BRIAN DEEGAN: My brother was called up for Vietnam when a lot of innocent young Australians went to Vietnam because the Liberal Party decided they should go to Vietnam and fight an unjustified war … where were the sons of the Liberals? Robert Hill said this morning that he didn’t go to Vietnam – he got a deferral from Vietnam. Well, you know, on what basis? And why did he never put his hand up? Why was it that Alexander Downer, who has caused so much grief around this … in international affairs and for this nation … I mean, did he ever go to war? I mean, if people went to war for themselves and had firsthand knowledge of the horrors of war, I think they might be just a little bit more reluctant to cause a war.
Saturday, July 31, 2004
Thursday, July 29, 2004
I have a few days off to have a social life and as punishment, my computer chucks a wet one and refuses to cooperate properly. So blogging and reading blogs will be a bit random til I get it fixed. Meanwhile, please talk amongst yourselves. Here's something I've been thinking about lately. How do people think e-commerce is going out in the real world? I'm a dedicated online shopper myself. Here's some of the sites I've used that have been good (OK, I admit at some I've only pressed my nose against the glass):
booktopia.com.au gleebooks.com.au pumpkinpatch.com.au remo.com.au woolshack.com isubscribe.com.au epharmacy.com.au peters of kensington.com.au victoria's secret.com and amazon.com (natch)
Any readers want to recommend any others?
Thinking about this also makes me wonder why internet service to RARA (Rural and Regional Australia) is so crap. After all, we're the ones who most benefit from e-commerce, since we can't so easily get to brick'n'mortar shops. I'm particularly cut that that we only get dial-up internet out here. (Apparently the service providers are waiting til they get enough enquiries about it so it's worth registering your disapproval with them.)
If e-commerce really wanted to thrive then it should focus a lot more on supply chain management to remote(r) areas. So far I've mainly had delivery from Aussie Post and it's been fine, but there's room for other delivery channels, like how wishlist.com.au lets you pick stuff up from service stations (in the true sense of the word).
Anyway, more once we get fired up again.
posted by Gianna at 6:13 AM
Saturday, July 24, 2004
"Scandal: Latham admits smoking pot". From the way this was just reported on the evening news, I wouldn't be surprised to see it getting blown right out of proportion. The Seven reporter said something like, "[Latham] talks about values and reading to kids, but has admitted to taking illicit drugs!" and went on to explain that "his position is different from Clinton's because Latham did the drawback". ("The drawback"? Geez, television sets may be square but do the reporters have to be?)
So Latham once smoked pot and inhaled. Newsflash! The Prime Minister probably enjoys a beer. Meaning he drinks a drug! Shock, horror!!
I agree with John Quiggin.
posted by Gianna at 6:30 PM
A strange thing happened the other week.
(warning: long post follows)
There's only one bus a week where I live. It's actually the daily schoolbus--one of those old-fashioned yellow ones with metal seats--but it does one special "shopping trip" every Thursday for those of us poor suckers who don't have a car. It goes around all the beaches and then into the main town half an hour away, then in the afternoon it comes back. We sometimes take it to town, but usually just get it down to my parents place about five minutes away up on the main road, as it's too far to walk.
There's half a dozen regulars: me and the baby, a bunch of old ladies going into town to do their weekly grocery shopping, and a baby-faced man who could be in his twenties or thirties, it's impossible to tell. The bus driver, who is also the schoolbus driver, talks your ear off if you let him, no doubt grateful for an audience over five years old.
It's always the same. The bus picks us up outside our house and I sit somewhere halfway up, behind the old ladies, and eavesdrop. The young bloke gets on at the shops and the driver always says to him, “Where to?” and the boy always says, “There and back.” As he went past me last week curiosity got the better of me and I said, “So, you don’t have a car then either?” and he grimaced and said, “Lost my licence.” He always sits up the back, in jeans and carrying a little backpack, wearing dark glasses, eating an apple.
