Tags: new millenium

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…
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29 Jan 2006, Comments Off on A great big steaming pile

A great big steaming pile

Author: Helen



Last year, I posted a few times on the alpine cattle dispute, the ban on grazing in the Victorian high country, and the appropriation of “tradition” and iconic status by the grazier families to try and win an unwinnable debate. If you’re new to this story, here’s a very simple explanation.

They’re back… and they’re still framing the debate like veteran spin doctors. Their court of appeal is the hearts and minds of ordinary Australians, and they’re desperate to portray themselves as the innocent and threatened upholders of tradition.

Tradition is the buzzword they zap us with every time and, like the experienced animal handlers they are, they have journalists eating out of their hand.

Tradition is a funny thing. It’s a habit we are unwilling or unable to break. Cattle grazing in Victoria’s high country is a 170-year-old tradition that won’t be broken easily…

…For Lovick, some traditions should never be broken, because they tell the story of who we are…

The “170 year old tradition” (if the Balcony has any European or Asian readers, I’m sure they are rolling around clutching their sides at that one) is quite colourful, with occasional moments of equitational brilliance, but it’s over in that part of the Alps. And the brilliant bits are to do with feats of horsemanship, not with the cattle. Culturally speaking, no-one could give a stuff about the cows; it’s the horses and horsemen and women that we as a nation love, and it’s the horse and leisure industry that they should turn to now as they clip-clop into a new millenium. Oh, wait…

NSW banned alpine cattle grazing in the Kosciuszko National Park more than 30 years ago. The Victorian Government’s decision to do the same in the Alpine National Park hardly came as a surprise, and even before the decision, Lovick began diversifying.
For years, friends and visitors had come to his Merrijig property to assist in the yearly cattle muster to the high country and in the late 1960s it was suggested that he should charge people to participate. His horse trail riding business is now more profitable than his cattle.

In other words, he’s already done it (and so have other High Country horsemen). So why the well-organised tantrums by the Men from Snowy River? Because the High Country grazing was a fantastic little sideline – paid for by you and me, the taxpayer. Sweet. However, according to Mr Lovick, the cattle grazier is just a little battler whose livelihood will be lost or dreadfully curtailed.

The ban on cattle grazing will lead to changes in the high country. Many cattlemen, says Lovick, will struggle to survive with only access to the state forest. He has cut his herd by 220 head and sold 40 hectares of land. Life for the cattleman has also changed.
Lovick, who suffers from a serious back complaint, has bought an apartment in the QV development in Swanston Street and regularly visits Melbourne.
The mountain cattleman is a devoted supporter of the Melbourne Football Club and loves the city. He enjoys grabbing takeaway Vietnamese before heading to the footy.
The bad back precludes much of the stock work and he often catches up with the trail riders in his four-wheel-drive rather than on horseback…

Ex – squeeze me? Apartment in the QV development? Melbourne Football Club? Vietnamese takeaway? Four-wheel drive when on the droving trail? Just how “traditional” is this mountain man?

Do you appreciate the irony here? Single mums raising the next generation would come in for severe criticism from many of the graziers’ supporters, while you and I contribute to pay for cattle agistment for the owner of a QV apartment who’s pretending he’s some kind of historical relic. Give me a break.

But the Victorian Liberal opposition is completely lapping this shit up. A week after the AGE article was published, the cattlemen – and the cattle – were back in the Alps (note, they are still allowed into the State Forest adjacent to the national park area in dispute):

The cattlemen say they will stop at nothing, until the ban is lifted. Yesterday Environment minister and acting premier John Thwaites was joined in the Alpine National Park by environmental groups to begin a cleanup of what it claims is years of damage caused by cattle grazing. Today as part of week long protest at last year’s ban, around 10 cattlemen began driving a mob of cattle through the Park. Despite the threat of fines, Mountain Cattleman Charlie Lovick says he is not worried about breaking the law.

Stop at nothing? Isn’t that a bit desperate and seditious? Apparently not. One of the people on the ride was Liberal MP Graeme Stoney. He was supported enthusiastically by our solid-wood Leader of the Opposition, Robert Doyle. “Graeme Stoney is a man’s man!” he enthused. Doyle had obviously forgotten his own policy speech of 2002, where he announced “‘NO GO AREAS’ AT DEMONSTRATIONS AND PROTEST MEETINGS WILL BE DEFINED CLEARLY TO HELP POLICE DO THEIR JOB OF PROTECTING PEOPLE AND THEIR PROPERTY.” (Yes, the version I’ve linked to is all in caps; just one more strange thing about Doyle.) Clearly, this was not meant to apply to Liberal politicians and their supporters, who should be allowed to go anywhere and protest about anything they like.

