Thursday, June 23, 2011

Playford, Pregnancy, Magical Portraits, and Pretend Asylum Seekers

1. Decided to consult Lord Wiki about Sir Thomas Playford, because someone sent me an email about him.  It was in reference to my post about Don Dunstan, in which Playford makes a brief appearance.

Lord Wiki says that Playford had the longest term of any Australian elected leader.  He was Premier from 1938-1965.  I was wondering if that was longer than Menzies, but I guess they're going by term.  Menzies might have been Prime Minister longer than Playford was Premier.  I'm not sure.   But his time in office was divided by two terms.

2. Consulted Lord Wiki about Menzies.  He was Prime Minister for 19 years total. That's less than Playford's 27 years.

3. Decided that, from what Lord Wiki says, Playford was politically on the right.  He was for the free market/capitalism.

Well, I just read further.  He wasn't free market friendly enough for some people.   They called him a socialist.  I think that's because he changed after becoming Premier.   In his pre-Premier days he was against government interference. When he was Premier, that changed a bit.  

4. Learned that Playford's thing was making sure housing and living prices were low in order to attract workers/migrants to South Australia.  If I'm understanding Lord Wiki right, he wasn't as big on government support programs for education, health care, arts, environment, etc.

5. Liked the story of the Playford family origins.  In 1759, a baby boy was left at the door of a house.  There was a note requesting that the baby be named Thomas Playford.  The baby's new family did as they were told, and that started a tradition.  When the baby grew up, he named his own child Thomas Playford. Then with every generation, the first born is given the name.

That's really awesome.  

6. Learned that it was the third Thomas Playford who moved from Europe to South Australia.

7. Learned that the fifth Thomas Playford (the Premier one) fought in the infamous Gallipoli Battle. 

8. Learned that Thomas Playford #6 was born in 1945.  I wonder what he's up to.

Oh, Lord Wiki answers my wonders right here. I just needed to read a few sentences down.  He became a religious minister.

9. Read about Playford's methods of helping businesses grow in South Australia.  Lord Wiki says what he'd do is greatly decrease business taxes and supply cheap energy and water.  He also provided low-cost housing for the workers.   He made it easy for people to come to South Australia to work and live.  I wonder if  things like that turns out okay.  I'm not an expert on business and/or economics.   It sounds like a good idea to me; but I'm guessing there might be a downside?

 10. Learned that Playford's political career may have jumped the shark when he gave mercy to an Aboriginal man (Max Stuart) who was charged with rape and murder. Some folks thought the man was guilty, and some thought he was innocent.  I skimmed the story a bit. It looks interesting. I may look at it more on a further date.

Anyway, from what I read it seems despite some evidence against Stuart, Playford caved and went with the people who said Stuart was innocent and didn't deserve to be punished.  Some people weren't happy with Playford for that.

11. Thankful to someone for pointing me in the direction to where I can watch the first episode of Go Back to Where You Came From.  I can't watch it on the SBS site because it's blocked.

I'm going to watch it tomorrow because I need to take my shower and get ready for bed now.  

12. Figured out the symbolism behind last night's Julian McMahon pregnancy dream.

I think it's about this blog.

Tim impregnated me with sperm, and I gave birth to Jack.

Julian McMahon impregnated me with an Australia obsession, and I gave birth to this blog.  Her third birthday is today.  I just checked.  I always think it's June 28 for some reason; but it's not. It's June 22.

13. Decided to watch Go Back To Where You Came From in segments, rather than watching it all in one day. I'll watch a little bit each day.

I'm a bit stressed today about time and getting things done.  I'm still very behind in emails, but I've decided not to stress about that because my family needs to come first.   If I get all caught up with emails, then I'm going to have to neglect Jack and Tim. That's not an option.

I also need to spend time with the cats; and I need to read more. Why?  Because I love reading, and I want to give into my selfish desires.

I have videos to watch and stuff to read...and stuff to write.

Then I think about all this stress and who do I blame?

Julian McMahon.   I started cursing him because he got me into all this Australia stuff.  I cursed his name before taking my shower. That's when I realized the symbolism of the dream.  

Of course, that's silly.   If I wasn't obsessed with Australia, I'd be obsessed with something else that would take up a ton of my time.  It's in my nature.   And it's not literally McMahon's fault.   He's innocent.  He doesn't even know I exist.  And to be fair. When I'm not stressed and having a brilliant time with my obsession, I almost worship the name Julian McMahon.    

