Counting Blessings

I spoke to my Mum in Sri Lanka this morning, and she is safe-safe-safe. Everyone in my family is safe, and there’s just property damage to deal with. I cannot believe our luck…

My Mum and my Aunt from the US had wanted to drive down the South Coast (the worst affected areas) on a pilgrimge to a temple of Hindu god (Kataragama) (in whom Buddhists believe in/pray to too) this weekend, but all the holtels were booked so they went to another Aunt’s house in Awissawella, which is inland. They didn’t actually hear anything ’til after it had all happened.

Yesterday morning they had planned to drive down to visit my Grandma, who lives in Morragulla, Beruwalla–on the West Coast of Sri Lanka. The planned early-morning journey was interrupted when a water main burst in the street near my Aunt’s place and my Uncle had to get in touch with the authorities to sort that out. It was a Sunday and a public holiday (Sri Lanka observes Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian holidays–another excellent reason as to why we should embrace true multiculturalism) so it took ages to organise maintenance… while they were waiting they got call from a relative of a relative asking if they had any news. It was apparently a “what news?” moment. The TV went on and they weren’t going anywhere.

The first wave had come up to my Grandma’s front fence. She spoke to my Mum and said everything was fine, the water’s receded quickly. Silly old lady! The second wave was worse, and her place, which is actually raised about a metre off the ground, was flooded up to her chest. Her neighbours carried her to the second storey of the house across the street. My Uncle who lives nearby (the one with the new bub) owns a restaurant and a small guesthouse which did not get touched.

My second Uncle’s house in the South was destroyed, but the family is safe, and a second cousin was playing cricket on the beach on the East Coast and he got sucked out to sea twice, but he’s a national junior swimmer or something and he is ok.

Again, thank you everyone who called/messaged/got in touch with me, it means so much to know that you guys care, and thank you thank you thank you for your prayers/good karma… if you can, please keep it coming; my family is ok but thousands, maybe millions, more aren’t doing so well.

If anyone is able to, the Red Cross/Red Crescent is taking donations…

P.S: My brother’s in the US at the moment and he and my cousin drove to Canada this weekend… apparently there’s a bitch of a blizzard out there right now. Is this a test, Mother Nature? I promise I will recycle even more…

Encouraging Conversation

We don’t need no education

We don’t need no thought control

No dark sarcasm in the classroom

Teachers, leave those kids alone

Looks like Gregory Melleuish’s been listening to too much Pink Floyd… His latest column about liberal education raises some very valid points about the stagnation of intellectual debate.

To collapse many conversations into one is to reduce the vitality of the intellectual life of a society or culture. For ideas to develop and grow, individuals holding those ideas must be in touch with those who hold different positions so that they do not grow complacent and arrogant in their own rightness.

Apparently this stagnation occurs because there are too many whacko-lefties in universities. But surely if Tories weren’t too busy making money, there might be a more “fair and balanced” intellectual status quo in universities? So how about properly funding universities and paying people properly for their intellectual contribution to society, instead of forcing brilliant minds to the stupor of the corporate world? (Argh, my tongue appears to be stuck to my cheek… must be the weather.)

Greg observes that the problem of “academic conformity”

prevents any form of vigorous conversation occurring within the universities. Instead, it is left to journalists and mavericks such as Keith Windschuttle to engage the academics from outside the universities. The result is not a conversation but a shouting match that is more like a gladiatorial spectacle than a debate.

I totally agree. Pseudo-academic insurgency merely prevents proper discussion, analysis and solutions. We shouldn’t encourage intellectual blowback. Furthermore, the purpose of education is to encourage people to learn and make choices based on their analysis of all the information available. The presentation of only one perspective is “thought control”.

Greg’s solution to this odious scourge

is to create the conditions under which other institutions, including private universities, think tanks and institutes, are able to flourish.

But isn’t that just building a Colosseum in which intellectual gladiators may fight, rather than encouraging a civil approach to intellectual debate? Governments should provide “a more favourable environment” for intellectual conversation by supporting universities properly.

Providing tax breaks for think-tanks isn’t going to solve anything.

