Archives: May 2008

31 May 2008, Comments Off on She even makes Devonian shire teas, I mean, who does that these days?

She even makes Devonian shire teas, I mean, who does that these days?

Author: Helen

Aleeshya's mum really needs to moisturise
Aleeshya’s mum really needs to moisturise more.

A team of Australian scientists have uncovered the world’s oldest vertebrate mother in a newly unearthed species of fossil fish. Published in Nature, the fossil shows a single embryo connected by an umbilical cord and is the oldest evidence of an animal giving birth to live young.

Dating back around 380 million years…

Students at Scarysuburb Senior college were less than impressed with the news when the Balcony did a quick voxpop today.

“My mother is, like, way older,” said Britnee, 16. “She listens to like the Flock of Seagulls and stuff and when that 80s stuff came back a few months back, she had a lot of that stuff in her closet already. Although she had to give it to me cos she couldn’t fit into it any more. Plus, she doesn’t even know how to text. Old.

But she had to defer finally to young Aleeshya, or as she’s known to her family, “change of life baby”. “My mum had a Kombi van with swirly bits painted on it,” she said. “And the high point of her life was going to Sunbury and watching Billy Thorpe who is, like, dead.”

28 May 2008, Comments Off on You’d think it was the Muppet show, but different Henson

You’d think it was the Muppet show, but different Henson

Author: Helen

For the last couple of weeks, longer than the furore over Bill Henson’s photographic exhibition, this photograph has stared out of the Entertainment pages of the local paper.

Rightly or wrongly (and we’ll probably never know), people have speculated for over a century about whether there was something creepy about Charles Dodgsons’ photographic sessions with the young Alice Liddell.

As Pavlov’s Cat points out, this child photograph, with the mildly disturbing come-hither expression and the dress falling off the shoulder, may be as problematic as any of the Henson photos, but no-one has called for its removal from the AGE entertainment section. Maybe it’s because she’s clothed. As Tigtog says, there is a certain conflation of sex and nudity going on, that should be questioned. Meanwhile, the marketing to little girls continues; sex-ay young adult-style clothes, highly sexualised Bratz dolls, tweenage fashion models and catalogue photo shoots using come-hither looks and poses, computer games that teach girls the man chasing meme at an age when they should be out climbing a tree, billboards with “Longer lasting sex” two metres high which you can’t escape; where has Disgusted of Burwood been all this time?

As Lauredhel says,

Plenty of feminists have been having plenty of problems with some or all of the above for a long, long time. Sometimes I really do feel invisible.

I agree with Clive Hamilton (via Tigtog) that perhaps the well has been poisoned by the commercial exploitation of young girls. In other words, it’s because so many advertising gurus and toy or game designers have cynically tried to drag early adolescents into adult-land that people have been unable to visually read Henson’s work any other way. I do agree that his work is very disturbing, but defining it as pr0nographic is not as straightforward as Disgusted of Burwood would like to think.

I also think that the concerns that many people have with the issue of consent are valid. There is just no one straight answer to this one.

Update: More from Sorrow at Sill’s Bend.

25 May 2008, Comments Off on Eurovision 2008

Eurovision 2008

Author: Helen

The Festival of European zaniness is over for another year.

The winner – Russia, exemplifying the Eurovision template of a contorted singer flanked by formation dancers and/or acrobats. Instead of acrobats, this guy had an ice skater twirling around him in a Jon Heder-inspired frenzy- and he (the singer) was in his socks.

We were waiting for his feet to be cut off, but it didn’t happen.

Here’s my pick – Bosnia-Herzegovina. (For Battle! agrees.) Although it was a hard choice between B-H and Finland. I love it that there is always a Death Metal band from one of the Nordic countries dressed like Warhammer figurines. This year they had exploding fireballs! All they needed was the tiny Stonehenge. Oh, and pirates!

Oh, why didn’t they win? why?

24 May 2008, Comments Off on Soon, though, Julia realises that she’s more free as a slave than she ever was as a sheltered Roman virgin

Soon, though, Julia realises that she’s more free as a slave than she ever was as a sheltered Roman virgin

Author: Helen

Here’s a real head-scratcher for you: This article, by Elizabeth Farrelly, author of Blubberland.

