Sunday, March 20, 2011

Casey Heynes, Family Values, Bennelong, and Live Transport

1. Read more of Sonya Hartnett's Butterfly.   There's a part that I can strongly relate to.  Plum (the protagonist) is given a compliment by her neighbor.  She's told she's beautiful enough to be a model someday.  This is huge for Plum, because she's always seen herself as ugly. The next day at school, she shares this with her friends.  They viciously tease and insult her.  They tell Plum that the neighbor was probably joking.  Now maybe Plum is hideous looking, and it might be hard to say She is so right!  You're beautiful!   But I think the proper response would probably be....I don't know?   An awkward moment of silence?  Or they could have gone with a noncommittal....Oh, cool.

Stuff like this has happened to me before, when I've told a friend about nice things that other friends have said to me.  Is it my fault?  Should we never talk about these things?  Is any little bit of it considered excessive bragging?  

What is the motive of the people who try to shatter our joy and self-confidence?  Are they providing a reality check?  Are they making sure we don't get carried away about ourselves?  Are they jealous?   Insecure?   If my friend becomes too pleased with herself, she might decide she doesn't need me.   Let's make sure she doesn't think she's anything special.  

Sometimes I feel it's also about undermining the person's relationship with others.  If someone says something nice to us, we're likely to be pleased with them. They might make us happy—at least temporarily.  Sometimes people are threatened by the fact that we have other friends besides them, so they might try to get us to question the other person's trustworthiness and sincerity.  It's back to the Missy Higgins lyrics.   She told me don't trust them trust me. 

What I'm learning is that with some friends you never talk about your problems, because they'll try to tell you it's not that bad; and you'll end up feeling invalidated. And then with other friends you never share anything positive or happy, because they'll try to rain on your parade.

I rain enough on my own parade, thank you very much.

2. Read Jayne's blog post about rescuing a wasp from the lake in the Botanic Gardens.  She used a bird feather.  I think that's pretty brave, because I'm a bit terrified of wasps.  I do sometimes rescue bees from the pool though.   Sometimes we're unable to save lives, and therefore we have a nice little collection of dead bugs.  There's the injured  butterfly I found on the street.  I took it home.   It lived for a few hours.  We have the bee that my sister rescued from the pool, but it was too late.  There's another bee, but I don't remember how we got that one.  Maybe it was another pool victim?   We have a Cicada.  Our most recent addition is a lady bug.  It was sad.  Jack excitedly told me there was a lady bug in our house.   I rushed down to see it, and discovered it was dead.  It almost seems like a bad omen.

This website says that killing a ladybug will bring sadness and misfortune.  We didn't kill it, so maybe we'll be okay.   

We've found some dead wasps in the house, besides the ones that we murdered.  We didn't add them to the collection though.  Just looking at them gives me the creeps.

3. Read article about the bullying victim in Australia. Casey Heynes has finally come forward to tell his story.  

He says he was bullied daily for over three years, and at one point considered suicide.  What I wonder is why he didn't fight back earlier. I guess he believed in the whole turn-the-other-cheek method of dealing with things?

What's really sad about the whole thing is this all went on for three years, and no one helped Casey.   Did any other kids step forward?  How about the teachers?  What did they do?

The article makes it sound great that Casey went from having one friend to thousands of friends. But someone shouldn't have to become a viral celebrity in order to get support.  

4. Found that I'm unable to be tolerant of Julia Gillard's views on gay marriage.   If I take a deep breath, and manage to be open-minded, I can somewhat tolerate Christians being against gay marriage.  I figure it's part of their religious beliefs.  I don't easily tolerate the fact that they support laws against gay marriage, because that means they're imposing their religious/moral beliefs on others.   Then again....if America put out a law against eating animals raised in inhumane ways, would I be happy about that?  Yes, probably.   It might be nice to see my personal morals imposed upon others.  I don't really love that analogy though, because one involves preventing immense suffering, and the other does not.

But really. What IS Julia Gillard's reason for being against gay marriage?  She says, I do find myself on the conservative side in this question. Why?  Why?  Why?!

Oh, here's an answer.  She thinks marriage between men and women has a special status.    Again....why?