Update: A reply to the comment left by my Good Friend Anonymous because I have a cheap-arse comments system (can anyone help me out with that, not looking at anyone in particular?) which won’t accept over 1000 characters…

First of all, I reckon you should put your name to your opinions. You don’t have to leave contact details, but it really looks bad when you have to hide in Anonyland.

In any event, this is an issue of education policy. What I’m saying is that you can’t run around crying that universities aren’t up to scratch (which is what Greg was doing) when you support less funding for them (which is what, let’s face it, Greg does). What we need are universities which are able to hire enough staff from diverse backgrounds and keep them there so these institutions are able to provide students with the opportunity to understand all facets of the debate.

The problem at hand is that universities are unable to have enough staff to teach classes let alone provide differing viewpoints, further exacerbated by the fact they just can’t attract the right people by paying them properly (although another issue is whether Right people want to be involved in the first place; they seem to happy sitting on the side lines having a whinge).

The think-tanks Greg wants tax breaks for are not “true think-thanks”. They are intellectual lobby-groups. They do not ‘thoroughly [discuss] all options’; they present very partisan opinions in the hope of influencing decision makers. They are not an arena for encouraging “vigorous conversation”, they are participants in the inevitable “shouting match” which results from the fractionalisation of the intelligentsia.

If it needs to be made clearer for you, Anon, what I’m saying is that Greg can’t bemoan the lack of intellectual conversation in universities then argue the best way to solve this problem is to encourage external shouting.

My solution, to repeat myself in case it was *misread* the first time, is to encourage conversation within universities so THEY really can be “true think-tanks”, and this should be done through providing proper funding and support for what they were established to do, cf pumping up partisan gladiators with ridiculous tax-breaks. Of course, if we’re supposed to be so obsessed with tax breaks, yes, give them to the universities, but not hacks from think-tanks.

“Citizen Jane” Responds

From my inbox re my vile raving rant from yesterday:

Well, here I was carelessly surfing the internet and thinking to myself… geez there’s a lot of conservative crap being printed on the internet. With a slight sigh of relief I stumbled across your ‘blog.’ At the very first glance of your page I was quickly reassured with the state of the media. The media isn’t biased at all. There’s just as much conservative crap out there as there is ‘liberal’ bulldust such as yours (and for those wondering I use the term liberal very loosely).

To start off with I have to say that it is no real surprise that you got so worked up on the issue. Well, think about. If someone says something stupid your shrug your shoulders and think, if not say, what a “poor stupid bastard.” But in this case you had a person making logical, valid points and all you could respond with was a whole heap of swearing and false bravado. And to make things worse for you the person making these points was actually one of your own-kind (someone else who writes what they believe is right in an attempt to save the world.)

Oh… you thought I was referring to author’s gender. Opps, I guess you forgot the first rule of feminism: equality. Yes, that’s right – gender is irrelevant. WHEN WILL YOU PEOPLE FINALLY UNDERSTAND THIS. The fact that it was a female writing the article is completely. Utterly. Undeniably. IMMATERIAL. But I suppose I should forgive you, when you can’t attack the content of an article you have to fill your page moaning about something.

The problem with old-feminists is that they completely lost sight of what they were fighting for. Originally, they weren’t simply about women’s rights, they were about equality. It just so happens that, at the time, women were getting a bloody raw deal. So, that’s what they fought for. Tooth and nail. They fought for a system where women could be educated, given the same opportunities and be just as, if not, more successful than their muscularly enhanced counterparts.

Conveniently (but predictably) you forgot to mention the fact that women do have a chance. And not just a 30% chance either. Confused? Oh, let me remind you of someone who actually has some facts.

Women in the present day are:

* Four times LESS likely than young men to kill themselves
* 22 times LESS likely to be imprisoned.
* And MORE likely than boys to leave school with no qualifications.

Oh, but didn’t you say:

“It’s only when women are educated, supported and given the chance to excel do we have a $%&* choice.”

What’s worse is that you then go on to lament about the demise of the Office of Status of Women. Well don’t men have issues too? Isn’t this what we are fighting for here – Equality.

Agreed?

Anyone?

Oh… that’s right… now I remember why men don’t have an Office of Status. Because if they haven’t killed themselves then they are in prison or too uneducated to do anything about.

