grow out of. I think maybe I just listened to it too many times. I needed a break. Maybe today is the day that the break ends. I might become a Wicked fan once again.

For my birthday, Tim bought me this singing machine thing because I LOVE to sing. It was a bit of a pain though because my family has different taste in music. We have a few songs that we all like....mostly John Denver and Peter Paul and Mary. Although when I say "all" I exclude Tim and my brother-in-laws. My dad and my older sister Dawn have a bunch of music in common. They could probably sing together for hours and not run out of songs. I have more in common with my mom song-wise, and I have a very strong music bond with my younger sister. We grew up loving musicals, and we did a lot of singing together.

We both wanted to sing Wicked songs. So when the family was all together, we decided to sing "Dancing Through Life". My dad got annoyed that we were singing a song that he (and everyone else) didn't know. He wanted this to be a sing-a-long and not a duet performance. He kept making little comments of complaint while my sister and I tried to do our fantastic performance. Okay, honestly it wasn't fantastic because I had a cough and my voice was crap. But my dad really started to get on my nerves. He was ruining our singing moment. So I finally turned around and let him have it. I bitched about how this was MY birthday present, and how I've had to deal with my dad and older sister dominating the music decisions all these years, blah, blah, blah. Could he not let my sister and I sing one damn song?

Then my mom started laughing hysterically because it ended up that I did my bitchy speech exactly at the instrumental part. I think she thought I had it planned....that I waited for the break in singing to do my angry monologue. I really hadn't planned it that way, but it was funny. It all seemed like part of the performance.

Anyway, I should get back to Helen Dallimore. She plays Glinda in the show.

She was born in Melbourne, on 31 October 1971. She's a little over a year older than me.

She's part British, and Lord Wiki says she has lived some of her life in England.

She went to NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts). She graduated in 1995. That's when I graduated college. It's also the year I started dating Tim.

Dallimore has a brother.

She has a husband. His name is Abe Forsythe. He's an actor too.

Lord Wiki says she did Wicked with Indina Menzel in London. I didn't realize Menzel performed in London! I thought she had just done Broadway. But About.com has a photo to prove it happened.

I'm totally not in the mood to go over film and theater credits. Would it be horrible if I skipped it? Probably. But I'm going to do that anyway.

I'd rather read interviews, and stuff like that. Watching videos would be fun.

I'm going to finish with Lord Wiki though. He says Dallimore is no longer in Wicked. She did her last performance in 2007. And I guess she never performed in Australia. She just did London. So she never worked with those Australian Wicked people...Maggie Kirkpatrick, and who's the other one? No, wait. There's two others I've talked about. One was the Australian Idol guy, and the other played Elphaba.

I better go look this up.....

Well, I haven't found the answers yet, but the name Anthony Callea came back to me. He's the Australian Idol person, and he played Boq in Wicked. Or did he played Fiyero? I forget. And now I see....it was Amanda Harrison who played Elphaba.

Now I'm changing my mind. I just popped over to IMDb. Dallimore seems to have been in a lot of stuff. I feel too guilty skipping it all. Maybe I will go over it a little bit.

Her first TV/movie thing was Pacific Drive, in 1996. It was an Australian soap opera. Lord Wiki says it was known as being like America's Melrose Place. I don't think Dallimore had a big part in the show. I'm just mentioning it because it's listed first on IMDb.

In 1997, Dallimore worked on an animated program called Magic Mountain. She did the voice of Panda. Here's an episode. YouTube is not letting me watch it, but maybe you'll have better luck. Tell me if it's cute. Oh! Never mind. I got it.

That music is so happy. It makes me feel like I'm at Disney World.

I guess it's not animation. It looks more like puppets...or even people in costumes.

In 1998, Dallimore did a TV movie called The Day of the Roses. It's about the Granville train disaster. I remember talking about this before, but I don't remember the movie having that title. Maybe it was a different movie? Or more likely, it was the same movie, and my memory has failed me again.

Also in 1998, Dallimore was in The Sugar Factory. It sounds like a really sad story. It's about a boy who goes to a half-way house because he's disturbed. A tragedy had happened while he was babysitting. I guess the movie is about dealing with one's past. Maybe?

In 1999, Dallimore was in a TV movie comedy called Mumbo Jumbo. It's about a journalist who gets struck by lightning, and then can see ghosts. For this, she's first in the credits. Maybe it means she had a big part. Anyway, I can't say that plot seems overly original. Hasn't their been other stuff where people got struck by lightning, and then gained powers?

In 2000, Dallimore starred in a movie with Yahoo Serious. This was Mr. Accident. This movie plot seems a bit more original. It's about a guy and his girlfriend believing that someone is lacing eggs with nicotine. Here's a scene from the movie. I guess it's great for people who find it hilarious to see stuff falling. The baby is cute. Dallimore doesn't appear until the end of the scene. She sounds like that Panda from Magic Mountain.

Also in 2000, Dallimore appeared in a TV movie about The Three Stooges. It looks like it was an American movie, filmed in Australia. Mel Gibson was the executive-producer, so I guess that makes it a little more Australian....rather than if it had just been filmed there.

In 2001, Dallimore did South Pacific. This was the one with Simon Burke. She played the character of "nurse". It sounds like a pretty small role.

Also in 2001, Dallimore appeared in a movie with Hugo Weaving. Russian Doll. Why don't I remember this? I should have written about it when I researched Hugo Weaving. But nothing about this movie looks familar to me. Strange.

Here's the trailer.

I find Hugo Weaving to be very attractive. Have I mentioned that before?

In 2002, Dallimore did a TV movie about weddings called Secret Bridesmaid's Business. One of the same actresses from Russian Doll (besides Dallimore) is in this movie too. Wait. Actually, there's three of the same actresses in both movies. What's up with that? Did it have the same director too?

Nope. Ah, but the director of the bridesmaid movie is the same one who directed The Sugar Factory.

In 2003, Dallimore was in the TV movie The Postcard Bandit. I actually remembered that movie. I guess I wrote about it when I researched Simon Burke.

Dallimore did seven episodes of All Saints. She did two episodes in 2004, where she played Dr. Giorgio. Then back in 1998, she did five episodes where she played Amanda Sales.

In 2005, she did a romantic-comedy about actors called The Extra; and she did a TV movie called Little Oberon. Dallimore played a character named Siobhan. I feel I've seen that name before, but where? Or maybe I saw a name that was similar.

In 2009, Dallimore did episodes of the TV show Double Take. I think I've heard of this show before. Maybe? Well, I don't recognize any names in the credits, so maybe not. It's a variety show type thing....with actors playing numerous characters. Here's some scenes from the show.

The surgery scene made me laugh. I like the shopping scene too. I like most of this.

The Ritalin bit is great. I LOVE the lines starting at 5.03. Speaking of Ritalin, I was very pleased to see this recent article in the news. Count me in as one of those people who are very disturbed by how we're overmedicating ourselves.

The hostage scene is great. I think that works in this show (especially with the surgery and hostage scene ) is that it LOOKS like one of those dramatic TV shows. I think if you didn't know any better, you'd assume it was a serious dramatic scene.

Oh! The Tom Cruise part is great too. So funny.

Here's a MySpace fansite for Dallimore. It looks pretty great....has a lot of photos of Dallimore in her numerous appearances.

