Friday, July 27, 2012

Found Some Photos

Today I was able to find photos of detention centres.

Yesterday I didn't look hard enough. Well, because I just looked up Villawood. Sorry about that.  I'm feeling stupid, negligent, and incompetent...at least in this instance.

Anyway.....

Today I plugged Australian Detention Centre into the Flickr keyword thing.

The photos are from the Perth Immigration Detention Centre.  

I can't say I have 100% faith in the photos. The Flickr account belongs to the Australian government's Department of Immigration and Citizenship. I'd rather see something from an independent party.   But still. It's something, at least.

In the photos, the centres look very nice. It's like a hostel, not a concentration camp.

OUR house is a huge mess.  It's quite disgusting, actually.   There's dust. Toilets have rust stains.  There's clutter everywhere.

We live like this on a regular basis.  We're slobs.  But most guests to our house wouldn't know this.   When the threat of guests is imminent, we clean like maniacs and we shut certain doors.  

This could be the case with the detention centre. It might look awful on most days, and look great on picture day.

OR it could be nice everyday.

There are so many conflicting stories. It's hard to know what's what.

Anyway, I just looked and saw the government Flickr account has lots of sets and lots of photos.

I shall be looking at them.


After seeing these photos and reading all these different opinions, I'm back at square one.   I have no idea what to believe or which side I lean towards.    I think the only way I'd have confidence in my opinion is if I did one of those mystical body switch things.   If I could live the life of an asylum seeker— see what he's fleeing, see if the situation is absolutely that distressful, and then see what it's like in the detention centre. Then maybe I'd know the truth.  

Yet even then I wouldn't have the whole truth. One person's story might not be a good representation of all the stories out there. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Detention Centres

I'm still obsessing over asylum seekers and detention centres.

I looked at three things today, not including a brief thing about Paul Keating and some immigration statistics from government PDF's.  

What I'm seeing is making me think that it's NOT simply a matter of asylum seekers having high expectations...wanting five star accommodations rather than two star.

Are they wanting a hotel and getting a hostel?

No.

Probably not.

And I'm not just going by the three websites I visited this afternoon. They're all from the left side of the argument. I know I need to be aware that there are other viewpoints out there.

But there's one other thing that I looked at today. And it made me less skeptical about these websites. 

Flickr.

I can't say I did an exhaustive search.

But I was curious and plugged  Villawood Detention centres into the keyword thing.

I got three pages of photos. Most of them were of protesters protesting the detention centres.

I found no pictures from inside the place.  

Where are the pictures of people hanging out?

Eating and cooking meals together.

Playing sports

Doing crafts

Watching television

Hanging up laundry

Studying English together.   

The lack of photographs is creepy.   Spooky.

Suspicious.  

I looked at the photos this morning.

This afternoon I sat down to do more research.

First I found this disturbing editorial about children in the Christmas Island detention centre.

On Christmas day, some decent people got together and created craft kits for detained children, along with other gifts. They brought these gifts to the detention centre and were told by a guard that the children couldn't have them.   Why?  Because they might draw on the wall.

The good news is, the centre eventually changed their mind. It took several days, though.

And there's just something icky about that.

No crayons?

Then why do we allow any kids to use crayons?

What about all those crayons handed out at restaurants? Might kids ruin the restaurant walls?

How about schools?

There's something evil about a place that doesn't allow children to have crayons.

The editorial was written by a woman named Sophie Peer.  She's the campaign manager for an organization called Chilout. They're against children in detention centres.

They have a nice myth and facts page.  One thing that's been brought to my attention in the past few days is that there's no real queue.  I guess I heard that on Q and A? 

Anyway...It's not like people standing in line at Disney World, waiting for 45 minutes. Then a family comes along and buds in front of them.

It's like Disney World with no lines, and a mess of people waiting and waiting and waiting. There's no real order to it.

There's little hope, and probably no sense that an end is in sight.

The website also talks about the we'll-be-swamped-with-newbies myth.

Australia is being swamped by newbies, but most of them aren't asylum seekers. The website says Australia gains 300,000 new people a year. Refugees make up less than 1% of that. The rest are probably students, migrants, and new babies.  

After I looked over their myth page, and other stuff, I looked at Amnesty International.  

They went time in detention centres reduced. They also say they want more interaction with the community.   In all detention centres asylum seekers ability to communicate with the outside world must be significantly improved. Specifically, increases in access to both outbound and inbound telephones, Internet, external activities, and visits from the Australian community.

I definitely agree with that.

I'm not really sure I'm against detention centres.  Maybe change the name, though, because it sounds like a punishment.  And well...it is a punishment. So they should change all that too.   

The thing is these people need a place to go. It's not like they're coming off the boats with money and great English skills.

Without the detention centre, a lot of them would be homeless. That's probably somewhat of an improvement over the detention centres, but not too much so.

My feeling is they should simply improve the centres.

I think the most important thing is to give people more freedom and contact with the community.

Also....allow crayons.  

I like the idea of volunteers collecting donations of craft materials from the community.  Detained folks can make crafts, and then they can have monthly craft fairs to sell their stuff. Maybe the artists could keep a portion of their earnings, and another portion would go towards improving the centres.

Maybe they could also have performances at the fair. So if some people are better at singing than making earrings, they can contribute too.

You know what will make me happy?

If one day I get a comment from someone in a detention centre.  In their not-so-advanced English, they'll tell me they live in a centre.  They can't wait to get out and live a regular life, but their life is fairly decent in the centre.  Also, their comment will link to their own blog.  There they will have lots of photos of the detention centres.  And they'll also have photos of outside the detention centres, because there will be lots of field trips.

You know what.

Schools in my mind are pretty much just a prison.  I'm not really in support of them. But I'll admit they're not as bad as a jail where you put criminals.  

So maybe they should make detention centres more like schools and less like jail.

Does anyone else have any ideas of how to make detention centres less awful?  I mean besides closing them down?



Edited To Add:  I ended up finding photos of detention centres.  They're in the next post.  I'm not sure if they're realistic images or government propaganda.  OR maybe what I read for this post is the propaganda. 

Perhaps it's all propaganda to a point.  

Paul Keating, Julian McMahon, and Sharks

At one point, last night, I had a hard time falling back asleep.

Usually when this happens I think of things my parents, siblings, or Tim have done to piss me off in the past days, weeks, months, etc.

Last night I thought obsessively about asylum seekers instead. 

I was half asleep and not completely coherent. 

I had this obsession with Paul Keating, wondering why he started mandatory detention.

I then decided it would be great if I had a time machine so I could visit Australia's past and get all my questions answered first hand.

I decided it would also be nice (and a tiny bit more realistic) if I had access to an Australian library. 

Then finally I fell back asleep.

I dreamed about Paul Keating.

He's making a speech to an audience made up of mostly Aboriginal Australians.   I'm there...observing. The speech is in response to a request for reparations.  The Aborigines want $80,000 from the government.  Paul Keating politely speaks out against this. I'm not sure if I hear him correctly.  But it seems he's saying that the reason this is a bad idea is because the Aboriginal ancestors will be angry. This seems a bit lame to me.

Then Paul Keating brings up a white male child with blond hair.  I get the idea that he's trying to show the Aborigines that this child is innocent, and children shouldn't be blamed for the sins of their father.

The blond child has a smug smile and looks like a brat. I'm thinking Keating should have chosen a different child as his prop.

Then I'm back at home.  I'm wanting to know more about the speech, because I'm wishing to clarify things. I have a booklet printed from the internet.  There's a list of Keating speeches and one of them has angel in the title. I connect that to the speech, I saw, for some reason. The list of speeches are links, but the links won't work since I'm not looking at them on a computer.

 I had other dreams last night.

One was about Julian McMahon.  

Jack and I are going with him to Disneyland.  Jack's in the backseat. I'm driving. I don't want to be driving because I'm horrible at it. I ask Julian McMahon if he'd like to drive.  He thinks I'm just being polite and he's polite back.  He says it's fine if I drive.  He's very nice about it, but I want him to drive.

I keep driving.  It gets worse and worse. I finally tell him to please drive because I'm getting embarrassed. Then he finally gets it and accept the task.

Then there was this dream.....

