Friday, December 12, 2008

Bob Brown (Thanks Dave)

One of my favorite Australian friends sent me an email yesterday. He gave me suggestions of people to look into. The email was short and mysterious. I felt like I was in one of those thrillers--where the protagonist gets that mysterious tip. Although since this was a friend, I guess it wasn't that mysterious.

Still. I can pretend. Right?

Anyway, one of the names he gave me was Bob Brown. Can a guy with a name like that be exciting?

I guess I shall see.

Bob Brown is the leader of the Greens Party. At least that's what Lord Wiki says.

The Green Party is my favorite political party.

Brown is the first openly gay member of Parliament. I wonder how many closeted gay members there are.  I also wonder if he's the first of others, or the first and only openly gay member.

His birthday is December 27, 1944. What's with all these December birthdays? I'm starting to think I should send birthday cards to these people or something. Hi! I was doing research on you and noticed your birthday is coming up. Have a jolly good day!

Birthday website

He's a Capricorn. I don't know much about them. I'm going to have to look that up. This website says they're good people to hire. They're stable and reliable.

Brown's numerology number is 3. The popularity thing. Social. Party animal.

Is he?

His Chinese sign is the monkey. His Native American sign is the goose. I don't think I've encountered a goose before--I mean in my research here.

When I think of goose, I think of someone who is silly. Yet, he's a Capricorn which seems to be about being serious. What a fascinating contradiction.

He shares a birthday with Heather O'Rourke. She was one of my past obsessions. Her death greatly affected me. That might be a bit of an understatement. I won't go into details. It's strange I didn't know that was her birthday until I saw it on the birthday website. It shows how bad I am at remembering birthdays. I SHOULD have known her birthday. I often do know birthdays, but I tend to forget them until it's too late. I'm especially bad with Australian birthdays, because even if I do remember on time, it's actually a day later already in Australia. So I end up being late anyway. That's the main reason I should move to Australia. I'll be less confused.

Lord Wiki has a picture of Bob Brown. He looks friendly. He seems like he could be a veterinarian in a small town. If I was a casting director and I was looking for someone to play a vet, he would be my first choice. He could also pass for a pediatrician--one of those rare ones who actually listens to the child and parents.

Holy crap! I just read down further. He WAS a doctor. That's so funny. Maybe I'm psychic. I swear I didn't read that when I posted the above.

Anyway, I'm going to back up a bit to his childhood. Brown was born in Oberon, New South Wales. I never heard of it.

 Looking at Google Maps....

It looks close to Katoomba. That's near the Blue Mountains. Oberon is west of Katoomba--about an hours drive away.

Brown went to Trunkey Public School. I'm trying to figure out if that's in Oberon, or whether they moved during his childhood. It's on Carlyle Street, but it turns out there are a lot of Carlyle Streets in Australia.

It's a very small school. The class of 2003 has only seven kids. I wonder why they have that class pictured and none of the other ones.

It looks like a cute school. The kids look happy in the photos, at least. The population does seem a bit homogeneous, but maybe the town is homogeneous. I think it might be one of those rural schools where they get children from all the neighboring areas towns.

After his Trunkey days were done, Brown went to Blacktown Boy's High School. Now this place is in Sydney--near Parramatta. So....I guess the family did move. From what I see on the website, the school looks pretty old fashioned. Maybe I should say traditional? I guess Brown was well liked at the school. He was voted school captain. I looked that up. It's equivalent to our school president.

As I said before, he has a medical degree. At one point, he worked in the UK and was the one who pronounced Jimi Hendrix dead.

Brown moved to Tasmania in 1972. That's the year I was born.

He was a doctor and became involved with environmentalism.

Then he did an interview and announced that he was gay. I wonder about the reaction to that.

In the late 70's, Brown did a lot of important environmental stuff. He became the director of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society. He was one of the people who fought against the building of the Dam. He was arrested for protesting and spent 19 days in jail. Wow. That'll give him something interesting for his memoirs.

According to Lord Wiki, the day he was released from prison, he became a member of Parliament.

Lord Wiki has a list of initiatives Brown introduced. They include:

1. Freedom of Information (I LOVE free information. Lord Wiki, are you fishing for a compliment?)

2. Death with Dignity (I'm guessing this is euthanasia. I totally believe in that)

3. Lowering Parliamentary Salaries.

4. Gay law reform

5. Banning battery-hen industry. (I'm guessing this is chickens in tiny cages. Of course I support this! If it refers to toy chickens that run on batteries, I'm not sure it's that big of a deal. And if we're going to outlaw toy chickens that run on batteries, we most certainly need to ban all those tickled Elmo toys)

6. Nuclear free Tasmania.

In 1989, he introduced a bill to outlaw semi-automatic guns. Neither the Labor nor the Liberal party supported that. Then a few years later, there was the Port Arthur Massacre.