14. Realized I may not be able to watch Go Back To Where You Came From after all. I downloaded a special video player before, and now when I try to watch past the 5 minute preview, they're telling me to download it again.

I'm just going to forget about it for now, and wait until someone uploads it to YouTube.  I'm sure it will happen eventually.  

15. Decided it's really stupid of me to complain that I can't watch Australian television shows AND complain that I feel I don't have enough time to do all I want to do.  What if I could watch all these Australian television shows?  How would I find the time?  I'd have to give up sleeping, probably.   Or I'd have to stop reading books.

I should be happy that at least I can find and read Australian books.

I can read Australian websites.

I have Tallygarunga.

And I have my dreams about Australia.  

All of that is a blessing, so I should stop complaining about what's missing.

16. Went to sleep and had more dreams about Julian McMahon.   In the first....Tim and I watch a show starring Julian McMahon.  It has a body-switching storyline.  McMahon's character's soul changes places with a woman's soul. His character used a lot of profanity, so the female actress ends up having to use a lot of those words.   I am looking forward to seeing McMahon play the female part.   That part never came up in the dream though.   

In the other dream....For some reason, Tim has Julian McMahon's medical records.  He's reading them aloud with someone, and they're amused.   I think it's wrong that he has these records and is reading them aloud like this. But at the same time, I'm curious about what it says. I hear something about McMahon having heartworms.  

There was a third dream that might have involved Julian McMahon, but I'm not positive.  I'm being held prisoner by these evil medical people who are forcing me to get pregnant.   There are three fathers involved.  It seems that they're nice, and I don't have any animosity towards them.  Two are black men. One of the black men is not biologically involved, but will help me raise the child.   The other two men (one black and one white) are participating in the biological aspects of the pregnancy.  I think maybe the white man was McMahon.  Or maybe not.   

17. Read article that says some people living near wind farms in Victoria are experiencing negative symptoms.  But there's no proof yet that these symptoms are caused by the wind farms.  

There's a belief that the noises from the wind things might cause symptoms such as high-blood pressure, headaches, and depression.

I'm guessing no form of energy production is going to be perfect.   Some might be better than others though. If the wind farms are causing medical problems, maybe scientists can find a way to combat that.

18. Read article that says New South Wales is having slow population growth.   

Now I'm going to have to reread it because it was a bit confusing to me.

Okay...so...a lot of Australians are leaving Australia.  They're off to see the world, and to do a bit of work elsewhere.

The population is still growing.  It's just growing slowly.   Is that really a bad thing?  NYC was way too crowded for my taste.   I think it's better when the population is low. Although there are some drawbacks.  One of them is that there's a mining boom happening in Australia.  They need more workers, which means they need more people.

Why not train the asylum seekers to do mining work?

The article says that by 2051, Melbourne will be more crowded than Sydney.  It's projected to have 7.5 million, and Sydney is projected to have 7.3 million.   That doesn't seem like a huge difference, and it's so far in the future.  I can't bring myself to care that much.

19. Read article that says asylum seekers are pleading to Julia Gillard to let them stay in Australia.   They can do work for the country.  See?  They can become miners.

People need a country and an industry needs workers. Why can't we work something out there?  

20. Read interesting article about helmet laws in Australia.  I don't understand it completely though, and that's with reading the article twice.  

There's a debate between two groups.  One thinks helmet laws reduce head injuries and should be kept in place.  Another group believes that helmet laws deter people from riding bikes.   People don't want the aggravation, so they skip riding all together.   Biking is great for the environment and the body, so I'd say if helmet-requirements reduce bike-use, it may not be a great law.  It depends really on the size of the reduction of head injuries. 

That's where I get confused.

The article talks about how other factors might play a part in reduction....such as people riding bikes less.  What some scientists decided to look at was the ratio of head injuries and arm/leg injuries.   If you're still getting the same amount of not-head injuries, but less head injuries that would mean the helmets are probably doing their job.  In that case, it's probably best to keep the law in place.

Okay, now I think I get it.   I was just confused over whether the research showed there was a change in the ratio or not.  If I'm understanding it right, one group of researchers is saying the arm/leg injury to head injury ratio HAS changed.

