May 30, 2003
Pretty amazing. Scientists have found the ‘master gene’ in embryonic stem cells. This gene has ‘pluripotency’ or “the ability to turn ordinary cells into those that possess all the biomedical potency of human embryonic stem cells, eliminating the need to destroy embryos to get them”. Wow.
How cool is it:
The cells can multiply for years in laboratory dishes, suspended in timeless youthfulness, and still retain their potential to turn into liver, muscle, brain or any other tissue they may be called upon to become. By contrast, ordinary cells grow visibly older with every day spent in a laboratory dish, and they cannot help but turn into one kind of tissue or another after a few days of life.
Mother Nature never fails to impress me.
. . .
Happiness is not a warm gun
I’ve been reading Edward de Bono’s book The Happiness Purpose again. The book is actually about ‘the belief that the legitimate purpose of life is happiness” but I’ve been admiring how, back in 1977, de Bono foresaw the internet with his idea of creating ‘the Network’, conceptualised as ‘a communication network of thinkers’ where “the purpose is to create its own world in which thinking matters’. He could have been talking about blogging really. Here’s some of his predictions:
"In effect the communication Network creates a university of thinkers who have in common their interest in being part of the Network…
"At times the Network – or part of it – may function as a collective thinktank for the generation of new ideas and new concepts…
"The Network is not a system for intellectuals nor is it restricted to those who have an especially high IQ. Motivation is much more important than talent. The prime requirement is that the members of the Network should be interested in thinking as such. The interest in thinking and the enjoyment of thinking are what matters. Those who might regard the Network as an elitist enclave of brilliant people must realise this is not the intention…
"The Network will function as a general academy for the exploration of thinking. This may include observations, suggestions, ideas, collection of data, collation of information, hypotheses, experiment design, experimenting, discussion and the like…
"The borderline between originality, plausibility and arrogant nonsense is, unfortunately, always subjective. This problem will remain a difficult one…
"The Network is not a shop window but a workshop."
The interesting part is how at the end of the book, de Bono provides an address and invites readers who are interested in helping to set up such a Network to contact him. He adds, ‘it may well be that the idea [of the Network] will appeal to very few people.’ That’s the only bit he got wrong, I reckon.
. . .
May 29, 2003
In the air tonight
There's been a mid-air stabbing aboard a Qantas flight with two cabin crew and one passenger injured. Makes you wonder about airports supposedly screening for knives and other weapons of minor destruction, doesn't it?
. . .
The ABC has said it will investigate Senator Alston's allegations that there was an anti-American bias throughout the AM program's coverage of the war in Iraq. Senator Richard Alston says AM's reporting was at the very least sceptical of the US military.
Apparently scepticism is a bad thing. Dick's right--what we really need is blind faith.
. . .
Say it isn't so
Federal Liberal MP Ross Cameron, reckons Australia doesn't need a national broadcaster:
"Public broadcasting was established when access to alternative media was very, very limited," he said. "The Internet is not some sort of a solution to all problems but my own view, which I suspect is a minority view in the Government, is that Australia doesn't really need a national broadcaster."
Crap. Access to the internet is still limited, especially for battlers. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics , Australia has 4.6 million internet subscribers--out of a population of about 20 million people.
. . .
I love how someone with "$200 million in debts but a net worth of $350 million" can be "teetering on the verge of bankruptcy". Wish I was that bankrupt (link via Tiger).
. . .
May 28, 2003
Oh, god, it's worse than I thought...I just realised that ALL my saved emails (wonderful responses from readers, all my passwords, registration details, etc) have been wiped due to having my ISP account temporarily shut down. On the upside, I think being cut off from the internet in the evenings can only be a good thing. I've actually been working on fiction lately and I think letting my ISP account lapse may have been subconsciously deliberate (funny how the mind works). The Vogel 2003 is about to pass me by again (sigh) but I'm working on a portfolio to apply for a postgrad creative writing course, so this enforced break from evening blogging will do me good.
. . .
May 27, 2003
Correction: Where there's wool there isn't a way
I'm stoked to have gotten about 16,200 hits since starting this blog in January, especially since it really feels like a lot of self-indulgent waffle at times. (The nature of the beast, I guess. But who cares? I've adopted Salam Pax's philosophy: "Don't like it? Don't read it."). Basically I get about 100 hits a day (or 200 when I'm spiked by others) and this figure has remained pretty static over the months. So I've love to know why my stats are so flat, neither growing nor shrinking much.