How convenient.

The thing that is admirable about Janet Albrechtsen is that she isn’t afraid to fight for equality. She isn’t the ego-thirsty, power-hungry person that you are. She can accept that 30% ain’t bad for women. Now, all your readers out there, bear with me here.

Let’s face facts. Men have penises and women have vaginas. Women give birth (using their vaginas). Men are strong and are more suited to the blue-collar jobs (not that anyone cares about those jobs anyway). But nevertheless, a bit like YOU said. You want to stay home and look after the kids. Well what happens if 70% of women agree with you. Do we then launch into a cry about the High Court?

No. We look at it objectively. Women have great opportunities. In fact, in some cases, they are better off than men. Most women are educated, out-of-prison and alive. And if a woman wants to gets on the High Court, SHE HAS THE OPPURTUNITY. So now that women have opportunities you can get off your high horse. Old feminism can slowly fade away. And a new, truer form of feminism can be bred where equality is fought for, regardless of the gender.

Citizen Jane

This, folks, is even more gold when one knows who wrote it, and I now feel 100% justified in certain possibly-irrational choices I may have made recently 😀

But, to the issue at hand.

Dear Jane

I agree with you, Jane, about equality. In fact, I was discussing this issue with a Friend From Up The Road yesterday and he takes exactly the same position as you with regards to what modern feminism is about. The term feminism should apparently be scrapped (in the same way one might say the ALP should get as far away from ‘Labor’ as possible which some creative corporate re-branding, but I’ll save that one for a rainy day… it’s too lovely a day today to be angry…) in favour of ‘equalism’ or, in the alternative, we should just forget about the whole damn thing all together and just get on with our lives.

However, there’s something about forgetting the past which I just cannot deal with. What happens when you forget the past is that you make the same mistakes over and over again. This is the same issue I have with indigenous issues and economic policy… everyone gets lulled into a false sense of security when things are ‘fine’ and all of a sudden, you’re back 70 years. As long as you, Jane, promise me that on the road to equalism we don’t forget that women have suffered with the raw deal for a very long time, I agree that we need to support everyone with warm-fuzzies.

But, here’s my reply speech (especially since you don’t like them…) on the other issues you raised, in chronological order.

Firstly, I’m not the media. I’m an over-excited twenty-something nerd who hates to piss off the few real-world friends she has and has thus taken to venting in kilobytes. Furthermore, I believe there has been some good research done on the fact blogging doesn’t affect the mainstream media enough to have real impact on the information war, and with 8 hits a day I’m not part of the tiny number who may in fact do so.

Secondly, I feel that my harping on Janet Albrechtson’s gender was justified. Someone said to me yesterday that if a man had written what she had written, it would have never been published. Why would anyone say that if what she wrote wasn’t ridiculously offensive to women and the hard fight fought by crazed feminazis everywhere? Plus, she wrote it as a woman, she should be able to justify it as a woman, and so I am going to write about what she wrote as a woman.

Thirdly, would you like to re-read my post and tell me exactly how many times I moaned without discussing ‘content’? I may get emotional sometimes, but I generally try to stick to the issues at hand when I criticise something, without resorting to blatantly making stuff up.

Fourthly, I’m glad you accept that there needed to be a cat-fight for women to “given the same opportunities and be just as, if not, more successful than their muscularly enhanced counterparts” and that “as a result of the pressure from such people that many women’s lives have improved“:

This is great. Women have achieved so much. But the brutal facts remain. The vast majority of the world’s women still have very little power, at work, in their relationships at home, or in the wider world. As British social commentator Polly Toynbee noted, even in the Britain of 2004: ‘the battle is only half won.’

Worldwide, 70 per cent of those living in poverty are women, as are two-thirds of illiterate adults. One in four women is beaten by her husband or partner. Every day, 1,300 still die unnecessarily in childbirth or during pregnancy.

I do not believe feminists have “lost sight of what they were fighting for”. It is only when we accept sub-par results do we lose sight of the fight.

Fifthly, if you’re up for some websurfing: here are some more facts about women and our (cough) place in the world.

