Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Silver threads among the mouse

It was brought to my attention this morning in a crueller light than usual that the whole ageing thing has finally caught up with my hair. Both my sisters are also going grey; the older one has dramatic natural silver streaking her almost-black hair with its amazing natural highlights of burgundy and indigo, while the younger has pale champagne threads through hair the colour of ripe apricots. Mine is more in the palette that goes 'mouse, ash, potato'.

There are a number of possibilities for dealing with this.

1) Go grey and be damned. (All very subtle for the blonde, just a little shift from gold to silver-gilt and pewter, and dramatic contrasts for the brunette. But the boring grey in boring brown just looks dowdy and hippieish and, um, boring.)

2) Professionally done permanent colour, which must be constantly maintained if you're not to end up with cheap-looking two-tone hair. Regardless, sooner or later the bullet must be bitten and the colour allowed to grow out, or at least mutate. In the meantime most hairdressers want to colour your hair in such a way as to make you match the tortoiseshells (a cute idea, but disappointing in practice), despite the fact that you have said you want nothing that could even remotely be called red, yellow, gold, peach, apricot, russet, bronze or, the hairdressers' favourite, "warm". Not that they don't sometimes look lovely in the first instance, but with time they all fade to a uniform washed-out orange straw.

3) Home done semi-permanent colour, which is much less hard on the hair, infinitely cheaper, can be done in your colour of choice, and if you hate it it'll wash out in 36 shampoos or whatever. Disadvantage: unremovable dark splodges all over the bathroom.

What do the rest of you do? Advice from the ladies pls.

Now you know how it feels to be a woman, Kevin (SA edition)

This is wrong on so many levels I don't know where to start.

Like his immediate and indeed only superior (structural, that is, not moral necessarily) the Premier, Mike Rann, the Treasurer and Deputy Premier Kevin Foley was assaulted over the weekend by someone he had clearly made unhappy. This happened on the street at 3 am on Sunday morning, after Foley had, by this account, been doing the rounds of the bars and clubs.

Foley is single and 50. He must have been as sad a sight in some of those clubs as poor old Sam Newman, who may be even older than that but is at least better looking. (Those of you who have never seen any photos or footage of Foley will have to trust me on this one.)

Foley was due to take over as Acting Premier yesterday morning, while Rann ran away on one of his many international trips presumably to do one of his many international deals. Rann has barely been sighted since the state election in March and the seedy and seemingly interminable scandal that led up to it.

Now, one is resigned to being ruled by people whose capacity for good judgment would fit into their left ear and leave room over for a cotton bud; it happens all the time. If the Treasurer and Deputy Premier, whose ambition to be Premier is very well known, wants to be trying to crack onto women young enough to be his daughters in clubs, and turning up in pizza bars on Adelaide streets with 'unknown' women after nights on the town with millionaire property developers, then that is, of course, his business. It's a free country.

But the sentence that keeps leaping out at me from that linked report is this one:

Ministers arriving for cabinet yesterday said Mr Foley was entitled to walk on a city street at any hour without being assaulted.

Quite. Yes. Yes he is. And I'm sure none of those Ministers would even dream of saying Well, clubbing and pissed on the streets in the small hours, he was just asking for it. I wonder if he was scantily clad.

Foley was quoted in yesterday's paper-edition Advertiser as saying 'What it does clearly show to me is the risk I now take as a senior politician out in public.'

Leaving aside the question of whether Foley was incapable of taking this message in when Mike Rann was attacked with a rolled-up wine magazine (I love that Adelaide touch, I just love it to death) way back in the mists of time and it's only now finally sunk in, I'm guessing that most of the women of Adelaide -- not only those who like to go out and have a good time at night, but those who are old and feeble enough to be an easy target for the horrible little shits who lurk around ATMs waiting for an easy handbag, and all of us in between -- read that sentence and thought Pfft, Kevin, welcome to my world.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Who needs a subconscious?

If you are badly in need of a laugh (which, at the moment, I'm), this should do it. Inexpressible thanks to the lovely Ampersand Duck for putting me on to this hysterically funny site about the perils of predictive text and auto-correct thingies. Is it my imagination or does the iPhone have an anal fixation? Have a look at some of the things it 'corrects' to. Talk about the return of the repressed.

There are up to a dozen new ones a day, as with LOLcats. I've added a link under 'Funnies' in the sidebar.

