Archives: May 2007

29 May 2007, Comments Off on Gig guide

Gig guide

Author: Helen

From Tess

JUNE 02 & 09 2007 SATURDAY
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All hail the Brunswick Green & all who frequent the favourite haunt of TESS MCKENNA & THE SHAPIROS.
Its a beautiful time of the year be scarved up for fine live music, a drink & some hot food.
See you there with beanies on.


no cover charge

It’s very New Brunswick.

Tasty samples at Tess’s MySpace page.

25 May 2007, Comments Off on Not a Mother’s day post

Not a Mother’s day post

Author: Helen

But I’m so proud of my mother. She’s 85, and as bolshie as they come. On Friday night, she slept out on the corner of Lonsdale and Spring streets, at the front of the DIMIA offices (or Immi, or whatever they’re called now) with other members of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. The sleepout was a protest against the Temporary Protection Visa, which as you Aussie readers know, is the policy of “OK, you can stay, but you can’t have permanent residency or bring your family here, and your education and employment options are severely limited. In other words, you’re screwed. Hopefully, you’ll die, or find some way to escape to another country.”

I wasn’t seriously worried about her, because she had the support of a tight group of friends and a portable mattress and other useful gear. Also, the immigration offices have a vast atrium thing, so they weren’t sleeping under the stars exactly. Still, I was glad when I rang the next day and she was safe. She told me the young security guard freaked out a bit when he learned that the protesters would be there all night– apparently his employers hadn’t thought to tell him. He insisted on taking her into the building to use the loo and do her nightly contact lens routine, because she has had a cataract removed and needs to wear them. It was lovely of him.

Not so lovely was the unknown person who egged the sleeping bags of many of the sleeping protesters in the night (not my mum’s, fortunately.) Mate, what a miserable waste of space you are.

22 May 2007, Comments Off on It’s different when you’re born to rule

It’s different when you’re born to rule

Author: Helen

I remember – hell, this is so going to show my age – the Labor “It’s Time” ad campaign. I remember the Liberal response to it, too – a little cartoon man, the naive prospective Labor voter, being lectured by one of his betters on the disastrous events in store for him if he does. “And,” the voiceover intoned, “Once they get in, they’ll change the system, and then you’ll never get them out!”

Which is pretty much what the Liberals are trying to do with their new Orwellian Electoral Integrity Act.

In the same spirit of “it’s OK when we do it, but not when they do”, the government has also been criticising the Ruddster’s declared intention to intercept whaling ships in Australian waters (“Piracy!” thundered Malcolm Turnbull), while conveniently forgetting that they initiated the “Border Control bill” in 1999-2000 to allow themselves to patrol the northern waters, intercept and board ships deemed to be carrying asylum seekers or just illegal fishermen.

Of course, the Libs pick their battles. It would take guts to go head to head with the Japanese government and “scientific” whalers, instead of eighteen-year-olds and Indonesian fishermen or refugees.
Crossposted at Road to Surfdom

20 May 2007, Comments Off on Ceilings, whoa, whoa, whoa, ceilings

Ceilings, whoa, whoa, whoa, ceilings

Author: Helen

I don’t quite know where I stand on the matter of the relationship between architecture and moral development. I do recognise a few basic principles; Moulding concrete blocks with graffiti on every floor, urine, a lift that doesn’t work and a compulsive alcoholic howling next door = bad, Como House = good (if you could afford the help). In general, I like old houses because of the goodness of the materials – proper brick walls, for instance, which make the attached rows of cottages in Melbourne livable, the sheltering verandahs, and the high ceilings in the old Victorians which lent a certain airy elegance to life even when the inhabitants were more Young Ones than young aspirationals. And I have always felt for any young’un leaving home who has never scored a room in a shared Victorian, but has only known low ceilings and fibreboard walls.

Now Boynton has uncovered a survey which says “ceiling height can affect how a person thinks, feels and acts”. Well, it is true that this study was done by an “assistant professor of marketing”, an appellation I respect about as much as some people respect French postmodernists. Still and all, it does seem intuitive to me that a high ceiling is freer, airier, and just nicer.

Of course, if you’re at work, the ceilings which are made out of glass or marble might be more of a problem.

