Saturday, July 05, 2008

Don't look at me!!!!!

Oh the shame!!! Don't look at me!

I've felt the cold contempt of this page for many months - and now that I finally visit I discover its been over a year since I last blogged. Much has occured, and yet none reported. I'm so full of self righteous candour right now, it is indeed time to begin again.

See you over the weekend!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Get thee behind me God Botherer!

Whispers in the leaves
are talk
to the foolish man

It is with deep shame that I review my last post date and - sadly- discover almost four months between blogs. It's not as though I haven't wanted to write - but as is the frequent vice of any mother, taking time for myself is often accompanied with guilt. So tonight the blogging recommences, with the strong hope of increased longevity this time round - but I make no promises.

But it is religious education that finally brings me back to the trough. If you've managed to read between the lines of this blog in the past, you'll soon get the idea that I just might not be religiously inclined. This is sometimes a difficult thing - as a child growing up in the church in South Australia, I was aware of travelling in a minority group. So imagine my horror, when after a number of years of exploration I confirmed myself as an atheist with a "hell yes!" - and discovered myself to again be part of a minority - this time in Queensland.

Don't get me wrong - I don't mind this side of it - it allows those threatened by an assertive woman to convince themselves that I am who I am because I lack "spirituality" - and somehow am less womanly, less thoughtful - less christian like. Get over yourself - with the French in my blood I can't be anything BUT arrogant - and have never suffered fools or incompetence gladly. As an embracer of chaos , string and big bang theory - I enjoy nothing better than inserting myself into a religious argument.

But what I don't appreciate is an education system that allows well-meaning God botherers into our children's schools as "religious educators". I particularly resent that I must write a letter every year to my son's school, requesting that my son be exempt from religious education, because I don't support the context under which it is taught at school. My interim solution is to change the teacher's name and the date of the same letter year after year, and resubmit. There is a level of satisfaction in resubmitting an extensive attack on religious instruction versus religious education every year - every one's boxes are ticked!

Now, should a particularly irksome god botherer actually read this blog and demonise me as some form of demonic hell hound intent on corrupting my children, READ THE FOLLOWING. I do not expect, or encourage my children to be atheists - nor do I hide them from religion, or impose judgement on any religion that we discuss - and that's the point - we discuss them all. I don't support my children attending religious education classes at school, because they are not education but rather religious instruction. That is, these classes are taught by a christian church member, who brings their own judgements and religious authority into the classroom. And given that I actively encourage my children to question everything - indeed that's the fundamental underlying theme in the education system, to develop a child's enquiring mind - it infuriates me that an uneducated person (contextually) can walk into a classroom and tell my child that they must believe in God, without having to back up their position with a factual argument. There is no place in the actual education curriculum where this would be acceptable - except in religious ed.

I believe that religion goes to the core of your belief system - and as a child you simply don't know what this is, and realistically even as adults many of us spend many years before we decide what we believe. An easy way out of this dilemma is to endow your child with your own belief system. The harder route is to open their eyes to all belief systems, and support them and their choices throughout their lives. This is the path we've opted along for our children. We encourage our children to make no decisions on beliefs now, but to question and explore all faiths, tasting the beauty and the horror of each religion, their eyes wide open. I went through many iterations into young adulthood before finally shaking off religion - why would I deny my children the opportunity to question and explore their own spirituality? The Christan values that are the foundations of our law and society are common to all religions - and more critically to defining us as a compassionate species - and so we teach these in our home. We take religious education out of the school, and bring it back into our home - where both unbiased information and a questioning environment are supported.

This means therefore that chattering chipmunk sits at the back of the class with a few peers during the religious education (RE) lesson, doing other work, but nevertheless privy to the
content of the RE lesson. I'm not thrilled about it, but tolerate the situation, recognising the complexity of managing this situation otherwise.

However, when the RE educators conspire to host an Easter concert in the school hall, where all classes are present - and my child, with his godless peers are required to sit outside the hall, playing hangman.............Well I have to admit I'm more than just a little bit snakey! There are inherent judgements for the children here - a level of second class, worthy only of a teacher peering out of the school door ensuring they don't become too burlesque with their outside activities. The irony is, if asked, we would have allowed chattering chipmunk to attend - as a point of discussion for the family after.

But this approach reinforces an ongoing stereotype. My son has endured a range of taunts from school peers over the last few years for not attending RE - from families I might add that have no contact with religion other than the child's RE lesson. And of all children, he better than most appreciates the importance of respecting every one's individual right to have their own beliefs, and recognises that we may have fundamental differences in our beliefs, but can still get along. yet my son has been told that "You can't have love in your heart if you don't believe in God", questioned intently about what he does or doesn't believe in (as if these other children know what they do believe in) - and I blame RE for this - for implying that children have to pick a side. If this were McDonald's coming into the class to promote their healthy kids meal, week in, week out, there would be an uproar throughout the community, despite the fact they would probably hire a range of pediatricians, nutritionalists, etc to do the job. But any religious zealot can enter the classroom and set up subliminal messages that promote "us" and "them" attitudes among children - and somehow this translates to developing the children's values system.