There are all these lizards in and around our house.  I see one, the size of a water bottle, in our bathroom.  I go out to our pool and see more lizards. Then I notice there are animals swimming in our pool.  They look like sharks or sea lions. I can't tell. I go inside. There's someone there. She makes a sound from the window.  One of the sharks comes up and it's a huge great white shark. I'm a bit terrified. I rush to lock the door but can't manage to do it. I know the shark can't swim out of the pool and come into our house. But I still feel better with the idea that the door is locked.

Later there's all these people swimming in our pool.  It's turned into a big tourist wave pool. I try to tell them that there's sharks, but they don't seem to care.   

It seems that not many people are injured.  I hear vaguely of someone being killed.  But for the most part, people miraculously survive.  

There were more dreams, but I'll stop here.

I will say that there were some dreams within dreams within dreams. It was fun, but a bit confusing.

Who knows.  Maybe writing this blog post is just another dream. That will suck, because I don't want to rewrite all this.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Newbies

Today I watched the July 9 episode of Q and A.  Once again, they talked about asylum seekers.

I'm still trying to figure it all out.  My head is spinning, just like it does with the subject of mental illness.

One minute I feel one way.  Then someone says something, and I change my mind. Then someone says something else, and I change my mind again.

This is what I'm thinking right now.

A.  The main goal of the Gillard government, and the coalition, is to prevent the boats from coming.   They say this is about saving lives...preventing drowning.  I disagree. I think it's about them not wanting to deal with the problem.

It's not like these people are tourists looking for a fun place to hang out. They're desperate. They're in danger. They're looking for safety.

There's talk of dangerous boats and evil criminal people smugglers. We need to stop this business.

Yes.  Of course.

But if that was really the goal then why not provide an alternate form of transportation?

Some people on the Q and A Twitter thing suggested airplanes. I may be wrong, but I think ships would be cheaper.

Couldn't the government charter some cruise ships?

It's probably too much for the budget, so maybe some private organizations can help out a bit.

B.  On the program I watched yesterday, someone asked if it were British people seeking asylum, would it be as much of an issue?

I think the answer is no. Racism is definitely involved.

But I think the desire to turn back the boats, and the desire to send people back where they came from, goes beyond racism.

Do you know that saying, Save your drama for your mama?

Well, lots of people don't like to be around people with problems. They like to be around happy and healthy people, because it makes them feel more comfortable.

When we bring asylum seekers into our country, we're not only bringing in people with a different skin color and different language, we're bringing in people who have been through great drama and trauma.  Because of this,  many of them could be classified as mentally ill.

It might be that they're more likely to be angry and/or crazy.  Would we rather have these people as our new neighbor, or would we rather have the happy-go-lucky migrant family with a working visa?

Sometimes, for some people, race trumps all that.  They'd rather have the traumatized white people than a happy-go-lucky black or brown family.

What am I trying to say here?

I'm not sure.

It's definitely NOT that we should shut our hearts and borders to hurting people.

I'm just guessing that some of the hesitation in welcoming newbies is due to wanting to avoid all their war torn baggage.

C.  I personally think Australia (and America, of course) should let in as many refugees as possible.   I DO think we should open our arms.

I think we should welcome newbies and help them through their troubles.

However, I think the newbies need to have realistic expectations.  Fruitcake has talked about this.  I can't remember if it was on her blog, or a comment on my blog.  She does have an interesting RECENT post, though, about past refugee camps.  

Anyway.....

Asylum seekers complain a lot about the conditions in Australia.  They don't stick to quiet verbal complaints. They attempt suicide.  They sew their lips together. They go on hunger strikes. They start fires.  I think there's been some riots......

I still don't know if they're doing this because the conditions are truly horrible. Or are they doing it because their expectations are too high?

I'm picturing the Titanic.  Are the asylum seekers expecting first class accommodations and instead they're getting third class accommodations?

I think third class is at the level they should expect.  They should expect winters to be a bit too cold and summers to be a bit too hot. They should expect to wait in long lines and have to do an annoying amount of sharing.

This is so wrong for me to say since I'm typing away on my own computer in an air-conditioned room, and when I need to use the toilet, I don't have to stand in a line.  

But one day my country might be invaded. Or we might have a civil war.

Comfort isn't guaranteed to last forever.

If my family ever has to flee, I hope we'd expect and understand that the conditions in which we're rescued aren't going to be pretty.

Our lives will be really shitty, but hopefully they'll be less shitty than our war lives.  

I know we'll complain. I know we'll bitch about it.

But I hope we'll be able to put things into perspective and be somewhat gracious about the whole thing.

Now I could be wrong about all this.  Maybe the detention centres aren't like the third class of the Titanic.   Maybe they're like the convict ships in the first and second fleet.  Or worse, maybe they're like a Nazi death camp...minus the gas showers.

If you take away the gas showers from the death camps, the conditions were still absolutely horrible.  

Let's say the conditions of the detention centres are absolutely horrible. I'd want to know why. Is it lack of funding?  Do they not have enough money to take care of all these people coming in?  Are funds being mismanaged?   Are they hiring abusive and incompetent people?

Or is the government purposely making the detention centres awful as a way to deter people from coming.

Yes.  It's awful here.  My brother was just beheaded. My sister has been sold to slavery.   I haven't eaten in days.  There are people shooting at us.  But we don't want to go to Australia.   We'll be sent to a detention centre....indefinitely.   And it's complete hell there. We're better off here.   

I've decided it's time to summarize my thoughts.

So here we go.  

Australia should let in as many asylum seekers as possible, and make the conditions as comfortable as the budget will allow. And keeping in mind what I've learned from Fruitcake, if you add too much to one group's budget, you're likely to take away from another group of needy people. Asylum seekers aren't the only ones going through a rough time.  

Asylum seekers should try their best to accept their conditions, but also work in peaceful, creative, and gentle ways to improve their conditions.  

Graduated

Previously I was getting generic spam on my blog.

Last night I seemed to have graduated.

Now I'm getting Australian spam.

The good thing is Blogger takes care of it, and it doesn't end up going on my blog.  I just see it in email.

I'm sure the rest of you bloggers are seeing the same type of stuff. It's from Anonymous.  They give your blog enthusiastic yet vague praise.  Then they invite you to visit their website, and there's a link.

You think they'd be clever enough to know that Blogger is blocking these posts.   

Some people are more clever.  They use a name instead of anonymous. They might actually read a bit of your post so they can make the comment more specified. But their comment is still just an advertisement for their blog. 

I got one of those a few months ago.  She made a brief comment on my post and then invited me to her blog to see a comic.  I didn't delete it because she seemed to be a real blogger. But I don't think I'm going to tolerate such behavior in the future.

I think my rule will be if someone comments for the first time and their comment contains a link to their blog or site; then I'm going to delete it.   

The thing is you don't need an extra link.  When we post comments, it links to our blogs anyway.   We just need to click on the person's name.  We don't need an extra invitation to visit their site.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tainted

Dumb Drunk and Racist showed scenes from the Cronulla riots. 

I've known about the riots for a long time, but I think this may have been the first time I saw video of it.

It was really awful.  I was a bit shook up about the whole thing.

In those scenes of the program, and maybe other scenes, we see people waving the Aussie flag as a symbol of hostile racism.  

By doing this, they make the Aussie flag look a little less beautiful to me.

When I see people wearing or holding the flag, it makes me wonder. Are they racist?  Are they part of that particular crowd?

I start to stereotype, and I hate that. I want to love the Aussie flag.   

It's the same with the American flag.

On Dumb, Drunk, and Racist they show a map with countries labeled by their different stereotypes.   America has the label: God and Guns. That perfectly describes the negative view I have of America...when I have a negative view. 

And when I see someone with an American flag t-shirt, I get the idea that they're religious zealots and that their biggest fear is losing their gun rights. 

I hate when beautiful things become ugly, because I associate them with people who do ugly things.

I don't think I'll ever be able to see anything related to Batman again without thinking of absolute horror.  

I have some good views of Germany, but whenever I see anything about that country I think of Nazis and the Holocaust.  I can't get rid of that association. 

I now associate Tallygarunga with one role-player who was mean to me.  Just like I associate water chestnuts with vomiting.
 
Oh...and one time I got nauseated at a museum cafeteria.   Since then I get slightly nauseated when thinking of eating at any museum cafeteria.   

Maybe that's where racism begins in the first place.

Sometimes it's about following the crowd and just plain stupid ignorance.

Other times it's about negative experiences and negative associations.

So I can have sympathy and understanding for prejudice feelings.  I have some myself.  I try to fight against it, but it remains in my heart.  