This Wicked site has an interview with Dallimore. She says her favorite scene in the musical is "Defying Gravity". But she loves doing "Popular". "Popular" is the first song from Wicked I ever heard. And I used the song for my sister's wedding video. I know it's bad to brag, but I'm going to do so anyway. That bit was brilliant. I used it for the scenes of the bride and her crew getting their hair and make-up done. I wish I could transfer the DVD to YouTube. I mean I could. Tim knows how to do it. But it's a tedious process. I do have some of my old videos on YouTube, but that's because I still had the files saved on the computer.

Oh!!!!!!!

I'm so excited. I figured a stupid but easy way to get it on YouTube. I just played it on my computer, and filmed it with the camera. I think it might actually work. The bad news is the video was less brag-worthy than I thought. But still. I'm happy I can get it on YouTube. Maybe I'll put more videos up as well. I'm SO happy now!!

Back to the interview....although I really want to quit and record more of my old movies.

Anyway, Dallimore is asked if she's a Glinda or Elphaba. She says Elphaba. I'm definitely an Elphaba. Although I wonder if anyone would admit to being a Glinda. I think most of us women imagine we're the deep-thinking ones brave enough to stand up against superficiality. I do have some Glinda characters in my life. At least I see them that way. The question is whether they see themselves that way. I really don't know.

I am going to go soon and play with my own little videos. But before I do, I'll check out some more videos of Dallimore.

Here's a fan video....a montage type thing.

Here's Dallimore with Menzel doing "Defying Gravity". This is going to be weird for me. I'm so used of Kristin Chenoweth doing the song with Menzel.

Too long I've been afraid of, losing love I guessed I've lost.
Well, if that's love, it comes at much too high a cost.


I LOVE those lines. They're the story of my life....or at least one of them.

Here's Dallimore doing "Popular". The recording is a bit shaky. It's still fun though. I love Chenoweth, but Dallimore does great with this song too. She's very cute.

Here's Menzel and Dallimore doing "For Good". I think this is one of the most beautiful songs about friendship.

It's hard for me to hear that song without crying.

Okay, I am totally back to loving Wicked.

Thanks for that, Helen Dallimore.

I'd spend more time on you, but I really want to go and do my videos!

I still have to do the recording, and then put them on YouTube. But I'll add the links right here when I do.....

(edited to add 12/3/13: eventually got better quality videos up; so changing the links)






Okay, so here they are:


1. Here is the bride and company getting ready for the wedding. This is where I used the song "Popular".

2. This is from the video I made that they played during my sister's reception. It was one of those this-is-your-life type things. This part has my sister in her childhood and teen years.

3. This is the conclusion of the this-is-your-life video. It's the romantic part.


And while I was at it....I was brave and crazy enough to record me singing. I'm very embarrassed about singing on camera, but wanted to be at least a little brave. So...uh...well, you'll be hearing me, but seeing my printer. Maybe we can just pretend the printer is singing. Okay? It's a little awful, so feel free to laugh at me. I'm used to it! 


(edited to add: not brave enough to keep the videos up)

5. Here I'm singing the first lines of "For Good". I think I especially messed up at the boulder...wood part.

6. Here's me singing another part from "For Good". It took me about five
Link takes to get it right....well, and it's not quite right yet.

7. Here's me singing the Nessa lines from "Dancing Through Life." Perhaps it will give you sympathy towards my dad wanting my sister and me to stop our duet.

8. Here I'm singing part of "Defying Gravity". I think in reality, I'm trying to defy decency.











Friday, February 26, 2010

Thelma Keane

Thelma Keane is the wife of Bill Keane. He's the guy who makes the Family Circus cartoons. I read them when I was a kid. Then several months ago, I shared my old books with Jack, and he loved them. Tim decided to do a little research on Bill Keane, and he found out that his wife was Australian. We were all excited about this. I was delighted to know that the inspirations behind little Dolly, Billy, Jeffery, and PJ are all part Australian.

I can't remember them ever mentioning Australia in the cartoons. Maybe they did, and I missed it. The maternal grandmother was portrayed as living out of town though....from what I remember. I just didn't realize she was from THAT far out of town.

Well, Lord Wiki says Thelma Keane has died. I guess I saw that when I added her to the list. But I had forgotten.

She died in May 2008.

She was born in Gympie Queensland, on 15 March 1926.

I'm looking at Google Maps now. Gympie is about three hours north of Brisbane; and it's about an hour north-west of Noosa Heads. It looks like there's a lot of forests in and around Gympie. I bet it's a beautiful place. I'm looking at Street View now. Gympie reminds me of Florida. When we were in Florida recently, I took walks and said it reminded me of Queensland. I've never been to Queensland, but it reminded me of what I had seen on Street View.

Keane's daddy was a banana farmer, and he also did forest restoration work. Lord Wiki says in Thelma's early childhood, they lived in a canvas tent outside the Amamoor Forest Reserve. That's pretty cool.

I'm reading about the forest now. The Aboriginal people who lived there were the Gubbi Gubbi, Wakka Wakka, Jinibara, and Kabi Kabi. I like learning that stuff.

When it was time for Keane to go to high school, she lived with relatives in Gympie. Then she'd return to her family on weekends.

Now we get to how Keane ended up meeting her American husband. Bill Keane was stationed in Brisbane with the US army for World War II. He wasn't a fighter. He worked for them as a an artist, doing promotional posters. He was a propaganda man, I suppose.

Thelma ended up in the same office as an accountant secretary. Her desk was near his desk. They fell in love.

Thelma and Bill got married in 1948, the same year my mom was born. That makes them seem pretty old to me.

The lovely couple left Australia, and moved to Pennsylvania. I wonder if they ever considered living in Australia instead. I've heard that a lot of Australian women moved to America with their American army husbands. But did it ever end up that the American soldier stayed in Australia?

Lord Wiki says that fifteen thousand Australian women left their country to go live with their new American husbands. That's a lot!

This Southern Cross website says that many Australian women lost their Australian citizenship. But now they can get it back.

From 1948 until 1959, the family lived in Pennsylvania. During that time, they had five children. In the book, there are four children. Which kid got left out? Maybe one of the fictional kids is a composite of two of the real kids? Or perhaps one child didn't survive.

In 1959, the family moved to Phoenix Arizona. In 1960, Bill started doing the comic strip. I wonder what he did for work inbetween that time? Well, I guess I could go to his Lord Wiki entry. Actually yeah....I should. There's probably a lot more information there. Let me finish with Thelma first.

She was the model for the mother/wife in the comic. The pretend Thel looked very much like the real Thelma. Lord Wiki says she was recognized in the grocery store. Aren't you the Mommy from Family Circus? I'm guessing fans knew she lived in town. I can't imagine people otherwise approaching strangers, thinking they're comic strip characters.

Keane worked full-time for her husband doing the business side of things. She helped him negotiate stuff regarding rights and all that. I guess most comic strip artists lose their rights, or at least some of them. Thelma worked to make sure the rights to The Family Circus were returned to Bill.

Keane died in an assisted living facility. She suffered from Alzheimer's.

Here. Lord Wiki lists all the kids. And it looks like they all survived. There's Gayle, Neal, Glen, Jeff, and Christopher.

Well, there's actually not much more in Lord Wiki's entry on Bill.

Oh well.

I guess I'll search around elsewhere.

Before I do though. For those of you who don't know. One of their sons, Glen (the inspiration for Billy) works as an animator for Disney. Lord Wiki says he was the character animator for Elliot in Pete's Dragon. I love that movie! He's currently working on something called Tangled. It's a new version of Rapunzel. Cool. I didn't even know that was coming out. I'm usually more up to date with Disney stuff.