For a brief moment the Queensland Government exercised courage, with the intention of requiring a letter from parents to allow their children to attend RE - effectively testing how many children attended because it was implicitly compulsory, rather than parents specifically wanting their children to attend. However, with the religious right uproar, and a great deal of posturing from the opposition, this position was quickly revoked. Interestingly, parents with their children in school seemed to have very little comment at all. Once again, the noise created by a few empty vessels, driven by self interest, win out over the apathy of the general population.

Well enough now - Knock it off. Our taxes pay for teachers to educate our children. As a parent it is my responsibility to encourage the development of my child's spirituality, as it is for every parent with their own child. If you want your children to have religious instruction, then get off your backside and take them to your house of worship/Sunday School/spiritual elder - and if you don't want them to have religious instruction - then stop supporting the religious indoctrination that passes for education in our schools.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Invisible Australian

Lock Howard up
throw away the key
We won't stop
until David Hicks is free

Chant at the Brisbane Rally to free David Hicks

Well, since Phil has made reference to my own blog, I am shamed into paying it some long deserved attention, and after yet another three months of frantically working for a parasitic task master, time to review and do something a little cathartic.

Today our family marched in the Brisbane rally to free David Hicks. Yes, that includes the man of the house, Chattering Chipmunk and Dolphin Girl. That's not to say that we didn't perhaps bribe the brood a little with lunch at one of the much despised fast food outlets on the way through - I like to think of it as part of a longer term engagement strategy. But we were there.

The significance of this can not be overstated. You see, today was the first time anyone in our nuclear family have marched for a cause. I've ever so mildly protested in the past; been outspoken in various forms of ill-willed company on issues I believe in. But today was the first time I've attended a rally. But I didn't feel we had a choice. We have a government determined to interpret silence or apathy as passive support for systemic erosion of basic human rights. To not march allows them to claim they have my support. And if the children don't march - then they will never appreciate what it is they have lost if we are unsuccessful in our endeavours. I think their fight is only beginning.

I've read much in recent times about "Australian values" - and I've yet to see anything that captures what it means to me to be Australian. Australia has ratified several human right treaties - stating our country's intent to uphold those values at all times, including the Convention Against Torture. And yet it would seem that our government selectively applies the use of these treaties. To me being an Australian is all about helping someone less fortunate than yourself, or who needs assistance - and having faith that no matter how awkward or untoward the situation you might find yourself facing - your government will fight for you, because you are an Australian. But now it seems, our current government has decided to apply caveats. If you are potentially an "undesirable" - well you just seem to become an invisible Australian.

Whether David Hicks is innocent or guilty is irrelevant - he's entitled to go through a legal process and contest his case. I just want to see the man given his basic, fundamental human rights. As an Australian, he is legally entitled to have his government fight for his rights - but as a fellow human being he's entitled to be treated like one. And so we march, in the hope that he will be.

And if there were any other reason to march? The resurgence of that frightfully ignorant media harlot, once again espousing populist, half-baked racism. I don't like it!!!!

So start marching people..... the idiot brigade are already swarming.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

when the turkey comes home to roost

Salmon salmon
In the River Tweed
You seem to swim
At such a speed
And really salmon
How I wish
You wouldn't end up
On a dish.

Spike Milligan, Condensed Animals, 1991.

Well I've spent the last three months fitting in six months of work - and I'm cooked! an hour a day with the husband and children, dogs that politely, but firmly, barr my entrance as I walk through the front gate, and a possum whom I've developed a nodding acquaintance with. These are not good signs.

But perhaps the most damaging of all is the epic failure of my shoo-turkey program. In the absence of my work from home days, and family weekends working in the garden, he has relocated.........on top of my fallow vegie garden.

When I decided that the bird wire enclosure around the garden, and the bird netting over the garden should come down until something a little more elegant was constructed, it never occurred to me that the scrubby might see this as an open invitation. But indeed, he has.

Every last scrap of inch thick newspaper laid over garden beds, covered in bagasse has relocated - into a nest over four metres in diameter. And even this isn't enough. Every day he trumpets at the chicken house, trying to find a way to remove their small portion in their home.

Yes, I should have seen this coming - after all he did claim ownership over a round bail (equivalent of 15 bales), trying to drag its contents over a 10 metre height differential.

