Archives: December 2007

29 Dec 2007, Comments Off on Holidays


Author: Helen

Sitting on a towel in the shade at the North Melbourne pool, well back from the babble and splash from the big pool, where Boychild and his friend are disporting themselves.

Reading Mansfield Park, inspired by this. (I was going to post on the Holiday Reading thread over there, but my God, so bloody interlecktuwal. That’s their holiday reading? I’m embarrassed to fess up to my fiction and lesser non-fiction reading, deadset. The Coetzee sounds like a good read but.)

For the first time in sixteen years, I can do this without actually watching the children the whole time. I can read whole chapters uninterrupted, except to dispense orange juice. If either of them dies, I guess they’ll put out an announcement on the loudspeaker.

24 Dec 2007, Comments Off on Merry Xmas to you and to you and to you

Merry Xmas to you and to you and to you

Author: Helen

From Eucalyptus:

These trees have very rapid growth at this time of the year. Appearing fully formed and complete with a shiny inedible fruit and spangly lights. The appearance of one tree seems to prompt a plague, they appear everywhere, and cause some mysterious emulatory disease to take hold in the far corners of the world.

I wasn’t going to buy a tree this year, because the drought had pushed up the price beyond my limit, but even my hardened heart missed the piney smell. I was rather pleased actually that the kids missed it – a sign that they aren’t hardened little consumerists yet. Luckily, Coles must have overbought because a couple of days ago the price dropped to below even last year’s. So now we have a pine tree in the living room again. Boychild has appointed himself boss of Christmas decorations.

To all the bloggers out there…

To everyone who made me laugh, made me cry, made me squirt various beverages through my nose, and even made me think, in 2007. To all the people who have commented on my blog, and all the lurkers too.

May your 2008 be great, mate. Be careful on the roads if you’re driving around.

19 Dec 2007, Comments Off on Calling the Hivemind

Calling the Hivemind

Author: Helen

If you can spare the time from the destruction of civilisation as we know it writing Christmas cards, nominations for the 2007 Femmobolsho Awards are up over at Hoyden About Town.

If it was femmo, if it was bolsho, if it was written in 2007 and you loved it, go over and post a link.

Nominations close at the end of New Years day.

16 Dec 2007, Comments Off on AGE op-eds again

AGE op-eds again

Author: Helen

OK, so I whinge about the AGE op-ed pages a lot. I realise the Australian (formerly the Government Gazette) and the Hun are full of horrors, too. It’s just that the AGE is my daily dead-tree read of choice, and as a consumer I feel the need for some of that fact-checking and investigative journalism on which the MSM so prides itself.

I just think it’s a worry when the AGE publishes a long article in the op-ed section giving the public the case for nuclear power, and that article is bought in wholesale from a known nuclear- and fossil-fuel industry lobbyist.

It’s a worry when that writer is identified at the end of the article thus: Dr Patrick Moore is a co-founder and former leader of Greenpeace, and chairman and chief scientist of Greenspirit Strategies. Which might cause the busy time-poor reader to conclude that not only does this guy really have Greenpeace’s measure, but he is still, well, really green. A kind of loyal and more respectable opposition, if you like.

It’s a worry that Patrick Moore is also co-chair of the Clean and Safe Energy coalition, “a public relations campaign for new reactors launched April 24, 2006, funded by the trade association, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), and headed by former Bush Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Christine Todd Whitman and former Greenpeace activist Patrick Moore”. In short, a front group for the Nuclear Energy Institute.

It’s a worry that Moore’s lobbying groups have used the Burson Marseller PR group, which has been involved in other astroturf campaigns for Phillip Morris and the forestry industry in Canada, as well as PR for Blackwater USA and the Argentinian junta. (“People get killed everywhere,” Moore is recorded as saying.) It’s a worry that Moore’s record of astroturfing activities on behalf of the fossil fuel and forestry industries– as well as other popular anti-environmental hobbyhorses like DDT– is as long as your arm.

Tim Lambert sheds more light on why a concern for global warming probably isn’t the motivation behind Moore’s boosterism.

It’s a worry that the AGE, which I’m sure prides itself on its investigative journalism, buys these drop-in modular-unit articles, presumably because of cost cutting, so that instead of investigation and analysis, we get corporate funded propaganda.

Hat tip to Jason Leske, an anonymous stirrer from Quinceland, who wrote into the letters page pointing this out.

Crossposted at Road to Surfdom

11 Dec 2007, Comments Off on It’s finally happened: AGE op-ed page renders satire redundant

It’s finally happened: AGE op-ed page renders satire redundant

Author: Helen

Or the Onion, where this article appeared recently:

Man Finally Put In Charge Of Struggling Feminist Movement
December 3, 2007
WASHINGTON—After decades spent battling gender discrimination and inequality in the workplace, the feminist movement underwent a high-level shake-up last month, when 53-year-old management consultant Peter “Buck” McGowan took over as new chief of the worldwide initiative for women’s rights…
…”All the feminist movement needed to do was bring on someone who had the balls to do something about this glass ceiling business,” said McGowan…

Now we have our very own Onion:

We don’t need feminism to fight inequity
Michael Vaughan
December 11, 2007
Society needs fewer schisms, not the imagining of more.