The most cheering thing about this site is actually not the larfs, but the reassurance that human intimacy is alive and well and living in our electronic toys. Some of these conversations reveal such affection, humour, goodwill and deep knowledge of each other that it gives you hope for the planet.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

In your Facebook

One of my Facebook friends, a children's writer whom I've never actually met and who has several hundred FB friends herself, seems to be being stalked at the moment by (at least) two different crazies. She is responding to them a great deal more sweetly and kindly than I would in her place.

I don't know whether these people are known to her outside of Facebook or not, but it doesn't really make any difference; the way they are using her Facebook page as a place to express their own various rages and delusions, and to attack her personally, is extraordinarily disturbing on a number of fronts. I've been thinking for a while now of writing a long piece about Facebook, but my view of it gets less and less positive all the time, so I keep changing the lines of argument in my head.

It's bad enough when some troll turns up at one's blog and begins to hurl personal abuse, and I've had that happen to me a few times over the last five years, but I think on Facebook it's a lot worse, because it seems so much more of a direct personal attack; one's Facebook page is a version of one's self.

Personally I'm already fairly ruthless about accepting anyone as an FB friend whom I don't already know pretty well either in non-virtual life, through friends, by reputation, or two or more of the above, and will be more ruthless again from now on.

Why We Still Need Feminism, Part #1,908

Have you noticed that whenever The Australian wants to publish another piece of vicious, moronic, sexist crapola about Julia Gillard, they nearly always get a woman to write it? Kate Legge on earlobes, Glenda Korporaal on handbags, Planet Janet on pretty much anything you care to name, and now yesterday we have this pile of really stinking ordure by another such female OO journalist [sic] with Form in this respect, namely former adviser to Peter Costello and John Howard (about what, one wonders. Women's affairs? Nah) Niki Savva.

Greg Jericho at Grog's Gamut reckons that of all such poisonous tripe published by the OO thus far in a naked attempt to sway the stupid, this Savva piece takes the biscuit. Which is saying a lot.

Why do they do it? I think it's because they're so ignorant of feminism that when someone says 'Oi, this is vicious, moronic, sexist crapola,' they can reply 'No it isn't, because it was written by a woman.' And I really do think that they really do think that that constitutes some sort of answer.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Culture, various

Since last Thursday I've seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, gone to hear my friends D and M sing in the Mozart Requiem at St Peter's Cathedral (in Adelaide), and listened to an utterly delightful conversation on the radio between those two stalwarts of Melbourne intellectual life, Professor Stuart Macintyre and Dr Michael Cathcart.

All of these have been snuck into the cracks between the work, and I am determined to blog about all of them. Just as soon as the marking's done.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Royal ropes

Kate Middleton in her official engagement interview said she was afraid she didn't 'know the ropes'. She's known William for nearly ten years and been his official girlfriend for most of that; if she doesn't know the ropes by now you have to wonder what the prognosis is.

In the meantime, Rope #1: learn the language of the country of which you may become Queen.

She admitted joining the Royal Family was a “daunting prospect” but she added: “Hopefully I’ll take it in my stride.”

Of course, she might have simply meant that she will take it in her stride in a hopeful manner. In which case, no wuz.

Monday, November 15, 2010

This can't be right, can it? Or can it?

From the ABC website's report on the bill being introduced in Parliament tonight by the Greens' Adam Bandt in support of same-sex marriage:
Philip Ruddock, who was attorney-general in 2004 when a law was passed to define marriage as being "between a man and a woman", said marriage should be limited to those who could procreate.
So: does Ruddock think that not just gays and lesbians, but no women past childbearing age, and nobody of either sex who was born or has been rendered infertile, should be allowed to get married? And to take his remark to its logical conclusion, does he think that any existing marriage in which either partner has become unable to 'procreate' should be dissolved? Including, presumably, his own?

This man held important portfolios in the Howard government for eleven years, and is now on the front bench of an Opposition that came within the width of the fabric of a silk georgette hanky of getting back into government. If it's true that we get the politicians we deserve, then we have all been very bad, and if they are a reflection of us then clearly we have all been very bonkers as well.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I wouldn't

Leonard Cohen's giving a concert at Hanging Rock?

Is that wise?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Because everyone knows you've got a right

A British backpacker has "defended" himself against the breach-of-privacy charges laid against him for covertly filming a young woman in a 'uni-sex bathroom' at a Queensland resort by saying 'I just wanted to see her naked.'

Spot the weasel word here. Yes, that's right: 'just'.

'Just' as distinct from what? The unavoidable implication here seems to be 'I only wanted to see her naked, which is my perfect right as a man and anyway what's the harm, I didn't rape her or anything so what are you all going on about?'

His lawyer calls his actions 'a lapse in judgement.'

