Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Barry Humphries, Anorexia, Welfare, and Sharks

1. Felt a bit envious of one of my Facebook friends.  Her status update is about bonding with a kangaroo.  I shouldn't be jealous though.  I have my cats.  They are both adorable, and one of them is EXTREMELY cuddly.   

2. Decided that now I have even more respect for Barry Humphries.   It's not that easy to create an alternate identity.   I'm doing it all for the Harry Potter game; and  I'm getting really into it.  I hope it doesn't lead to me becoming insane.  Oh well.  In the meantime, I'm having a lot of fun.  

3. Read news about Yang Hengjun.   At first I thought it was good news, but now I don't know.  He called his friends, said he was sick, and explained that his phone wasn't working.   That's a plausible explanation, but people aren't buying it.  They feel there's something weird going on.   He sounds weird to people talking to him, and there's the possibility that he's in duress and trying to speak in code.

I hate when those things happen.  You're worried.  You get good news, yet you get the feeling that it's a lie, and there's really bad news.   I've never been involved in a kidnapping, or anything traumatic like that.  But maybe I can relate to it through fiction, such as it reminds me of the second to last episode of Medium.  Allison was kidnapped.  

From my own personal life, it reminds me of when relationships go bad.   Someone stops calling so you worry that's it's over.  You finally get up the nerve to call.  You ask the other person if something's wrong.  They insist everything's fine.  They try to act like their good old self.  They give you reassurance against all your insecurities.  You get off the phone feeling somewhat relieved, but deep inside you know it's all a lie.  You try to be happy despite feeling sick.

4. Read article about Anorexia in children. It makes me furious.  I'm angry that this happens to children so young. I'm also angry at the people with the nerve to say this is a purely genetic/biological mental illness.  What bullshit!  If it's purely genetic, why is the rate in children increasing?  Maybe someone out there can explain it to me.

Our society is so thin-obsessed.  I found this blog entry earlier today; Katie talks about the "fat talk" we use and has examples of the damaging language.  

There's the weight talk in the disguise of a compliment. You look great!  Have you lost weight?  I've gotten that even after telling my family multiple times that I had an eating disorder.  Sometimes they leave out the you look great, but the tone of voice definitely indicates that the weight loss is a positive thing.

There's the fat talk that's not aimed directly at us, but said about others AROUND us.  Katie has the example of “Maybe if she’d lay off the Cheetos just a little bit…”   

From my mom, I've heard the saying She let herself go referring to a beautiful movie character who no longer had a perfect concave abdomen.  It's funny that SHE let herself go.  But when I was obsessively counting calories, weighing every bit of my food (including fruit and veggies) and pacing my office almost constantly (to burn calories) no one said that about me.  

Once, when I was openly struggling with eating disorder issues, we watched home movies with my parents.  Almost every comment that came out of their mouth was about people's weight. This person was thin back then. This person was fat. Oh, too bad that one gained all her weight back.

I complain about my family, but sadly I'm just as bad sometimes. This thin-obsession is ingrained in some of us.  Once I scolded my brother-in-law for making some snide comment about losing weight.  Then on another occasion, I was stupid enough to make the same mistake.  I think I even said it in front of him. I was ashamed but didn't apologize.  I should have.  I can't remember exactly what I said.  Oh well.

5. Thankful that the anorexia article has a poster of a very ugly victim of Anorexia.  She kind of looks like Zelda from Pet Sematary.  Often eating disorder articles have photos of very thin, yet also very attractive women.  What happens when people like me look at these?  Well, I end up thinking.   Eating disorders are so evil.   Why do we value the malnourished look?   Oh....and I really wish I could look like her.  

6. Read article about Tony Abbott's proposed welfare reforms. What he wants is people, under the age of fifty, working for the dole if they've been under unemployment for over six months.  He doesn't want people getting a free ride.  I'm all for that.   I might even raise the age to sixty or seventy.  My parents are in their early sixties, and they'd likely be capable of doing the type of work that Abbott is seeking.  Abbott wants people to clean and pick fruit....stuff like that.    If there's a need in that area, people should be put to work.  What I disagree with is CREATING jobs just so people can have a job.  That doesn't make sense to me.  A person can be fulfilled and contribute to society without having an official job. They can take care of their family.   They can write novels that end up being a cultural phenomena.   They can make entertaining popular videos for YouTube.   They can do volunteer work. They can sing in the church choir.

I also disagree with making primary caregivers go out and work.  I'm not in favor of sending single mothers (or daddies) out to pick fruit while their kids hang out at a substandard daycare center.  I'd rather the mother get the dole and stay home with the kid.

7. Read article about great white shark being near the beach, where water is about knee deep. That's scary.  The article though makes it sound like this is unusual...alarming.   Well, it IS alarming.   But someone commented on my blog a year or so ago, saying that sharks can be found very close to the shore.  So, the news isn't too new to me.

8. Started watching a video with Dame Edna interviewing Barry Humphries. I guess this is my kind of comedy, because I'm less than a minute into it and I'm already laughing out loud.

Barry Humphries is brilliant. I think he's one of my favorite Australians.

9. Wondered if Oprah has ever met Dame Edna. I think she should have visited her in Australia.   Or maybe she did?  I didn't watch the last two episodes.

10. Had a great idea.  Dame Edna should guest star on Modern Family.  That would be AWESOME.

11. Loved Dame Edna's response at around 5:09, but the exchange has to be watched back from about a minute or two.   Let me rewind and see where it starts.  Well, it probably starts at around 4:05.    Humphries give this long rebuttal to Dame Edna.  He lectures her.  Then she just totally ignores all of it.  I'm not at all funny trying to explain it.  You'll have to watch the video for yourself....I mean if you want potential amusement.

12. Laughed very much out loud at 5:44.

13. Thought about how Humphries can be hilarious with facial expressions alone.   I think the same goes for Stephen Colbert.

14. Decided to play my Hobart vs. Adelaide Flickr game.    Let's see what pictures I get.

For Adelaide I got a photo from the Wollongong Hawks.   It's a sports thing.    The Hobart photo is going to have to be either very boring or very offensive in order for Adelaide to win. 

For Hobart I got a photo of a man and woman sitting next to a mural.   When it comes to art vs. sports, art is usually going to win with me.  So I give Hobart the point.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Short Visits, Missing People, Alcoholism, and Ken Wyatt

1. Dreamed about Australia.  I didn't remember it when I first woke up.  But then I was getting the cat food ready, and I remembered.  We're in Australia for a short trip, maybe four days.  It's the day before the day we have to get home.  I am really loving Australia, and am regretting that we don't have much time left.   I'm also mad at myself, because I wasted time the day before. I spent most of the time indoors reading books. I start to joke around about wanting a pet kangaroo when I get home.  There's the idea that this would make me feel better.  I think it would be so cute having it hop around the house, but all the poop might make it gross.

The kangaroo part probably comes from one of my Facebook friends. She takes care of kangaroos temporarily; kind of like as a foster mother.   

2. Listened to more songs from the Sounds Like Brisbane site.     

3. Learned from a Facebook friend that there's an Atheist conference coming up in a few weeks.  It's in Melbourne, April 13-15. This is where you guys can hang out and vent about all of us who believe in supernatural stuff.  I hope there's some discussion about the Julia Gillard issue.  Maybe someone there can explain why an atheist might be anti-gay marriage. I think I actually read an editorial a while back, but I can't remember what it said.   

4. Found the editorial about secular people against gay marriage.  They sum up their article on the top.  Homosexual relationships do nothing to serve the state interest of propagating society, so there is no reason to grant them the costly benefits of marriage.  Yes, because we are lacking in population, and need to build up our numbers.  Whatever.

This article annoys the hell out of me.  Like I talked about in yesterday's post. I'm STRUGGLING to tolerate it and am pretty much failing.  The best I can do is sit here typing instead of screaming and pulling my hair out.   

I'm hoping most atheists support gay marriage.

5.  Read article about Paul Keating not being in support of NSW's maybe-future Labor Party leader.    The maybe-future leader is John Robertson, and it seems Keating does not like him at all.  Most of this goes over my head.  Lord Wiki says it's union related. I'll just leave it at that, because it's about as far as my interest goes.

6.  Read a troubling sad story written by John Garnaut.  His writer friend has disappeared in China.   The missing man is Yang Hengjun, a Chinese-Australian activist.  Garnaut says, Bizarrely, Yang's writings remained freely available on the Chinese internet yesterday. But if the system has swallowed this hugely popular commentator - as it has done to dozens of lower-profile Chinese lawyers and activists in recent weeks - are there no longer any limits?

It sounds like something out of a political thriller.  Such things should be in movies and not in real life.

Actually, it reminds me of the Magic is Might site.  Yesterday, the game creators had several characters (rebels/activists) suddenly disappear from Facebook.  Since this is a fictional world, with happy endings, most of them have quickly reappeared.  I wish the same would happen for Yang Hengjun.