I'm seeing obituaries for Keane. They say pretty much the same stuff that Lord Wiki said. I'll link to one of them though. It has a little bit of extra information. Or maybe I just missed it on Lord Wiki's page. Anyway, Keane ended up with nine grandchildren. I think that's how many my grandmother had. No wait. She had ten. I was thinking nine, because I have nine cousins. Sadly, two have died though.

Some bloggers pay tribute to Keane.

Diana (a homeschooling mom!) from St. Fiacre's Garden complains about the fact that Bill eventually updated Thelma's hairstyle. She says, I hated it when Bill Keane changed her hairstyle. Mommy should always have a flip hairstyle and tiny waist. She should always be cooking in a seventies kitchen and driving a gigantic station wagon and sitting around in 1960's furniture and decor.  Did he change her waist as well? I don't know if I've seen the modern Thelma. Weird that I just mentioned my cousins, because Diana looks like one of them. Eerie.

Here's the official Family Circus website. That should be fun to look at. Maybe I'll find a picture of the modernized Mommy.

Crap. It looks like one of those websites where I can't link to specific pages. I hate that. Well, if there's something spectacular, I'll try to give directions to where to find it. Or, if you're interested, you can just go to the site, and explore. They have samples of his comics. They're very cute. At least, I think so.

It's fun to see how different the 1960's ones are from the ones that I used to read. It's like watching the early The Simpson's segments on the Tracey Ullman show.

Jack and I both love the drug cartoon in from the 1970's. Jack gave a great little belly laugh. He's sitting here with me. This is great....I get to do cuddling and bonding while researching.

There's a stay-at-home message in one of the 1980's cartoons. It plays with the idea of the public perception of mothers not working. It's interesting though that Keane DID have a job outside parenting. I guess she could still be stay-at-home. But in the comics, I get the idea that the mother doesn't have hobbies and jobs outside of parenting. I wonder why Mr. Keane put that difference in his comics. Or maybe Lord Wiki was wrong about her working full-time. Maybe it was more of an occasional thing. Or perhaps, it was something she worked on when the kids got older.

I hate not being able to link to individual pages. So I'm going to play around on Google Images. Maybe we'll find some fun stuff.

This blog shows a very recent comic. It mentions blogging! And here's one that alludes to the Wii. Oh, and it also has the modernized Thel hair. It's hard to get used to.

Maybe I'll search through Google Blogs. I'm already bored of Google Images. I think this entry is going to be a short one.

Well, I'm not finding anything that exciting in the blogging world either. People pretty much report that she died, and how they liked the comics when they were young. That's about it.

Wait. Here's something that might be interesting. And good that Jack has gone to do something else. There's a not-so-wholesome parody site for The Family Circus. I don't know if I can emotionally handle this. Will I be amused, or offended? Oh never mind. These are not that funny to me. All it is is regular Family Circus comics. Then people submit their own....what do you call it? Not subtitles.... Well, it's the writing at the bottom of the strip. The dialogue, I suppose.

I think this is it for me. See ya later.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jay Caselberg

Jay Caselberg is a science fiction writer. I've read two of his books. I didn't love them in the way I love my Sookie Stackhouse books, but I did like them a lot. They're fun easy reading....basic escapist fiction.

I'm wondering how many books Caselberg has written. I'd like to read more. The ones I've read are Wyrmhole and Metal Sky. The books take place in the future, so it's fun to see all the new technology. The protagonist is a psychic detective named Jack Stein. He has dreams and visions that help him solve his cases.

Now I'll go see what Lord Wiki has to say about Caselberg. He looks much older than I imagined him to be. For some reason, I pictured him to be in his thirties, or early forties. I don't think I knew I imagined that until I saw his photo. Then I realized it didn't fit in with what I was expecting.

There's no birthday here, so I don't know how old he is.

He was born in Australia somewhere. Lord Wiki is not being very specific.

Sometimes he writes books under the name James A. Hartley. I'll have to look out for him under that disguise.

In 1969, Caselberg's family went to live in Istanbul. They stayed there for two years. I have no idea how old Caselberg was at the time.

There's a lot of information here about his university studies. He started out wanting a degree in biochemistry, but then switched to psychology. He switched schools and ended up at the University of Wollongong. There he switched to the philosophy and history of science. Well, that's probably a pretty good degree for a science fiction writer.

Caselberg got really into the school thing, and started going after a Doctorate. But when he was close to doing his dissertation, he decided to work instead. He started working for IT companies. Lord Wiki says he worked for a few before finding one he liked. Then he was transfered to London.

During his work with the IT company, he did a lot of traveling. That's cool.

Caselberg got really into wargaming. I'm having to read Lord Wiki's explanation of that. I guess it's playing war. But how? With a board game? Online? Reenactments? Okay. Lord Wiki says it can be any of the above.

In 1996, Caselberg started putting his energy into writing. He took two years off of his other work, and published a few things under the Hartley name. He then went to work for an accounting firm, but he continued to write.

That's pretty much all I get from Lord Wiki. It's a pretty dry career overview. I'll go seek out information elsewhere.

Here's the official Caselberg website. I'm going to be horribly picky and critical here. But I think he should change his link color. It's turquoise, and I don't think it looks good with the blue background. I usually don't notice things like that, or at least let them bother me. What's wrong with me this morning?

Oh shit, and now I'm feeling all competitive. I'm looking at his website visitor counter, and I have had much more visitors than him! Plus, his counter started in 2003! Mine started in 2008. Although he could have reset the counter to zero or something. You never know.

I need to stop my ego in its tracks. So here you go. This is a list of the awards Caselberg has gotten. That's much better than what I've gotten. All I have to my name is a longest brown hair award from fourth grade, and best short story writer from seventh grade. Oh, and I've gotten those blogging awards that we all pass around to each other. Although one person, who gave me a few, ended up hating me and dedicated whole blog posts to how horrible I am. So I probably can't count those awards anymore.

Yeah. Caselberg is definitely beating me in the award category.

Here's a list of his writing. It looks like most of his stuff is articles and stories in various journals. There are two novels I haven't read yet, so that's good news for me. I think they're both Jack Stein adventures.

The turquoise link thing actually looks good on that page. It contrasts nicely with the light yellow background. Actually, I'm not sure if that can be classified as yellow. Maybe?

Here's his biography page. It looks like he copied it straight from Lord Wiki. Or maybe Lord Wiki copied him. The ending is different though. It says, Although his work may be sometimes characterised as "weird," it may never be known as "New Weird." What?! Does anyone understand what that means? If you do, please share!

I've heard of old money and new money. I've never heard of new and old weird.

Oh wait. I'm finding the explanation. Thank you, Lord Wiki. It's a literary movement that did their thing from 2001-2005. Although Lord Wiki says they started in the 1990's. Maybe it took awhile for them to find publishers? There's a description here of New Weird, but I don't understand it. It goes way over my head.

Heres' Caselberg's favorite painting. He really loves it a lot. I wonder why he's so attracted to it. Maybe the painting has some kind of supernatural pull on him. I read a story or novel about that in the last year or so. I wish I could remember what it was. I'm pretty sure it was by an Australian author. Crap. Now this is going to bother me. A man became obsessed with a painting. I remember scenes with a library..... Oh! I know. It was The Ghost Writer. That book kept coming to my brain because it had the same type of eerie Gothic mood as the painting story. But I kept telling myself. No, that's not it. That book was about the penpal relationship. Then I remembered the book had stories within the story.

Caselberg has a novel online. It looks like you can read it for free; although you can make a donation if you want. It's funny. His online novel has the same amount of chapters as my online novel.