Me, I'm off to the bottle shop to see what Scotland has to offer. Somehow a glass of wine just isn't going to cut it, after that.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

And at the other blog, we have ...

... a new post. Gonna keep that one going if it kills me.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Someone give that woman a special cookie

Book reviews: 3 down, 1 to go.

Honours theses: 9 down, 7 to go.

Words about Adelaide: 25,159 down, 24,841 to go.

Gonna stop now, have a whisky, and finish my new Ruth Rendell.

Planet Janet: populated by unexamined metaphors

You know, the Greens are - I like to call them, you know, a pack of wolves in koala costumes
-- Janet Albrechtsen

Now, presumably this is an allusion to the expression 'wolves in sheep's clothing'. Otherwise it wouldn't make any sense.

So: vicious destructive ferocious creature dresses up as innocent harmless ditto. So far so good.

But wait. The point of the wolf in the sheep's clothing is to pretend to be a sheep. Why does it pretend to be a sheep? So that it can fool the shepherd and get up close and personal with the sheep, unsuspected of being a wolf; maybe it can even get penned in with the sheep, so that in the dead of night it can unmask its wild and ferocious muzzle and midnight feast on leg o' lamb to its wild and ferocious heart's content.

That is the point, if you are a wolf, of dressing up as a sheep.

So. The Greens dress up as koalas so that they can fool ... um ... the koala shepherds.

They do this because they ... ahrrm ... want to eat the koalas.

Wait, what?

A Green. As you can see, they are intellectual ay-leets as well as wolves. Approach with extreme caution, or, better still, not at all.

UPDATE: On the other hand, if this is a real koala then it is a koala in academics' clothing. Some of you had better run for your lives.

Abandoning the good ship Apostrophe #2 (an occasional series)

Today's crikey.com.au email bulletin has just arrived and in the subject line they were leading with the headline Swans' Budget Outlook.

Wow, I thought, that Sydney AFL team must have done something really radical with their money for it to make it to the top of the crikey news, and off-season, too.

But no. It's about the Federal Treasurer. Whose name is not Wayne Swans.

/pickety pick de la pick

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nature notes: it's that time of year again

Would you say it was good or bad feng shui that I have redbacks busily spinning and weaving around the hinges of both the front and the back security doors? (This house has only two external doors.)

I mean, on the one hand they are living creatures. And on the other hand they are, well, you know.

In other news, on my way out to the supermarket I saw a sleepy lizard calmly poised at the edge of the footpath, waiting to cross the road. Which means I've left it too late to get the back yard mowed again, and the poor yard-mowing dude will probably end up with a mangled sleepy or bluetongue in his mower again. It's a jungle out there.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Not the Social Network

I've not seen The Social Network yet, though I do intend to, maybe this weekend. But I've read a great deal about it and the more I read the more puzzled I get.

Because here are all these movie critics, mostly starry-eyed fans of Aaron Sorkin, banging on about Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg's moral turpitude in allegedly double-crossing his best mate, and allegedly cheating the Winklevoss twins, and being a vilely sexist little arse, and so on and so endlessly on. (And no doubt some of this is more or less true. I've just Googled Zuckerberg to confirm my sense of his age and was a bit horrified to discover that he is my astrological twin. Him, David Byrne, Cate Blanchett and me. Go figure.)

But what I have not yet seen one film critic do, not one so far, is question -- or even mention -- the ethics of making a film 'about' a 26 year old man that makes him look as much as possible like a dishonest, unpleasant little schmuck, but that Sorkin defends by saying it's not a documentary, it's a 'story'.

I don't know much about Sorkin, but I know enough to know that he knows perfectly well that most people are actually not all that sophisticated about these things, and that 95% of the people who see that movie will come out of thinking that they now know the whole truth about the real Mark Zuckerberg.

Imagine if an idolised and influential screenwriter nearly twice your age who'd decided he didn't like you, thought you were a moral midget, and held your invention in contempt (as Sorkin has made it clear he does, despite the fact, of which he seems proud, that he's more than happy to despise Facebook while knowing almost nothing about the uses of it) made a movie about a character with your name who invents your invention and is sued by the same people you've been sued by, and in the process makes you look as bad as possible -- and then says loftily, no, no, it's not a documentary, it's a story about great themes, so I'm allowed to make stuff up and leave stuff out and gaily mix up fact and fiction as much as I want.

Imagine if somebody did that to you. At all, much less when you were still only 26 and had to carry it for the rest of your life. What would you call that, if not unethical?