I would vote that the helmet laws stay in place. Although then it seems that maybe we should wear helmets all the time.   What if my sister had worn a helmet the night she walked to a fraternity party?  When she got hit by a car, her brain might have been less injured.  Maybe we should wear helmets every time we go in a car.

I guess the question is what's the chance of getting a head injury while riding a bike (without a helmet) and how does that compare to other activities (such as walking, playing on a playground, riding in a car, etc.

21. Looked at the CDC site about traumatic brain injuries (TBI).  The number one cause is falls (35.5%), and the second leading cause is motor vehicle/traffic accidents (17.3%).   I'm not sure if biking accidents would be included in either of those groups.   Maybe they'd be included in both...depending on the injury-type?   Someone may fall of their bike, or fall of a cliff while riding a bike.  Someone else might get hit by a motor vehicle while riding their bike.

22. Read article that says food experts from the University of Sydney are arguing against sugar being villianized.

Jennie Brand-Miller says, Unlike saturated fats, trans fats, salt and alcohol, sugar doesn't actually do any direct harm to the human body.  That's good to hear because I love sugar.   I'm guessing most negative side-effects blamed on sugar are caused by other ingredients in the food.

23. Liked this blog post about sugar.  Bradley Simpson says something similar to what I said above.   It's not the sugar that's bad, but what accompanies the sugar.  He talks about empty calories. This is the problem of eating food that is high in calorie, but has very little nutritional value.    He compares the sugar content of a banana and a can of coke.   A banana has 29 grams of sugar (probably depends on the size though) and a coke has 28 grams. Does that make the coke equal to the banana?   No.  The banana is high in sugar, but has nutritional value. The Coke does not. 

24. Went to Tallygarunga, and struggled to decide which story thread to read today. There's an update to Satisfy Your Soul, but I read that yesterday.  I don't want to read the same story thread everyday, because then I'll miss other stuff.

There's now a spin-off storyline to the Find an Orbit Closer To The Ground thread. It's between Mereditha and Adrian.  I look forward to reading that...definitely.

25. Decided to continue reading the storyline between Tamarah Blair and Emily Smith; You Know For a Common Room It Really Isn't That Common.   It's been awhile since I read the beginning, so I'll probably reread the whole thing.   

The common room in the story is the Spencer common room.  Tamarah and Emily are both Spencer students.  If I remember correctly, Emily was seeking information about Quidditch from Tamarah.   I think Tamarah is the captain, maybe?

26. Started to read.  There's some interesting stuff in post #3.  It mentions Aboriginal Australians.   I don't think I've seen them mentioned before in Tallygarunga. That's not to say they haven't been mentioned.  It's not like I've read that much of all the Tally stuff out there.

Tamarah explains to Emily that Spencer house is named after Solomon Spencer.  She says, He was considered a pioneer, being one of the first Indigenous Australians to successfully blend Aboriginal and European magics into his practices, though he was most famous for his wild sense of humour.

I'm wondering. Is Solomon Spencer a completely fictionalized character, or a real person who was somewhat fictionalized for the story?

27. Did some googling of Solomon Spencer. I didn't find anything, so I'm guessing he's a fictional character.

28. Realized I should have just read ahead in the story thread. Tamarah is completely lying to Emily. Now I feel dumb.

I don't know yet if she fooled Emily, but she did manage to fool me.

29. Got the idea that Spencer students are the pranksters.

30. Learned that the headmaster was a Spencer student, as well as Tamarah's father Stuart.

31. Learned that Stuart Blair is the current Minister of Magic.  How did I miss that before?  Or did I learn it, and then forget it?

32. Decided to read another Tally biography of a character with a high post count.  The next one on the list is Vladimir Valentin II.   I'm guessing he's related to Vladimir Valentin VII. That's the half vampire kid who's long lost twin is Viktor.   

33. Saw that Mr. Valentin is very old.   He was born in 1490.

He's not listed as a vampire, but instead as an immortal human.

He's a professor at Tallygarunga. He teaches Advanced Alchemy.

Vladimir is also the head of Flinders.

Who's in Flinders again?  Any characters that I know?  What are Reade and Arti?

Okay.  I just saw Reade on the list of characters. He's Flinders.  Arti is Sturt.

34. Continued to read about Vladimir.

He was born in Moscow.

He stays young with the help of a magical portrait.