Well, am I getting 100 discrete visitors a day, or just one obsessive stalker? The IP addresses suggest I've got a handful of regulars (thank you all) and well as various new visitors who visit once, never to be seen again--there's always the gaggle of hopeful googlers ("european school girls free thumb" being the most recent visitor to have his or her hopes crushed). And then there's sporadic visits from friends and colleagues (the amount of times "she+sells+sanctuary+blog" is googled suggests some word-of-mouth action going on). (BTW I'm curious about who is visiting from the US's Department of Justice or Australia's Department of Defence, or the person from the Washington Post.)
Having said all that, I have my suspicions about Bravenet's hit counter, as it sometimes doesn't seem to register hits, and at othertimes it registers two-for-one. If anyone more experienced can point me in the direction of (free) stats that measure discrete readers rather than hits, please let me know.
Might as well take this opportunity to mention that due to general absentmindedness I haven't paid my ISP bill and they seem to have cut me off. To be precise: bugger. This means blogging from work only and no email until next payday. Damn that splurge on wool!
Meanwhile...so long and thanks for all the googles.
. . .
The Prime Minister certainly does.
Mr Howard…said he would choose the next governor-general. "The system is actually working," he said. "I tremble to think that if a method of parliamentary selection and removal of the governor-general . . . I wonder whether the matter would have been resolved as easily and as smoothly and with such stability as it has on this occasion."
Why? The only reason this went “easily” and “smoothly” and “with such stability” (nice reframe, Howard, by the way) is because Hollingworth finally resigned. So if there had been parliamentary involvement in resolving the crisis, Hollingworth wouldn’t have resigned? I presume the Prime Minister means a parliamentary committee probably would’ve removed Hollingworth forcibly a long time ago.
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May 24, 2003
Crazy but true
Whenever all the politics gets too much I head over to Tracy's joint. Tracy's great--she's a straight-shooting lesbian nurse with a ten year old son, and I like her outlook on life. She's also sweating over a possible book deal (surely every blogger's dream: the primacy and legitimacy of the printed book), so good luck to her.
. . .
Where there's wool there's a way
Knit...it's a funny little word, when you think about it. I bought all these balls of wool this week, as I do every winter, with the intention of knitting scarves. I was a bit shell-shocked to part with seventy bucks at the cash register, but the colors are worth it. One is a kind of orangey-vermilion-red, a bit like this, but it's a plastic sort of red that I can't recall having seen before. I think it's probably too bright for a scarf, but I like the color anyway. I also got a gorgeous inky purple, which I have kicked off this year's scarving with.
So now I can sit in the Botanical Gardens at lunchtime, watching joggers and knitting like a nanna.
I rang my mother Bianca to describe the colors to her. We share a strong attachment to colors. It's not synaesthesia, where you might perceive colors as sounds, but it's possibly something similar. She once confided how, every now and then, she feels the urge to go to a fabric store, not to buy fabric but just to hold various beautiful colors up to her face. Maybe it's in her blood--her Polish mother, Hildegard was a fashion illustrator by profession. (I regret that I never knew her. After marrying my Italian grandfather, Tomaso, and having three children, she took her life when my mother was a teenager.)
It sounds weird, but I can experience great pleasure just looking at colors--my buttercup yellow French coffee 'boules', the orange and white check teatowel, a bowl of lemons, jacaranda in November.
That's why I loved this house as soon as I saw it - every room is painted another wild color. People are often taken aback when they see it for the first time, but to me it's like a gingerbread house, or something. I know I said I move every six months but this time I think I'll stay a bit longer. (I've also realised I'm already living in an electronic teepee, it just doesn't look like one.)
I'll probably overdose on color one of these days and have to have everything monochrome for a while.
Meanwhile I've been trying to draw again lately, just with coloured pencils. I've sat there eyeballing various chili peppers and apples and pears, but I much prefer drawing people, so next week it's back to sketch class and ogling naked strangers for a few hours.
. . .
Oops, you did it again
The headline reads “PM hails war miracle”:
"It's a miracle that you can go through an operation like this and escape any casualties," Mr Howard told 4TO radio in Townsville. "It's an enormous tribute to [the troops'] training. I think it also means that sending them early was the right decision."