In my opinion, prejudice and stereotypes aren't necessarily evil. They're just sad. It becomes evil only when we act upon it.  

I'm not hurting anyone if I feel nervous when a Middle Eastern-appearing person is on my airplane.

I AM hurting someone if I say something mean to the person.

I am hurting someone if I start a riot.   

I am hurting someone if I push for legislation to disallow Middle Eastern people on airplanes. 

I am hurting someone if I go out and bomb a Mosque.  

I think with most things like that....if we don't let our feelings turn into action, then it's not a huge problem.  

Get Medicated....If Needed

Psychiatric drugs are in the news again. 

Some people are imagining there's a link between an antidepressant called Efexor and gambling problems.

Clinical studies haven't been done yet.

We'll see what happens there. 

But now I have another excuse to ramble on about the subject.

I'm still struggling with the whole issue.

I continue to struggle with the issue of mental illness, and I struggle with the issue of treating it.

I definitely know that I'm weary of psychiatric drugs.  I feel they're over-prescribed, and that some people are diagnosed as sick so drug companies can sell more drugs. Yet I don't feel the drugs are all bad, and I don't doubt that they're a lifesaver for some people.  

I thought of a story that kind of illustrates my feelings, and it actually doesn't involve psychiatric illness.  It involves a throat problem.

Last September Jack had a weird feeling in his throat. We did a layperson parental examination and saw that his uvula was touching his tonsil.  It looked like it was stuck.  It looked really strange.

I did research on the internet. Some stuff freaked me out and worried me.  Other stuff made me relax a bit.  By the time the weekend was over, and we had a doctor's appointment, I was under the impression that Jack would probably be fine.

Still we had him examined for our own piece of mind.

The doctor let us know that it wasn't overly rare. She had seen it before.  She didn't seem overly concerned.  

Now let me add here.  Jack was feeling fine.  His throat felt a bit funny sometimes, but it didn't hurt.  He was in a fine mood. He was eating okay.  He was sleeping okay.  He didn't feel bad.   He just looked a bit disgusting...but only if you asked him to open wide and say Ah......

Still the doctor prescribed us medication.  I think it was steroids?  And she gave us free samples.   She guessed that his problems were related to allergies and that if we treated the allergies, the throat would go back to looking normal.

Later I read up on the medication, and I didn't like what I was reading.  The side effects scared me.   There was something about having a fatal reaction to chicken pox.   Now Jack is vaccinated. But there is some question of whether or not he missed one of the chicken pox doses. I think he got it.   I'm not 100% sure.  I have cousins, we see on a regular basis, that are anti-vaccine, so if Jack was on the drug I'd be really scared to be around these cousins.  And I'd probably be nervous about taking him out in public....period.  

Then there were side effects related to growth. The drug sometimes stunts the growth of children.

The risks weren't huge.  No.  But they were there.  And it didn't seem worth it to me to take those risks for a child who was feeling fine.

I talked it over with Tim, and he agreed we'd wait and see.

After several weeks, Jack's throat looked fine again. This might have been nature-taking it's course; or it might have been due to the Costco allergy pills (with less scary side effects) that the three of us had already been taking for awhile. 

This is not the only time something like this has happened. In the last year or so, Jack has been prescribed medications three other times, and I don't think any of those prescriptions were necessary.  

I think maybe it's a miscommunication between patient and doctor.  When I go to the doctor, I don't really do it to relieve minor not-too-annoying symptoms.   I do it so we can make sure we don't have a fatal illness or something that can go from mild to horrible. 

I think I need to be upfront with the doctor.  We're fine with the symptoms.   It's not causing us too much grief.  Can we let this go and let nature deal with it, or does it need to be treated? 

Then again, speaking out like this doesn't always help.

We took Jack to a doc-in-the-box because his ear felt funny.  From what I had learned in my medical reading, most doctors no longer automatically prescribe antibiotics for ear infections.

Because of this knowledge, in most cases, I'd probably just wait and see.  But I was convinced that Jack had swimmer's ear...a totally different story.    From what I gathered, that illness did usually need treatment, and if we avoided it, Jack would be in horrible pain within the next few days. 

It turned out, though, to be a normal ear infection though, one that could possibly clear up on it's own without antibiotics.  

Besides the odd ear feeling...(I won't call it pain because Jack wasn't crying and didn't seem uncomfortable).  Again, he was in a happy energetic mood.   He was eating well and sleeping well.

We had just recently had a negative antibiotic experience—another doctor-patient miscommunication.   I didn't want to put Jack through that again if it wasn't necessary.

I tried talking to the doctor about this, and he seemed annoyed. He seemed to see me as an irresponsible parent who didn't care enough to get medical treatment for her child.  

We took the prescription with the idea we'd get it filled if Jack felt worse in the next few days.  

I'm all for medical treatment, including that which helps people with psychiatric problems. 

I'm against suffering.

I'm against untimely death.

Thank goodness we have medication that prevents some of these things.

But I think we have to weigh the pros and cons. 

How bad are the symptoms?  Are they bothersome because they cause pain and discomfort.   Or are they bothersome because they make us worry?  If we know they're not going to kill us or get worse, would we mind living with the symptoms?

What are the side effect of the medication?  How rare are the side-effects?   How bad are the side-effects?  Could they be worse than the original problem?  

Sometimes we REALLY need a drug and the drug has side effects or the risk of side-effects. That's shitty, but life. 

Other times I think people are prescribed drugs and they don't really need them.   This is really unfair if the drug causes side effects that are worse than the actual original problem. 

Sometimes people get really depressed, anxious, or psychotic. Their life has gone to hell.   They need those drugs, and they'll have to deal with the side-effects. Hopefully the side effects won't be too awful, or hopefully they won't be long-lasting.

But if they have a relatively minor mental issue, or they have a problem that will fade with time.....

Then I'd say maybe they should consider not taking the drugs.   Or at least they should go beyond the doctor's advice and do a lot of independent research.    Each person has to make their own decision.    I'd just hope it's an informed decision.  


Travel Advice

Last week we went to the library, one of my favorite places in Fort Worth.

We go a few times a month.  My recent game is to go through the fiction bookshelves.   Each visit I go to the next bookshelf and pick out a book.   The next visit I go to the very next bookshelf.   Although sometimes I'll do multiple bookshelves in one visit.

Last week I picked up a book from one of the B shelves. Then I decided to go to the young adult section.  I vaguely had a currently popular book in mind. I didn't know the exact name or the author, but I figured maybe it would jump out at me.

When I got to the section, a man asked if I was looking for something to read.

I was a bit startled, but also pleased.  I was excited to find someone else who liked books so much, and one that was interested in talking to me.  Also, I figured maybe he could actually help me.   I like teen books, but I'm often overwhelmed by all the titles out there. What series are the genuine loved babies of talented writers, and what books were written simply to ride on the popularity of Twilight, Harry Potter, and the Hunger Games?

I accepted the man's offer to help me find books. 

At first I was charmed by the man's enthusiasm.

He pointed to a vampire series, but unfortunately the first book was missing.

Soon after he went to a dragon series. I told him I didn't really like dragon books.

He seemed kind of annoyed by this.

Then he started getting on my nerves, because he kept talking and talking.  His enthusiasm started to become draining instead of helpful.

He was also completely disinterested in my input.  He didn't want to know what books I've read and what I like or dislike.  I realize now he didn't really want to play Dina-book matchmaker.  What he really wanted to do was talk about his reading experiences.  He wanted to share a bit of his life with someone who would listen. 

I ended up getting two books he recommended, even though I didn't feel all that excited about it.

I tried reading both of them today. I found them both unappealing and quit after the first few pages.   I'm not sure if it's the book themselves that put me off or my annoyance with the library man.

It's probably a little of both.  And there's also a fact that the books were rebound reading, because I just finished a book by an Aussie writer that I REALLY loved.  

I like finding my own books.

I don't mind getting book advice from other people if they know what I like.  Or at least they TRY to know what I like. 

I would have been more impressed with the library man if he had stopped to ask me. What books do you usually like?  What are your favorites?  What have you read lately?  

So....

Now I'm stupidly nervous about returning to the library.  I'm worried library man will be there.   I'm worried he'll remember me, and I'm worried he'll ask how I liked the books.   I'm worried he'll be annoyed that I quit reading them so soon.   I'm worried he'll bombard me with more book advice.

