November 30, 2003
More soon....trust me
Well, I was going to blog tonight, but unfortunately I'm quite buggered after today's baby shower (really lovely, thanks guys). Have the week from hell coming up with the big move and all, but anyway, back to regular blogging soon i hope. (I did finally get around to fixing my blogroll...does that count?)
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November 26, 2003
If only Brown wasn't Green
Wish he was heading Labor...I reckon he's the closest thing this country has to an Opposition leader--and one of the most courageous and selfless people we have in politics. Anyway, here's his letter to the Australian newspaper today:
"Selling the Styx down the river
Anyone who has seen the carnage in Tasmania's Styx Valley of the Giants, where the world's tallest hardwood forests grow, will know that Susan Brown's assertion (Opinion, 25/11) that the Liberals have become the party of the environment is fatuous.
Prime Minister John Howard signed the death warrant (called the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement) on the Styx Valley in 1997. He has never been to the valley. Now centuries-old eucalypt giants up to 84 metres high (the Opera House is 65 metres high) are being cut down for Japan's paper industry by the woodchipping company in control of the Styx, Gunns Pty Ltd. It is blitzing the rainforest understorey and the habitat of rare and endangered species such as the white goshawk and tiger quoll.
Gunns can do so because the Democrats, then advised by Susan Brown, agreed to an exclusion clause in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (2000) to permit such logging of forests.
So, yesterday, it was left to Greenpeace and the Wilder ness Society to try to do Mr Howard's job of protecting Australia's iconic forests. Their protest high up in the Styx giants marked for logging demonstrate that the Regional Forest Agreement leads to ecologically unsustainable logging and that the act turns a blind eye to Australia's endangered forest species. Mr Howard's claim that he is Greenish is, in the Styx Valley, exposed as a fraud. The protesters, instead of going to jail, deserve Order of Australia medals.
Senator Bob Brown
Good on you, Bob.
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November 25, 2003
Too much ain't enough
200 a day? I'll have what she's having.
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Styx in my mind
The Howard Government's embarrassing attempts at retrospective excision of parts of Australia from our 'migration zone' have set a bad example. Now Tasmanian Police are using the retrospective method: Faced with tree-bound activists protesting the logging of old-growth forest in the Styx Valley, the Police have "declared an exclusion zone covering the protest site" to enable them to make arrests. Is it just me, or is it pretty unfair to change the rules once the game is in play?
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November 23, 2003
Open mike: Nothing in particular
This is just a filler post to get the one below off the front page because it's too long and probably too personal. Please talk amongst yourselves. (I'm glued to Michael Jackson's home movies.) Here's a few things that caught my eye lately:
- fredfrese.com (the website of a schizophrenic psychologist);
- What's Costello got to hide? (the Australian);
- guardian.co.uk story on Dr Martin Seligman's positive psychology (mentioned below).
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Fat lady sings the blues
I've been going through a blue streak lately and haven't much felt like writing of any kind. I'm on the threshold of some fairly major changes in my life and although I have engineered it all myself, and am happy with the decisions I've reached, the whole thing has been pretty full-on. So many loose ends to tie up. Doing last things with friends. Training my replacement at work. Packing my house up.
On the other hand I've had that feeling you get when you're getting ready for your first overseas backpacking trip. You've got your new travel gear and guidebooks and your passport and all the money you've saved, more than you've ever had at once before. It's all happening. And you know there's going to be plenty of excitement ahead, along with the inevitable periods of boredom--waiting around in foreign train stations and Bureaus de Change, lying around on beaches when you've run out of good books and there's nothing in the local hostel library except Dean Koontz.
Anyway, it's a similar feeling, only I'm just heading about three and a half hours north to a small seaside town that reminds me of Porpoise Spit (from Muriels' Wedding), and I'm going there to live permanently. Well, for the next little bit anyway.
There's only a week and a half left of work and two weeks left in Sydney. Half my stuff has already made its way up to the bush, where my dad will store it in his new shed. He'll pick up the rest in a few weeks, along with the cats and me. The plan is that we'll stay with the folks for December and as much of January as it takes til I find my own house in the area, so really it will feel like one of those extended summer holidays we had as kids. I'm simultaneously looking forward to it and dreading it, given how long it has been since I lived with my parents for such a long period of time (even on a 'holiday' basis), and given my almost pathological need for independence and headspace. I guess if I start feeling claustrophobic I'll just have to find some somewhere on the 53 acres to be alone...