And I was ready to break up his nest the other day, anything to stop the constant harassment of my chickens - and I stopped. There he was grinding a circle with his beak, splaying his wings in rhythmic display - and the girls were impressed! Two female turkeys were cautiously circling, ready for flight should he change his mind. And I was mesmerized. If I ran in now, I could stop the show - stop the function of the nest, end our misery now. No little turkeys scratching around on our roof, no rampant dogs playing make a wish with baby turkeys in the future - in that moment I could have changed the uncertainty of the future. But I just couldn't.

As pissed as I am with this bird, he's resisted the commando rolling and firing of the whole family with high pressure water guns, the intermittent chasing from the dogs - and not only hung around in our yard - but built a monument to his fortitude. I cannot but admire his persistence.

I have no idea what we will do when the babies turn up, and the dogs come looking for sport. We insist the children stay outside whenever we let the chickens out for a roam (and I've heard they are now starting to challenge the cocky bird). But then he has also redeemed himself by industry on a particular front.

There's a mad woman who lives across the road from us - I don't want to invest in labels, and god knows there are quite a few that apply to her - but she's just nuts - harmless - but nevertheless nuts. So when the scrub turkey decided to acquire her pile of mulch in her front yard and create a speed hump across the road between our two properties, who am I to enter into the discussion? it took her a few days to realise where the mulch had gone (which is a surprise, given that a trail stretched from his nest, up the hill, over the electric fence, through the chain mess fence, down a 2 metre high embankment, onto the grassy sidewalk and across the road). After intensive questioning of the children, she eventually accepted that "the scrubbie did it" defence, and proceeded to painstakingly scrape up her mulch that hadn't already made it to the nest - and put it back to where it came from - the pile in her front garden near the edge of the road.

And the following morning the scrubbie was out there again, painstakingly raking her mulch back across the road, up the hill through the electrified fence and down to the nest. I saw her out there with her bucket again this afternoon - but really - I don't rate her chances!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

To be or not to be - that is the family question for IR

It's a sad day today. Despite my best optimistic efforts, the inescapable truth of today confronts me. The gap between the middle and working classes will never be closed. Those few of us who manage to jump the barrier, from one class to another, are indeed the privileged.

For many months we've heard the Federal Government bang on at length that the new Industrial Relations laws provide choice - but seem to be blinded to which side of the argument the choice is provided for.

Look at the surveys conducted around Australia every few months. Young people today indicate lifestyle is more important than money. Young and established families indicate family time is the number one priority - dad's want to be a part of their children growing up in this generation. Baby Boomers indicate genuine excitement at the lifestyle opportunities provided with retirement.

And yet our IR laws are destined to rob the lowest income earners from the basic fundamentals - control of their own environment, including time to rest, recover - and be something, someone else - before returning to work.

I grew up in a household where my father worked all day, and my stepmother all night. This meant that from the age of seven, myself and two stepbrothers rose with the sparrows and dad, and following dad's departure, spent the next two hours every morning engrossed in chores (well one of us anyway!), tooth and nail arguments and the eventual trek to school. In the evenings, the step mother often already on her way to work, we children would spend another hour or more on our own before pater returned from his laboured efforts. And because we were such a poor family, this routine often extended into the weekends, where any opportunity of financial reward for overtime was anxiously taken up - anything to remove the financial pressure. And during school holidays? Well the step-mother became extremely cantankerous through sleep deprivation, anxiously looking forward to the re-incarceration of the overly vital sprog in the State education system.

And the result of this financial focus over family? Aside from the fact that we managed to burn down the kitchen one morning (the dispute with dad still rages over whether or not he told us to turn off the pot of cat food on the stove), the cracks to the family psyche were much deeper, and while seemingly slow to show themselves, were evidently there all along.

You see, we never learnt to behave as a family - how to draw together as a cohesive unit under duress. We didn't spend time negotiating our differences and learning how to get along - how could the children possibly learn, when the adults were never present together to role model. And because the parents didn't spend much time together - they never learnt how to enjoy each others company. Family disputes were crashingly resolved through violent action and the most heinous, unforgivable insults . We, the children subsequently learnt to resolve our own differences through violence (stepbrothers) or scathing sarcasm (me). Masters of role model mimicry.

And we weren't alone. In a low income area, where both parents worked, a "Lord of the flies" battalion of children progressively emerged in our area. That battalion is now into its second generation, with no visible change. Each family characterised by the lack of time it devotes to itself.

My "family"? Well naturally, it fell apart. Well more than fell apart. I had worked myself to the bone through high school to make sure I had the choice of university opportunities - and disappeared a week into my seventeenth year to the other end of the country.... as far as I could possibly remove myself from the 'family'.

My (two months older) eldest step-brother - after many years of rejection from his mother - commenced a painful journey that included several bouts of attempted suicide, and culminated into several nervous breakdowns before an eventual schizophrenia diagnosis. He seems to have generated a new life around him. I am extremely proud of him - but we longer have contact.

