Monday, February 28, 2011

Underwater, Luna Lovegood, Toxins, and Cloudstreet

1. Dreamed about the shark dive extreme.   I'm in the tank, but it's like I'm not really there. I seem to be some kind of invisible observer visitor.   There are no people or sharks around. I go near this raised surface and stay near that.  But then I realize it might be where the wobbegong shark is supposed to rest.  (When I did the shark dive, a wobbegong shark came by and just layed there for a fairly long time.  The shark dive people said it was a rare thing, but in my dream I had a sense that the shark did the same performance for every dive).  I move so the shark can have it's place.  Then things change. I'm no longer invisible. I'm really there, but I have no scuba equipment.   I realize I have to get out fairly quickly, so I can breath.  It doesn't look like there's a quick exit.   I'm embarrassed for being there without the proper equipment.  I seem to be more worried about being a nuisance than I am about drowning.  

2. Received email from friend about Tim Anderson.  She sent me an article (or editorial?),  but I haven't read it yet.  Anyway, she says he was charged with the Hilton Hotel bombing in the 1970's.   I vaguely remember hearing about that, but don't remember much.

My friend said Anderson was acquitted.  So I guess he had been wrongly accused.

3. Decided to consult Lord Wiki about the hotel bombings. I feel like I've written about it before.   Maybe I have?

Lord Wiki says that there's suspicions that Australia's security forces were responsible for the bomb.   The NSW Parliament has tried to hold an inquiry, and the Australian government has vetoed that twice.   Wow, that's a bit shady.

4. Read ABC transcript about the bombing.   Some people think the bombing was a terrorist act.   A policeman injured by the bomb believed it was some type of conspiracy.   Someone on the show says, We had information that the government somehow was involved, that ASIO was involved, the Special Branch was involved. There were suggestions that ASIO wanted this bomb to be discovered to, in a sense, justify its existence.

I think that's the root of many conspiracy theories; the idea that the injury/damage was self-inflicted.   I guess it's sort of like a government's version of Munchhausen by proxy syndrome.  HOWEVER, just because a government, person, or organization benefits from a tragedy, it doesn't necessarily mean that they're the ones who caused it. 

5. Found Red Nomad's blog via Andrew's blog.  It looks like something I might like. She talks about traveling around Australia.  I'm going to follow her blog.  Although I just clicked on follow, and it says I'm ALREADY following that blog.   Did I click just a moment ago, and then forgot about it?   That's sad.   I don't think I've been following it before today. I don't remember seeing her posts in my Google follow list thing.

6. Saw that Red Nomad has a weird stuff tag on her blog like I do. My weird stuff is spiritual type things.  I wonder what hers is all about.   

I'll skim through some of it. There's three posts.

The second post has a disappearing island, but Red Nomad doesn't attribute the event to alien encounters or time travel.  She says it was a matter of fog.

In this post, Red Nomad talks about eating mango cheesecake.  She says, Well ... you can't visit the mango capital of Australia and NOT eat mango products, can you?   Yes, actually you can.   I have a friend who doesn't like Mango because she once had a vomiting experience with the stuff.   I bet she wouldn't eat mango in the mango capital of the world.  Although I can't imagine why she'd even visit the mango capital of the world. Would I visit the water chestnut capital of the world?  Not by choice.

The third post features a dinosaur.  Sadly, it's not real.  It's just a decoration.  But the photo is really cool.  

7. Read the editorial that my friend sent to me.  It's written by Tim Anderson, and is full of angst.   It reminds me of some of the stuff my homeschooling friend says....except she's very right-winged.    Anderson is very much on the left.   I'm intrigued that my friend (not the homeschooling one) sent it to me, because she's usually not a fan of the far left. Although I think maybe she's like me. I think the far left is too extreme sometimes, but I DO agree with some of their ideas.  

Anderson says, The Labor government of Julia Gillard will be replaced by as ugly a bunch of thugs as we have ever seen; just as Obama will be replaced by the same neo-fascists that drew us into a series of bloody wars.   WILL be replaced?  Does Anderson have a crystal ball?    It reminds me a LOT of the right rhetoric; the use of fear tactics. This will happen, and that will happen.  And at least my homeschooling friend (and other right-winged people I know) don't say this and that WILL happen.  They more often say that so and so COULD happen.

8. Wished that Obama would stand up against what's happening to Julian Assange and Bradley Manning. Then I could like him more. As it stands for now, I'm really losing respect for him.

 9. Read about the tragic death of Agnes Milowka.   She drowned while exploring a cave near Mt. Gambier.  It reminds me a little bit of my dream last—swimming underwater, and trying to find a way out.

Although I think it's sad that she died, I don't think there should be any regrets regarding the cause of her death.  I admire Agnes for her courage, and her determination to follow her dreams.  It could be that she took risks that didn't need to be taken, but the same could be said for Jessica Watson.  What separates the stories of heroes from the stories of tragedy?

10. Signed petition about Bradley Manning.   I wish I could do something big like break him out of prison.  But that's not on my agenda.   I was thinking that small gestures DO matter.  If I was a political prisoner, I think it would make me feel better knowing that people are on my side.

It reminds me of Harry Potter...of course.  Potter stands up against the Ministry of Magic, and he's painted out to be a liar and fool.  He feels almost everyone is against him, and feels so sad and alone.   Then slowly people come forward and let him know that they believe in him.

There's some great dialogue in the movie.  I don't think it's in the book.  


Luna: We believe you, by the way. That He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is back, and you fought him, and the Ministry and the Prophet are conspiring against you and Dumbledore.

Harry:  Thanks. Seems you're about the only ones that do. 

Luna: I don't think that's true. But I suppose that's how he wants you to feel. 

Harry: What do you mean? 

Luna: Well if I were You-Know-Who, I'd want you to feel cut off from everyone else. Because if it's just you alone you're not as much of a threat.

I think the world would be a better place if we had more Luna Lovegoods.

11.  Read article about a suburb in Port Pirie having toxins in the air.  The EPA is going to knock on the doors of people in Solomontown.   They're going to give some warnings, and do some testings.   When I read the beginning of the article I thought, Oh!  Well, at least the EPA is doing something, and not keeping it quiet.   Then I read more of the article.

It seems this incidence of transparency MIGHT be due to the fact that the EPA has been recently criticized for knowing about water contamination in Edwardstown, South Australia.   Here's an article about that.  It's complicated. I'm trying to figure it all out.

The Marion City Council was told by some entity called Colonial First State that there was some contamination issues.  This was way back in 2007.  Then in 2009, they were officially notified that there was contamination.  I guess before that it was a casual notification?  The Marion City Council than contacted EPA.  They said they did that immediately, so that must have been in 2009 as well.

Paul Caica, the Minister for Water (and other stuff) in South Australian Parliament, learned about this whole thing last Thursday.  He acted a bit more promptly...if we can trust he's telling the truth. He says he contacted the EPA on Friday, and talked to South Australian Parliament about it this Wednesday.

What is the EPA's excuse for their secrecy?    Helen Fulcher from the EPA says she wanted to make sure the toxins were an actual threat before telling the public.  She says, We are listening to what people are saying about this and I'm hearing a preference that people would rather know sooner than later and we've made a judgment and the judgment is that when we know there's a potential threat to human health, that's when we'd tell people.

Yeah. I think I prefer knowing about potential threats ahead of time.  I mean I don't want to be given every paranoid scenario.  But if there's a good chance something might cause me harm, I'd like to be informed. Then I can decide if I want to take action or not.  

12. Wondered how many other neighborhoods around the world are being poisoned while secretive people know that it's happening.  

13. Read Sarah Hanson-Young's editorial about gay marriage.  My favorite paragraph is this one:

Gillard and Abbott are entitled to their views, even though they fail to articulate their opposition beyond opposition's sake. Theirs is a weak position, but that's their choice. One thing to remember about same-sex marriage is that it isn't compulsory. If you don't want to marry someone of the same gender, then don't. Simple.

I don't know if their position is weak.  I'd call it mysterious. Well, I CAN understand why Abbott is against gay marriage.  Religious reasons.  I don't understand Gillard's opposition to it.   Is she trying to kiss someone's ass?  Is she simply resistant to change? Is someone blackmailing her? 

14. Read comments on Sarah Hanson-Young's editorial that make me want to SCREAM.   One person says,  Why should a religion be forced to change their beliefs?
The marriage is a Christian ceremony which is (with the current religions definition) a union between a man and a woman, under God.


First of all, did Christians invent marriage? I doubt it! Whether they did or not, it exists in many different cultures.

Lord Wiki agrees with my suspicion.  Marriage is pretty a much a universal phenomena, and exists in many cultures.  Christianity does NOT own it.  Nor did they invent it.