There's a lot to do in the next few weeks, some of it fun which will take the edge off some of the angst. Farewell lunches and dinners. A baby shower that my sister has insisted on organising. (At first I cringed at the idea, since it feels a bit like you're sticking your hand out and asking for presents, but it seems to be the done thing.) There's still so much to do in preparation for the baby's arrival. Being pregnant is like being back at school; you have homework, you have to take classes, you have regular tests. I'll be glad when it's all over and it's just me and the kid.
And as I contemplate the logistics of my new life, I have to laugh at my critics--the Professor Bunyips of this world who once suggested that I was having a baby in order to fleece the Government. I challenge the Professor to try living off a few hundred bucks a week himself. No, make that, to raise a baby on it. It is near impossible. I seriously doubt anyone with mercenary motives would deliberately become a single mother. The only reason I am able to do this is because I have the support of a great family and am able to save some money by crashing with the folks for a while. There's no way I could afford to stay and do this in Sydney where the rent and cost of living is so ridiculous. It also helps that I'm not a materialist and that I'm a low maintenance chick (I'm much happier barefoot than in heels, for example).
I'll miss this crazy old house, with its colorful rooms (a lolly-pink hallway, lilac kitchen, buttercup bedroom, spearmint bathroom and moss green living room). I've taken some photos in case the little fella ever wants to see where I lived when he was conceived. But maybe I'll get to paint the new place.
Meanwhile, I need to stop organising things and just put on some good music and feel good for a while. Maybe even have a dance--I haven't danced in so long. It seems somehow incongruous for pregnant women to dance, just as it feels incongruous to look and feel sexy. It's just so easy to feel frumpy and as a consequence your self-confidence and libido can completely disintegrate. But the other week I got this sleeveless, figure hugging denim minidress at Vinnies, which makes me feel sexy in a trashy Erin Brockovich, Dixie Chicks kind of way, even with the bump. It's a little bit country, a little bit blues. Now I just need someone to flirt with....
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November 22, 2003
What's the story?
Gulp. I can't believe I'm watching the game.
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November 21, 2003
Those of you who like doing psychological tests can do a whole bunch of them online at Dr Martin Seligman's website, authentic happiness. Dr Seligman is renowned for his work on learned helplessness, depression and positive psychology, which is the focus of his site. Find out what your relationship attachment style is, what your signature strengths are, measure your work-life satisfaction and more.
The only quibble with self-report questionnaires is that they sometimes measure your ideal self rather than your actual self--I came away with a list of "signature strengths" that I would probably like to have, or think I have, more than actually have, because it's so hard to be objective about yourself. But still, have a go, and help validate some of the newer measures (the more people use them, the more useful they become). At the very least the tests give you the warm and fuzzies about yourself, even if you might just be delusional...
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Biliousness as usual
Here's our John complaining about protesters again:
The prime minister also said he was struck by the events in Turkey and the massive protests in London against United States President George W Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
"They have a right to do so, but I have a right to question why they don't pour their bile and energy of demonstration into an attack on those people who are responsible,'' he told Melbourne radio 3AW.
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Access for all
Apparently London has had these for years, but now it's New York's turn (via Online Journalism Review):
New Yorkers can now access the Internet from select pay phones across Manhattan. Some 25 Internet phones with color touch screens and free access to city government Web sites were activated yesterday, making the Big Apple the first American city with the high-tech devices.
These things are a great idea in terms of democratising access to the internet, I reckon. Anyone ever used one?
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The Crying Gameshow
This showed up in yesterday's newspapers here in Oz, but the story aired earlier this month overseas and alas, a blog has a pretty good thread up on it.
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November 19, 2003
Fear of frying
This is scary:
Nunn said war in Iraq had distracted the United States and diverted resources away from the need to secure WMD materials in regions such as the former Soviet Union.