7. Read Nick Champion's first speech to Parliament, and admired his courage in talking about his family's personal struggles.  He says: When I look at all the experiences in my life prior to my election to this place, nothing is as influential in my life’s trajectory as my father’s alcoholism. I loved my father but through his addiction I saw the fragility of family life, how precarious a family’s financial circumstances can become and how the emotional torment of addiction can echo through a family for years. Once addiction hits a family, nothing is ever the same again, and it is easy for families to fall into a cycle of crisis, reaction and, sometimes, despair. I know that, while many in politics talk about strong families, the reality is that many families are often as much defined by their weaknesses as they are by their strengths, so I am proud to be part of a government which takes the misuse of alcohol as a serious policy challenge.

I think he said that beautifully.  From my experiences, it seems many people have grown up with an alcoholic parent. I think, by knowing that, it's hard for me to see alcohol as a fun and positive thing rather than a very destructive thing.

8. Heard a song on the Sounds Like Brisbane site that I liked a lot. It's called Oscar, and is by a group called Halfway.  

9. Looked at Halfway's website.  Here's their autumn schedule, if anyone's interested in hearing them play.  They're going to be in Melbourne on April 15.  People can go to the atheist conference and then see Halfway's Show.

10. Read Jason Clare's first speech to Parliament.   He borrows a quote from Robert Kennedy that I like.  It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.

Actually, I love that quote.  I think most of us want to be the heroes in this story we call life.  We wait around for an opportunity for us to act the part of action and/or super hero.  Is there a war for us to join?  Is there a burning house we can walk into?  Can I step in front of someone and save them from a bullet?  Can I make a speech that will change the world or start an organization that will win me the Nobel Peace Price?

The thing is we have opportunities to do good every single day.  The simple things add up; buy someone a little gift, give someone a genuine compliment, sit with someone who is crying and listen to their sorrows, help someone with a stressful workload, offer to babysit, return the smile of someone who looks lonely.  How about this?  When you see a bunch of people ridiculing someone, don't join in. And if you're feeling really brave, stick up for them.     

11. Read intriguing article about a pub in South Australia.  Wow.  I was all confused for a minute.  The article was from a South Australia newspaper, so I figured it was about South Australia. Then I took a second glance at the headlines and saw Victoria hotel.  So I thought the article was about Victoria.  I went to look up O'Halloran Hill which is mentioned in the article, and that's in Adelaide.

I finally got it.   The pub is CALLED Victoria Hotel, and it's in the Adelaide suburb O'Halloran Hill.   Now that I got that straight.....  The Victoria Hotel is scanning all ID's when people enter their pub.   This way they have names and addresses on file if any of these patrons end up to be troublemakers.   It sounds like a slight invasion of privacy, but for the most part I think it's a good idea.   

12. Started a new blog yesterday. I looked at the Statcounter, and there's been only one Australian.   That feels kind of weird.  Maybe a little lonely. I'm so used to most of my blog visitors being from Australia. I think it's become kind of like my comfort thing? Maybe Australia has become my security blanket.

The new blog is fun, though.  Maybe I should listen to Australia music while working on it. That might make things more comfortable for me.

13. Thought about how Australia is my home....not in a geographical sense but in a soul-type sense.  Yeah.  I can totally picture Mitchell rolling his eyes at that one.   

I'm not even sure if I'm talking about spirituality.  It's more like a feeling of...something.  

I know!  It's like those nights where I'm scared and kind of depressed.  Everything seems a bit creepy. Then I decide I'll feel better if I watch an old favorite TV Friends

Australia is like my comfort food. That's kind of ironic since the iconic food of Australia is Vegemite, and that doesn't make me very comfortable.

14. Listened to Better People by Xavier Rudd.  Is he related to Kevin?  Have I asked that before?

15. Read Tony Crook's first speech to Parliament.  He says, this 43rd parliament is, to say the least, an unusual one and it will be remembered for many reasons. I sincerely congratulate the member for Hasluck, Ken Wyatt, on being the first Indigenous Australian in this House; the member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, on being the first Greens member here; and Ed Husic on being the first of Muslim faith in this place.   

I didn't know there was finally an Indigenous Australian in the House of Representatives!   How did I miss that?

16. Consulted Lord Wiki about Ken Wyatt.  His mother was one of the stolen generation children.   Both his parents are a mixture of various ancestries.

Ken Wyatt is a Liberal Party member. He has a nephew that's in the Western Australian Legislative Assembly, as part of the Labor Party.

17. Watched an anti-Labor political advertisement from Ken Wyatt. 

Yes, I am surprised that the first Aboriginal Australian in the House of Representatives is Liberal rather than Labor or Green. Although I think Neville Bonner was Liberal as well.  Yep.  Lord Wiki says I'm right. There's another Aboriginal senator.  What was he?  

Aden Ridgeway was an Australian Democrat.

18. Watched a video in which Ken Wyatt makes a speech in Parliament about violence against women.  He's an eloquent speaker not in a dramatic and charismatic way. It's more subtle...and compassionate.  He seems like he really cares.  He doesn't seem fake like some politicians.

At one point, I thought he was going to do a Kevin Rudd and eat his ear wax. But he just scratched the back of his ear.

19. Consulted Lord Wiki about Xavier Rudd.  He doesn't say anything about Kevin. He DOES say Xavier Rudd was born in 1349. You know what that means?  The guy's probably a vampire. That's cool. He's also a vegetarian and can play the didgeridoo.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Social Justice, Doggy Birthdays, Gay Marriage, and Emails

1. Was sent a link to an editorial that made me remember how dense I can be.  It's about the proposed Israeli boycott.  I didn't understand it before.  I thought just the council itself was planning on boycotting, and I was wondering when does a council buy anything?  What would it be? They refuse to buy their meeting refreshments from an Israeli company?   

The editorial writer, David Penberthy clarifies things. They want to ban all Israeli products in the Marickville area.  So if you live in Marickville and want some Israeli...something, you'd have to take the bus over to another neighborhood.

I think Penberthy is a bit over the top when he says Byrne's been busy advocating a polite modern rendering of Kristallnacht in the Inner West, campaigning for a ban on all Israeli products in the Marrickville Council area.

I think refusing to buy Israeli products is a bit different than destroying property and rounding up Jews to take them to death camps.  I don't know if it's right to call it Kristallnacht...even if you label it as a polite and modern version.  

 The thing you do have to worry about is the situation escalating.  It could start with a boycott and move into a non-polite version of Kristallnacht.  My feeling, though, is that these things are somewhat less likely to happen, because of the Internet.  Although there's prejudice aimed at certain groups, those of us who are not bigots can see it coming easier, and we can help to fight against it.

Or...maybe not.   It could be that we speak out against it, but nothing happens.  Yeah.  I change my mind.   I mean how many people are speaking out against factory farming?  It still goes on. How many people are speaking out against what's happening to Bradley Manning?  He's still locked up and being treated horribly.

People did speak up against the slaughter of Jews, and they did risk their lives to save them.   Eventually the Holocaust ended. But we still lost 6 million Jewish people. That's a LOT of deaths.   

2. Decided to play my Adelaide vs. Hobart Flickr game. So let's see what random photos I encounter.

For Adelaide, I got a photo of a doggy birthday party.  It reminds me of my sister. She had a birthday party for her Libby.  

Here's a picture of the doggy's birthday cake.   Her name's Bella.  

And here's Bella eating some of her cake. I wonder if it was also appropriate for human consumption.  

For Hobart, I got this photo of a sound wave.  I think it might be special camera effects.  

I have to give the point to Adelaide's doggy birthday party.  How could I not?  

3. Read a FANTASTIC editorial about Christianity and homosexuality.  I sometimes defend Christian bigotry regarding homosexuality feeling that this is part of their religion. Murray Richmond, a Presbyterian minister really makes me re-think all of that.   

That's not to say I believed that all Christians are anti-gay.  I know there's a lot of Christians who are open-minded...accepting.   They interpret the Bible in a way that doesn't promote bigotry and/or discrimination.   But what about he people who don't?   What about Christians who feel it really IS sinful and wrong to be gay?  Should I have tolerance for that viewpoint?

This is my favorite part from Richmond's editorial.   One reason, I think, is that it's easy to condemn homosexuality if you are not gay. It is much harder than condemning pride, or lust or greed, things that most practicing Christians have struggled with. It is all too easy to make homosexuality about "those people," and not me. If I were to judge someone for their inflated sense of pride, or their tendency to worship various cultural idols, I would feel some personal stake, some cringe of self-judgment. Not so with homosexuality. 

I think that's a fantastic point.  And Richmond asks, So why had we singled out homosexuality as a litmus test for True Christianity in the first place? Why had it become such a lightning rod for self-righteousness?

Is gayness really the worst sin in the bible?   What are the other ones?  How about the seven sins?   Gay men are excluded from being Boy Scout leaders.  What about men who exhibit sloth-like behavior?  Anger? Pride? Lust?  Are they allowed to be leaders?

Someone needs to send Julia Gillard that editorial.  If a Christian Minister can change his mind, maybe an atheist can do so as well.

