Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rape culture? What rape culture?

In the latest incident of schoolyard fights being put online, a YouTube user who went by the name 'TheCoonpatrol' uploaded several mobile-recorded videos of fights at Swan Hill College, in the state's north-west.

The seven videos showed students trading punches, surrounded by laughing and clapping onlookers, chanting "fight, fight, fight". ...

In one video, a student shouts at his opponent: "I'll f**king rape you 'til you're f**king dead". In another, an onlooker shouts: "Bitch, f**king take it".
It's a long time since I was at school, and I was lucky enough to go to an all-girls high school, which meant I got treated and was allowed to act like a human being rather than like a girl, so while I saw plenty of subtle bullying I don't think I ever saw a single physical fight. A bit of retaliatory hip and shoulder on the hockey field was as physical as we ever got. (Not me personally; hockey was much too rough for me. I was happy to play dirty, but in the debating team, not on the hockey field.)

But up the road and round the corner at the so-called brother school, while they may have had their share of physical fights, I'd bet quite a lot of money that they didn't express hostility in the language of violent sexual assault. Especially not to each other; they would have been far too appalled by the slightest suggestion that they might be poofters.

Also, have a look at the name this charming little group of uploaders have given themselves. Ironic, really, given the derivation in rap – itself tragic (the derivation not the rap, though a lot of the rap is crap as well) – of the way they talk to each other now. Maybe it's just deeply inherent in the worst of human nature to be some form of bigot.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Well it certainly made me squirmish

"Are we at war? I haven't heard the president say that we are at war. And that's why I too am not knowing do we use the term intervention? Do we use war? Do we use squirmish? What is it?"

— Sarah Palin

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A great big new thing: The Conversation

Via Margaret Simon at The Content Makers, here's a new thing. Looks good. Margaret describes it as 'a not-for-profit collaboration between journalists and academic researchers'. Which can't be anything but good.

Elizabeth Taylor as I had never seen her and you probably haven't either

This is classic.

And she was still married to Michael Wilding, which means she can't be any older here than 23.

It was only a matter of time

Sophie Cunningham has a good 'a plague on both your houses' piece at the ABC's website today. And, in response, one commenter has resorted to an oldie but a goodie:
But here is an interesting fact for you: Most of the insulting posters were being carried by young men who definitely did not look like they belonged at the rally. These men were also loud and foul-mouthed.
It is my opinion that they were plants trying to make the genuine protesters look like rabble. In fact I heard many comments to that effect. I believe this is a tactic often used by the left to disrupt protests they don't agree with.
See, it wasn't nice To-ny or his nice friends at all. It was teh Evil Left!!11!1eleventy!!

How do we know this? Because they were young! And they used bad words!

If you're looking for me, I'll be out playing in the traffic.

In which Tony Abbott falls on his ass but doesn't get a special cookie from his mommy

In the Senate, Labor's Doug Cameron said he was concerned about "the disintegration of the Liberal Party". "The barbarians are at the gate of the Liberal Party," he said. "Who are these barbarians? They are extremists. They are Tea Party imitators. They are the remnants of Pauline Hanson's One Nation. They are the radio and newspaper bullies whose ignorance is in direct proportion to their pay packet. If you get close enough, you can smell the fear of the Liberal Party moderates as Mr Abbott leads them down the dry well of fear and ignorance."

Tea Party imitators? Members, more like. Did you see the spelling on some of those signs? I don't mean the basic illiteracy, I mean 'mom' for 'mum' and 'ass' for 'arse'.

Who wrote those signs and at whose behest? Who were the people carrying them? Were they actual Americans, or did they copy them boilerplate-style from some lunatic-fringe website?

Also, is that the Doug Cameron with the charming Scottish accent who quite some years back used to be a scone-hot rabble-rousing unionist extremist annoying the bejesus out of parliamentarians by running rings around them in arguments? I kind of liked him back then, too, but I like him even more now.

Quotation from here; more on the subject at Loon Pond; and Margaret Simon on the way The Australian, in contrast with The Age, is pretending this morning that none of it ever happened. Which in itself is telling; even The Australian has disowned this mob this morning.