It's a little irrational, yes.  On the other hand, the library man reads a lot, so it's possible he spends a lot of time at the library.

Anyway, my feeling about book advice is very similar to how I feel about travel advice. 

I talk about travel plans and people become very eager to tell me where I should go. You must go here. You have to go here.  You'll totally love this place!  

Sometimes the advice is spot on, and that's helpful.  It could be that the person knows me well, or it  could be that the person has similar taste to me.

Sometimes the person has my interests at heart, but they don't know me as much as they think they do.  Or maybe they've misunderstood me.   

Other times, though, I think these travel advisers are like the man at the library. They're not really wanting to give me advice.  They're wanting to talk about their own past travels. By talking about my travel plans, I'm bringing up a subject they've been itching to talk about. 

All this is fine if I didn't feel so much pressure to please people. 

I actually get nervous about going to Australia and not going to places that people have recommended to me.

I worry they'll feel rejected or take my chosen plans as an insult.

Well...I think what I've learned through life is that people really love to talk about themselves and their experiences.   Sometimes they do this and put it in under the guise of advice. This goes with the subjects of traveling, books, parenting, marriage, and all kinds of things.

I guess my job is to be a good listener. Let them talk.  Then go my own way.

That being said, I'm not exactly going my own way on our next Australia trip. We're going to Melbourne. And part of the reason we're going is I've felt so much pressure to go from various people.

However, the main reason we're going is to visit friends. If they weren't there, I think we'd probably go elsewhere.

Well, and Tim's been wanting to go to Melbourne.   I definitely want to compromise in that regards, since it's nice enough that he's willing to be dragged off to Australia for the third time. 

I do have moments-days—where I get excited about Melbourne, but often I feel apathetic towards it.   It doesn't attract me the way that Sydney does.  

I guess what I'm trying to say is it makes me feel better to think that we're going to Melbourne because Tim wants to, and because I want to see our friends.   It makes me feel kind of blah when I imagine we're going to Melbourne because I gave into pressure.

And this is one of those rare cases where I SO want to be totally wrong. I want to love Melbourne and have a great time there. I don't want to go there, have an awful time, and regret that we didn't just spend more time in Sydney. 

In case you didn't know....

I really love Sydney.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Attack of the Australian Dead

Another thing I've been watching lately is Dumb Drunk and Racist

It's very good...but sad.

My mind though keeps wanting to turn it into a zombie thing.

Usually when I type it into the search field, my fingers want to type DEAD, drunk, and racist.

I don't know why.

I bet zombies aren't racist.

And they're not drunk...although they sometimes look like they are.  

Julia Gillard Stuff

A few days ago I watched the Julia Gillard episode of Q and A. 

There were moments where I liked her and felt regret for being on Team Kevin.

She can be witty and often did well at answering Tom Jones' annoying sensationalist questions.    Really.  I love that show; and Tom Jones is cute.   But I get this feeling that he's getting texts from the producer.   Stop.  She's talking too much about policy.  Get back on track!  Get back to a scandal....any scandal!  

Anyway.....

One thing I noticed is that I was more charmed by Gillard's responses to a question when I was less passionate and knowledgeable about a subject.   I'd have that, OH-yeah-okay-that-makes-sense attitude.  

I was less charmed when it came to her answers about Naplan/education and gay marriage.  Those subjects are closer to my heart than other subjects. 

As an unschooling mom, my feelings about education are on a whole different path than Gillard's.   But I won't go into that now.

Instead I'll talk about the gay marriage thing. 

She's still not giving a rational answer to why she's against gay marriage.

We don't always need to have rational reasons for our actions and beliefs.

I eat dairy products.  I avoid eating products with chicken eggs.  Do I have a rational reason for this?   No.  I'm being nice to chickens, but not cows. Why?

I feel like it. That's why.

I have enough morals and motivation to go part way, but not enough to go all the way.

I think people have a right to their silliness sometimes. We don't always need to have a reason for it.  We don't always owe people an explanation.

But maybe it should be different for a political leader?   Maybe if they have an opinion that's affecting lives and legislation, they should be able to explain the reasoning behind it.

Otherwise it sounds suspicious.

It sounds like Julia Gillard is being blackmailed.

People on soap operas act very strange when they're been blackmailed.   Of course the other characters are too slow to notice, so the storyline can last for several months....or years. 

If Gillard's not being blackmailed, then WHY does she believe marriage needs to be between a man and a woman?  Is it because of tradition and history?  Is that it?

If that's the case, then shouldn't we keep up the tradition of MALE Aussie Prime Ministers?

And shouldn't Gillard keep up the tradition of boyfriends and girlfriends turning themselves into husbands and wives?   

And shouldn't Gillard keep up the tradition of believing in God?

At least twice on Q and A, Gillard mentioned that other people from the Labor Party aren't on her side when it comes to gay marriage.  My gut feeling is she won't be too upset if they win.   I have a hard time believing she's truly against gay marriage.  

Compromise

This weekend I've been watching the June 25 episode of Q and A.

One of the subjects was asylum seekers coming via boats.

It's so incredibly frustrating to watch.

I'd love to believe that both the Labor and Liberal party care about saving lives.  But that's nearly impossible for me. 

One of the show's panelist's was George Brandis from the Liberal Party.  

He and the others had a discussion about the possibility of compromise. 

The Liberal party had the Nauru plan.  The Labor party came in, and they weren't too fond of the plan.  So they came up with the Malaysia plan.

The Labor Party never got to try out the Malaysian plan because it couldn't get passed in Parliament.

The Labor party says they're willing to negotiate with the opposition.

George Brandis from the opposition says they won't compromise.  Why?  Because their plan had been so perfectly wonderful.   If they agree to compromise, it would show they didn't have 100% faith in their plan.  It would show a lack of integrity.

Since when is showing a willingness to compromise a sign of a lack of integrity?

Okay.  Now that I think of it.  There are probably situations where we shouldn't compromise.   Like, I'm going to kill your family, but if you cooperate I'll just torture them.  Then you should probably fight for the full win. If you can.

I'm not an expert on all this asylum stuff, but from what I do know....Well, I don't think the asylum seeker situation was super happy and wonderful during the Howard years.

I may be wrong, but I think the Labor party had a reason for wanting to change things.   I don't think they were thinking, Well, this Nauru thing is working wonderfully, but it came from the other party, so let's scrap it. 

Or maybe they did.  I do think political parties are capable of that game.

I can, however, sort of give the Labor Party the benefit of the doubt.

I'm having a harder time doing that for the Liberal Party.   It seems to me that they're standing against the Malaysia plan simply because they want to make things difficult for the Labor Party. I feel they don't want the Labor Party to have any successes, and if innocent people are hurt in the process, so be it.

Uh....

Well.....

I was just reminded by Lord Wiki that Australia's High Court was also against the Malaysia plan.   Then I guess Gillard was trying to make some changes to the plan, SO the High Court would be okay with it.  But the Liberal Party is making it difficult.

Tim Freedman, the Whitlam singer was one of the Q and A panelists.  He said some smart things that I liked. One of them:  But Senator Brandis, how on earth can you say that Labor’s policies aren’t working when you won’t let them actually legislate them and put them into practice? 


Exactly!

This is in response to Brandais saying:  Everybody wants the problem solved, so the question is what suite of policies are most likely to solve the problem and when the choice is between a suite of policies that demonstrably worked and a suite of policies that have demonstrably failed, I don't think it is a very difficult choice.

I think it's perfectly reasonable to question the Malaysian Solution, and I think it's fine speak out against it.  It's NOT rational to say something has failed when it hasn't even been tried yet.

Sadly there are millions of displaced people in the world.  We can't save all of them.  But if people could put the betterment of the world as a higher priority than political competition, I think we'd all be better off.

I will leap with joy (maybe literally) if I ever see someone from the Liberal Party praise a policy or idea from the Labor Party.  Or vice-versa.  And of course that goes for Republicans and Democrats too.  Maybe it DOES happen occasionally, and I just don't pay attention enough. 

On another note: During the program, George Brandis blamed the Hawke government for introducing the mandatory detention of children.   I thought it was done under Keating's government.

I just looked again.  Lord Wiki says Keating started mandatory detention. I figured he could be wrong, so I checked another website: Amnesty International's.    They said the legislation was introduced in May 1992.

Keating was Prime Minister at that time.

But maybe the idea was in the pot before that?   Maybe Hawke came up with the idea, but it wasn't built up until Keating?