4. Thought of posting it on Gillard's Facebook wall but she does not allow people to post on her wall.  

5. Found Julia Gillard's contact page.   I sent the editorial.  Maybe it will help if other people send it as well....hint...hint....

6. Forwarded the editorial to Wayne Swan as well.   

7.  Read David Bradbury's first speech to Parliament.   In 2008, he said We must promote policies that support and sustain the relationships between people, their families and their communities, because a strong and cohesive society is the only foundation upon which the architecture of the state can be securely built.  

Wouldn't marriage be a good way of supporting and sustaining relationships?

8. Created a Sarah Hanson-Young Family for my Sims 3 neighborhood.  Jack built their house, and gave them a tiny swimming pool.

9. Read article about a mother who was kicked off a bus in Darwin because her toddler was laughing too loud.  That's kind of funny. And sad.   It will be a great story to tell the kid when she's older.

Was the baby really that loud?  Maybe the driver was having a migraine or something?  It all sounds a bit bizarre.  

10. Read about a proposed Euthanasia clinic in South Australia.  They're planning on doing it without waiting for it to be legalized.  That may be tricky, but I admire their courage.  

I'm looking at the comments here.  One person says, will South Australia be the legalized murder capitol of Australia,watch out people in nursing homes, you won't be able to trust anyone.   Do people really believe that legalized euthanasia is going to give people free range on murdering the elderly?   I doubt that's going to happen.  I mean it may happen a few times.  People will murder someone, and try to get away with it.  But guess what.  That already happens without legalized Euthanasia.

I like Cicero's sarcastic comment.  This is outrageous. It is my right to live for as long as possible, to be a burden on the health system, to impoverish my family and to suffer greatly before going to heaven.  Although the health system bit is unnerving.  That leads to the dark side of euthanasia.   There's the worry that people with extreme health needs will be pressured to give up. Are you sure you want to go on living?  I can't imagine it's pleasant now that you can no longer walk or breathe on your own.

Hopefully, most people will not choose euthanasia, and hopefully no one will be pressured to choose it.  We don't want to get to the point where someone says, We could put a cast on that leg. That's fine.  The itching will bother you.  OR you could take these pills.....

So yeah.   I CAN see a dark side.   It's there.   I won't deny it.   But I also can imagine people with cancer, in horrible pain.  I can see them thinking, I'm going to die soon anyway. Why do I have to go through this?    I think it's wrong for ANYONE to be pressured to die or live.  I think they should be able to make the choice themselves and get assistance and support with whatever path they choose.  

11. Felt all warm and cozy about Kevin Rudd. On his Facebook page he says,
Facing the Q and A audience next week. Please wear soft shoes if you are planning on throwing them. That's very cute.  I like his sense of humor.  

12.  Read Anna Burke's first speech to Parliament.   It was done back in 1998.  She shares a philosophy I've heard before.  Burke says, I am deeply committed to multiculturalism. I am proud to be representing a party that has a strong record of promoting the richness of ethnic diversity, rather than merely tolerating it.   Yeah.   I've heard it before, but I can't remember if I agreed with it or not.   Right now I disagree. I think it's great if we can MORE than tolerate it, celebrate it, think it's awesome, etc.   But sometimes that's kind of impossible. Sometimes we really have to struggle just to accept something and not have a tantrum about it.  I cannot bring myself to celebrate the fact that other people eat meat. I cannot bring myself to celebrate the fact that there are religions out there teaching the idea that nonbelievers will burn in hell.  At best, all I can do is tolerate these ideas and actions. 

On the same token, not everyone can love the fact that we don't send our child to school. Not everyone can love the fact that I believe in reincarnation.  But I do appreciate them doing their best to tolerate it.   

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Broken Glass, Heroic Wizards, Israel, and Imagining Justice

1. Had another weird coincidence...maybe.  Last night I read some more of Patrick White's Riders in the Chariot.   The Jewish character, Himmelfarb learns that the Germans are destroying Jewish property.  There's talk of broken glass; so I THINK White is referring to Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass.

This morning I went through my thing of reading my old Livejournal entries. I'm still in October 2005.  This was the time I was all into spirituality.  Not only did I record my dreams but also any weird thoughts that popped into my head at random times. When I was in the zoo parking lot with Jack, I randomly thought the words Kristallnacht.  That's strange in itself but strange that I would read about it this morning after reading about Kristallnacht last night.  My journal entry says I also suddenly thought I want some peanut butter crackers.  I really don't even like peanut butter crackers much. So, what's up with that?  

2. Decided to play my Adelaide/Hobart Flickr game.

For Adelaide, my random photo was this cool car picture.  It has an interesting perspective.  

For Hobart, I got a black and White photo of an interesting art-deco building.  It's pretty cool. I think I prefer this photo, so I'm going to give my point to Hobart.  

3. Watched Jack use one of our Australia coffee books to play with his new 3DS.  He was able to make it looks like his little green 3D doodle was dancing around the Twelve Apostles.

4. Talked to Tim about our upcoming Australia trip. We're going to slowly start deciding on a schedule of things.  Hobart or Adelaide?  And in what order are we going to go places?   Do we stay in Sydney when we first get there or immediately move on to Melbourne and save Sydney for last?    Lots of decisions to make.

5. Excited to see that there's a whole article about Australia in the Magic is Might Experience website. The story is that heroic Australian wizards are rescuing British Muggle-born wizards.    They used a photo from The Wizards of Waverly Place to represent the Australians.  I'm not sure if I love that.  I've tried watching the show twice  and can't bring myself to like it.  I love witch/wizard stuff.   I like kid shows. I often like stuff that's popular. I don't know what happened in this case.

6. Read article about the Green Party's election issues. They haven't officially lost yet, but it doesn't look very promising. It's believed that the Israeli boycott idea is the cause of their disappointing results.

The person interviewed for the story seems to be Jewish. Well, his last name is Cohen; Ian Cohen   That's a very Jewish name.   He's part of the Green Party but is retiring.  He says it was fine for Byrne to take a principled stance.  I think it's perfectly okay, but I'm glad the voters took their own principled stance. And I don't think it's okay that Byrne tried to downplay and hide it. She should be more upfront about her principles.

7. Consulted Lord Wiki about Ian Cohen. He retired a few weeks ago (March 4). The environment seems to be his main concern.

8. Found article about Cohen and his feelings towards Israel.   He doesn't seem to be anti-Israeli, but he was against Israel's 2009 attack on Gaza. I agree with him there. I see no reason to support such violence.

The problem with a boycott is it DOES seem anti-semitic just for the fact that there are many countries out there doing bad things.  Why target Israel?  Is Israel really the only country out there that's oppressing people?   No. I don't think so.  There are MANY countries with oppressed groups of people—including Australia.  Should Australia boycott Australia?  That might be interesting.

We could say Australia is different. There's a huge gap between the Aboriginal-and non-Aboriginal living standards, but it's not like the government is bombing Aboriginal homes. There's nothing violent like that. But what if the Aboriginals decided to fight?  What if they started a revolution?   What if they started throwing stones?  Bombing buses. Throwing rockets?  Would Australia act differently than Israel?   

 9. Listened to some of Keating's Redfern Park Speech.   I know the one line from the Get Up Mob video.

It seems to me that if we can imagine the injustice then we can imagine its opposite. And we can have justice.

I enjoyed listening to more of the speech.  It's very powerful....excellent writing.  I got a few tears.  

This website has excerpts from the speech.  

I just posted the speech on the Magic is Might Australia article.  I think it goes well with the storyline; the mistreatment of Muggle-born wizards is not unlike the mistreatment of Aboriginal-Australians. There's a lot of Nazi-comparisons on the website perhaps because that's an atrocity ingrained in our consciousness. 

I'd say in books 1-6, the Muggle-Born situation can be seen as symbolic of many types of racism in our world, including racism against Aboriginal-Australians. You could also compare it to bigotry against Jews, gays, Muslims, African-Americans, Latinos, etc.  But then in book 7, it escalates to a Nazism type situation. This is where the government actively persecutes the targeted group in a violent manner, and uses negative propaganda to get the other citizens to support the discrimination and genocide.    

10. Thought about the Magic is Might experience. Sometimes I think it's just frivolous fun. and there's nothing wrong with that.  But I think it's more than that.  The game is getting people to do exactly what Paul Keating asked us to do:  Imagine the injustice.  The difference between games and reality is that in reality you don't get to choose if you want to play or not, and you don't get to choose your character.  In the Harry Potter game, we choose if we're Pureblood racist wizards, or Pureblood wizards that are not racist and have joined the rebellion.  Or will you be Muggle-born, the target of the government's hatred?   If you pick that, then you can imagine the fear and isolation—the fact that you're no longer allowed to attend that school that you love. You can imagine having to go into hiding.  You're away from your hometown, friends and relatives. The life you knew is gone.   I think most people would be very homesick.  And then on top of that, they'd have to worry about being found....caught....horrible things happening to them.

11. Read Adam Bandt's Marriage Equality motion in Parliament.  He talks about how the time is ripe for marriage equality.   It COULD happen now.   The general public is ready for it.  The government just needs to get off their ass and open their mind.