Elizabeth Taylor, 1932-2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It just gets worse and worse

This is the third disgracefully dishonest headline I've seen today.

Bob Brown has written today to Julia Gillard saying how appalled he was by the placards being waved by Tony Abbott's posse of bussed-in flat-earth clowns, and saying that he knows she has 'broad shoulders' but he also knows that this kind of stuff can be hurtful.

How has The Australian reported this online? Under the headline Anti-tax banners 'hurtful' to Gillard.

The clear implication is that Gillard found them hurtful, and said so, and is therefore a wimp, all of which is complete crapola.

Furthemore, they are not in any way 'anti-tax banners'; they are banners saying, and I quote, 'Ditch the witch' and 'Juliar .... Bob Browns [sic] bitch'. This one is written over a crude background sketch of what I presume are supposed to be the flames of hell, in which they presumably want to burn her. I mean, it wouldn't be a picture of the planet going up in flames, would it.

I've got a headline for them: how about Genetic link suspected between the inability to place an apostrophe correctly and the belief that the sun revolves around the earth.

A message from my computer

'The file “768208-rally-abbott.jpg” could not be opened because it is empty.'

Truer word was never spoken.

Meanwhile, check out this photo. Classy, no?

You can't see her in the photo, but Pauline Hanson was there. I bet Mr Rabbit was very, very careful not to go anywhere near a moving bus.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The mystery sound

You know how, when you're engrossed in a book you're reading or otherwise concentrating ferociously on something, everything else gets blocked out? All other thoughts, feelings, sensations, discomforts and other distractions recede so far to the back of your mind that you are no longer aware of them.

But occasionally they will intrude and creep in through the cracks of your attention. This is an okay novel I'm reading, and the author obviously knows a lot at first hand about Afghanistan in general and in particular Kabul, a place to which, if I had any doubts before, I now most certainly do not ever want to go. But I think because I was getting more and more irritated by the author's naive, unthinking American chauvinism -- well yes of course Kabul would be a better place if only we were all wearing our jeans and our Nikes -- my subconscious was allowing a sound to creep in.

At first I was only very dimly aware of it, far in the background. It was only a soft sound. It was a kind of bubbling noise. Maybe the bloke next door was giving the ancient outboard motor on his ancient boat an airing, as he does from time to time? No, too soft, and also no stink of diesel. Maybe the bloke on the other side of the bloke next door on the other side was revving his motorbike? No that's not right either. Some sort of faint underground rumbling from the ancient plumbing? No surprises there, if so, but no. Perhaps the hot water service has exploded again and what I can hear is bubbling and spluttering like last time, which means if I go out to the kitchen I'll see water running down the walls and two grand going down the drain. Nope, that's not right either.

Then a little, smoky shadow shifted at my feet.

It was purring.

Friday, March 18, 2011

When I'm queen of the world ...

If in another lifetime I get reincarnated as (however unlikely it may seem) someone in charge of some sort of retail operation or other service to the public, here are the first three things I'm-a gonna do:

1) Hire adequate, or perhaps slightly more than adequate, numbers of staff.

2) Draw up watertight employment agreements with lots of detail in them about the rights and responsibilities of the position. (For example: the bright pink hair is okay. The dirty bright pink hair is not okay.)

3) Train all such staff members as will be dealing with the general public in (a) their job duties, and (b) dealing with the general public. The latter will include

(a) Smiling.
(b) Making eye contact.
(c) Speaking clearly and audibly (none of the current yoof fashion of talking vowellessly with your mouth shut except to give the occasional imitation of a strangled cat).
(d) Answering any question put to you as best you can.
(e) Offering help when help is obviously needed.
(f) Not addressing any group of people more than 20 years older than you as "Guys".
(g) Keeping your bum crack out of people's faces. This is particularly important if you are a waitress or waiter, in which case you also need to keep it out of the food.

Also, you kids get off my lawn. Again.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How not to have a party

Another teenager has brought down the wrath of a virally spread party invitation on her long-suffering parents' house.

On the Facebook invitation, the girl said she didn't have enough time to invite everyone. ... She also said that the event was going to be an "open house" party as long as it didn't "get out of hand". She told Fairfax that she did this because only two people showed up to the last party she held.