Marriage is NOT a Christian ceremony.  And legalizing gay marriage does not equal forcing a religion to change their beliefs.  Now if Christian churches are forced by law to perform marriages, that would be another issue.  And I don't think that would be fair.  But legalizing gay marriages does not mean that people have to get married.  As far as I know, it also doesn't mean that churches will be required to marry gay people.

Can a Jewish person go to a Catholic church and ask the priest to marry them to a Buddhist?   I seriously doubt it.  I think the Catholic church has the right to say Uh...yeah.  We don't do that here.   Good luck to you.  

15. Read down further, and realized I may have misjudged the commenter.  Although to be fair I think she's misunderstood the history of marriage.  And I think she misread the editorial.   She's not speaking out about legalizing gay marriage.   She's speaking out against forcing churches to accept gay marriage.  She (or he) says, If people don't believe the rules are fair, equitable, or reasonable, then maybe they should question the religion its self for validity. Once enough people leave a religion because it has no relevance, it will have to evolve on its own or vanish entirely.

I think that's a VERY good point, and I completely agree.  That's one of the reasons new religions and new religious sects are created.  People want something different.

Basically the commenter is saying the government should leave churches alone to decide whether or not to accept gay marriage.  I agree with that.  But right now gay people can't get married period; no matter what their religion.  Or they can get married (outside of Australia), but their marriage won't be recognized unless they live in Tasmania.

16. Scolded myself for not reading someone's whole comment before making a judgment.  There was an Electric Company episode about that.  They tried to teach us to carefully read stuff in their entirety before taking action and making a judgment.  I guess I didn't learn the lesson well.  I'll try harder in the future.

17. Enjoyed listening to my Jimmy Barnes station on Pandora. Right now I'm listening to "Flame Trees". 

18. Looked at the new Cloudstreet miniseries on IMDb.  I saw it mentioned on Tim Winton's Facebook Page. 

I'm trying to remember the characters.  I'm guessing Sam is the guy who was injured.   Rose is the daughter, and Dolly is the wife.   I think Fish is the guy who had the water accident.

The Lambs must be the other family.  I barely remember the book.  I should probably read it again someday.  Do I still have it?

19. Asked Lord Wiki about Cloudstreet.  He helped me remember some stuff.

20. Found Cloudstreet downstairs.  It's one of the first Australian novels I read.

The jacket cover of the book says, Told in fiery working-class colloquialisms, this is the story of Sam Pickles who loses his fingers in an industrial mishap; of his wife Rose who loathes her husband's weakness....

Rose is NOT the wife.  She's the daughter.  So I was confused for awhile when reading.  It wouldn't have been a problem if I paid close attention. I probably would have read the book and said Oh, there's a mistake.  But I often daydream through the beginning of books, unless they're very easy and engaging.  I likely half paid attention while reading, got confused, and then consulted the jacket of the book to get a better idea of what I was reading. Seeing Rose listed as the wife probably lifted my confusion to a whole new level.  

21. Decided to reread Cloudstreet.   I put it on my to-read shelf.  Although with my recent slow reading, it will probably be a LONG time before I get to it.  

22. Heard Peter Allen sing "Don't Wish Too Hard".   I like the lyrics

Don't wish to hard for what you want
Or then you might get it
And then when you get it
Then you might wish you never got it at all

It's kind of the opposite attitude of Rhonda Byrne's Secret. I don't like The Secret

I think I go along more with the idea in Buddhism. Desire causes suffering.

One of the worst times of my life was 2008.  Why?  Because I wished to move to Australia. It wasn't a mild wish.  It was a huge consuming type of wish.

Recently I thought about crushes.  There's that HUGE wish to have a certain person in your life.  You know how you stop managing to have fun...unless they're around.   You go to a party, and if they're not there, the party seems like a complete waste of time.   You get a bunch of emails and Facebook messages.  None of them give you any joy, because there's only one person you want to hear from.

I don't think strong wishes feel good.  It's like this hole within you that you're desperate to fill.

And despite what Rhonda Byrne says, I don't think we can magically manifest something just by wishing it.

I much prefer a destiny-type philosophy.   I think things happen when they're meant to happen.   That's not to say you should lay back and let the world happen to you.  I think it's great to go after your dreams. Sometimes.   If it seems meant to be, I'd say go seek it out. But some things are probably NOT meant to be, and should probably be left alone.  

23. Thought more about my wish to move to Australia.   Some people responded with the attitude Well, if you want to move there, make it happen! You can do it!   The idea was if I truly wanted to be Australian, I would make it happen.

First of all, it's not easy to move to a different country.  Immigration is quite complicated and challenging. You need the right job. Australia doesn't want just anyone.

Second, Jack did not want to move. He was very upset about leaving his cousins, our life in Texas, our house, etc.  To me, it seemed selfish to continue actively pursuing something that made him so unhappy.

Third, we'd either have to leave our cats behind or put them in quarantine.  I hate imagining our cats stuck in a cage for a 14 hour flight.  Then I think we'd be separated for an additional month.   If we left them behind, I'd miss them like crazy.  And I don't know if we could find a good home for them.    They're a bit high-maintenance.  

At first I actively sought out immigration possibilities.  I looked at jobs, and forwarded information to Tim.  I thought I NEEDED to move to Australia.  But after some time, I decided to just relax and leave it up to destiny.   I decided if we were meant to move to Australia, then an opportunity would fall in our lap.  If that happened, I'd majorly bribe Jack into wanting to move there.  At times, he HAS been open to the idea.  I'd search for a new home for Max and Mu Shu.  Maybe a miracle would happen, and we'd find someone willing to take them.   

24. Thought about how one of the best ways to be happy is to wish for things you already have, or can easily get. Sometimes it's about appreciating the small things.

25. Reminded myself that sometimes the best response is NO response.  I forget that sometimes.   Or maybe it's more that I'm weary of not responding.  It bothers me when I pour out my heart to people and they fail to give me any response.  This happens to me a fair amount, and I still haven't gotten used to it.   I don't want to do that to others. However, I probably need to face the fact that sometimes it IS best to stay silent. I mean if there's a choice between silence and starting an argument....probably better to be silent.

Well.....thought about this more.  I do think there are times when it's better to stand up for yourself, or your beliefs.   It's cowardly to always stay silent.   I think my usual thing is to stand up for myself.    But then if my response is met with dishonesty, unfairness, or ignorance...or if I feel the person has totally missed my point; then I usually give up and let the other person have the last word.   

As they say....you gotta choose your battles.  
 
26.  Watched the February 24 episode of The Colbert Show.  Colbert talked about Wikileaks and Aaron Barr.  Then he interviewed the Glenn Greenwald from Salon.com; the one who supports Wikileaks.  Like most Stephen Colbert segments, there was a nice mixture of humor and intelligence. 

27. Did manage to realize that bits of this post contradict each other (#9 and #22).  What does that mean?  It means..... I'm confused.   I'm probably full of contradictions.    I wonder if I confuse other people as much as I confuse myself.

28. Saw that the Oscar auto-tune thing has been put up on YouTube.   I love it.  Jack loves it too. He watched it so many times today.

29. Am tempted to rename my blog That Weird American Who's Obsessed with Australia AND Harry Potter.  I'm not going to do it though.

30. Saw this VERY cute Harry Potter parody using Missy Higgins "Scar".

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Qantas, Permanent Residency, Wishes, and Oscars

1. Read article about mental health during a disaster.  They give advice on how to avoid depression, a nervous breakdown, and other stuff like that.  I like the advice. It's basically don't isolate yourself and drown in your own misery.  Connect with people.  Help others. Exercise.

Last week I had some bad days.  I felt somewhat depressed. We had a get-together with my family.  I was totally dreading it.  But I ended up having a good time, and I felt better afterward. 

That being said....It CAN backfire.  What if you're in a disaster, and you have no friends and family?  What if you're very lonely?  What if you go outside to connect to people, say hello to someone, and they just walk on by?  What if you go to offer help and they turn you away; or they ignore you because they're already too busy?   Then you might end up being more depressed.  

2. Delighted to hear Helen Reddy singing "We'll Sing in the Sunshine".  I checked to see if YouTube had a video, and found this Muppet thing.  

3. Read article about Qantas not providing free charter flights for New South Wales police to travel to Christchurch.  They claim though that they're giving the police a discount.  Really?  The flight is averaging out at about $1000 a person. How much does a flight from Sydney to Christchurch usually cost?

I'm looking at the Qantas website right now.   I chose a flight in late March.   If I want to save a lot of money I can use the Red e-Deal option and get a round trip ticket for a little over $500.

If I choose the more flexible option I can get a round trip flight for $1158. 

