Friday, 31 July 2009

Something they didn't teach at law school ...


I'm looking for a new job, in this job market and also while I'm studying part-time a paralegal or admin or research assistant role would be quite nice, something with set hours.

I look up so many start-up jobs and it is all about being able to speak a second language, often specified as Korean or Malaysian or Chinese or Italian, but sometimes just being able to speak another language.

I wish they'd offered some of these as electives at Law School, it seems they would have served me better in my career than my course on Post-Communist Law and Legal Theory, fun though that subject was.

Us and Them

Back to racism ... dammit.

I just read a blog that got me all hot and bothered and what better way to vent than to blog. It's easier than running into the kitchen and breaking a whole lot of crockery which would just have to be replaced anyhow.

Anyhow, the trouble with this blog is that the people on it think they are very liberal and very clever and compassionate but unfortunately they aren't very good at thinking of some of the obvious difficulties in societies, which is the problem with many social reformers. Everything is a straight line to them because naturally everything would be so easy - if everyone was like them. Oh darn, yeah I was reading John Fowles' The Collector recently.

Here, some bloggers mentioned that these darn people, certain people in society, caused trouble, one gave this example:

Two Australian born men she knows, whenever they are asked where they are from, they say "Italy" when, as the blogger argued, the answer should be "Australia" [they can always clarify that they have an Italian heritage, she argues]. She says such attitudes foster mistrust and a divide between cultures.

SHE always says she's Australian, she never explains she's part Norwegian and Scottish and she doesn't see why it's necessary to explain your origin at all (I can see a little superior smirk here).

Now, that is certainly one way to see it. These men are fostering a divide in Australia, she is being peaceable.

On the other hand, let's look at some other ways of seeing this:

a) Why is anyone concerned about where they come from at all - by asking you are implying that you want to categorise someone, and by being huffy about a wrong answer even more so that there are right and wrong answers, not that you are going to just make conversation about kangaroos or pizza, and therefore is the asking of the question and the reaction fostering the divide, not the answer?

b) It seems to me that it may be easy enough for Ms Norwegian-Scottish to say I'm Aussie-nothing-further-thanks. But one way to consider this is that people who come from backgrounds where they are in the minority and what's more their heritage gives them physical differences that are easily recognisable, have probably encountered this phenomenon. the lose-lose situation.

You say you are from "Italy" or "China" or "India" and people say look-at-that-idiot-doesn't-want-to-be-Aussie-his-kind-never-does-one-more-reason-why-we-should-not-allow-fucking-immigrants-into-this-country-they-never-fit-in. I bet you've seen this sentiment sprayed all over blogs or letters to the editor or opinion columns.

On the other hand, you say "I'm Australian" and you don't bother to explain your ethnic origin. That may be ok if you are Anglo or you look Anglo. But if you aren't in that privileged group, there are plenty of times many will have got barraged with:

"No really ... where were you BORN ... oh, born here, so what about your parents ... born here too?! ... oh wow, that's something, you mean both parents? ... so do they speak English? ... you speak English at home ... you speak any other languages ... so which country are you from ... which region ... I mean originally ... you go back there often ... got family out there ...."

A person may be forgiven for thinking it's easier to just say from the start "I'm from Japan" or "Taiwan". After all that barrage, it implies that that's what the questioner wanted to hear in the first place. And by pushing you with all these questions, it also implies that the questioner doesn't want to see you as an Australian same as an Anglo who rarely goes through the same treatment.

And if they won't accept you as one of them, then who is pushing the 'us and them' culture, really?

The answer "you can just say "I'm an Australian-born Chinese or Japanese or Italian"" or whatever may see comfortable to many Anglos but in reality why should we have to say it when if you're Australian-born Norwegian-Scottish you just poshly say you don't feel the need and never even incur the hassling.

Social conditioning occurs at both ends; they might give answers which cause us to despise and isolate and mistrust them, but they may give such answers because they feel our hate and the isolation and expectations and mistrust caused by it. So how does the cycle end?

It is unrealistic to put all the burden on just one group or one end, but so easy to do it. 'Specially when it's not you who has to take that burden or blame.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Picking and Choosing

Here's a story about a 22 year old man who was an alcoholic, and was refused a liver transplant because the doctors thought he would ruin it.

Now the story highlights some issues, obviously the shortage of organs and therefore, who should get them and then, how do we pick and who to choose to refuse? On what grounds?