They should have listened to Bob Brown.

Why do people like guns so much? Why can't we just be old fashioned and stab each other with swords. Or really! How about avoid blood all together and just spit in each other's faces.

There are a lot of people I don't like and they've totally pissed me off. I've gotten by fine without killing them.

As for self-protection.....If I'm ever in that situation, I'll probably change my mind and be totally supportive of guns.

But if I actually had a gun, I'd probably be too scared to actually shoot someone anyway.

Lord Wiki says Brown has published a lot of books! Awesome. I'm going to go see if any are available at Powells.

The Complete Book of Cheese. I'm guessing this might be another author with the same name.

He wrote a book with Peter Singer--one of my favorite people.

Brown started an organization called Bush Heritage Australia. Basically, they buy land and protect it. That seems like a very good thing. Maybe I'll donate to them later. While I'm at it, I should probably donate to Lord Wiki too. I've been stingy.

Okay, now Lord Wiki goes into Federal politics.

I just had another psychic premonition. I have a feeling this blog entry is going to end up being very long. VERY VERY long.

Lord Wiki says Brown was outspoken in his opposition to Howard. I can't say I'm surprised about that.

He introduced several bills while he was part of the senate. These include the ban of mandatory sentencing of Aboriginal children and the ban of Cluster Munitions. I'm completely ignorant about both those things. Actually, I'm no longer ignorant about the latter because I followed Lord Wiki's link. It's a type of bomb. I like people who are against bombs.

As for the mandatory sentencing.....

I need to go look that up.

This very interesting website has some information about it. From what I'm reading, it seems to be about giving harsh punishments for small crimes. Well, now THAT sounds familiar.

Steal 23 dollars worth of food and spend a year in jail.

Steal a hairbrush and get sent on a ship with Arthur Phillip.

Brown was very much against the Iraq war. He and some other senator did something while Bush was speaking in Canberra. I'm not sure what. Lord Wiki says they interjected. I'm not sure what he means by that. Maybe I'll find out later.

Lord Wiki says that this interjection thing caused Brown to be suspended for 24 hours. He also failed to get a gold star sticker on his forehead that day. Naughty. Naughty.

Brown attracted some controversy in 2007 when he pushed for the ban of coal exports.

I'm going to leave Lord Wiki now and see what other fun stuff I can find.

The ABC website has something called My Favorite Australians. It looks really great. They had a vote in 2008--people could choose their favorite popular Australian and an unsung hero. Bob Brown was one of the ten most popular Australians. John Howard is on there too. I'm a bit surprised. I knew that some people probably liked him, but I didn't realize he was THAT popular.

Each person has their own video. I watched Brown's. It's beautiful, but a little too artsy for my taste. Maybe this website won't be as fun for me as I imagined.

It's just not my thing.

The Australian government has a transcript of Brown's first speech as senator for Tasmania. This was in 1996. I guess I shall read it.

I love his quote here:

...we have moved now into an awesomely challenging time when it is in our hands either to proceed towards the millennium which our forebears have only dreamed about, or to proceed
down the road of materialism which currently has this world by the throat, pressing on the accelerator as we go towards what any person who is thinking clearly can see is an inevitable unsustainability with the planet, with our fellow species and with ourselves.

Amen to that! I think it's sad that people are so materialistic. I mean I know we all need things. And I know we all want things. But why do we have to have so many things? I've never been materialistic in the designer label sense. I've never wanted something because it had a brand name that would make me cool. That has never been me. I did however like collecting things. I loved having stuff. I loved looking for bargains so I could have lots of stuff. I loved displaying my stuff so people could see my fabulous collections.

Then my whole spirituality thing happened and I read a book by Robert Monroe. He talked about how you can't take things with you when you die. And really that applies to most belief systems: Christianity, New Age, Pagan, Atheism, Judaism, etc. It really changed my viewpoint. I try to buy less now. I am a sucker for Australian books though and I have quite a collection now. But most of them are used and I think buying used books is totally fine.

He talks about environmental refugees. That's a concept we ignore way too much. Bad storms are going to keep happening. People are going to lose their homes. Where the hell are they going to go?

Oh! Here's something interesting. Brown says the first ever green party was in Tasmania. Lord Wiki disagrees. He says the first was in Germany. Who should I believe? Maybe Brown is saying the Tasmanian Party (United Tasmanian Group) is the first party to have Green Ideals, but Germany had the first party with a green name. The Tasmanian one began in 1972 and the German one in 1980.