The bus driver stops outside my parents' gate and they are waiting, standing beside a basket of lemons and a small chicken-shaped jug propping up a sign saying “10c each”. My parents reach into the bus to take my bag and help me down, because I’m wearing the baby in the pouch. Sometimes, if one of us has a cold, my dad greets us wearing a mask, the kind you'd wear if there was a nuclear war. Imagine him: knitted beanie, leather jacket, jeans tucked into gumboots, and a mask. I sense the old ladies peering out curiously. At least it's not summer: in summer he stomps around wearing full beekeeping overalls and the beekeeping hat with a veil; he’s very sensitive to flies. (I happen to think that’s why we fought so much when I stayed there in the summer; because he was all hot and bothered and cranky all the time.)
On the way home last time a very tall, thin old woman gets on at the turnoff to the lake and sits on the edge of the seat across from me. She's wearing a knitted cardigan with a belt over a long skirt and heavy woollen stockings and has a suitcase and small basket at her feet. She enquires about the baby, who is sleeping, and asks where we've been today so I explain about our Thursday ritual. I show her the purple pants I knitted him last year that my mother has helped me finally sew up. The old lady peers into my green plastic grocery bag full of eggs, limes and continental parsley, which my parents have given me. I tell her Harley loves to watch the geese and chickens and the ancient horse around at my parents’ place. She looks thoughtful and after a moment she says, “Do your parents keep bees?” And I say, “Yes, and it's the most beautiful honey you'll ever taste,” and she gives a sly smile and says, "Ah, well I know who you are then."
"Why?" I ask, surprised.
"No, that's all I'm going to say," she says and turns away. The busdriver glances at me in his mirror and grins. I feel my cheeks going pink, for some reason. The boy sitting up the back munches his apple, not listening, not caring, staring out at the fields racing past his window.
When we get to my street she asks where number eighteen is and the driver pulls up there. But she waves him on. "What number are you?" she asks. I tell her. She says she'll get off there, too. The driver and I look at each other and he shrugs. When we get there she gets off and the driver blocks my way and tells me in a stage voice he has to tell me something about the new timetable. He watches her walk off up the hill and says, "She's a bit--you know."
"Oh," I say. Does he think she is dangerous or something?
The next day I walk past number eighteen on the way to the shops. She is gardening. "Hello," she says. I ask her if she's just visiting here. It's strange that she didn't know where number eighteen was, and yet here she is gardening, not exactly something you'd do at a rental.
"Oh," she says. "I'm a volunteer; I do organic gardening." She gets up and comes over to look at the baby, who is sleeping in the stroller. "I'm from Adelaide. They wrote to tell me an elderly lady needed a hand with her garden, so here I am. I'm Clara," she says, offering a trembling hand.
There's someone more elderly than you? I think. I introduce myself. "What did you mean about the honey?" I ask.
She laughs and says, "Oh, I'm a friend of your neighbour Sally. She wrote to me and told me there was a young lady with a baby living nearby who had given her a jar of honey."
Oh, so that’s it. Sally’s husband recently brought around a spare bed they had, for my spare room, for visitors, and I gave her a jar of my mother’s honey as a thankyou.
I promise to drop in next time I'm passing, but I forget. The next day there's a knock at my door. It is Clara.
"I’ve come to take your washing down," she announces. I thank her, but tell her I'll do it later. This time Harley is awake, lying on the floor playing, and when he sees her he becomes very still at first, staring at her, then gets extremely excited, his fists thumping against his belly.
"That’s funny," I say. "He doesn't usually get this excited about strangers. It's like he knows you from somewhere."
“Ah.” She nods. "Babies recognise other babies, and the old." She turns to the baby. "Oh, yes, you've got a lot to tell me, haven’t you?" she smiles. After a while, she goes and after a while Harley calms down again.
The next day she turns up at my door again. She carries her little basket from which I can see knitting needles protruding. I make her a cup of tea and she educates me about organic gardening. When she leaves, she puts her arms around me and the baby for a long time. Normally I have a large self-space, but there's something very peculiar happening, I am finding myself very drawn to this lady; I don't know why.
I decide to go up to visit her the next day. Outside her house there’s a man and woman getting out of a four wheel drive with a couple of toddlers strapped inside.
I walk up. “Hi, I was just wondering if Clara is in today?” I say, assuming this must be the family of the elderly resident. “Who?” the woman says.
“Clara, the lady who’s helping with the gardening?”
“I think you’ve got the wrong house.”