I do so love George Seddon, I just love him to bits. But I think, very sadly, that the good people of Adelaide will take a lot of persuading of the truth of this paragraph from his paper at a symposium at the University of SA the year before he died. No Adelaidean will be unaware by now of the appalling effect that the rising temperatures of the last few summers have had on the Parklands, but we cling to them regardless. Here's Seddon's vision for them, as at 2006:
In brief, there must be a major increase in urban density, and these parklands will then have a future like the squares and piazzas of Rome and other European cities. Given heavy use, most of them will need to be paved, but not with concrete or bitumen. Pave them properly with stone. Adelaide already has the best café culture in Australia, and this will be a natural extension. I repeat, think Piazza Navona, an environment well within the potential of central Adelaide's café culture. ...
So forget 'green'. Don't use the word. Adelaide is not meant to be green in summer, any more than Tangier. It raises false expectations and associations. Try 'well vegetated', or follow California, which has road signs that mean 'don't throw your cigarette butts out the window or you will set the place on fire', but they actually say 'Keep California green and golden.' It means dry and brownish yellow in summer, but it's a good sell. 'Go for gold' is my advice to Adelaide. The mid-greens are alien to the Australian landscape and its clear skies.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Guest post by TFA: more on Woodside

(In the comments thread on the last post, the one about the federal government's plan to house asylum seekers at an army base near the little Adelaide Hills town of Woodside, regular commenter and fellow Adelaidean TFA left a comment so interesting and informative in its provision of historical context that I have asked and been granted his permission to reproduce it in a separate post so that a few more people will see it. NOW READ ON ...)

First, not all those who were vocal at the public meeting were Woodside locals: some speakers travelled from towns like Mt Barker and Gumeracha, 15-20 km away.

More importantly, I'm puzzled by the vigour of the objections to refugees given the history of the area.

For those not acquainted with SA, Woodside sits in the part of the Adelaide Hills first settled in the 1840s by German refugees fleeing religious persecution. Many of their descendants still live in the area.

Woodside subsequently hosted a camp for European refugees from the late 1940s through to at least 1959, apparently without major problems. And in 1955 they weathered one of SA's worst ever bushfires without loss to life or limb, so the fire risk argument looks spurious.

So Woodside seems an unlikely centre for virulent anti-refugee sentiment.

Witnessing spite and malevolence masquerading as resolute self-determination - especially within a society that I had held in regard for its ability to accommodate difference - is hard. And examining a Hills community to find the most base aspects of Western Sydney is - well, it would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

Howard, it seems, broke something fundamental and important.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Next time you're thinking John Howard was the Meanness of Spirit King ...

 ... think again.

Tony Abbott, fearless would-be saviour of the good burghers of Woodside in the Adelaide Hills from the invasion of the bomb-concealing, classroom-hogging, doctor-stealing alien hordes small handfuls, thinks that women and children in fear of their lives should be parked somewhere as horrible as possible, lest they forget that they deserve punishment for, erm, being in fear of their lives.

But then, we know what Abbott thinks about women and children, don't we.

Given the published reaction of some of the selfish, short-sighted, mean-spirited citizens of Woodside (and I bet there are plenty of Woodside citizens who don't fit that description, but did they make the papers? Oh my wordy lordy no they did not) to the idea of a detention centre being located there, I should have thought that was punishment enough. If someone threatened to plonk me down in the midst of that lot, I wouldn't care how many pretty trees I was surrounded by, I'd still be begging to be sent to the desert.

For a while I thought they had a point when they complained about not having been consulted (although, as Chris Bowen and several other people have quietly pointed out, it's government land and they can do whatever they like with it), but surely it must be clear to everyone by now, given their under-informed whingeing about how terrible it would be if they were a bit disadvantaged by a sudden influx of population, that the reason the government didn't humbly ask their permission was that if they had, they would have said No, we hate f*cking foreigners, naff off.

Now that it has been painstakingly made clear to these citizens that of course extra support services will be provided, I see they've shifted to whining about how hard it will be to get people to safety if there's a bushfire. Obviously they're not aware of this little fact about their own town:

The CFS has developed a list of townships that have been identified as Bushfire Safer Precincts for South Australia. This is a place of relative safety and may be considered as a place for people to stay in, or relocate to if their plan is to leave their home on a bad fire day. Hahndorf, Mount Barker, Nairne and Woodside are considered Bushfire Safer Precincts.

If the citizens of Woodside have ever whinged in the past about the possible influx of people fleeing from the Hills bushfire hot spots, it hasn't made the news.

And in the meantime, Abbott is having a field day doing his best to broaden and darken the mean streak in human nature, and to cosset and force-feed its fears.