Boynton, who always finds the pic juste, has used the this famous bit of claustrophobia to illustrate the idea. This one is pretty good too, but I think its owners are a bit precious about copyright.

20 May 2007, Comments Off on Surely this guy is too stupid to live

Surely this guy is too stupid to live

Author: Helen

Dude! If you’re going to, like, totally trash your own reputation – outing yourself as a completely intelligence-free zone and committing yourself to future career death – surely you wanna go for more than a mere $2,000?

16 May 2007, Comments Off on If you only buy one magazine this month

If you only buy one magazine this month

Author: Helen

Make it The Monthly, with the article by Richard Flanagan on the collusion between the Tasmanian government and Gunns Limited in the destruction of that island’s irreplaceable old-growth forest. Here’s one he prepared earlier– sadly, nothing much has changed.

Image from
Image by Matthew Newton

Along with the article you get a full-page black and white of this image: the Weld Angel.
For once, awesome doesn’t seem overused or out of place.

These people spend hours, weeks, months in cold and often dangerous situations. They do it to save these old-growth forests for all of us, our children and their children. While it’s still fashionable to sneer at them as crusty hippies, history may see it differently. Lennon, Gay, Howard and co. on the other hand, will be remembered as the philistine money men who squandered our country’s inheritance for a mess of… well, woodchips.

Oh, and the Weld Angel was dragged down, arrested and fined $6,000 by the Tasmanian law enforcers. Got that? Blocking a forest for nine hours, actionable. Bulldozing the forest: you’re a bloody hero.

If you’d like to send some money the Angel’s way, the Huon Valley Environment centre is collecting donations. You need to specify that they are for the Angel. You can donate via their website, or their postal address, Huon Valley Environment Centre, PO Box 217, Huonville, Tasmania 7109.

Thank you, Weld Angel.
Crossposted at Road to Surfdom

8 May 2007, Comments Off on It’s not the Tragedy of the Commons, it’s only Lego

It’s not the Tragedy of the Commons, it’s only Lego

Author: Helen

I took two little boys to the National Gallery on Anzac day, where Olafur Eliasson’s cubic structural evolution project 2004 was on show. In case you think that’s a serious sounding exhibit to take little boys to, it’s a travelling Lego city, which just keeps getting bigger… and bigger… and bigger, as it travels the world. To a little kid, it’s just more Lego than they’ve ever seen in their little lives. And they get to build some of it.
Image from
It’s extremely beautiful.

Here’s how it works. The kids wait to get to the lego. They have kid herders to let them through, a few at a time, and tell them when their time’s up. Here’s why it works. The grownups are the boss of the kids. The kids know there are rules. No one kid, or group of kids, is allowed to monopolise. Otherwise, their mum or dad has to take them out. End of story.
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Apparently, for one school in the US, far from our brutal ways, it was all too hard. It’s the subject of a fascinating Lego post on Troppo. The commenters, like me, all disagree with the way the teachers handled the Great Lego Social Experiment, but for different reasons. Lego fans, go over there and read the whole thing.

A genteel old man who’d evidently been up since dawn at the Shrine, complete with tweed jacket and camel trousers, stood for ages gazing at the lego city. It’s never too late to channel your inner little boy.

6 May 2007, Comments Off on You used to give me roses

You used to give me roses

Author: Helen

When P@ris Hilt0n was sentenced to 45 days’ jail, amid interjections from her mum which showed clearly the contempt she has for the justice system, her lawyer was heard to say:

…the sentence was “uncalled for, inappropriate and bordered on the ludicrous.”

“I think she’s singled out because of who she is,” Weitzman said.

The callous solipsism of privileged people in the US knows no bounds. There are other groups of people who, it’s been shown, really do get singled out because of who they are. But they’re not white celebrities.

While surfing the distasteful “celebrity” news sections for this item, I learned that Br1tney Spe@rs is planning to call her unborn sprog Jailynn, apparently. You just can’t write satire about these people.
Update: Time taken for some spambot to find this and trackback to its “blog”, “”: about twenty minutes.