No.  Wait.   Scratch that. I read it wrong.  A portrait was made of him; and as long as he doesn't look at it, he'll stay young.

Vladimir VII seems to be a distant descendant of the portrait-immortal Vladimir.  

35. Learned that Vladimir is married to someone named Molly.  They have a son together.

36. Learned that the age-reducing portrait of Vladimir's is a secret.

37. Nominated Tallygarunga for the Harry Potter Alliance's Passing on the Magic campaign.  Every month they're going to promote a Harry Potter spin-off type project. I doubt they'll win; not that they don't deserve it.  But I'm horrible at nominating and promoting things. Hopefully, other people, who are better with that stuff, will nominate Tallygarunga too.

38. Started to read Chapter Eight of Fruitcake's blog-book.  

It's fascinating.   She talks about family values, and the way the  British raised their children. There was the whole notion that children should be seen and not heard.  Fruitcake says, Where possible, children were hidden away in nurseries, ignored by all except nannies and tutors, and only trotted out for display on appropriate occasions. That's very different from the way children are raised today.

Fruitcake says behavior towards children changed after World War II.  She connects this with post-war immigration of non-Anglo families.  So, I wonder which cultures were more child-friendly?

39. Read more of Fruitcake's chapter.  She talks about Australia's notion of populate or perish, and the practice of dragging British children over to Australia.    These kids were often not treated well.   So it wasn't just Aboriginal children who were mistreated by the Australian government.  There're some British people with a right to gripe as well.  

40. Decided to return to my tradition of reading about my Australian of the day on the Australian Dictionary of Biography. I have to admit that it's not the most exciting tradition.   Some of the people are a bit boring to me.  But I figure every so often, something will be interesting to me.

41. Saw that today's Australian of the day is Morton Allport.  He's the eldest child of Joseph Allport.   I think I wrote about Joseph the other day.  I don't really remember him, but the link color shows I visited before.

Morton was born in England, and moved with his parents to Hobart when he was a year old.  

I vaguely remember someone in Hobart. Oh!  Was Joseph the solicitor who moved with his cousins to Hobart and planned to do farming instead of law? 

Let me go check....

I'm right!

Wow. I'm so excited that I remembered something.

Anyway....

Morton followed in his father's solicitor footprints.  But his main passion in life was zoology and botany.

Morton was big into bringing European fish to Tasmania.   I wonder how that worked out. I know some introduced species cause devastation to the local ecology.

42. Learned that Morton was also into photography.

43. Learned from Facebook that today is the anniversary of Gillard stealing Rudd's job.

44. Fixed the problem I was having with the website that will allow me to watch Go Back To Where You Came From!  

45. Started to watch Go Back To Where You Came From.   I did not get very far because Jack came in the room. We did some online quizzes together. 

Now I shall watch more. 

Or maybe I won't.

Jack and Tim are now both in the room, and they're talking. It's hard for me to hear. I may go upstairs. 

46. Did not go upstairs yet.  I'm trying to watch it with Tim and Jack in the room. Well, no offense...but I was here first. They can go back to where they came from.  Or they can be a tiny bit quieter.  

47. Thought Raye from South Australia was a bit harsh.   She thought the 50 people killed in the boats deserved their fate. She said something along the lines of Served those bastards right.  

Let me guess. By the end of the program, Raye will have had a major tear-jerking change of heart.  

48. Frustrated because the video has stopped working now. 

49. Reloaded the website. Hopefully, that will help. 

50. Went upstairs.  Jack and Tim are being way too loud. I can neither hear nor concentrate.

Now I can hear and concentrate. 

Six Australians are part of the reality TV experiment.  It looks like two are maybe supportive of refugees, and the other two are not.  

51. Felt a type of satisfaction when the host of Go Back To Where You Came From told the six participants that he's taking away their mobile phones.  Why is he doing that?   So they can't have any communication with their family. This is what some real asylum seekers experience.  They're cut off from those they love.  

This is probably one of many steps that will be used to help the anti-refugee people become more compassionate.

52. Felt some sympathy for the people in the experiment.  Although they don't have it as bad as real asylum seekers, I wouldn't want to be in their shoes.     

53. Intrigued by Raye's pre-experiment interview.  She has a farm near a detention centre in South Australia.   She talks about it being freshly painted and having a flat screen TV.  Is that true? Is it more comfortable then detention centres of the past?

