Archives: April 2007

30 Apr 2007, Comments Off on Ranncid

Ranncid

Author: Helen

Image from http://www.abc.net.au/eyre/stories/s508206.htm

I heard Fran Kelly interview SA premier Mike Rann on Radio National Breakfast a few days ago. Apparently Rann has totally gone over to the nuclear industry and is all enthused about his new interest. I haven’t been able to find a transcript, but a recent interview with him is here.

What with JHo being all enthusiastic about putting 25 or so reactors around Bennelong (yeah, right) and Krudd being all excited about digging much more of the stuff up, I’m a little depressed. Not because I am a hormonal hysteric who’s incapable of rational thought, but because of all the research I did when young (and things like the Fox Report into the Ranger and Jabiluka uranium mines, as well as the fallout from the Maralinga tests, were in the wind). A few things haven’t changed since then:

* The byproducts of the nuclear fuel cycle last for several millennia,
* We don’t have any permanent solution for its storage, so it must be actively managed,
*most “great civilisations” have lasted about two thousand years, max, except for a couple of Chinese dynasties, and we know what their OH & S record is like.
* Therefore, we are creating a huge problem which has to be managed for millenium after millenium, long after our grandchildren are dead (not prematurely, we hope), and after any energy benefit from the toxic waste has been used, and
*. Any major error will render large swathes of country uninhabitable, its food inedible and its water undrinkable for several centuries, if you’re lucky. As wind and water do not respect boundaries, this will have global impacts.

And so on. So I was even more depressed as I listened to Mike witter on.

But Mike will get his way, because he and Kruddy and JHo and the rest of them are so good at portraying themselves as the Hard men who think hard thoughts, and subtly discrediting their opponents. They do it with the little plutonium particle “emotion”, which they drop into their discourse like krypton, rendering the whole environment toxic. As in,

“Well, of course, Fran, nuclear energy is a very emotional issue.”

Bingo! Anyone who disagrees with you is now a hormonal hysteric incapable of rational thought. Whether emotion can have anything to do with which facts are correct and which are not is not a subject for discussion, nor is the idea that becoming emotional about the death of rivers, desertification, clearfell logging and nuclear contamination could be simply a reaction to cold, hard facts. No, real men don’t have emotions, and only real men can be true leaders, as we find out:

(from memory) “We’re the ones willing to make the tough decisions.”

Now whether he actually said tough or hard is moot, but you get the drift, as I did, as indeed I was meant to. But being the wrong-thinking type that I am, I thought this was a bit arse about.

Because in general, the people who want to adopt the nuclear fuel cycle seem to be the ones who are most fearful of adopting renewable energy technologies, and …horror!… using less energy! It’s all about trying to keep business as usual. Let’s not start manufacturing solar cells and windmills and things; digging stuff up and selling it is what we’re good at. That, and using lots and lots of fossil fuels ourselves.

You know, if a pollie suggested actually leaving the uranium in the ground, using less energy, finding a way to run the economy without depending on continuous growth, and doing a serious push with renewables, that would be a tough decision. I think it’s the Ranns and Rudds and Howards who are the fearful ones. ALP pollies are too much in love with the status quo. I wonder Peter Garrett can sleep at night.
 
 
Crossposted at Road to Surfdom

29 Apr 2007, Comments Off on Talkin’ bout my degeneration

Talkin’ bout my degeneration

Author: Helen

Girlchild is fond of sports with a high accident potential. She enjoys horse riding, skiing (although I’d be lying if I said she gets to do it on a regular basis), swimming and rollerblading. She claims to be a clumsy person, but she rides really nicely and she is known to glide regally around the house on her skates, pulling up with that sudden-stop-with-twirl which experienced skaters use to such effect.

Today, she is stumping around the house on crutches, with a broken ankle.

Which she got by falling down the school stairs.

I think that goes to show something-or-other, like “go for it, kids, cos you’ll go arse up doing something anyway”.

She is coping well with the pain, but not so well with the plethora of lame jokes which has been spawned around the place.

Best friend: “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
Girlchild: “I don’t know, why did the chicken cross the road?”
B.F: “Because IT could!”

And, “Oh, you’re just using that thing as a crutch!”

etc.

In other news, I have officially passed the fifty year mark. Ouch.

Thanks to Phantom Scribbler and Shakespeare’s sister for this.

