August 31, 2003
Can we sue the PM?
A few weeks ago, National Party MP De-Anne Kelly accused two NSW Independent MPs, Tony Windsor and Peter Andren, of supporting Saddam Hussein. In Parliament under privilege she said:
"It will be the eternal shame of the Independents that they supported Saddam Hussein, and that will be used in the election against them."
And on the ABC's AM programme the next day she repeated the allegation:
"Can I say the Independents are opposed to border protection, and they sided with Saddam Hussein. I don't think they have much respect.
Today there are news reports (no link available) that Windsor is to sue Kelly for defamation. If successful, this should nicely pave the way for a class action against John Howard, who in February referred to "People who demonstrate and who give comfort to Saddam Hussein...". Doncha think?
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August 30, 2003
Off with their heads!
The more I think about Prince Harry's excellent adventure and how it's going to cost me and other Australian taxpayers $600,000 to provide some bodyguards, the more it disgruntles me. Six hundred thousand dollars. Of our money. And for what? As far as I'm concerned "Prince Harry" means nothing to me except some spoilt kid--rich beyond belief through nothing but the accident of his birth--who is routinely photographed in the pages of New Idea playing polo or skiing or holidaying in the Carribbean.
If this kid had any sense of 'noblesse oblige' he'd do a Jamie Oliver and say, 'look, how about we do something for the homeless kids instead?'. Maths was never my strongest suit but the back of the envelope tells me our money could have provided accommodation for 60 Australian street kids for a whole year.
Isn't this kind of thing means-tested anyway? I thought these bluebloods were rolling in it. Let them pay for their own bloody holiday.
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August 28, 2003
The 7:30 Retort
Think you saw Kerry O'Brien interview Tony Abbott last night? Oh no, you didn't!
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It makes me feel sick to think that if I lived in Nigeria, I could be facing Amina Lawal's fate. Amnesty has a pro-forma letter here which can be sent to the President of Nigeria if you wish to add your voice to the international protest.
But see, this is where I think things would become murky if we were to reinstate the death penalty here in Australia as was recently (almost) debated--although the obvious counter argument is that Amina is hardly a criminal worthy of the death sentence whereas terrorists, for instance, clearly are. However, it would become very hard to exert pressure on other nations not to apply the death penalty without being hypocritical because it's the principle which is at stake. Are any of us entitled to take life, for any reason other than self-defence?
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Just thought I'd address a few things from people's comments here and around the traps on other threads.
First of all, thanks for the great comments. I do feel a tad guilty to take all the credit since it does take two to tango, so the good wishes must be shared with the baby's father (though he will remain anonymous on this blog). Some people have been confused about the apparently immaculate conception, so to clarify: the relationship wasn't platonic, very briefly, several months ago. Since then it has been and remains so. Accidents happen, and I guess the maternal instinct must have kicked in because I just couldn't bring myself to terminate the pregnancy. To his credit the father wants to be as involved as possible with raising the child.
I don't know if it's a boy or a girl yet, as I have to wait another four weeks until the ultrasound. Depending on how much the ultrasound photo looks like an alien ant baby, I may post it on the blog. That may or may not be bad taste, I'm not sure...
As for whether I plan to indoctrinate the kid with my political views: of course not, I was kidding. Though I will probably do what my folks did and play a lot of Bob Dylan...that should do the trick...
update:I was waiting for the inevitable criticism that my mooted seachange is designed to get me "as far away as possible" from the father of the child and, hooray! the Bunyip fell right into the trap! (Must be why they became extinct, this inability to see further than the tip of their own prejudice). Because, dear Bunyip, could it not be possible that my move north might in fact be moving me closer to the poor discarded father, hmmm?
As for Bunyip's concerns about potential sponsorship of the Mini-Me, well I've already addressed that over at Dan Quayle's, but in any case I think my "enforced contribution" of tax over many years in the workforce would probably allow me a little guilt-free dip into the parenting payment for a few years, would it not? Especially when you think that I don't drive a car, but my taxes pay for roads, yada yada yada (applying here the usual Right Wing logic about similar opt-ins like tertiary education, and so on). Hell, my taxes also pay for the overseas holidays of pimply-faced royal brats, and for spending a lot of dosh on guns and bombs and fridge magnets, but do you see me complaining? (oh yeah, sorry, you do.)