Okay. Where's the discount?  If it's there, it's not very substantial.  I understand I'm not doing a charter thing. I'm sure there's differences. But this is for a good cause.  Why is Qantas being so stingy?  

4. Still bored by Nicki Gemmell's Love Song.  I hope I start liking it more.....soon.

5. Read comments on Facebook regarding the carbon tax. Pearl Maya says, You mean we are actually going to have to pay the real price of our pollution without it being put on the never never and we might have to be responsible for our choices - outrageous! Yes I would pay it.   

A few people are also wishing for a mining tax.

Some, that are against the tax, talk about governments needing to spend more wisely. But isn't the main point of the carbon tax to get people to be more conservative with their carbon usage?   It's kind of like speeding tickets.  Yes the government makes money off of our transgressions.  However, I think the main point of having speed limits is to keep people safe.  

Something that some other people mention is that there's no point in Australia doing the right thing if other countries aren't going to do likewise. Barrie Hall says,  Happy to pay when the US, China and India have also put a price on carbon. Otherwise this is just a waste of time (and our money)...   It's not fair for some countries to hold all the burden.   But change always has to start somewhere.    Tim and I were talking about my egg thing today.  Sometimes I have that feeling of what's the point of avoiding eggs.  So I don't eat eggs.    Other people are still eating them.  Chickens are still being severely mistreated.  What's the point of making a sacrifice if other people aren't going to do the same?

But if you look at vegetarianism through the years. It used to be such a fringe movement. It was hard to find vegetarian food anywhere.   Now our regular old grocery store has a large selection.   Some people (or countries) change first, and then others slowly follow.   

6. Talked to Lord Wiki about which countries have carbon taxes. There's a few.  He says India has one.  I wonder if Barrie Hall is aware of that.  If I'm understanding things correctly, several countries in Europe have taxes (Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK).   Costa Rica has a carbon tax.  Some provinces in Canada have them.

America doesn't have any sort of federal tax, but certain areas have something in place. These are Boulder Colorado,  some counties in San Francisco, and a county in Maryland.

You know....it's like gay marriage.  Slowly things are changing.

7. Heard the Seekers singing "Danny Boy" on Pandora.  It reminds me of the last episode of Modern Family.  Jay sings a bit of the song.  My parents brought up that episode yesterday. My dad said they were concerned it would make me self-conscious; and they wanted to assure me I didn't sing as bad as Gloria.

I don't know if I sing as bad as Gloria, but I AM like her in that I'll sit there singing by myself with the karaoke machine.  No one yet has told me shut up. They probably won't. I don't think my family minds bad singing. I mean we're all pretty tolerant. We just have fun with it.

8. Related to this bit from Love Song.  Lillie (the protagonist) reveals to someone that she wants to write.  He responds Oh love, waste of time that.

Then the book says, And the dismissal burns in Lillie and something is hardened, there's a determination from that point and she knows in her heart that she will one day write of him.  

I've dealt with those types of dismissing comments. There's the You're good at it, but don't quit your day job.   Then there was the Maybe I'll try to get one of my books published, and the response of Or we could try to win the lottery.

Yes, these dismissing comments burn, and they harden me into a malicious bitch. No, I'm joking....sort of.   But I will say I do NOT forget those comments.  My memory fails me at times, but it does not fail me when someone has hurt my feelings.   Well, that's not exactly true. I've come to realize that I do sometimes forget the things that people say or do to hurt my feelings. Then I read it in my old journal, and the memories come back.  

9. Read article about Vegemite.  It says that Vegemite might have genetically modified ingredients.  Now I know there's debate over whether GMO is even bad for us, but I would be weary of any company that is secretive about the whole matter.   

There's something called the Truefood guide; and they judge food based on whether their companies are transparent about what goes into their food.  Vegemite has been given a red light. Weet-bix gets a green light.  SO.... maybe people need to be changing their breakfast habits.  

For those who love Vegemite, but don't like the idea of giving their money to a big secretive American corporation, there are alternatives.  Here we have....Aussie Mite.  Have any of you tried it?  Maybe I'll try to buy it the next time we go to Australia.

Aussie-mite is rich in vitamin B, it's vegan, and has no GMO ingredients.  I don't think it's very easy to find though.   

10. Received Facebook wall message from my sort-of Australian cousin.  She says American private schools DO get money from the government.  She also says that if you're not a citizen of Australia, you have to pay for government schools.  I think I'd probably just homeschool.  

Lord Wiki slightly disagrees with my cousin...if I'm understanding him correctly.  He says Non-religious private schools theoretically could qualify for such funding, but prefer the advantages of independent control of their student admissions and course content.  So I guess the basic idea is that there would be strings attached to the funding.

I'm guessing that some private schools take government money, but most don't.   

Wait. You know what.  I bet I know what my cousin is talking about....vouchers!  With this, the government doesn't give money to the school. They give money to the students who give money to the school.

I've heard vague things about vouchers, but I wasn't sure to what extent it was used in America.   Lord Wiki says that the voucher thing is happening in Milwaukee. This website says there are also voucher programs in D.C, Ohio, and Louisiana. Then Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and Utah have vouchers for kids with special needs.   

11. Found a NY teachers blog that agrees with my cousin, and disagrees with Lord Wiki.   It says, Public schools are funded through federal, state and local taxes and do not charge a tuition. Private schools, on the other hand, receive their funding through tuition, fundraising, and partial government funding.

I should be fair though.  Lord Wiki didn't say that private schools do NOT receive funding.  He says they qualify, but prefer to have freedom from government.  

12. Read website page about expats.  The only thing they say differently from my cousin is that you have to be a permanent resident to get a free education. You don't have to be a citizen.  

13. Went to Australia's immigration website to remind myself of who qualifies for permanent residency. Unfortunately, it's not me.  AND I'm having a hard time finding the information.    

Okay.  Finally.   I found it.  Permanent residency means you have a Visa that allows you to stay in Australia indefinitely.    I still can't find the info about qualifications.   I'm just gonna go to Lord Wiki.  Maybe he knows.  

I think I understand it. You have to look under each immigration option...such as business owner, skilled migrant, talented person, etc.  The idea I'm getting is that when you come over, you qualify as either temporary or permanent. If you're permanent, I guess you get the free education.  

15. Looked at this website which lists the benefits of permanent residency.  They say,  Children of permanent residents who are born in Australia are deemed Australian Citizens by birth.  This will be one great advantage because they will enjoy the maximum benefits in the field of education and health care.

So, that seems to be saying there ARE extra benefits to being a citizen, in terms of education. This same website mentions that permanent resident people are eligible for health care.  My guess is that there are education/health benefits to being a permanent resident; and then even more benefits to becoming a citizen.

16. Read this government website about the benefits of being a citizen. They say Australian citizenship is a privilege that offers enormous rewards. By becoming an Australian citizen, you are joining a unique national community. Our country has been built on the combined contributions of our Indigenous people and those who came later from all over the world. We celebrate this diversity and at the same time, strive for a unified and harmonious nation.

I gotta admit it.  Reading this stuff triggers some old feelings—the intense longing that made me depressed in 2008.   But for the most part I'm okay.

Anyway.....

Education stuff isn't mentioned.   They talk about political stuff—voting, becoming a member of parliament, joining the military, etc.    

17. Wondered if Geoffrey Rush will win the Oscar.  I hope so.  But I probably don't care as much as I did a few weeks ago. Maybe watching the Oscars will make me care again.  

18. Reminded myself that I no longer dream of becoming Australian.  My old wish was to move to Australia.  I wanted to be an expat like my cousin.  And I wanted to become a citizen.

I love Australia no less than I did a few years ago, but my wishes have changed.   It's still a pipe dream really.  What I'd love is to be a long-term American tourist in Australia.  I'd love to spend 6 months to a year there.  I'd even be super happy with three months. I'd love to have lots of money so we can move about without worrying so much about the cost.  I'd want to go to every state and territory, and lots of cities and towns in each one.

I don't imagine that happening in the next ten years because it would be hard to leave the cats for so long. I figure in about ten years, we'll no longer have cats.  Jack will be almost twenty, so he'll be old enough to decide whether he wants to join us, or stay back in America. Who knows....maybe he'll go elsewhere.  He could end up in Japan; well, since he loves Nintendo so much!

19. Decided that if I have my way (wishes DO sometimes come true....right?) we will go to Australia for a month in 2012, a month in 2015, a month in 2018, and for six months in 2021.  Or if money is tight, maybe we'll skip 2018 and save up for 2021.  

You never know though. Things could go really bad, and I might NEVER return to Australia.

Personally, I think it's better luck to face the fact that things might not go the way you want them to go.  When you have an attitude of entitlement, the universe is likely to slap you in the face.  