25 Apr 2007, Comments Off on Anzac day baking post

Anzac day baking post

Author: Helen

A repost from my old blog, cause I’m lazy, and I haven’t done a food blog for the longest time.

Anzac biscuits

An Australian institution. Note, we call them biscuits here, not cookies.

1 cup plain flour
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup “soft pack” brown sugar
3/4 cup dessicated coconut

2 tablespoons of golden syrup
125 g butter (half of a small block)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50 ml (2 tablespoons) boiling water

If you don’t live in Australia, I don’t like your chances of finding Golden Syrup* (not Molasses), which is pretty much peculiar to Australia, and I think the desiccated coconut is different too.
Anyway.

First, predeploy – sorry preheat – the oven at 150 degrees C. Secure key infrastucture (grease/line baking sheets).
Sift flour and mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a saucepan. Boil the water while you’re doing that. (Watch the butter and syrup mixture – turn the heat off before it becomes a quagmire.)

Now the fun bit.

Quickly mix the bicarb into the boiling water and add to the melted ingredients in the saucepan. It will foof up like some demented chemical Weapon of Mass Destruction. Before it foams right out of the saucepan and causes a Code Orange situation, add it to the dry ingredients. Mix all together – it should be quite difficult because you don’t want the mixture to be too wet. Tone that upper body.

Make the mixture into balls of a size depending on whether you like enormous cafe-style things or small biscuits. I use two soup spoons to squash the mixture together in a nice consistent size.

Place on greased / paper lined trays (which you should have pre-emptively, sorry, Previously prepared) and bake them. They’ll spread and flatten out to occupy a bit more territory, so they need space in between. Check them after 15 minutes – Mine tend to cook unevenly so I have to switch the trays between shelves and turn them around, but you might have a better oven. Check them every 5 minutes after that until they are a nice warm brown colour. Cool on racks, store in airtight etc, yada, yada.

Makes an absolutely indeterminate number of Anzacs (Platoons?) depending on the size you want, and for this reason, cooking time is pretty variable too.

 
 
*Since this post was written, Crooked Timber has addressed the Golden Syrup availability issue here.

21 Apr 2007, Comments Off on Aaaaaaaarsehooooooole!

Aaaaaaaarsehooooooole!

Author: Helen

Image from http://www.realfooty.com.au/

Yes, I know, I’m my own worst enemy. I spend three days in southern Tasmania walking around cool temperate rainforest, eating and drinking myself stupid and paddling a kayak past mighty mountains and through rocky gorges, and by the end of that time I felt pretty fabulous. And then I had to spoil it all by doing something stupid like opening a newspaper.

If you don’t live in southern Australia, you need to know that the mind-numbingly long Australian Rules Football season is just getting under way.

Aussie Rules isn’t just a game- it’s an elite and insular world, which gives disproportionate rewards to meatheaded young men with a narrow range of physical skills and, often, an attitude to women or other ethnic groups which hasn’t changed since third grade. These child-men are paid staggering amounts, treated like gods and generally allowed to piss on society in general with their unreconstructed thuggery, while teachers and scientists get the crumbs from our table.

Usually I try my best to ignore these glorified house pets, but unfortunately their caperings outside the football stadium are classified as news in this town. So, schoolchildren all over Victoria were edified by this news item:

West Coast footballer Adam Selwood faces an extraordinary tribunal hearing on Wednesday night after being accused of making sexually explicit taunts about the six-year-old daughter of Fremantle player Des Headland….

It is believed that even [Selwood’s] own version of what he said to provoke Headland concedes he made an unpleasant reference to a tattoo on Headland’s arm. The tattoo is of Headland’s daughter Madisan.
It is alleged by Headland that during the third quarter Selwood, pointing to the tattoo of Madisan on Headland’s left bicep, said “I f—ed her last night” to which Headland is understood to have replied, “What do you mean, she’s my daughter?”

The West Coast player is then alleged by Headland to have added: “Yeah, she’s a slut. I f—ed her.”

Let’s not get distracted by the issue of people not being able to spell their own childrens’ names. While some of the cooler heads in the footy world came out in condemnation, others stayed right on message with the predictable “suck-it-up-we’re-tough-guys” rhetoric. Did I say predictable? It went to a new low, even by my expectations – and I’m a total cynic when it comes to the AFL culture.