54. Consulted Lord Wiki about detention centres in South Australia.  There's one called Inverbrackie.  Lord Wiki says it has minimal security, and the children attend schools.

Is this the centre that Raye was talking about?  I'll have to rewind and re-watch.  

55. Realized that rewinding and re-watching isn't easy on this website.    I had to reload again. 

But yes. Raye lives near the Inverbrackie Detention Centre.

56.  Mesmerised by this program.   Wow.  Some of the participants are very harsh towards boat people.   Now they're moving IN with boat people.   This show reminds me a bit of a show we had in America.  What was it called?   Crap.  I forgot.  Oh!  30 days.  That's it.  It was with that guy who made the movie about the evils of McDonalds.  

Lord Wiki has reminded me that his name is Morgan Spurlock.  The show would take people with prejudices and stick them in situations that would change them.   It was thought-provoking and entertaining, but predictable.  People have strong opinions.   They're usually against a group of people or idea. Then they go to live with people of this group for 30 days. By the end, their viewpoints have completely changed. 

57. Learned from the program that only 1% of the world's refugees are settled by official (non scary boat ride) means.  

58. Thought about how it would be so neat if we could do experiments like this through people's dreams.  What if we could be like Miss Piggle Wiggle, and provide people with life-changing lessons?  It could be like that Twilight Zone episode where the racist man got to experience being persecuted members of the groups he hated. 

I mean it's fun on a reality TV show, but a bit sensationalised.   And I'm guessing these shows often sing to the choir.  Out of all the viewers of the program, how many are like me—already supportive of asylum seekers?  I think most viewers are going to be on the left or towards the center.    Will very racist and anti-refugee people voluntarily watch it?   

I'm doubting that there will be many. 

59. Liked Gleny's argument.   One of the other participants complained to the Iraqi immigrants that Muslims are trying to push their style of dress on other Australians.  The Iraqi explains that even though they won't wear less-modest clothing, they don't expect Australians to conform to their culture.   The other participant says some Muslims are pushing for this.   Gleny asks him if he or his wife have ever been pushed to wear Muslim-style clothing.  He says no, but he's heard from the media that this is the case. Gleny says yes, Muslims may express their opinion.  It's just like some Australians voice their opinions about being anti-Burka. Expressing one's opinion is not equal to forcing people to change. 

60. Tried to figure out who Roderick reminds me of...someone from a TV show.   It's on the tip of my brain.  Oh!  Maybe it's that actor from....What's his name?

Bradley Cooper! 

Or maybe that's not it.  

Well, at times he reminds me of Bradley Cooper.  He also kind of reminds me of Ralph Fiennes. 

61. Intrigued by the fact that some of the participants went into view Villawood Detention Centre, but we (the viewer) did not get to see.  Why?  Are cameras not allowed in there?  

62. Can't help but be touched by this show.  I think when you hear these refugee stories, it's hard not to imagine it happening to your own family.

My family is so blessed.  We have more than enough food.  We have comfortable beds.  We have security and safety.   What if that was all taken away?   

63. Decided there's a big difference between real refugees and reality television refugees.   Real refugees are fleeing war, famine, persecution, etc.    Why are the reality television refugees doing all this?  Why did they agree to it?   They complain towards the end of the episode as if they've been forced into this experience.   I can't imagine this was the case. I'm guessing they were seeking fame maybe?  Attention?  Money perhaps?  

64. Grateful that I was able to watch the program, and thankful to my Facebook friend who gave me suggestions on how I could manage to watch it.   I hope I can watch the next two episodes as well. 

65. Touched by some of the comments on the Go Back To Where You Came From page on the SBS site.   Although Aimee says what I said.   I'm glad most the participants broadened their perspectives and learnt some empathy. My concern is that the audience that most need to see something like this probably won't. As a friend so eloquently put it today, 'it's like preaching to a choir."  Well, actually....I guess her friend said what I said.  

66. Thought about how many people (including me a few weeks ago) are undecided on the issue of asylum seekers.   If the program can reach those people and inspire them to be more welcoming towards asylum seekers, then the show has done the job that needed to be done. 

You can't succeed in preaching to those who throw rotten tomatoes at the choir. But you can sometimes succeed in preaching to those who quietly watch the choir, wondering whether or not they should join in the singing.