I read some people discussing this on a blog, and some saying this was pretty unfair because what about, say, fat people with heart problems, do they get refused heart transplants. In fact, lots of medical problems are self-induced so do we all get refused help if it's self-induced?

One person said that she thought the refusal was disgusting because she hated it when doctors 'played God'.

(Actually, I thought doctors played God all the time by treating patients, or that's one way of seeing it. Leaving them to whatever nature and God intends happen to them instead of giving them medicine, hooking them up to machines and cutting them up and and replacing organs would be more in line with not playing God, once you've taken a person off where they've fallen off a cliff and started to patch up their bones and pump them full of chemicals and fought against Death, that sounds very much like playing God to me. Not that I think there is anything wrong with that. If I fell over and broke my leg I'd want a doctor to play God with my leg and patch it up, pronto!)

Anyhow, it does raise a difficulty of ethics, how to make such a decision, after all the decision has to be made somehow, whether it is a first in first served, or by the highest bidder, or assessed most critically, or whatever. You can't blame doctors for having to refuse someone, what are they meant to be, magicians who can yell a multiplying spell for livers?

Anyhow, I leave the thought with you and perhaps you can munch on a liver sandwich and think about it.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Keeping the Potter Franchise Alive

It seemed Harry Potter ended with The Deathly Hallows, but then out came Tales of Beedle the Bard.

Now, I'm sure many Potterheads would like to see Harry live on and what better way than to besiege Rowling with ideas for spin-offs, sequels and prequels and beg her to continue to keep Harry alive?

A fellow blogger has compiled a set of "totally original" Potter story continuations. I'm sure you'll agree that any of these would make viable books, and would be extremely filmable.

Perhaps an intense Potter martial arts version could be released.

Something like ...

Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione are travelling in the mountains when they are beset upon by some Oriental Muggles. Despite their magical powers, all four are captured. It seems a Jackie Chan backflip can overpower someone on a broomstick any day.

Taken back to the little village, the Muggles kindly bathe the wounds of the four and lend them robes to wear as their wizarding robes were torn in battle. The four are forced to live in the little village and gradually come to respect the strange rites of the Muggles. Ron annoys Hermione by falling for a good looking slim Asian chick, but after a while she gets so involved in learning fourteen different Asian dialects all at once that she forgets Ron's being an idiot.

It comes to light that the Muggles hadn't meant any harm to the four. Furthermore they begin to initiate each into how to use a different Oriental weapon, and appoint Harry as the leader and give him a blue bandanna. Ron gets a yellow one and Hermione is given a purple one and Ginny a red one. These will help distinguish them, and they ask that they help them in times of war as their last true Ninja warrior is dying and ...

Damn, I'm not sure if I should call this "Harry Potter and The Last Ninja" or "Teenage Mutant Ninja Wizards".

I'll come up with an ending later. Surely.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Why the Half-Blood Prince?

Yesterday I went to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

I liked the movie, I definitely thought it was much better done then The Order of the Phoenix which was the last Harry Potter Book and my least favourite adaptation. This had a good mix of humour, action, and special effects and I thought was well acted.

Now, as is my habit, I went to IMDB and had a look at others' comments. Some, like me, loved it, others, mainly Potter junkies, hated it, and made catalogues of what had been cut or changed in the film. Mainly what had been cut (usually prefacing by saying they knew a movie had to cut a little but did it have to cut this much?)

In my opinion, well, the Potter books are long so if you want to cut it to a reasonable length, and still have detail in effects in some scenes, you're going to have to sometimes cut whole plot sequences or themes out. And characters. Other possibilities are to make a longer film or series or to have superficial treatment of every part of the film.

Whether you agree with how it's cut up is subjective.

To me, it wasn't badly done, I didn't mind the hacking, but then I'm not a Potter junkie even though I enjoyed the books and movies.

Just one thing I did find a bit annoying.

The Half-Blood Prince is revealed in the movie (not surprisingly, towards the end ... whoops did I spoil that for anyone?) ... but the moment is brief and it's never explained WHY that person is called the Half-Blood Prince. In the book it's explained better. I mean, the title of the freaking movie is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, as well as figuring out who that person is, you'd figure they'd explain why 'Half-Blood' or what or power or meaning or whatever 'Half-Blood' has. Nope, nada. They might as well have called the person the Blodgybooga Prince.