Failing that there's always the possibility of reinstating the Pay-Pal button...!
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Best things about being pregnant:
- basking in the wonder of knowing you're creating a new life
- eating for two (ie. continuously eating all day)
- having a cleavage for the first time ever (and milking it for what it's worth, heh heh)
- finding out you're entitled to a whole six weeks' paid maternity leave at work
- being able to knit a whole item of baby clothing in a weekend
- your friends and family treating you like you're special all of a sudden
Worst things about being pregnant:
- realising that you're bringing a child into a very scary world
- having 24 hour nausea and being extremely tired and emotional all the time
- having to buy a lot of new clothes that you'll never wear again
- having to grin and bear your job because there's no way you can change firms now
- your friends and family treating you like you're special all of a sudden (hey, wasn't I special before?)
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August 26, 2003
Late breaking news
My news, as some of you may already have guessed, is that I'm having a baby early in February. I would've mentioned it sooner but there was someone I wanted to tell in person first. But now that most people in my life know, I figure it's probably okay to blog about it. I'm sure it will annoy the hell out of some RWDB's that I'm going to be a single mother--the biological father and I are only platonically involved. Then again, I'm also helping to ensure the survival of the species, so Australia's chief RWDB, John Howard, might even approve (even if the child will probably grow up to be a lefty atheist republican).
So it looks like I'll get my seachange after all. Actually when I first told my parents about the pregnancy, my dad was so excited that he got a bit carried away and offered to build another wing onto his house in the bush for me and the kid to live in. But since the dust has settled we've all realised that's probably not the best solution. Still, it's the thought that counts, eh?
In fact one of the benefits of having a European family is the extreme closeness, something that made me feel claustrophobic when I was growing up but which I have come to appreciate. I feel lucky that my family are so supportive. Since my family emigrated to Australia when I was six months old, I didn't get to know my grandparents, and that's something I'd like my child to experience. So I'm planning on moving north, both to have my seachange and to be near my folks. (My mum assures me this has the potential bonus of having free babysitters. She's encouraging me to do some more study or something, but I'll probably just blog...)
Anyway, it's all a bit surreal but I'm a pretty adaptive person, so I'm not worried about the future--it's going to be a huge adventure.
And one thing I won't be sorry to see the end of is my job at the big city law firm...
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One of the reasons I like having a hit counter is for the sheer amusement of seeing some of the weird Googles you get. There's been some funny ones over time but I keep forgetting to write them down. Today there were two that made me smile: someone searching for "non-simulated sex xx Klingon" (good luck) and another seeking the "email contacts of Belgian businessmen" (I think I've mentioned Belgian chocolate, like, once). Sometimes you really wonder what Google is thinking. On the other hand, it accurately keeps delivering people to my site when they search with a Lucinda Williams lyric I have quoted ("entirely way too fine"). But then, when I've gone searching specifically for something I know is on someone's site-- for example I've been looking for a particular poem that Tim had at surfdom ages ago, despite putting in both a keyword 'surfdom' and a line I remember from the poem...Nada. It's like it never happened. So I give up.
Meanwhile I've got a lot on my plate right now (I know, don't we all) so haven't been able to post much, but one thing I do have to say is: "Oh, boo-hoo, Pauline". I mean, Bill Leak's cartoon in yesterday's Oz said it all: an Aboriginal kid and Pauline Hanson are sharing a jail cell and the kid says something like, "I'm in here for stealing bikkies too. Mine were Arnotts, what were yours?". Now can everyone please get her off the front pages of the papers please?
Oh, and as you would expect, I'm pretty pissed off to find out that we taxpayers have to pay $600,000 towards Prince Harry's holiday Down Under. You gotta be kidding me.
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August 24, 2003
Wet 'n' wild
Sunday night and the gale force winds have abruptly subsided, which is good because it was driving the cats crazy. They've been too scared of falling twigs and loud noises to go outside much all day, and now to their frustration they're cooped up inside for the night again. Because ever since the goldfish incident (see the comments) a month ago, I've been locking the cats down after about 8 o'clock at night until daybreak and resisting all howling entreaties to be let out to roam the night streets.