Sixthly, when I was talking about [deleted] choices, it was in the context of responding to Auntie Jan saying feminazis do not offer women ‘real choices’. I was saying we have choices. Because of feminazis and what they fought for. Yes, hurrah, something to celebrate! Auntie Jan goes on and on about how Old Femmos whine despite the progress we’ve made and yet what does she do? Whine about something we could celebrate. Way to go!

Seventhly, I understand the point you are making about the status of men. I’m sure you feel very strongly about it. All I have to say to that is, then let’s stop arguing about women and men and fix the education system which currently favours the rich over the poor and is on a steady march to increasing that divide.

Oops, did I suddenly switch from whinging about gender to whinging about class? Here’s the thing with equality in this country right now: Everything and everyone is divided into competing factions because it appears that the elites seem to like it that way. They’re happy propping up their friends to high places and ignoring those who can’t increase their status. My apologies for the digression, but there is a link…

The thing is, exactly the same issue exists with women. Women have always have and, if we ignore it, always will face an uphill battle for equality. Probably because we have different bits down there to men. (I am going to ignore the thing you said about Auntie Jan’s ego: la la la la la la imnotlisteningoriwillswearagain la la la la.) My Friend From Up The Road pointed out that the number is 30% because 20% of women are having children at all times. (Like how 69% of statistics are made up on the spot.) Well, if that is the case, I give up. I concede. Capitulate, even. Ok, we have the chance and opportunity to be on the High Court now, let’s get the hell over it.

But 30% isn’t equality yet. We need to support everyone, men, women, children, elderly, indigenous people, migrants, students, workers, heck, even wild tree frogs, but we still have to fight for equality, as the best way to provide that support. We still have to fight because the current status quo doesn’t give a shit. That’s all I was saying. That and Janet Albrechtsen is evil.

Thanks for taking the time to send me a response, and I hope to talk to you soon
Sunili

P.S. I know I’m not one to talk about spelling, but I’ve recently found that Copy-Paste to Word only takes a few seconds 😉

Anger. Rising. Must. Blog.

Note: Sorry I’ve been out of the blogging loop for a while, it was due to the post-exam blob-out and being too busy in the real-world and then writing about slightly more interesting things elsewhere–I have even avoided looking the news up online–and please forgive that this response to my second favourite Tory Lady Janet Albrechtsen is a little tardy and may have been covered elsewhere. I promise I’ll be getting back into the swing of things again shortly. Oh, and yeah, I get really ticked off here, so you have hereby been given a

LANGUAGE WARNING.

Anti-feminist women perplex me. Conservative anti-feminist women (though I’m hard pressed to name any progressive anti-feminist women) more so. Let’s face it, if a woman it so brainwashed by her context to think her place is in the home and she should never be able to achieve or do anything because she wants to, then I can’t blame her. Heck, if a woman sits down and has a good think about all the issues and decides, for. her. self, that’s what she wants to do, then kudos to her. But how can an educated, apparently intelligent woman of the world think so? I suppose “an intelligent Conservative” is an oxymoron. But, in my humble opinion, so is Tory Anti-Feminism.

In her latest, Janet Albrechtsen suggests that for those weirdo hippie bra-burning crackpots better known as ‘older feminists’, “conservatism and feminism do not mix“.

And rightly so, because Tories like the Luddite “picket-fence, mother-at-home model” of women’s policy in preference to the “oh, shit; quick, put a woman on the High Court even if it’s solely to save us from international humiliation (even though we probably can’t be more humiliated and looked down upon…)” model.

But, surely, if a Conservative woman was all gung-ho for that personal-best-self-interest realist crap, she would be promoting the need to support women though affirmative action mechanisms because it’d be the best way for her to win?

Apparently not!

Which I SO do not get. Doesn’t Jan realise that maybe one day she could be swinging her sensible shoes off the edge of highest park-bench in the country if only she supported giving women a so-called ‘free ride’?

No, she’s too busy pointing out that 30% is a victory.

I know Jess from ausculture hearts Janet Albrechtsen, but I hate her and her smarminess.

