This is the archive of the original tigtogblog

tigtog now posts at the new and improved Hoyden About Town. She also blogs at Larvatus Prodeo and Finally A Feminism 101 Blog. If the new Hoydenspace is down you should find updates below.

Posts begin below the Feed Modules from the blogs named above.

Hoyden About Town

Latest Posts from Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog


You keep using that word - I do not think it means what you think it means

Pick either word: theory or evolution - creationists don't have a clue what they mean. A theory in science is not a guess or speculation, despite how the word has been bastardised in sloppy general usage - a theory in science is a rigorous testable model of an observed phenomenon. And the creationist misconceptions of evolution!

This story in today's LATimes shows what science teachers in parts of the USA where religiosity is valued over rationality are up against:
About half of all Americans dismiss as preposterous the scientific consensus that life on Earth evolved from a common ancestor over millions of years. Some hold to a literal reading of Genesis: God created the universe about 6,000 years ago. Others accept an ancient cosmos but take the variety, complexity and beauty of Earth's creatures as proof that life was crafted by an intelligent designer.

Religious accounts of life's origins have generally been kept out of the science classroom, sometimes by court order. But polls show a majority of Americans are unhappy with the evolution-only approach.

Daniel Read, for instance, considers it his Christian duty to expose his classmates to the truths he finds in the Bible, starting with the six days of creation. It's his way, he said, of counterbalancing the textbook, which devotes three chapters to evolution but just one paragraph to creationism. A soft-spoken teen with shaggy hair and baggy pants, Daniel prepares carefully for his mission in this well-educated, affluent and conservative suburb of 28,000, just outside Kansas City, Mo. He studies DVDs distributed by Answers in Genesis, a "creation evangelism" ministry devoted to training children to question evolution.

Pity the science teachers. Who is going to want to become one? What will the dwindling supply of qualified science teachers mean for native-born Americans and the sciences? Is America going to have to import all its scientists in future decades?

And for a slightly different view of the handbasket heading rapidly hellwards, here's 12 warning signs of fascism.

Well howdy!

Thanks to Larvatus Prodeo, Deltoid, Personal Political and Morgspace pimping my posts about the Sydney Bloggers' April Fools' Picnic tomorrow, and fellow Oz-feminists Kate and Helen getting all sisterhoodly about me on their blogs, and fashion roadkill spotter extraordinaire Spirit Fingers linking to me last week, I now have about three times more readers than I did at the beginning of this month. So hello to all of you, and thanks for dropping on by!

Don't be shy - say hello, and if you're in the Sydney area come and join us for a picnic tomorrow.

If one can't think of anything else to say, I always reckon one simply cannot hear too many good fart jokes. Or Pratchett references.
'Haven't you got any romance in your soul?' said Magrat plaintively.
'No,' said Granny. 'I ain't. And stars don't care what you wish, and magic don't make things better, and no one doesn't get burned who sticks their hand in a fire. If you want to amount to anything as a witch, Magrat Garlick, you got to learn three things. What's real, what's not real, and what's the difference-'
Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad
Avagoodweekend, all.

P.S. I saw the weatherpixie over at Pavlov's Cat, and shamelessly jumped on the bandwagon, adding in the WeatherUnderground moonphase patch. The weatherpixie is younger and fitter than I.

Skepticism and Autism

The 31st Skeptics' Circle is up at Terra Sigillata. Biotech, alternative medicine, climatology, religion and more.

My favourite post is by Dick about his personal experiences with The Fleecing of the Autism Community.
"These frauds sell crap, preying on the concern of parents for their children. They guilt us by saying, "Wouldn't you do anything to help your child?" When it doesn't work, we are told we didn't do it right which is shorthand for "we didn't spend enough money." I've seen the shit come and go. And everyone has something to offer...for a price. No one is giving this stuff away. They are impoverishing an entire class of people.

I am pissed at people who prey upon the fears of parents. No other single disability has been ravaged more by broken promises, and outright lies and deception than parents of people with autism. I am skeptical of every single treatment option, without exception. Behaviorist interventions can help with some behaviors, but it is not the final answer. Anyone who walks into my door, promising to SELL me a cure for my son runs the risk of bodily harm administered by a 2x4. Our family has been personally held up and robbed by people who are living very well at our expense. Impoverishing our entire family will not do anything to improve my son's future."
Like Dick, I have two children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. There are coping strategies for their social and abstractive difficulties, and if one's child is a high-functioning autistic a productive independent adult life can be reasonably expected. Some of the characteristics of autism can be behaviourally modified and controlled to enhance social normativity: but the child will still always be autistic - THERE IS NO CURE FOR AUTISM.