My youngest (eight months younger) step-brother, a pathological liar and thief as a child - exited school illiterate, with a strong suspicion of drug abuse. He progressively developed an exceptional life around himself, before collapsing with the strain of his brother's mental illness, and moving back into drug abuse. He however pulled himself back out and is again leading an exceptional life. I am extremely proud of him too - again, we have no contact.

Dad and the step mother moved through an incredibly acrimonious and bitter divorce - where the lawyers on both sides made a fortune. All the overtime, all the family sacrifice, in one foul swoop, handed over to the lawyers as payment for their lasting failure to get along - for putting money ahead of family. The step mother and I do not have contact.

There are incredibly sad and acrimonious times ahead for many families. Yes, I'm a working mum - for both financial necessity and because I want to. But by the same token, my family lives comfortably. We may have to squeeze pennies at times, but we're not servants of the eternal dollar. I work in a comfortable, union negotiated work arrangement, where holidays and sick leave are relatively protected. And I wouldn't give these things up because they are important to me - and to my family.

And I've yet to meet a family who would willingly give them up - other than to ensure they have an income. And yet this is how the IR tool is being used.

For a government so pretentiously pushing the family line, it seems to be doing its level best to pressure these incredibly fragile units. Families cope with strain when they have nourished on togetherness. Without it, they are just another group of maladjusted members of society.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sycophantic cowards unite - into an oleaginous pool of flattery

Political correctness is turning our society into apathetic cowards.

Case in point. Most people don't understand affirmative action - particularly those who employ underneath its umbrella.

Affirmative action is intended to make sure that those whom are frequently discriminated against in a process (such as employment) where the source of discrimination is immaterial to their ability to do their job/ represent/ etc - or can be reasonably accommodated within the confines of the role - are given the opportunity to prove themselves.

This is an honourable thing to do - and helps to correct the great wrong that is a fact of our society - we really do form opinions on worth and ability based on first impressions.

But what affirmative action is NOT intended to do is canonise anyone employed under its mantle - or excuse poor performance, lack of genuine ability - or unscrupulous if not illicit behaviour.

Most people operating under affirmative action just want a chance to shine at what they do - no special recognition - just the minimum that we all take for granted - and they should be given the opportunity.

But what screws it up for everyone - those under it, and those jostling up against it - is the way in which it is abused. Under performers employed under this action (often by employers fearful of not meeting their quotas) fail to be addressed - or are more likely to be promoted to the next level of incompetence. No one wants to brave the process.

But the truly heinous crime in all of this is the loss of our voices. Us. The great majority. We seem to lack the strength to call bad behaviour when it involves someone from an affirmative action group. Why? Because we can't in our own minds - or if we can, are terrified that everyone else can't, and will therefore think that we can't - separate the affirmative action descriptor from the person - we can't leave the label outside of the workplace if that 's how they've entered.

And the danger in this is that there are toxic personalities in every workplace - in every work group, in every demographic. So stop discriminating - if you don't put up with toxic behaviour from a non-affirmative action employee - then don't put with it from an affirmative actionee. Shoot it down, call it for what it is.

And more to the point - if the bastard has been pissing on you from a great height for the last however many months simply because he/she can - don't tune in to the "group think" and make excuses for him/her because of (your perception) their "affliction" when fate starts to catch up with their ill deeds.

It might surprise you to realise that conniving, malevolent maelstrom personalities aren't exclusive to the majority - they turn up in every demographic - and freely operate across all of them.

If they've been the catfish (scum sucking bottom dwellers) of your environment, then rejoice in their comeuppance. And stop the hypocrisy you low-life sycophant. What goes around comes around.

So take your hands out of your pockets and speak plainly for what you see. Call it for what it is. And give courage to those who would try to speak. Give voice to those who are in the minority and so badly misrepresented by the self-serving catfish. Who knows when your time will come as one of the minority.

break away from the lassitudinous pack of curs. You know who you are - now get on with it!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Cake for the Rhodent

All the infections that the sun sucks up
From bogs, fens, flats,
on John Howard fall, and make him
By inch-meal a disease

Repetitive, and a tad juvenile, I know - but such wonderful invective - and so much more powerful than this:

the rhodent is a cantankerous, mealy-mouth little turd whose egotistical neediness is sucking the marrow of our youth into slavery to support a generation trapped in a 50's version of the "lucky country", while consciously eroding all form of human rights and environmental safeguards to ensure the enslaved die before reaching lucky country status - or want to die because there's nothing left of the lucky country. It really is just a matter of time before we hear him yell - "Well then let them eat cake!!"

And no doubt push a few more overboard while he's at it. Conniving little scroat.

He's such an asshole.

Definitely not Shakespeare!