OH, PLEASE, Karen Murphy (Opinion, 4/12), the revolution is over. For heaven’s sake, give feminism, that hoary old chestnut (or should that be whorey, given your attack on women?) a rest.

If I may, I’d like to run over a few salient points….

(etc, etc).

And in the Letters page, more antifeminism from another batshit crazy “Institute”. Oh joy.

5 Dec 2007, Comments Off on He probably thought he was home and hosed after “Muralitharan”

He probably thought he was home and hosed after “Muralitharan”

Author: Helen

Sports announcer on the ABC on Monday morning:

“Blah, blah, blah of the blah as Muralitharan’s set to overtake Shane Spawn.”

Long pause.


2 Dec 2007, Comments Off on Girl Germs at the Capitol

Girl Germs at the Capitol

Author: Helen

I took Girlchild to the Germaine Greer lecture on Jane Austen on Wednesday night. It was part of the Jane Austen and Comedy conference organised by Laura. I’d expected to have to drag this Millenial along under gentle duress, eyes rolling, in the hope that she might be intrigued in spite of expectations, and that she’d look back on it as an interesting experience, hearing a public lecture from one of our most prominent intellectuals and shit-stirrers. How I underestimated that girl. She, like, totally got it at once, came cheerfully and willingly and listened attentively (with the odd chuckle), despite not being a huge Austen fan.

Shameful confession: I’ve never been inside the Capitol Theatre before. The theatre itself is a larger than life personality which would upstage a lesser speaker. It was nice to hear a voice say hello in the queue outside and turn around to see Genevieve from Reeling and Writhing, who I’d met at a couple of blogmeets.

If you didn’t want girl cooties, it was the wrong place for you. I was amused to see that the crowd was overwhelmingly biased to women my age or older, and that many of them – Genevieve included – had the same idea of bringing a daughter along. Initiating them into TEH HIVEMIND. (Tim T was in the audience, but I didn’t spot him.)

“Check out the estrogen level in this place,” said Girlchild. I wondered if we’d all start menstruating at the same time the next day. Hell, with this many women in one room, the men would be, too.

Germaine Greer has an image in the popular mind as a ballbusting terror on wheels. It doesn’t reflect her real-life persona, as most of the people who read here would know. She’s like your favourite auntie, the generous and funny one who nevertheless doesn’t take any crap from anyone, and might come out with Outrageous Remarks after a few sherries. “Hello, there,” said a sweet voice to kick off the lecture. She spoke self-deprecatingly of not doing written lectures very much, but aiming to please anyway, and her disappointment at not being able to see our faces because of the stage lighting. She took us on a magical mystery tour around the Bildungsroman (with reference to The Getting of Wisdom and Mansfield Park), the eighteenth century, Colin Firth’s wet shirt (she’s over it); Why she doesn’t write fiction herself; Psychoanalysing Fanny Price in Mansfield Park; the invention of scottishness, Percy Shelley, and many other fascinating side trips, rather like the alleyways of Melbourne into which we spilled afterwards – you never know what you’ll find, but like Greer, you always return to the firm grid of Bourke/Elizabeth/Swanston which keeps us on topic.

Maybe shamefully, I was hoping for a hint of controversy – a provocative remark, a hint of intellectual stoush maybe – and blow me down if Pamela Bone didn’t stand up right at the very end, in question time, and ask why, if Germaine was able to talk about the patriarchal structures binding Fanny Price and other female heroines, why she wasn’t … I forget here what she was actually advocating Greer do at the time, but anyway, feminists aren’t doing enough.

I recognise not everyone frequents the same corner of the blogosphere, so if you don’t immediately recognise this popular strawargument, I’ve blogged it before here, and you can find much robust discussion (cough) here and here.

Greer’s reply was a study in fluency and civility, although her voice was fighting irritation in response to Bone’s, which was sullen and accusatory. I wonder how many times Greer has had to take on that stuff from the Decents in her own home base. Rather than focusing on the savagery and needless suffering caused by the West’s concept of direct “intervention”, as well as the fact that our incursions onto middle-eastern soil have not really been prompted by concern for the status of Muslim women, Greer’s central point is that in the places where the barbarities happen, we have no standing. We can only help people on the ground who have some standing in that society. Otherwise, we can denounce until we’re blue in the face, but nothing will happen– the people practicing the barbarities just think we’re weak and degenerate for doing so. Also, as we can’t seem to get the justice system to do much for rape victims in Australia, we won’t be very effective anywhere else.

No stoush ensued. Laura asked a question about the reading of Jane Austen, and do we read it in the wrong way – that is, as a romance novel? Greer’s answer is that there is nothing to worry about, the text is always there and we will always have it no matter how many production companies make bodice-ripper movies out of it.

I wish we could always have Germaine, but at least we had the experience of hearing her speak; Girlchild and I were exceedingly diverted.

Update 2/12/07: Laura and Another Outspoken Female debrief. Other people we failed to spot in the audience: Gina Riley and Judith Lucy.

LP has more – and that hilarious Andrew Bolt has weighed in too, wouldn’t you know.

Update 6/12/07: Dr. Cat, who was part of the JA conference, debriefs too.
Crossposted at Road to Surfdom