Here's a short interview with Caselberg. It says he lives in London, but he still feels he has a connection to Australia.
His favorite swear word is "bullocks". That's one I don't really use. Maybe I should start.

You know...I've been searching, and I'm not finding much else. I think I'm going to quit here.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Opinion of Lost (Spoiler alert for those not caught up to season 6, episode 4 "The Substitute"

I'm allowing myself to post this on my Australia blog because the oh-so-fated flight took off from Sydney.

I love Lost. Tim and I are fans of the show, but not to an extreme degree. We don't attend special conferences, and are participation in The Lost Experience games has been very minimal.

For us, part of loving Lost is making fun of it. We make fun of the fact that they keep throwing us more questions without providing many answers. We joke about how the writers have no idea what they're doing. I really don't think they started the show with any set plan in mind. I think the writers sat there and said, let's put people on an island and scary mysterious black smoke will chase them.

Then another one of the writers probably said. Awesome! What is the black smoke?

Oh, I have no idea. But we'll figure that out eventually.

There's a great YouTube video about the writers of Lost. It's hilarious, and I don't think it's far from the truth. Unfortunately, the sound on the video is a bit out of sync. I don't know why. It's still funny though.

For those who believe that the Lost writers have always known exactly where they're going, I give you this piece of evidence. According to the NY Times (and Lord Wiki!) the character that Michael Emerson played was scheduled for just three guest appearances. So he wasn't supposed to be that important. Then Ben Linus became very central to the plot. Now maybe the writers DID already know about time travel and Jacob's feud with his shape-shifting nemesis. Perhaps they liked Emerson and weaved his character into their already-formed plans.

It's possible.

But I doubt it.

And then we have the numbers. There are these mysterious numbers that keep repeating themselves on Lost. Hurley had them on his winning lottery ticket. Desmond punched them into a computer every 108 minutes to stop the world from ending. And the same numbers are found in other places.

Fans of Lost have become obsessed with these numbers. There's a whole blog dedicated to 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42. If you really want to go into depth, you can visit Lostpedia.

I've wondered if we'd ever get an answer about these numbers. According to Lostpedia, one of the writers once said, We may never know what the Numbers mean. I translate that to mean: This whole number obsession has gotten out of hand, and we'll never come up with an answer that will satisfy enough people.
People weren't too happy with the open-ended response from the writer. He got unhappy letters from fans. Oops. So the writers started providing answers. I actually didn't know about these until just now. They haven't been revealed on the show, but instead in interviews and The Lost Experience game thing.

In 2009, one of the writers said: Here's the story with numbers. The Hanso Foundation that started the Dharma Initiative hired this guy Valenzetti to basically work on this equation to determine what was the probability of the world ending in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Valenzetti basically deduced that it was 100 percent within the next 27 years, so the Hanso Foundation started the Dharma Initiative in an effort to try to change the variables in the equation so that mankind wouldn't wipe it itself out.

Okay. Yeah. Whatever.

I'm not in love with that answer, but it sure beats what we saw last Tuesday. Fake Locke takes Sawyer into a mysterious cave. There we see the names of some of our favorite Lost characters. Each name corresponds with one of the Lost numbers.

I could totally picture the writers with this one.

WRITER ONE:  Crap. We're getting to the end of the series, and we still haven't explained the number thing.

WRITER TWO: Oh yeah. We better do that. People might get mad if we don't.

WRITER ONE: What should we do?

WRITER TWO: Are you sure they might just forget about it? Maybe they won't notice that we never explained it.

WRITER ONE: No, we need to explain it somehow.....

WRITER TWO: I know! How about we have a cave with everyone's name on it. Then each name will have a number!

WRITER ONE: Great idea! But why are the numbers there?

WRITER TWO: Jacob put them there.

WRITER ONE: Why?

WRITER TWO: Uh, I'm not sure yet......

We all have different opinions, and I'm sure some fans are satisfied with this cave-number development. I think it's absolutely ridiculous, but silly enough to be entertaining.

I might end up being wrong, but I have a feeling that Lost is not going to end up impressing me with his outcome, at least not in terms of it's fantasy/science fiction aspect. I think we've been led on a wild goose chase.

But despite all that, I still love Lost. I get teary-eyed when I think about how it's ending in a few months. I'm going to miss it.

Why do I love Lost?

I love the characters. I love the human aspect of the story. The characters are so multi-dimensional. It's not a show about heroes vs. villains. It's about people struggling with their past mistakes, and finding their way in a difficult world.

Lost has had beautiful stories about death, love, sacrifice, realization, reconciliation, etc. Many episodes have made me cry. One of the most tear-jerking storylines for me is the relationship between Kate and Claire. I cried in "Wherever Happened, Happened" when Kate revealed the truth to Carole Littleton, and said I'm going to find your daughter. Goodness, I can't watch that scene without crying.

Then there was the recent "What Kate Does" where a heartbreaking theme was woven into multiple scenes. Despite the fact that Kate had held her up by gunpoint, Claire later asks her to come up with her to meet the people planning to adopt the baby she's pregnant with. She can't stand the idea of doing something so difficult all alone. When the adoptive-mother opens the door, she tells Claire she no longer can adopt the baby. Why? Her husband has left her. She can't raise a baby on her own. She doesn't want to do it ALONE. Then later, Sawyer reveals to Kate that he blames himself for Juliet's death. He had asked her to stay on the island with him. He didn't want to be alone. It was such an emotionally charged episode. When Kate broke down sobbing, I was very ready to join her.

In Lost we see so many different sides to the main characters. We see how they react on the island. We see them in flashbacks, giving us insight into why they act the way they do. We see some of them off the island, and how they react to being rescued. And now we're seeing the characters in an alternate reality. What would have happened to these people if the plane never crashed?

I love it.

I love them.

I love the Losties. I love the Others. And I love almost everyone inbetween.

All in all....

If I had to grade the show, I'd give it a C- for science fiction/fantasy storyline. For characters, I'd give it a definite A+.

Oh...and also. The music by Michael Giachinno is fantastic. I give him kudos too.

P.S-I'm not expecting all the mysteries of Lost to be answered. But I'd really like to know what was the deal with Libby being at the mental hospital with Hurley!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gerry Harvey

Gerry Harvey is probably a business guy. Although he could be a writer, because tomorrow I'm researching a writer. Or maybe he's neither business or writing. I kind of remember a Harvey business in Australia though. Maybe it was electronics again?

Well, Lord Wiki says Harvey is a businessman. The retail chain he's known for is Harvey Norman. I know the name, but I'm not sure if we've been to the store. Probably.

Baby Gerry was born in rural New South Wales on 18 September 1939. He went to school in Bathurst and Katoomba, so that gives us an idea of where in rural New South Wales he lived. I totally forgot where/what Katoomba was! It's the Blue Mountains. Well, I knew I knew it from somewhere. My parents are going on a cruise to Australia in March. They have a few days in Sydney before the cruise, so they might do the Blue Mountains. I'm so excited that my parents are going to Australia. I just wish they were going for much longer. They've actually been to Australia though...before I went. They went in 2000, I think. But not for The Olympics. They saw Sydney, and they also went to the Great Barrier Reef, and a Rainforest. Maybe Daintree?

Back to Katoomba. That and Bathurst are about an hour and a half away from each other. Bathurst is to the west. Then Sydney is to the east of Katoomba. Harvey later moved there to go to university.

He went to the university for a few years, and hated it. He dropped out.

Is it my imagination, or is there a trend with successful Australian businessmen dropping out of school?