Or did Brandis make a mistake? 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Nominees For Most Racist Country Are.....

On the June 18 episode of Q and A, one of the panelists was an American-Australian astrophysicist— Brian Schmidt.  

The subject came around to racism.

Tony Jones asked Schmidt if he thought Australia was more racist than America.

Schmidt said yes.  Or at least Australia is more tolerant of racism.

I'm not going to argue against his personal experience. We all have our own lives and observations.   If I saw what he saw, maybe I'd agree.

For now though.  I'm going to write from my own experiences.

From this, I feel, past and present, that Australia and America are equally racist.

Things have gotten better in both countries; but they're still not great.  

Not only are Australians and Americans equally guilty of racism; but we both also are equally guilty of accusing the other of being more racist.

I've witnessed Americans accusing Australia of being more racist. The astrophysicist wasn't the first.   And I've seen Australians stating or inferring that America is more racist.  

We may not have the same accent. 

We may pronounce schedule in totally different ways.

But we're pretty much the same when it comes to racism. 

Hopefully both countries will improve for the future.

Hopefully ALL countries will improve.

Are there countries less racist than America and Australia?  

If there are, I don't imagine they're MUCH less racist.  

Capitals

I was thinking of this while responding to a comment. I was going to write it as a comment, but then decided I'll just turn it into a post. Well, because it might be too long for a comment.

It's a bit confusing sometimes that Canberra is the capital of Australia. It's not the main city that us foreigners associate with Australia.

We think of Sydney. 

I used to think Sydney was the capital of Australia. 

The state and territory capitals are less surprising and therefore easy to remember.

Melbourne is the most well known and popular city in Victoria.  It's the capital.

Sydney is the most well known and popular city in New South Wales.  It's the capital.

Brisbane, Hobart, Darwin, Adelaide, and Perth are also fairly well known.   I'm not sure if that's the case to the average foreigner, but I'm guessing the majority of Australians are familiar with these cities.

American state capitals are somewhat like the Canberra thing.

When I think of Florida, I think of Orlando and Miami.  Yet the capital is Tallahassee.

When I think of California, I think of Los Angeles and San Francisco...sometimes San Diego.   The capital is Sacramento.

The capital of New York isn't New York City. It's Albany. 

What do most people think of when they think of Texas?

I'm guessing it's Houston or Dallas.

The capital is Austin.

We think of Seattle when we think of Washington.  The capital is....well, not Seattle.

What is it? 

I forgot...have to check.

Answer: Olympia.

The capital of Illinois isn't Chicago.  It's Springfield.

Now I'm looking at Lord Wiki's list of American capitals.   There are a few cases where the most popular (and populous) city is the capital.

That would be....Atlanta, Georgia;  Boston, Massachusetts; Honolulu, Hawaii; Nashville, Tennessee, and maybe others.   I say maybe others because there are some states in which I'm not sure what is the most popular city.

With Nashville, it's probably a toss-up between that and Memphis, as being most popular. 

As for our Federal Capital, I guess it's a bit like Canberra.   I wonder if less-informed people would think New York City is America's capital.  

Australian Soap Operas

Last year, at this time, my main Aussie soap opera was Tallygarunga.

Now it's changed to Australian politics.

Instead of keeping up with the witches and wizards of eastern Victoria, I'm now dealing with such characters as Sophie Mirabella, Gina Rinehart, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Christina Milne, Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, etc.

I've been feeling smarter because of this.

In the past, I've looked at those people who keep very up to date on current events and political stories and felt somewhat inferior to them.  

Now I'm one of them!

But this morning I was thinking.....

Well, it really is just another soap opera.

There's really very little difference in being a fan of shows like Q and A and being a fan of Offspring or Days of or Lives

We could argue that politic is REAL, and the outcomes effect our life.

That's true to some extent. But I'd say 95% of it is frivolous drama.  

I sometimes joke about Days of our Lives. You really don't need to watch it on a daily basis to keep up.  Just watch it once a month or so.  Or read a quick online summary.

The same goes for politics. There's no need to keep up on a daily basis.   If you read a summary once a week, or even once a month, you'll probably have fair warning if the sky is about to fall.  

Really.

I don't think the dramatic battle between Rudd and Gillard is going to effect the average Australian's life. 

No.  No.

Wait.

The winner of the Labor leader battle could determine whether Labor is in power or not.  What if the LNP wins? It will change everything!

Nope. Not really.

Well, it might change things.

But the changes will happen incredibly slowly.  So again. There's no need to keep up with it on a daily basis.  

UNLESS you want to look smart to people who, unlike me, haven't realized it's just another soap opera.

Or you can keep up with it for the entertainment value.

That's what I'm going to do.  

I'm going to continue loving the political drama.  But I'm recovering from the delusion that being up to date on it makes me intellectually superior.  

Mining Money

There's an Acland street in Melbourne.

There's also an Acland town in Queensland. 

I learned about it yesterday from watching the June 4 episode of Q and A

This morning I looked at photos of Acland on Flickr.  

It's pretty sad.

Acland was a farming area.   Now it's been taken over by the mining industry.  The town has pretty much been abandoned.  Only one man still remains.  His name is Glenn Beutel.   He's had to watch his town....his neighbors...disappear.    It's very sad.  

The Q and A show had discussions about the fly-in-fly-out system.

This is where, instead of providing infrastructure and building up a mining town, they keep it desolate and just fly in the workers.

All this flying is probably not great for the environment.  Neither is digging up coal. 

It's hard for whole families to move. 

But I also think it's hard to be in a family where a member of the household is frequently gone for days at a time.

I'm having a hard time seeing the joys in all this mining. 

I guess the green side has won me over on this one. 

Clive Palmer doesn't manage to tug my heartstrings when he talks about it being unfair to deprive China and India of inexpensive energy.

That's probably the only argument I've heard in support of the mining.  Oh, and it brings Australia more money.   But there's questions of whether this wealth is really benefiting Australia.

The dollar has gone up. Australia is a rich country now.

But having a high dollar isn't helpful to people in manufacturing and tourism.  For them, it's a negative thing. 

A while back, I felt selfish for wishing the Aussie dollar to go down.   I thought it was just a bad thing for me...and other American tourists.  But it turns out it's bad for some Australians too.

On Q and A, there was debate over where the mining money should go. 

Should it be gifted mostly to the whole of Australia? Let's all share!  Or should it go to the regions in which the mining takes place?

I think both sides have good arguments.

One panelist brought up the flood levy.  People throughout Australia gave money to help Queensland.  If you're going to feel like one big Australia family when you need something, then you also need to act that way when you have something that can be shared.    

On the other hand, it's crazy if regions that are sacrificing homes and farmland for these mines are not getting the infrastructure that they need.  I think they should get a little bit extra of the treasures.

It made me think of winning the lottery.   If our family won, I definitely think the majority of the money should go to us.  We'll do some upgrading and lots of traveling. But I think it would be awful if we didn't share some of the money with our kin. 

Now that I think of it....I think the mining boom is a lot like winning the lottery.

It sounds exciting and wonderful on the surface. We're rich! We're rich!

But then it gets all confusing.  And people are fighting. No one can agree on what to do with the money.

Sometimes it turns into a huge mess.   

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Poise

Today I watched the April 23, 2012 episode of Q and A

The show I watched yesterday had only two guests.

Today's show had only one.

Bob Brown.

That guy had what I felt was missing from both Cardinal Pell and Richard Dawkins—poise and the ability to explain things well.

Then again...I will admit, Bob Brown was kind of preaching to my choir. I'm sure that makes a difference. 

He seems so gentle and sweet, though.  And I love his smile.

I wonder, though, if he'd have been less impressive if there were other panelists?  Maybe he had more poise because he was less rushed and less interrupted.

In the near future, I'll be watching other single-panelist episodes. It will be interesting to compare their performance with Brown's.  

Billie Proudman and The Singing Lady

Today I've been watching  Offspring's thirteenth episode of season 3.   It might be the season finale, but I'm not positive.  

I have various thoughts about Billie's storyline.

She's jealous of her husband's relationship with his female singing colleague.  She worries there's something going on between them.  She worries this something will lead to more somethings. She also worries that she's being an irrational jealous bitch. She's insecure about her relationship.  She's insecure about herself.

As a viewer, I don't think she's an irrational jealous bitch.  Her feelings seem very reasonable to me.