“No: she was staying here, helping your elderly relative out.”
“No,” she shakes her head. “We’re the only ones here. We’ve just been away for the week.”
I point to the flower bed, where the fresh bulbs Clara had planted are poking skywards. “She was putting those in,” I say.
“I planted those last week,” the woman says, and frowns at her husband as though I am possibly dangerous. I am confused; maybe I got the house wrong. I could’ve sworn it was this house. I want to go ask Sally what the story is, but she's away for the school holidays.
When I get home, the lock on the back door comes off in my hands. The real estate agent says they’ll send someone to fix it, but in the meantime I sleep with my phone and a knife next to the bed.
Haven't seen Clara again since, though.
posted by Gianna at 7:01 AM
Friday, July 23, 2004
Thursday, July 22, 2004
The Prime Minister today:
"Say that we were wrong, say that we were misguided, but don't accuse us of heavying the intelligence agencies," Mr Howard said. "We did not heavy the intelligence agencies, we never did, we respect their intelligence."
Being wrong and misguided, that's apparently OK though.
posted by Gianna at 8:15 PM
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
I feel for the Amish. Not only has George Bush accused them of lying, but scientists have just discovered a gene that is thought to be responsible for causing SIDS, and it's estimated about half the Amish population carries it. Life--not to mention God, and the President--is not fair.
posted by Gianna at 9:19 AM
Monday, July 19, 2004
The Australian had a color supplement this weekend celebrating its 40th anniversary. Apart from its "40 people of influence" which necessarily included both John Howard and Mark Latham, it also ran a story titled "Soothsayers" which featured two lengthy articles: one by the PM, and one from...Gough Whitlam? Well, I love Gough as much as the next lefty, but wouldn't it have been fairer to allow the current Opposition leader to counterspin Howard's little campaign piece, rather than printing the Whitlam article, written in 1974 and forecasting the decade to 1984?
Still, interesting to read some of Whitlam's predictions:
I believe that in 10 years we will have fully accepted our responsibilities to the deprived and weaker sections of the community and that the Aboriginal people will enjoy a new dignity and security. These assessments rest on the assumption that the major reforms undertaken by the present [Labor] government will be irreversible and that, even if the conservative parties are returned to government, there will be a continuing popular consensus in favour of progressive policies."
Well, so much for that dream. Juxtapose that with what Howard says in another part of the Weekoz, in its magazine's "10 things you didn't know about John Howard":
Guilt is something that Howard thinks Australia wallows in way too much. "Guilt about the Aborigines is one example. Now I totally agree that they have been appallingly treated in the past. But I didn't do that. I won't feel guilty about it. But because we feel guilty we have these nonsenses such as treaties. And it is nonsense. I say let's forget the past, start again, and just concentrate on making things better for the Aborigines."
So typical of our PM. He always thinks he can dine out on the positive aspects of Australian history but when it comes to facing up to the negative, he is in absolute denial. We can't just "forget the past". And geez, if Aboriginal people want a treaty, then he has no right to just dismiss that as "nonsense". Shame, shame, shame.
update: OK, as far as treaties are concerned, I'm no expert. But I asked someone who is, and he reckons (and I hope I got this straight) the better path would be to facilitate true reconciliation by, at the time of changing from being a constitutional monarchy to becoming a republic, amending the constitution to recognise the indigenous people's prior sovereignty of the land.
posted by Gianna at 8:25 AM
It turns out it was no big deal after all. I guess I was taking it much too seriously. In the end, because of the massive storm that had rolled in from out of nowhere yesterday, we decided that the contact visit should take place at my house, because it's more hospitable than the house my dad almost finished building... So, Harley got to spend some quality time with his father and also met his two half-sisters, who were sweet little girls. My sister took me down to the boatshed cafe for the duration, where we had big cooked breakfasts and read the Sunday papers--in peace for once! now I get it!--and drank those famous "frothy coffees". It was lovely and cosy in this cafe on the water's edge, sitting at wooden bench tables and watching the lone rowboat flipping around out on the gray lake. The storm also blew in a few other recent seachangers who burst through the doors in rainslicked jackets and woollens, and as we all sat around chatting I felt again that strong sense of community that I never felt in Sydney.