20. Started to like Love Song....a little. Well, at least I'm understanding it better. It's kind of weird.   It goes back and forth from first person and third person. 

21. Ate vegetarian Kung Pao while watching the Oscars.    

22. Informed Tim and Jack that Jackie Weaver is Australian.

23. Failed to understand Kurt Douglas's joke about Hugh Jackman.

24.. Saw that one of the short animation winners is Australian; Shaun Tan.   The movie is The Lost Thing, and it's based on Tan's picture book.  

25. Was VERY happy to see David Seidler win for best screenplay.

26. Liked Anna Hathaway's song about Hugh Jackman and Australia. It was funny, and Anna Hathaway sings very beautifully.   

27. Decided I REALLY want Geoffrey Rush to win. Maybe my King's Speech love has returned.

28.  Disappointed that Geoffrey Rush didn't win.  I was upset that Christian Bale won, but felt better once he started speaking British. He's SO much more appealing with a British accent.

And I used to love Christian Bale when he sang this.  

29. Hoped that Alexandre Despat (The King's Speech) would win for best music, but also hoped The Social Network's music would win. I love the music in The Social Network.

Recently, I learned that Despat also did the music for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. 

30. Started to lose hope for The King's Speech. 

31. Had this sudden feeling that one day I shall see Inception, and it will become my favorite movie.   It makes sense, if I think about it. Lucid dreams are what brought about my Australia obsession in the first place....well, lucid dreams AND regular dreams.

31. Told Tim that I think Cate Blanchett could play JK Rowling in a movie.  She is VERY beautiful.

32. Tried to figure out if Dave Elsey is Australian.

Well, there's a Linkedin profile for a Dave Elsey in Sydney who works in the film industry. That could be him.   

33. Found article about Esley. He IS an Aussie! He's a British-Aussie.

34. Loved the Tangled song.  It makes me think of a certain Australian who saw the movie and loved it.  He's going to be going to animation school very soon. One day I might see HIM winning an Oscar.  That would be SO cool.   

35. LOVED the auto-tune thing!!!  That is too cool. It makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time....especially the Harry Potter bit. 

Jack loves it too.  He's rewinding it for the third time.  

36. Actually liked Oprah's speech about documentary films.

37. Wondered...Who is Banksy?   Someone joked about it during the Oscars, and it was mentioned in one of the documentary clips.   The only Banksy I know is the one who does news.com.au's Facebook Page.  

I just checked with Lord Wiki.   Banksy is some kind of secretive artist in the UK.


 38. Very sad to hear about Cameron Wiseman.  My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.  Their story makes my heart ache.  I hope little Cameron will be okay.  I hate stories like that, because I imagine it happening to Jack.

Note: Cameron has nothing to do with the Oscars.  I was reading news via Facebook while watching the award show.   

39. Had my hope restored for The King's Speech!   TOM HOOPER WON BEST DIRECTOR!!!!!!!!  He tells the story about how his mom led him to the movie. It's very sweet.

He says the moral of the story is listen to your mum. Yes!  Yesterday I listened to my mom, and now I'm all into Pandora again! Mothers do have good ideas sometimes.  

40. Impressed by the Rabbit Hole clip with Nicole Kidman.

41. Happy to see that Colin Firth won! He's very funny.  Glad to see that he mentioned Guy Pearce.   I tend to forget he was in the movie.

42. Learned from Jack that The King's Speech won!!!!!!!!   He had to look it up on the Internet because our damn DVR didn't tape the end of the show.  I'd like to see the acceptance speech someday. I want to know if they mentioned Lionel Logue.  Oh well.  I guess they'll have it on YouTube someday.





Saturday, February 26, 2011

Schools, Shame, Annette Kellerman, and Pandora

1. Finished reading Vernon God Little.   By the time I got to the last few chapters, I liked the book a lot.  It took me awhile to fully understand what was going on.  I think I'll blame my initial feelings towards the books on a) my being distracted b) my mood c) my prejudices about the author

The book is partly a parody and criticism of reality TV.  Since I'm not often a fan of reality TV, I enjoyed seeing it criticized.  

Last night (after finishing the book) I started having blogging doubts. Is the love for reading blogs connected to the fascination with reality TV?  And by having a blog, am I helping to feed the monster?

It seems our society has this fascination with the lives of real people.  And yes, I AM feeding into all of this.

Blogs are better though...I believe.  At least we're in control of what we share about ourselves. We're not edited into something we can barely recognize. We're not manipulated into misbehaving. We can share what we want to share, and hide what we want to hide.  

I do try to keep at least SOME of my daily and personal life out of the blog. So I don't feel like I'm living in a fish bowl.  

2. Dreamed about one of my Australian friends.  It wasn't that exciting, and it was too vague to explain.  But it was one of those dreams where geography is meaningless. There was no sense of me going to Australia or her coming to America....yet we seemed to live in the same place.  

3. Got an email from someone who said Sydney's Bourke Street is in Darlinghurst/Surrey Hills and not Bondi Junction.  I'm looking at Google Maps now, and see the  Surrey Hills Bourke Street.  It's a major street.  The one I saw yesterday was tiny.  I'm not sure if there are two Bourke Streets, or if the one I saw yesterday was part of the big one.   

4.  Saw that the big Bourke Street starts up at around The Domain.  Then it goes down past Surrey Hills.

I now see the Bourke Street I saw yesterday. It's this tiny little street connecting Queens Park Road and Birrell Street.  It's funny (and somewhat embarrassing) that I found this road yesterday, and not the major one.

5. Checked with Lord Wiki to make sure that Tom Robert's Bourke Street painting is about Melbourne and not Sydney. I started to wonder since it looks like a pretty big street in Sydney as well.  But nope....the painting refers to the Melbourne Bourke Street.

6. Felt like a total American tourist when I saw Ann O'Dyne's blog post about seeing kangaroos.

7. Read article about wealthy schools spending a lot of money on students.   The article says, Some private schools securing millions of dollars in taxpayer funding, including Melbourne Grammar, have retained earnings or assets of $100 million-plus, whereas others, including Cranbrook in NSW, have previously disclosed surpluses in excess of $8 million.

I don't understand.   If a school is getting money from taxpayers, why is it classified as private?

The article has a picture of Peter Garrett. He looks a bit frightening.

8. Read editorial about funding private schools.  Oh! This is cool. It's not one person's opinion.  The piece gives opinions from different sides.  

Michelle Green is FOR giving money to private schools.  She has a convincing argument. I guess it's different in America....or I just don't know much about it.  I think here private schools are usually not given money by the government.  Government money goes to the public schools.

Green explains that private schools in Australia are a mix of private and government funding, but more money comes from the families of the students. She talks about how private schools save taxpayer's money since not as much money has to go to those schools.

Trevor Cobbold has very compelling arguments against government funding of private schools.   If I'm understanding it correctly, schools are not given money by need.  So private schools in wealthy areas are given more tax money than private schools in disadvantaged areas.  I think this is what happens with American public (government) schools.  

Anyway, this is another one of those articles that make me very glad we homeschool.  

9. Distressed to see that I missed another Australian birthday! I had it on my calendar, but didn't look at my calendar.  I feel extra bad because it's one of my favorite people.  Well, I hope he's forgiving of my belated birthday message.  I feel guilty, and regretful. He's one of the few people who often comments on stuff I post on Facebook.  I really appreciate that, and hate that out of all the birthdays to miss....I missed his.   

10.  Watched video clip about Adaminaby, the town that was literally relocated.  It shows the houses being moved to the new Adaminaby location.

The old town was drowned out for the Snowy Hydro thing.  But then a few years ago, there was a drought and bits of the down started to resurface.

I really like that story.

11. Started reading Love Song by Nikki Gemmell. So far, I'm confused by it. Maybe I'm too distracted again.  I'm TRYING to pay attention. 

12. Embarrassed to find that some of my links on my trip report page were totally messed up. I think I've fixed them. Hopefully. 

13. Saw a poster for an Annette Kellerman performance.  Her name sounded familiar. I asked Lord Wiki about her.  He says Kellerman is the Australian swimmer who's credited for inventing synchronized swimming.  

Her story's inspirational.  When she was a young child she was diagnosed with a leg weakness problem,  and she had to wear braces. Her parents decided that maybe swimming would help. And it did.  It's awesome that someone chooses an activity for therapy; and they end up excelling at it so much that they become famous for it.

There's lots of interesting stuff here about Kellerman.....  

She advocated the use of one piece swimming suits (rather than cumbersome outfits).  

She was the first major actress to do a nude scene in a movie.

She wrote books, even a children's book.

She was a vegetarian. 

