Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ned Kelly, Racism, Revenge, and Collisions

1. Read Snowy's blog post about his daughter.  It was her birthday recently.  He shares a lovely letter/story that she wrote to them one Christmas.  It's about parents of three kids who shower their kids with love and kindness.  Then the kids have to face the real world which isn't so nice.

I love this line in the story. Eventually even the loving reassurances she received from her family sounded like meaningless platitudes and she decided to believe the rest of the world instead.

I do that when I'm feeling bad about myself.  Suddenly, I'll stop remembering all the genuine love and compliments I've ever gotten.  They get pushed out of my head.

The parents in the story sound wonderful. The title of the story is "Light", and that's what the parents provide for their children. The world is a dark place, a lot of the time, and we each need that light.    It made me a little sad reading it, because I know not everyone is lucky to have such parents.  Some parents fill their kids with darkness by hitting them, belittling them, criticizing them, withholding praise from them, ignoring them, invalidating them, etc.

Those kids have to try and find their light elsewhere.   

2. Received a fantastic video from Bernadette on my Facebook wall.

It's a commercial from the 1980's about this safari park in Australia.  You get to drive around with lions, tigers, and bears hanging about.   

I would be terrified.

We fed lions, tigers, and bears in Canberra.  But they were locked up in cages.  I don't think I could handle them being free and coming up to our car.   

3. Consulted Lord Wiki about this African Lion Safari.  I learned a bit from Bernadette, but wanted to maybe learn a little more—especially about the escaping animals she mentioned. 

The park was in Warragamba.  Google Maps shows that as being about an hour west of Sydney.  

Lord Wiki says the park opened in 1968 and closed in 1991.

The animal escape happened in 1995, after the park was closed to the public. Some lionesses got away; and at another point, a bear did too. The park was required to update their facilities.

Zoos scare me a bit, especially when I hear stories like that.  

4. Read Fruitcake's post.   She talks about heroes like Rosa Parks. Then she talks about Ned Kelly.  Is he a hero?

Fruitcake thinks he's not. She says, Ned Kelly is an uninspiring loser; an anti-hero.  She says despite the fact that he represented some decent values, in the end he pretty much became a terrorist.

My feeling is no matter what your values, as soon as you're willing to kill for them, you're no longer a hero. You're a villain. The only exception for me would be self defense.

5. Wondered why some people see Ned Kelly as a hero. Why is he so admired?

I read Peter Carey's book a few years ago, but I was bored by it. I think I daydreamed through most of it.

6. Consulted Lord Wiki about Ned Kelly.

He says that some people compare him to Robin Hood.  They see him as a revolutionary figure who fought against Australia's British colonial ties.

Lord Wiki says a lot of other stuff about Ned Kelly, but I'm too lazy to read it all.

7. Found this website about Ned Kelly. The title is "Australian Folk Hero". 

It's interesting that this webmaster calls Kelly a hero; and then his first quote from Kelly is a racist one.

Kelly says, I tell you that highway robbery is only in its infancy, for the white population is been driven out of the labour market by an inundation of Mongolians, and when the white man is driven to desperation there will be desperate times.   

The webmaster goes on to describe how Kelly beat up a Chinaman.

Well, Ned Kelly may seem like a hero to some.

He's not a hero to me.

He sounds like a violent bigot.  

8. Went to the home page of the website that has the Ned Kelly bit.   It's called National Republicans: The Movement of Australian Nativism.

They say, The programmes of the traitor class of capitalists and cosmopolitan liberal internationalists, including mass immigration, multiculturalism and Asianisation, are opposed as detrimental to the Australian peoples' future, the continued development of our unique national culture and identity, and our native soil.

They don't seem to like Asians.

I'm wondering about their viewpoint on Aboriginal Australians.  Are they okay with them since they're very native? Or are they the type to think only white people belong?

9. Shocked by some of the stuff I'm reading on this page.

However, to our way of thinking, the most important constituent element of our national culture is our Native-Australian heritage. It is truly ours. It belongs to every native-born person of European descent. This Native culture is the promise of the Australian nation and people. 

It's amazing how they define native-Australian.

And so far, I'm not seeing anything about Aboriginal Australians.  I'm just skimming, though. I could be missing stuff.

10. Read further and found Aboriginal Australians mentioned. I was sickened a bit to realize I sort of agree with some of what is said here.

Well, no.   I don't agree with it.  It's racist; and the general idea is only white European Australians count.  But I sort of get this guy's point when he says, Australia" is a European concept. The Aborigines knew the earth that they walked on simply as "the land" or "the world" - they had no concept of Australia as a geographic, or continental, entity.