The cafe hangs artwork by local artists and my sister embarrassed me by telling the owner that I paint and they harangued me to bring some paintings down. As I've mentioned before I love drawing, and think my nudes are okay, but I'm a terrible painter; every couple of years I buy a canvas and after admiring its blank beauty for a few weeks, ruin it with paint. I did one the other day and hid it in the spare room but my sister really liked it. Still, I may try taking the drawings down. You never know eh? They also had some windcheaters for sale, designed by a local company, but oddly they had no "house" teeshirt, so I thought I might try my hand at designing them one they can sell in the tourist seasons.
Anyway, back to just me and the kid now. And the storm still raging outside.
posted by Gianna at 7:59 AM
Friday, July 16, 2004
Harley's father is taking him out for the first time this weekend. At least they're not going far--my folks have kindly agreed to provide 'neutral' ground at their place. And my sister is up visiting for the weekend, which will be good for moral support. I'm dreading the separation anxiety (mine, that is).
Other firsts for Harley: he's now had his first solids--just rice cereal and banana (which he loves) and is beginning to crawl. And I gave him his first haircut the other day. In retrospect I guess that might have been a mistake. But hopefully it will grow back.
posted by Gianna at 5:46 PM
Thursday, July 15, 2004
Here's a well-designed international blogger survey that I'd encourage other bloggers to go fill out in the interests of advancing blogology (via Kick & Scream).
posted by Gianna at 8:16 AM
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
I was amazed at the reaction to my idle musings about motherhood over the past few days. Next time I want an extra couple of thousand hits to my site I'll make sure I raise that subject again! I don't know that anything has really been resolved either way--actually I think everyone seems just as confused as me. Anyway, one reader sent a link to a site called save the males. Not sure what that's about. Perhaps they keep beaching themselves?
posted by Gianna at 1:36 PM
Sunday, July 11, 2004
Saturday, July 10, 2004
The other day John Howard bemoaned the fact that our society is getting more "voyeuristic", and yet lately we have been subjected to relentless scrutiny of the breakup of Mark Latham's first marriage and nobody really believes the PM has nothing to do with the dirt diggers, particularly since he has denied knowledge of it. That's an admission if ever there was one. But as Alan Ramsey suggests today, someone could just as easily turn the blowtorch on John Howard. I mean, who in Australia who has connections to either journos or pollies hasn't heard that rumour about which Ramsey hints, about the PM allegedly having a long-time mistress? (Not that it bears thinking about!) If that turns out to be true...well, family values my ass.
posted by Gianna at 4:44 PM
I think I was prompted to write the post below because I've been thanking my stars lately that everything went so well with the pregnancy and birth, and that things are generally going so well for us now. I do feel lucky, because a close friend miscarried recently, and some of my other friends in their late 30s are having trouble getting pregnant at all. And that's why I wish I'd had kids earlier--because yeah, I would like more and being 33 already, realistically, it may not happen. On reflection I do kind of regret saying that things I did in my 20s felt like a waste of time, because I think all of it--work, study, travel--makes me the person I am today. And maybe I'll be a better parent for it. Still, you can do all that stuff once the sprogs are at school, but you don't get much of a window for having babies. It's a vexing situation.
I also just want to clarify something: I don't at all regret having had a baby out of wedlock. Sorry to disappoint the Right. What I meant when I said "obviously I'd prefer to be in a relationship with someone I love next time" is not that solo parenting isn't wonderful, because it is. It's a lovely dynamic--just the two of you. Mind you, not everyone thinks so--I've encountered some stigma regarding being a single mum and co-sleeping, for example: The other day I was speaking to someone at Tresillian (government subsidised parenting centres) because I'd been having a few nights where I was getting groped every hour or so and I thought hmm, maybe I do need a bit of help with this 'sleeping through the night' bizzo. Anyway, the woman wanted to guilt me into coming the centre so she started hinting that perhaps we were co-sleeping to satisfy my own needs (oh sure, anything to get a man in my bed) and she said babies who co-sleep end up with separation anxiety. Bollocks. I've never read that in any of the books. Anyway, I did let her book me in for mid-September because I figure by that stage both me and Harley will be well and truly ready for our own space at night. But for now, I stand by my earlier position that this just feels comfortable, feels instinctively right, and I'm sure there's plenty of cultures where everybody does it and nobody ends up with separation anxiety.