14. Watched a video clip of Annette Kellerman in Neptune's Daughter

15. Read some of Kellerman's autobiographical writing on this website.  She says that her mother was a musician, and that Nellie Melba had instructions from her.

Kellerman talks about how the doctor recommended swimming, and her father thought it was a good idea. Kellerman herself was scared and embarrassed. Her parents pushed her, and she eventually became a swimming hero. I guess that's a good story in support of parents pushing their kids.

16. Looked at website for the Annette Kellerman Aquatic Center. It's in Marrickville, where Lord Wiki says she was born.  

The aquatic center boasts that it is very environmentally sustainable. That's neat.

The prices look pretty good. It's six dollars for one visit, but you can get an unlimited monthly pass for $65.  

17. Rediscovered Pandora Radio, thanks to my mom.  I'm so excited to play with it!   I think I was into it a couple of years ago, but then I stopped using it.  I made some stations with Aussie singers I could think of off my head.  So far I have Nick Cave, Paul Kelly, Jessica Mauboy, Jimmy Barnes, Missy Higgins; and my mom suggested Helen Reddy.  

I have some non-Australians too: Miranda Cosgrove (yes, you may laugh), Michael Giacchino, and Israel Kamakawiwo.  Jack added a Harry Potter station, and a Victoria Justice song station.

Oh!  And I added a station based on my new favorite song; "Don't Let Us Get Sick". 

18. Continued to read Love Song. It's getting a LITTLE bit more interesting for me.   

19. Tried to encourage my dad to read The Book Thief, and Tim encouraged him to read a John Birmingham book.  

20. Created a Sarah Blasko station on my Pandora page.  

21. Created a The Whitlams station on my Pandora page.

22. Created a The Wiggles station on my Pandora page.  Yes. Go ahead and laugh again.  And I can't really use Jack as an excuse anymore.  

23. Created a Bernard Fanning station on my Pandora page.

24. Created a Ben Lee station on my Pandora page.

25. Created a Lior station on my Pandora page

26. Created various other Pandora pages, but I'm tired of writing it down. So I'll shut up. 

27. Remembered that at my parent's house they had a travel brochure.  There were all these cruises, and some train rides.  There was this 70 day cruise that went from Seattle to Sydney.   You stop in Hong Kong, Singapore, Honolulu, Exmouth, Perth....and maybe Melbourne.  It sounds SO awesome, even though I don't usually like cruise ships anymore.  

Maybe if we win the lottery someday......

There was also a British Isles cruise I'd love to do.  We could go major Harry Potter crazy. 

28. Found the 70-night cruise online.   You're at sea for the first 12 nights. Then you spend five days in Japan.  You get a day in Korea, and several days in China.  You also go to Indonesia, Vietnam, American Samoa, and New Caledonia.  Of course....Australia is in there too.

29. Heard cool Kate Miller-Heidke song on Pandora. It's called "The One Thing I Know".   It has a slight Asian feel to it...or maybe Indian?  Here's a fan video someone made with the song.  

30. Laughed so hard at this video that someone posted on Facebook.  It's about people who are horrible at spelling...like me.  

31. Realized that I do not know of any Australian film composers....at least not off hand.   So I consulted Lord Wiki.  

32. Added a Gheorghe Zamfir station to my Pandora Page.   He's not Australian, but he did some of the music for a very famous Australian movie. Can you guess what it is?  

33.  Loved Percy Grainger's "Mock Morris".  Awesome song!   Here's a video for it.  

34. Practiced spelling Eucalyptus.  To my surprise....I was able to spell it in two tries.

35. Heard another Kate Miller-Heidke song that I like. It's called Mama. Here's the video.  

36. Grateful that I have such a good memory, and can remember which Australians I've researched.     Yeah. I'm being sarcastic here.   I decided to learn something about Kate Miller-Heidke, and I then remembered I wrote a whole post about her.  That was back in August 2009.  I guess I can be excused for not remembering much.     
   

Friday, February 25, 2011

Bourke Street, Mortal Kombat, Gwyneth Graham, and Books

1. Saw Australian art on my iGoogle Art of the Day widget.  I was proud of myself because I immediately suspected it was Australian.  The title is Bourke Street.  I know there's a Bourke Street in Australia somewhere.  Melbourne, maybe?  That's why I thought the painting might be Australian.

 Although I figure there's Bourke streets elsewhere in the world; so I wasn't 100% certain.  Then I saw the name of the painter (Tom Roberts) and I knew for sure it was Australian.

2. Looked up Bourke Street.  It IS in Melbourne.  I'm glad I remembered that. Lord Wiki says it's well known for having lots of shops and restaurants.  The old post office is there; the one that was turned into a shopping area.

3. Looked up Bourke Street on Google Maps. There's one in Texas. It's 3.5 hours southwest of us.

There's also a Bourke Street in Sydney.  It's in the Bondi Junction area.  

Google Maps lists five Bourke Streets in Queensland.

There's a Bourke Street in Adelaide, and there's a Bourke Street in Launceston.  

4. Read article about the Green Party defending Gillard on the carbon tax thing.   They defend the tax, and they defend the lie.  Is it okay to break an election promise?  Christine Milne from the Greens says, There is a saying from a gentleman in the House of Lords,  When I'm wrong I change my mind. What do you do?

Sometimes we break promises.   If we do it too often, it's probably best to stop making them.

One thing I question though.  If Gillard was breaking a promise she made to the Green Party, would Milne still defend her changing her mind?  And if the promise-breaking brought about something that pleased the Liberal Party, would Abbott complain about Gillard being dishonest?   

As for the tax itself, Milne would like to see it going towards more efficient public transportation.  I like that idea.

5. Listened to Russell Hitchcock, Judith Durham, and Mandawuy Yunupingu sing I am Australian.   I love to hear that song, and I love to sing it.  I'm back to believing I probably sing pretty bad.  Tim laughed a little too hard about this weeks Modern Family.  You know how you laugh extra hard when you can relate to something?  Well, this episode had Gloria singing a lot.  She thought she sang good, and in reality she sang really bad.  Jay (her husband) was very annoyed by it, but didn't know how to break the bad news to her.

I'm joking.  Tim laughs hard at a lot of stuff, and he probably can't personally relate to all of it.  I still believe he thinks I sing bad though...or at best, extremely mediocre.  It's not going to stop me though.  I'm pretty much addicted to singing.   It's one of my drugs.

6. Read article about the Northern Territory intervention thing.  At first I was impressed because the beginning of the article says ARCHITECT of the controversial Northern Territory intervention Mal Brough has declared the radical policy he masterminded to end a crisis in Aboriginal Australia a comprehensive failure, amid escalating violence and dysfunction in Alice Springs.   

It sounds like a politician is admitting he made a mistake.  How amazing is that! Not that amazing, because I read the rest of the article, and saw that Mal Brough is NOT admitting he made mistakes.   He feels he had a good plan, but the Labor party is messing it up.

Brough wants a prison camp built for substance abusers.  He says it wouldn't be like a prison. It would be a place for craft-learning, trade schools and manual work.  The place would not be voluntary.

I kind of like the idea....under one condition.  It has to be there for ALL Australians, and not just Aboriginal Australians.  If it's only for Aboriginal Australians, then I'd call it government sponsored racism.  I'd say anytime someone is displaying problems with alcohol they get sent there. You get drunk and beat up your kids, you go there. You drink and drive, you go there. You get in a pub brawl, you go there.

Oh.  Wait. I have another condition. There HAS to be safeguards against abuse and exploitation. I'd say any guard or counselor, there who physically or emotionally bullies a patient, gets fired. The expectations for these professionals should be no less than the expectations of teachers at schools.

 7. Read that Mortal Kombat (the video game) is being banned in Australia. That kind of surprises me.  I don't know much about the game.  Is it super violent?  The commenters on the article don't seem too pleased.

Lord Wiki says that it's because of Mortal Kombat that America came out with a rating system for its games.   And he says the game is very gruesome.  Some people like seeing blood and guts....bones sticking out.   It doesn't mean they're evil. What about people who work in emergency rooms?   How about surgeons?  People who perform autopsies?   They don't mind seeing cut up bodies.  

If you enjoy killing people in video games, does it mean you'd enjoy killing them in real life?   Do violent video games encourage violence, or do they provide a safe (and legal) outlet for violent feelings?  Maybe people play violent video games, get their aggressive anger out, and then refrain from hurting people in real life.

8. Started to read Gabriella Coslovich's editorial on racism. She says, SADDENED and galled. That's how I felt when I read this week's news about Australians' attitudes to racial and cultural minorities, their prejudices against Muslims, Jews, Asians, and, most ludicrously of all, the original inhabitants of this country, the Aboriginal people.

