Archives: November 2007

26 Nov 2007, Comments Off on Speech Therapy: the R word

Speech Therapy: the R word

Author: Helen

Scene: A back room at the Wentworth Hotel, 9:30, saturday, November 24.

The soon-to-be-ex PM is rehearsing an especially tricky section of his concession speech with a coach from Crosby Textor.

Crosby Textor Coach: Now, deep breath and try again. You can do this!

Rodent: I t-t-t-t-take…

CTC: C’mon…

Rodent: I t-t-t-take fuuuuuuuuuuaaaaaaaaargh!

CTC: Full.

Rodent: fuuuaaaaaaargh! Respoooooooooooniiiiiibleeeee…

CTC: Res-pon-si-bil-ity.

Rodent: Yes, I AM aware of that. It’s the word order I find, quite frankly, mr Spoiker, offensive to a great statesman such as myself.

CTC: I’m not your Mr Speaker, you made that mistake before. Try to remember we’re not in Parliament now. Right, let’s go again, not long to go before your speech.

Rodent: I t-taa..ake fuuuargh! Respoooooooooooniiiiiieeeee! Aaargh! It burns!

CTC: Here, have some water. Don’t worry mate, I know you haven’t had any practice with this. we’ll have it down by the time you hit the podium.

Rodent: I’m meltiiiiiiing…..

24 Nov 2007, Comments Off on Pinata


Author: Helen

It’s Girlchild’s birthday, so we won’t be going to any major election night parties. We’ll probably be bashing this at a neighbour’s place.

21 Nov 2007, Comments Off on Unions Boo!

Unions Boo!

Author: Helen

While we’re being frightened out of our wits on prime-time TV, in the leadup to the election, by ads featuring scary Unions (Ooga-booga!) we might do well to think of the outcome of monday’s rockfall at the Lihir Ballarat gold mine. The miners survival was in large part due to safety measures such as oxygen equipment and safety chambers. Not to mention protective clothing, boots and helmets. Such measures exist because those dreadful trade unions have worked for years to make workplaces safer.

If the incident had occurred in China or the Ukraine where independent unions are stifled by repressive governments, the outcome might have been very different.

Oh, and I support today’s teacher’s strike as well.

Crossposted at Road to Surfdom

18 Nov 2007, Comments Off on National day of Action on the Northern Territory “Intervention”

National day of Action on the Northern Territory “Intervention”

Author: Helen

In my self-centred frenzy of spruiking the new family T shirt empire, I missed the National day of Action on the Northern Territory Intervention yesterday. So here’s a roundup of links and commentary from Australia and the US. After all, the election focus has switched back to “responsible economic management”, especially of middle-class white peoples’ mortgages, so we all need a reminder that a couple of months ago, the Australian government sent the army into aboriginal communities and is to annex their land, all in the name of protecting children.

Sadly, one doesn’t have to be a cynic to tell that this was a political stunt (as well as highly convenient now that they won’t be tying up all that lovely uranium. To some people, this may sound strangely familiar). To quote the National Sorry Day commission,

– there are the 339 Recommendations from the Deaths in Custody Report, released in 1990.
– there are the 54 Recommendations from Bringing Them Home Report, released in 1997.
– now there are another 97 Recommendations from the Little Children are Sacred Report, released in June 2007. This makes a grand a total of 490 recommendations.

It is agreed amongst commentators that most of the earlier 393 recommendations until June 2007 either have been absolutely ignored, or implemented in an ineffectual manner through inadequate funding, limited resources and insufficient service providers and staff.

Here’s some of the bloggers who responded to the day of action:


(L)isten up. Your worldview is broken beyond repair. Aboriginal peoples aren’t withered obsolete organs, to be seen only in terms of their utility or troublesomeness. You don’t get to do whatever you want with them. You don’t GET to decide whether to keep them, treat them, or excise them. They are human beings to be respected, not irritating vestiges or evolutionary curiosities. They have societies and a dynamic heritage of their own, as well as being part of a broader Australian society. They form sovereign nations.

Start listening to equal humans, to equal nations. Treaty, now.

*Cara (Feministe):

As you can hopefully see, there is nothing even remotely right, sensible or well-intentioned about these actions. They breach the Racial Discrimination Act, violate property laws, strip citizens of personal autonomy, push people onto welfare and then restrict their access to it. And the intervention does these things to only one racial group within the population.

Instead of working with Aboriginal people, the government is working specifically against them, including appointing non-Aboriginal managers of communities. This is not a dialogue, it is not help, it is not intervention, it is quite frankly invasion.

*Brownfemipower also gives the call to action a kick along (she was already across, and writing about, this issue before), and gives a hat tip to
*Firefly at She who Stumbles, who explains the abolition of Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) – part of the “intervention” – and the likely consequences. She’s the originator of the call to action. Thanks, Firefly.