I think that is one point the movie people should have fixed up, more important than the other stuff that people go on about missing because they thought it was cool or they would have loved to see it or they were personally attached to it, or they thought it was important for the next part of the movie. Even though it is not very exciting and is probably considered minor by many HP lovers. It would have only taken a couple of minutes. Heck, I left thinking if I didn't read the book, I'd be completely confused about the title of the movie!


Sunday, 19 July 2009

Does pregnancy stir your loins?

Is pregnancy sexy?

Today, I was wandering around at Wynyard station, minding my own business and I happened to wander into the newsagent. As one does, I checked out the stand of Mills and Boon toitles that were available, maybe 18-20 titles or so. It wasn't in most titles, but in enough to stand out ... there were quite a few titles with the word 'pregnant' or 'pregnancy' in it.

The titles were mainly weird, and long-winded, like they'd used up all the snappy and cool titles and now had to move onto the long-winded ones to make sure they weren't repeating old titles.

For instance, one was called The Tuscan Tycoon's Pregant Housekeeper.

Others included phrases such as Purchased for Pregnancy in the title and I don't think they were talking about one of those over the counter pharmaceutical tests.

Now, I kind of understood why the proliferation of words like "tycoon" and "billionaire" and passion" in the titles. These are words that traditionally are supposed to get a girl's heart pounding, especially if it's "Billionaire with a bad heart condition, and with no whiney ass kids fighting for their rights to the will when he pops it", which is probably an even better way to title a Mills and Boon, and probably would have been done if it had fit on the spine of one of those miniatures.

But pregnancy? I wasn't aware that tummy cramps, walking around like the side of the house, cravings to eat twice your share at meal times and antenatal classes were so erotic.

I must be so out of it.

I'm just going to write my new erotic thriller, The Mysterious Woman in the Lacy Maternity Gown. In all not so good bookshops as soon as I think of something more than the title to write down.

Friday, 17 July 2009

My kind of job filter

I'm searching for jobs, and I just wish there were a different kind of job website.

Right now I'm not too picky about exactly what kind of job I do because I don't have an exact career path. In fact, it would be fair to say I don't have any career path. I'm not like one of those people who can say "I'm an unemployed electrician looking for another electrician's job" because basically I don't know the first thing about electrician's stuff or anything much else definitely for that matter. In fact I have years and years of education stuffed into this brain of mine (and thanks to that, a huge HECS debt) but no real career path. I guess you wouldn't sell me as a career development planner or advisor then.

I can do very skilfully what a heap of other people can do, which is basic office work and research in non-specific areas, which means I could probably be a clerk in some kind of role but that pretty much means looking in every single area posted in the job ads, because there are clerks and people who want people who can type and write and turn on a computer and shuffle paper around and think a bit but not too much everywhere. Dammit.

When you shuffle through these ads it's boring as hell. And rather overwhelming. So you try to use the internet filters which aren't much help. You can search by industry. No thanks. Search by location - how picky should I be? Search by salary - hell, why should I limit myself?

What I really want to filter out of my searches are the following ads but there don't seem to be search buttons allowing me to filter them out, which is annoying:

*ads asking for your academic transcript. I hate them asking what grades you got in first year uni.
*old ads. The ones that look ok but when you write to them they tell you they found someone for that job five weeks ago. Why the heck don't they take the ad down then?
*ads which spend three quarters of the ad in self-interested wank going on about their exciting new firm and project and their great feel-good team and breakthroughs and achievements and say pretty much nothing about the job. Please, please, please don't do that to me ... oh and by the way they usually have stupid sounding names too.
*ads which sound ok but tell you the only way to apply is through the online process, which you need to register for, which is a long involved process including filling in a questionnaire and having to write your resume into little boxes already pre-packaged by them, and doesn't allow you to add in any extra info to sell yourself. Also, your computer times out on you about 7 times in the first two steps.

Did I say something about not too picky about a job?

I'm just picky about the ad.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

A Woman by Any Other Name ...

I just watched an old movie the other day called "Tootsie". Probably a lot of people have seen it or at least heard about it. It's one where Dustin Hoffman plays an unemployed actor who's so desperate for work he dresses up as a woman to land a part in a TV serial. This of all leads to some comic moments, clashes with his personal life which of course includes his love life, and then he makes some feminist statements.

One of these is when he tells off the director at the TV station for calling him "tootsie" (as well as a variety of other names). The director there calls the men by their first names, but he tends to call the women names like "cutey" or "tootsie" as well as doing stuff like grabbing their butt and having sexual relations with a few of the good looking younger ones.