But yesterday morning, in full daylight, I was presented with another fish--twice as big as the last two--so I'm not quite sure what to do now. I can't exactly lock them in the house 24 hours a day, not since they've had their freedom for so long. I can just about stand to keep them in at night, even though it means being woken at around 5am every day by little claws being politely inserted in the soles of my feet. I guess I probably need to give them collars with little bells on them, but would that work when they're stalking fish? Do fish have ears?
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It's easy to get confused by the various different connotations of the word "liberal", especially if they use a big-L when they mean small-l. Here's a perfect example: the banner ad advertises teeshirts to help you "Annoy a Liberal" so I headed over there thinking I might find something to get John Howard's goat, only to find that the featured teeshirt slogan is "Peace through superior firepower". The ad explains how it's "great for crashing protests and annoying soccer mums", and I suspect Howard probably already has a few hanging in his closet.
PS. Do you think I obsess about John Howard a bit much? In the interests of trying to be less relentlessly negative and more constructive about the Liberal leadership, I have a post in mind in which I consider ways Howard could possibly redeem himself to the Left (but so far, it's not looking promising).
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August 22, 2003
I make no secret of the fact that I think it's ridiculous that a couple of British teenagers and their grandma are this country's symbolic rulers, and that I find it cringeworthy that John Howard gormlessly spoilt the republic's chances at the referendum several years ago. But the discussion about Richard Butler's new appointment and its implications for the republican issue makes me wonder why I didn't think of it before: Why don't we keep the monarchy but directly elect our very own royal family? Who says you can't please all the people all the time!
I see it as a delicious mix of reality teevee and politics. A typical Aussie family is elected to royalty for, say, a four year term, during which time the exploits of the family may be reported in excruciating detail in New Idea as the public decides whether or not to vote them out at the next election. We could have extensive Australia-wide auditions a la Popstars and Australian Idol; we could even have them undertake renovations of Yarralumla, sort of like Backyard Blitz or The Block.
Why elect one guy, when we can elect an entire family?
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It has come to my attention that certain bloggers are exhibiting an anti-Sydney bias. Humph. But seriously, I find the social dimension of blogging interesting. Every now and again bloggers get together and put faces to blogs--for instance John Quiggin recently met up with Tim Dunlop and his family; a while ago James Russell attended a little soiree organised by Tim Blair; and I gather there's some kind of Armadillic migration south planned for later this year.
Personally, I don't mind missing out on catching a glimpse of visiting blogolebrities. To me it's a bit like when they make a movie out of your favorite book, and the actors turn out to be completely different to how you imagined them. Of course, I imagine it helps somewhat if you've already seen a photo of them by the time you meet.
Doug speaks from experience about meeting other bloggers:
What I lose on such a meeting (or, in one case, a phone call) is the way I imagined the blogger’s voice sounding. Reading a blog is not just about content. As a very personal, conversational medium, it is an exercise in imagining the author – one gleans things, snippets about a person, assembles them in a certain way and assigns a blog a tone, a voice. Naturally, the person one meets is different. Sometimes conversation flows readily, sometimes it takes a little more work, but for me there is often the sense of losing the imagined person, the imagined voice.
True, isn't it, that you imagine complete characters behind bloggers from small shreds of information; even down to giving them a particular voice. Or do we just imagine they speak the way our inner voice does, as we read their words to ourselves? As Doug says, intriguing.
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August 21, 2003
A river in Egypt
Miranda Devine just doesn't get it. She claims that people who equate alcohol with illicit drugs are “neo-wowsers”.
“The neo-wowsers are obsessed with health and eco-concerns in just as mean and censorious a way as their forebears were fixated on sex and nudity. They are on a sacred mission to save the decadent self-indulgent masses from destroying themselves with Krispy Kreme doughnuts and global warming. They seize every opportunity to wag a finger and tut a tongue at people's remaining pleasures.”
Forgive me, but global warming is a “pleasure”?
“So it's not the junkie who has the problem but the office worker who comes home from a stressful day and pours herself a glass of sauvignon plonk, thus setting a bad example to the entire community.”
