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 show, like 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.