Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Refugee Convention, Texas, January, and Parrots

1. Watched two episodes of True Blood.

I think I'm getting back into it.  I'm rarely willing to watch two episodes of something back to back.   And I even had an urge to watch a third episode.  But I want to go to bed soon, so we didn't.

2. Went to bed and had Australia related dreams.  I am in a room talking to an Asian girl.  My older sister is there too, but I seem to be ignoring her.  It's like I forget she's there; or pretend she's not there. I start telling the girl about how I'm annoyed at my mom about something. My sister speaks up and scolds me for saying this. She also threatens to tell our mom what I said.  I fight back, saying she often tells me me stuff about other people. If she reveals what I said, I will reveal what she has said.

I then try to explain to my sister why I'm annoyed with my mom.  I try to help my sister put herself in my shoes.  My sister says she's heard enough.  This makes me furious.  I say I rarely share my life with my sister.  The conversations always revolve around her.  I just listen.  She writes long emails giving details upon details about her life.  I read and respond. Now the one time I talk about my life, she wants me to shut up. I say she can no longer send me emails about her life.  My sister seems upset about this.  I say I will talk about myself and send long emails.  If she responds well, she can go back to sending me emails about her life.  

I begin to realize this is an empty threat.  I won't want to open up that much to her.

Then it ends up the WHOLE family is in Australia.  We walk towards the beach together.  I see some boutique shops.  I think of going in, just because they're Australian.  But I decide I'm really not into boutique clothing stores, even if they are Australian.  I continue on with my family to this multiple story beach house where you can get beach chairs. Then suddenly, I'm embarrassed of my family because they're so loud and pushy.  I worry they fit the stereotype of the obnoxious American tourist. 

3. Had more dreams, including a short lucid one.  Then I had a sequel to the dream above.  We're all in Sydney.  My parents keep talking among themselves about this building near the beach.  It has shops and restaurants; but the only people who can go to the shops and restaurants are those that own property in the building. My parents seem interested in buying some property.  I'm excited about the idea of us having a place to stay in Australia.

I start to think I shouldn't write my dream (the one above) in my blog.  My parents rarely go to my blog, but what if they do this time?  What if the dream makes them angry and they decide to punish me by not buying property in Australia?

Later...I think about how I should write on my blog that we're in Sydney for the afternoon.  Maybe I can get together with Gina, and/or other people. Then I think she might not read the blog in time.  I should probably call or email her.  But I worry she might already have plans. This is so last minute.

In another part: I decide I will write down my dream on my blog.  I start taking notes— first on little pieces of paper.  I write too big and get only one word on the paper.  I decide to write smaller on the next pages.   My dad sits there and looks over my shoulder.  I ask him to stop,  and I also tell him not to read my blog.  I then figure why worry?  They rarely read my blog. Yeah, okay. But now that I mention it, they probably will.   I don't want them to read the part about me being mad at my mom.  Because, although the reasons are based on something that has happened in real life, I'm not truly mad about it.  I then realize I can leave out that part; keep it vague.   

4. Realized that the dream took up a lot of space; and some of it makes me sound very awful.   I wanted to share it anyway. I hope no one disinterested felt obligated to read it.  I'm so happy that I have people visiting my blog. I especially love that I have people who come on a regular basis. But I definitely don't expect anyone to read every single bit of all my overly long posts.

5. Compelled by Andrew to consult Lord Wiki about the Tasman Bridge disaster. It happened on January 5, 1975.   A ship crashed into the bridge, and part of the bridge fell onto the ship. Scary!

Twelve people died—seven crew members of the ship and five people in cars on the bridge.

The broken bridge isolated people in eastern Hobart. It used to take them 3 minutes to get to the other part of the city. Now it suddenly took 90 minutes.

Andrew suggested I read Lord Wiki's paragraph entitled Social Effects. It's quite fascinating.

The bridge collapse caused all kinds of psychological and social problems. Well, first of all people were probably freaked out. I'm sure a lot of bridge phobias developed.  

The other problem is that for some reason the nature of the event made it hard for people in the community to help out with disaster relief.   I'm not sure why, but Lord Wiki says this had a negative effect.  Well, no. I mean I can understand why it had a negative effect. But I don't really understand why it was hard for people to help in this particular disaster.

Anyway, I can understand why community involvement is important in disaster recovery. I think people have a need to feel needed. When there's not much for them to do, then they might feel powerless and helpless.   It's not a good feeling. And I imagine if you're a victim of the disaster, it helps to know that there are people in the community ready to help.

The other problem the bridge collapse caused was social isolation of people in eastern Hobart.

6. Thought this was interesting.  Lord Wiki says that a study done six months after the disaster showed that crime in Eastern Hobart rose while the rate on the west fell.

