Saturday, 27 June 2009

Where's Germaine Greer?

Michael Jackson has died.

I am waiting for Germaine Greer's commentary on this one. Has anyone heard from her yet? I'm a little disappointed she hasn't lashed out earlier, or has she and I haven't heard about it yet?

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Odd Spot #123

Sigmund Freud had a morbid fear of ferns.

So ... errh ... what are ferns a symbol of?

I don't know exactly what the Freudian theory is of ferns but ...

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A Nomination for Dumbass of the Year

I was walking in the city recently and I saw a blind woman, complete with Guide dog, asking a man for directions.

He pointed to his right and said, "It's over that way, see?"

"But I can't see!" she replied.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Mr Right: Have you got the Top Ten?

Women are often accused of having checklists when it comes to dating, well apparently this guy has made a checklist for us. In his book "How to Love", Gordon Livingston lists a top ten attributes a perfect partner must have most of in order for the relationship to succeed. They are kindness, optimism, courage, loyalty, tolerance, flexibility, beauty, humour, honesty and intelligence.

Well I fail the test and Mr Coffee has me so I guess that's Doom City for us.

According to the article, Livingston makes several key points:

a) He doesn't believe in love at first sight, in fact he believes that leads to bad relationships as we're automatically drawn to beautiful people but we need to get to know them better
b) He doesn't believe in traditional marriage therapy e.g. negotiating differences or working out what's wrong, he believes in choosing the right person in the first place rather than dealing with differences.
c) He pinpoints those ten "essential virtues" which I listed above as what your perfect partner will have most of

I don't have a whole lot of experience in relationships but from my very limited experience, here's a few thoughts ...

Basically I won't argue with a) too much. I have never felt love at first sight for a person. I do think gettign to know people is how I work; although attraction at first sight is often used as a filter to decide whether or not you're going to bother to get to know someone else better. It can also adjust your prejudices and make you feel good about yourself. Looks aren't everything, but I think they do count for something. This doesn't mean looking gorgeous, it can just mean looking approachable or friendly or fun or non-threatening or whatever suits at the time.

As for b), well I don't have too much experience as I said, but I would say ... let's not throw working on your relationship out the window. Every relationship needs work, as anyone whose been in a relationship knows. If you just float around trying to find someone who fits a checklist and when you hit a bump, think "instead of trying to negotiate this one, move on to the next person" you probably won't stay with anyone forever.

The trick is mainly to be able to recognise whether your differences are ones that are fundamental or superficial, whether they are worth the marriage or not, and not to have the stubbornness of saying "must stay together whether I die in the attempt" nor "one cross word and I'm outta here" attitude, but somewhere in between.

At any rate, when I saw Mr Livingston's checklist, I thought to myself, this guy would not be one to consult for marriage therapy. His 10 essential virtues may work for some people, heck, they may work for many people.

The thing is, he's narrowed down the list to 10 and disregarded the fact that there are some things that certain people just don't care about, in fact some people mightn't care about quite a few of those things. The phrasing is quite cague in the article - probably to cover his butt "a partner who possesses most of these" and then the virtues could be reinterpreted by someone to fit into a hypothetical situation, so that in any situation, an ideal partner might be desired to hold at least 7 of these virtues.

But that's more a sleight of hand than anything else.

In actual fact, if done like that it's not pinpointing a damn thing.

What really matters, as most people would say is either or both:

a) the person is someone who has qualities/traits that you value/admire/desire in another
b) the person has qualities you generally admire/value/desire and are compatible with your own values and traits

I don't know how many people actually believe all these so-called new theories for love; how many new ones can they come up with? I guess even if they don't believe them they have to come up with something new.

Really, I would prefer it if they stuck to the old ideas but had a neat story around it; instead they seem to forego the stories and try to rehash an advice book format under the guise that they have something new to say about love. It's shameful.

Breastfeeding in the Boardroom

On another blog, I read some people having a brief and petty discussion about breastfeeding in public.