Well, what is it, John? A miracle or training? Or perhaps your magnificent leadership? The story continues:
Mr Howard said he did not find many people who were critical of the government's decision to send troops.
Um, hello? Where has he been looking?
. . .
Always on my mind
Aceh, Iraq, North Korea, Algeria, terrorist threats, refugees in detention, the constitutional crisis, Australia's paedophiles, education and Medicare “reform”…
What, me worry? Still, I get to spend today with my one year old nephew; that always works wonders I find.
. . .
Nicotine Nicole Kidman's critics to think about.
. . .
May 22, 2003
I had a grumble about Big Brother 2003 over at Rob's recently, because I'd happened to tune into a very dull (wibloggish, in fact) episode that day. It seemed like everyone in the enclosure was bored witless and their boredom was infectious. The producers must have realised what was happening because they moved quickly to mix up the personalites in the two houses, so that different relationships could form and create a new energy. The whole thing reminded me how easy it is for a group's vibe to change.
Don't ask me to justify why I watch it. Why do people watch sport? I have been surprised at just how bitchy and dark this group has become, though. The producers have put people with vastly different attitudes and paradigms in together. For example, chauvenistic mini-tyrant Carlo (with his traditional, stereotypical attitudes about women) being forced to cohabit with emancipated young women. How can that not create good television, I ask you?
Barflies on the wall
I'm not sure at what point reality TV crosses the line into documentary and so becomes acceptable to watch, but I notice there's a new ABC 'factual programming' series about barristers starting next Tuesday. Cool.
. . .
Chaps in the sticks
Looking for chicks.
. . .
Lunacy heals stress
Languagehat got me thinking about anagrams today (albeit French ones). (Languagehat, talk about high gleaning!) Here's some more for she sells sanctuary:
The crassly sensual
Caesar nests lushly
clearly has sunsets
Thy causeless snarl
Ah carelessly stuns
Huntress yells casa
Cashless rusty elan
Alas lecterns hussy
Such salty realness
Suns ache artlessly
. . .
May 20, 2003
Who needs Clarke and Dawe when you've got Ruddock and O'Brien? On The 7:30 Report tonight, Kerry O'Brien was wondering why Philip Ruddock kept suggesting that the refugees were just doing it for the attention (to achieve a "visa outcome").
O'Brien: "Do you acknowledge that at least in a number of instances that self-harm was an act of desperation, not some cynical act to somehow try and fool us into accepting them but an act of desperation?
Ruddock: "It depends on what you mean by 'desperation', Kerry."
O'Brien: "I mean in despair."
Ruddock:: "If you were saying are they despairing that they may not have claims that would entitle them to refugee status and hope that by behaving that way they might influence the decision I think many people tried to do just that."
. . .
A great idea over at scribble scribble scribble. Hope to see the Oz blogging contingent well represented on June 21.
. . .
Don't show me the money
I’ve taken down the donation button. Tim Blair will probably regard this as further proof that I am “deeply frightened of the Capricious Money God”. But actually I found it a bit inhibiting having that button there (even if it was reasonably well concealed) as I imagined there was implicit pressure to perform, in order to justify any potential remuneration. So I'm going to reclaim the all-too-apparently amateur nature of this blog. Money just complicates things. Maybe Meika will understand what I mean.
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May 19, 2003
Off with my head!
Here I am at one in the morning with this wretched insomnia again. I am expected in at work ultra-early tomorrow (today?). This is insane! I am really going to have to get treatment for this. But in the meantime, what do you do when you have insomnia? You blog, of course. I was thinking of a conversation I had with Jen earlier. She tells me she's considering a move to Adelaide. "What's in Adelaide?" I said. "Nothing," she smiled. "It's just that whole idea of starting over somewhere new. Breaking away from the familiar."
All I know about Adelaide (apart from what I'm learning from reading Scott and Gary) is that it's the City of Churches, and Paul Kelly wrote a song about it that included the line "all the king's horses, and all the king's men, couldn't drag me back again...to Adelaaaaaaaiiiiide". But Jen says her impression is that Adelaide is quite arty and cultured. This would suit Jen, she's very artistic.