Got that? She 'didn't have enough time' to invite everyone, and hadn't figured out even after her previous experience that perhaps people might rock up if you gave them some slight indication that you cared whether they did or not. Like, being organised enough to invite them individually and personally.

Perhaps even -- I know this is a radical idea -- in writing of some kind.

Possibly even in joined-up writing. Of the kind you do with a pen. A pen is a ... Oh, never mind.

Also, you kids get off my lawn.

Separated at birth?

I'm not even on Twitter, but this evening I stumbled across the line of the year while checking out the twittering about Q&A:

"Both Julia Gillard and Julian Assange to be played by Tilda Swinton in the Wikileaks movie."

See for yourself:

Friday, March 11, 2011


I'm reading David Walker's lovely, sad, thought-provoking and very South Australian memoir Not Dark Yet and thought I'd better refresh my memory about the context of that phrase; Walker has taken his title from the Bob Dylan song. It's a frightening, terrible song (I mean terrible here in the same sense of 'awful' to mean awe-inspiring and not in a happy way). My friend R told me a few days ago that she'd seen or heard someone describing a recent performance by Dylan of this as 'operatic' and now that I've had a good look at the lyrics I can see what they meant; the first thing I thought of was Lear on the heath. Dylan will be 70 in May, after all.

Anyway, so I got to the line that goes Behind every beautiful thing there's been some kind of pain and I thought well, yes, possibly, but behind every pain there's been some kind of beautiful thing, too.

A thought closely followed by the next: that my mind had apparently been possessed by some dreadful poppet from American children's literature. 'I'm glad my legs are broken! Glad, glad, glad!'

Even so, it seems at least as true as what Dylan said, although of course it doesn't scan as well. Nothing plays quite like a masculine ending, and if it's an emotive monosyllable so much the better.

On the other hand again, I think there's a simple explanation: I'm cheerful to the point of idiocy because first (a) I finished and sent off the manuscript of the Adelaide book and then (b) it got the thumbs-up from my publisher. (a) is why it's been a bit quiet around here. Normal service will be resumed shortly, in both content and tone.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Welcoming our new feline overlords

Demons schmemons

In what universe is designer John Galliano a 'victim' of his 'demons'? I know she's his lawyer and she has to do the best she can, but this is not it.

The whole 'demons' schtick is one we've been seeing a lot of lately, notably in reference to Matthew Newton. See, it wasn't them; the devil made them do it. I wonder whether someone's done a study of the four-way connection, if any, between the contemporary fashion in mass culture for supernatural creatures, the resurgence of evangelical Christianity, the excusing of vile behaviour on the grounds that some external and evil supernatural force is responsible, and the changing fashions in vocabulary among journalists and lawyers.

It's not as if people in general need any encouragement to shove responsibility for thoughtless, self-indulgent, sexist, violent or murderous behaviour onto something or someone else. We're really good at that already.

Lustre comes from within, Mr Rabbit

It's okay, apparently, to compare the Prime Minister to Colonel Gaddafi, a name synonymous with derangement since my youth. But I must say I'm enjoying the way that hate speech in public life, so clearly an import from the worst and craziest of US public life and, alas, rocked in the cradle of Christianity both there and here, is being countered in Australia by an increasingly public awareness that this vile stuff is being encouraged if not orchestrated by people with money and/or power who want to hang onto both and are perfectly prepared to exploit the mean-spirited, the short-sighted, the ignorant and the unbalanced in order to do so.

I really would like to know what the motives were of the man who rang up Tony Windsor and threatened him with death. I'd like to sit him down and talk him through what he thinks and believes, and why. I'd like to ask him exactly where he got the idea that this sort of behaviour was acceptable. And I'd like to ask him whether he understands that 'tax' isn't just something 'the Guvmint' (have you noticed how Tony Abbott's pronunciation of this word becomes more strident and nasal with every passing day?) rips off you because they can; to find out whether he actually understands that the point of taxation is to make stuff, manage stuff, buy stuff and build stuff about whose absence he would be the first to complain.