If you're going to advocate discrimination, at least give a reason for it.  There's nothing wrong with being conservative.  There's nothing wrong with being  progressive. But you have to have reasoning behind it.

It's like someone asking why do you unschool?   If I say  We do it because we're progressive when it comes to education; that's really not a good answer.  WHY are we progressive when it comes to education?  

I've stopped eating eggs because I don't want to be a participant in chicken-suffering....I didn't stop so I can say Hi!  I'm on a progressive eating path.  

5. Wished I could remember this certain analogy I read a few years ago.  It was about parenting; people making conservative choices.   It was something with cooking. Someone cooked something a certain way. When asked why, she said because her mother cooked it that way.   But the whole thing was that they were doing something completely unneccessary.  I think the moral of the story is that it's fine to follow traditions; but we should do it because there's a reason, and not just for fact that it's been done that way in the past.

6. Wondered if I have any old-fashioned values.  The only thing I can think of off-hand is I believe it's best for a parent to stay home with the child the first few years.   I guess I'm progressive in the fact that I think it can be the mom OR dad.   If there's financial restraints, I understand, of course.    I'm just not big on people leaving their kids at daycare, or with a nanny, so they can pursue their career full-time.  Now if they can work part-time—have their cake and eat it too. I think that's awesome.   
I don't think it's fair that only wealthy parents should have the choice to stay home with their child.   So with my old-fashioned values, I believe parents should get paid-leave time for at least the first few months of a child's life.  Even better if it's the whole first year.  

Americans get nothing. Australians get 18 weeks at minimum wage.

Lord Wiki says that in Norway, parents can choose taking off 10 months with 100% pay, or 13 months with 80% pay.   hen if the parents decide they want to do more staying at home, they can choose an extra year off with no pay.

How can Americans know all of this, and still believe they live in the best country in the world?  Is it that they're ignorant of the facts, or they just don't value parenthood?  But them most people who believe American is the best country are also the ones who say they believe in "family values".  It makes no sense to me. That's why I tend to believe family values is a euphemism for we don't like gay people.

7. Thought of another conservative value that I have.   I believe in using polite words; basic stuff like please, thank you, sorry, excuse me.

8. Read article about Bennelong's grave being found.  I didn't realize it was missing. Or maybe I did know, and I forgot.  

There's a lot of stuff in this article I didn't know.  I had always thought Bennelong had been abandoned by his white and black friends, and died lonely.  But this is saying that he DID have a friend at the end; an ex-convict brewer named James Squire.  He died on Squire's property, and Squire had him buried there.  But it was lost among all the development in Sydney.

9. Read another article about Bennelong's grave.  This one goes into better detail about where they found it.  It's in the garden of a suburban home. Wow.  They're not going to give an exact location, which is probably wise since it's a private home.  But the general location is in Putney, which is about 20 minutes north-west of the CBD.

10. Read John Hogg's first speech to Parliament.  This was back in September 1996.   He says, the need to have dignity and to be treated with dignity is the special element that sets us apart from all the other species on this planet. We are something special and, as such, should treat ourselves and our fellow humans in a way which gives dignity. Dignity is not a commodity to be bought, sold or traded. It is an inalienable right.

Now I know he's not trying to make a statement about animal rights.   He's saying we humans should treat each other better.  That's a good sentiment, but I wish people would refrain from trying to separate humans from other animals. Is there proof that other animals don't have dignity?

First of all, what exactly IS dignity? 

Lord Wiki says it's about believing someone has the right to receive respect and ethical treatment.  

Will an animal care if we tease it and shame it?   Or will they only care if we cause it physical suffering?   I don't know.  I have a feeling the answer would be yes. They would care if they were teased and shamed. And I'm betting many people can think of stories where their animal friend seemed to have their feelings hurt.

How many times have we heard humans are the only ones who do this; and then later some study proves that theory wrong.  I remember when people used to say that only humans use tools.  That's what makes us different. They were wrong about that.

Nonhuman animals grieve.   

Nonhuman animals lie

And recent studies show that chickens have empathy.  

11. Very glad to see that Lord Wiki classifies humans as great apes.  Thank you, Lord Wiki!   We're in the same subfamily classification as chimpanzees and gorillas. A lot of people like to ignore or deny that fact.  I'm glad Lord Wiki isn't one of them.