The Aborigines certainly had no concept of Australia as a national entity.   

Should the Aborigines be given the title The First Australians if they didn't consider themselves Australian?  Maybe the First Fleet people should have that title?   But then again, they weren't Australian either. They were settlers in colonies. The name Australia didn't come about until the early 1800's.

And the other thing. Was Australia considered a country before Federation?  That didn't happen until 1901.

Back to the Aborigines.  Although they might not have seen Australia as the one big nation it is today, that doesn't mean it wasn't THEIR country. It belonged to them and was stolen.

I think once you try to define who is Australian and who is not; things become messy.  It's really a country made up of a variety of people and they all influence each other. Australia would not be the Australia that it is if there were no Aborigines around when the First Fleet landed. Australia would not be Australia if white people never came around.

11. Felt if Australia had truly been Terra nullius in the late 1700's, I would feel anti-immigration white Australians have SOME merit to their racism and anti-multiculturalism.   

Here's an analogy.  Pretend we have three children.  Bill gets a cool train set for his birthday.  He wants to play with it alone.  He doesn't want to share least not yet.  Claire comes along and insists that she should be able to play too.  If Bill says, no, you can't play, I'd think he's a bit selfish,   but I'd be sympathetic to him. It's hard to share sometimes, especially with new toys.

But what if the train set didn't belong to Bill?  What if it belonged to his younger cousin, and Bill had manipulated her into giving it to him? I think I'd feel much differently about Bill's reluctance to share.  I would see him as a spoiled brat.  And that's how I see anti-immigration Americans and Australians.

12. Reminded myself that although I have encountered a bigoted fan of Ned Kelly, that doesn't mean all fans of Ned Kelly are bigots.  Some might like him for other reasons, I suppose.

13. Searched through Google trying to get an answer of whether Ned Kelly was a hero or villain.   Then I realized I'm being stupid. There's no definite answer to that question. It doesn't really depend on the facts of the story. It depends more on our view of the story and our own values.

Some people see violence as being okay as long as it's sanctioned by the state.  It's not okay that terrorists bombed New York, but it's perfectly okay for the American military to kill thousands of people in the Middle East.  

Other people think state violence is wrong; but violence done by small groups is brave, heroic, and revolutionary.  If you fight the system, that's great...even if you have to kill a few people along the way.  And hey, no worries about destroying the furniture shop that has been with that family for decades. They're part of the system we hate and they don't deserve our sympathy.  

And then there's those of us who are against violence. We believe that change should be made in peaceful ways. I admire people like Rosa Parks. She defied the system by sitting her ass down on a bus seat. She didn't bomb the bus or open fire with a rifle.

I admire people who adopt orphaned babies and children. I think in their own way, they're fighting against abortion. I don't agree with people who bomb abortion clinics and kill doctors who perform abortions.

I admire all the people who are speaking out for marriage equality. I wouldn't admire anyone who kills or does other types of violence for marriage equality.

14. Thought about something I heard someone say recently.

They said if someone killed their child, they'd go and kill everyone the killer knew.

First of all, it's ridiculous.  How do you define everyone the killer knows? Does it include acquaintances? Friends of friends? Would he kill the killer's sister's friend's cousin because she mingled with the killer at a few parties?

I do understand the desire for revenge and justice. If someone killed someone that I deeply love, I can't say I'd be totally against killing that one particular person. I would hope the justice system would punish him or her; but if he or she was let free, I'd be tempted to serve up my own justice.   

So maybe self-defense isn't the only killing I support.

Well, I don't know if I support one-for-one revenge. But I definitely have empathy for it; and I can't promise that I'd act differently if I were in that situation.

It's sad to me, though, that someone would be willing to kill innocent people in order to avenge the death of their child. I think it's incredibly selfish. Why would people want to inflict the same pain they're feeling on innocent people?

And what if this person's child was killed because he happened to know the killer of someone else's child?  If we start a whole cycle of revenge killing, where does it end?

15. Thought of that famous line from The Princess Bride

My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. 

I think the line would be much less appealing to me if Inigo said,  My name is Inigo Montoya. You were the optometrist of the guy who killed my father. Prepare to die.   

16. Tempted to do more research on Victor Zammit.

I told Tim about him last night, and he said if Australia is like America, you should be able to look up a solicitor from the Australian Bar Association.


I went to the website of the Australian Bar Association

Is Victor on there?

