Archives: November 2008

Exploding boy had his weekly checkup, his first since he had his eye fixed – it was actually a freeze technique, not laser as I’d thought. 20/20 vision in the eye! Eye pressure normal! No further checks until the school holidays! A set of 6 steak knives!

He’s thoroughly over being told how lucky he is. But he is.

Girlchild finished her exams and turned seventeen. Seventeen! How did that happen? I gave her the green light to get some heels, which I’d banned because I didn’t want a kid with deformed spine and joints, and she’d submitted to this graciously. She’s been to Savers now and come back with several pairs of spiked killer heels, in which she stalks beautifully about and towers over me. I think she’s absorbed the concept, though, that they’re a Sometimes thing for parties and things, not for everyday walking about. She still loves her McBalletflats for that.

Some of what I’m reading…

28 Nov 2008, Comments (4)

And the golden Emma…

Author: Helen

…for foiling diabolical masterminds, of course, goes to Tigtog.

It’s a bit embarrassing because I always fix these things myself, but I simply could_not_find where the diabolical masterminds spotty socially-challenged wankers had placed the links that were causing the Balcony to look like a very low-class establishment when searched for in Google. Many thanks to Tigtog.

25 Nov 2008, Comments (9)

White Ribbon Day

Author: Helen

…AKA international day for the elimination of violence against women.

Working in the Melbourne CBD, I thought I’d see white ribbon sellers at the station today, but didn’t. Neither did I see a white ribbon being worn by anyone, anywhere, for the whole of my working day. Not one. While blog and forum commenters whined that women were as usual hogging all the attention and where is the man-love?, I saw plenty of mos for Movember (a cause I thoroughly support, BTW.)

Being a feminist blogger is tiring. Along comes a feminist “day” or a news item, and out come all the tired old antifeminist tropes again. Even on blogs with a (mostly) articulate and educated readership, we get threads like this and this and this. It gets so exhausting refuting the same old stuff.

This is mildly interesting: a female antifeminist, who is vigorously blaming the victims, lets slip that her own mother was subject to domestic violence and she herself only just escaped. It’s an incomplete but fascinating glimpse into the pathology of how this behaviour continues. Like any disease, family violence doesn’t necessarily manifest itself in every individual affected, but it has carriers.

That’s how you get sucked into life-wasting hours trying to do the impossible. And it makes me tired.

I liked this article by Irfan Yusuf of Planet Irf a lot, as well as this piece by Andrew O’Keeffe, the Australian chairman of the White Ribbon Foundation and this succinct comment from Tigtog on the LP thread.

Oh, and this post from a most wonderful US blog, the Mugwump Chronicles.

“I just wanted to see how you were doing,” Melinda said. “It’s still as crazy as ever around here.”
Melinda, you’re 20 years old now, why don’t you get out?”
“As soon as Sammy is out of the house I can go.”
“How old is she now?” I asked.
“She’s 10. The second she turns 16 we’re gone.”
Melinda’s voice was dreamy. “I can make it that long. I have to take care of her.”
It was probably an hour after we had said our good-byes that the full impact of our conversation hit me. My knees grew weak and I had to sit for a minute, my mind was racing. Everything fell into place with a bang. I saw my childhood friend and riding buddy with a terrible clarity.

Dear Ms Balcony

Timber harvesting in Brown Mountain

Timber harvesting. Do you like the cuteness of it?

The specific responsibility for the matter raised in your correspondence rests with the Minister for Environment & Climate Change, Mr Gavin Jennings MLC.

Yes, but your name does appear right next to his on this page of the inappropriately named Department of Sustainability and Environment site. I just thought as minister for water, it might be good to jog your memory about how the Victorian government is logging its own water catchment areas and how with the environment things do tend to have an impact on other things.

Accordingly, I have forwarded a copy of your correspondence to Minister Jennings’ office for consideration.

Don’t worry about it, I’ve already sent him one. If you could just remind him that “Minister for Environment and Climate change” doesn’t mean actually fostering climate change, that’d be ace.

Thank you for taking the time to write to me.

Thank you for taking the time for your flak catchers to handball it to Gavin Jennings’ flak catchers. We await his reply with keen anticipation.