"We've spent more now (on the war) than it would take to lock up all the nuclear materials around the globe," he said.
According to the study, there are some 100 poorly protected research reactors, spread across 40 countries, containing weapons-usable uranium.
"The global community remains alarmingly vulnerable to catastrophic terrorism. Around the world, and particularly in the former Soviet Union, materials and weapons of mass destruction are insecure, often protected only by a padlock or an unpaid guard," it said.
So much for the rhetoric about the world being a safer place since Saddam and his WMD
were destroyed went into hiding.
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November 18, 2003
This old world keeps spinning round*
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer explains the Government couldn't have arrested the crew of the boat which delivered the 14 Kurdish asylum seekers here because "if we had kept everybody in Australia, we would have sent a message to people smugglers in Indonesia that Australia was open for business". I dunno. If they had arrested the crew and imposed people-smuggling penalties on them, surely that would have had some deterrent value?
The whole thing is laughable, most particularly the 'nyah, nyah, they didn't claim asylum in Australia because hey, right after they landed, we excised Melville Island from Australia's migration zone--are we clever or are we clever?' coming from Howard and Vanstone. Between the Howard policies of pre-emption and retrospection, I don't really know what's going on anymore. But maybe we could take a leaf out of his book and retrospectively excise him from the leadership.
And another thing. If I hear George Bush going on one more time about how lucky we are in the West to be allowed to protest, I will box his ears. There is not much value in freedom of speech if those who have the power just ignore what you say.
*update: I mentioned in the comments box last night that Kerry O'Brien was about to interview Neil Young who's apparently touring Oz right now. Here's the transcript.
So it seems like, you know, when you have a Madison Avenue type of marketing team behind a war program, working to give a good slogan to the war so the American people and people around the world will get behind the shock and awe of something or they give it a title. They market it like it was a new product, and I just -- to me, that's -- the line is blurred.
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November 15, 2003
It's at least 30 degrees today and I can hear cicadas for the first time and suddenly it really does feel like Christmas is on the way. I just scoffed a mango in about ten seconds flat and I'm about to lie down in the shade in the backyard and read. Ahhh....it's the calm before the storm though, as I'll be packing up and leaving town soon.
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Honey, I shrunk Howard's head
Funny letter to the editor in the Australian today:
Our harsh and increasingly irrational treatment of refugees will not surprise students of psychoanalysis. Essentially, the failure to acknowledge a past guilt causes the unresolved emotion to attach itself onto a symbol resembling the guilty self (but which is not consciously identified as the self). A layman's example could be: John Howard refuses to acknowledge or apologise for the fact that his people stole another people's land. As a consequence, the guilt of his unacknowledged crime attaches itself to the refugees, who are symbolic of Howard's people in that they also arrived, uninvited by sea. Conversely then, punishing the refugees is John Howard's way of saying "sorry".
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If you have a PayPal account
I got an email yesterday saying my PayPal account was going to expire in 5 days unless I ran an attachment to update my personal details, presumably including the financial details. Obviously most of us would baulk at doing that but the email was well written and seemed to come from the PayPal.com domain. Anyway, I contacted PayPal and they confirmed it was a hoax, so be warned.
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Caricatures of Sydney
Often in the mornings it takes my bus a quarter of an hour to get the short distance from Town Hall to Wynyard, because there's so many buses stuck in traffic. Sometimes there's just a column of buses stretching as far as the eye can see down George Street. If they're nice, the busdrivers will let you off so you can walk the rest, but often they refuse to open their doors if you're not within a bus zone. When that happens I start to feel a bit claustrophobic and wonder if they can seriously keep you a prisoner on the bus, but mostly I'm happy to just sit and look out the window. Watch the office girls in sandals with fake tan that stops around their ankles, the elderly lady fishing in her tiny purse for coins to give a homeless guy. Shake my head at all the smokers with their little clouds of smoke trailing them. (It's a truth universally acknowledged that when you give up smoking, you become completely intolerant of it.)