Speaking of 1980......

That year there was a documentary about the Franklin Wild River and the whole dam thing. Bob Brown was one of the stars.

This SMH article has information about the Euthanasia bill that Brown tried to pass. Brown said polls showed that 80% of Australians support Euthanasia, yet the government votes against it. He says, I'm a former doctor myself, I know that people sometimes die in most undignified and harrowing circumstances. I wonder if that poll is accurate. I also wonder about the opposition to Euthanasia. One day, I shall more learn about it. I'm guessing the basis comes from the anti-suicide beliefs of Christianity. Maybe part of it has to do with being a martyr--standing up to the pain rather than giving in.

 I also do know there are Holocaust issues--believing that if we let people die with dignity, soon we'll be FORCING people to die.

I found an interview with Brown on an environmental website.

He's very much against the Gunn woodchip people. I've heard of them. They seem like quite the villains--almost like Disney villains. I can imagine Mr. Gunn having lunch with Cruella de Vil. Wait. Is it a Mr. Gunn?

Well, it looks like it's not. I sort of figured a Mr. Gunn owned the company. I don't know why.

Oh. But now I have it. It was started by brothers with the name of Gunn. But those guys are dead now.

In the interview, he talks about the origins of his environmentalism and how his mother had an influence:

I remember as a youngster bringing a bunch of flowers out of the nearby woods to my mother and she gently remonstrated me and said, "They're beautiful. I'll put them in a vase. But they were more beautiful back on those trees." I've never forgotten that moment of awakening.

I'm glad he has a positive memory of that. Sometimes, I worry my views are too extreme and that I'm going to alienate Jack eventually. You know, just things like pushing him to use scrap paper when he'd rather use a fresh new piece of paper. Or me telling him I don't like presents from the store. I like homemade stuff. He'll talk about wanting to live in a mansion. I talk about how no one needs all that space and it's bad for the environment. But when I was a child I wanted to live in a mansion. How do you respect your child's own opinions and at the same time brainwash them with your views? I really struggle with this. I don't know if I'm doing a good job or a bad one. I guess we'll see when he's an adult. Are we still speaking? Or is he sending me bills from his therapist with a note saying. It's your fault. You pay.

Brown is not satisfied with Australia's talks of cutting carbon emissions. The plan is to cut reduce them by 5-25% by the year 2020. Brown believes this is not enough. He believes the minimum should be 25%. He believes the target should really be at 40%.

Here's an article on another one of Brown's passions...banning junk food ads. It says that the NSW government did a study that showed overeating is the main cause of childhood obesity in Australia--not lack of exercise. The article says kids are exercising, but one Children's Happy Meal can wipe out an hour of exercise. I'm not sure how I feel about that. They cite studies that show commercials effect children. But if the commercials are gone, I think children will still want junk food. They see it when they go to the store. They see it when they go to their friend's house, or when their friends eat it in the school cafeteria. Jack doesn't watch a lot of commercials. He forwards through them. But the kid still has the I-want-this syndrome.

Also, if you ban the food ads, there are two other issues:

A) Where do you draw the lines between what is junk food and what is not?
B) if you ban the food ads, companies are going to find other ways to market. This might include more aggressive grocery store tactics, more prizes promised in the sugar cereal boxes, etc.

Oh! Here's some exciting scandal. Here, Bob Brown speaks out against Midnight Oil's Peter Garrett. I've glimpsed some complaints about Garrett on a blog--stuff about him being a sell-out. Here, Brown says, Labor’s Peter Garrett is not Midnight Oil’s Peter Garrett or the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Peter Garrett. He is now an anti Greens campaigner.

Wow. That's disappointing. I wonder if a lot of people feel that way. Is this a matter of Peter Garrett being slightly more moderate and therefore being rejected by the Greens? Or has he actually made substantial changes? During our elections, I received an email from an ex-aunt. She used to be progressive/liberal and is now very conservative. She's one of those who believes Global Warming is a lie and that environmentalists care about all animals except humans. I try to respect different opinions. But I think it's a bit scary when someone completely changes their viewpoints. It feels a little like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Of course, I'm a hypocrite because if a right-wing person switched to my side, I'd be totally excited about that.

We all change though. I've changed my viewpoints about things. I just think when it's a big change we can end up alienating people.

I need to end this--well, just because I could probably go on forever. But before I go, I'm going to look at Bob Brown's MySpace page.

Holy shit!

No, this is not about his MySpace page. But I was curious about how long this entry was. I've never checked the length before. So, I copied and paste it to Appleworks. It's about 10 pages double-spaced. I can't believe it. I can't believe I'm writing entries this long! I really don't know how to shut up. It's sad. Have any of you checked how long your blog entries are?