In his youth, Harvey wanted to be a farmer. I guess that didn't work out.

At some point, Harvey sold vacuums and fridges door to door. I've heard of vacuums being sold that way, but not fridges. Did he have the new fridges waiting in a truck? Did he bring them in the house for people? Did he help them get rid of their old fridge? OR maybe these were the days that not everyone had a fridge. Maybe he convinced people to join the refrigerator society?

This website says that refrigerators became common in the 1940's. Harvey would have been doing his selling in the 1950's. But maybe at that time they were common, but still not something almost everyone had.

Lord Wiki has a separate entry on the Harvey Norman store. I'll read that in a moment. It will probably give some good business history. Before that though, I'm going to finish up reading about Harvey's personal life and interests.

He's very involved with breeding racehorses.

He's been married twice. His current wife works for Harvey Norman. Here Lord Wiki say she's the CEO, but on the page where he talks about the company, he says she's the managing director.

Who knows.....

Oh wow. This guy said something pretty controversial. I remember hearing it, but didn't connect the quote to his name. He said, giving charity to the homeless was a waste of money, and that it was helping a whole heap of no-hopers to survive for no good reason. I totally agree with him. That's why when I see homeless people begging for money, I don't give to them. Instead, I grab the money they've already collected, and send it to rich people.

Yeah. I guess Harvey really goes for that whole survival of the fittest thing. Although he's outspoken about his opinion, I unfortunately know he's not alone in having this opinion. Some people believe the homeless are homeless because they deserve to be. It goes with the mindset that if you work hard enough, and you want it bad enough, you will definitely get what you want. So if someone is homeless, they must have not worked hard enough, and they didn't want to be successful.

Now Lord Wiki says that Harvey said he believes people should be helped to develop their potential. I'm not sure what he means here. But maybe (hopefully!) he was saying that he's not against helping the homeless. Maybe he's just against giving them charity. And by charity, he means a hand out. Maybe Harvey believes people should be given the help they need to become self-sufficient. If that's the case, I can respect that. Instead of giving to a shelter that simply feeds the homeless person, you could give the money to a program that helps homeless people get job interviews. Although I still think there are people in society who are past all that. Maybe they're mentally ill, or have some other issue that prevents them from working. I think for some folks, charity is all you can do for them.

Now I'm going to read about the Harvey Norman Company.

It started in 1961. Harvey opened it with a guy named Ian Norman. They sold electronic goods and appliances. The store was at first called Norman Ross. I guess Harvey wasn't vain enough to insist his name be part of the company.

By 1979, there were forty-two stores.

In the 1980's, there was a bidding war between two entities....Alan Bond and Grace Bros. They both wanted the company. Bond ended up with it. And then a little while later, he fired Harvey and Norman. Yikes.

In 1982, Norman and Harvey bought a shopping center in Auburn, a western suburb of Sydney. This became the Harvey Norman store. It's nice Harvey and Norman got together and tried again.

Lord Wiki says that in the 1990's, they adopted the superstore format of the United States. I guess that refers to the huge stores that we have all over the place here.

By 2000, Harvey Norman had a hundred stores.

In the stores, each department is controlled by a different franchisee. Therefore, if you need help with electronics stuff, the guy working in bedding can't help you. I wonder if that's the same for our stores here. Probably? Well, I don't think each department is a separate franchisee. But I don't think you can ask the guy in the shoe department for help with bedding issues.

Harvey Norman has gone international. They have stores in New Zealand, Singapore, Ireland, Slovenia, and Malaysia.

Lord Wiki talks about some controversies in the company. I don't really understand them. The first two don't really interest me, so I'm just going to ignore them....at least for now. The third is interesting, but I don't fully understand it.

Harvey insulted the Irish by comparing Ireland's economic problems with the Irish potato famine. Maybe he made light of it? They were mad. Harvey refuses to apologize. He says, It doesn’t say much about a people when they can’t take something like that on the chin and get on with it.

It also doesn't say much for someone when they fail to understand why something might be offensive, AND they refuse to apologize. Or if he doesn't want to apologize, he could at least explain why he doesn't think the joke should be seen as offensive. Or maybe he did do that.

Here's the Harvey Norman website. They sell digital cameras there. You know. Maybe that's why I've heard of Harvey Norman. Tim may have bought one of our cameras there....or maybe he bought both there.

This electronics website has an interview with Harvey. They say he's going to talk about his troubled childhood. That kind of article seems out of place on this website. This doesn't look like a Andrew Denton/Barbara Walters platform. It looks more like an industry website...one where you find reviews on new products.

Anyway....

Harvey's family had money. I guess he means his relatives? But Daddy Harvey ended up making them broke, and the family had their struggles.

When Harvey was at university, he studied during the night, and worked at a bank during the day. He wasn't happy with this, and felt it wasn't going to be rewarding enough.

Then he was offered the door-to-door salesman job. Refrigerators are not mentioned here. It says Harvey was selling vacuums and TV sets. At the bank, Harvey was making eight dollars a week. With this job, Harvey was making about a hundred dollars a week. Wow. That's a big difference.

Didn't Australia use pounds at some point? Maybe not.

Ah, Lord Wiki says I was right. They used pounds up to 1966. So I'm guessing whoever wrote this article converted pounds to dollars.

Harvey says at one time he had the record for most vacuums sold. He said he did this by offering them interest free. That's funny because there's a big flashing advertisement on the Harvey Norman Site saying you can buy now for 500 days interest free. But it looks like you have to apply for a special Mastercard, in order to receive this privilege.

After the door to door salesman adventure, Harvey did some brief time with real estate. Then he had an auction business. He talks about how they managed to get customers. One of the things they did was have a band play right outside the store. That attracted people. And they managed to build capital (merchandise) by telling the sellers they'd pay them more, IF the sellers allowed them more time in making them money. So from what I'm reading, this must be the Norman Ross business. So originally it was an auction-type thing?

Harvey says the reason he got fired by Alan Bond was that he called Alan Bond a crook. I can see Harvey is someone who does not fear speaking his mind....no matter what the consequence.

Harvey had some issue with a guy from ACCC named Alan Fells. I don't even know what ACCC is. Maybe it's an advertising thing, because the issue was regarding bait advertising.

Here we go. It's the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. They deal with fair trade and consumer protection.

Now I'm going to find out what bait advertising is. America's Federal Trade Commission has information about it on their website. They say it's when a company advertises a product they really don't intend to sell. Then when you come, they try to sell you a different and more expensive product. I remember this from NYC real estate. A real estate firm will advertise a great and affordable apartment. Then when you call them and they take you around the city, they give you the bad news. The apartment was already sold. They take you to other apartments that are too small, too gross, and too expensive. The other trick they do is take you to really disgusting apartments for the price range you said you can afford. You get really depressed, and then they take you to much nicer apartments that cost a lot of money. This gives you the idea that if you want something halfway decent, you're going to have to stop being so damn cheap.

I HATED looking for apartments in New York. It's a total nightmare.

Of course, Harvey claims to be innocent of the bait advertising charges. He openly hates the man who made the accusations. He says, Professor Fells I hate you. When you go into a nursing home I will buy the nursing home. Yeah. That sounds real mature.

ABC had a news report about the whole issue in 2001. Here's the transcript.

I really don't understand what happened. Well, maybe. Harvey Norman advertised that they had Quicken....that financial software thing. They had two thousand packages, but the demand far exceeded that. I don't know. Could Harvey be telling the truth? Maybe they honestly didn't expect to get that many customers. Although it IS a big company. You'd kind of think they'd expect to sell more than two thousand. So could it have been bait advertising? Sorry, we're out of Quicken. But while you're here, are you interested in a new Laptop?