Former St Kilda player and coach Grant Thomas said he had never heard anything like this. But he said Headland acted against the interests of his team by reacting violently …
Thomas said he would have ignored the comments. “In the field of battle you heard most things, but none of it was ever true. I have eight children and I would laugh about it.”

What a great guy. I’d like to be a fly on the wall back at his house after that got printed.

Sydney ruckman Peter Everitt, who settled a racial vilification complaint from Essendon’s Michael Long by mediation in 1997, said …”You can go a little bit too far but like if he said it to me, I’ve got 13, seven and five-year-old daughters and it wouldn’t have worried me at all — I would have laughed it off. But other people take it to heart…”

Buncha sheilas, obviously. Footy culture is even sicker than I’d realised. Racial taunts and making fun of someone’s cancer are other examples; drugs, neverending stoush, drunken boorishness and everything else that goes with a massively inflated sense of entitlement. It’s why I never bother with them. But this, as TonyT says, takes the baked confection.

But get this, Selwood claimed that it was an OK thing to have said because he didn’t know the tattoo was a picture of a child. Yeah, I paid that one, for about a second. But, WTF?

OK, they’ve admitted that claiming you’ve pronged someone’s six-year-old daughter is perhaps a wee bit too far (although some people obviously don’t even get that). But comments that are simply misogynistic and contemptuous of women are perfectly OK in AFL-world. Still.

With the exception of Paul Roos, naturally. (Oh, and Greg Baum, but he’s a writer.)

12 Apr 2007, Comments Off on Got a whole lotta links

Got a whole lotta links

Author: Helen

I’m off to Tasmania for a few days to walk and soak up (what’s left of the) nature. Here’s some links to some good reading, mostly stuff I meant to blog about and didn’t have time.

Speaking of Tasmania, Paul Norton’s LP post on “Mark Latham’s disastrous forest policies” is a must read.

To put it into a perspective which a larger number of readers can identify with, on Saturday night many readers of LP, many readers of The Australian, no doubt a goodly number of Tasmanian forestry workers and perhaps even a few Murdoch press journos will be sitting with their eyes glued to their TV screens, Lotto tickets clutched in their nervous little hands, hoping against all odds that the tumbling numbers will visit upon them a disaster of comparable magnitude to that with which Latham was threatening Tasmanian forestry workers.

Tigtog has come up with a wonderful thing: Finally Feminism 101. Save your weary fingers and quote from this site rather than explaining the same things again and again. Get your daughters and sons to read it.

Here’s a great piece by Gummo Trotsky which you should copy and paste into Word, change to 24pt and tape up in your cubicle farm/home office/on fridge: Ten Things that Just Ain’t Worth Reading About.

Belle Waring (who recently got my personal award for the best ever post title) posted back in March (yeah, I know) on an interesting Boston Globe article and an equally interesting response to it on Pandagon.

The gist is that as wives earn more money, they end up doing a greater and greater share of the housework, with the result that women who are the sole bread-winners often do more housework than women who pull in 50% of the family’s income.

I was keen to join in on this but there was music to be played, and of course, that meant the house went all to shit and I had to spend a lot of blogging time on housework. (/Irony).

To boost the irony content still further, check out this banner ad which was on the Globe at the time I read the article:

Image from the Boston Globe

Then there was the mind-boggling stupidity of a Woman’s Day article on Mary’s Private Hell: That’s Mary-Aussie-oi-oi-oi Princess of Denmark Mary– apparently she’s suffered a “barrage of criticism” for sending little prince Christian to daycare. Not even full time – but apparently, as a pregnant woman with “royal duties”, she should still pretend to be a stay-at-home mum. Even though home’s a rather big place with no-one small for Christian to play with.

Never mind the fact that nothing could be better for a wee tot who’s born into the bizarro-world of any royal family than to spend some time with other kids his own age and get a bit of variety, not to mention a few normal germs. And I’d say the same for any solitary child.

Seguing right along from Children, Care of: If you think the detention of asylum seekers’ children is about to end anytime soon, just look at the leaked building plan for the Christmas Island Detention centre:

Image from http://www.safecom.org.au/alcatraz-downunder.htm#leaked

Send a letter to Kevin Rudd and Tony Burke from here, if you remember the disgraceful “small target” stance Kim Beazley took on this issue and you wish for the Labor party to grow a spine and oppose it. Results not guaranteed.

(Warning: Geek material ahead. You may want to stop here.)