Yes, that’s right. The pee-cee, academic (Hiss!), activist (Boo!) Stephen Hagan has been oppressing the good citizens of Toowoomba, in Queensland, who just wanted to sit quietly in their rugby stadium named after a (white) player called E.S. “Nigger” Brown. Then he has the nerve to complain when they express their sadness!

(Transcript): I’ve had police patrol my street because of death threats from the Ku Klux Klan; I’ve had to actually change house because somehow my silent phone number was placed on the internet; My whole life has been turned upside down because I dared to challenge the status quo in Toowoomba. …I had the full weight of the local media and the civic leaders who thought that I was a black interloper who needed to be put in his place… I certainly have experienced a lot of ill-will and a lot of vitriol because of my stance.

Sheesh! Let’s get some perspective! How do you even begin to compare this friendly hazing with the terrible psychic pain of a Queensland rugby fan who’s forced to… sit in a stadium not named after “Nigger” Brown? And this is only the thin end of the wedge. Of cheese. Yes, this objectionable Hagan is going after our wonderful national icon, Coon cheese. Because, as the cheese company and their supporters patiently explain, Coon cheese was totally named after the American Edward Coon who invented a curing process and was thus immortalised. As everyone in Australia knows- which makes everything OK, right? Except that it may not be true, or very relevant to the case. So many poor, poor Australian consumers may eventually be forced to buy cheese in green and blue packets which are named… something other than “Coon”.

Oh, the humanity. Someone call the Waaaaaahmbulance!

(I might even try a packet of that cheese once the name changes; I’ve been boycotting it for more than twenty years, but I never liked it much anyway.)

19 Nov 2008, Comments (10)

Update on Exploding Boy

Author: Helen

Boychild went into hospital yesterday for a minor procedure. They had to knock him out to have a really good look inside his eyeball using more invasive than usual procedures, to see if the sticky-up bits they thought they could see were actual sticky-up bits of retina. Which, as it turned out, they were, so they whisked him into theatre to stick the sticky-up bits down with laser.

His dad took him and my workplace is just around the corner, so I was able to come and sit with him as he woke up in recovery. He was in a bit of pain, but didn’t wake up overnight and today he’s as feisty as ever, although taking it easy. The doctor was happy with the result and says he can start to exercise again in a few days’ time. Hoo0bloody-ray- he’s been on enforced idleness, no running / Taekwondo /trampoline / recess games for a month, in case the suspicious bit went sproing.

The scar on his head is doing well, too, although it’ll always be visible.

I’ve written about Boychild’s bravery before. He undergoes all this stuff quite nonchalantly. This is the second time I’ve been in Recovery with him, which is strange for a boy who (touch wood) is never sick. The first time was because he had to have no less than four of his overly crowded teeth out for orthodontic reasons. As he came to, his vital signs monitor was beside him rather than behind him, as it was this time. He asked me what it was for. I told him. Immediately he started hyperventilating in a most alarming way. Nurse came over. “What’s up?” Boychild: “I’m seeing if I can make the numbers change.”

Update on the update: Seeing this post at Dr Cat’s place reminds me we must watch this doco tonight. After all the wonderful treatment we have experienced at the Eye and Ear Hospital so far, we have been billed for… $0.00.

This makes me think of two things.

It makes me very relieved I don’t live in the US, where we’d be trying to find out if and how much the treatment is covered under whatever health scheme our employer had seen fit to give us. If not covered, we’d be looking at extending the housing loan, or selling.

It also makes me ashamed at the difference between Australia’s response to my son’s eye injury and Shahin’s. Remember Shahin? I’ll be watching the documentary and hoping that under this government, we can do better.

And when they came to the place where the wild things are,

they growled their terrible growls

Two dogs, Ollie and Maggie, playing


The passing of proposition 8 was the sour note in the joyful Obama election. This is my pick of the responses in the US.

Read the whole thing. By Looky Daddy.

12 Nov 2008, Comments (6)

I write Letters

Author: Helen

Image from

I’ve written to three State government ministers begging them, begging them, to reconsider the logging of the Brown Mountain / Valley of the Giants area next to the Errinundra Plateau in Victoria.