That makes me think maybe there were more criminals in the east. Now that they didn't have a bridge, they kept their crime closer to home. 

I don't know......

7. Read article about the Malaysian situation.  The High Court did what I expected. They ruled that sending asylum seekers there, from Christmas Island, is not okay.  It doesn't fit in with Australian law.

The Labor Party is thinking of changing the law. The Green Party is saying they will fight against the the Labor Party changing the law.

The article mentions something called the United Nations Refugee Convention. It's something that was signed by various countries to help protect the welfare of refugees. Malaysia didn't sign it.   That's why some people are reluctant to send asylum seekers there.

Okay.  Well, that clears some things up to me. I couldn't figure out why the asylum seekers seem to despise Australian detention centers, yet they were so against going to Malaysia.  

Should I assume then that Malaysia is even worse?  Is there any chance they could be okay even though they didn't sign what was supposed to be signed?

8. Consulted Lord Wiki about the refugee convention thing.  I don't really understand it. He has a map that shows which countries signed it and which didn't sign it.   The United States and Venezuela signed one thing, but not another.  Several countries signed both things. Then there's a few that signed neither.  These include most of South East Asia, Mongolia, India, North Korea, some countries in the Middle East, etc.

9. Started to understand the convention thing more.  The first one was in 1951. The purpose was to protect refugees of World War II.   Then, in 1967, a new thing was drafted to expand outside World War II refugees.  Let's be nice to refugees all over the world! The United States didn't sign that one.    Why?

Lord Wiki says though that America DOES take in a lot of refugees.  From about 1980, we've taken in about 2 million refugees.

10. Confused. Here Lord Wiki says that the United States did do the 1967 thingie.

Maybe he just drew his map wrong?

Oh!

Nope.  Wait.  I'm so brainless this morning. Lord Wiki didn't get it wrong.  I got it wrong.

America signed the 1967 one and NOT the 1951 one. Or maybe the map is wrong AND I was wrong. Maybe America did sign both?

11. Downloaded PDF file from United Nations website that lists the signed-in countries and when they signed.  A lot of them didn't sign right away.

Australia signed fairly early, in 1954. They signed the 1967 one in 1973.

Germany signed in 1953, which is nice since they're the ones that caused the problems which inspired the whole thing.

It seems the United States ignored the first one (1951) and then signed the 1967 one in 1968.  

As far as I can see, no one signed the 1951 thing in 1951.  Was everyone a bit reluctant?  Or were countries not allowed to sign right away? Maybe it took time to process? 
 
12. Loved Fruitcake's post about economics. It's brilliant. I'll talk about it in a minute.

First, though, Fruitcake has a video clip of Michelle Bachman saying the earthquake and hurricane were signs from God.  I had read that she said that, but I hadn't actually seen it...until now.

I think it's so ridiculous.  First of all, one of my pet peeves is when people speak for God.   Who the hell are they to assume they know what a god wants or doesn't want?  Personally, I don't believe in this so-called God. But if I did, I'd hope he'd not be like Jacob from Lost. If you're a god and you have something to say, just say it.  Don't give us vague hints about what we should do.  If you send an earthquake and hurricane, how do we know what you're trying to say? Are you mad at the Republicans?  Democrats?  Maybe you're pissed about homosexuality?   Or maybe you're not a bigot anymore, and think all states and countries should legalize gay marriage?  Are you mad that we're eating too much meat?  Is this about factory-farming? Abortion?  Were you like me and overly disappointed with the finale of Medium?

13. Started to read Fruitcake's post again. There's so much brilliant stuff I want to remember.  If I read it twice, maybe I will.

I'm going to copy and paste my favorite quotes.  I HIGHLY suggest going to her post and reading the rest.

Here's the first.   Some socialist goody-goodies [e.g. any person more than one micron to the left of Genghis Kahn] only demand government intervention in markets because they want to guarantee equal outcomes, according to Friedman. That is, not only should every person be ensured a start in every race in life’s Olympics, but they should also be guaranteed an equal-first place prize.

I like this because it helps me understand the mindset of one of my friends.  She's horrified by the idea of making the rich pay higher taxes. She thinks if we do this, the hard-working wealthy people will want to stop working.  What will be their incentive? Why work hard for your millions when the government is going to take it away and give it to the lazy people who'd rather drink and watch TV than work?

I'm seeing now that my friend must assume that all of us on the left are wishing for equal outcomes.  There might be some far far left people who want this.  I don't!  No way. I don't have any problems with wealthy people; not even super wealthy people.  And I agree with her. If you don't allow people to have the chance to work themselves towards wealth, I think motivation to work WILL drop.