Now for a question for the Hivemind. I’m using WordPress and I’m trying to put a sound file on the blog. I’m clear on it in principle: Like an image, save sound file to PC (Mac in my case), upload to Media2 server, link. Simple (thanks Dogpossum). But in my case, the process doesn’t seem to be as intuitive as image linking.
For one, when I save a sound file to my Mac, it ends up as a .m4a extension, although the icon has “MPEG 4” on it. Is this right? (As you can tell, sound files aren’t something I deal with in my everyday life.)
For another, WordPress, which writes the linking HTML for you when you upload a file, has only one “upload file” interface. I don’t know whether the link HTML is different for a sound file; I assume that’s cool because WordPress could look at the file extension to see what it is. But when I go to upload a sound file, it just sits there and WordPress doesn’t seem to recognise it.

I feel a bit stupid, since a lot of my job entails talking people through things like this. I’ve seen sound files on WordPress blogs, so I know the fault is with the user. If anyone’s feeling particularly energetic and/or charitable, and they feel like emailing me a step-by-step for dummies on hsmartATiprimusDOTcomDOTau, you’ll have my eternal gratitude and grovelling admiration.

Be good.

11 Apr 2007, Comments Off on I blame the Patriarch

I blame the Patriarch

Author: Helen

Werribee, Sydney, Byron Bay. Is gang rape on the increase or is it just being reported more?

I’m throwing that question out, because I don’t know. Any criminologists in the house? Anyway, there’s something old and something new here. What’s new: the practice of filming the rape using your mobile and then sending the video to all your mates at school.

What’s old: the practice of (1) holding the victim responsible for the boys’ behaviour– being in the “wrong place”, for being drunk, for wearing supposedly provocative clothes, and so on, while, on the other hand, boys are simply animal creatures at the mercy of their lustful nature who can’t possibly be expected to restrain themselves; and (2) that the solution is to constrain women further, so that we’re de facto restricted in where we go, what time we go there, and what we wear.

And then we’re supposed to believe it’s only Muslims who have a problem with the status of women.

These views are embedded deep, deep in mainstream thinking. And there’s a correlating world view among older people that the youth are a savage breed, possibly much more so than ever before, and it’s the dangerous youth which create this dangerous environment. But wait a minute. Where do these teenagers get their sense of male entitlement and misogynistic culture from?

There were angry scenes outside the courthouse yesterday, and the grandfather of one of the accused boys questioned whether the incident was a case of rape.

“Stupid, yeah, but they do it, [film] everything, they bash people, they’re used to stupid things. Was she drunk? Prove it,” the man told Channel Seven.

This dickhead is an extreme example, of course, but it illustrates how older people enable and excuse this kind of behaviour, because it feeds into the extremely primitive and caricatured “evo-psych” interpretation of gender that pervades society. And it’s not just the men. The grandmother and mother of these shits will be whispering, “well, she asked for it, didn’t she.”

Because, while all the teenagers were underage drinking – which isn’t good — only the female teenager was deemed, somehow,by that fact, to have put her hand up for gang rape. We need to start pushing this amazing new concept: The boys are responsible. Teach them to be responsible.

It’s pointless to just complain about kids out of control, unless we can put some kind of education in place to counter this kind of stupidity. The Australia Says No campaign is a sign that policy makers are starting to realise this (although these mouth-breathers don’t seem to have internalised the message). But it’s not just the kids. We have to do something about their enabling, excusing, toxic older people.

10 Apr 2007, Comments Off on We will fight them on the keyboards; we will fight them on the couches; We will never surrender!

We will fight them on the keyboards; we will fight them on the couches; We will never surrender!

Author: Helen

It’s times like these I really want a magic wand.

A magic wand, so that when I read piffle like this from the likes of Malkin, Barnett, Derbyshire and “Rob”, and all the rest of the keyboard kommandos, mousepad marines, wikipedia warriors, cursor captains, paralinkers and swivel-chair generals”, I can magick them into the bodies of actual captives in a real-life hostage situation like this.

If I’m feeling nice, I’ll magick them a clean pair of trousers in a couple of days.
 
 
Crossposted at Road to Surfdom

6 Apr 2007, Comments Off on Latest: Jim Schembri still expert on feminism!

Latest: Jim Schembri still expert on feminism!