Eventually someone will discover what causes autism (and no, it's not vaccines, or mercury in vaccines). When they do they will probably win the Nobel Prize. And maybe that discovery will lead to a method to prevent autism appearing in the first place, which will ease the guilt and apprehension of a lot of parents.

However, knowing a lot of high-functioning autists who are productive, creative, kind and inspirational people, some with specific savant-skills, perhaps if we eugenically cull the autists our society as a whole will lose something important. Sometimes it's more important to appreciate our different children for the gifts they do have than to mourn and rail against the Fates for normality they lack. After all, what sort of message does it send to our children if we're always looking for something to "fix" them?

Autistic children have strengths as well as weaknesses. Acknowledge that their brains are different, remind them what they find easy compared to neurotypical children as well as the different challenges they face, and help them find strategies to fit into a neurotypical society as much as they need to while enjoying and validating their autistic perceptions as well.

Celebrate the child you have. Our children deserve no less.

UPDATE: Doing the found a fab new blog dance! Autism Street, written by Dad of Cameron, a skeptical dad writing to encourage perceiving autism as a difference vs a defect.


Hepburn and Mephistopheles the title of an essay, actually an obituary, that I came across while searching out some images of the estimable hoyden-about-town Katherine Hepburn.

Oh. My. Spag. Just read the caption in the obituary for this photo below, which is carefully nearly neutrally phrased, but the actual article leaves one in no doubt that trouser-wearing women are damned:

Hepburn's opinion on equality in dress became notorious
in Hollywood, and she wore blue jeans on the set at a time
when this was considered a revolt against decent dress.
Above, with director Lowell Sherman.

The site Tradition In Action , of which the obituary forms part of the "CULTURAL: Women in Society" section,
"is committed to defend the perennial Magisterium of Holy Mother Church and Catholic traditions. TIA also works for a restoration of Christian civilization, adapted to contemporary historical circumstances."
TIA are the natural allies of Mel Gibson's brand of retro-traditionalist Catholicism, and while they might be slightly more genteel than Mel's dad Hutton Gibson, they want much of the same things.

TIA has a statue of Charlemagne with Roland and Oliver as their site logo, but far from being in the vanguard of the enlightenment or even the honest empire-building of the Crusades, this mob is stuck firmly in an idealised Victorian age, and as regards women in society, of the most petit-bourgeois kind. Dr Marian Horvat particularly despairs over women wearing trousers, let alone seeking any sort of societal recognition outside family life: their logo really should be a pair of asparagus tongs.

Of course, during the Victorian period, despite Horvat et al's fantasies, most women did in fact work outside the home. If skilled, they worked as seamstresses, milliners, laundresses, cooks. If educated, as schoolmistresses, governesses, bookkeepers. If unskilled, as factory workers, field hands, housemaids. The few families who could afford to get by on a single wage were headed by prosperous tradesmen, businessmen, the landed gentry and the nobility, all of whom employed married women from less well-off families to cook, clean, make and mend around their homes.

But Horvat lives in a rosy glow of faux-Victoriana, where all women dressed neatly and with dignified elegance because they never had to dirty their hands, where men live a public life and women a private one, and this life segued neatly into picket-fenced June Cleaver suburbia, where everything was just so nice ... until the feminists came and ruined it all. Especially women like Hepburn's mother, who with Margaret Sanger co-founded Planned Parenthood.

Cop a load of this on Hepburn:

Since we have wandered into Goethe's celebrated poem, permit me to sketch an imaginary, but perhaps not so improbable Faustian scene. It is the 1930s, and the wily Mephistopheles is chuckling over his new tool to ensnare women from moral and upright lives: Hollywood. Yes, the devil was doing quite well finding new romantic models for young women to move them away from family life and responsibilities. He had now, for example, the smoldering, languid and aloof "grande dame" style of a Gloria Swanson, to buttress the soft, fragile, and helpless Victorian heroine. [...]

The time was right to strike a deal with this strong-minded woman hell-bent on becoming a great star and writing her own ticket. You can have it all, perhaps he whispered in her ear about this time. All the awards and honors you can imagine, all the romances you want, all the fame possible in this life. I'll give you 100 years - give or take a few years.