About two weeks after that, Charlie Lovick’s bad back seemed to recover quite miraculously (ACA, where are you when we need you?)

AN 800kg Hereford bullock will lead 200 drovers along high country tracks in the latest protest against the Victorian Government’s ban on cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park.
Mansfield cattleman, John Lovick, will lead the fray, riding his pet Hereford – Johnny.

So, that’s one thing we can expect this year – lots more free entertainment from the whip-cracking, trick-riding, agistment fee-avoiding Crazy Graziers of the high country. Do you think they’ll come to town to protest against the end of a 105 – year tradition of arbitrated industrial relations? Will they heck.

20 Jan 2006, Comments Off on Coming out with guns blazin’

Coming out with guns blazin’

Author: Helen



Well, I’ve got to get going. As conventional wisdom has it, I’ve been sitting on my arse this last month, doing sweet buggerall, with only two children on school holidays as an excuse.

I’m only paid for 48 months of the year, so I can spend school holidays with kids and don’t have to go through the absolute screaming nightmare that is Holiday Program. Now, I just have to learn to cope with eight weeks a year with little boys. Don’t get me wrong! I love ’em. They’re just a lot of hard work. It’s like herding cats.

But despite the proliferation of good bloggers here in Australia, it has to be all hands to the pumps this year to make any impression on the avalanche of shit that is going to be poured all over us, the plain people of Australia. I’m thinking of moving more towards gender-related topics, with a sideline in environmental stuff – and let’s just see how long I can stick to this resolution.

Because, really, the avalanche of shit in the gender department has become quite outstanding in its stickiness and general horseshittiness. Let me give four examples of ye olde anti-feminist arguments which are being revived for the new millenium:

Don’t bother giving her a job, she’ll only leave to get married and have kids.

AKA a suggestion by Richard Posner, senior lecturer, judge and blogger, that law schools should raise tuition fees with a program of rebates to graduates who work full time; the rationale being the useless women students who clog up the works with their equal-or-better entry scores and then drop out for any number of years to raise children. To refuse admission to women, he admits, would be unlawful, so he is suggesting some new way of discouraging them.

This idea has had very little traction among Australian bloggers as far as I can see, except for James McConvill, who has to be some kind of saint. There is no argument or hypothesis so bad that his blog won’t give the poor thing a home. Give me your tired arguments, your poor arguments, your huddled hypotheses yearning to be free (of facts)! But, given the way our nutty Minister for Education likes to adopt all new things from the US, we should be cautious. Especially since Posner’s idea was predicated on:

Many women at elite colleges want to be SAHMs (US slang for “stay at home Moms”) so Femininism has Failed ner-ner!

This was a story featured in a New York times article by Louise Story, published on 20 September. Echidne, Katha Pollitt and Jack Shafer (editor of Slate.com) discuss the sloppy surveying techniques and reporting biases behind this media beat-up. But as Echidne points out, these beat-ups have a way of getting into the Conventional Wisdom of the mainstream media.

But women aren’t really people, are they?…

Not really respectable to articulate out loud these days, but Backdown Barnaby Joyce really put the finger on it with his ripper quote of 2005: “If I shoot a woman and don’t kill her but kill the baby, I haven’t actually committed a crime?”

Now I did predict a return of the “do women have souls” question on the CIB. You read it here first. I hope all you uppity women know now just where you stand in the Coalition universe.

…But we know what’s best for them!

This oldie-but-goodie is getting a fresh run in the RU486 (availability of) debate. The more cunning of the anti-choice crowd – and who more cunning than our health minister, Tony Abbott– have tried to frame the debate in terms of safety. You see, after a medical abortion, a woman’s uterus might retain some of the contents which might lead to septicaemia, or she might actually have an ectopic pregnancy, or something… so if we allowed RU486 to be prescribed, all these rural and remote women would just be dying after taking it behind the hayshed with the local doctor a plane ride away.

Trouble is, the exact same thing applies to early pregnancy and natural miscarriage (as well as the other gynaecological icky things that flesh is heir to.) So, in order to attain this level of safety that the opponents of medical abortion would like, it would be necessary to outlaw sex itself, at least in outlying areas.

Some of the wingnuttier anti-choicers are protesting against having sex which does not result in pregnancy, full stop. But then the “safety” argument falls down again, because you would still be dealing with pregnancies and their complications. But the “safety concerns” sound so logical, so reasonable, many people won’t look behind it to see the hype.

If you haven’t had enough yet, go and check out the 7th Carnival of Feminists over at Feministe.

(Image from here, via Metafilter.)