Author: Helen

Jim’s at it again — giving us chicks the benefit of his wisdom. He’s passionate about feminism — it just frustrates him so much that as a movement focused on gender issues, it necessarily involves so many impressionable chicks. Who, of course, are incapable of recognising the bullshittery of popular concepts like “empowerment” through pole dancing and the pornulation of western culture in general. If only they’d leave it up to blokes like him, it would have given everyone gender equality and a pony by now.

The “hot pussy” hardcore porn reference is just a bit of cheekiness. It’s nothing to take seriously. Not any more.

Time was when this would have been a five-alarm example of “objectification”, an archaic term from the 1970s referring to the demeaning practice of portraying women as mere sex objects. But today “hot pussy” doesn’t raise a murmur. Three reasons: (1) we’ve loosened up; (2) “objectification” has been rebadged “empowerment”; and (3) women are complicit in much of this “empowering”.

The fact that these unpleasant phenomena survive and thrive in our electronic and dead-tree media is, of course, all the feminists’ fault. Why? well, it was because they made too much of a fuss about being groped:

Feminism began to falter in the late-1980s when the media-driven hysteria over sexual harassment bolstered the fallacy of sexual empowerment. Fuelled by the landmark Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill case in 1991, which Hill lost, it shifted the focus of women’s place in the work environment from where it belonged — equal opportunity, professional respect, recognition of merit — to where it didn’t — sex.

The issue ushered in long-overdue legislation protecting women from office wolves. The downside, however, was that it lodged into the culture the notion that a woman was empowered, there’s that word again, more by her sexuality than her ability.

That’s right: the social phenomena portrayed in Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs happened because of feminist opposition to workplace sexual harassment. If men had only been allowed to go on harassin’, this would never have occurred and women would be on the road to full personhood right now.

As nutty theories go, this is right up there with David Horowitz and the Conservapedia crew Ann Althouse.

Then he mentions Greer, Dworkin and Steinem (presumably, they never bothered their heads with trivia like workplace harassment). Because, you see, there has been no feminism since these three. That’s it. Finished.

Yet women are so compliant. Why? Where are the firebrands? I don’t want to hear Pink or the Spice Girls yabber on about “girl power”. I want to see it. Why aren’t workplace child-care centres mandated by law? Why don’t they build enough toilets for women at concert venues? Why do women wait patiently in line? Why aren’t they stomping on the venue manager’s head?

Well, Suki and others might have something to say about that.

Not to diffuse the argument too much, but whoa on the workplace childcare centres. This kind of throwaway comment shows a writer who’s keen to make motherhood statements but hasn’t really considered the issues. If Schembri was really interested in the problem of accessible and high quality childcare, he would know that most people would want a centre with a healthy environment, outside play areas, qualified staff and a kindergarten element for the four-year-olds. So except for some particular circumstances, nix to the workplace childcare centres.

That example shows why this article is, yet again, more concerned with “I’m smarter than all of you” than with giving serious consideration to the issues, or bothering to find out who’s actually writing about feminist issues– and reading about them. The grain of truth in the swill is that the US feminist writers, in general, seem to be more active in writing about the kind of “empowerment / exploitation” issues that Schembri is complaining about. One reason for this is that in Australia, there is a powerful cultural pressure to brand all such thinking as anti-fun, “wowserish”, “purse-lipped” and all the other epithets which would humiliate and discourage young women. And this cultural pressure ain’t from feminists. The other reason is that Australian feminists– this is just my impression, folks, I haven’t done a PhD on it or anything– seem to be more into getting down and dirty with discussions about, well, child care, work and family, violence against women, while the US feminists (feminist bloggers, anyway) are working harder on teasing out the cultural and philosophical issues. But I’m under no illusion that Australian feminists are blissfully unaware of the continuing exploitation of girls and women via highly sexualised media images and laddish culture, that is, until it’s helpfully pointed out by Mr Schembri.

For a more nuanced and thought-out take on the same subject, see Chris Clarke on Why I am Not a Feminist. (Consensus in the feminist blogosphere seemed to be: Yes, you are.)

For more good stuff written by blokes, Elizabeth at Half Changed World has posted a link-rich look at an American Prospect article on work and family and gender nonconformity, and the responses to it by interested dads. And Luke, who closed down Real Men Are Not a while ago, has reappeared as The Old School Lunch. If you haven’t read them before, check out Ampersand and Hugo Schwyzer, too.