Harvey complains that his workers were bullied by legal people. He says their questioning made him employees cry. Maybe they were a little too rough. It's possible. OR it could be a form of bullying on Harvey's end. I've seen it before. Well, maybe bullying is too strong a word. Manipulation might be better.

An example would be this. Nancy is told by her friend Susan that she saw Nancy's husband having dinner with another woman. It looked romantic and very suspicious. When Ted comes home, Nancy asks him about this. Instead of explaining, confessing, or apologizing, he attacks Nancy. You're so damn paranoid and possessive. What is wrong with you? Why do you do this to me? I feel so suffocated. I feel trapped. You don't trust me. Do you? You trust Susan more than me. You've always been closer to Susan than you are to me. How do you think I feel? You probably don't care. You're so selfish.

Suddenly, instead of being angry at her husband, Nancy feels awful about herself. She backs away....unless she is smart enough to recognize manipulation and fight against it.

This blogger talks about the Irish issue. What Harvey did was compare his sales problems in Ireland to the potato famine in Ireland. Bock the Robber says,
What a prick. How dare he compare the troubles of his sofa shop with the greatest catastrophe this land has ever known? He asks, Would he go to Israel and compare his trading downturn to a Holocaust? Probably yes. People compare things to the Holocaust all the time...even Jewish people. Remember the Soup Nazi?

So far, in some ways, I'm on Harvey's side here. I think it's pretty common to make these analogies. I think for the most part people mean no harm. For example, someone might speak of construction near their house. It feels like a damn earthquake. I doubt they're trying to be insensitive to all the victims of Haiti's earthquake. If we're on a cruise ship and things get a bit rocky, we might say something like Oh no. It's the Titanic. We're just being silly, and not trying to disrespect all the people that died.

It's a thin line though, and sometimes you can end up saying something to someone who is especially sensitive to the situation. Most people wouldn't mind it if we complained after an intensive workout. I'm so sore. I feel like I'm DYING! But if you say that to a person with pancreatic cancer, it might not be so funny. It hits too close to home. I think the way the story should play out is this. The cancer victim explains why they are offended. The other person acts understanding and apologizes. The person with cancer accepts the apology.

We all have our sensitive spots, and that should be respected. My college boyfriend would make jokes about drunk driving. He'd talk in an intoxicated voice and pretend to be looking for his keys. Ha ha. For most people, that would get a good laugh. For me, it was a sensitive issue. My sister had been hit by a drunk driver just two years before. Even today, almost twenty years later, I still am somewhat sensitive about it. Tim and Jack have a video game where Homer Simpson runs people over in his car. I can understand why that's funny to most people. But to me, it's not. I find it uncomfortable to watch. I personally don't think it's funny. See though....I'm not writing to the game company to complain. Almost everything that's funny to one person can be hurtful to others. Most people think slipping on a banana peel is humor. But what if your grandma had slipped on one and died?

Now I'm going to look at the other issue. The homeless one. The Sydney Morning Herald has an article about it. Harvey angrily defends himself. He says, I'm furious. I haven't suggested that homeless people shouldn't get anything. What I said was that I believed in helping people reach their potential. In his original statement, he had said giving to the charities would be a waste.

The charities argued back. They said they're no longer just about giving handouts. They try to address the causes of poverty.

I think this is the earlier news report. Their opening line says, THE retail king Gerry Harvey may have a personal fortune of about $1.6 billion but the Harvey Norman founder thinks donating to charity is "just wasted". That sounds like an awful man. But maybe something was misunderstood or taken out of context.

Well, I'm reading his quotes further down and they are kind of horrible. It IS very survival-of-the-fittest. He says, So did that million you gave them help? It helped to keep them alive but did it help our society? No. Society might have been better off without them but we are supposed to look after the disadvantaged and so we do it. But it doesn't help the society.

I'm trying to imagine a society where no one helps the disadvantaged. What would that be like? Well, first we'd need a society where all the people are incredibly selfish and callous. And how do we define disadvantaged and worthless? Would it be the drug addict on the street corner? How about the family who lost all their money because of their child's hospital bills? Should we say, sorry about your child dying of leukemia, but we're not going to help you. You're a drain on society. Better if you just rot and die.

Let's say we all become selfish, and we don't really care about those who are less fortunate on us. On a very superficial level, what would that do to our city? Wouldn't it be a bit awful? Overcrowded. Illness everywhere. Horrible smells. And if the disadvantaged couldn't get help from charity, might they turn to a life of crime?

Oh! I know. There's a perfect solution. You stop the thievery by making it a crime punishable by death. You hang all the disadvantaged. And if the prisons get too crowded with people waiting to be hanged, we can send them off to a distant land!

Okay, but Harvey DOES say: That is not to say we don't give money away to charities because we have given plenty away over the years. At the end of the day, the more quality individuals you develop in the community, the better off the community should be.

I think I get what he's trying to say. I feel maybe he just chose the wrong words, and he's way too harsh. I don't think we should simply throw people away. But maybe it is best if we put priority in people who show potential in giving back to the community. It all depends though on why people can't give back to the community. Some ARE just lazy and want something for nothing. I can't deny that. But many people are too sick or too unqualified. Many people have had awful lives full of abuse, and they can't overcome it.

I just finished reading Richard Flanagan's Wanting. It's based loosely on the story of a Tasmanian Aboriginal girl named Mathinna. Mathinna died in her early twenties. She drowned in a puddle on the street. Supposedly she was drunk. What kind of person drowns in a puddle? A pitiful loser. But Mathinna didn't start out the way. She started out as a child living among her people. Then she was adopted by white people who wanted to see if they could tame a savage. They played with their experiment for awhile. Then they abandoned her to a horrible orphanage, and went off to London. How does one survive such a rejection? Well, maybe one DOES if there's someone out there who will give them kindness.

That's the other thing about Harvey's beliefs. Maybe disadvantaged people would be less disadvantaged if they felt like there was hope. Maybe if they stopped feeling society was out to hurt them, they'd be able and willing to contribute.

The thing is.... It's easier to criticize people than it is to help them. I can stop while walking in the city, take out my wallet, and find a dollar to give to the woman on the street corner. That's a pain though, and I'm usually in a rush. It's much easier to think to myself. She's just a lazy person who doesn't want to get a job. She'll probably use that money to buy drugs.

In this ABC interview, Harvey does more defending of himself. He says: I believe you should help people. My point was, kids go to school, we develop them at school, we develop them later on in the workplace so that we get better quality individuals, so that we get less people that are dependent or get into problems. So, my real point was, let's create better quality people, more of them so we have less people dependent.

That makes sense to me, although I'm not in love with the whole school focus. I think what Harvey is saying is that we SHOULD help the homeless, but it's better to help people in the beginning so they don't become homeless. That makes sense. It's fine to stop and give a homeless person a dollar or two....even though they might very well use it to buy drugs. But if you have a hundred dollars to give away, it's probably better not to give it to the homeless person. And instead have it go towards a scholarship or business loan. It's important for us to help the poor, but it's better to help prevent people from becoming poor.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dick Smith

I'm guessing Dick Smith is the electronic business guy. If I'm remembering right, we went to one or two of his stores. We needed to get something for Jack's Nintendo DS.

Lord Wiki says I'm right. Dick Smith was the founder of Dick Smith Electronics. He's also the founder of Dick Smith Foods, and something called Australian Geographic.