Well....See.   she was much more optimistic than me.  When I saw that 1/4 of Australians had antisemitic thoughts, I saw it as oh my goodness 3/4 of Australians don't have problems with Jews.   AWESOME!    I really thought anti-semitism was more popular than that.  Again though, it depends on the level of anti-semitism. If 1/4 of Australians despise Jews and wish them harm; I'm disturbed.   If 1/4 of Australians are a little weary of Jews and have some misconceptions, I'm fine with it.

Coslovich goes on to point out that the findings of the study were NOT all negative.  Most Australians are open to being....open.  They're open to being inclusive. They don't want to be prejudiced.

However, one out ten Australians is racist....bad racist.  They think certain groups are inferior and superior.  They believe in keeping the races separate.   This is the type of racism I don't tolerate.  To me, the 1/10 number is disturbing. I wish it was 1/100...or lower.

Is America any better?  I doubt it.  It could be worse.  

When I first started reading Coslovich's editorial, I mistook her for one of those people who have their head in the sand and claim they're totally color-blind. Oh my Goodness!  I can't believe the world isn't as perfect as I thought it was!  

I turns out I misjudged her.  I think she has a very realistic and fair picture of things.  I especially love her last paragraph.  I feel weird quoting it because it's kind of long.   So maybe you can just go and read it for yourself.  I will try to paraphrase it though.  Basically she's saying we shouldn't be scared to have open and honest discussions with each other.   But we shouldn't let the discussion get... hijacked by political expediency or the likes of shock jocks and sensationalist scribes who are not at all interested in sincerely debating the issues, but who wish only to fan the flames of hatred and misunderstanding, and who would have us believe that the deviant minority is the majority. Okay.  Well, I directly quoted a little bit of it.  She says it so well.  I couldn't do it justice by just paraphrasing.  

9.  Read Sarrah Le Marquand's editorial on racism.   

I love what she says here, A misplaced sense of cultural superiority is not a uniquely Australian quality. Nor is feeling scared from time to time. Or even a little bit angry. It's called being human. A universal experience if ever there was one. Be it human nature or tribalism, a degree of friction is sadly inevitable in any multicultural society. It's what happens when you put a bunch of different people together and expect them to get along.

It makes me rethink my position on feelings of superiority.  Maybe it's not as awful as I thought.   I mean it IS kind of bad, but maybe in small doses it's just human.  I'd say it's okay as long as you control the feelings, and give yourself a reality check now and then.  If you have a little group pride, no worries.  If you have so much group pride that you think other groups are worthless and should be murdered, banned, and exploited....then THAT'S a problem.   

10. Intrigued by what Sarrah Le Marquand says about Muslims.  Given that 48.6 per cent of Australians identify themselves as having anti-Muslim attitudes, clearly there's much more work to be done on the part of moderate Muslim leaders in distancing themselves from extremism and debunking commonly held perceptions that theirs is a faith incompatible with inclusion.

Should a group be held responsible for the prejudices directed at them?   Is that fair?

I'd say it was slightly fair. You can't blame Muslims for all anti-Muslim feelings. Some people are just hateful, and nothing you can do can change that.  I've learned that in my experiences being Jewish.  Some people will hate Jews no matter what you do. They obsess over any misdeeds the Jews have done, and then when they run out of stuff in that area, they simply make things up.

But a hated group can make things better by welcoming open dialogues, having a sense of humor, and distancing themselves from extremists. I don't think you can just assume and expect people to understand that you don't agree with extremists.   You have to speak out.   Like....yesterday I spoke out against American extremists.   I love some of them (because they're my friends and family members) but I want to be clear that I don't agree with them.  I want the world to know that not all Americans have ethnocentric superiority complexes.   

11. Read that there's a whooping cough epidemic on the Sunshine Coast.  Free vaccines are being offered to parents and grandparents of people under six months.   I'd say it should be offered to EVERYONE.  It's not like parents limit their babies contacts to themselves and grandparents.

I still believe that many people aren't getting their shots because they're too cheap and/or too lazy.    OR they might be scared of needles. Maybe they should come out with one of those nose spray things.  It would be really interesting to do a study of why people aren't getting vaccinated.  What percentage of these people are anti-vaccines?  And what percentage are just procrastinating?   I wanted to get the shot for a long time, but it took me a long time to finally get it done.

By the way, it didn't hurt me at all.  I didn't even feel it. I know it's probably different for everyone....but I thought maybe that piece of news might offer some people some encouragement.

12. Saw article about Gwyneth Graham. She's in trouble for claiming she could cure cancer.  I thought of Lionel Logue's confidence in healing people with speech defects, and thought....well, what if she CAN cure cancer?  I gotta consider the possibility.

I looked at one of her ads though....or at least I think it's hers. And it MIGHT be toned down, because of the charges against her. The ad says, 100% effective non invasive therapy, phone now for appointment.    That sounds like bullshit to me.   The 100% is a red flag.  Nothing is always effective.  At least....I'm very doubtful. I would guess it's one of those things that people go to, are not cured, and then are told it's their fault for some reason.

I do wonder why this woman is being targeted though.   here's so many people offering miracle cures out there....especially with weight loss.  And how about dentists who promise to make me beautiful by straightening my teeth? What about parenting gurus who promise better behaved children?  

I'm curious. Is Gwyneth Graham in trouble for making false claims, or is she in trouble for promoting New Age beliefs/alternative medicine?  

Was she deceptive?  Was she out to take money from innocent sick people? Or did she simply promote a belief that isn't popular in mainstream society?

Well, I guess we'll know more as the story unfolds.  

13. Listened to Seeds You Might Sow from Bran Nue Dae.  

14. Saw that Tom Hooper FINALLY answered the questions on The Daily Beast's Facebook Page.   My question was included!!! I sort of expected to be edited out of this thing as well.   My question is #7.   I asked about research done for the film.  It seems Hooper did a lot of it.  That's good.

One of the books he read was by John Wheeler-Bennett.  Lord Wiki says Wheeler-Bennett was the official biographer of King George VI.   Another book that Hooper mentions is Sarah Bradford's The Reluctant King.

Maybe I'll read one of those books someday....although I'm more interested in Logue than the King.    AND I'm doing so bad with my book reading lately. I've been reading so slow lately. Well, I'm probably reading at the same speed. I doubt that has changed. But I haven't been giving myself enough book reading time.  

Speaking of books....Jack and I started reading the Harry Potter series again last night.   We talked about rereading the series.  I just didn't expect us to go only two days between reading the last book and starting the first book over again.  We're addicts.   

15. Liked Hooper's response to a question about the film's R-rating.   He's not happy with the fact that it has received the same rating as Saw IV.  He says, Yes it contains the word "fuck" but the word is being used in a comic scene not in its sexual sense or in its aggressive sense but as an unblocking mechanism in the context of speech therapy.

I really think context is a huge thing here.

16. Read that Paypal cut off the account for Bradley Manning, the American whistleblower who gave information to Wikileaks.  Then many people signed a petition, and Paypal reinstated the account.   It's nice to know that petitions can work sometimes! I feel bad because I haven't been giving Manning the attention I've given Assange.  I've been pretty much ignoring him.  

I just skimmed through a few things...including Lord Wiki's thoughts.  From what I can see....Manning seems like a brave man who's being treated horribly by the American government.  

I guess I'm looking at the story as one of those summer blockbuster movies. A person in the military discovers a horrible secret.  They put themselves in danger and risk everything to bring the story to the public.  I can't think of specific examples, but I'm pretty sure I've seen movies like that.

Anyway....all this stuff makes my blood boil.    It's DISGUSTING.   Instead of punishing whistleblowers, why doesn't the government work on being less evil?  

The American government is SO much like the Ministry of Magic. It's a bit depressing.

17. Read article that says George W. Bush has canceled his participation in The Young President's Association Global Leadership Summit.  Why?  Because Julian Assange will be speaking at the event.  You know when I first read that I was disgusted and angry. What a coward.  But that's not fair.   If someone refused to go to an event with a speaker I was strongly against, I'd probably be okay with it.  What if Aaron Barr was invited to speak at such an event?  Would I be okay with someone refusing to attend the same event?  Yes. I'd probably be very pleased with them.

Some people see Julian Assange as a villain, and I have to accept their right to have that opinion.   Refusing to attend an event is a fairly peaceful act of protest. I prefer that to cutting off funds of an organization, or pressuring an organization to cut off funds. It's better than making threats against someone, and going through with those threats.  

So although I don't agree with Bush, I respect his decision to stay away from the event.  What I would NOT respect....what would make me furious....is if the Young President's Global Leadership Summit took back their invitation from Assange.  I like that they're brave enough to let him speak.    Kudos to them for that.

18. Started to wonder how Assange is going to attend this event. Isn't he avoiding the United States right now? The event is in Colorado. 