There are more details here (H/T to Joe2 at LP). But all you really need to know is that the Brumby government made a promise in the 2006 election campaign to protect all significant stands of old-growth forest in Victoria, of which Brown Mountain is one. Now they’re letting VicForests clearfell it.

It’s really unutterably depressing. I’ve used up my letter writing capacity for the year now, any more and I’ll be written off as That Crank on the Cast Iron Balcony. Please write or email, if you have the time.

John Brumby – Premier of Victoria
Department of Premier & Cabinet
1 Treasury Place
Melbourne Victoria 3002
Ministerial Phone (03) 9651 5000; Electorate Office Phone (03) 9300 3851

Gavin Jennings – Minister for Environment and Climate Change
Ministerial Phone (03) 9096 8830; Electorate Office Phone (03) 9888 1910

9 Nov 2008, Comments (25)

Atlas Sulked

Author: Helen

I blame Belle.

Belle of John and Belle have a Blog trawls the streets of Wingnuttia bringing back choice bits of weirdness, like those eighteenth-century scientists who sailed to foreign parts and brought back strange things in formaldehyde, for our amazement. After snerking at Belle’s offerings I couldn’t resist the urge to don my protective gear and go dumpster diving in Wingnuttia for myself. Last week it was the Randroids: people who follow the “philosophy” of the rightwing novelist Ayn Rand, especially Atlas Shrugged, her hymn to the ubermensch.

Do you know what the Randroids plan to do now that Obama has been elected? They’re going to chuck the biggest hissy fit of all time, spit the dummy and throw all their toys out of the cot.

It’s called Going John Galt. And while, of course, Wingnuttia has plenty of scary people who are talking about assault weapons, most of these rebellious John Galts are going to fight back with…Vegetable gardening! ….Downshifting! …Canning! … Keeping goats! Oooh!

It’s almost as if they were going to turn into dirty hippies like us lefties in the 1970s, only a perverted and twisted version. Downsizing, treechanging, getting off the fossil fuel grid, but with intent to sabotage rather than make the world a better place. Taking wealth out of the system, sacking all your employees, deliberately becoming an underachiever because, of course, the Democrats plan to steal it all your money from you. Hiding your wealth offshore, finding every tax evasion scheme they can. (Yes, they plan to carry out fraud on a large scale.)

I sold my business.
I sold several properties, two of them to my children at a significant “loss.” (Ka-Ching!)

(How does this make sense? He’s allowing his children to continue feeding the Beast!)

I’m raising a great deal of my own food and have taken to raising sheep and poultry. All for personal consumption, not sale.
I live in a rural area, so while Andy and Bob and Charlie might buy some sheep to be raised by me, Andy is buying swine, Bob is buying beef, etc.
Canning. Freezing.
Buying bulk.


Definitely withdraw all talents from society. Doing this will increase the tax burden on the blind supporters of the exploitative government until they will be unable to bear the burden and the government will collapse under it’s own inefficiency.
When that happens, don’t be living anywhere close to a big city. My husband and I left LA three years ago, live in the country (near a small town) and try to be as self-sufficient as possible (live within our means). I know when the s#%^ goes down, nobody up here will starve.

“Militant Infidel”:

I will soon be leaving a full time job (~60 hours per week) for a part-time job (~30 hours per week). My Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) will likely fall about 25% (yes, it pays significantly better). Surprisingly though, my after tax income will only fall about 10%. How could this be? It is simple, really. My biggest expense after income taxes is my mortgage (with deductable interest) and property taxes (income tax deductable). With the deductions and 25% reduction in AGI, my income tax bill will fall by 40%!!! Not a bad start at “starving the beast”.
This does not include the opportunity that the extra hours at home would provide in regard to untaxed wealth in improving productivity of our goat herd, poultry flock and vegetable garden. The grocery savings alone would make up a significant percentage of the AGI reduction.

On a brighter note, one commenter points out that the Randroids and the MRAs, as you’d expect, overlap – and some MRA Randroids are expressing their protest by refusing to make themselves available for marriage. Where can we send donations to support this excellent protest?

Funny, isn’t it, that so many of these things are quite dear to the hearts of us Dirty Fucking Hippies lefty Greenies? Solar electricity, growing one’s own food, not working excessive hours. Working to live, not living to work, all that. And they come to that excellent conclusion for such a perverse reason.