Then we started wondering whether we will both eventually end up living on the mid-north coast of NSW, where our families are (Jen and I have been friends since we were about five--my parents' property adjoins her parents' property). It feels like we will end up gravitating to the place of our childhood, whether we like it or not. There is a strong connection. For me it is the landscape, more than clannishness. That's why sometimes my escape fantasy involves just bolting up to the land and erecting a teepee. Other times I know how Jen feels and I start dreaming of a new and unfamiliar place. The trouble is, I can never decide where. Anyway, first I need to find my muse. And that feels like it needs to happen in a city, mainly because it's a numbers game.
So maybe Jen will wander off to Adelaide. Last time she felt like this, she ended up in Darwin. Me, I'll probably just move house again, as I do every six months or so.
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May 18, 2003
The International Herald Tribune reports that the French aren't impressed with how they've been portrayed by the United States lately:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, whose department and supporters are most often cited as a possible source of the anonymously sourced stories, said that "Certainly, there's no such campaign out of this building." Loiseau did not specifically point to anyone in Washington as the source of the articles, but she said that France could only assume that journalists were being truthful when they cited unnamed sources in the administration.
Couldn't just one of these journos come forward and reveal their source? Sure, they'd probably lose their job (or whatever it is that happens to journos who reveal their sources), but he or she could surely rest on their laurels for the rest of their life if they exposed the Bush Administration to be liars.
. . .
May 17, 2003
I reckon synchronicity is one thing that hasn't been adequately explained by Science yet. For example, why is it just coincidence that I've spent the past few days thinking about Gary's pieces on aesthetics and beautiful living, thinking how to my mind, "beautiful living" would be a teepee in the bush by the sea, but an electronic teepee, because I like being connected to the world in this way.
Then this morning, I opened the Herald, and on the cover of Icon was a photo of...an electronic teepee. (The story is subtitled "Create a smart home in 10 easy steps".)
Synchronicity is one thing that makes me wonder if there isn't really a higher being poking fun at us.
But on the other hand, it's just as likely to all just be random coincidence.
What do others think about synchronicity and coincidence?
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May 16, 2003
Waiting for the man
Tim Blair points to a transcript of John Howard meeting a serviceman's child. The child tells the PM, "I've waited my whole life for you." Doncha love it? Reminds me of watching the news once and seeing a kid who meets Howard and says, "I met you on television!"
Also in the transcript is this question from reporter Anne Barker, who asks a serviceman's wife, "Did you worry about [your husband's] safety at all?" D'uh.
. . .
Get into the groove
How to dance. (At the rate these things travel, you've probably all seen it by now, but it made me laugh.)
. . .
May 15, 2003
My cute 22-year-old workmate, let's call her Lydia (just because I love the Marx Brothers, really), said to me today, "I'm getting a tattoo at the weekend. I want something Celtic. Or maybe a little Chinese symbol, so no-one will know what it means, you know?"
"No-one," I said, "except maybe five billion Chinese people."
"Why don't you get something more culturally relevant?" I suggested. "How about a little koala bear? Or perhaps a little bit of wattle?"
We laughed. As if.
I've often wondered why Australians aren't patriotic like, say, Americans are. When was the last time you saw an Australian walking around Sydney with an "I LOVE (heart symbol) SYDNEY" teeshirt? Why is Australiana kitsch, but Americana isn't?
"Or perhaps Mickey Mouse would be more suitable," I couldn't resist adding.
Lydia blows Geoff Honnor's wonderful stereotype of Lefties (in the Comments; and more on it later) out of the water, because tattoo notwithstanding, I reckon she'd probably lean to the Right. (I could be wrong...I'm sometimes very wrong..) As for me, Geoff, it's true--I designed my own, but it's just a humble little black cat. No artyfarty Celtic symbol for me, haha.
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Walk the talk
Good question, William Maudlin. How about Peter Costello and Brendan Reid put their money where their mouth is and pay off those university degrees they got for free? Yeah, I'd like to see that...
. . .
Eye's wide shut
Scott at the eye of the beholder has been hacked. He'd like everyone to know it's not just him but the whole hosting company is off the air. Hopefully it'll be a case of blink and you'll see it again.
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May 13, 2003
Up there, Kazaly
It seems the use of penis pills like Viagra went down during the World Cup, leading researchers to conclude that “when it comes to a major sporting event, men turn their attention away from their own performance and toward that of their favorite football team”
Presumably only when their team wins, you'd think, since failure could leave fans feeling deflated. Over to the uebersportingpundit-types to confirm/deny.
. . .