Baby Richard was born in Roseville, Sydney on 18 March 1944. His birthday is two days after my niece's. Ellie is going to be seven this year. It's hard to believe she's going to be that old!

Roseville is in northern Sydney, and Smith went to a northern Sydney school called North Sydney Technical High School. Lord Wiki says the school closed in 1969.

Lord Wiki doesn't have much about the childhood of Dick Smith. Maybe I'll find that elsewhere.

This entry is confusing a bit, because it's not in chronological order. Instead, Lord Wiki divides Smith's life into sections. There's aviation, electronics, Australian products, publishing, stunts, awards, and advocacy.

I'm going to TRY and be chronological. I'm skimming through here, looking for the earliest date. There's 1968. This is the time that Mr. Smith opened up his first electronics store. He called it Dick Smith Electronics. Lord Wiki has a whole entry about the store. I'll read it later.

In 1972, Smith learned to fly. In 1976, he participated in a Sydney to Perth air race. In the late 1970's, he started flying helicopters.

Now let's get to 1982. It seems a few things happened that year. Smith sold the electronics business to Woolworths for twenty million. I guess if he wasn't wealthy yet, he was wealthy by now.

That year he also did a solo helicopter trip around the world. It started where I live...Fort Worth, Texas. That was on 5 August. By 19 August he was in the UK meeting Prince Charles. I guess it's nonstop? I didn't know a helicopter could stay up that long. Granted I really don't know much about helicopters.

On 13 September he left London, and he arrived in Sydney on 3 October. In July, it was all finished. I'd guess he'd end in Fort Worth. Right? That would make it around the world.

In 1983, Smith published a book about his adventures; and documentaries were made. In 1986, he started a magazine called Australian Geographic. This is like National Geographic, but focused on Australia. That sounds awesome to me. I'm going to bookmark their website. I'll definitely want to return in the future.

Sometime in the 1980's, Smith did a joke...stunt? He had a London Double Decker Bus jump fifteen motorcycles. This was in response to Evel Knievel who jumped a bus with his motorcycle. That I can sort of imagine. But I can't imagine a bus jumping over motorcycles. This stunt website has information about the event. It was done at the Sydney Showground.

In 1986, Smith became Australian of the Year. There's an earlier date here, in the award section, that I missed. In 1966, he was awarded a Scouting award. The Scout thing was important to Smith.

I think now I'm going to jump back ahead, and go into the 1990's. He was Chairman of the Board of various aviation groups. Flying was still a big thing for him.

In 1999, Smith founded Dick Smith Foods. Lord Wiki says it was started as a stance against foreign ownership of Australian food products....such as Arnott's being owned by the Campbell Soup Company. Dick Smith Food is all made in Australia, and owned by Australians.

Now we reach this century. In 2000, Smith and another guy traveled by balloon from New Zealand to Australia. In 2008, Smith and his wife traveled forty thousand kilometers around the world. All of that that is pretty cool.

I think I'm more impressed with wealth when it's used for adventures...traveling around the world. I'm much less impressed when it's used for buying multiple luxury cars.

Now for the advocacy section.

Smith gave his support to an asylum seeker named Peter Qasim. The guy had been in detention for seven years.

Smith donated sixty thousand dollars to the campaign for David Hicks to get a fair trial.

He helped pay the hostage fee for a photojournalist and writer held in Somalia. I think I remember hearing about them.

Smith is a skeptic, and I'm not to fond of this viewpoint. So maybe my admiration for him has dipped a bit. Lord Wiki says he was a founder of Australian Skeptics, and he's now a patron. I'm looking at their aims. I do like one of them: To encourage Australians and the Australian news media to adopt a critical attitude towards paranormal claims and to understand that to introduce or to entertain a hypothesis does not constitute confirmation or proof of that hypothesis.

I think sometimes we (or at least I!) sometimes forget to distinguish between what is proven and what is merely an opinion. And there's nothing wrong with an opinion. It's just we shouldn't confuse it with absolute fact.

An aim of theirs that I'm skeptical about (ha!) is: To stimulate inquiry and the quest for truth, wherever it leads. That SOUNDS good, but I doubt it's true. Skeptics tend to have a certain view of the world; and I would bet they more readily accept evidence that proves their viewpoint. If evidence goes in favor of the opposite viewpoint (pro-paranormal or pro-alternative medicine) I bet they'll be more critical and rejecting of the findings.

Now I might be being unfair here. Maybe I'm making judgments about this organization based on what I've seen from others. Perhaps this one really IS open-minded. If that's true, I applaud it.

Here's their list of things they're skeptical of. It's a pretty comprehensive list.

In 2008 and 2009, Smith got into the whole Whooping Cough thing. He pushed for parents to vaccinate their kids. Did anyone hear the recent news about that? Well, in the last year (maybe two?) Whooping Cough has been on the rise. I'm not sure if this was true in The United States, but it was in Australia. My Australian friends and their families were coughing up their lungs left and right. It was gross, awful, and debilitating. Worse than that, there was a very tragic publicized story of a young infant dying of the illness.

From the blogging and news world, anti-vaccination parents were targeted....blamed for the deaths and illness. I thought it was a bit perplexing, seeing that the vaccination wears off at a certain age. It doesn't last forever, and many adults don't get their vaccinations updated. If people get Whooping Cough, there's no proof that an anti-vaccination family was to blame. It could have come from an adult who hadn't taken the time to get her booster shot. A little later though, more energy went towards encouraging adults to get their vaccinations.

Anyway, now the new idea is that anti-vaccination parents might NOT be the full cause of the rise in Whooping Cough cases. There's belief and evidence that the illness might be mutating, and the vaccination might not be protecting people from all strains of the disease. Until 1997, a whole cell vaccine was used. But then that was changed because of concerns over side effects. The new vaccines are acellular, and might be less effective. I guess what scientists need to determine is whether we're more at risk from these whole cell vaccine side effects, or from Whooping Cough. OR as this article states, maybe they can make a whole-cell vaccine without the side effects.

Back to Dick Smith. He helped to expose the Australian Vaccination Network as being an anti-vaccination organization. Yeah, there's something fishy about their name. Dishonest. From the name, it doesn't look anti-vax. It sound almost pro-vax, or just a general information organization. I think that can be misleading. I think a more honest name would be something like Parents Against Vaccination. The organization IS pretty upfront in their mission statement. The AVN, publisher of Informed Voice magazine, is dedicated to the idea that health can be achieved and maintained without the use of pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines. Okay. I can accept that. But then they go on to say, Our goal is to empower people everywhere to make informed health choices for their families and themselves. So what if I inform myself and conclude that drugs and vaccines are the right choice? Huh? What would they say then?

I don't trust Western Medicine. I also don't trust movements that are completely anti-Western medicine.

Extremes are rarely a good thing.

Now I'm going to read what Lord Wiki has to say about Smith's various companies. I'll start with the electronics.

The first Dick Smith Electronics Store opened in 1968 in a North Shore suburb of Sydney called Artarmon. In the beginning it had a total capital of $610. That doesn't sound like a lot of money.

After Woolworths bought the company, it was brought to the United States. That didn't work out well though, and the stores shut down. But there are stores in New Zealand and India, so they've had some success with international expansion.

The business became quickly successful, and in 1969 Smith had to move the store to a larger space. By 1980, there were twenty Dick Smith Electronic Stores.

Now I'm going to read about Dick Smith Foods. Lord Wiki says they don't manufacture their own food. They get food from other Australian-owned companies. You know, I'm not sure if I've ever eaten any Dick Smith Products. Are they easy to find in the supermarket?