The other day I got an email with a very typical message.  I've seen it so many times before.  We need to be sympathetic towards things like the White Australia policy.  That's just the way people were back then; such feelings were popular and acceptable. I agree with that, but my feeling is we need to give mucho admiration to those in history who were ahead of their time.  When the White Australia Policy was seen as acceptable policy, who stood up against it? When slavery was popular in America, who stood up against it?  When homosexuality was seen as a mental disease, who stood up against that? 

There are always brave people in the world who stand up for "odd beliefs" even though it may bring ridicule and alienation from the rest of society. 

So if Julia Gillard was Prime Minister 10-20 years ago, I'd see her as shamefully following along with mainstream society.  But it wouldn't surprise me.  I'd shrug my shoulders, and think.  Well, she's just not one of those BRAVE leaders.  She's a woman of her time instead of a woman ahead of her time.

But Gillard is actually standing by discrimination that is NOT of her time.  From what I've been seeing and reading, homosexuality and gay marriage is becoming more and more accepted, and not just by us on the left. Even some right-winged people are accepting it.

So WHAT is up with Julia Gillard?

Now if she was a bible-believing Christian, I might actually have a tiny bit of admiration for her.   The majority of people want gay marriage, but she's standing up for her Jesus beliefs even though it will make her less popular. I wouldn't agree with her beliefs, but I'd admire her for sticking to them.

Maybe all I can assume is that Julia Gillard is against marriage...period.    She doesn't want gays to marry because she's hoping one day to outlaw ALL marriage.  That would be kind of funny.  Here we are thinking Gillard is homophobic, and, instead, she could turn out to be marriage-phobic.

12. Consulted Lord Wiki about Australian public opinion regarding gay marriage.    He says a poll done in October 2010 showed that 62% of people supported gay marriage.  He also lists Parliamentary Members who publicly support gay marriage. Most of them are Labor or Green, but there are four Liberals there.    

13. Looked at photos of the University of Sydney. It has beautiful architecture.  Here's a great photo.   And I like this one too.   

14.  Started to read the first Parliamentary speech of Bronwyn Bishop.    It was done in 1987, so she's been a Member of Parliament for a long time.  I don't really like what she says here. I have asked myself many times why I chose politics so early and I can say only that it came from a study of history. History showed me that the world had two groups of people: firstly, it had those who were part of the decision-making process and actually had some say in the direction that the nation in which they lived took. The second group of people were those who had decisions made for them. I determined that I wished to be part of the decision-making process.   

Do we want politicians who believe that they're the only ones who get to make decisions?   I think I'd rather have politicians that believe the rest of us have a voice as well and not just a voice that blows hot air into the pot.  I want politicians who will listen to us, care what we think, and let us influence the decisions that are made in government.

15. Consulted Lord Wiki about Bronwyn Bishop. He says she attracted controversy in the 1990's when she was the Shadow Health Minister.  She supported tobacco advertising.  Interesting.....  

Why would a Health Minister support that?

When Bishop was Minister for Aged Care, she got herself involved in another controversy.   At a nursing home in Melbourne, residents were given a kerosene solution that caused blistering.  Yikes.

16. Read transcript on ABC about the kerosene issue.  There was allegations that an actual death was caused by the baths, and there was blame towards Bishop for not acting against the practices earlier.  

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lionel Logue, Fiona Byrne, Barry O'Farrell, and Sims

1. In honor of Naomi Watts, I had a dream inspired by The Ring.  I'm at a shop with televisions.   There's this one TV that has little toy policemen next to it; in the corner.  The television is playing a documentary type thing where these men try to film a secret spiritual ceremony.  The women involved in the ceremony don't want to be filmed, and do whatever they can to stop the filming.   They're a bit violent about it.  I decide that since these women didn't want to be filmed, this movie should never have been made; and I shouldn't be watching it.  I try to stop, but I can't...even though I want to.  I can't turn off the TV, and I can't get away from watching it.

At the end of the video, an announcer comes on and says anyone who has watched this video will die in 30 days.  I'm hoping it's a joke, but am a little worried.  The announcer does say that if you tried to NOT watch the video, you'll have a less horrible death.  I then seem to be worried less about actually dying, and more about what would be the exact day of my death...kind of like in Scary Movie 3.   It's March 30 (in the dream) so I'm guessing maybe my date of death is April 30.  I'm figuring maybe by 30 days, they meant exactly a month away.  Or maybe not.  I'm wondering if I have to get out a calendar and count out the days.   

2. Saw that Kristina Kenneally has lost the election.  I'll read the articles later. Maybe.

3. Read an editorial that someone sent me about Lionel Logue.  Frank Bongiorno talks about how the movie is basically a bunch of lies.  You know....I think that's what made me lose my passion for the whole story.  I saw The Social Network, loved that, and learned most of it was not true.   Or maybe I knew before I saw it.   Then I saw The King's Speech, and for some reason I had the impression that it was mostly true.  So I decided I liked The King's Speech better.  But now I've come to realize that The King's Speech is really no more honest than The Social Network.  

Is there a benefit to dishonest nonfiction?  I don't know.  In a way, I think it just confuses us.

The article says, Logue was the Prince Alfred’s College–educated son of an Adelaide brewer. There’s no hint in the book of the larrikin who would cheekily occupy the chair of St Edward, mumble something about the previous “royal arseholes” that have sat there, and encourage the king to swear like a trooper in order to overcome his speech defect. Nor is there any suggestion that he insisted on calling the king “Bertie,” of which much is made in the film.

Yeah.  The Logue in the book is much different from the one in the movie.  And to me, the fake Logue is one of the best parts of the whole story.  So how are we supposed to feel when we learn it's not really true?

Well, I feel a bit cheated.

I think it would have been better if they refrained from manipulating history, and instead made a....I don't know.   How about a Disney cartoon with a fairy tale king who is helped by a teacher/therapist?  Then we don't have to worry about historical inaccuracies and disillusioned fans.     

4. Agreed with what Bongiorno says here.   Logue claimed to have treated the king “just as any other patient,” but this is clearly a nonsense. His letters to him while he was still the Duke of York in the early 1930s seem more to resemble those of a jilted lover than the “friend” of the film.

Yes, this is definitely the idea I got from the book.  There was a sad sort of clinginess.  I think I mentioned that it reminded me of The Giving Tree. It's a relationship in which one person is much more invested than the other person.

5. Thought about Bongiorno's idea that Logue was fictionalized so he'd fit the stereotype of an Aussie larrikin.  He says,  Is it because modern popular culture cannot conceive of an Australian except as the city cousin of Crocodile Dundee? An Australian–Briton of Logue’s generation, one with a deep respect for monarchy and a sense of ownership over British culture as strong as if he had been born in the home counties, is literally unthinkable in the world of modern cinema.

Stereotyping is big in cinema.  I won't deny that.  But I don't think Logue is presented in that way simply because the filmmakers couldn't get past the stereotype.  I think it's more the fact that by pushing the stereotype they made Logue more admirable; I guess because it's a very positive stereotype.  I didn't love Logue because he was a good speech therapist.   I loved him because he stood up against pretentious attitudes. Or at least I imagined that he did.  What would the movie be like if they had avoided the larrikin stereotype?  Who knows, but I doubt it would have won an Oscar.  

6. Felt a bit guilty for my political apathy.   I guess I'm feeling a bit disillusioned.  I don't really like the Liberal Party.  I don't like the Labor Party.  I like the Green Party when they're not being anti-Israel, but I doubt they're ever going to have a lot of power.  So there you go.

7. Read about Green Party in Marrickville.   My friend emails me about Marickville sometimes because she doesn't like their planned boycott of Israel.  I can't say I'm fond of that idea either.

The article doesn't mention the boycott.  It just says that people thought the Green candidate (Fiona Byrne) would win, but now it looks like she probably won't.  

8. Looked at Fiona Byrne's blog.  She denies allegations that they were planning to boycott China; and there's nothing about Israel.  I searched for that, and Palestine.  I got nothing.   

9. Read article about Fiona Byrne and the Israel boycott. The article says she denied pushing for a boycott; and she denied accepting an invitation to speak at a rally in support of the boycott.  Then later, when shown a flier for the event, someone from the Green Party admitted she had planned to go, but canceled so she could have a post-election break.   Okay.   Or maybe so close to election time, she didn't want herself seen as connected to anything controversial.  A Labor Party campaign person says, Fiona Byrne is an extremist, who is trying to hide her extremism for a few days in the week of an election.   Yeah.   It does seem that way.

10.  Read about the Labor Party's defeat.   The new Premier is Barry O'Farrell. Is it bigoted of me to say that I'm glad an Australian state leader has an Australian accent?  Probably.  Yeah.   It's just weird to hear a Premier of Australia talking with an American accent. I'd probably be fine if she had a Korean, Italian, Middle Eastern, French, or Spanish accent.  And if Texas got a governor with an Australian accent, I'd be TOTALLY cool with it.   