So high it's nearly out of reach
“Among the expected changes [in Budget 2003] is the part-deregulation of student fees allowing a university to either increase or decrease charges depending on the popularity of a course.”
So kids from disadvantaged backgrounds who might want to do ‘prestige degrees’ will find they are yet again subtly (or not so subtly) disadvantaged by being hit with ever-increasing fees, which only their wealthier peers can comfortably absorb. Of course, fees can be offset through deferring HECS and by taking out student loans. But in my experience, it was only students from wealthy families who could afford to pay up-front fees. And the fact that they only had to pay 75% of what we "little Aussie battler" deferrers end up paying still disgruntles me.
There’s also rumours of extra funding to help train nurses and teachers. Fine, spend more on training, but how about also providing better incentives through decent wages?
. . .
Well, you don’t expect me to let this one slip by unnoticed, do you?
. . .
May 12, 2003
I walked in on my cats yesterday. Fuzz, the fat white cat, was on top of Smooch, the black one, lovingly biting his neck and doing something with his back legs. I don't get it--they were both desexed at the right age. When I said 'make love, not war' I didn't mean them! But I'm sure it was all very innocent. My friend Liss reckons it's just a dominance display. Fine, but did Smooch have to have such a blissful look of submissiveness on his face?
. . .
May 11, 2003
Regime change starts at home
The siege ends with the G-G being dragged aside and Administrators being brought in to fix things. Why do I get this sense of deja vu?
. . .
Heads will roll
A stroke of genius from Tim (whose site seems to be down) on Australia's 'successionitis'. Some of us are wondering why we didn't make that connection. There sure are a lot of dramas going on. Look at the possibilities of just one leadership tussle:
Howard v Crean/Beazley/Rudd/Latham
Costello v Crean/Beazley/Rudd/Latham.
Strange days indeed.
. . .
So will the upshot of Gulf War II be that we're now going to have two Ayatollahs running around the Middle East?
What's going to happen with Saudi Arabia and North Korea? And who else thinks all the terrorists and tinpot dictators have scurried off to Syria and Iran to regroup? Sure feels like the world is a safer place.
. . .
Morality of the mob
It's only fitting that John Howard didn't get much of an Abe Lincoln moment because his victory lap was overshadowed by the whole mess with the G-G. Howard should probably have resolved the crisis at home before visiting the troops. Now it looks like he had to be nudged into doing the right thing. On Packer's Sunday program this morning, I noticed Peter Costello kept repeating the mantra "long term structural reform". His Budget will have to be quite controversial if it is to take some of the heat off the PM and the G-G. I guess we'll have to wait and see (what else can we do?).
PS How many weeks can webdiary say "Margo Kingston will be back on deck next week". Should we send a search party?
. . .
10 things I love about my mum
1. She worked incredibly hard her whole life and never complained once. 2. She bakes sourdough bread every day, as she has for thirty years or so. 3. She wrote childrens’ stories for us that would have us rolling around laughing. 4. She isn’t fazed when her bees sting her when she robs their honey. 5. She is known to break everyone up by unintentionally saying something funny. (For example, meaning to refer to the candy, Smarties: “What, you don’t know Smilies? But everyone knows Smilies!”) 6. She’s creative. She wove wicker lampshades, knitted beautiful toys for us, made enamel jewelry; now she makes things for the grandkids and builds things with my dad. 7. She is an amateur animal psychologist, so when you call her at the weekends, you get to hear about the ins and outs of chicken life. All her chickens and geese have names; none of them are ever eaten. 8. She has an organic garden and orchard which she has tended for two decades. When my dad sat in front of computers, my mother would be in the garden, planting something, weeding, thinking. 9. She’s the kindest and most unselfish person I’ve ever met. 10. She has done it tough.
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May 10, 2003
The truth is everything and nothing
There was a great Italian film on SBS tonight called Tutta la Conoscenza del Mondo (All the knowledge in the world). I wonder if anyone else caught it? Kind of Cinema Paradiso crossed with Spinal Tap. I haven't laughed so much in ages. A character announces he has to go find himself in India. His exasperated friend says, "India? Couldn't you look somewhere closer?" Much of the film involves the characters feverishly reading and quoting philosophy, all the while missing the point, which is (I think) that everything they need to know is right in front of them, they need only open their eyes. They don't need to look for the meaning of life, they just need to live. "All these books are fucking up your head!", the friend shouts. "If objective knowledge really existed wouldn't we all know about it?"