It seemed to be that the favourite opinion was along the lines of - "I believe women should be allowed to breastfeed in public, but there are some places that they just shouldn't do it, they should know it's inappropriate, for instance in work meetings, like I was in a meeting recently and this woman whipped out her boob and breastfed and I just couldn't concentrate, so that is wrong. But otherwise I support breastfeeding in public."

Now this stance comes with a few problems, as I see it, but I think it's a popular one, mainly because many people like to think of themselves as very tolerant and liberal folk, but at the same time they don't want to see themselves as too liberal and they certainly don't want to be seen as too revolutionary and don't want to see boobies all over the place. This is a nice crowd-pleasing response.

I discussed this at length with Mr Coffee, including whether women ought to have rights or restrictions re: breastfeeding.

However, a conundrum comes to me from the so-called crowd-pleasing stance.

It is all very well to say "Breastfeed in public, dears, but in your place, and not in my sight" but then - it raises certain issues and questions:

Where is appropriate?
In whose sight, then? And if in no one's sight, then it's not exactly public, is it?
The "in the boardroom is inappropriate" argument is interesting because women have often be critiqued for:
a) women don't breastfeed enough, they give too much bottled milk
b) women work too much and don't take on a mothering role, they aren't truly feminine (which has a stigma in itself)
c) if a woman has lesser earning capacity than a man it's her own fault, because she took time off having children, and you can't expect a company to pay a person who has given less time and value to the workplace.

So you have several positions:

a) if the woman sits in the boardroom childless, there's a stigma: she's childless, what happened to her?
b) if the woman sits in the boardroom having shafted her kids to a nanny: what kind of mother does that? Not really mothering, is it?
c) if she brings them in and bottlefeeds them: there's the group that will sigh that bottle milk is not nearly as good as natural breast milk, is that a good way to raise children?
d) if she brings them in and breastfeeds them: that's inappropriate
e) if she stays at home and looks after the kids: she loses in the boardroom game and that's her own fault

It seems to be a rather silly game, and of course there are the sneers everywhere, and risks and stigmas attached to whatever choice you make, so what about someone just saying, what the heck, do what I want to do? And maybe some people recognising, especially other women, that their queasiness about breastfeeding could be stopping women from doing well in business.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Bomb the Moon!

Yesterday I read this article about how NASA as found, in the so called global economic recession, half a billion dollars to bomb the moon.

I'm sure lots of Americans are really glad to know how their tax money is being spent. While they don't have welfare nearly so good as many other countries to prop them up should they lose their job, which is happening is droves at the moment, they can sleep well knowing that their is a nice dent in the moon's surface.

The reasons, according to this article, for bombing the moon, are a) to find water which may or may not be on the moon and b) if there is water, the water vapour which will be sent up in the air by the bomb will form a cloud which will allow us to draw a very detailed map of the moon. Of course this could disturb the water supply and the map of the moon will be different from the moon as we currently know it because it will have a huge dent in the side of it from a bomb, but to hell with that.

So basically, we are spending half a billion dollars to find water in outer space that mightn't even exist but if it does exist, it will be a long way from us so I'm thinking, what exactly will a water supply out there do for us, wouldn't it be smarter to build a really cool dam or water catchment on Earth? What's next, a big pipeline from Earth to the moon or little modules that go out to the moon every so often with astronauts whose sole job is to fill up little plastic bottles, load them on to the ship and then bring 'em back and sell them to restaurants at exorbitant prices?

What's more, if we interfere with the moon to much, by bombing the hell out of it with target practice or draining it of large amounts of water, who knows what it may do to affect our own environment, as the moon has a direct effect on Earth - including its own water movements (oh, and some say our mental health).

The next thing is, we're trying to get a map of the moon.

I'm not sure why, I don't know how many people holiday there, we are slack enough about getting maps on Earth. My bus route map is inaccurate. Start at home.

Wat are they hoping to do with a map of the moon, start a Google Moon project?

I can just see it, Google will announce a Google Moon service, and everyone will want to see their favourite part of the moon.


Then you'll download the service and it will tell you "Please type in an EXACT STREET ADDRESS" or it won't show you the pic of the moon bit you want which will be absolutely fantastic. I want my Google Moon money back.