Do you have to be a currently practicing lawyer to be included?   Maybe. I don't know.  Maybe the website can't prove that Victor was never a lawyer.  It could just be that he's no longer a lawyer.

This biography page on Zammit says he was a lawyer from New South Wales.

Yet when I go to the website of the New South Wales Bar Association and plug in Zammit's name; I get only Michael Zammit.   He works at Blackstone Chambers

17. Looked at Zammit's biography page with Tim. I wanted him to see the part about the bank robber; Dragosevich.  Tim and I googled together. We got this.  They're all pages quoting from Zammit's biography.

The quote:  It was one of the most sensational and most controversial cases ever in Australia where Dragosevich, the bank robber, was shot dead by the police.

How could something that's one of them most sensational and controversial crimes be so forgotten?   That doesn't happen!

Tim suggested that I google bank robberies and Australia.

We ended up having a chat with Lord Wiki. He lists seven prominent bank robbers. Dragosevich isn't one of them. 

18. Thought I found something to defend Victor Zammit, but it was a dead end.

I went to his YouTube channel.

There's this video which says he participated in something called Speaker's Corner.

It shows someone who's supposed to be Victor in his younger years.

It provides a website to go to if you want more information.

I went to the website thinking finally I might find reputable information on Victor.

What did I find?

The website is Victor's!  

I'm getting the idea that Victor Zammit is a major scam artist.

I keep seeing stuff about skeptics and spiritualists offering rewards if someone can prove this or that.  Prove the supernatural is real!  Prove that it's not real!

If I had money I was willing to spare, I'd offer up a reward for someone who can prove Victor Zammit was real.     

19. Glad to hear the Federal Government is planning to give new fathers 2 weeks of paid time off so they can spend time with their new babies. 

Some of the article confuses me.  One part says, The bonus will be means-tested in the same way regular paid parental leave is assessed and will cut out when the individual earns more than $150,000.

Does that mean fathers with a high salary won't get paid for time off?  Or maybe it means the amount you're paid for time off corresponds to your salary; but there's a maximum. So if your salary is $500,000, you'll get paid the same as someone who makes $150,000.

I hope that's the case. I don't think it would be fair to deny benefits to fathers who are financially successful.

I'm glad to see that the paid leave will also go to same-sex couples and parents who adopted a child.   What's disappointing, though, is that two fathers can't take time off at the same time. I guess maybe that's better for the baby.  He can get Daddy #1 for two weeks and then Daddy #2 for the next two weeks. But I think it would be sweet if the whole family can stay home together for awhile. Or maybe one of the dads can get regular parental leave?

20. Consulted Lord Wiki about parental leave in Australia.  He said there're 18 weeks paid maternity and paternity leave.

So how's the 18 weeks different from the 2 weeks talked about in the article?

I'm guessing maybe the 18 weeks is for single fathers? Maybe the 2 weeks is for parents with partners.  Maybe in a gay parenting situation, one father gets 18 weeks and the other would get 2.  

21. Went to the government site about parental leave. 

They say to be eligible for the 18 weeks you have to be the parent's primary caregiver.

And they talk about the $150,000.   If you make over that, you're NOT eligible for paid-parental leave.

Well, I guess the government figures these people have enough money.  My worry would be that certain money and career-oriented parents would not stay home with their babies because they don't want to miss out on a salary.   But then again, if they're that type of person, they probably won't be happy with a reduction in their pay.  They'd probably choose to go to work anyway.

22. Looked at website about salaries in Australia. Most of them are under $150,000.  There're very few exceptions...and those are executives. They can probably manage without the paid parental leave.

23. Learned from government site that employees don't get a percentage of their salary.  They all get $589.40 a week.  So depending on a parent's salary, that's going to be a small pay cut or a big one.  

24. Talked to Tim about the Parental leave thing. He thinks people who make $150,000 and above won't need the $589 a week. They have money and other benefits.

I said I felt bad for those children of workaholic parents who won't take time off.  Tim said the parents who want to take off will find a way to do it.  Yeah.  He's right. The government giving wealthy people a small fraction of what they get from their job is not going to have a heavy influence on whether or not people take off from work.  For people who don't make a lot of money, without parental leave, they might not have a choice. They might have to go to work soon after the baby's birth; or there will be food on the table.

25. Remembered to feel hatred towards the American government because we STILL don't have paid parental leave.

If someone wants to talk about the so-called American exeptionalism....there you go.   America is the only country on earth that doesn't have paid paternal leave.  We're SPECIAL. In a very shitty way.