Anyway, to get back to my point--obviously life is nicer when you're in love, and obviously it's a nice thing if you have a baby with someone you actually love. It's not rocket science, and it's not a sign of latent conservatism either.
Lastly on this subject, I mentioned to my friend who suffered the miscarriage (but who remains very stoic about the whole thing), that I'd put up a link to a site I came across recently, so here it is: chez miscarriage. Tagline: "who says infertility can't be funny?".
posted by Gianna at 4:31 PM
Friday, July 09, 2004
You know you're living in the country when the top item on the regional TV news channel is about a cafe in Yamba which is attracting tourists due to having a Balinese statue of a man with a very big dick out on the sidewalk. Even bumped news of Tony Abbott's cameo in Lismore today.
posted by Gianna at 7:17 PM
I'm sure Anne Summers would hate me for saying so, but quitting work and having a baby was the best decision I've ever made. It's not that I don't want to work ever again; I will, of course. It's just that having a career doesn't seem nearly as important anymore. Some feminist I turned out to be...The funny thing is, I never even knew I wanted a baby until I found out I was pregnant. I never thought I'd be any good at it either, but--if I say so myself--I think I'm doing OK. And it's just such fun. Lately Harley seems to find me very amusing and often just bursts out laughing for no apparent reason. He laughs at the drop of a hat, literally.
I wish I'd done this in my twenties. All that partying, all those nightclubs, all those years at uni, all those years
kissing ass working in offices, it seems like such a waste of time now. I mean, of course I had a lot of fun. But nothing compares to the feeling of contentment and fulfilment you get from wiping a baby's bum. God, I used to feel sorry for mothers. And now I dream about making more babies, despite how horrific ghastly um, difficult childbirth is. Though obviously I'd prefer to be in a relationship with someone I love next time! Anyway, who knows what the future holds. In the meantime, this is the life.
update: Just reading that again, it seems almost sacrilegious. I feel very guilty to hear myself say that although I'm supposed to want to have it all, I just don't--I'm happy just to have some of it. I get the urge to qualify and rationalise: it's just that I'm still in the honeymoon phase; I didn't expect to enjoy it this much (ask me again during the 'terrible twos', or whatever); I was never really suited to the corporate environment in the first place; I'd probably feel quite different if I had to leave a job I really loved (when you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose!). Then again, feminism was supposed to validate our choices, whatever they may be, wasn't it. Talk about conflicted eh!
update 2: Apparently I've been outed on a right-wing site as having betrayed my liberalism. But here's the inimitable Rob Schaap's take on it (pilfered from my comments thread):
That 'having it all' bollocks is one of the nastier impositions foisted on women in the last thirty years, I reckon. Another of those American dreams-cum-nightmares we've signed up to. You don't end up with it all at all, and, as you're invited to believe you could have had it all, you're then effectively invited to blame yourself. I remember Kath Hepburn passionately making this point near the end of her time. I submit it's part of the systemic legitimation campaign within which we live. You have total freedom and are therefore totally to blame, sorta thing. 'The market' only makes matters worse, as it has come to depend on inviting you to be unhappy with your habits, appearance, fitness, sexuality, parenthood, credentials, bodily bits, accoutrements and the terrible modesty of your ambitions. Dismal conclusion: our whole mode of political economy is about producing self-conscoiusness-unto-self-loathing and hopeless guilt. Else, how is it one can feel guilty about doing the best job in the world enjoyably and well? How else has it come to pass that one fifth of us are clinically depressed and a host of our young are topping themselves?
Yeah. I think I'm just lucky that I'm not a materialist. Although it's interesting, already people have said to me, "but aren't you worried that Harley is going to miss out on having [insert brand name product] when all his friends do?" Sheesh! I grew up without a lot of material wealth and I don't think it did me that much harm. Anyway, back to this liberal/conservative question, it's not as if I'm saying men should be forced to work while women stay at home. Whoever likes it should do it. Or people should be able to share it. Maybe I'm saying women shouldn't think they have to climb the corporate ladder in order to be happy. That's all. And by the way, I don't think it makes me any less of a lefty to say I'd rather be sharing this with someone I love than doing it alone. Geez.
posted by Gianna at 8:56 AM
Forgive the obsession with our PM's rhetoric lately, but a lot of this stuff is just laughable.