12. Took an Australian Traveler IQ test on Facebook.  My score was 116,116.   It's not too great, but not awful.     

13. Thought more about the rain-on-your-parade thing.  And I talked to Tim about it. He said I wasn't nuts for thinking it's hurtful for someone to do that.   I didn't want to share the exact circumstances of what happened, so I made up a story for him instead.  What if he told a friend that he made a deep dish pizza for his in-laws, and that his in-laws liked it.  Would it be rude for the friend to say Maybe they were lying?

Tim agreed that it was rude to say that.

We decided the exception would be if the same friend tasted the pizza, and had given it some criticism when asked. Well, it's a little bit too salty.

If Tim responded defensively by saying, Well, I made it for my in-laws, and THEY liked it; then I think he'd deserve a response of Maybe they were lying. Or the person could be a little more civil and say Well, everyone has different opinions.

Note: Tim's pizza is not too salty. I was just using that as an example.

14. Felt compelled to reveal that the character who GIVES the original compliment in Butterfly isn't the nicest person; and she might have been being fake about the compliment. I think that's besides the point, though.   The rain-on-her-parade friends didn't know this woman, so they couldn't have known she was being fake.

It kind of reminds me of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  Harry Potter gets a compliment and advice that ultimately puts him on his career path.  A few months after getting the advice, Harry learns that it's come from one of the bad guys; someone who was actually out to hurt him.   He then has to struggle to decide whether the advice is still valid.

If it turned out that my parents ended up being crazy evil villains, would that render their pizza compliment completely invalid?  No.  Even crazy evil villains can have valid opinions about pizza.

Note: I'm not trying to say my parents are crazy and evil.   I'm just using it as an example.  

15. Read this horrible story about a man injured by a rude cab driver.   Jason Chatfield leaned into the cab to tell the cab driver where he needed to go.   The cab driver was annoyed at the destination, and refused to take him.  That's rude enough.  But what's worse is the cab driver didn't want for Chatfield to move away. He drove off with Chatfield still leaning into the window. Somehow Chatfield got stuck, and he was dragged along the road.   He has some serious injuries.  Hopefully, he'll be okay.

16. Continued to read Butterfly.  It reminds me of The Slap; lots of disturbed and morally-depraved characters.  They're the type of people who make me feel pity rather than sympathy.  

17. Read on the RSPCA's Facebook Page that today Parliament is going to be debating the subject of transporting live animals.  The argument against it is that many animals suffer and/or die during transport; and there's no regulation on what happens to the still-alive animals once they reach another country.  The RSPCA wants to move to transport of frozen meat only.

What are the arguments FOR it?  I'd guess money, money, and money.

18. Looked at a website that supports live transport.   Of course they deny that animals are mistreated.   I sort of tried to give them the benefit of the doubt. Then I saw this response to questions of video footage being taken of cattle being mistreated.   Their response?   Middle Eastern industry experts have confirmed that NONE of the cattle shown in the 60 Minutes footage were from Australia. This misrepresentation of images is typical of the falsehoods and misinformation spread by animal rights extremists.

So we're supposed to feel better because the cows weren't Australian?  Oh, those are KIWI cows.  I get it.  Fine.   Treat them long as their not Aussies.  I can just imagine the humans hurting various cows. Then they stop by one and take a closer look.  Oh, this one is Australian.  I better be nice to him.  

19. Watched graphic and depressing video about live animal transport and cruel slaughtering methods.  Actually, I just watched 3 out of 10 minutes of it. I feel I have earned the right, as a vegetarian, to turn away.   

I really hope the debate goes well in Parliament today.  

20. Started reading Riders in the Chariot.   I'm on the second page, and I'm a bit lost so far, but that often happens to me in the beginning of books.  It's my first time reading a Patrick White novel.   I hope I end up liking it.  Xanadu was mentioned.  I may make myself sound very ignorant with this confession, but I thought that term was invented for the movie.  I didn't know it had origins outside of that.

The book was published in 1961. The movie came out in 1980.

So, what is Xanadu?

Lord Wiki says it was a city in Mongolia.

It's also a reflective area on Saturn's moon Titan.

There's a plant in Australia named Xanadu. It's named after the city in Mongolia.