I'm slightly ashamed of these feelings.

11. Read about the election seat changes....same article as above.  There's 93 seats in the NSW Parliament.  The Labor party used to have 50, and now they have only 18.   Wow.  That's a big loss.   Eleven seats are in question, so they could get a few more perhaps.

12. Looked at Barry O'Farrell's website.   I may have looked at it on another day. Or I think I tried to look at it, and it was loading too slow.  Now it's working quite well.

I'm watching a bio video about O'Farrell.  He talks about how his family live in Darwin, and how Tracy stole most of their possessions in 1974.  So, he doesn't have many photos of his childhood.

O'Farrell doesn't like people who act unfairly or seek to harm others. I'm with him on that!  He also doesn't like people who don't deliver.   I'm with him there too, unless the person has a really good reason for not delivering what they're supposed to be delivering.

I got kind of bored after awhile, so I quit the video early.

13. Read article about brain surgery in brain injured patients.  It says that an Australian study has shown that those who undergo a craniectomy (skull surgery) are more likely to have impairments later down the road than those who are put into an induced coma.   

The surgery looked more promising because people recover quicker than those in the drug-induced coma.  They spent less time in ICU.  But later comparisons show that the drugged patients do better.

My sister had a brain injury, so that pushes me to be somewhat interested in the subject.   

14. Played Sims, and one of my Sims married William McMahon today.   Now he's William Winter.   I'm naming all of my new Sims after famous Australians.  Today I named a toddler Natasha Stott-Despoja.   She was adopted by two gay dads.  There's lots of gay parents in my neighborhood.   Gay marriage is allowed there, and everyone homeschools.  It's like my utopia.   

15. Decided to post early, because I've been working on Harry Potter related stuff and I'm overwhelmed right now.  

Friday, March 25, 2011

Shoes, Elections, Launceston, and Christian Shephard

1. Read my dream from March 25 2010.

Caroline and her kids are over. There's the idea that Ming is the only child who actually plays...interacts with adults when playing with toys. Something happens to his shoes and socks, and they need new ones. They ask if I have any, and I say no. Caroline goes through my backpack and finds pink shoes that belong to Jack. (it's not seen as rude for her to do this at all and more rude that I had shoes and didn't tell her). I tell her we need the shoes for Hawaii in a few days. Can she bring them back tomorrow. She says yes but doesn't seem very eager. I'm a little annoyed that she won't want to drive all the way there to just drop off shoes. What if she wants a playdate? We need to get ready for Hawaii.

I was going to struggle to explain why the dream is significant, but I decided if anyone is interested they can read my old blog posts that explain it.   

This post  talks about our trip to Hawaii. It happened a week or so after the dream. We had a shoe incident on the trip, and our Aussie friends helped us.It also includes a brief history of our shoe incidents in Australia.  If anyone wants to know a more detailed history of our shoe incidents in Australia, there's this post, titled Day which mothers try to buy their kids new shoes.  

Basically, our relationship to Australia involves shoe synchronocity. You might argue that some of this is Hawaii-related.  HOWEVER,  the main reason we went to Hawaii was so we could meet up with our Australian friends that we love so much.    

2. Found an Australia-related dream from October 2005. This was close to two years before I became super-obsessed. I'm not going to describe the whole dream. I'll just say it involved Julian McMahon and Melbourne. That same night I dreamed of an owl that turned into a creepy red-headed child. I fought the child with milk and then old rotten butter milk. Fun.

3.  Found another shoe dream. This one is from October 2005. Something about kid's shoes. Maybe Jack wanting me to find his shoes. (That's all I wrote)   I don't know if I can include that with the shoe-Australia synchronocity.  Maybe. It could be connected in the fact that I read the dream the same day I read the March 25 2010 shoes dream.

4. Read article about tomorrow's elections in New South Wales. It doesn't look like the Labor party is  going to do very well.  I can't say I care too much. These days the Labor Party really doesn't seem all that different from the Liberal Party.

5. Read that Launceston is on flood watch, and police are knocking on doors, asking people to evacuate.  I almost wrote evaporate instead of evacuate. But we want the WATER to evaporate not the people.

My friend is in Launceston.  I hope she's not affected by this. And I hope all the people who ARE affected by this, end up being okay.

6. Saw that it is Epilepsy Awareness month in Australia. It's here as well. I just got an email from my sister asking for a donation. If anyone wants to donate in honor of my sister, here's her donation site page. She became epileptic after getting hit by a drunk driver in 1990.  

7.  Talked to Jack about our 2012 Australia trip. I said we could go to animal parks, and he was less enthusiastic than I expected.  He thought I was talking about national park type places, which I like; but he does not. He said he's fine with animal parks like Featherdale but doesn't like the type of place we went to in Canberra because it was full of flies, ants, and heat.

He asked if we planned to go to The Blue Mountains. I said maybe, but we were just planning to go to the cute little town with the candy store (Leura).  He said he wants to go back on the steep train.   Yikes. We'll see about that.  

8. Decided to play my Hobart vs. Adelaide Flickr game. This is where I pick a random Hobart and Adelaide game and then decide which photo I prefer.  

When I searched for Adelaide, I got this photo. But I don't know if it really is from Adelaide.  The photo's tags include Adelaide, plus Sydney and Melbourne.  It's of The Australian Centre for the Moving Image.

I just looked at their website. It's in Melbourne, not Adelaide.  

The Hobart photo definitely wins.  It's a vegan chocolate dessert, and it looks beautiful.  It's good that Hobart won, because Adelaide might have cheated a bit. This morning, I went to add a point to Adelaide, and I soon noticed that it is about twenty points ahead of Hobart. The last I remember it was about ten points ahead of Hobart.   I don't know what happened. Maybe it's been that far ahead, and I miscounted?   Maybe I mistyped something along the way? I didn't know what the real score should be, so I just kept it as is. I figured maybe it's supposed to be that way. It could be fate.

9.  Continued to read Patrick White's Riders on the Chariot.  I kind of lost interest when I got to the part about the Jewish guy. I hope that doesn't mean I'm anti-semitic. I usually love reading about Jews. It was one of my favorite topics back in my college days.   It might just be that I'm distracted today. I keep having to read the same pages over and over again.  

Anyway, for some reason I was more interested in the other character; Mary Hare.  I'm sure the book will get back to her; and maybe I just need to give more concentration and attention to the Jewish guy (Mordecai Himmelfarb).   He's sort of interesting.  He'd probably be very interesting if I gave him the proper amount of attention.

10. Read an update on Launceston.  It looks like there might be reassuring news.  The threat seems to have been reduced. I'll keep my fingers crossed...not literally, because then I can't type. Seriously, though. Hopefully things will be okay over there.

11. Saw on Facebook that the NSW election is today.   I get so confused about the time differences.   Right now, it's Saturday in Australia. Here, it's still Friday.

12. Saw a photo of John Alexander, the MP for Bennelong.  He reminded me of someone, and I couldn't figure out who that was.  Then I realized it was Christian Shephard from Lost!

Wasn't John Howard the MP for Bennelong?  I think he was. I'll go check.  

Yep.  I'm right.   Lord Wiki says he had that role from 1974-2007. That's a long time. Then Maxine McKew had it from 2007-2010.  

13. Looked at Christian Shephard's website....I mean John Alexander's.  He REALLY looks like Shephard!  

14. Read fantastic story about man in Melbourne who was very close to dying of cancer.   Then he took some new experimental drug, and he's alive. He's feeling much better.  Right now there's not definite proof that he's cured.  He could get sick again.  But hopefully he won't.  

I hate cancer. It's nice when patients, scientists, doctors nurses, etc. kick its butt.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spam, Ghosts, Buses, and Treasures

1. Saw that someone sent me an email about my blog, and it went into my spam folder.   I don't check often, because I switched to Google Mail and with that, less real emails go into the spam folder.   When I used AOL, I had many real emails falling into the spam folder.

2. Went to Barnes and Noble, just for the fun of it.   I wasn't planning to buy anything, and I didn't. I saw two Australian things.  One was Muck: A Memoir by Crag Sherborne.  It's about an Australian family who goes off to New Zealand to live on a farm. I read the first few paragraphs. It didn't scream out.  Buy me!  Buy me!   If I had been planning to buy a book, I might have decided to buy it. But the book wasn't compelling enough to make me change my plans of not buying anything.

The other thing was a book about Marx written by Peter Singer.  It's part of some series where they take various topics and have some famous intellectual person write about it.

Here.  I found the website for the series. They're called Very Short Introductions; and they're published by Oxford University.  They look kind of fun. I wonder if I'd like them.

3. Decided if I want to learn something, it's probably cheaper and easier to just look it up on the internet. I usually end up regretting getting nonfiction books. I prefer to read least in book form.  Then online, I prefer to read nonfiction.

4. Suspected that this might be a very short post.   It's almost 5 pm, and this is all I've written so far.   My mind is pretty much blank today. What can I say?

