Archives: August 2009

I felt it was missing something.

Miocene fossil of cat footprint with LOLcat caption O HAI

There, fixed.

22 Aug 2009, Comments (34)

Not a Blasted Wasteland, part 2

Author: Helen

[Part One]

So, I’m sitting around the table with the people I volunteer with at Scarysuburb High, and the conversation turns to the people who are pushing for a new high school closer to where I live. I said that I hadn’t joined the group except as an email listee, because I’ve chosen to put my limited effort into Daughter’s school and there are only so many hours in the day, but I admired them for their support of the bigger picture and of public education.

Well, said one of the other mums, have a look at this then. And when I saw the article in the local newspaper she had brought with her, I realised what she meant. The group supports public education – just not the public education that the rest of us are using. Because the real public education is too scary!

21 Aug 2009, Comments (17)

Not a Blasted Wasteland, Part 1

Author: Helen

Someone mentioned that it had been a while since I posted on schools. I’ve written letters to the paper, and thought deep thinky-thoughts about it. There’s a Movement going on in our neighbourhood, and it shows a burgeoning support for public education. But, contrary pinkofemmoblogger that I am, I can’t find it my heart to support them all the way. Why, you say? It’ll take a while to explain.

In my area, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to Primary schools. When we moved here, we had three nearly equidistant public schools to choose from, all bright, well resourced and with high morale. We ended up choosing the one just across a park from our house, which the kids could walk to once they were old enough. I even discovered that I had some distant relatives in the area and one, about my age, had taught at that school under the existing principal. How nice is that?

In the matter of high schools, we are not so spoiled. We did have a local high school, which fell victim to the Kennett government school-closing orgy. We do have a local school which is only five kilometres away, and is easily accessible by a bus service which goes right by the school doors.

It happens that this is the school which the daughter attends and at which she’s relentlessly pursuing a highly academic programme, with plenty of input from some impressive and motivated teachers. This school excels in a broad range of areas, with special emphasis on music and the arts, including film and TV, and they excel in maths, science and technology as well.

Here’s the thing: It bears the Scarysuburb name. And it appears that since my area became gentrified, and the Audis and SUVs and two-storey extensions covered the land, the incoming population have the opportunity to send their children there. But the parents who “support public education” don’t want to send their children to Scarysuburb High, because they see it as dangerous, or beyond help, or whatever, because it is part of the existing system. And as everyone knows, the existing public system is scary and failing. They fail to see that it’s the flight of the middle classes to the private and Catholic systems that is leaving the public system underfunded and in danger of becoming a “safety net”.

They want something better, somehow, built for them, so that their kids won’t have to mix with the presumed dangerous paint-sniffers and ice dealers at Scarysuburb High and they will not have to go on a terrifying, twenty-minute bus ride to (gasp) an adjoining suburb.

So, we did what Hitchens and Bone and all those people thought was the right thing to do, and we went into Afghanistan and we bombed it from the air and we killed all those people, including noncombatants, and we effected regime change.

We helped to install Hamid Karzai. Who has has freed drug traffickers from jail, pardoned rapists, gang rapists, he has signed off on a law that makes Shiite women obliged to have sex with their husbands, where their husbands are entitled to withhold food and shelter from them, he has brought back into his circle half a dozen of the worst warlords of the 1990s, these are people who, because of their place in Afghan history, they are feared, and they are loathed, by the bulk of the population. And he has promised more government offices than there are provinces to govern.

Whenever we invade these countries and cause such immense suffering it’s always supposed to be about the womens’ situation. Because our invasion and our “peacekeeping” will fix it. And if feminists oppose doing this, or are “silent”, they’re demonstrating their lack of real commitment to the cause of womens’ liberation.

Explain to me again why eleven of our young people have died putting this man into power and keeping him there?
Crossposted at Larvatus Prodeo

14 Aug 2009, Comments (6)

Lovelace and Babbage

Author: Helen

a panel from the Lovelace and Babbage webcomic

A big hat tip, or a doff rather, with a big Victorian-era hat – something tall and full of mercury— to Nabs, who has sent me a link to the most wonderful thing on the entire Internets.

No, not the guy who can catch a laptop in his buttocks, although that is definitely up there. I mean the Lovelace and Babbage graphic novel / blog.

Lovelace and Babbage is a steampunk cartoon blog started by the wonderful Sydney Padua, who describes herself as “an animator, story artist, and tiresome bore [yeah, right] working mostly in visual effects in London.” She’s a friend of Suw Charman, the originator of Ada Lovelace Day, which led to “Wouldn’t it be hee-larious if there was a comic about Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage fighting crime? Thanks, I’ll be here all week!”

Start here, with Lovelace: The Origin.

Follow the links at the top bloggy-style, and enjoy.

Lovelace and Babbage, by Sydney Padua

8 Aug 2009, Comments (9)

My Pink Half of the Drainpipe

Author: Helen

Just for the sheer hell of it.

This is about SETTING BOUNDARIES. People, take from this what you will.

2 Aug 2009, Comments (21)

Parenting 2.0

Author: Helen

I’m sitting in the study having a look at Facebook. It’s about half past eight. I’m due to pick up the Girlchild, who turns eighteen in a few months, from the Pho Cafe in Scarysuburb, where she’s having a cheap and cheerful Vietnamese nosh with some friends – some of whom are eighteen.

Those friends, of course, may be served alcoholic drinks on licenced premises (in moderation: amirite?) Girlchild may not.

I am on the old desktop Mac. Girlchild, having torn up the first Year 12 semester like a champion, has just got a new raspberry, or red Nokia phone, from Dad. So she can facebook on the fly.

I see:

Girlchild: “really likes this resturant, essspecially the cocktails”. (Spelling! Tssk!)

So Girlchild gets a call. “I’m coming to pick you up! RIGHT NOW! I think you know why!1!!1!

When I get to the Pho Cafe there’s Girlchild and a couple of others hanging out in front looking a bit sheepish. We drive home. I lecture, Girlchild accepts lecture with relatively good grace. Of course, I only get this Teachable Moment once; now they know what not to post about on Facebook. We watch a DVD of Ghost Town. All is amicable.

Before bed I check Facebook again, and I see

Friend: “what did your mum say?”
Girlchild: “- – *sigh*”

So of course I typed


And my friend Megan weighs in with

“oops-don’t facebook and drink at the same time.”

Megan lives in Vancouver. We haven’t spoken face to face in fifteen years, but she is family.

It takes a global village to raise a child.