There is probably a reason why intelligent life from outer space doesn't contact us and that's possibly because we don't rate as intelligent to them. They're ringing all their more intelligent buddies and writing human beings off in the "dumbass" sector, not worth bothering with or contacting.

Review: Doubt

I just last night watched the movie, Doubt. It was excellent.

I'm surprised it didn't win any Oscars. In my opinion Meryl Streep did a whole lot more with this role (and it was far meatier) than Kate Winslet's character in The Reader, who spent most of her time stripping and rolling about in bed. Of course, I'm not that interested in seeing Meryl Streep strip and role about in bed, so I'm very glad that in this role she played a nun who kept her clothes tightly on.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman was excellent as Father Flynn, but I can't compare him to Sean Penn who won the Oscar that year as I haven't seen Milk, and the supporting cast was great too.

For those who haven't seen Doubt, this is a movie which leaves you to think for yourself, which is rare in movies these days. It isn't about flashy effects either, but I remained engrossed the whole movie. It's about the goings on in a Catholic Church where a strict old-timer nun comes into conflict with a more liberal priest (Father Flynn), whom she suspects of misconduct, and the sweet and younger nun (Sister James) who is at her beck and call. Doesn't sound like a lot but it's absolutely mesmerising.

A lot of bloggers have asked what is the moral of this story, and some have talked about how it may be about how things can happen when you act and you are not certain, you have doubts. On the other hand, it also can make you think about what might happen if you were uncertain, and if you didn't act, but waited until you had that certainty before acting. Would you never act and what would the consequences be?

In the end it does show the consequences of 'certainty' or moral superiority and the importance of doubt, but should we not act simply because we have doubts?

I really thought this was one of the best-acted movies I've seen in a long time, and had a powerful theme to it.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Mr Monk and the Cringeworthy Australian

I've been watching the first season of Monk. I know I'm years late. Yes, Yes.

Still, it's a fun show, I like the OCD Monk and the pushy Sharona and it's an amusing watch, some shows are better than others and some of the set-ups better than others. by far.

Anyhow, if you are an Australian, maybe you will either want to skip or laugh your way through or cry your way through the episode "Mr Monk and the Earthquake".

This is a lovely show where Monk investigates a woman who has used an Earthquake as the perfect opportunity to do her rich husband in. Sharona has fallen for an Aussie journalist, and she and Benji are staying with her sister Gail. The best scenes have to be when Sharona and Gail are arguing, and when they play charades.

Now I don't know what it is about Aussie characters on TV, but why do they always sound so awful. This Aussie journalist turned up and chatted to Sharona and I thought, I don't know where he comes from, but he has the weirdest accent. Later he is revealed as an Australian, complete with accent. I don't know, but I've lived in Australia my whole life and I don't know anyone who sounds like that. They sound more like Adrian Monk than this guy.

What's more, they don't get up in the morning and describe their lifestyle as "hard yakka". Oh God, oh no.

The perceptive Adrian Monk was on to this guy in an instant, saying there was something wrong about him. No he didn't pick his terrible accent and try-hard idiom as his clues, though they would have been the giveaway for me.

He picked the fact that the guy said he had been nominated for a Pulitzer, when the journalism award is in fact only open to American journalism, and this man's story had apparently been published in Australia.

Monk didn't even pick up on the fact that the Aussie was at the table describing the heat of his environment as "a hundred and ten degrees out there". Now, what true Aussie talks in Fahrenheit except one written into an American show just because the Americans wouldn't understand or relate if he were talking Celsius? You'd think Monk'd pick up on that one!

A real embarrassment to our country, guys - let America have this joke of an Aussie character!

My Name isn't Lam or Ling or Tong, it's Lamb or Linde or Tony

Sorry to go back to racism again, but I just HAD to get this one out. Another article on the topic, this one about Anglicising names. Apparently an experiment was done using fake job applications, and it was found that if you had an Anglo name, you were most likely to get called back for a job interview.

People with Italian name didn't fare so badly, they were ahead of those with middle Eastern names. But the ones who did the worst was those with Chinese names.