"We've left behind a period of navel-gazing about our national identity. Australia has lifted its head up again."
What a load of cobblers. Many Australians have become more confused about our national identity since the Howard Government has been in power. In fact it feels like we've been forced to do more navel-gazing than ever before. I used to feel proud to be Australian, proud of 'multiculturalism' and the spirit of openness and fairness we seemed to have. It feels like that vibe has all but gone.
"Australian society is not something to be constantly moulded and prodded by hyperactive politicians."
This is a tad hypocritical, isn't it? What about enforcing patriotism by tying school funding to flag-waving? And what about Peter Costello's desire for a more religious society:
"We need a return to faith and the values which have made our country strong," he said. "The editorial writers may not understand it but I want to say to you more lives have been transformed by faith in Christ than by editorial writers."
Uh-huh, what we really need is uncritical, unwavering, blind faith in imaginary friends. (And apologies to my God-fearing readers--there might be one?--but sometimes I get quite annoyed about these guys' lack of respect for atheists.)
"A fair and decent society also relies on some common values that bind us together – respect for social rules, a degree of tolerance and openness towards differing beliefs, recognition of personal responsibility."
Yeah, "a degree" of tolerance and openness is all this Government can manage. Sad.
"While our health system is not perfect, I often say that you are better off falling sick in Brisbane, rather than in Birmingham or the Bronx. We have struck a sensible balance – one that avoids the excessive government control of a system like that in the UK or one that lets too many people fall through the cracks like that in the US."
Gee, what anti-Americanism! How dare he? Someone get Armitage on the phone.
"Australians tend to be suspicious of politicians who preach too much."
Oh, the irony...
posted by Gianna at 7:11 AM
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Well, I thought all the ducks were nicely lined up but apparently not. Though backpages does suggest we've just all been through a dummy run which makes a lot of sense. Anyway, good to see the PM admit he's wasting everyone's time:
"The best thing I can simply say is that when I am in a position to advise the governor-general about an election date I will, and I will naturally announce it...But until then everybody is wasting their time asking me. I haven't made up my mind and I don't really think there is much point in going further on the subject."
But imagine how peeved he'd be if everyone took his advice. I mean, he just loves the speculation, doesn't he? Gratifies his ego, that's for sure. So enough from me then.
posted by Gianna at 6:18 PM
Friday, July 02, 2004
"In the end you go on instinct. I am by nature an instinctive politician on a lot of issues," he told Melbourne radio 3AW...Mr Howard also said he would be in Canberra this Sunday – potentially opening the way for a trip to Government House to call an election for August 7.
I'm sure he'd dearly love to announce that the election was actually held yesterday, to pre-empt any possible election-time terrorist attack, but since he can't do that, I reckon he'll settle for pulling a swift one. This would leave terrorists with little time to carry out an attack; just as it would leave Labor with only a month or so to bring out all its policies, explain and defend them, and convince voters it has an overall vision. Meanwhile, Howard will be able to ride on the coat-tails of the handover of Iraq's 'sovereignty'--whatever terrible things happen in Iraq can be painted as a natural consequence of the handover of 'sovereignty'; as well, he can make the most of the goodwill created by seeing Saddam in the dock. Locally, he'll get mileage out of any mud sticking to Mark Latham at a time when Howard's Teflon is newly scrubbed and there's no negative imagery surrounding him (unless your memory works, as Tim put it).
And Howard thinks the Government is 'travelling better' lately. After all, there's that lovely $600 of our own money that he gave many of us back recently. Not to mention the newly hatched $3000 baby bonus being handed out from this week.
I also think Howard and Bush will want to put distance between their elections to avoid a domino effect. Since Bush's date is fixed, that would mean Howard would have to run as early as possible. A Howard victory, of course, could then be milked by Bush for as long as possible as representing vindication of the COW.
Anyway, I guess we'll soon find out.
posted by Gianna at 5:44 PM