26. Went to Tallygarunga.  Today I'm going to read Welcome To The Torture Chamber.  

27. Thought about how I argue with myself sometimes.  It's annoying; but it's probably a good thing.   If people are so sure of their beliefs and opinions, then they're probably a bit stagnant.

It's probably good to be confused and conflicted.

Okay.  Sorry.  I'll get back to Tallygarunga.

28. Looked at Welcome To The Torture Chamber.   It takes place in the Spencer Common room and stars Riley Lightfoot, a Spencer student and Dorian Greene, a Sturt student.

It's August 13; Saturday morning.

29. Started reading the story.  

Riley has a flashback of his mother seeing his report cards.  Despite his many good grades, his mother noticed the one bad grade he received.  She was very angry and forced Riley to get a tutor.

Now we flash-forward and Riley is about to meet his tutor. I guess that will be Dorian Greene.

30. Learned Riley does not want a tutor and he plans to sabotage the tutor-student relationship with pranks.

Will he scare Dorian away?

31. Learned that Dorian isn't too excited about the tutoring relationship either.  He's a Sturt student and weary of pranky Spencer students.   Yet he has some hope that Riley might be different. He thinks since Riley wanted a tutor, it might mean he plans to be serious about things. Dorian doesn't seem to realize that this wasn't Riley's choice.

32. Saw that Riley tried to freak Dorian out with a worm. Dorian didn't have the reaction Riley expected.  He wasn't squeamish about it. Then Riley worries that Dorian might act like an angry Sturt and kill the poor worm.

Dorian doesn't. That's good.

33. Found myself loving Dorian.  He's awesome.  Riley keeps pranking him, and Dorian keeps calm about it all.   When he endures a crazy chair prank, Dorian says That is borderline genius, Riley. It must have taken ages to construct. However, for the sake of my uniform, why don't we have our next session in the library.

That guy has a lot of patience.

34. Read more of the story.  Riley tries and tries to scare Dorian away.  When the pranks don't work, he goes for insults.  He says Dorian looks like an idiot. That doesn't work either. Riley begins to plead and bargain.    

"Don't deny that you hate tutoring me. You do, and you know it." He paused dramatically. "And you'll never have to see me again if you go up to the headmaster and tell him you don't think I need a tutor." Riley motioned towards the assignments that lay before them. "Do those for me and claim that I don't need a tutor and everything will be okay." 

35. Saw that while Dorian is keeping calm on the exterior, inside he's become irritated.   Honestly, what was so utterly horrible about gaining knowledge? What was so satisfying about a cruel laugh at another's misfortune? No regard for anyone else, only thinking of himself and what he could do to have his fun, casting away any chances of being a decent human being, what kind of person was that?

I agree with Dorian.  It's fun to do pranks, but not to the point of hurting and humiliating people.

Well, I do make an exception for people like Dolores Umbridge. She deserved humiliation.    

36. Started to read the biography of Dorian Greene. 

His face claim is Xavier Samuel.

37. Consulted Lord Wiki about Xavier Samuel.  I didn't recognize his name, but I did recognize the character he played in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.   Riley. And I remembered something about the actor who played Riley....


I'm so excited to get another character with an Australian face claim!

I really liked what I read of Dorian Greene.  Now I like him even more.

Do I sound prejudice?

Well, I am.  

38. Watched interview with Xavier Samuel.

I'm trying to picture him annoying Riley with his calmness over the worm thing.

39. Confused myself just now because Xavier Samuel plays a character named Riley in the Twilight movie. Then he was interacting with a Riley in the Tallygarunga scene.

40. Learned that Dorian was born in Narragyambie.  This is the town near Tallygarunga.

Or is it Tallygarunga actually in the town?

I forget.  

41. Found the page that has setting information.  

Narragyambie is the closest town to Tallygarunga.

There's a main road in the area called Tallygarunga.  At one point, it turns into a dirt road, and that dirt road leads to the trees that surround the school.  If you go in the other direction on the road, it leads to various towns.

42. Reminded of Jack when I read this about Dorian.   His hands are moving. They always are. Whether he's wringing his hands, playing with a ring, wagging a pencil up and down, his long, spidery fingers do not rest.

Jack is one of those who always has to be using his fingers to mess with something.  Unfortunately he often picks at the skin around his nails. Then it hurts, and I have to put medicine on it.

Sometimes he plays around with my hair instead. I love that. I LOVE when someone plays with my hair.

43. Learned that Dorian's parents wanted a child with a sense of humor, and he's much more serious than they envisioned.

44. Learned that Dorian is a loner.  And he doesn't like too much attention directed his way.

45. Learned that Dorian likes poetry.

I usually don't.