But I don't think the majority of people on the left are suggesting that the wealthy should lose most of their money.  

14. Agreed with Fruitcake when she says In some countries more than in others, the right is also synonymous with religious conservatism.    I always wondered why this is so.   Fruitcakes gives some pretty good guesses.  One of them is, Fundamentalists resent paying taxes to a government full of godless people.   And the other is, Fundamentalists resent subsidising godless lifestyles [e.g. supporting single mums and therefore encouraging careless promiscuity.

Fruitcake may be wrong.   I don't know.  But her theories makes a lot of sense to me.  What if the government promised no money would go to single-mother families or gay families...or anyone who had an abortion?   What if the government gave more money to families that proclaimed their allegiance to Jesus Christ?  How would the religious right feel about welfare then?  

15. Tried to wrap my mind around the newest Julian Assange Wikileaks thing.  He leaked a list of people that the Australian government gave to America. They're people who are on a watch-list and no-fly list because there's suspicions that they may be tied to radical Islam and/or terrorism.

A lawyer named Stephen Hopper thinks the list is wrong. He believes all these people on the list are not worrisome.

I don't know what to think.

I can believe they're all innocent at this point. But is there good evidence to suggest they might be planning bad things, or have connections to people who are doing bad things?

Is it okay to put people on a watch list?  I sort of think it is, as long as there's some troubling evidence against that person.

If I go to the library and check out a bunch of books about bomb making and guns, I think it would make sense for people to be concerned.  I could be totally innocent.  Maybe I'm just...curious.   Maybe I'm writing a novel about these things. But I don't think it hurts to question me, or be a bit weary.

The no-fly list thing is concerning.  If people are on the list, it's not fair for them not to be able to fly.   I would settle for having stricter security for those people. But I wouldn't give a flat-out no.    

16. Consulted Lord Wiki about the no-fly list.  He says many people have been forbidden to fly simply because they had the name of someone on the list.  I've heard of that before. Modern Family had a thing about it.

It's really ridiculous.

17. Learned there were wildfires not too far from we live.  That's a bit scary, and sad for the people who've lost their home.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  We have a major drought going on, and it's very hot here.

18. Checked the weather.  There's no rain in our 15 day forecast. We haven't had a decent rain in a long time.

Maybe God is trying to punish me.  Is it because I'm using too much artificial sweetener? Or maybe he's mad that I haven't redone my toe nail polish? 

19. Went to Tallygarunga.  I'm glad to see that people have finally posted in the new Whitlam Bilby section.   It's been quiet the past few days.  I started to feel tempted to create my own young wizard.  

20. Found the Tally story I'm going to read today.  It's called Getting It All Set Up.

The story takes place in the Wandless Magic classroom in the Eureka Underground Hallway.

It's noon on August 31. That's today for me and yesterday for Australians.

There's only one character in the story so far—the professor.  His name is Sean Dempsy.

21. Started to read.

Professor Dempsey seems to be a Star Wars fan.  He turned on the Jedi theme song by pointing his hand at the radio. Is that a Muggle radio, or a special wizarding one?

22. Wondered if the Jedi theme song is the main Star Wars song; or something else?

23. Found a YouTube video for the Jedi theme.  



It sounds a little bit like the main song.



24. Finished reading the story.  I like the idea of wandless magic. It seems like an important thing to learn.  I think it would be a handicap to be overly wand-dependent.

25. Started to read the biography of Sean Dempsy. 

His face claim is an Irish singer named Ryan Kelly.



26. Learned that Sean was born in Waco, Texas. That's not too far from us.  

Like many people, I associate Waco with the Branch Davidian disaster.

27. Learned that Sean is 33. He's a halfblood, and his Patronus is a Jack Russell Terrier.

He's in good shape because he exercises.

He likes wearing button up shirts and slacks, usually in dark colors.

A piece of his ear is missing from a Quidditch accident.

Ouch.

28. Wondered about this line. Being born and raised in Texas he is known to have a short temper at times, exploding if he thinks he is right.

Do Texans have a reputation for having a short temper? I didn't know that.

I don't consider myself a Texan, by the way. I've been here for only about 30% of my life. I like Texas, but I don't feel connected to it or committed to it.

 29. Learned that Sean's dad is a Muggle and his mom is a witch. She told him the big secret a year into the relationship.He was fine with it, and they got married.

30. Learned that there's a magical school in Texas called Southwestern Magical Academy. I guess it's in Waco? Sean's mother taught there; and then when he was old enough, he attended the school.

31. Learned that Sean is one of those guys who's proud to be a bachelor. His friends, of course, take that as a challenge and try to set him up with someone.

Is it so wrong to remain a bachelor?