A pact like this is perfectly plausible, and it would explain many things. Whether a deal with the devil was made or not, something changed about this time. ...
Yes, apparently all the plaudits that came Hepburn's way after her dedication to her craft, personal discipline and canny marketing culminated in the triumph of The Philadelphia Story and her reinvigorated Hollywood career can only be explained by a Mephistophelian pact rather than strength of character and purpose. The gloating in the final paragraph is painful.
I don't know if the ending of Hepburn's story followed Goethe's happy ending with the salvation of Faust's soul, or Marlowe's more grim and realistic finale. One thing is for certain, it didn't follow a Hollywood script. It was a private and final account rendered by the revolutionary woman to the God she didn't believe in.
I know hoydenish me is not the audience for whom Dr Horvat writes: she is preaching to the Traditionalist Catholic choir. Still, it's stuff like this that made me a freethinker.


Names can never hurt me?

Snapped in traffic and gone ape on another driver? No worries, just tell the judge that the nasty nasty driver called you a bad name.
A DARWIN man who grabbed a woman in a road rage attack has been let off because he thought he had been racially taunted. [...]

But Mr Daye was cleared of the charge after the court found he had been provoked by allegedly being called ``a black c...''. [...]

Mr Daye's girlfriend at the time, Vanessa Dunne, said she had heard Ms Baldwin say the words.

But Ms Baldwin told the court she had an Aboriginal friend in the back of the car and would never use the phrase.

She told the court she had said to Mr Daye ``I'm doing the speed limit''.

``What's your problem?''

In making a not guilty finding magistrate David Loadman said the important principle was that Mr Daye, who is of Burmese descent and dark skinned, believed that he had been insulted.

``Because he so believed that insult was made to him the issue of whether it was or whether it wasn't is not critically important,'' he said.

Mr Loadman found Mr Daye was entitled to the defence of provocation.

I didn't realise that there was any jurisdiction where "provocation" was considered a defence for assault. It's one step away from "she asked for it the mouthy bitch" in domestic violence cases, or "he looked at me funny" in a pub brawl, or the infamous "gay panic" defence in certain murder cases.

Words do have the power to wound. Racial vilification is quite rightly being increasingly regarded as an unacceptable slur, an old-fashioned colonialist habit that we are encouraged to shed just as we ought to shed sexist and homophobic slurs and work to root out stem and branch the underlying attitudes that they reflect.

But words are not acts. To yell something hateful is not the same as a physical attack, and should never be used to justify physical violence against another.

Upholding the defense of provocation when accused of assault may well be the law as it stands in the NT, but I think that that law sucks.

Configurator: superhero or supervillain name?

I ask only because, having seen a couple of the latest models cruising Sydney streets in the last weeks, I just discovered that Bentley Motors offers a Configurator service, so one can have one's Bentley configured precisely to conform to one's exquisitely refined taste in muscle cars.

I could never financially/morally/ecologically justify owning such an overpriced gas-guzzling consumerist trophy, but damn, the engineer's daughter in me cannot deny that is one hella fine machine.

Mrs Peel would so drive one.


Yes, we do need feminism

Some people might be wondering about the reality of the dangers facing the Sierra Leone female athletes who are seeking asylum in Australia, fearing female genital mutilation and/or murder if they return home. (The male athletes have different fears for their safety, based on continuing violence in Sierra Leone involving brutal street deaths of anyone perceived as opposing the regime.)

It's worth looking at this LA Times op-ed, by a Somali-Dutch woman, about the worldwide violence against women, and makes a strong case for gendercide.

For those of us in countries with legal equality for women, it's easy to get bogged down in what are essentially middle-class concerns about balancing work, family, financial independence etc. Rape and domestic violence/murder occur here too, but in a more covert fashion than in Sierra Leone and other countries.

But feminism is not just about us. What is happening to women in countries without legal equality, and in cultures where legal equality is given only lip-service, is a holocaust. Lest We Forget.

ADDENDUM: For contrast, a middle-aged white vanilla het-boy tells us why he's not a feminist.

Boycotting the Devine boo-hiss M.

Fuck Miranda Devine. I will no longer read or link to any column the shrill harpy writes.

To understand why she has finally reached my fuck-off threshold, read this smack-down of her recent column on Cyclone Larry victims.(hat-tip to Crikey!)

For any brave bloggers willing to flense their eyeballs reading Devine and excoriating her idiocies, goodonyer and I will link to any particularly illuminating rebuttals or fisks of her work. But I'm not going to subject even my peripheral vision to any ads the SMH has got up on a page featuring MD's writing.


Anti-choice spin on parental consent laws

Recently I became aware of a case from 1988 where a young woman in the USA died because parental consent laws in her state meant that she couldn't get a safe legal abortion from Planned Parenthood early in her pregnancy as she wished to do.