When I used to walk home through the city along George Street I felt like I passed through all the city's demographics. Office workers in Martin Place, tourists at Town Hall and teenagers down the cinema strip. At Haymarket, three generation Asian families gather on footpaths. Then it's backpackers and homeless people up to Central, where it morphs into students, and muscle men going to the gym. Past Sydney Uni, Camperdown turns into Newtown with its two hundred Thai restaurants, crystal shops and secondhand book stores, and from here, it's all girls with pink mullets wearing skirts over pants.
That's just this side of the city, anyway.
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November 13, 2003
Australia's real queue jumpers
Some of my best friends went to private schools...but what the hell. Paul Watson has an interesting take on the public v private education debate.
[Marking Time's] bleeding-heart dad did at least manage to get one good line in – calling private school kids, with their artificially-enhanced employment prospects, Australia’s real queue jumpers.
His post is continued here.
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November 12, 2003
Caught with your virtual pants down
What happens when your mum bursts in on your blog (link thanks to Jay).
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November 10, 2003
Did anyone else catch the first part of the new John Doyle miniseries "Marking Time" on ABC-TV last night? I loved it. It's the classic story of forbidden love, set in Howard's Australia, circa 2000-2001. Hal (Abe Forsythe) is your typical young Aussie bloke, just out of high school and taking a year off before uni, kicking around his hometown with his no-hoper mates. During the Sydney Olympics, he meets and falls in love with Randa, a hijab-wearing Afghani refugee (played by Bojana Novakovic).
Forsythe is great--a credible Aussie actor in the Ben Mendelsohn/Noah Taylor mould (and one who looks spookily like a young Bob Geldof). His character spends a lot of time directly addressing the audience, a device that, while successful, sometimes makes you feel you are watching an episode of Secret Life of Us. In fact, there are other parallels to SLOU, in the sense that it feels quite authentic and not glossy and airbrushed.
So far, there hasn't been a great deal of focus on the secret lives of the refugees, save a brief glimpse into Randa's world when Hal's father approaches her father to ask for permission for Hal to date Randa. There has been more focus on the lives of the mates that Hal reckons society has chosen for him. These are friendships based around the loyalty of a shared youth, rather than common values. We know from Hal's voiceovers that he is far more sensitive and intelligent than his peers, but we also see him regularly succumb to peer pressure, going along with things against his better judgment, or refusing to speak out against his buddies. That's where the story feels especially truthful--if this were scripted by Hollywood and Hal were to courageously take a stand on absolutely everything, he probably wouldn't survive for long in the real world.
What I always find interesting in Australian drama is the depiction of small town Aussie life, where men are called Bullet and spend their days getting pissed and stoned and talking about cars and rooting, and the girls are bleach blondes called Belinda and Tracey, who work at chemists and are serially mistreated by the loser menfolk they seem to love. To the outsider, it may seem that these are stereotypes exaggerated to the point of caricature, but for anyone who has spent time in a town like the mythical Brackley, they ring perfectly true.
So can there be a happy ending for Hal and Randa? I really want it to work out, but with so much working against them...I dunno. But you never know, eh?
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November 07, 2003
Clear as a Bell
As I mentioned the other day, Angela Bell has a new blog and has taken a different direction with her writing, focusing less on straight social commentary and more on quirky observations of reality. Her tagline is: "thinking less, watching more". Some bits I like:
Despite his full beard, the man behind the desk was wearing a spicy aftershave....On Channel 9 this morning a woman named Dr Cockburn was talking about a new contraceptive for men....A shaggy dog happily towed a sad-faced man along....Her tight pants made her bum look like two soccer balls.
Worth checking out, I reckon.
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November 06, 2003
A list to make me listless
The official Bush barbie guest list is up on Webdiary today. According to the Mark Riley story that Margo also runs:
"A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said the people invited were a cross-section of the Australian community who had each made a contribution to Australia in different ways."
Riiiiight. Under Media, there were three invitees: Malcolm Farr (President Parliamentary Press Gallery) and two rightwing radio shockjocks, Alan Jones and Neil Mitchell. Yup, these guys sure represent a cross-section of the Australian community.
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November 05, 2003
Down with pop-ups
Man, is there anything more irritating than pop-up ads? Pop-ups should be banned from the internet and treated as spam. The computer screen is just too damn small for advertising. And why do they pop up when I'm reading ABC News Online, anyway? I thought the ABC didn't carry advertising.