The point is that people who use drugs other than alcohol are treated as criminals whereas people who drink habitually are treated as ‘normal’. In fact in our culture it is almost de rigeur to drink, and people who don’t are branded ‘wowsers’ or party poopers. But anyone who has lived with an alcoholic knows alcohol abuse to be a real evil, and more so because alcohol is sanctioned by our society, deemed acceptable and made readily available.
But alcoholism is treated as a social and health problem, not a criminal one, whereas drug users are treated as the scum of society.
What about people who smoke a joint in the evenings, Miranda? Is that ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in your book, I wonder? We know that alcohol does more damage to people’s health and relationships, so why is one criminalised and the other isn’t? It is these double standards that people who argue that alcohol is a drug object to.
“[We should] acknowledge that alcohol, like smoking, has served a useful social function through the ages, as a pacifier for people with poor impulse control or low stress tolerance. After all, is it a coincidence that road rage and other forms of aggression have risen at the same time as smoking rates have fallen? Anyone who has smoked knows the immediate calming effect a quick drag has when you are in a traffic jam or altercation. It may be the distraction of the cigarette or a physiological effect of nicotine, which has been found to aid concentration and perhaps treat Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia.”
Road rage happens because people are smoking less? Perhaps this argument would work if everyone who had a fit of road rage was a smoker whose nicotine level had fallen and required a booster shot to feel ‘normal’ again. But it’s a big call to say all road rage ‘sufferers’ must be smokers. I’d hazard a guess there’s probably other factors involved in the phenomenon of road rage, such as ever increasing numbers of cars on the roads.
As if anyone in the harm minimisation camp is advocating that alcohol should be prohibited. The point is, many people can’t stand the hypocrisy and self-righteousness of people, usually drinkers themselves, who treat heroin addicts or marijuana smokers or indeed, the teens who pop an e at the weekend as lowlifes, evil and criminal.
The hope is that people with drug addictions can be treated in more humane ways, with harm minimisation strategies, not aggro like sniffer dogs and criminal convictions.
The point is that most habitual drinkers in our society are just as much ‘drug addicts’ as those who use illegal drugs, because alcohol is a drug. To argue that it isn’t is just denial.
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August 20, 2003
Rendesvous, sil vous plait
A message for Jana: If you are reading this it means that (a) I tried to call you last night as agreed but discovered that I have a $#&$@*# international call bar on my phone (must be a hangover from the Joe/India saga); and (b) I am having problems with my email today. So it's over to you again....! Bisous.
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Dumb and dumber
While one of our Princes kills small innocent animals for fun, the other one stupidly plagiarises Aboriginal art. God save 'em.
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August 19, 2003
I'm glad John Howard is such good buddies with China these days--perhaps he can use this opportunity to ask its leadership about their continuing oppression of peaceful Falun Gong practitioners, such as Professor Xiaojun Bai who died last month in a Chinese labor camp after three years of torture and brainwashing. He was 35.
If the PM's interested, here's some more facts he might like to raise with China.
But perhaps it really is just about trade.
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August 18, 2003
Last Friday we had a three-hour 'team building' work lunch, a banquet at a Chinese restaurant, and at the end there were the obligatory fortune cookies. The messages seemed more inane than usual. Like Jay's one, which read Hating hate does not mean that you love love. Some fortune. I mean, what does that mean? Jo wasn't too impressed with hers, either: Do not pursue success, pursue good values. Completely inappropriate for one of the firm's biggest go-getters--what do you do when success is your main value? Matt's one got the biggest laugh though: The sooner you fall behind, the more time you will have to catch up. A great rationalisation.
At the same lunch someone joked about leaking some hot info to the press and someone else goes, "No, let's just publish it in Gianna's chatroom", and this took me by surprise because I've never heard my humble blog referred to as a 'chatroom' before. Actually I've been thinking of suspending comments temporarily, so it's going to be even less of a chatroom. I think I just want to blog along in an apparent vacuum for a while. Meanwhile, thanks for all the great comments so far.
(My fortune, if anyone's interested, was something about new experiences and new relationships coming my way. So more of the same, then.)
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August 14, 2003
That was then; this is then
The Prime Minister got a bit of mileage out of last month's Indigenous Family Violence Summit, which was regarded by Conservatives as a glowing example of the Howard Government's new shift towards a politics of pragmatism, as opposed to one driven by pure ideology. The idea was that "symbolic" ideas like Reconciliation are passe and the Government now intends to focus only on practical solutions (with less emphasis on the State providing funds and more involvement from the private sector--for example, the Rio Tinto deal).