Maybe I do if you count the rhymes in children's board books.

Hands hands fingers thumb.  

One thumb one thumb drumming on a drum.

I definitely like that.

46. Started to read Dorian's history.

His parents wanted a bigger family, but Dorian's mom had uterus problems.  When Dorian was eight, they surprised him by adopting a baby from Romania.  The two kids bonded immediately.

It makes me wonder....

Why do we bond with certain people so quickly and strongly?

Personally, I feel it's a soulmate type thing.  While some siblings are soulmates, I get the sense that other siblings are soul-enemies.  But maybe the point of them being stuck together is to learn how to get along.

I'm not a New South Wales lawyer, but I'll talk about supernatural stuff anyway.

47. Learned that Dorian's favorite poet is Shel Silverstein!  Now THAT is the type of poet I like.

For school, I memorized the poem about the girl who's faking sickness so she can stay home.

48. Found out that my Australian of the day is Marshall Andrews.

He was a doctor. 

49. Learned that Marshall was born in Sydney. His parents were both migrants from Scotland.

50. Learned that Marshall did work with tuberculosis. Well, he fought against it.  During his rein as the tuberculosis fighter, cases of the disease dropped dramatically.  In 1949 there were 769 cases. In 1959 there were only 224 cases.   

51. Went back to Peter Lindenburg's Flickr account. I'm going to look at his set called Bird and Lizards in the Capertee Valley.

Where is the Capertee Valley?

Lord Wiki knows.  But he says few other people do.  It's like a secret.

Well, it's not really a secret.  But the place tends to be noticed only by bird fans.  

Lord Wiki says Capertee is a breeding site for the Regent Honeyeaters. They're endangered, so it's really important for them to breed.

52. Found Capertee on Google Maps.  It's about an hour north of the Blue Mountains.   

53. Started to look at Peter's photos.

I like this guy.   He reminds me of Tim—not my husband, but one of our characters in Blue Cotton Village (our stuffed animal thing).  Tim isn't actually a lizard.   He's some type of weird monkey.   But the lizards face matches Tim's personality.

Tim's kind of sulky; maybe sort of like Eeyore.  But he's an adrenaline junky. He loves getting rides and asks for them constantly.   

54. Thought this Australasian Lark looked very angry. I think everyone forgot her birthday.   Poor thing. 

55. Wondered what this Australian Pipit is preaching about?  Is he proclaiming his belief in Jesus Christ?  Reincarnation?   Or maybe he's promoting atheism?  

56. Loved this Lace Monitor.  Did I see it before in another set?   I can't remember.   

57. Thought this bird was lovely.  

58. Tried to find another Australian YouTube singer.

I like this one.   Her YouTube name is BloodyDag.  

Here she sings Howie Day's "Collide".

That was my own personal Might is Might song.  I heard it a few times when I was really into writing Alex and Julia's story.  I've written a lot of novels and screenplays. I've created a lot of characters.   But I can't remember loving any of them as much as I loved Alex. Uh...I guess it's the magic of Harry Potter.

Anyway, the lyrics of "Collide" would make me cry.    I guess I saw my world colliding with Alex's world.  My life would influence her life.  I mean we DO borrow from our own lives when we create characters.  I'm sure every character in Tallygarunga has a little bit of their role-player in them.  

And then sometimes her life would influence mine. There was the time I wrote about her being homesick for London. Then later I was looking at a book.  I saw it was from London, and I suddenly started crying.

What can I say?   I cry a lot.

59. Wondered if many of the people in Tallygarunga have songs for their characters.  

60. Listened to Bloody Dag sing the song again.

These lines made me especially emotional.

I'm open, you're closed
Where I follow, you'll go
I worry I won't see your face
Light up again

There came a point where I felt my connection to Alex had broken. What happened is I came up with a story that I loved.  It had a climax and conclusion.  But then I felt compelled to continue on with the blog.   Magic is Might was still happening, and the people reading my story continued to visit the blog.  But I felt my connection to Alex was somewhat lost.  I still like her, but in the same way I usually like my fictional characters.  The magic is gone.

For reasons I won't really explain, I'm probably going to return to writing Alex's story.   I have excuses. Some people asked me to come back and I see from Statcounter that a few people are checking up on Alex religiously.   But see...if I really wanted to, I could ignore them. No one can force me to continue writing, but I feel compelled to do so. 

I think part of me wants to keep writing Alex's story because I hope that magical connection will return.

Maybe once again...we'll collide.