5. Watched Toni Collette in a scene from The Sixth Sense.  This is probably the first time I had seen Collette; and I'm sure I had no idea she was Australian.  She does pretty good with the NY accent thing.

It's really an amazing scene.   It's hard to tell what Collette's character is thinking when Cole tells her he sees ghosts.  Does she believe him?  Does she think he's mentally ill?   Does she think he's lying?  Is she undecided?  I kind of think she's the latter.   She doesn't know what to do or what to think.   But then when he starts talking about the butterfly pendant, I'm guessing she begins to suspect it's all a lie; a ploy to get out of trouble for the suspected stealing of the pendant.      

The crying in that scene is very impressive. I especially like when Colette gets all choked up and struggles to tell Cole what she asked her mom at the cemetery.  It feels very real.

6.  Started watching  a video with an Australian man looking at things in his life and describing them.  It's actually quite interesting.   

The first thing is a picture is of a truck at a school bus stop.  The kids would wait in it while they waited for the bus.  I have vague memories of waiting for the school bus with the other kids in the neighborhood.  I rode the bus longer than most kids, because I was too scared to learn how to drive.  And I guess I also didn't have a lot of friends around to drive me.  I don't know when I stopped riding it the bus.  I remember that, in my senior year, we moved to Nashville; and then I got a ride from my friend's mother....who was also my dad's coworker.  I wonder why my friend didn't drive. Maybe she was too young for a license?     

Anyway, back to the video man and his bus.  I don't know if his bus was a school bus or regular public bus.  When we were in Hawaii with our Australian friends, they were very excited to see yellow school buses.  I don't know if it's because Australia doesn't have school buses; or do they just not have yellow ones?

7. Looked up school buses in Australia.  That was a bit confusing, so I narrowed it down to Sydney.   The Sydney Bus system has buses with dedicated school routes.   A bus pass costs $46.30 per term.    That's not too bad when compared to regular bus prices.   An adult weekly ticket is $41, and a concession weekly ticket is $20.50.  A quarterly adult ticket is $451. I'm guessing a term is about as long as a quarter.   

8. Looked at New South Wales school terms. There's four terms, so that would the same as quarters. I think.  

Right now Australians are in the first term.  The NSW holiday is coming up on 8 April. They get about 2 1/2 weeks off.  I didn't realize the holiday was that long.  

9. Watched more of the memories video.   At around :30, the man shows a picture of his navy ship.   He says it's been sunk and is now a diving site.  The man says he loved the ship, and that it was the best that he served on.  I wonder why?   Was it the actual ship he loved or the people on the ship?    Maybe it was a combination of both.

When Jack was a little tyke, I used to keep him occupied at the library by letting him pick out books for me.  One of them was a book about a guy in the navy.  I'm usually not into military things, but I actually liked the book.  The navy work seemed EXHAUSTING.  I was in the stage of motherhood where there doesn't seem to be any job that's more difficult or exhausting.  t's work, work, and more work.  You don't get to leave your work and go home for the evening. The job continues and even bedtime doesn't guarantee a break.

Anyway, I had very little sympathy for non-parents who complained about being too busy.  But when I read the navy book, I felt THESE people had it rough.  I can't remember exactly what it was like but it seemed comparable to parenting.  There wasn't much time to for the Navy people to sleep.     

The thing that's not told to parent's often enough though is that it DOES get easier. Much easier.  For me, the first 2-3 years were really hard. Then it became fairly easy.  As Jack got older, I got more and more free time.  Other parents don't tell you this, though.  At least they didn't say it to me.    I forgot what exactly they said, but it made me feel very trapped and scared. I think I got the idea that I'd never have a full night's rest again.....or at least not for several years.

The exception to the it-gets-easier thing is families who have children with severe autism, or other fairly severe disabilities/illnesses.   Then I think the busy, exhausting, and difficult times continue for many years.  Just thinking about it makes me tired.   

10. Watched more of the memory video.  I really like this guy.  He has interesting stuff and interesting things to say.

He sells UTE decals.

Ah!  He named his website. I'll try to find it.

Unfortunately, it's down for maintenance.  Hopefully, it will be back up soon.  

I guess he has some kind of shop.  That's what he's showing in the video.  It's SOME kind of business.  Maybe more like a museum?  

They do sell some stuff—hot drinks, lotto tickets, and they have an internet cafe. Well, of course they'd sell something.  How else would they stay in business?  What I mean is, I don't know if they sell any of the artifacts. Those might just be for display purposes.

This guy has a LOT of bottles. I think that's one of the main things he collects. They look really nice, the way he displays them.

I really admire this guy, at least from what I see in the video.  He takes what many of us would see as rubbish, and treats it like a treasure. That's a nice change of pace for our throwaway society.

I love his bottles on the window.  They're beautiful.  

Oh!  They sell used books too.   Cool.

At the end of the video, the man shows himself. He's MUCH younger than I imagined.   For some reason, I thought he was a bit old, probably because he has all this old stuff.   But he looks like he's my age, or younger.  It's like when Jen started commenting on my blog, and I thought she was a quirky old lady.  I think I was picturing someone like Ruth Cracknell. Then I found out she's younger than me.   

11. Looked at treasure man's YouTube channel.  His name is Billy Sherman, and he's not younger than me.  He's a year older.  

Here's another one of his videos.   He talks about how he has suffers from depression, and metal detecting work has helped him feel better.  He suggests that other depressed people might try it.    I don't know if metal detecting itself is a treatment for depression.  I think any hobby could work, depending on the person.  When you're depressed, you need something to do.  You need a purpose.   You need a reason to get up in the morning.  You need a reason to WANT to get up in the morning.   I think metal detecting would work very well for some people.  It does sound fun.

The video page has a link to his blog.   It looks like he gets a lot of visitors.  

12. Looked up Dumbleyung on Google Maps, because that's the town where Billy Sherman lives.  I pictured it being in New South Wales, but it's not.  It's in Western Australia, about three hours west of Bunbury.

13. Decided I was wrong about this being a short post.  Oh well.  

14. Had one of those emotional spiritual moments.   I was exercising while watching my screensaver slideshow.  I thought about my Australian obsession and how so many photos from my slideshow come from that part of my life. And I thought about how it all began.

You know how people say Follow your dreams.  Well, I did that...literally.   I don't know why it happened.  But I do know that the Australia obsession began with dreams; not dreams as in wishes but as in those adventures you go on in the middle of the night.     

After I thought all this, the next photo that appeared was of Jack and Tara brushing their teeth together in Tasmania.  The Australia obsession led us to Tasmania, and to Tara.  And then I thought of Jack.  It was my other huge life obsession that brought him to me; Cystic Fibrosis.  I met Tim through my obsession with CF, and that ultimately led to Jack.

Destiny fascinates me.  It's funny.  Today you might encounter something seemingly trivial; a character on a TV show, a word in a book, a blog with an interesting story, a dream that makes you curious.  You won't think much about it; at least not at first. Then maybe, for some reason, it blossoms into something.  Suddenly, you find it difficult to stop thinking about it. And then gradually it becomes a huge part of your life.  It begins to direct your destiny.   Sometimes you forgot about its importance.  You take it for granted.  But at the times you do remember, you're overwhelmed with gratitude.   

15. Read story of lifeguard saving a toddler at Bronte beach.  She got caught up in the water and was sort of dead—no breathing or pulse.  They saved her.   I love hearing stories like that.  Tragedies are horrible but almost-tragedies are kind of nice, because they make you feel so grateful and relieved.    I say kind-of-nice, because it's better to skip the terror all together.    I'm sure this family is going to have nightmares for a long time.  Well, I hope they spend the next few weeks giving each other millions of hugs and kisses.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chalk, Birthdays, Masks, and Michael Ronaldson

1. Read article about children drawing with chalk, on a footpath, outside a cafe in Melbourne.  he council says it's not okay because it counts as graffiti. I think that's ridiculous. Children's art is precious; and since chalk easily washes away, I can't see how it's a problem. However, I DO disagree with the practice if the children are blocking the footpath as they draw.  I don't think that's really okay. People could trip over them; and it might be hard for some folks to walk around or step over them.

Maybe the footpath is big enough?  Then I wouldn't see it as a problem.

Oh.  I just read the article more closely. The owner of the cafe says the footpath IS wide enough.   So yeah.  What's the problem?  I say let the kids do their drawings.   

2. Read a note written by the Gay Marriage Rights in Australia Facebook page.  It's about Julia Gillard.

They say:

As far as I'm concerned, it is utterly bizarre for a female, unmarried, childless, Atheist, Prime Minister to be using cultural tradition as an argument against progressive law reform.

If decisions were and should be made on the basis of protecting cultural traditions then we would never see any progressive social reforms at all and someone like Ms Gillard would never become Prime Minister. We would still have the white Australia policy, women being denied the right to vote and gay men in gaol for expressing their natural sexuality.

I think that was very well said.

3. Read Andrew's post about nuclear fears.   I think he's wise when he says, Nuclear experts are assuring us that reactors built in the future will be failsafe. I would guess the same claims were made about the ones that went wrong in the past.