But then I was thinking maybe this is because I saw what she didn't see.  I saw that Mick (her husband) and the singing lady did almost kiss. They definitely had a moment. 

I also saw them having many bonding moments when Billie was away in New Zealand.

What if I didn't see these moments? Would I see Billie's feelings and actions in a different way?   Would I be less tolerant of her?

It brings up some of the classic questions. Can men and women be friends without any romance or sex involved?  Or to put it in a more inclusive way: can people be just-friends with someone of the gender they're naturally attracted to?

If friendship is okay, are there limits?

Let's say we think it's okay to chat at work.  It's okay to have an occasional lunch date or see an occasional movie together.  It's okay to exchange emails on a semi-regular basis.  

But what about multiple dates in a week?  Frequent late night phone calls? Deep soul-searching discussions?  

Can we have a deep and involved friendship, with someone of the gender we're attracted to, without our feelings becoming romantic?

What if there's a deep intense friendship outside the partnership that doesn't involve sex or romance.   Is jealousy at all warranted then? Or should jealousy be reserved for romantic relationships only?

Where do we draw the line between a normal and healthy sense of wanting to be #1 in our partner's life and being an abusive and possessive partner?  Or is it never healthy to desire and insist on being #1 in our partner's life?  

Is it okay to ever be jealous?  When is jealousy normal?  When is it pathological?

If we're feeling jealous, what behaviors are acceptable? What behaviors are not acceptable?

If our partner spends a lot of time with someone, and they have a strong bond, is it okay to get upset over this? And is it okay for them to get angry at us for being upset?

Is it wrong to ask them if anything's going on?

Is it wrong to complain that they're spending more time with the other friend than us?

Is it wrong to suggest to our partner that this new friend seems to be seeking more than friendship?

Is it okay to snoop through emails and phone logs?

Is it okay to forbid our partner to see this person?

Then how about the other side of the spectrum?

What if someone shows no jealousy?

What if our partner has no problem with us being close friends with someone else?   Should we be happy for our freedom, or worry that we're not loved enough?

What if we confess to a crush or an affair, and our partner doesn't act bothered at all? Would this be a good thing or a bad thing?  

If Billie was totally okay with Mick's friendship with the singing lady, how would we perceive her?   Would we think she was really cool and level-headed, or knowing what we know, would we see her as being naive?




Edited to Add: I've now finished watching the episode.

It was the season finale.

I loved it. I thought it was beautiful.

It made me cry.

I'm a sucker for happy endings, especially ones involving reconciliation.   

Halls Gap, Koalas, and Disney World

Last night I dreamed about Halls Gap and Koalas.

But the koalas weren't in the Halls Gap part of the dream.  They were in my dream about Disney's Animal Kingdom Park. 

I wonder if there are koalas in Halls Gap.  I don't associate the place with koalas.  I associate it with kangaroos, emus, cockatoos, and kookaburras. 

I'm pretty sure there are no koalas at Disney's Animal Kingdom. I wonder if they have any Australian animals. 

I shall google......

This Grampians blog says koalas are rarely seen in Halls Gap, but seeing one isn't a complete impossibility.  

I'm trying to understand what the blog is saying. It goes a bit over my head. 

But I think it's saying that prior to a 2006 fire there were koalas. I guess the fire messed with their population. Now people have asked why they're not being re-released into the area. 

There are koalas at the Halls Gap Zoo.    Recently three of them arrived from the Healesville Sanctuary. They already had one koala; so now they have four.

Now I'm looking at the list of animals at Disney's Animal Kingdom. 

They have a Sulphur-crested cockatoo, a grey kangaroo, a red kangaroo.....

They have a salmon-crested cockatoo. I've never heard of that.   I'm guessing it's Australian? Are there cockatoos that are not from Australia? 

They have a rose-breasted cockatoo. I've never heard of that either.

They have a Tawny Frogmouth!!!  I want to see that.  I love those!

The last time we went to Disney World, we skipped the Animal Kingdom park.  We were thinking of skipping again this year, but I may need to change our minds. 

I just consulted Lord Wiki about the salmon-crested cockatoo. He says it's an Indonesian bird. 

He says the rose-breasted cockatoo is another name for the Galah.  

My Crazy American Toilet

Andrew had a video of an American toilet in Malaysia. 

I said it didn't remind me of toilets I've seen in America.

So he asked me to take a video of my toilet.

I was hoping my toilet would do a fine performance of simplicity. But it didn't.

I flushed it once, but it looks like I flushed it three times.




If you look carefully, you'll see our toilet isn't very clean. There's an ugly rust stain. 

Just for the record, toilet cleaning is Tim's job.

Actually.  I'm not sure you have to look too carefully to notice.

I'm a bit embarrassed.

In Australia, toilets have two flushes—a little flush and a big flush.

From what I've learned from the past owners of our house (my parents), our flush is equal to the Australian little flush.  It's supposed to save water.  If you poo, though, it's wise to flush a few times.   Otherwise, it's likely you'll have to rush for the plunger.

If you notice, the plunger is in the photo.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cardinal Pell and the Jews

I'm looking at articles about Pell's  Q and A comments regarding Jews.

I want to know what he meant by the Germans suffering the most.    

So far I've looked at two articles and one blog entry.  None of them give an explanation.  They just say Pell apologized. 

Oh....good.   I went to a fourth article and this one provides an explanation.

Thank you!

It's from an Aussie-Kiwi Jewish online news thing.  

They have a quote from Pell.

He says, At the back of my mind I was thinking about an answer the Jewish writer David Berlinski gave to atheist Sam Harris on why God did not prevent the Holocaust. Referring to the incredible destruction and loss of life that the Allies inflicted on Germany in the course of the war which Germany started, Berlinski observed that ‘if God did not protect his chosen people precisely as Harris might have wished, He did, in an access of his old accustomed vigor, smite their enemies, with generations to come in mourning or obsessed by shame.

That does make some sense to me.  And I think in some ways, descendants of Nazis have a bigger cross to bear than descendants of European Jews.  Well...I can say, personally, that I'd rather be the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors (or non-survivors) than be the granddaughter of Nazis.  But I am neither, and very glad to have been spared both trials.

Still, though. As a whole, I think Jews have suffered more than Germans. It's hard for me to imagine an intelligent person thinking otherwise. If they're not anti-Semitic and/or Holocaust deniers, I'd assume they were having a bit of a brain fart. It happens sometimes.

All three article,s and the blog entry, also talk about the other controversial stuff Pell said about the Jews.

On the show he said,  It’s no good, say, my asking everyone in the congregation will you would do something. Normally you go to a busy person because you know they'll do it and so for some extraordinary reason God chose the Jews. They weren't intellectually the equal of either the Egyptians or the...  

Although I agree with his busy-person plan, it sounds a bit like another brain fart.

But I don't think Pell was being anti-Semitic.

I personally understood what he was trying to say.  Or at least I think I do.

I thought he just used the wrong word—Intellectual.

I thought what he meant to say is that their civilization was less advanced.  (and now I'm seeing that, in the Jewish Aussie-Kiwi article, he somewhat confirms this).  

I don't think Aboriginal Australians, back in the 1700's, were intellectually inferior to British people.   I think their brains and intellectual abilities were equal.  But I do think their civilization was less advanced.   That's not to say the Aborigines weren't thriving in a wonderful way, and that advanced civilization is necessarily better than a more simple civilization.  

In my eyes, Pell was just saying that other societies in the Biblical bygone days were more powerful.   They maybe had more fruits-of-their-labor to show off.

Tony Jones gave Pell a hard time over his opinion.

I liked Pell's response.  The people, in terms of sophistication, the psalms are remarkable in terms of their buildings and that sort of thing. They don't compare with the great powers. But Jesus came not as a philosopher to the elite. He came to the poor and the battlers and for some reason he choose a very difficult but actually they are now an intellectually elite because over the centuries they have been pushed out of every other form of work. They’re a - I mean Jesus, I think, is the greatest the son of God but, leaving that aside, the greatest man that ever live so I’ve got a great admiration for the Jews but we don't need to exaggerate their contribution in their early days.

That makes sense to me. I think, by here, Pell's brain fart had ended. Or at least that particular one. 

Suffering Germans and Oriental Carpets

I was reaching the end of the Q and A episode with Cardinal Pell and Richard Dawkins. I started writing a post inside my head.  I do that sometimes. I mean I start planning out what I'd say.

