Archives: June 2008

30 Jun 2008, Comments Off on The Unspeakable in pursuit of the unelectable

The Unspeakable in pursuit of the unelectable

Author: Helen

A while ago there was a thread on Club Troppo about some of the annoying tropes that people come up with while arguing on the internet. RTS blogger Ken Lovell mentioned the common assumption that if you criticise the Liberal party, either State or Federal, you are a Labor supporter and have a portrait of Kevin Rudd / whichever State premier applies hanging in your parlour. Nothing could be further than the truth for this leftie luvvy, and many of my compatriots too. While I don’t think the Rudd government is by any means perfect (more on that some time), I’m chewing my own limbs off in irritation at our dreadful Victorian Labor party and their apparatchiks.

They’re bad enough day to day- every trip to work is a reminder of their awfulness – but election time is when their Right-dominated uglies really crawl to the fore. We recently had two byelections, one in Gippsland (won by the Nationals, as always) and one in Kororoit, part of the Western Suburbs (won by Labor’s Marlene Kairouz, but with a 16.5% swing away from Labor). The last time we had a State election in these here parts was 2006, when Barista reported angrily that he’d received letters purporting to be from a “concerned citizen”, stating that the Greens planned to shut down an excellent local school, MacRobertson Girl’s High. The claim was false, and the “concerned citizen” was actually a front for the Labor party. The letter was authorised by Stephen Newnham, State secretary and campaign director of the Labor party.

At the same time, Newnham was running an astroturf website, using various smear tactics agains the Greens party, and obviously designed to look youthful and edgy and NO WAY the work of a Labor party campaign manager. Oops, look at the bottom of the page.

This time around, Kororoit was being contested by Les Twentyman, who is a youth worker who has gained quite a lot of respect in the neighbourhood, so again, S. Newnham makes with the smear, as the AGE reported:

First, Labor distributed a leaflet saying “A vote for Les Twentyman is a vote for the Liberals”. In fact, the reverse was true: Twentyman’s preferences were directed to Labor. Then Brumby’s party told Kororoit voters that Twentyman, a much-lauded youth worker and former Victorian of the Year, was “placing your kids at risk” because he wanted to “build heroin injecting rooms in your suburb”.

All this because Twentyman has said that if the number of heroin-related deaths were to rise to 1999 levels, safe injecting rooms might need to be reconsidered. What Labor’s Kororoit leaflet didn’t say is that in 1999, the Labor cabinet — including Brumby — supported safe injecting rooms. The way Labor won this election reflects poorly on Brumby. The fact his party felt the need to resort to such tactics suggests Labor feared an even bigger swing.

But in Gippsland, the Greens – remember they were the original targets of S.Newnham’s sleaze – got the treatment again, because they had the temerity only to direct half their preferences to Labor. The ungrateful wretches, after all he’d done against for them! So he went on record as saying “This is an act of treachery!”

Folks, that is chutzpah par excellence!

What about the new MP for Kororoit, Marlene Kairouz? apparently she was helped along by Family First preferences (and favoured by the Labor right) because she’s anti-choice.

Just what we need. Honestly, I don’t see how anyone with progressive politics can vote for this lot, on any issue. You know what? I wish the Liberals had won this one, just so the Laborials would stop treating us like idiots. And S. Newnham? Not. Helping.

Update 1/7: This is interesting. But the paradigm seems to be “Newnham’s getting too wingnutty, maybe we should replace him with someone else from the Right.” Plus ca change.

30 Jun 2008, Comments Off on Thirteen days of the school holidays still to go

Thirteen days of the school holidays still to go

Author: Helen


Yes Boychild?

Which would you rather: get eaten alive by carnivorous ants, or bitten by a vampire.

[Temporarily forgetting the eternity-of-undeadness thing, which would be a real bummer]: Bitten by a vampire.

But what if the vampire had really really blunt teeth?

[Thinks]: I’ll still take the vampire, thanks.

How about, if the vampire had really worn old teeth and had to gum on you for hours?

What was the choice again?

29 Jun 2008, Comments (5)

Invasion of the Bloggy snatchers

Author: Helen

When I checked the Balcony this morning, the latest post was missing. After first-line technical response (aka blinking sleepily and refreshing the page) I realised it really was not there. Logging into the site admin, I found the post in its usual listing, but with a whole heap of HTML added: a bunch of links to the usual V1@gr@, “buy tickets” and similar nonsense.

So the comment spammers have found a way to insert HTML into your posts. Just a warning to the unwary WordPress blogger: If a post disappears, go into the “manage posts” page, find the missing item and check the text carefully.

Update 29/6: The buggers just did it to this post. Fixed now. Effing cheek!

24 Jun 2008, Comments Off on What are the odds…

What are the odds…

Author: Helen

…that when Boychild did his ukulele number in the school music concert last night, the kid immediately before him (guitar*) would belong to a well-known Melbourne blogger (and a regular read of mine?)

I tell you, *waving arms*, what are the odds, people!