Is there someone out there for everyone; or are some people better off alone?

32. Learned that my Australian of the day was a sculptor.  His name was William Wallace Anderson.

He was born six days before the 100th anniversary of the First Fleet's arrival in Australia.

33. Learned from Lord Wiki that I'm wrong.

He says although Australia Day is celebrated on January 26, the First Fleet ships started arriving on January 19 and 20.

They went to Botany Bay. They weren't satisfied with that.

The 26th of January is when the First Fleet people sailed to Port Jackson.

I knew all that, really. I just forgot it.  

34. Decided I should get back to the sculptor.

He was born in Dean, Victoria.

Google Maps shows Dean as being about 30 minutes north of Ballarat.  

In his late teen years, William studied engineering and also modeling classes. I'm assuming that's more along the lines of model airplanes than catwalk modeling.

35. Learned that William joined the army.  He was a soldier, and then later he became an artist for the army.  He made models of the landscape. I guess that would help the army by letting them study the terrain.

After the war, William continued to do war-sculpting work for museums.

36. Learned that William is responsible for some war-related memorials.

Lord Wiki has a photo of one of William' sculptures. It's The Spirit of Anzac in Geelong.  

One of his most famous sculptures is of the guy with the donkey; John Simpson. This website has a picture of it at the bottom of the page.

37. Returned to Peter Lindenburg's Flickr account.   I received a nice email from him this morning.   And I'm guessing he mentioned my blog post on Facebook. On Statcounter, I've seen a lot of Netherlands traffic today. They're going to yesterday's post via Facebook.

That's really cool.

I'm thinking Peter is pretty popular and influential. If I post a link on Facebook, I think it's usually ignored.

Or maybe people do follow the link, but they don't comment or click Like. 

I don't think I considered that before.   

38. Started looking at Peter's Parrots of Australia set

39. Wondered what this Rainbow Lorikeet is eating.

What's usually on their menu?

40. Learned from Lord Wiki that Rainbow Lorikeets are pollinators.   

That's very interesting to me.  The only bird I knew of as a pollinator was the hummingbird.   I wonder if other parrots are pollinators as well.

Rainbow Lorikeets don't just eat pollen. They also eat fruit and nectar.

Lord Wiki says that for some people the Rainbow Lorikeet is a pest. They eat fruit from people's trees.  Yeah.  That would be a bummer. But if I had the choice, I'd give up all the fruit on my trees for a visit from Rainbow Lorikeets. Well, that's if I wasn't actually depending on that fruit to stay nourished. If I was starving and stranded on an island, I wouldn't want my tree bothered by any animal...even bright colorful ones.

41. Thought this parrot deserved a better name than Scaly-breasted Lorikeet.  It sounds diseased—like something that needs a mastectomy and radiation therapy. 

While we're on the subject of bad names, there's this wonderful bird. They're probably my favorite Australia bird. They won that honor when one stood on top of my head at the Royal Botanical Garden.  But why do they have to be called the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo? Sulphur reminds me of the smell of rotten eggs.

I think these majestic birds deserve a much better name. Why not Lemon-crested Cockatoo? Or Saffron-Crested Cockatoo.  That would be cool...and exotic.   

Banana-crested Cockatoo might work.

42. Loved this Rainbow Lorikeet photo.  

43. Saw that Peter's girlfriend was as happy as me about having a parrot on her head.

Why is it so wonderful to have a parrot on our heads?

Or maybe it's not wonderful for everyone.

That might be a good question on one of those psychological tests. Do you like it when parrots stand on your head?

I guess they'd have to figure out what yes means.

Well, at the very least it would weed out people with a bird phobia.

44. Thought these Long-billed corellas were kind of ugly.  But they're ugly in an appealing way.   They remind me of something.  I don't know what.  

Maybe fish?

45. Learned from Lord Wiki that the Long-billed Corella is a popular pet in Australia. They're very good at talking.

46. Watched video of Roy the Long-billed Corella.



The people who posted the video say he's talking gibberish.  But what if he's not?   Maybe the family is being visited by aliens, and Roy is repeating what THEY say. He could be relaying a conversation about anal probing. 

47. Couldn't find the parrot in this picture at first. It's pretty well-camouflaged.  

48. Started to look at Peter's Birds in Brisbane photo set.

49. Wondered if the Magpie-Lark is the same as the Magpie.

It's not.

Lord Wiki says the Magpie is from the Artamidae family. The Magpie-lark is from the Monarchidae family.  

Lord Wiki says the Magpie-lark is neither a Magpie nor a lark. 

50. Thought this Bush Stone-Curlew looked kind of sad. 

Oh...and here's another picture of him looking sad.