Oh! Now Dick Smith is back to being my hero. He tried to buy Vegemite from Kraft in 2004! That's awesome. It didn't work out though. Maybe he can try again.

Here's the company website. I want to look at their products, see if there's anything I recognize. No. Nothing really looks familar. Have any of you seen these things, or bought them? They have some alternatives to Tim Tams. I wonder if any of them are good.

Their FAQ page says it's getting harder and harder for them to get their products shelved at supermarkets. They say, Unfortunately the Store Managers at Coles and Woolworths stores have their stocking policy controlled by Head Offices. Feel free to ring them and register your disappointment at their non Australian sourcing policies – but do not expect them to change. That's pessimistic, but honest.

I think the truth is that it's not a matter of individuals wanting certain products. It has to become a fad. Then that food will be stocked. Right now, I'm doing a lot of thinking and learning about ethical chicken eggs. I recently learned that cage free is really NOT any more humane than the cheaper regular eggs. But because ignorant folks like me were fooled, these types of eggs have become a fad. They're easy to find at the grocery store. Now if I go to Tom Thumb and talk to the manager about which types of eggs ARE humane, they'll probably nod, act like they're listening, and wish I would leave them alone. If I want my grocery store to carry eggs with the Humane Farm Animal Care label or the Animal Welfare Approved label, I'm going to have to hope these types of eggs become a fad.

If a few people want to support Australian made products, that's not going to make much of a dent. If it becomes a fad, that will make a bigger difference.

Here's a Reader's Digest interview with Dick Smith. He had a speech impediment when he was young. He called himself Dick Mith. I guess he couldn't say the S sound. When Jack was young, he couldn't say that. No wait. Wrong. I'm all confused. Jack couldn't say the F sound, so he replaced it with the s/z sound. For finger, he said zinger. For fart, he'd say sart. It was cute.

The interview talks abut how Smith is a philanthropist, and how he wanted to be one since childhood...even when he couldn't pronounce the word.

Smith was honored by Reader's Digest list of most trusted people. He was #12. Smith says that surprises him because he does controversial things. For example, he defended David Hicks. He says he got a lot of hate mail because of that. Yep. People in this world can be incredibly hateful if you disagree with them. But I guess the list shows that a lot of other people will trust you if you stand up for what you believe in....even if they personally disagree. That's good.

Smith says, I had never been a personal supporter of David Hicks because I did not know him well enough, but I’ve always supported the fact that an Australian should get a fair trial. Amen to that! I think that goes for the judicial system AND the media. It also goes to us in the general public. We can read about people, and not like what we see. We can view them as villains. I did that with the guy I researched yesterday. But it's so important that we recognize that we may not be getting the whole truth. We need to ask ourselves...is someone exaggerating? Is someone outright lying? Is evidence in support of the individual being downplayed and hidden?

Smith talked to David Hicks personally, and ended up liking him. He feels Hicks is a decent guy. Now that's another thing though. Just because someone is nice and answers the questions in a way you prefer them to be answered....well, it doesn't guarantee they're a decent person. So, I'm totally with Smith when he says Hicks deserves a fair trial. I'm not 100% convinced that Hicks is a decent and innocent guy. He might be. I don't know.

Okay. Here we have some background information about Smith. He didn't do well at school. He dropped out a the age of fifteen, and went to work in a factory. But then he didn't like the factory, so he returned to school.

Smith says he was impressed by Hick's voice when they first talked on the phone. He expected Hicks to sound working class. Instead Hicks sounded like he'd been educated in private school. Smith talks about how this helped him realize his own prejudices. Okay. But might his prejudices towards such a voice put him in favor of Hicks? Did it make Smith like and trust Hicks more, versus if he had a less polished way of speaking? Maybe not. I'm just wondering.

Here's a Talking Heads Interview. It's from 2007.

When Smith was thirteen his dad opened up his own business. It went bankrupt, and his dad went through a severe depression. Smith says it's amazing that after witnessing his father's downfall, he still went ahead and started his own business.

His father was away at war when Smith was born. He didn't meet him until he was eighteen months. That's so sad, but I guess for other fathers it's worse. They never come home, and never get to meet their child.

His maternal grandfather was a famous photographer. Harold Casneau. His uncle, Harold's son was killed in the war. His room was filled with radio equipment, and sometimes Smith was allowed to go into it. He liked all the radio stuff. Maybe that's what inspired him to open the electronics store. Yeah. Probably.

In his young adult years, Smith did a backpacking trip. He returned to Australia when he was twenty-two. At a scouting event, he met a girl guide named Pip. They fell in love and got married. How sweet.

Smith says that he's a loner, and didn't do well with teams. I'm like this, I suppose. I prefer working alone. Working in groups makes me stressed.

Smith talks about how he was picked on because he had the speech defect. Some kids are very mean. They'll FIND a reason to pick on you.

Smith is asked how the teasing effected him. He says it made him a kinder and better person. I think that does happen sometimes. People don't like how it feels to be teased and bullied, so they make sure not to bully others. They also defend those who are being bullied. It doesn't always work that way though. Unfortunately. I think sometimes those who are bullied, react by finding someone that THEY can bully. I've seen and encountered many bullies and/or "queen bees" in the Internet. I have a feeling that these people were alienated and ridiculed back when they were in school. They get on the Internet and suddenly they find some people who like them. They get friends and supporters. They begin to feel powerful. And as they say, power corrupts.

Smith says he became interested in flying from reading Biggles books. I never heard of those. They're flying adventure stories about a guy named James Bigglesworth.

The interviewer asks Smith about his adventurous spirit, and asks if he ever feels fear. Smith says, Fear is a big thing with my adventures. When I plan them I don't think I'm going to be frightened, but often when I'm on them, I'm scared. I think that's the opposite of me. Although I wouldn't call myself adventurous. But if I do go on some kind of adventure, I'm usually scared before or after. During....I'm often less afraid. Maybe? Well, at least that goes with driving. Yeah, I know that's not exactly an adventure. But anyway, I'm scared of driving. I think it's so dangerous, and I fear killing me and whoever is in the car (usually Jack). When I think of an upcoming driving time, I'm nervous. And after the driving, I think of how risky it all was. But when driving, I often forget about the fear. Or at least I try to. Sometimes the fear will creep in while I'm driving. I try to push it away, because I worry I'll go into some kind of panic mode, and that in itself might cause an accident.

Smith says he's still happily married. He and his wife have children and grandchildren.

He loves bushwalking and hugging trees.

In this recent article, he speaks out against Australian population growth. There's estimations that Australia's population will reach thirty-five million by 2050. Smith worries there won't be enough food or water to go around. He thinks Australia should reduce the amount of skilled migrants it lets in, and people shouldn't pop out too many babies. I hate to admit this, but I think he's right about the skilled migrants. It would be nice if wannabe people like me could be given Australian residency. But is that best for Australia? If Tim had managed to get a job there, would then an Australian be out of a job? And perhaps immigration spaces should be left open for people who are DESPERATE to get out of their country. I felt pretty desperate when George W. Bush was president. And I was having MAJOR family issues. But that all pales into comparison to people fleeing poverty and war.

Now I AM still keen on the idea of having an exchange program. What if Tim, Jack, and I moved to Australia, and an Australian family moved to America? That way the population stays balanced....at least in that instance. I definitely think there should be an exchange visa. We'll let you move to our country, if you find someone who is willing to move out!

Well, I think I've rambled on enough today. So I'm going to shut up for now.