This is one of Hoffman's feminist statements and inspires some of the women to stand up for themselves.

I read on some of the IMDB comments some of the reviews for "Tootsie". In general it got good reviews. However one commenter said he didn't really understand whether being called "tootsie" was such a big deal. Was being called "tootsie" or "cutey" or "sweetie" or whatever such a big deal and was it any different from being called "pal" or "buddy" as men call each other at work and there is no real big deal made about that?

Well, I'd say that there is something different about it, but first of all, I'd like to say: What are people generally called at workplaces, do you know about, and do you think it's appropriate? First names, last names, nicknames, etc?

At my workplace it was first names except when you addressed the Judge in which case you said "Judge" or "Your honour" which was considered protocol. Naturally some people who were closer to the judges addressed the judge by his or her first name but when in doubt, title was best. Some people used to address me by my position instead of my name (but usually people from outside the building, clients etc).

Basically I think there is a certain difference, that is something like "pal" or "buddy" implies friendship and equality. You say "pal" or "mate" to someone, they can also address you the same way.

However, when a male says "tootsie" or "sweetie" or "cutey-pie" or whatever to a woman, especially to someone who is below him in rank, it sounds like a term that you would use to "pet" someone, and it makes reference to them in a way that could be easily seen as their sexuality or their looks or both.

What is most important about the situation in the movie is that the men were known by their names, but the women were given little cutesy nicknames, which separated the way they were treated, and they didn't find it favourable. (Not to mention the added fact that the man also grabbed butts and talked over women.)

All in all I think that as an isolated case, a nickname does not necessarily mean that you are demeaning someone or being out of line, but the context can determine it, and the way the nickname is chosen and used and what it could imply.

Maybe it's just easier to stick with names unless invited, boring as it may sound!

And then you've got the problem of, is it their full name or their last name plus title or do they like their name slightly abbreviated or ...


Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Frogs in pond

TimT just mentioned on his blog a whole lot of foodie things, one of which I got excited about was mousse. Which ended up with me getting excited about jelly.

I'm a big jelly fan but just recently haven't indulged in quite as much as a big jelly fan ought to. That's really naughty of me and I ought to correct that immediately, which is why I made two kind of jelly desserts on the weekend, just one, a straight jelly dessert in a mould and another experimenting with mixing jelly with some milky thing and seeing what would happen. It was very sweet and rather fun, and an amazing electronic pink.

That reminded me of another favourite jelly dish of mine of yore, which I hadn't mentioned among all the layered jellies and pannacottas.

Frogs in Ponds.

They are simple but funny. I like them because they're funny. Simple is good too.

You take some lime (green) jelly, follow the instructions on the pack, make up the jelly and fill several small bowls with jelly, only two thirds of the way though.

Allow it to set.

Then you get some chocolate frogs. Like Haigh's choc frogs. Place at least one chocolate frog on each jelly bowl, and then cover it with more green jelly. Make sure the jelly mixture you pour over is cooled otherwise you'll melt the frog(s).


Then you can decorate the top of the green jelly if you like with sprinkles or little leaf or flower lollies or whatever. It'll look like there's a frog swimming below the surface.

One bowl per person.

Other methods include filling the bowl with jelly and adding the frog just before the jelly is set, so it's being floated in half-thickened fluid and hopefully floats but can be pushed under the surface, or pushing the frog into the jelly after it sets which of course cracks the surface but you might like the "frog sticking cheerfully out" look. Or putting the frog in when it's still all runny but the frog will most likely sink further down and will be a deeper-diver frog.

The two-layer method works to have the frogs serenely gliding at the surface but takes longer.

Either way I think it looks cool.

I've only ever seen it done with lime jelly though why you couldn't do it with blueberry jelly ... well why not? Blue water is cool ....

De Ja Vu

I was just watching the DVD of Anne of Green Gables The Sequel the other day which is a hefty almost 4 hours long and is based on three of the follow up books to Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery.

It isn't bad, certainly it's only based on the books and deviates from them marvellously. In some ways I enjoyed it more than the first DVD, probably because I'm not so attached to the sequel books as to the first book. So the fact that the plot deviates a lot didn't bother me so much.

I know that TV series such as this are supposed to evoke a sense of de ja vu, but must they do it so self-consciously? I suppose I watched 4 hours in one stretch (hey, I've just lost my job, I have nothing to do round the house all day but watch nostalgic videoes) and if it were shown episodically on TV it may have felt differently.