After following a winding path through contemporary women artists (narcissists), feminists, who have “often wanted it both ways” (contradict themselves, don’t know what they want) and Germaine Greer (“Owns” the subject of feminism and sexuality), Farrelly ends with Mills and Boon and the bodice-ripper genre in general:

In Mills & Boon-land, they want to be wanted so much that neither the rampant male nor the unwilling female can keep the passion in check. The romance is there, but it is there to eroticise the sex. As writer Julie Bindel notes, there is “in every book a scene where the heroine is ‘broken in’, both emotionally and physically, by the hero”.

This is the origin of the rape fantasy, the urge to be “cavemanned”, which most women feel now and then. Traditional feminists such as Bindel deplore it as misogynistic propaganda while “pro-sex” post-feminists such as Daisy Cummins (herself an M&B author) find it intensely enjoyable. Two hundred million readers, mostly female, think she’s right.

Both are wrong- denial on the one hand, subjugation on the other. And both are right. There are evolutionary “reasons” for the rape fantasy- for the female to be overpowered inclines her to the strongest sperm, and the strongest offspring. So Cummins versus Bindel might be seen less as a problem requiring resolution than the age-old clash between our propelling primate brain and our civilising neo-cortex, to be seen, understood and even enjoyed.

Yet another demonstration, then, that most things, thank God power and sex included- are more complicated than they seem. To give is also to receive, to oppress is also to be oppressed.

I don’t really know what this has to do with the main premise of the article, which is that women visual artists are narcissists – is it something to do with taking these narcissistic women down a peg? And the two quoted writers are not exactly the alpha and omega of world feminism and its many ideas on sexuality, are they?

I cringe when I think how hurtful and insulting this stuff must be for women who have actually been raped, but I also want to draw your attention to the way Farrelly oh-so-casually drops “evolutionary reasons” into that paragraph. As many people will know who read academic, science and feminist blogs, EvPsych is a stream of academic thought which is beleaguered with badly designed studies, bias, long-bow-drawing and the fictional “just-so stories”, as some people call them. It doesn’t seem as rife here in the Australian media as it is in the US, where every second lifestyle article seems to want to justify gender constructs as originating from life on the “savannah” or something to do with mammoths or sabre-tooth tigers – most originating from a second-hand reading of studies which were discredited years ago.

It’s not a good sign that another strain of pseudoscientific garbage is creeping into the Australian arena. Just another wheelbarrowload of shit for Australian feminists to shovel.

To say, as one M&B writer does, that “I imagine in all women, deep down inside us, is a primitive desire to be arrogantly bullied”, is not to voice some deep unacknowledged sociological truth. It’s a manifestation of a need for psychological help, however much it might give her the edge in rape-fiction writing.

As for Farrelly’s concluding sentence,

It’s the kind of paradox that absolutely characterises woman, which is why male orthodoxy has always found her so threatening. Hence the burqa, the witch-hunt, the ducking stool. But my question, for all those oppressors out there, is this. If we’re the cat meat, who’s the pussy?

Definitely a head-scratcher. But I’m still going to avoid the seraglio, thanks.

The title is from the article linked above.

24 May 2008, Comments (7)

Mream Reamed

Author: Helen


(or, as I found out when I had my PA look it up, Maribyrnong river edge artist’s movement)

Thank you for spending thirty years helping to build Footscray riverside precinct’s hip, funky ambience. Now it’s ripe for us to move in and take over. Thanks to your cultural events and all your hard work, we’ll realise a greater profit when we’ve taken your artists’ studio and converted it into dozens of hip and happening apartments for the upwardly mobile. Great work!

Hoping you can find some nice accommodation, somewhere like, well, Braybrook. -Hey, drop us a line once you’ve made Braybrook hip and happening, ay? Love your work!



MREAM studio, with the iconic mirror bug

Update 2/6/2008: Von from Mream writes:

If you want to support MREAM artists please come to our exhibition at FCAC, opening Thursday 5th at 5 pm.
Or else look out for our final sales and exhibition in July.

Just the thing if you need birthday or wedding presents, or are otherwise in need of art.

Bewitched, bothered and bewildered

I have no personal reason to defend Caroline Shahbaz, outgoing change management consultant for the City of Port Phillip. I’m prepared to believe the report that she’s much too fascinated by new-agey woo (like thousands of other people both in and out of management circles), and vastly overpaid (like thousands of other management consultants the world over.)