Crossposted at Road to Surfdom

6 May 2007, Comments Off on Don’t say “Assault Weapon”, say “Household Firearm”

Don’t say “Assault Weapon”, say “Household Firearm”

Author: Helen

I’ve just bought George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant. Years late, as usual. I’m not far into it at the moment, but the book has had such a buzz on the internets, the central premise, that is, the idea of framing, is pretty well known.
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The Australian edition is interesting, because it begins with an introduction by Julia Baird, relating the book to the Australian scene. I could certainly relate to this:

The Labor Party could heed this advice. It needs to engage more fiercely in the gladiatorial pit of ideas, instead of jogging around the mortgage belts choking on the dust of the Liberal candidates running miles ahead.
…Even allowing people who are strong on social values and cultural identity to be called elites (accepting labels similar to those used in America) is sloppy; the ‘cappuccino set’; ‘chardonnay socialists’; ‘chattering classes’; ‘latte drinkers’.
…It’s a language created by the right, and now frequently circulated by the left as they hasten to endear themselves to middle Australia by dissasociating themselves from the unfashionably socially concerned. [I would add “unfashionably environmentalist” to that, too.] They have lost both the moral and the material high ground…
…This is perhaps one of the most curious intellectual developments over the past two decades, as we have watched the left concede large areas of thought to the conservatives.”

I probably shouldn’t blog about a book I haven’t finished yet, but the idea of framing has really been sloshing around in my head due to the last few things I’ve posted on; the idea of emotion as instantly discreditable to any argument; the notion of the nuclear industry belonging to the people who make hard decisions, by which we mean they have more of the decision making mojo than their opponents, even though reducing energy use and starting up an industry of renewables might be an equally “hard decision”.
Just look at Michelle Grattan’s latest column in the AGE news today. Not only is the article called “Battle for the Battlers” (kudos for squeezing one of the Liberal party’s favourite framing words twice into a four-word title), it uses the word soft rather than swinging (which has rather louche, glamorous-sixties-with-martinis connotations) to describe vacillating voters who are a bit Green around the edges:

Labor needed to liberalise its uranium mining policy but the cost could be to send back home again some soft Green voters who had been considering Rudd.

“Soft”: It’s enough to send any self-respecting Geordie screaming into the arms of the most neoliberal, industry-friendly party he can find.

Back to the “emotion” thing. I think when Mike Rann sneeringly dismisses opponents of nuclear energy, he’s quite clear in his intention- he means unable to think clearly, and there’s a dogwhistle element of “girly, unable to appreciate weighty matters”, as well. In the recent debate between Sarkozy and Segolene Royal, Sarkozy tried to pin the emotional hysteric tag onto Royal – which she deflected quite expertly, as far as I can tell. En Garde, Ziggy!

But the conservatives, both on the Liberal and Labor side of politics, have been using emotion for all it’s worth. They’re just framing it very carefully, so that it looks as though they are simply the competent custodians of our safety and prosperity, and it’s the people they are manipulating who are doing the emoting. Some examples:

Tampa and detention centres: Frame: National security. The aliens and trrists are coming! Emotion: Fear.
Tasmania’s old growth forests: Frame: Standing up for the Workers. The greenies are going to put everyone out of work and ruin the economy! Emotion: Fear, anger.
The economy: Frame: The Liberal party is the only one which can manage the economy! Interest rates under Paul Keating oogabooga! Emotion: Fear, avarice.
Abortion: Frame: Murdering 100,000 babies a year, also, Girls gone Wild! Emotion: Fear, disgust.

I’m sure you can think of many more.

Post title from here.

4 May 2007, Comments Off on Friday Dog blogging: Zippy

Friday Dog blogging: Zippy

Author: Helen

As the owner* of one black-and-tan tricolour, half Rottie, joyful lunatic dog (they’re the best kind)**


I’m asking you to send cheery thoughts out to another black-and-tan tricolour, half Rottie (by the looks of it), joyful lunatic dog and her owner, Twisty. Zippy’s stomach went a bit funny and she had to go under the knife at the Vet’s, which is never nice, and horrible for the human too.

Zippy image from I Blame the Patriarchy

May Zippy’s recovery be swift and easy.
*Well, Girlchild is the nominal owner, but one must construct a legible sentence.
**As you know, the best kind of dog is always the one you currently have.