The call to action contains many useful links. I’d add to that the Little Children are Sacred report (warning – PDF), which – contrary to the intention of its writers – was used by the federal government to launch the “intervention”. The report listed 97 recommendations. As the Sorry Day quotation mentioned above, the government ignored all of the report’s recommendations, including the first, which was to work together with aboriginal leaders to form a co-ordinated response to abuse and disadvantage.

17 Nov 2007, Comments Off on Bucket!


Author: Helen

It’s shameless self promotion time.

We have a new family business: Meet Mr. Bucket.

It’s SO’s new business. For months, our study has been filling up with cardboard boxes of T shirts. SO has been feverishly screen printing, sewing on labels and churning out swing tags. I’d say the T shirts are sweatshop free, but that’s not strictly true- he is the sweatshop. He’s diversified into hoodies, and Mr Bucket BBQ aprons for that hard-to-buy-for uncle, Dad or partner.

Mr Bucket T shirts come in an ice cream bucket, maintaining the bucket theme, so they make interesting presents.

We’ve also had a new addition to the family, Mr. Bucket himself, the six-foot-plus mannequin (he’s no dummy), who lives with us when he isn’t working. Here he is at the Rose Street Market, in Fitzroy, where he goes every Saturday from 10 to 5. When he isn’t there, or in the shop window of the Village Idiom in Yarraville, he stands just inside our front door, frightening the living shit out of me every time I come home forgetting he’s there.


If you can’t make it to these places, don’t despair, because you can always order one from the Mr Bucket web site, or on eBay. The t shirts come in a variety of mens and womens’ styles.

And then, to be topical, there’s the Vote Bucket campaign.

Protect Australia – Vote Bucket

We don’t know how far this thing is going to go, but it’s growing. SO is certainly enjoying the ride.

12 Nov 2007, Comments Off on Sick day

Sick day

Author: Helen

Boychild woke up with a sore throat this morning. We haven’t had a sick day in ages.

Although he clearly has a cold, he’s not miserable or feverish.

Outside, the sky is blue and the chirping of the sparrows is soporific. The dog snoozes in our bedroom, happy to have her people at home. I practice a new song on the guitar, and don’t quite get it, but I will next time. We glue another layer on the pinata.

I make him spaghetti jaffles with the old black jaffle iron. We talk about this and that and he chatters his mad ten-year-old chatter. He flashes his toothy grin.

This day is a gift.

9 Nov 2007, Comments Off on Selfish ber-loody women at it again

Selfish ber-loody women at it again

Author: Helen

There’s a peculiar story in the newspapers today based on a study by Joshua Gans and Andrew Leigh, and if you frequent Club Troppo, John Quiggin’s blog or other economics blogs these names will be familiar to you.

Almost 700 mothers delayed giving birth so they could receive higher baby bonus payments that took effect from July last year, a study has found.

This story spawned a disgusting hatefest on and similar forums, with all the usual suspects getting an airing: bogans, young single mums (Boo!), plasma tvs, dole bludgers, “natural selection”. You know the sort of thing. Like this gem from “Bruce”:

Disgusting. When will Australian mothers show some class? Caesarian’s beacause they are lazy [Naturally, Bruce gave birth to all his children himself, so he’s right across this subject] and now crossing their legs for taxpayers money… I truly pity the children of these creatures.

and “Al”:

haha, this would be the first time in history that the welfare mothers have kept there [sic] legs closed….

Gans and Leigh both blog the Baby Bonus story in more detail, here and here. They’re too civilised to indulge in the kind of crude banter referred to above, of course, but even for Gans the urge to make a passing reference to “a plasma TV” is too great.

Among the stentorian tones of the economists and the spittle-flecked rage of the wingnuts, “Pidge of Brisbane”, who is over 60, put her hand up and quietly said:

I wish someone could tell me how you hold back a baby that is ready to come out.

Thank you, Pidge of Brisbane, for pointing out the bleeding (and pushing, and yelling) obvious. If my reading of the news reports and the original report is correct, you’ll see that the “delayed” births were heavily weighted towards elective caesarians or induced labours. I believe there are ways to delay labour medically, but if it’s a full-term baby which is ready to come, it’d be a hell of an intervention and I don’t see many doctors in our busy and understaffed hospitals agreeing to it for a non-medical reason. In short, they’re talking about babies being “delayed” but these are still pre-term babies.