When someone assures you that they'll make sure things are better next time, you do have to wonder then why things weren't okay this time.  I mean it's not like earthquakes are totally unexpected in Japan.

4. Read one of those birthday letters on an Aussie blog.  I see them every so often. he mother (or father) writes a letter to their child, describing the child's life, personality, and accomplishments.   I guess it's kind of like a time capsule. The child can later read it and see what they were like at age 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, etc.  I'm wondering if it's some kind of Australian tradition?  I don't think it's that common in America.   

Did it start with blogging, or does it have a history beyond that?  I'm guessing that it started before blogging.  Maybe people used to keep those letters private, but now that they have blogs they share them with the world.

I imagine it would be nice to look back at your childhood in that way. Not only does it give you details of your life, but you see all the parental love showered your way. I have very little record of my own early childhood. Once in awhile, my mom will remember a story and share it. But I'm sure there's so much she's forgotten. I think it's the same for most of our generation and those born prior to that. Our early years are clouded in mystery.

These days, people keep blogs and journals.  If they don't have that, they probably at least have tons of photographs to record those years.   

5. Watched a video clip of a film with Ruth Cracknell.  It's called The Singer and the Dancer.   Cracknell plays a woman living with her daughter.  The daughter treats her in a very condescending way, and Cracknell acts the part her daughter seems to wish for her to play. She acts old, out of it, and incompetent. A doctor comes to pick up Cracknell, and once she's out of her daughter's view, she's free to act like herself. She smokes and puts up her feet. She acts more like a teen than an old lady.

I'm sure this happens to a lot of people.  They put on a mask so they can live up to the low expectations that some people have of them. Or they might put on the mask to live up to so-called higher expectations. A young teen might act studios, innocent, and pure at home; then once away from the house they might put on some eyeliner, lipstick, and a whole new persona.  

Who is to blame; the person wearing the mask or the one for whom the mask is worn?

I'd say both are probably to blame. Sometimes we have expectations of people that are too high; or we don't give them opportunities to show their true self.  Other times, people are too cowardly to be themselves even if they have no proof that we wouldn't accept them for who they are.  

6. Looked at my new Sydney coffee table book.  It did its job well of promoting Sydney. After looking through it, I got all excited about returning to Sydney.  

7. Read some of Michael Ronaldson's first speech to Parliament.   He talks about being a Liberal, and says As such I believe first and foremost in the innate goodness and sense of the Australian people. More than that, liberalism is based on trust—trust in ordinary Australians, both as individuals and as a collective group. This trust in ordinary Australians manifests itself in a preference for minimal and dispersed government. This trust in individual choice means a recognition that the free market is not only good but is necessary for the creation of individual choice and private wealth, which are social goods in their own right. 

It's a kind thing to say.  It's nice when people say they trust us. But what if the trust isn't deserved?

My friend talks about this when she emails me. The free market might be a good thing if it weren't for the fact that people are greedy.   

We can probably trust people to take care of themselves. But can we trust them to take care of their neighbors? Can we trust them not to exploit those who have less power and money than they do?    Probably not. At least not as a whole.

8. Read more of Michael Ronaldson's speech.   He says, While liberalism is based on a foundation of trust and individual liberty, the ideologies of the Left—Labor and Greens—are based on the premise that a select few know what is best for ordinary people.

All right.  I'm going to leave Labor out of this.  At this point, they boggle my mind. Well, at least their leader does.  So, let's just leave it between the Liberal and Green party.  The Green's know what's best for ordinary people? Really?  Which party believes that ordinary citizens have the ability to decide whether their relationship can stand up to the institution of marriage? Which party believes there needs to be laws that dictate who can marry and who cannot?  Which party believes that severely ill people are capable of deciding whether they want to end their fight early or not?  Which party believes that the government needs to protect terminally ill people from offing themselves?

The Liberal Party is about trust and freedom?  Give me a break.

9. Read an open-letter to Julia Gillard.   I LOVE what Jess McGuire says here.  Imagine if the people voting in the 1967 referendum had approached political and civil rights issues the way you claim to do. I’ve got nothing against Aboriginals, but you know, they’ve never been counted as actual people – they’ve been listed under Flora and Fauna act for as long as I can remember, and gee I’m a bit conservative about social issues so let’s not shake things up. 

That's funny and also very sad.

I also love McGuire's lines here....109 years after Australian women were finally allowed to vote and stand for election for the Federal Parliament, we have our first female prime minister. It seems to me as though you’re happy enough to embrace societal changes when they benefit you personally. How thoroughly disappointing you seem unable to muster up any empathy for other citizens who are being denied equal rights.

I really hope that Gillard reads this, and other stuff like this. Maybe there's hope that she'll come to her senses.    

10.  Watched Modern Family, and they had yet another reference to something Australian. This time it was Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The theme of the episode itself went very well with what I wrote in #5.  That was some fun synchronicity for me today.  

Speaking of synchronicity, I had some toe synchronicity last night and today.  First, last night while talking to a friend,  I looked down at my toes and suddenly decided I must cut my toenails immediately.  They've been too long for a long time, and I ignored them. But suddenly, I treated it like an emergency.

Then in the middle of the night, I woke up to a pretty awful burning pain in the back of my left big toe. I put some medicine on it, and it soon went away. I just used that antibacterial cream you put on cuts.  The pain was nowhere near my nail, so I don't think it had anything to do with my nail-cutting adventure.

This morning, Jack called up to me because his toenail was bleeding. I had to put medicine on it.  He picks on his nails a lot, so there's a reasonable explanation. Although it's not common for them to actually bleed. 

What is the meaning of toe synchronicity?   I don't know.  This morning I looked up toe in my favorite dream dictionary website.  I figured I could treat it as a waking dream type thing.  They say, To dream that you hurt your toe or that there is a corn or abrasion on it, means that you are feeling anxious about moving forward with some plan or decision.  Except that I'm really not; at least I don't think I am.  At this moment I don't have any plans (or pans) or decisions that are making me anxious.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Babies, Hubwarts, Fans, and Neighbors

1. Got an email with a link to the Sounds Like Brisbane website.  It's an independent music label for musicians in Brisbane.   I don't really like the song that plays automatically when you get to the site.   It's not my kind of thing.  But I'll listen to other music on the site and see if there's anything I like.  

2. Listened to a song on the Sounds like Brisbane website that I sort of liked.  It's called "Always",  by Optimum.   It's kind of rap or hip/hop.  I don't really know the difference between those two.  

3. Read Andrew's interesting post about ingrained homophobia.  He felt a bit homophobic because he judged a gay couple for having a baby just three years after being together.  He thinks he wouldn't feel the same way about a straight couple.

I probably would question a straight couple having a baby that fast.  I wouldn't necessarily say it's wrong.  It would just be different from what I'm used to.  Tim and I had Jack six years after we started dating.  My older sister was with her husband 9-10 years before they had their first child. My younger sister was with her husband 8 years before the first baby appeared.  I think my parents were together for about five years before they had my sister.

I'm just going by my own family really. Maybe it's different with other families, so three years wouldn't seem unusual to them.

4. Learned of an Australian Harry Potter website.   It's called the Harry Potter Fan Zone, and was started by Andy McCray in 2003.  He was fourteen then, so I guess now he's about 22.  I searched for Harry Potter and Australia, because I heard about some Australian Harry Potter event on the Magic is Might website.  I'm not sure if it's connected to the fan zone thing.

Today a teen put up a video pretending to be Luna Lovegood. She almost had me fooled.   I think she looks and sounds so much like Evanna Lynch.  I'm really amazed by some of the work these people are doing.  Some of the people playing characters act so much like the characters. For example, the person playing Slughorn is so....Slughorn.   Now unlike Luna, he's not on a video.  He's just updating Facebook.  But what I'm learning is that people can actually act through writing and not just speaking and action.   

5. Found the Australian Harry Potter event.  It's called Hubwarts, and it's going to be in Sydney on Saturday and Melbourne on Sunday. Victor Krum is going to be there along with George, Fred, and Tonks.  

I didn't realize this, but the NSW elections are on Saturday too.  See, I'm paying more attention to Harry Potter lately than Australian politics.  I DID know an election was on the horizon, though...with all that talk about Kenneally. I just didn't know it was so soon.  Anyway, they give advice on how to attend the event AND do your political duty.

At the bottom of the page they have the typical Harry Potter disclaimer.  This is unofficial and has no endorsement by JK Rowling or Warner Bros; blah, blah, blah.  Well, guess what. We went to an officially endorsed Harry Potter thing (Universal Studios), and we thought it was AWFUL.  I think some of the unofficial stuff is much better.  Whoever is doing the Magic is Might experience has impressed me much more than Universal Studios. Maybe Universal Studios should hire them.  

6. Looked at the prices for Hubwarts.  Goodness. At least in that area, it resembles Universal Studios.  It's $85 for a base day ticket.  How much is Universal? Wow. It's actually three dollars cheaper.  Still though.  I think that's probably about right for an event or conference.  Maybe?    