Three a.m. Surely it's time for bed...
. . .
I’d like to thank God…
…but unfortunately I’m an atheist. So I thought I’d take the opportunity of this little lull in political and social blogging to say thanks to some people in my life lately: Neil, Cameron, Jen, Jana and my family. Lucky to have you.
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May 08, 2003
Free to make mistakes
I said I was an extrovert, but I think I was kidding myself. The truth is, I am something of a reformed extrovert. Between the ages of 17 and 27 I lived with a series of boyfriends and flatmates, went clubbing religiously, hung out in pubs, spent entire days and nights in the company of a close circle of friends, socialised myself stupid. I was de-facto married several times. I loved playing the role of "wife" but in the back of my mind I always knew I was only acting.
Then in 1997 I had a series of spectacular epiphanies and my personality underwent a radical change. Or maybe I just burnt out. But the upshot is, since then I've absolutely craved solitude. I'm just not the kind of person who can't be alone: I adore to be alone. And I don't think it's pathological. I spend eight hours a day in enforced sociability at work, which I mostly enjoy; and I always make time to see my friends and family. But I have a sociability threshold. Cross it at your own risk.
Jung would say I'm the 'introvert thinking type (rational)' - someone who is obsessed with abstractions and theories and their inner world, someone who is turned off by anyone who threatens their solitary domain.
Last night, Joe and I had another argument about our failed relationship. I tried to explain that I love people, but in small doses only. After about six hours in someone's exclusive company, I start to get antsy and irritable and fantasise about being alone. I like to be lost in my own thoughts, I guess. But Joe doesn't understand. "If you really liked someone, you'd want to spend more time with them," he complained. I don't get it either, and it probably doesn't bode well for my ability to ever hold down a serious relationship. When Joe started calling me four times a night, I was repulsed. I just don't get lonely; I was horrified by someone needing me so much.
To be sure, some of this is probably a consequence of having grown up in a very claustrophobic environment, in a family of six strong personalities squashed together in a two bedroom apartment. When we drove the Kombivan north to the bush at the weekends, listening to Cat Stevens sing it's not time to make a change I would lie in the back fantasising about a time when I could.
And now I am free, and that's just how I like it. I still love to dance, but these days I don't need an audience.
I'm sorry, Joe.
. . .
Tsk, tsk, the old folk of today. Reminds me of something else I read a while ago. If the Boomers keep this up, kids will soon find using drugs about as trendy as wearing Levi's. Speaking of enlightened Boomers, Richard Neville has a new post up Smile, you're on combat camera. And speaking of enlightenment and cameras, Meika has a great idea for a new RTV show - "Big Buddha": a show in which a bunch of people search for enlightenment. Why stop there, though? I think filming people taking a variety of mind-expanding drugs (in a safe, controlled and--of course--televised environment) would be fascinating as well. Where's Tim Leary when you need him?
PS Who seriously thinks this is sexy? Because it actually reminds me of those arty plastinated corpses shown on Dateline last night (scroll down for the transcript).
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May 07, 2003
I never thought I'd find a car ad soothing to watch, but
this one is. Apparently it only took 605 takes to nail it. (I love the windscreen wipers.)
. . .
May 05, 2003
Only in Newtown do you go to a medical centre complaining of PMT and hoping to get some nice chemicals to knock you out after a week of hormonal insomnia and instead emerge--after enduring a half-hour diatribe about the rampant male chauvenism of the medical profession--with a prescription for Chasteberry and a book tip for Wild Buffalo Woman Comes Singing (apparently about the fertility rites of Native American women....cool).
PMT...those days when it just really annoys you that the lasagna manufacturer feels the need to instruct you to remove lasagna from plastic before cooking, or that the label on the packet of Chinese candles inexplicably says Infusible in hot weather, or that the busdriver misses your hand when he throws the change at you and then waits, expecting you to reach into a flooded gutter to get the coins. (I refused; he capitulated.)
And sometimes it feels like everything has already been said by everyone else and I have nothing to add. But ask me again next week.
. . .
Someone once said to me that if I was going to make it as a fiction writer, I would've made it by now. "Get real, Gianna," she said. "Most famous writers have had their first success by the age of 30." Of course, she meant well, as they often do. I think she fancied she was sparing me a life of disappointment. So I felt kind of vindicated when I read how this year's Dobbie Award has been won by an 84-year-old Melbourne writer, Shirley Painter, with her memoir The Bean Patch.