Here's the website for the event.   It's this weekend.   I don't see Assange on the speaker list. Bush is still listed.  Maybe this was all a joke.

19. Found another article about the Young President event thing.  Assange appeared on a screen...I guess by satellite.  Yeah. Why didn't I think of that?  That happened today.  Bush heard of it, and canceled his invitation.

Well, I think it's great that the conference attendees got to hear Assange instead of Bush.   So...no big loss there.

20. Listened to the 14th song on the ARIA chart for Aussie singles; Bliss N Eso's Addicted.  From what I can hear....I like the lyrics.

21. Looked at lyrics for Addicted.   I don't know if I love all the lines, but I like some.

I like this bit:

Since a fetus, explored life's subtle secrets
From my fingertips to my unique double helix.
I can see history.  I can see the past lessons.
It's your right never be afraid to ask questions.

 I think the song has some unschooling spirit to it.   Maybe these lines....

They spoon feed but I won't be taking that sedative.
Cause my thoughts are way to precious to be wasted on the negative.  
I keep them critical yet positive to break the chains.   
Every dawn is a chance to make a change.  

I know it's not really about unschooling.  I'm just interpreting the lines in my own little way.  

To me, the minds of the young are too precious to be wasted in a school room. Schools are the chains; or at least one of them.  And by saying no to school, we're breaking those chains. We're freeing our minds.  

I know. I sound like a radical.  When it comes to education, I am one. Although I'm not the most radical. There are others who make me look conservative.  Seriously.   

22. Listened to 16th song on the ARIA Australian singles chart; Just Got Started by 360 feat. Pez   That's an interesting band name.  

23. Listened to The Festival Song by Pez, and maybe 360 feat. as well.   I'm SO confused.   I don't know if there's a group called 360 feat Pez.   Or is there one group called Pez, and another called 360 feat.?  I tried to ask Lord Wiki.  He says there's a guy named Pez.    Oh...okay....and there's a guy named 360.   So we have 360 and Pez.   They sometimes work together.   Is there a feat too?

I'm too tired to figure all this out.  I'm just going to leave my ignorance intact....for now. I do like the songs though.  

24. LOVED Tony Alquit's comment on The Daily Beast's Facebook page.  It's in regards to Bush canceling his appearance because of Assange.  The Daily Beast asked its readers if they thought this was the right thing to do.  Alquit says,  Of course! Assange's cavalier and arrogant attitude in Iraq resulted in the deaths of over 4,000 American troops & 100's of thousand Iraqis as well as corresponding violations of customary and; statutory international law... uh, wait, that's Bush. Never mind.   


25Saw that someone had mentioned the Garden of Unearthly Delights on Facebook.  I went to see what it was, and saw that it's an art festival in Adelaide.     

I love the name.   

They have drumming monkeys. But not real ones.  Only puppets are getting exploited in this show.  

26. Watched a video of the Amazing Drumming Monkeys.   It's cute...but maybe a little too  didactic.  But I guess a lot of kid stuff is that way.  Maybe I'm not used to it anymore.  Jack's kind of past the stage of watching educational programing.  The only thing of that type we still watch is Electric Company; and I think they do a pretty good job of not being overly preachy.    

It's funny. When I was looking at the festival thing, I picked an event at random, and it was the monkey thing.  Well, it probably wasn't completely random.  Monkeys are kind of attention-grabbers. I saw the monkeys, and followed the link.  

Then I decided to look at another event/program.  I didn't know what to choose, so I figured I'd find out what's going on now.   It's 8:30 here, and so I think it would be 1:30 in the afternoon there.    Guess what show was on at 1:00-1:30?   The Amazing Drumming Monkeys!  It's like my mind was all connected to Adelaide time.

Anyway, the show playing now is an Irish/Iranian comedian (for children) named Patrick Monaham.   Well, actually I'm seeing from YouTube that his work is not specifically for children. But I think the program he's doing at the festival is family-oriented.   

27. Decided to stop blogging early tonight so I can work on my book reading.   I'm almost finished with Vernon God Little.   I'd love to finish it before bedtime.    I'm liking it more than I thought I would.   I don't love it though.   I'm looking at my Shelfari shelf right now.   The last book that I read and liked a lot was After Summer by Nick Earls. Okay, but that's not including our nightly chapter of Harry Potter.

Anyway....After Summer was nine books ago. That's sad. I've read nine books in a row that I either didn't like, or at least I didn't love it.  Maybe it's not the books. Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm in some kind of mood.

I hate admitting this, but I have to include The King's Speech in the nine.  I liked it.  I thought it was interesting. But it didn't blow me away like the movie did. And maybe I was turned off a bit by Mark Logue's subtle harshness regarding his grandfather's spirituality.

Well, all I know is that the book didn't add fuel to my Lionel Logue fire.  The movie had more magic....maybe because it was partly fictional.  I think most biographical films add things to give the story more tension and emotion.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snowy, Honesty, Pigeons, and Cousins

1. Loved Snowy's blog post tribute to Christchurch.  I especially love his last paragraph. It has a nice mixture of sorrow and hope.

2. Learned that Julian Assange is being sent back to Sweden.  

3. Read Megan's blog about ordering Australian food from a shop, and tasting it. Like me, Megan lives in Texas and has an interest in Australia. She hasn't tried the Vegemite yet. I'll be interested to know what she thinks of it.  

4. Read article about the Labor Party's internal review.  The general idea is that Labor should act a bit more like the Green Party, especially in regards to gay marriage and climate change.  The article is in The Australian.  They say the review was top secret,  and that they are the only ones that have the information.  So I guess Julian Assange isn't the only one who knows how to get secrets. Or maybe they DID get the info from Wikileaks.

The reason insiders are saying that the Labor Party should act more Green is that the Greens are attracting more and more voters.  So I guess the question is whether a party should mold themselves according to what voters want, or whether they should stick to their principles.   But then if a party changes their principles, is it because they were swayed by voters. Or could it be that they came to their senses?  

Tim and I talked about Obama last night. Obama started out against gay marriage.  Now he's becoming more open to it.  Tim suggested he was always open to it, but was waiting until it would be more publicly acceptable to admit that. In a way, it seems dishonest.   In another ways, it just seems...realistic.   Sometimes if you come across as being too radical, than you might scare people away and not get anything done.   So it helps to be gradual and gentle about it. 

I guess people could end up feeling betrayed though.

I was trying to think of an analogy, and I thought of unschooling.  It's very radical and mind-blowing for many people. Sometimes it's hard enough to get people to understand homeschooling. So we stop at that.  We don't want to terrify them. But if people seem open-minded about homeschooling. And if they seem willing to listen and learn more, we'll talk about unschooling.  

That analogy doesn't fit perfectly though, because I don't tell people I'm against unschooling. I don't say one thing when I'm secretly feeling another thing.  

I think it would speak better of Obama if Tim is wrong, and he really wasn't open to gay marriage initially.  Then he'll just be an honest guy who opened his mind, learned things, and then changed his mind.  There's nothing wrong with that.  

5. Read article that says Western Australia has seen a boost in tourism, following Oprah's visit.   That's good.  I'm confused though. They don't talk about an increase in the amount of people planning to visit.  They talk about people increasing the amount of money spent on packages.  The past average was $6000, and now it's $9000.   So maybe Oprah didn't convince more people to come to Australia.  Maybe she convinced them if they want to enjoy Australia, they need to purchase the extravagance that was displayed on her show.  I hope it doesn't make a bunch of Americans go into debt.

You CAN enjoy Australia without being super fancy about it. Even then, it's pretty expensive though.

6. Read article about Assange.  I really don't know what to think. I'm not in favor of men having sex with women while they're sleeping.  And I'm not pleased with men refusing to wear a condom.  I don't know if I'd call it rape though.  And I definitely don't think the circus matches the crime here.    The question is if Assange wasn't working for an organization that leaks embarrassing government secrets, would anyone have paid much attention to these women's allegations?

Also....

It's hard for me to understand how a woman can have sex while she's sleeping. Is she a very deep sleeper?  I'm a light sleeper, so it's hard for me to relate to that. If Tim just kisses me on the forehead, I'll usually wake up.  I'm GUESSING Assange didn't drug her or anything, because we would have heard about that.   Right?  

7. Watched this fun 1963 video of men singing a song about the Snowy Mountains. It reminds me of old Disney movies.

8. Watched a 1957 movie clip about Cabramurra.  It talks about a family moving to a place where their children will have a multicultural experience.  There are people from all over Europe working in the town.  

I consulted Lord Wiki about Cabramurra.  He says it's a company town. This means you have to work for the Snowy Hydro thing in order to have permission to live there.   The only other company town I know of is Celebration, Florida.  You have to work for Disney to live there, or at least that was the case in the past.