*Epiphone, cherry red vintage style copy. Guitar playing bloggers- Shaun? Jack? eat your hearts out.

19 Jun 2008, Comments Off on Babysitting redux

Babysitting redux

Author: Helen

When a couple is so dysfunctional, so mad or evil and stupid, as to starve their twin toddlers to death in their own house (besides letting the preschoolers roam free in the street begging for scraps), guess which member of the equally culpable pair is made to carry the can, even now, in the 21st century?

Their father, a senior manager on a major city road project, claimed he had not seen or cared for the twins for six months despite living in the same house.

Lawyers for the man argued there is not enough evidence to support a murder charge because he did not have responsibility for the childen’s care.

There are no words.

15 Jun 2008, Comments Off on Ad Nauseam: No man likes a feminine sandwich

Ad Nauseam: No man likes a feminine sandwich

Author: Helen

Shakesville has a series on bad advertising, or badvertising, too, called Assvertising. Here’s a post on the Hungry Man series in the US, picking up on the very real problem of girly food turning big manly men into girly-men!

Just as an aside, it intrigues me that American ads often seem so much hammier and badly written, or produced, than the Australian mini-sagas. As a reader of US blogs I really can’t blame a lack of graphic, film or writing talent, and the population base is so much larger, it’s a mystery. Anyway.

The Hungry Man ad reminded me of the Australian Four ‘n ‘Twenty pies “rabbit food” ad, where two overalled building blokes discard their healthy lunches in favour of hot greasy takeaway. Note they ask each other “what did you get”, so clearly someone else, we assume a wife or girlfriend, has packed these grown mens’ lunches for them.

The message is clear:

Real men eat lots of meat and fat and lard!
Things that pertain to women are inferior and bad! (See also: Girl Cooties).
Women in the twenty-first century still pack mens’ lunches.

The US ad, though, goes a step further and implies that eating food deemed to be girly, e.g. salads, yoghurt and things like that, will actually cause you to assume female secondary sexual characteristics or behaviour. (Speaking of US ads being clumsier, you have to love the tagline “it’s good to be full”. Buuuuurp!) That American tomay-to can not only give you salmonella, but make you all wimminised, too.

Now perceptive readers will be saying, “But what about the line we get from antifeminist polemicists that one of the major indicators that men are really the oppressed class is that they die earlier? Here we’re seeing blokes whose women partners are clearly trying to keep them alive longer, but they deliberately decide that eating food associated with the despised female class is just not on and they must eat red meat and fat and lard in order to preserve their very identity. Or rather, the mainstream food and advertising industries are trying to push this way of thinking, and last time I looked they weren’t exactly a hotbed of matriarchal conspirators. Isn’t there something of a contradiction there?”


The quote about the “feminine sandwich” comes from this, which I discovered while googling to see whether there was any relationship between the ad companies running the “Hungry Man” campaigns in the different countries (it seems there isn’t). Stodge and manliness have had a long history together.

14 Jun 2008, Comments Off on The balcony Carnival of CRN

The balcony Carnival of CRN

Author: Helen

Image with permission from Chris Clarke

One for sorrow.

Go away, I’m grumpy. Creek Running North has closed down.

So, I thought I’d have a Carnival of Chris here on the Balcony. If there are any other habitual CRN readers who are sobbing under the doona or about to go out to buy some more chocolate or Shiraz, come and reminisce with me.

Reading Creek Running North was an exercise in scale. Chris likes to mix stories of human or doggy life cycles against the impossibly huge changes of the life cycle of the earth, from ancient upheavals to climate change in the 2000s, manifested in the ancient places he visits and studies. The sublime and the ridiculous. From any page, scroll down to see Chris’s categories. Here are some quick links that I like, but it doesn’t scratch the surface…

The same river twice. The beavers are not amused.
A Gaze blank and pitiless as the sun lightning, desert fire and loss.
The year we lost the Deserts. Fire is something we south-eastern Australians can relate to.
The deceptively named Comfort Food.
What’s Liberal about the Liberal Arts ( PDF) – famous and much linked to.
The Lanehogger.
Funny. But some of his poetry, like Sciurus Niger, will have you crying buckets.
His feminist ally writing. Here’s an example: On rape, privilege and being seen.
And of course, Zeke.

Goodbye to CRN. I’ll look forward to whatever it is Chris does next. Chris, thank you.

OK, leave me alone now, unless you’re bringing chocolate.

7 Jun 2008, Comments Off on The Glass Floor

The Glass Floor

Author: Helen

People have been writing about the glass ceiling for years, but some women need to worry more about a glass floor.

While people on 150,000 a year worry about losing their middle-class welfare, T sits at the kitchen table and cries because she feels her life is worth nothing. Her daughter’s aunts and grandparents are all (recently) dead and she has no support system. She needed that support system because under the Workfare rules brought in by the Howard government, she has to work a certain number of hours a week and her profession is lighting technician, so her hours are always unfriendly ones. She couldn’t get child care in her working hours even if she could afford it. The glass floor of social support has smashed under her.