If, in fact, these babies are just being allowed to be born closer to the time when their mums’ bodies make this imperative, then who exactly is being harmed? I’m not much of a naturist when it comes to the birthing issue – Loved the epidural, thanks- but I think the natural process of birth is simply being pushed to one side in favour of, yes, an over-medicalised definition of the process. If you have scheduled an elective caesarian or other procedure before your “due date”, and you then decide to delay that elective procedure, then you are merely… well, following the course of a normal pregnancy. If you can imagine such a thing.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the newspaper. Here’s Gans’ summing up of the problem as he sees it. This follows very closely the conclusion of the report itself, which touches briefly on the hypothetical possibility that physical harm might result but makes it very clear that the focus of the report is with the disruption of the hospital system and economic management, not with ZOMG Mothers killing their babies:

People have choices and respond to incentives. What we donít want is a normal, stable and predictable medical environment being disrupted by arbitrary incentives being handed down from above by governments. It is completely unwarranted. And to see it repeat itself again amounts to “nano-economic” mismanagement of a high order.

The original report doesn’t give any evidence of harm caused to babies as a result of this birth spike. In fact, it’s out of scope of the report. It’s mentioned as a hypothetical possibility (with some cherry-picked arse-covering doctor quotes along the lines that something bad might happen.) Apart from that, the focus is clearly on the disruption to the hospital system.

So, in that case, why is the AGE news report titled “Baby bonus a health risk, say doctors”? The report was by two economists, not doctors. Oh, I get it! They’re both PhDs, so they’re doctors! But wait – the report was about spikes in births causing disruption to the health system, and how the Baby Bonus is a bad policy generally. The “health risk” was a kite that was flown speculatively, but there was no actual morbidity study included in the report. Oh, I get it! ZOMG Mothers are Killing their Babies for Welfare payments makes a rather dry economists’ report into a juicy story!

Here’s what an actual obstetrician says:

Doctors say there is no way they would allow prospective mothers to do anything dangerous when it comes to childbirth.
Dr Chris Tippett is the president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
“It’s very difficult to plan when your baby’s going to be delivered that far ahead of time,” she said.
“We know that 4 per cent of babies deliver on the date that we best calculate and what I’m saying is in fact the women who would be able to defer the deliveries – the women who would have had planned caesarean sections – often they’re planned at, say, 38 weeks and one or two days.
“There’d be no harm in transferring those to 39 weeks and two days.
“I think I’m correct in saying that last time that this occurred and people looked at the data more closely, it seemed likely that this effect was associated with people deferring things like caesarean sections.”

Two points.

One, the voices raised in opposition to the over-medicalisation of birth – especially the scheduling of births with elective caesars and inductions – have often been women. Their charge that such scheduling was often done with the convenience of medical professionals in mind has never captured the public imagination, so we have continued with the elective caesars and the rest of it. Now someone has come up with a report showing that some women may have turned that very system to their – the mothers’ – advantage, and suddenly it’s time for a blamefest. Oh the irony.

Two: it was depressing to read the outpouring of hatred and bile against a hypothetical population of mothers who are all in the eighth grade, selfish, TV-buying harlots. The AGE and articles highlighted the misogynist and vicious streak in our population – women commenters as well as men – which still survives and thrives, and which the internet brings out, blinking, from under its usual rock. (The ire is directed as much at poor people in general as it is against women.) It would have been great if Gans and Leigh had made some reference to the inappropriateness of their response, and distanced themselves from it, rather than just whistling and talking amongst themselves with arms folded while the Two-Minute Hate went on around them. After all, they must have known that “Baby Bonus a Health risk, say doctors” was not an accurate description of the conclusions of their report.

6 Nov 2007, Comments Off on Larvatus Prodeo in Exile

Larvatus Prodeo in Exile

Author: Helen

This will only be of interest if you’re a regular at Larvatus Prodeo. Pass it on.

From Mark Bahnisch:

We’ve had major problems over the last few days with a spam attack of unprecedented size, which has rendered LP almost unusable due to constant database errors. We’ll be upgrading and moving to a new host over the weekend (at which point we’ll disappear altogether for a few days).

Basically, the increased traffic we’ve had since the election began (up by about a third on normal) has made us a more attractive target to spammers.

In the meantime, we’ve found turning comments off keeps the site working as the spammers posting comments is the cause of too many database connections open at once – hence the outages. We’ve picked the new host for greater reliability as well as more bandwidth.

In the meantime, we’ve set up a backup blog – LP in Exile – where we’ll be crossposting and where comments can be posted:

We’re also appealing for donations to assist with costs involved in the move:

We’d be very grateful if you could post about this, or disseminate it in other ways to other friends of LP.

Please bear with us during this time of transition, and we hope we’ll be back all shiny and new next week.


5 Nov 2007, Comments Off on It Had to Happen

It Had to Happen

Author: Helen

Image from Wikipedia

The Bible in LOLcat.

Via Echidne.