Okay, but I'm going to shut up soon. I promise. Let me just look at MySpace. Brown has 2,883 friends--including the Dalai Lama. Really? Is that really him? The Dalai Lama is on MySpace? I wonder if Adam Hills has added the Dalai Lama as a friend. It might increase his chances of meeting him. Another one of Brown's top friends is Sarah Hanson-Young. She looks like someone I would love to research. I'm adding her to my list.

Brown has a very cute video welcoming you to his site. I like it better than the ABC artsy video.

He's a twin!

He likes photography. He has a slide show of his photos. Beautiful!

Okay. Now I will go.



  1. I love coming here to learn new things about Australia.

    Bob Brown is not our only gay minister. Penny Wong is a minister in the Rudd government.

    As for banning junk food commercials, it wouldn't matter. Kids can recognise the Golden Arches before they can recognise Mickey Mouse or the Wiggles. And it's not the kids that buy it - mum and dad who are time poor can drive through and pick up something the little dears can eat with their hands.

  2. Dana do you talk the same way you write? You know "holy shit" in the middle of something else or as you were about to write something else?

    I ask cause I do hope so cause that is what I am like ...some people try to get me to stick to one thing at a time but my ideas are usually linked somehow...their loss if they do not follow me!!! They should just think in a more rounded know around the topic.

    Really great post and he is an interesting man...did not know about the Jimi Hendrix connection and should think that a lot of the people who were in Parliament that day now wished they had.... interjected ... the way Bob did with George W.

  3. Anja: Thank you so much for saying that! I've been feeling self-conscious the past few days about my blog. I keep telling myself not to worry about it--that it's my blog and I should just enjoy writing it. I do LOVE writing it But I still worry about everyone hating it and thinking I'm a complete fool.

    I agree about the junk food. I think commercials are a very small factor in the whole thing.

    Magikquilter: That's a great question. And usually when I tell Jack he has a great question, what it means is I don't have an answer for you. I really don't know what I do when I talk.

    I don't think I interrupt myself a lot out loud. But I do interrupt myself (and others) in my mind. I'm horrible at listening because of that. Someone will be telling me something. I WANT to listen. I plan to listen. But then suddenly I realize I've been thinking of something else and not listening. I've had to stop and tell people at times. "Sorry. Can you start over? I was daydreaming." I think that's why I have stronger friendships online. I'm much better at reading what people say than listening.

    I think I also get distracted inside my head, so I'm often bad at telling stories.

    I MIGHT do what you do though. I'm just not exactly sure.

    I think it would have to be at certain times and situations. When I'm doing research, I'm usually very excited--totally into it. In terms of a similar real-life situation...It might be going into a store where they have tons of treasures. You get excited about one thing, but then you see something else and you get excited about that. It's like you keep interrupting your own excitement.

    I think I felt that way when I went to Powells and found all the Australia books. But I was alone, so I didn't say "Holy shit." I just thought that in my head. I do talk to myself a lot--but not usually out in public.

    Anyway...when we get together in Sydney, you can see if I'm like you or not ; )

  4. I was curious to know what you had to say about Bob Brown. I think he's pretty cool. The only thing I disagree with him on is legalisation of pot.

    There are lots of gay & lesbian ministers, especially in local and state government. Nobody cares the way they do in the States. I didn't even know good ol' Bob was gay until he was asked (jokingly) in an interview "Who would you turn straight for?", LOL.

    Interesting that he went to Blacktown Boys' High. That's right near where my husband grew up.

    I'm amused by all these celebrity Myspace pages. Is it actually his page, or just someone pretending to be him. Lord knows there are lots of "Neil Tennants" and "Chris Lowes" on Myspace, LOL.

  5. Tors:

    I think I'm for the legalization of pot. I just don't see why that's illegal, but alcohol is not.

    I laughed so hard when I read the "Who would you turn straight for?"

    Who did he say???

  6. Bob was only at the hospital when Hendrix came in, it was another docteor that pronounced him dead. Listen to the following interview with him.

  7. Simon,

    Thank you so much for clearing that urban myth up, and providing the link!

  8. Hey Dina.....loved what you said about Bob...he is an amazing man...I saw him talk in Byron Bay and he just brought tears to my eyes....He is a hero of our nation. He is the only politician I know that puts his money where his mouth is. He paid out of his own pocket and nearly lost his house to take a logging company in Tasmania to court.....I love him....what a guy....

  9. Fi,

    I agree. I think he's one of Australia's heroes.