This idea of abandoning abstract 'symbolism' is quite a nifty attempt at getting John Howard off the hook for his abysmal past record on indigenous issues. As Dennis Shanahan recently wrote:
...Howard, 'who stood with John Hewson and yelled 'shame' at [Keating]' over native title legislation, is now seen to be a winner on some aspects of the indigenous debate and an instrument of potential progress in others. [But] Howard's history on native title, the Wik amendments, refusing an official apology, opposing a treaty, losing his temper at a reconciliation conference and refusal to accept the blame for the stolen generations had denied him the right to negotiate on Aboriginal affairs. Howard also failed to meet his priority in his 1998 election speech of achieving reconciliation.
Shanahan, however, oddly goes on to give Howard the thumbs-up:
Like so many other political debates, Howard has worked patiently at winning the pragmatic heart of the Australian people and not conducting negotiations until they are done so on his terms.
But Brian Johnstone, writing in the current Indigenous Times editorial, does a great job of unspinning Shanahan's spin on Howard's spin. Johnstone says:
There is no "new dawn," no "seismic shift," no "sea change," no "new era." It's simply a lot of new spin on, sadly, a very old story.
And further taking the gloss of Howard's 'new deal' is Dr Lowitja O'Donohue, who is quoted today as arguing that:
...Prime Minister John Howard is missing the point in saying there has been too much emphasis on Indigenous history and rights. "Without acknowledgement of the dispossession and the marginalisation [with] which my people have suffered, there will be no solutions to the endemic social problems such as violence," she said.
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Like to knit yourself a balaclava? Or perhaps you'd rather a vending machine dress? (via smartypants.)
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August 12, 2003
Much "I do" about nothing
To balance out my earlier cynicism about marriage, here's newlywed Alegna's take on wedded bliss. Funny, she doesn't mention procreation as a motivation at all. In fact, to Alegna marriage merely means 'commitment, mutual happiness, assurance, security and trust'. Sounds to me like she's trying to shirk her obligations to the survival of the species. Hand over that licence, young lady!
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August 11, 2003
Good man hunting
Ahh, she's funny, is our Puss in Boots. I'm probably biased but she makes me laugh, anyway. I reckon the most promising guy so far sounded like the one who wanted to meet her on the boardwalk at the beach (Subject #3, I believe). No, not because he was rich and had a yacht (though I love that my sister will cheerfully admit her shallow preference for such types), but because she could've gone with him on his study tour of Europe....what a waste! I guess now she'll never know...
Of course, my sister has been warned (by me and other bloggers) of the dangers and ethics of blogging from life, but do you think that's going to stop her? But it's not such a big deal, because I'm sure whoever she ends up with will have a good sense of humor.
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"How to piss off animal-loving republicans", by the future King of Australia.
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August 10, 2003
Nice night for a black wedding
There was a girl getting married at the church on my street last night. I'd seen her the day before, with a girlfriend, knocking wildly on the door of the little house next door to the church. A man who looked like Keneth Branagh had opened the door and stood tying a scarf around his head as the girl wept on his doorstep, clutching her friend. As I walked past all I caught was his soothing "Ah, yes, you're getting married tomorrow and everything's all chaotic--" and my curiosity was piqued, but I had to keep walking.
Late last night when I walked past the church again there were fairy lights around the girl as she stood smoking in the garden. She was tall, with long black hair, dressed in a purple mediaevel-style gown, and made up like Morticia. Around her milled a bunch of Goths, though I couldn't decide who was the groom.
A young Goth couple with a baby wrapped in black stood further down the footpath. They stopped talking to let me pass between them, as though their words were impenetrable terrain. Perhaps they would have been.
And I was thinking, it had never occurred to me before that Goths get married at night.
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August 08, 2003
My sister is not shy about documenting her love life online--or should that be, her online love life. She has resurrected her blog with a new project: "A scholarly treatise on meeting men through the internet Part 1: Research phase."
A small word of warning, sis...don't give out your blog address to new partners. Otherwise it won't be long before you start having conversations that go like this:
Him: You were writing about me yesterday, weren't you. On your blog.