What I was going to say is that I'm neither Catholic nor atheist.  I'm a spiritual person who hopes (but sometimes doubts) that we have souls; that there's an afterlife; and that all these weird coincidences, I encounter, have some sort of deep metaphysical meaning. 

I get annoyed by atheists.  I get annoyed by organized religion.

So I came to the episode of the show with no bias, or a lot of biases that were distributed equally.

That being said. If I had to pick a winner, I'd pick Pell. 

I thought he was much more tolerable than Dawkins.

That is until....

He said,  It is interesting through these secondary causes probably no people in history have been punished the way the Germans were. It is a terrible mystery.

What?!

Tony Jones responded. There would be a very strong argument saying that the Jews of Europe suffered worse than the Germans.

Pell said that might be right. MIGHT be right?


What?!

Should I give Pell the benefit of the doubt and imagine he's referring to something I'm ignorant of and don't understand?

I don't know much about early German history, besides the fact that they blamed Jews for a lot of things.  Maybe really bad things happened to them in past centuries? 

But was it worse than what happened to the Jews?  African-Americans? Aboriginal Australians?  Native Americans?

And there are other groups who've endured a huge portion of shared suffering.

While I was still trying to recover from my shock over that remark, Pell compared homosexuals to a flaw in an oriental carpet.

Oh my.....

I will say this, though.

I definitely don't agree with that viewpoint. I don't see homosexuality as a flaw. 

But I do have some understanding for people who do.

How we view homosexuality is really a social construct.  The popular notion these days is that it's okay to be gay.   Yes, there are some haters out them; some of them dangerous and violent.  But I think acceptance of those intolerants, by the general population, is probably about the same as society's acceptance of homosexuals a few decades ago. 

I guess there could be a scale of homosexual acceptable. Let's say 10's would support gay marriage, and full equality.  1's believe gay people are sinners and belong in hell. 

There's a lot of 10's these days. There are some 1's.

Then there's a lot of people in-between.  Included in this would be people who don't hate gay people, but they see homosexuality as a flaw.  They see it as an illness.

Prior to the 1970's, homosexuality was classified as a mental illness.  These days some people still believe that.  But most people don't.   Lord Wiki says the official position of the American Psychiatric and American Psychological Association is that homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexuality.   

I follow that viewpoint. In that area of life, I follow the crowd.

But I move away from the crowd when it comes to another psychological issue.

That would be Aspergers and mild levels of autism.  

It's seen by many as a disorder. 

It's seen by many as a sad and unfair thing.

To me, it's just a variation. 

It makes me cringe when Cardinal Pell compares homosexuality to a flaw in a carpet.   In the same way, I cringe when someone expresses sympathy for people with Aspergers.  I don't even like writing it that way, because I'm making it sound like Aspergers is an illness.  To me it's like saying,  My friend has homosexuality.   

I do think it's difficult to deal with Aspergers, but I think it's difficult for the same reason it's difficult to be homosexual.  It's all about society—attitudes and acceptance. 

People don't commit suicide because they're gay. They commit suicide because they feel alienated and rejected.  They feel abnormal. Their community may give them the idea that they're evil or sick.   They may feel defective.  

Fortunately there's a loud crowd that's shouting out a message of acceptance and hope. But sometimes they can't counteract the cruel messages. 

I can't perfectly compare Aspergers with homosexuality, because I don't think Aspie people are often labeled as evil. I don't think there are people who go to funerals with signs that say, People on the Autism Spectrum belong in Hell!!!!

Still though.

The basic idea that bothers me is that we have this general consensus about what is normal and what's not. OR what's okay and what's not okay.  

No, wait. That's wrong.

I'm not bothered by the general consensus, because sometimes I agree with it. Sometimes I like it.

I like that it seems most people accept, if not gay marriage, then at least gay civil unions. 

I like that vegetarianism is no longer seen as being overly radical, and I can find vegetarian menu items at most restaurants.

I like that homeschooling is more accepted by society these days. 

I like that most people are against slavery. 

I like that most people agree that it's wrong to hit your spouse...(though I'm mystified that some of these people would think it's okay to hit their children).  

So....

What I should say is that I look forward to the possible day in which the crowd sees Aspergers as a normal variation of human personality. 

I want the general consensus to be that it's fine to have Aspergers. It's not a problem. It's just a difference.

I can understand the viewpoint of people who see homosexuality as a disorder. I can understand the viewpoint of those who see Aspergers as a disorder.  But understanding does not equal agreement.

In my eyes, Aspergers and homosexuality help make the carpet beautiful. They're not flaws at all.  

More Richard Dawkins

A few weeks ago, I watched a Q and A episode featuring Richard Dawkins and Steve Fielding.   It was from March 8, 2010.

I noticed that members of the audience laughed when Steve Fielding said things.  I felt bad for Fielding, and thought the laughing was a bit rude.   In my post about this, I said that if it made him feel bad, I hope he remembers to act differently. when he's in a situation where his opinion is the one accepted by the loud majority.   

Today I'm watching the April 12, 2012 episode of Q and A.   This is the episode featuring Dawkins and Cardinal Pell.
Someone in comments mentioned Dawkin's behavior in this episode.   Now I'm seeing it for myself.

He seems to be hypersensitive.  Fielding ignored the laughing...well, at least from what I remember.  Dawkin's comments on the make-up of the audience.  He accuses it of being skewed.

Well, I just re-watched the bit to see what he said exactly.

I'm confused.

Cardinal Pen does a little monologue about Stalin and Hitler leading atheist movements. There seems to be some heckling during this, but I'm not sure.

Dawkins begins his response by saying, that is ridiculous.    At that point, there's very loud and enthusiastic applause from the audience.  This is when Dawkins turns to Tony Jones.  And I THINK he says....

Wait, I just realized there's a transcript of all this.  That should make my life easier.

Ah, but no. They don't include this little aside.

Anyway, I think he says, Most unbiased audience you have here.  Or he says, most unbiased audience you have sent me here.   I'm not sure.

Maybe I'm deluded, but from my viewpoint it seems the more vocal members of the audience are on Dawkin's side.

Did Dawkin's think otherwise?

Or did he see the bias towards himself, and was speaking out against that?

It would be nice to believe that, but Dawkin's seems defensive as he continues speaking.  He seems like someone who is angry for himself rather than someone who angry on behalf of his opponent.

Wait.

I looked back at the transcript.

I found what I had been looking for. The unbiased bit WAS included. I'm an awful reader.

Dawkin's said, A most unbiased audience you've assembled here by the way.

I guess I could give him the benefit of the doubt and imagine he was NOT being sarcastic.  

I think, though, that this would be too generous.

A few moments later, Dawkins tries to make the point that, although, it may be human nature to wonder about why we're here, it does not mean that it's a valid question.  Some members of the audience laughed.  I personally didn't take it that they were laughing at Dawkin's idea. I could be wrong.  But I saw it as them laughing at his cleverness.

Who knows, though.  Someone else might watch the episode, with Steve Fielding, and think people were laughing at HIS cleverness.  It's hard to tell sometimes.

What happens, though, with Dawkins is he gets angry.   He demands to know what's so funny. Then he continues his talking in an agitated manner.

I've watched only fifteen minutes of the show so far.  From this point, I'll say that Dawkins isn't showing his best side.

He seems to be a bit mentally unstable. I've had moments like that. So I have empathy for him.

What happens to me is I DO often get a lot of shit.  I deal with rejection, unfairness, criticism, nastiness, etc.   Or actually, I sometimes don't deal with it.   I take it in and bottle it up inside.   Then through weeks, months, or even years, I build myself up into an irrational state.   I get into a state where I imagine everyone hates me, and/or I twist people's benign words into something negative.   There's a little rational part of me that says, They don't mean it in a bad way.  But then I fight hard to ignore these rational thoughts. 

Maybe this is what Dawkins did for the episode?

I do wonder how he later viewed his behavior.  Did he watch the show and realize he sounded overly defensive?  Or did he feel his behavior was warranted?   Does he still think there was a bias against him?

Then I have to wonder the same thing I wondered about Fielding.  If Dawkin's felt he was treated unfairly, will he now work to make sure other people aren't treated unfairly.   If he's on a show where he perceives a bias against his opponent, will he speak up if he feels the audience is being rude?    Would he even notice such a bias?  Or would he only notice or care if the bias is against himself?  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Well, Yeah. That's a Bit Hypocritical

Today I watched the March 26, 2012 episode of Q and A.