If she works these hours, she doesn’t get to see her beautiful daughter, who of course is at school all day. There would be no-one to look after her from school time to midnight. Her earnings are a perfect example of the problem of EMTRs.

In better times, she scrimped and juggled to buy a house in a rough part of town, which she rebuilt – not redecorated, rebuilt – with her own hands. You should just see the job she did tiling the bathroom. This house she will almost certainly lose. She’ll fall through the glass floor to rejoin the overheated rental market.

Centrelink has breached her for missing two weeks work. In stage work, where the nature of the work is on again, off again. The work she does raising her daughter is, of course, worthless to them.

This is the second time they’ve done it. Last year they breached her for taking some weeks off to look after her postoperative and as it turned out, dying mother. Her brother had died not long before that. She sits at the table and cries and hates the world because she has never been given the chance to care for and mourn her family.

People complain about how much they have to spend on private education and proper health care. She doesn’t even think about these things. She’s fallen through those floors.

In all the decades I’ve known her, she has gone away for a holiday once, to visit her country of origin. She’s fallen through that floor.

Owning a car? She hasn’t driven a car for twenty years. In her highly physical, itinerant job, she has to bike or take public transport everywhere. She’s crashed through that floor.

Parties? entertainment, music? You need money for that. She’s fallen through that floor to a place where the house is quiet and dark and you cook on the gas barbeque because the stove no longer works, and you heat bricks on the same barbeque, carry them into the house on a baking tray and put them under the table to warm your legs a little.

She shows me a letter from Joe Ludwig, the Human Services minister, in reply to a letter someone has written. It’s saying he’s handballing the matter to Julia Gillard because she’s the minister for workplace relations. Shame on him.

The last government valorised mothers at home and gave them non means-tested handouts, except for single mothers, who they punished with the “mutual obligation” stick, while ignoring the need for social supports and childcare to enable them to work. Picking up that system and running with it, is that good enough – Joe? Julia?

Oh, there are still some glass floors she can crash through. The mortgage payment will be due soon. She is thinking that soon she will be in a place where the authorities will not just be coming for her, but taking her daughter away. The stresses of her life are making this strong, lively woman paranoid and ill. She has begun to behave defiantly, withholding the compliant cooperation the bureaucracy wants. Soon fingers will start to point and judge. The last few layers of glass are starting to crack.

3 Jun 2008, Comments Off on Results of food technology experiment conducted today

Results of food technology experiment conducted today

Author: Helen

A bottle of Taylors Shiraz will probably remain intact while reversed over by a medium to large family station wagon.

The bag of oranges and the carton of milk, on the other hand, will be history.

After sitting on the decriminalisation-of-abortion report for some months, the Victorian Parliament has reported that it’s set to vote sometime soon on decriminalisation.

There are three options. The AGE report on Friday, annoyingly, didn’t put the details on the web, just the news report, so I’ll transcribe them here:

Option A: A doctor would have to assess whether continuation of the pregnancy posed a risk of harm to the woman. A doctor who performed an abortion when not satisfied of risk of harm would be guilty of professional misconduct.

Option B: A woman’s consent provides lawful authority for an abortion up to 24 weeks’ gestation. After that point, an abortion would only be lawful when either one or two doctors deemed continuing the pregnancy would pose a risk of harm to the woman. Doctors who performed an abortion unlawfully would be guilty of professional misconduct.

Option C (Based on the model used in the ACT and Canada): A woman is the final decision-maker throughout her pregnancy. No abortion “on demand” as a doctor must still agree that an abortion is ethically and clinically appropriate. Unlawful abortions include those conducted without the woman’s consent and performed by unqualified people.

Like Leslie Cannold at ProChoice Victoria, it’s my opinion that only option C is the one that trusts women to make the right decision for their bodies, themselves and their families. Option A is similar to the existing Menhennit Ruling coded into law, and would possibly make things worse. Option B is slightly better, but still operates on the principle that if we don’t forcibly prevent women from having abortions after 24 weeks, they’ll all be doing it. (And do you notice they find it necessary to write “still no abortion on demand! “Because we enjoy it so much, we’ll be rocking up and demanding them for no reason. It’s a myth that just never dies.)

It’s important that we all write to our local MP and/or the ministers for Health and Womens’ affairs, because the “pro-life” lobby is always many times more vocal and organised than most of us. The commission reported that roughly 90% of the community is pro-choice, while about 80% of the submissions they received were from the forced-birthers.

Elsewhere, they’re trying to wind back the gains women have made in the last thirty years. The push for an abortion ban is on again in South Dakota. In Britain, the conservative MP Nadine Dorries recently caused the parliament vote on reducing the abortion limit from 24 to 20 weeks (the “20 reasons for 20 weeks” campaign.) That was defeated last week, 393 to 71. And crowds of assorted loonies still turn up to make life hard (and dangerous) at fertility clinics – Hey, props to you, Anonymous Lefty.

Click here to send an email to all Victorian MPs to support option C.