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Alive and clicking
Both Stew of stewsblog and Puss in boots of manhunting are back from hiatus, which is good to see.
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To die for
"Their sons and daughters died for a cause greater than themselves and a noble cause, which is the security of the United States," Mr Bush said.
So are we back to the argument that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to the United States? I thought it was about the liberation of the Iraqi people. I'm confused.
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me: Thanks for leaving those funny comments on my blog. I had a good laugh. 'Dried rooster scrotum', haha.
sis: No probs.
me: I was feeling bad because of that doctor being a bitch so it made me laugh...Hey, there's a blogger dinner on tonight.
sis: Are you going?
sis: Aren't you curious to meet other bloggers?
me: Yeah, but i'm knackered.
sis: What's wrong?
me: Doc says i'm anaemic
sis: Taking iron?
me: Yeah, and it makes me feel sick....There's another blogger do on Saturday, so maybe i'll go to that one.
sis: You're ok?
me: Yeah, just knackered. And, you know, thinking about everything.
sis: Have you thought about talking to a professional about it all?
me: It's too complicated, I'd have to explain everything...I'm sick of talking about it; I talk about it with you, with Giulia, with the folks, Jen, Liss, Neil, Jana....Man, I just want to get this show on the road.
sis: How's the name coming along?
me: It's harder than I thought. I'm going to have to take a shortlist to the hospital and see what suits him, I think.
The girls at work have nicknamed him Leaf, River, sometimes Felix. They're kind of experiencing the pregnancy vicariously. They've been very sweet, listening to me whine and moan for months, letting me eat more than my share of choccie bikkies, telling me I glow when I know that's not true, showing an interest in all the gory details (possibly with a tiny bit of schadenfreude, like when they speculate on just how painful the birth is likely to be). I'm one of the older girls there--they're mostly in their 20s. They're still out at nightclubs and bars four nights a week, living in share houses, spending their paychecks on clothes and makeup and boys. Ah, the roaring twenties. The thirties are turning out pretty good, too, though. Weird, but good.
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November 04, 2003
"Amuse your conservative friends and annoy your liberal neighbors with the brand new Ann Coulter Talking Action Figure. This incredibly lifelike action figure looks just like the beautiful Ann Coulter, and best of all...it sounds like Ann, too! Ann recorded these classic Coulter sayings especially for this action figure."
Not Recommended for Children.
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November 03, 2003
Open mike: all yours
Before I got myself booked into the hospital system, I went and had various tests and checkups with a doctor at the local medical centre. After confirming that I was pregnant, the doctor, a middleaged Italian or Greek woman, began filling in my yellow antenatal card, then stopped to ask for my husband's name. "I'm not married," I said, and was rewarded with a cold, disapproving look. The next question was about religion. "None," I stated. An even colder, more disapproving look. "Well, I have to write something," she said after a pause. "So write atheist," I said, getting cranky too. Every time I saw her after that, she needled me about marrying the baby's father. I was very relieved to switch to the hospital's midwives clinic, I can tell you.
Today I had to call the surgery to ask for a medical certificate confirming for my employer that I am pregnant, because I couldn't even get through to someone at the hospital (underfunded public hospital, of course). The surgery receptionist said she'd be happy to fax me the certificate, but that she would have to check with the doctor first. Naturally, the doctor refused. Not only did she refuse, she was downright rude to me when she came on the phone. "Oh, sure! You expect us to run around and do all your work for you," she spat, before hanging up on me. Geez, how hard is it to fax someone a piece of paper? Perhaps if I'd been a married Catholic she might have treated me differently.
Anyway, I've had better days. A complete contrast to the weekend which I spent floating around in a kind of euphoria for some reason. Today I came back to reality with a bump.
Meanwhile, sorry for not posting much right now. You're welcome to leave a random comment though. So long as it's not about rugby or horses.
update: OK, let's talk about horses. Did anyone have a big win in the Cup today? My boss bought me a ticket in the ten dollar sweeps and I drew Zagalia. Which looked as if it was going to win up right until the last few seconds. Just my luck...
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