But I felt that in the Anne of Green Gables DVDs, they overdid the bit about repeating key "Anne" phrases till they became laborious. "Luckily I have an imagination" "she really is a kindred spirit" "I see that [whatever] hasn't damaged your tongue, Anne" seemed to pepper everyone's speech, with a knowing look and twinkle in the eye. Bah. Or maybe it just seemed that way to me. As far as I know, Ms Montgomery cooled off using that so much in the later books anyhow.

But what really got me was the play scene with Mary Queen of Scots. There's that fainting scene. Am I dreaming but were those complaints made by the girl who had to do the fainting snitched straight from Amy in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women?

Amy is told she's "stiff as a poker" at the fainting scene, and she complains that she doesn't choose to get all dirty tumbling down getting bruises, and if she can down easily, she will go. Jo then demonstrates how to faint for her, and does so with drama.

In Anne of Green Gables, "Hattie" in Mary Queen of Scots is told she is stiff at fainting, and she complains she doesn't choose to get all dirty fainting, and if she can go down easily, she will. Anne jumps in and does a demonstration, but Hattie can't imitate her well.

I know this is meant to evoke childhood memories, but nicking something out of another childhood girly book? Or am I forgetful, and did L.M. Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott happen to write something very similar, and the screenplay writer just faithfully adapted that very scene from Ms Montgomery's work?

Anyhow, felt weird.

False Advertising #2

I went to the sales on Sunday and I saw signs saying "Giveaway Sale - $6.95!"

Are they giving the products away or are they $6.95? Please explain. I might have got some of their stuff for free, but clothes at that store for $6.95 is way too expensive.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Employment Theory

I'm on the job prowl yet again, and I sent off a job application to a law firm. It actually seemed like a pretty interesting jobs and one that I would really have liked to have, not just one of those filler jobs or "better than nothing" kind of jobs.

After a while I received an email telling me that they were "inundated with applications "and sorry, I didn't get the job.

Who DOES get these jobs? You know, the jobs that people actually think are interesting and wouldn't mind actually doing that are posted on the web?

I think it's a bit like winning the Lotto. These people are phantoms. I can't imagine they really exist. to be certain, I'm not one of 'em.

I have this feeling they don't really exist, it's just one of those ploys that's meant to keep us going and working in silly jobs and using these websites, the lure that there are actually cool jobs out there and they are searchable on the web. You know, they'll stick up a crock job on the web and people will "inundate" them with applications and then they will reject everyone saying "sorry the standard of applications was very high and unfortunately yours was not chosen" and then there is someone high up rolling about the floor laughing, ready to make up another amusing ad and go through the process again.

In fact, their job sounds pretty cool!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

False Advertising

What really annoys me is shortened versions tryign to pass themselves off as taller.

I'm not talking about high heels, although I'm not a high heel wearer and that's another thing I don't see a need to do. I mean, why try to convince anyone that little old me is actually 2 metres tall. I'm not fooling anyone, especially when I fall over.

And that's just it, you're not fooling anyone. The shortened versions get noticed!

My gripe is about books!

Recently I had a discussion about whether cut-down/shortened/abridged versions of classics should be "allowed". Some people are very precioius about them and don't think they should exist. I believe they should be allowed - I'm all in favour of options - so long as the original is still in print for those who want to access it.

However my belief is that any abridged version should be clearly marked as abridged. The consumer, I believe, should be able to assume that a verison is in its complete form unless it's marked abridged/cut down/shortened whatever. And the marking shoudl be fairly obvious. Say on the cover or spine or on a sticker on the front if applicable.

Unfortunately, it seems many versions like to tuck their notification away. In rather obscure places. Say it's written in the copyright page, or discussed in the foreword/intro.

I think this is more than a little annoying and the buyer shouldnt' be expected to rummage through these places before they discover it's not the full version. Frankly, I'd be pissed off. i've had that experience before, fortunately just with library books. And I've heard some people discuss it on the web.

Sometimes it's not even said straight out, for instance I read of some people complaining that they had read Murakami's Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. A comparison was made with other translations and it was found chapters were missing. A reviewer noted that the copyright page said it was 'adapted' not 'translated' from the Japanese, but this didn't explicitly say it was a shortened version.

That would be very annoying if you had wanted the full-length version!

I am all in favour of shortened versions being available for people; some people do not want to read the whole of a long book but would like to share in the experience of popular stories. However please mark them so, so that consumers know what they are getting! And so they can make an informed decision as to which version they would prefer.

Thank you.