I just looked up the unschooling conference we've gone to.  That's $150, but it's for the whole long weekend (Friday-Monday).  That works out to about $38 per day.  That's much cheaper than $85 a day.   

Anyway, on top of the $85 you have to pay extra for autographs and pictures with the actors.  It's $30 per autograph and $90 to take a photo of yourself with the Weasley twins. It all seems a bit overpriced to me.  I've never been to a fan event, though; so maybe that's typical?  

Is the money going to charity, or anything?  I can't find any information about that.  While looking I found the etiquette page.  Reading it makes me think I probably never want to attend a fan event.     I'm not really into the fawning and gushing least not in real life.  Online it's pretty okay.     The etiquette page actually asks people not to fawn and gush but seeing that they have to have rules about that....well, it makes me think that's what people are WANTING to do.  

Anyway, as far as I know Hubwarts is not associated with Andy McCray's site It's done by a group called Hub Productions. They do all kinds of fan stuff— Star Trek, Twilight, True Blood, etc.  

7. Read Christine Milne's first speech to Parliament.    I like what she says here:

The notion of ‘family values’ is confined to a narrow range of values to suit a particular agenda. Where I grew up, honesty, kindness, respect, justice, fairness, tolerance, love and forgiveness were family values. Discrimination against and vilification of minorities, lying, misrepresentation and meanness of spirit were not family values. 

Amen to that.
8. Read article about large residential developments.   It says the lack of a corner shop kills off the sense of community.  A researcher named Pip Williams says, Incidental interaction actually builds communities - the ability to bump into your neighbour is really important; but when people are getting into the car to go to school, the shops, church, you lose that.

I can't think of a time that I ever lived in a neighborhood like that; but it sounds nice. Fort Worth is a small enough city that once you get in your car and drive somewhere, you're fairly likely to run into someone you know. We often see people we know at Costco, although not lately.  

We have a shopping center about a half a mile away.  I rarely see anyone I know there. I also never see anyone walking there.  People usually drive.  It would be nice to see more walkers.

When we lived in Madison Wisconsin and St. Louis we knew our neighbors pretty well.  We didn't meet on a walk to the shops, though.  I don't think there were any shops that close. I think it was more a matter of the kids reaching out to meet each other. Then our parents would meet the parents of our new friends, and they'd become friends too.

Then we moved to Atlanta.  We knew some of our neighbors but not as well as we did in the past.    Since then it's never been the same.  We've lived in various places, and I haven't felt as if we know our neighbors very well.  

It might be because times changed.  Maybe people became less likely to know their neighbors.   

It could be other things.  Maybe school kept us busier, so we had less time to play around the neighborhood.  Maybe since we were older, our parents had less reason for getting involved in our friendships and therefore they had less reason to meet the parents of our friends.  AND most of our friends came from school rather than the neighborhood.

Now these days, there's so much paranoia, and I hardly see kids out on their own anymore.   

9. Thought about the Internet, and how it's probably preventing people from knowing their neighbors.  I'm not sure I want to complain, though.   I think I prefer the Internet over chummy neighborhoods, because then I'm talking to people based on common interests rather than just proximity.  It would be nice if we could have both, though.  

10. Thought about my older sister's neighborhood. They actually do have a neighborhood like we used to have.  People know each other.  Kids play outside.  We went there for Halloween, and it kind of reminded me of my childhood. I think the trick might be the type of street it's on. It's not a very busy street, in terms of traffic.  In comparison, our street IS busy.  Also, I don't think we have many kids on our street.  I think most people are of retirement age.

We do know of our neighbors, mostly because my parents used to live in our house, and they sort of knew their neighbors.  But we don't really see them much, and we rarely interact with them.  

I take walks sometimes. I rarely see anyone outside besides the professional gardeners.

Speaking of gardens.  We planted green beans today in our backyard.   I actually had planned to give up and forget about it this year; face the fact that I have a black thumb.  But my homeschooling friend talked about helping us, and she even gave us some seeds. Then I was feeling guilty about the water we were wasting when we waited for the kitchen water to get hot enough to wash dishes.   I decided to fill up some cups while I waited and then use them to water the plants outside.   I told this to Tim, and I guess he decided we should get serious about gardening. He bought me a gardening tool set.   I told him thank you, but I'm not really THAT into gardening.   He said he could return the stuff, and then I decided....what the hell?   We might as well try again.   

If we end up with green beans, great. If big deal. I think the important thing is it encourages us to get outside and be with nature.   We tend to spend too much time indoors.  And I like digging in the dirt.  

11. Saw on Facebook that Josh Thomas asked Julia Gillard a question. I think he asked what I want to ask.

Well, I'm looking at this article now.  Thomas didn't ask Gillard the question. He asked Christine Milne the question.  She was on the same Q and A program that Gillard was on recently.    Thomas said, Yesterday  our atheist, female, living-in-sin Prime Minister, who is obsessed with ‘moving forward’, said that she’s against same-sex marriage because it’s against our culture and our heritage, which she again explained is based on the Bible. WTF? Discuss.

I think Thomas phrased his question very well.

Milne had a nice response.  She said, It’s not very sensible to say ‘I had a conservative upbringing and I’m still where I was at the time I was nine or ten living at home in that environment’. I think there is a time when as an adult you can review the values that you hold, and I am especially committed to making sure we get rid of discrimination in Australia, and I look forward to the day when we have marriage equality in this country.   

12.  Read editorial about Julia Gillard.   Kerryn Phelps sums up what she imagines Julia Gillard is thinking.   We’re not as Right as those nasty ultra-conservatives so we’ll introduce a carbon tax even though we promised not to, and we’re not as Left as those radical Green extremists so therefore I am opposed to marriage equality. Yeah.  I agree. I think that's the game Gillard is trying to play.

Phelps also says, And nobody is buying the “Australia’s cultural heritage” argument either. Australia’s history includes edited highlights such as genocide of Aboriginal people, hatred between Catholics and Protestants, the White Australia Policy, and the hunting down and jailing of homosexuals. So let’s not go there.  

Australia has some fantastic things in their heritage as well; so you embrace THAT and continue it.   You don't try to continue the bad stuff.  Well, you COULD, but then you're acting ridiculous and stupid.  

13. Read a comment on the same article by G Davidson.   He says,
if we redefine marriage to placate the homosexual activists, then why stop there? There are all sorts of other sexual relationships that people are demanding recognition of. Polyamory, or group love, is a growing movement demanding the rights to marriage as well.

The exact arguments used by those pushing for same-sex marriage are being used by the polyamorists. If we legalise the former, is it not discriminatory and unjust to outlaw the latter? They too claim that it is all about love, and that they should have the same rights as heterosexual couples.   

I say polyamory should be legalized.  Why not?

Davidson mentions cousins. Why not?  Brothers and sisters?   I'd say weird but okay as long as they don't have children.  You could argue who's going to stop them from making babies?  But they don't need marriage to make the baby.

14. Loved Andrew's comment on the same article.   For all the hate filled, bigoted, bible bashing homophobes above - I wonder if you lot and the Prime Minister would agree with the bible stories that say its ok to chop off people’s hands and its ok to keep slaves.  Would you agree that a minister of the church should burn his daughter alive if she became a prostitute?  So do you beleive all of the bible or just the bits that suite your own bigotry??  If you do beleive all of the bible is the absolute word of god then you’re all sick sick sick little monkeys…. 

Actually though....they'd be sick sick sick little apes.

15. Enjoyed a song on the Sounds Like Brisbane site.   It's called Sunshine State, and it's by Marialy Pacheco.  It's instrumental, and lovely.  It kind of reminds me of Peanuts

16. Looked at Marialy Pacheco's website.   She was born in Cuba.  She's going to be doing a concert in Sydney on 16 April at the 505 bar. 

17. Admired Marise Payne's first speech to Parliament, which was done in 1997.   She says, There is no room, in my view, for the division and destruction wrought by hate based race politics. The jingoistic simplicity of the One Nation mantra may have an hypnotic effect on some Australians, but the danger of the extremist politics practised by One Nation remains. Pauline Hanson's One Nation party has been identified as a threat to our trading relations, as having a negative impact on tourism and to the uptake of Australian services by international consumers. But, Madam President, ultimately it is simply offensive, unacceptable and morally repugnant. 

Further down she says, A future Australia should be a nation free from discrimination against any individual. Discrimination against people based on their gender, their race, their sexuality, their religion, their HIV status or their education does not belong in our democracy. Before I hear the clamouring cries of right-wing media commentators about political correctness: this is not a statement about women's rights, gay rights or minority rights; rather, it is about human rights.

I wouldn't be surprised to hear this being said by a Senator from the Labor Party or Green Party.    But Payne is a Liberal Party Senator.  Am I prejudice for being surprised?   Probably.   But I do think some of the reputation is earned. Not enough Liberal politicians speak up against bigotry the way Payne has done.  And no.  I don't include those who say Some of my best friends are black.  That means pretty much...nothing.  Some of my best friends are Republicans.  I'm still prejudice about Republicans.