A Professor Leigh said that certain minority groups would do better in getting job interviews if they Anglicised their names, and said this attitude was ''consistent with the notion ... that a sudden influx of migration increases prejudice''.

Sydney was the city in which minorities were most likely to be discriminated against, compared with Brisbane and Melbourne.

This is the clincher though:

"But Professor Leigh said discrimination against certain groups may be more subconscious than racist."

I don't quite get that - it seems to differentiate between subconscious and racist behaviour - does that mean if you racially discriminate against people but you do it subconsciously, not consciously, you aren't really racist? As Mr Coffee put it, you've got to officially, consciously sign up to the racist union, or you aren't a real racist?

If you were one of those whites in America who just grew up thinking there was something naturally inferior about black people, but didn't put a name to it, just didn't really think about it, just thought it was ok that they had fewer rights than you because that's "the way I was brought up, that's just the way I think the world is, it's normal? That's right, isn't it?" - did this mean your behaviour was not racist? It may not be malicious but it sounds pretty racist to me. Whether subconscious or conscious, the basis of the discrimination is still racially based.

A person who does look over a job application and chooses some over others because of the ethnic background of their name - that sounds pretty racist to me. It may not be malicious, but it is racist behaviour, and sometimes it can be all the more harmful when it's subconscious because it's so ingrained. The person just accepts it as normal, "I can't say why I prefer the Smiths and the Joneses, they just feel righter". This may be because they've read lots of articles about migration or they've been brought up to think certain things about a particular group or seen certain things on the TV or had a certain experience or whatever - but this attitude seems to say "It's a racially based attitude/prejudice. It manifests itself later in behaviour that is subconscious, but how does that make it not racist ..."

Basically, if there is a difference between subconscious and racist behaviour it would mean a) racist behaviour has to be conscious, intentional behaviour. b) Subconscious behaviour ... well it means it wasn't meant consciously, but what's the motivation for it? "Subconsciously I am more likely to pick Anglos over any other name" - still doesn't explain why. Because subconsciously ... what? Subconsciously I am making a racist decision.

(Or maybe I am making a decision to choose names I can pronounce most easily so I don't sound like a goof on the phone when I call these people back, is that it?)

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Named for the Job

In my job, I have to write down the names of the lawyers who come to appear in court each day. Last name and first initial is lal that's necessary.

Recently, a lawyer came in and gave his name as D. Seet.

I guess it was either law or marketing for this guy, he was pretty much marked from the time of naming.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

An Argument for White Australia

And here we are ... baaaack to another racial commentary, brought to you by Maria.

I just had to get this in, I read it on a blog which was Muslim bashing. I can't quite figure out why it is that when we get to Muslims, the headlines always start going on about racial intolerance, because Islam's a religion, not a race. but they do. It's like this: Americans, Aussies, Japs, Greeks, and Muslims. Or something like that, go figure.

Anyhow, this was the one about the Muslim school in Camden which is now not going to be built.

Some guy made some weird comment in favour of a White Australia, and this was their not-so-comprehensible argument, let's see if you can figure it out, because I can't and maybe someone else can help me. The guy was called Jim T and obviously doesn't have the wit of TimT, fellow blogger of Will Type For Food, but did befuddle me, which TimT does, often. Just not in the good way.

Jim T started off by saying that he thought multiculturalism was a failure in Australia. It didn't work. He particularly was against Muslims. Why was it, he pondered, that every migrant group except Muslims could adapt to the country they migrated to? Except Muslims! And that's why we really shouldn't accommodate Muslims - worst of the lot!

Then Jim T started a new train of thought. Multiculturalism had gone really bad, and if you thought about it, lots of these migrants didn't adapt that well anyhow. Didn't fit in. So we should stop immigration for "other groups" anyhow, even if they weren't Muslims. Stop the Asians and the Lebanese and the Mediterraneans and ... oh, if you were caucasian, especially if you were British, then an exception was made, you would be allowed to migrate to Australia. Let's stop horsing around though and make sure that migrant groups other than whites did not come to this beautiful country.