It had a great example of hypocrisy.

The panelists answered a question about political parties getting large donations.   Is it a bad thing?  Should it be outlawed?

One of the panelists was Larissa Waters.  She's a senator for the Greens party. 

Waters made it known that her party is against big donations.

Then George Brandis from the Liberal Party pointed out that the Green party had recently accepted a million dollar donation. 

Brandis tried to get her to see the hypocrisy in this.  She refused.  Or maybe she really didn't see it?

She claimed their case was different because no policy influence was sought or given. 

Does she not realize that it's very likely the other political parties might try to claim the same thing?  And maybe they too would believe it.  

Who knows.  In some cases, it could be true.  Sometimes people might donate a lot of money without wishes for policy influence.  They might just support a political party...no strings attached. The problem is you can't really know for sure, one way or the other.

I mean maybe some entities donate and say, We'll give you this money and we expect in return that you'll do....whatever.   But other people might not be as upfront.  They might be more subtle. They might not even know they want something.  

Larissa Waters was asked why the donation was accepted if the Green Party is against large donations.

She said they're trying to change the law, but until it's changed, they're going to continue to comply with it.

Tony Jones responded with an analogy.  It's like smoking in a public place until it's banned.

Waters response made her seem a bit clueless.  She announced that she had given up smoking years ago.  I'm not sure if she was making a joke, or if she truly didn't understand the analogy.

I'm thinking up my own analogies.

Well....

It would be like someone, in past decades, believing in seat belts, but not wearing them because it's not a law.  They'd go without a belt because they want to comply with the law.

I do understand accepting the large donation.

From the small bits I hear about American news, Obama did the same thing.  He was against the whole Super Pac thing.  Then, all of a sudden. it was announced that he had his own Super Pac.

If you can't beat them, join them.  

I think what Larissa Waters could have said is that the Green Party IS against large donations. But until large donations are outlawed for everyone, the Green Party can't survive in a system where the other parties are able to accept large donations.  

It's not the most noble thing to do.

The best thing would be if a political party refused large donations, still survived, and then said, Look we stood by our principles and survived.  It can be done!  

I don't know if that's possible, though. 

Anyway....

I guess what I'm trying to say is I don't necessarily think the Green Party (and Obama) did the wrong thing.  I just think Waters could have maybe expressed herself in a less hypocritical way.

You know what.  

I always feel like a hypocrite when I complain about hypocrites.

It's an interesting thing to me.

With hypocrisy, I think there's a type that's known to the hypocrite and a type that's unknown.

I can think immediately of things that make me a hypocrite.  Like I judge people sometimes for eating meat. I sometimes feel superior to them.  Yet I eat dairy products.  Or I feel snobby towards people using plastic bags at the grocery store. Yet I take long showers. Stuff like that.

But I'm guessing maybe I'm also hypocritical about stuff, and I don't even know I'm a hypocrite.  I may be completely blind to it.  

I'm pretty self-aware, though.   So maybe not.

There are certain people in my life who are extremely hypocritical at times. It's very frustrating to me.

My hunch is that they're oblivious to it. I guess they're in some sort of denial? Or they lack self-awareness...at least in certain situations.

I wonder what was going on in Larissa Water's head.   Did she know she sounded hypocritical, but she was trying her best (and failing) to get out of a sticky situation?   Or was it all lost to her?  

Fire and Rain

I just listened to Jimmy Barnes and Marcia Hines sing "Fire and Rain".

Their cover is pretty nice.



The song always makes me think of that River Phoenix movie.

What's the name again?

I'm looking at IMDb.....

Here we go.

Running On Empty

Here's the song in the movie.



I don't remember much about the movie, but I'm pretty sure it was a really sad one.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Trash

I'm still watching the Q and A episode.

There's a feminist on there named Clementine Ford.  I like what she says about climate change.

I'm too lazy to transcribe, so I'll just paraphrase.

She says she's not a scientist and her way of reasoning doesn't have much superiority over climate skeptics. But still she believes and she believes in treating the planet well.

Really. I feel the same way. 

I don't understand all this stuff.

I believe in climate change because I put my trust in scientists who seem to know what they're talking about.  Sometimes I think climate skeptics have compelling arguments as well.

But Clementine Ford goes on to say, climate change or no climate change. Why would we want to treat our planet like crap?

I don't think we need science to tell us that if you give too much crap to something (like your body or the planet) the results aren't going to be pretty.

I think that's common sense.

Climate change or no climate change, do we want to completely trash the planet? 

Do we want to be breathing the air and drinking the water of a polluted garbage dump?

Probably not.

The only thing I'm thinking is that if climate skeptics are right, and we're not doing excessive harm to the plane's atmosphere, then maybe we could relax a LITTLE bit.   We don't need to take our shower in the rain. We don't need compost boxes in our backyard.  We don't need to throw away our cars.

We don't need to reduce our carbon footprint to a tiny little baby step.

Then again, some people probably DO need to do that to counteract the other people.

There's my family at the lake house.   They insist on using paper plates and plastic utensils for every meal.  They use way too many plastic water bottles.   They buy enough meat for probably double the guests, and a lot of it goes to waste.

Don't get me wrong.

I'm no environmental saint.

I do try to have SOME restraint though....more than most of my local kin, I dare say.   

It's the same with my body.

I'm not like my aunt who avoids dairy products, red meat, refined sugars, and artificial sweeteners.

But at the same time I don't completely trash my body.   I don't smoke or get drunk.   I don't do tanning beds.   I eat some junk food, but try to counteract some of it with healthy foods. 

I'm not perfect.   I'm not a saint.

But I'm a little bit good.  

Bloody Assumptions

On one episode of Q and A that I watched, Kate Miller-Heidke was one of the guests.   She's a singer.

She didn't come across as being very intelligent on the show.  She seemed to be a bit of an airhead.

I imagined that if I was in a situation like that, I'd probably come across the same way.

I know about some political stuff, but I know a lot less than some people.   And sometimes I'm not the most eloquent speaker.  I get confused. I get tongue-tied. I lose my train of thought.  

My feeling, though, is that although Kate Miller-Heidke came cross as an airhead, she's probably smarter than she seemed. And I think the same goes for me.

So this is what happened this weekend.

Tim and I watch True Blood together.

I'm not happy with it this season.  Why?  I think it's over the top.   For me, the season jumped the shark when they put the stake-your-heart outfits on Bill and Eric.  Then Jason Stackhouse's sexual regret storyline is a bit too afterschool special for me.

Oh, and I'm also bored by the Pam flashbacks.

Anyway, I asked Tim if he could please watch the show on his own.   I said I'd read the spoilers, and if they started looking promising I'd get back to watching it. Side note here: The same thing happened last year.   I was bored by the beginning of the season, but I became interested in the later episodes.

Tim said he understood me not liking the show.  It's getting too political.

That annoyed me.

Why would he assume the politics of the show is what's repelling me? Why would he assume anything...period?

I'm pretty sure I responded by telling him I didn't like the show because it was too over-the-top.   But maybe I just said that in my head.  I do say most things to my own head these days...rather than to other people.   So maybe I didn't tell him.

I think I did, though.

Anyway, today he said to me that he watched True Blood, and again he mentioned it being too political for me.

If you take Tim's knowledge of American politics and compare me to him, YES, I am a major airhead.   I don't know the names of all the players. Sometimes I'm not fully clear on very detail of what's going on in American current events.

But since when I am the type of person who's bored by politics?

First of all.  He sees me watching Q and A every day. If he's not completely oblivious, in the glimpses he sees, he'd know it was a political show.

If he's paid attention, he'd know many of my blog posts are about politics, and not just about the hotness of certain members of the Liberal Party.   

I'm pretty sure I've told him that the politics in Harry Potter is one of the things I liked best about the series.  

We used to watch The Colbert Show together at dinner. That's political.  The reason we stopped watching is we've all become addicted to The Big Bang Theory.  In that show, the female main star is much less intelligent than the male ones.   So maybe Tim is confusing me with her.

Maybe I've taken on the role of Penny in the family.

I don't know....

Between my dad and Tim (the two men most prominent in my life), they both give a lot in terms of cooking, favors, material gifts, etc. But they don't give me much in terms of helping me to feel intelligent and respected.

When I'm around them, I feel like a five-year-old little girl.

No offense to young children, of course.