Wait....

Lord Wiki doesn't list Celebration, Florida as a company town.  Maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe it's not one.  They list some other Disney town.  I haven't heard of it.  Maybe they had a name change?

Okay.  I'm trying to understand this. I think Celebration is a planned community, created by the Disney Corporation.  But if I'm understanding things correctly, you don't have to work for Disney to live there.  And it looks like it's no longer associated with Disney.  Okay.  Yeah.  This article says they sold it in 2004.

9. Read something, and I'm actually not sure if it's supposed to be an article or editorial.  The title definitely sounds like an editorial.  "Families will be worse off under Julia Gillard's emissions trading scheme for carbon".  I saw that, and thought I'd be reading an editorial, but the style seems more like an article to me.  That's not to say it's completely objective. Can news ever be completely objective?   I doubt it. The writer is usually going to have an opinion, even if he or she tries to sound neutral. 

I really don't know much about pricing carbon.  Maybe I should learn. I do know that it's something the Green Party would like, and the Liberal party would not like. I guess it's more environmental friendly than business friendly.

The big thing I'm getting from the article's comments is that Julia Gillard has broken a promise.   I guess she announced that her government wouldn't have a carbon tax.  

10. Listened to The Jezabel's The Dark Storm.  I like it. It's #15 on the ARIA chart for Aussie singles.

11. Learned that one of King George VI's (Bertie) brothers was the 11th Governor General of Australia.  I wonder if it was in The King's Speech book. I might have missed it, or misunderstood it.  

12. Listened to The Jezabel's Sahara Mahala

13. Read article about the crocodile who was shot, and then survived...maybe.  It sounds like a horror movie.   I feel sorry for the crocodile, and I'm also terrified of him.

14.  Listened to Jessica Mauboy's Let Me Be Me.   It reminds me of something that would play in a romantic comedy movie; maybe something like Sex in the City.   I can imagine it playing while one of the characters walks past cafes and little markets.   Maybe they stop and buy some flowers.   Or they stop at a newsstand, and see that their ex is on the cover of a tabloid. They pick up the magazine, but then they'd decide they don't need to look at it. They'd put it down, and walk away.

15. Listened to Jessica Mauboy's Been Waiting.   I can picture this one in a movie too.   A woman goes to a party.  She's feeling a bit awkward, because she doesn't see anyone know.  She's hoping to see a certain person.  When she doesn't see him, she goes to sit alone at a table.  She waits for a moment, watches people. Then she decides it's a waste of time.   She's going to leave.  She picks up her purse, and is about to stand up.  Then he walks in.  He smiles at her and walks over.  She smiles back at him.

16. Learned that while some Australians are annoying in their hatred of America, some take their love for it a bit too far.  One of my Facebook friends sent me an invitation to hear an Australian motivational speaker named Nick Adams.  The Australian thing attracted me a bit.  The motivational speaker part did not. I really don't like motivational speakers that much.   I think they spout out a lot of crap....most of the time.  Or they say stuff that SOUNDS good in theory, but it doesn't work well in practice.

The invitation said the speech was going to deal with American exceptionalism. I never heard of that term, but I had an idea of what it meant. And I was right.

I know people who believe in this stuff.  What stuff?  The idea that America is SPECIAL....very special.  Like Harry Potter special.  We are the chosen ones. We are better than every other country out there. 

That attitude makes me want to puke, but I refrain from doing so because I have a strong phobia of vomiting. 

Just to set the record straight though (because I don't want there to be any misunderstandings), I DO believe that Harry Potter was the chosen one.  I'm fine with that belief, and it doesn't make me sick.

Anyway, Nick Adams loves America.   Is it like the way I love Australia?  I don't think so.   I don't believe Australia is the best country in the world.   I don't think it's particularly special.   It's just my PERSONAL favorite.  Just like James loves Sweden.   And I have a friend who loves Mexico.    There's a difference between loving something, and believing it's the best/perfect.

17. Read right-wing blog post about Nick Adams. John Rogitz likes Nick Adams because Adams blabs on and on about how wonderful America is.  Oh, but he doesn't just stop there.  He's also bold enough to say politically incorrect stuff about Muslims.    Rogitz provides us with an example.  Adams says,  It is unambiguously evident that their only strengths are making babies and hating the West.  They are unproductive, regressive, and stagnant in terms of innovation.    

Personally, I think there's a difference between being brave enough to be politically incorrect, and being blatantly hateful and racist.  Starting a debate over whether Muslim women should wear the Burka....that's politically incorrect. Saying Muslims don't have any strengths outside baby-making and west-hating? That's just complete crap.    

18. Saw that although Lord Wiki doesn't have a whole entry on Nick Adams, he does talk about him in his entry on the Municipality of Ashfield.   It's a government area in Sydney, west of the CBD.   Adams is one of 12 councillors.  BUT Lord Wiki says he's been suspended.   Maybe that's why he's roaming around America making speeches.

Lord Wiki has a list of controversies surrounding Ashfield. They ALL involve Nick Adams.  

He racked up a bunch of phone call and cab fare expenses.  That made his coworkers a bit angry.

He wanted to ban pigeons from his area.    nother Councillor named Marc Rerceretnam responded.   The mind boggles when I think of Ashfield pigeons flying to the border of Ashfield and stopping directly at the border, saying "oh no, that's Canterbury, I can't go into there" and flying back in again. I mean this, this is, what exactly is this motion trying to do?   

That's pretty funny. 


Why does Adams hate pigeons? What? Are they good for only baby-making and hating the west?

 Oh, and Adams also hates power tools. He wanted them banned from his area. I guess he wants a world without Muslims, power tools, and pigeons.  But he loves Americans. 

You know I wouldn't mind finding an Australian who loves America as much as I love Australia.   But I'd prefer them not to be so hateful against other groups.  I do know a couple of Australians who are very fond of America. Their love is not as zealous as my love, but they think America is cool.  I've met one zealous Australian American-Lover.  He was very right-wing.  I can't remember if he was bigoted/racist.  I shouldn't assume he was just because he was right-wing. Then I'm being the bigot.   Right?

I do get the feeling that any Australian zealously loving America is going to be right-wing.    I think the left is more weary of us...or at least weary of our government.   Then again, there can be left-wing Australians who zealously love American culture (like our brilliant Modern Family) but don't like some of our history and government.  I guess they'd be similar to us left-wing Americans who love America. 

19. Delighted because I watched a bit of Ricky Gervais, and he mentioned Harley Street in London.   That's where Lionel Logue worked!

20. Listened to Sarah Blasko sing Flame Trees.  

21. Listened to the Whitlam's version of Flame Trees.  This is the first time I've heard it. It's different, and interesting.  

I don't know if I've mentioned this, but I love hearing covers of songs.   I think it's fun.  I especially like it if someone adds a new twist to a song. I don't get excited about song covers that sound very similar to the original.  That's one of the things I don't like about Glee.  Some of the songs sound too similar to the originals. OR they sound to similar to other covers of the original.  It might not be the case for everything on the show.   I don't watch the show often enough to know.

22. Wanted to tell people about this Facebook Page.   It gives us an opportunity to express our condolences to New Zealand. They're going to take all compassionate things that people say, and make a book out of it.  It's sad, but sweet.  

23. Read my cousin's blog entry about how she's becoming TOTALLY Australialized.   That girl has come a LONG way.   She didn't much like Australia when she first moved there.   Now she's all loving on it.   I'm tempted to sing.   Laura and Australia sitting in a tree.  K-I-S-S-I-N-G.   First comes love.  Then comes marriage.  Then comes.....

Hey, do Australians have that song?   Or is it just an American thing?  

I'm betting my cousin's story is common.   I'm sure most expats have a hard time adjusting.  Then they grow to love their new country and never want to leave. 

Maybe my cousin never will leave.  I might be a bit jealous then.  I've FINALLY adjusted to her temporarily living in Australia when I only get to visit every few years.  I mean I'm pretty okay with that now. Sort of.   Usually.  Will I be able to handle her living there permanently?    Probably not.   I'll try my best though. If she becomes an actual Australian citizen,  I'll likely throw a temper tantrum and have a nervous breakdown.  But I'll get over it eventually. I do need to practice my fake smile so I can display that when it comes time to congratulate her.  I'm not Golden Globes material here, but I do have some acting ability.  

24. Read the comments on my cousin's blog. I followed one of the commenters to her own blog.  She's an Aussie psychic medium named Natalie.   That intrigues me....of course.   How could it not?    
I'm going to follow her blog.  I'll follow it with a mixture of skepticism and open-mindedness.  It looks interesting, and fun.