According to Jan, ‘real women’ (of which I am apparently not one) should be celebrating (and that does not just mean being pleased with the current progress, but actually congratulating ourselves on this is be-all and end-all achievement) the following:

Women hold 33 per cent of Australian government board spots, well beyond the 8.6 per cent of seats they had on Australia’s top 200 listed companies as at June 2003. For the same period, women held more than 30 per cent of positions at the senior executive service level in the Australian public service. In the private sector the figure is 8.8 per cent. Women fill more than one quarter of Coalition seats and as Howard noted in his post-election press conference, there are more women in cabinet than at any time since Federation.


First of all… 103 years is a LONG FUCKING TIME SINCE FEDERATION, but, more bizarrely… we’re supposed to be proud of THIRTY FUCKING PERCENT?????????????

Fuck. Off.

Oh, pardon me. That’s thirty-three percent of government board spots.

Fuck the fuck off, Jan. Not happy, even.

Apparently we’re not allowed to be ‘angry’ that only SIX women head government departments. That’s SIX out of EIGHTEEN departments. Good things obviously come in thirds, because this fact, according to Auntie Jan, is the. Best. Thing. Ever.

Fuck. Off.

I appear to be repeating myself. But I just can’t help it. I am livid. FUCK THE FUCK OFF, JANET!!!!

On the issue that affirmative action is a ‘free ride’, Auntie Jan argues that:

… merit must come first. Short cuts based on gender will hardly advance the status of women. When you appoint a woman on sex, not talent, you risk appointing the talentless — or at least promoting that perception. And that can only encourage a view that women are not quite up to the job.

What complete and utter bullshit. On first glance, Jan’s point appears relatively rational. (Heaven forbid!)

But let’s have a think about this, shall we? (Phew. Order is once again restored to the world.)

First of all, while we may like to think we live in a meritocracy, oh no we fucking don’t. What’s the difference between appointing a woman to the High Court because she’s a woman and appointing a conservative to the High Court because he (let’s face it, he) happens to be a conservative, for fuckssakes? Because that’s what fucking happens in the fucking real world, as much as it pains me almost to the point of tears.

Second of all, we “risk appointing the talentless”??? Give me a freaking break, woman. Why don’t you just SAY “there are no talented, qualified, quite-up-to-the-job women available to fill these positions”, COUGHBULLSHITCOUGH, and just admit your redicularity (is that a word? I mean it in the same way one says ‘hilarity’). Giving women a chance to enter a male-dominated profession is shitloads more progress than THIRTY FUCKING PERCENT. Can someone please explain to me how the fuck she ever passed highschool (heck, even kindergarten) thinking THIRTY PERCENT was good enough? That concept is just spinning me out right now.

And on the issue of choice… The feminazi version of choice apparently has “a nasty tendency to transmute into the dictatorial and doctrinaire“. WANKWANKWANKWANKWANK. Your point, sweetie? (By the by, what a nice way of appealing to the masses; you go, Jan.) There is so a fucking choice when you support women. When I have children, I will stay at home with them because I’m the clucky type and I want to watch the cute little monkeys grow up. But I also want to do something with my life other than get sprogged up. That’s called choice. It’s only when we have opportunities do we have a bloody choice. It’s only when women are educated, supported and given the chance to excel do we have a fucking choice.

Finally, if it’s not too much to ask, Auntie Jan, would you care to explain and/or give an example of what you mean by “objective policy making based upon impartial research of women’s needs and wants”? I would be most appreciative. Because if that isn’t what the Office of Status of Women is about, well, then, I’m stumped.

So now I’m back to being confused. Confused as to why a woman thinks it’s fine for women to only be 30% of the decision making process which affects 50% of the population, confused as to why she’s not riding the affirmative action train to Success Station herself, since it’s in her go-get-em Tory nature anyway, and confused as to how in blazes she gets stuff published in national newspapers. (No, wait, I so know the answer to that last one: Tinkerbell.) Oh jeez, how is her existence even rational? Is she some sort of über Conservabot sent here from the future to destroy our souls or something? If so, is she from the same lab from which Ann Coulter spawned?

URGH.

Right, back to being angry. Jeez Louise, I am so pissed off right now. I’m just going to stop before I say something which could get me sued. If I haven’t already.