You: No, no; it wasn't about you.
Him: That headline... I'm sure you were referring to us.
You: No, I wasn't. Look, it's just a coincidence, that's all.
Him: Well, it was probably your subconscious talking then. I mean, how do you know what--
You: It was not my subconscious! I promise you it was not about you!
Him: You have a psych degree. You know that you're not always conscious of your own motivations--
You: You know, you're being incredibly vain. *sings* 'You're so vain, I bet you think this blog is about you'.
Him: Well, that song was actually about the person who thought it was about them, so you're not doing yourself any favours with that argument.
You: Oh, for god's sake. I could write a headline, 'the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog', and you'd claim it was secretly about you. For the last time: It's not about you!
Him: But your headline...it had romantic connotations--
You: Yes, and our relationship is over. Doesn't that give you some kind of hint that it's not about you, hmm?
Him: Ouch. Are you always this mean?
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August 06, 2003
Don't you want me, baby?
OK, who's game enough to admit they're thinking about going to the 80s revival concert Here & Now? Whaddya mean, one hit wonders? Look at the line-up: Kim Wilde, Go West, The Human League, Paul Young, Belinda Carlisle, The Models...I dunno about you, but I definitely hear a motion.
Nominations are hereby open for the A-list version. How about...Talking Heads, INXS, the Cure, the Cult...Aah, the memories of being in Year 9 and wearing black fingerless gloves and faded ripped jeans and lots of makeup and being so cool. (I just realised that was twenty years ago. Wow.)
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How is this anything other than homophobia?
The Prime Minister, John Howard, has joined the Vatican and the United States President, George Bush, in opposing same-sex marriages, saying traditional unions are essential for the "survival of the species". Mr Howard said the institution of marriage would be weakened if the law was changed to allow gay and lesbian unions. "Traditional marriage is one of the bedrock institutions of our society and I don't want anything to occur that further weakens it," he said. "Marriage, as we understand it in our society, is about children, having children, raising them, providing for the survival of the species."
It's a ridiculous and retrograde argument. Marriage is only one of a number of lifestyle choices these days. Plenty of children are raised in de-facto relationships, by single parents, and--shock, horror--by gay and lesbian parents. Howard is also insulting married couples who have chosen to remain child-free, by suggesting that their marriage is pointless and socially dysfunctional. So are we all dangerously deviant, or are you being narrow-minded, judgmental and backward, John?
I'm afraid many heterosexuals just aren't all that interested in marriage--maybe because we've all heard the statistic that one in two marriages today ends in divorce. But that decline has nothing to do with gays wanting to opt-in to the whole ritual. If anything, you'd think these Governments would be welcoming any kind of interest in the ailing institution.
Not only that, but to say that the nuclear family is the only morally correct path and speak of 'bedrocks' betrays a strange denial of postmodernism. We're back to the Grand Narratives, where there's only one absolute moral Truth.
What's next--making marriage compulsory for heterosexuals?
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Words, words, words
I'm going to borrow from lunanina and ask for people's favorite quotes. Here's a favourite of mine, from Groucho Marx:
"If you can fake sincerity, you've got it made."
For some reason I immediately think of John Howard when I think of that quote...
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Je ne comprends pas
My friend Jana sent me an email from Paris and wrote at the end: 'Bonne Semaine et j'espere que tu te sens mieux!'. So I put it into babelfish and it came up with: 'Good Week and I espere that you smell yourself better!'. Which leads me to suspect she has not been taking her French lessons.
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August 04, 2003
I have to apologise for the unexpected hiatus. I'm sort of embarrassed to admit I've got the flu again. Yeah, I know, I just had it less than two weeks ago! Pretty unfair, if you ask me. And this is despite my big health kick (not smoking, not drinking, taking vitamins, cooking square meals every night...).
Anyway, it's bloody hard to feel inspired when your eyes are streaming, your nose is red raw and your head feels like it's made of meringue. I feel like that hungover guy in Withnail and I who groans, "A pig shat in my head!". Except I haven't even had the pleasure of drinking.
But never ye mind, I'll get over it. Only a month til Spring...and I'm moving house in about three weeks. About to halve my rent--stoked.
More another time as I can hardly see to type. G'night.
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