. . .
May 04, 2003
Race around the world
I wish they'd bring this show back. It was a brilliant concept: Teach a bunch of young folk how to use a digital video camera, send them off to weird and wonderful places across the globe and get them to shoot and edit 4-minute documentaries. Then screen the mini-docos back here every week and get respected filmmakers like David Caesar and Bob Connolly to judge them. I think it all just got too expensive for Our ABC, but I wonder why one of the commercial networks didn't snap up the concept, given its popularity. Perhaps this guy has the answer.
. . .
May 03, 2003
The time has come
One of the biggest issues in Australia (to me) right now is the crisis facing our Governor-General, Peter Hollingworth. To recap, the G-G has been found--and has himself admitted--to have made a "serious error of judgment" in allowing a priest to continue his practice despite being a confessed paedophile. Hollingworth apparently "counselled" the priest, but allowed him to go back to work on the proviso he didn't work with children. And new claims just keep surfacing.
Child advocates like Hetty Johnson, as well as large portions of the Australian communityand of course political parties in opposition, believe this error in judgment is sufficient to demand Hollingworth's resignation from Australia's highest public office and I agree wholeheartedly. Sure, to err is human, but how do Australians know that Hollingworth isn't capable of other grave lapses in judgment? He simply can no longer be trusted to make the right decisions for citizens of this country. And as Hetty Johnson says, someone has to reassure the children that Australians will not tolerate paedophiles, even when the Governor-General of this country appears to.
I mean, I feel for the guy, I really do, especially with his wife being sick and all. But it's time for him to face the music.
. . .
A naked lunch
Boynton was talking about cutups the other day and it reminded me of how I used to cut out all the nouns and adjectives from the headlines in the free weekend colour magazines. I wanted to turn them into word collages, sorting them by colour or theme or whatever, but I never could get it to work properly. So in the end I just kept all the words in a box and if I got stuck writing I would play a kind of word Solitaire, taking a handful at random and dealing them out to see what strange sentences would emerge, just to break open the mind a bit. Every now and then I still indulge in this game, for example:
control experience mastering power erectile garden liberating villains wish it internet tragic stellar dream white letter king eternal lust evolution sweet grasp bottoms seeds home life writer sins aweigh warriors anchor voodoo confessions blaze story clowns paint intentions be god click me overnight blueprint no-one postcards digital everytime reluctant time dissident poor suburban saint grin eternal capture eden special middle city yellow time shadow man magic keys extremely win highway breathe heaven club work good hell electronic new day off ultra nose job body queen fuss mating shopping me terminal calendar mountains wash all time
You get my drift. (I quite like the idea of an 'erectile garden', don't you?)
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May 01, 2003
I was only just getting over people asking epileptics whether they're offended by the general use of the word "brainstorm" (as it happens they only mind being asked such a ridiculous question), when I turned on Sunrise this morning to find Meredith Burgmann arguing that the use of the expression "maiden speech" is sexist. Well, with all due respect to Burgmann, this is exactly the kind of thing that gives feminism a bad name.
Burgmann reckons that the connotations of virginity in "maiden" are somehow offensive to women. Given that both male and female politicians are described as giving "maiden" speeches, and since both men and women can be virgins, I just don't see the problem. As was also pointed out, "maiden" comes from the Latin for "first" (perhaps languagehat could confirm this?) so it's a fair enough descriptor for someone's first speech. Anyway, if Burgmann wants people to use the term "inaugural speech", surely she is acknowledging that it is not the speaker who is "maiden" but the "speech" itself. Or does she believe the speakers themselves are "inaugural"?
I missed debating partner Joe Hockey's response but Sunrise hosts Melissa Doyle and David Koch were clearly unconvinced. In my opinion Burgmann herself looked embarrassed, though this didn't stop her coming out with stuff like:
Koch: So, what should we call you--Meredith Burgperson?
Burgmann: Well, actually the word "person" has the word "son" in it, so...
Gimme a break. By all means make a fuss about the fact that one in three women in the world is abused by a male relative, by wage inequality, by disincentives to have a career and a family, etc. But don't make feminism (or post-feminism, or equalism) a laughingstock, please.
update: See also Rob Schaap's piece on the 'lingo cops'. (As usual, permalinks are boondoggled, Rob.)
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