Now, pardon me, but I have trouble figuring out Jim T's argument here.

He seems to have two points:

1. We value people who can adapt to whatever land/culture they migrate to, they are the type we should welcome.
2. We should stop welcoming anyone other than the whites, with special emphasis on British whites. Anglo-Saxons that is.

Now, if we're going to put "ability to adapt to land/culture they migrate to" as a group, down to past behaviour, the British Anglo-Saxons have shown themselves to be pone of the worst groups, and certainly one of the worst groups to land on the shores of Australia.

Other groups who have landed on these shores have done much better jobs of fitting in with the existing culture; the British way was to colonise and change the life to what they were used to back home. It's a bit funny when they then object to people being small mementoes and rituals of their life to comfort them when they brought a whole legal system and government structure with them because they couldn't hack it with the natives' way of life.

In fact, the Australian Aborigines who were here before the Britons have had to do much more trying to fit in with the British way of life than the Britons have had to with fitting in with the Aborigines, if you were really honest about it.

And then Jim T's argument is that the British are the ones we want to import more of, and leave the rest out.

Now I can understand he may be very pro-White-Australia - and sure, more English-speaking-Caucasians-used-to-a-Western-Way-of-life he may feel blend in better with the existing status quo once it's laid out for them. But let's get the reasons right - it's not because they're good at adapting to whatever society they go to. It's because they probably won't have to adapt much.

Other people who come out here from countries that are way different from ours often have to learn laws and social protocol and a new language, many have to cope with the stresses and strains of everyday life that we have to combined with things like homesickness, and many also manage to do things like have a successful career, make new friends, start families, maintain homes and manage businesses. I think that's pretty remarkable when you consider juggling all that; often some of us are bummed out trying to manage one job and a relationship and can't get it together to get dinner right at the same time! I think a lot of credit has to be given to such people, they are doing it against the odds, and many make a very good fist of it. So they might screw up every so often and they have funny accents? Who the heck is perfect?

By the way, I read a great story recently this weekend in a collection called The Seeds of Time by John Wyndham. It's called Dumb Martian, and it's about a man who buys a Martian and considers her dumb because she doesn't know the language or certain basic skills and speaks strangely at first - can't pronounce certain consonants. And he abuses her. It's obvious as the story goes on that she is extremely bright and given the right stimulus she can learn heaps - it's just that he thinks of her as stupid because she started on the backfoot and she's not one of his kind - he keeps calling her "Dumb Mart". In the end of course, she outdoes him.

A lesson to us all.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Mr Eggplant

On her blog recently, Lexicon posted this pic of an Amazing Aubergine. I just have to say, this country is often overwhelmed by the Big Veges. The Big Pineapple, the Big Apple, etc. But I was very impressed by another Amazing Eggplant which I found at the markets recently, and dubbed Mr Eggplant. Perhaps not the biggest eggplant but it's not the size that mattered here. It's what he ... errh ... special extras he had to show for himself.

Mr Eggplant either has a long snout or a rather Proud Protuberance of another sort. He's certainly not hiding it, and it's this sort of Aussie pride which we thought extremely amusing and just had to pay for. Mr Coffee and I kept Mr Eggplant alive for several days till he began to look a little withery, and then he had to be consumed. He stood in the kitchen, look at that stance, man, that posture, he knows his place and it's not at the bottom of the vege pile, that's for sure! I was the one who chopped the Protuberance off, eventually, when it finally gave in and looked a little too wilted to wait - it seemed Mr Coffee didn't want the responsibility. It seems to be a man thing.

But I let him eat the appendage.

He was a very tasty Mr Eggplant and I'll be talent scouting at the next market trip. I encourage all others to do so, we should encourage Attidude Aubergines in Australia, and this Mr Eggplant was one sassy Aubergine who held himself with Righteousness in our Kitchen. What a guy!

Piggy Masks

I was at the pharmacist recently and I see that they are selling "swine flu approved" blue masks. For hygiene reasons, they are non-refundable, non exchangeable.

Mr Coffee has suggested that they make special swine flu masks in the shape of a little piggy snout.

I'd like to see that!