But. I just think the language employed by this article is… very interesting. See what you think.

19 May 2008, Comments Off on Femostroppo 07 Awards on Hoyden About Town

Femostroppo 07 Awards on Hoyden About Town

Author: Helen

Just Read!

18 May 2008, Comments Off on Powerful, but unfortunately, still too pink

Powerful, but unfortunately, still too pink

Author: Helen

The idea for this post is lifted shamelessly from Tigtog’s Lauredhel’s Images from the Mailbag post.My mailbag contains an invitation for a corporate night of fun and motivational speeches, like the one I wrote about here. Well, they’ve lost the “…in the city” reference (it’s the Cashmere Mafia these days, but I guess they couldn’t decide on a way to work in a “sassy” reference.) But it looks like they’ve kept the same graphic designer.

More anorexic chicks in the city!1!

These gatherings are meant to be about women being all empowerfulled and taking over the boardrooms of the world and stuff. While, of course, staying thin, pretty and wearing six-inch heels. Hey, I’m convinced!

11 May 2008, Comments Off on Fence, son of Wall: Exploring the Sploggiverse

Fence, son of Wall: Exploring the Sploggiverse

Author: Helen

On a slow day, the moderation queue can provide a laugh or two. “Not bad at all, but this topic is rather little of interest. Please do not disappoint your readership,” writes “Vonido”, huffily. Vonido, I apologise, and I’ll do my best to serve the needs of my spambots better in future! “Amyisku” says “cool site for my mind its very goodPlease, send your abuse here!!!” Only too happy to oblige, Amyisku, but I really couldn’t be bothered, as both of you are programs with no consciousness (as yet – unless the Singularity has arrived while I wasn’t looking.)

Then there’s the splogs – those roboblogs which are set up with a normal blogger template, blogroll and dated posts which consist of bits chopped out of other peoples’ blogs. Usually when a splog links to you, you’ll find an incomplete piece of your own work chopped out and used as a “post” in the splog.

Extremely annoying, useless (who on earth would go to read these things and click on their links?) and ethically on a level with email and telephone spam. If I had a huge number of hits, they’d be a moderation problem, but at the moment they’re just like annoying blowflies which I slap and move on.

“Fence” was a splog which linked to one of my older posts. If you take a look – (No link for you!) they haven’t even bothered to steal any text to make posts, which is a plus I suppose, and there’s a certain dadaist quality to it.

There’s a darker side, though. So you think, “OK, this is automating a bunch of links to a specific product. Boring, but so what?” But if you click on one of the “fence” links on the blogroll, you’ll get redirected to something like “Game cheats”. Obviously a massive risk for spyware, adware and worse.

So I decided to go and check out the main site, and discovered a software company that’s trying to do all the right things in product design – if you believe their introductory blurb.

Creating innovative product experience. We think creatively and work together to solve problems in a human centered way, building a captivating experience for the brand and the client’s audience.
Our holistic design approach recognizes the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts. We research and consider all of the elements effecting the user’s perception and expectation of the brand and its product. Through the process of collaboration between the client, the teams, and the user, we ideate, design, evaluate, and continually refine the product to deliver an innovative solution for a 360 degree captivating experience.

And from the “who we are” page:

Our diverse, multi-disciplinary culture helps us innovate across product and organization types. We are a consulting firm specializing in user-centered product design. As a team, Visde has extensive experience in interface design, information architecture, user research, package and industrial design, mobile applications, and a variety of other areas.

The people working there look genuinely nice, too. So why would a software company that’s big on usability design and product design destroy their reputation by standing behind a slurry of splogs which annoy and alienate the very Web 2.0 users who might be their future customers?

Well, guess what else I found on their main page.

The company has created a Postsecret-like feedback application, where you get to make suggestions to them, titled “What the World Needs in 2008”. (You can guess what my first response was. Splogs. LIKE A HOLE IN THE HEAD!) The entry box is somewhat limited, so you need to be pithy. The URL is

I’m up to my fourth comment. Bloggers, suffering under the deluge of splogs, have at it!

10 May 2008, Comments Off on Lewd balloon-tying will be on the curriculum

Lewd balloon-tying will be on the curriculum

Author: Helen

Girlchild: “She’s not doing the VCE. She’s doing the International Bachelorette.”