That's a fairly bald statement, and a controversial one. There is argument about the responsiblity of parental notification laws for her death, with pro-choicers claiming what I state above, and anti-choicers claiming that pro-choicers are lying about why she died. [links are provided at the foot of this post - read through first please] Both sides use persuasive rhetoric - I read the pro-choice sites on this death first, and was outraged. Then I found some anti-choice sites, and despite their hateful tone towards the dead I became indignant at the misrepresentations in the first sites. Then I went - hang on a minute: the anti-choicers have pulled a bait and switch here.

Here's what happened: the pregnant teenager was too afraid of her parents' reaction to tell them she was pregnant, was unwilling to attempt judicial bypass "how can I tell the judge if I can't tell my parents?" and didn't have the money to go out of state to a clinic where parental notification/consent laws did not apply. She sought access to an illegal abortion. She became very ill, with what later became a septic pneumonia, and refused to let her parents take her to the hospital because she was afraid they would find out about the pregnancy. She finally allowed them to take her to the hospital after expressing huge relief that her period had started. The hospital was unable to save her life, and there her parents discovered that she had been pregnant.

The parents were understandably horrified, as any parents who had a beloved young daughter die would be. They were especially upset that parental notification laws, with which they had previously in principle agreed, meant that their daughter died because of her attempt to hide her pregnancy and end it without them ever knowing about it. [1] They campaigned against the parental notification laws vociferously, with moving testimonies regarding how they had been sure that their daughter would come to them for help in such a situation, but they had been wrong, and now she was unnecessarily dead. There was a lot of sympathetic support for them and opinion shifted against the laws.

It didn't take long for the anti-choice movement to smear the dead teenager and her family. The parents believed that their daughter had actually managed to obtain an illegal abortion, as she was no longer pregnant at the time of her death, and that her septic infection was due to the procedure. Indeed this is still how the case is presented on many pro-choice websites [2] - she obtained a "back-alley" abortion, she got a septic infection, it killed her. Anti-choicers argue that the case is more complex than this simple morality tale.[3] Illegal abortion appears to be not actually how she caught the infection that killed her, and once they discovered that the anti-choice movement vilified the family, and also PP, NOW and NARAL, as liars.

The kicker seems to be what is on the death certificate: "Septic abortion with pnemonia". Quite reasonably, to many people this implies an infection due to a surgical abortion with later pnemonia. But as abortion merely means the end of a pregnancy, the cause of death could equally well be explained that due to her pneumonia, she developed a septic condition that caused a spontaneous abortion (aka miscarriage), and complications from both the pneumonia and the miscarriage caused her death..

Anti-choice activists soon obtained copies of the autopsy report indicating that there was no indication of uterine surgery such as occurs with cervical dilation during abortion, and that her pregnancy had terminated spontaneously i.e. a miscarriage, not an abortion. They labelled the dead teenager as a slutty druggie at the same time, outing her stint in drug rehab prior to her pregnancy, implying that her drug use was the explanation for the septic infection that killed her. [3,4,5]

It's curious that they try to minimise the pnemonia's connection to any abortion by claiming it was the same micro-organism that killed celebrity Muppeteer Jim Henson, but then also argue that her drug use contributed to her infection in the first place (was Henson a drug-user too?). It's fairly incoherent, to say the least. Their claim that she never had a surgical abortion appears quite possible, assuming that their information here is reliable. But does that make the parents wrong on how the parental consent laws contributed to their daughter's death?

So the parental claim is:
  • [my daughter is dead][due to parental notification laws denying her a safe early abortion][and because she sought an illegal abortion].

The anti-choice counter is:
  • [your daughter is dead][because she caught a random infection][exacerbated by drug use][and she never had an illegal abortion].
The anti-choice counter does not address the parents' central claim that the parental consent laws are the reason their daughter is dead. Let's assume that the anti-choice information is correct that it wasn't an illegal abortion that killed her. That doesn't mean that the parental consent laws are any less responsible for her death.

Follow the timeline.
  • She falls pregnant, and very shortly afterwards goes to Planned Parenthood seeking an abortion. They tell her it cannot be done without notifying her parents of the procedure.
  • She does not tell her parents. Weeks go by, she is still pregnant, she still wants an abortion, she still does not tell her parents.
  • She becomes ill. Then very ill. Her parents want to take her to the hospital. She refuses *because the hospital will discover her pregnancy and tell her parents*.
  • She passes uterine clots, expresses huge relief to her mother that her period has begun, and tells her she will go to the hospital now.
  • Unfortunately, the septic lung infection has progressed to the state of alveolar disintegration and lung failure (probably what precipitated the miscarriage) and the hospital cannot save her life.
Her name was Becky Bell.

If Becky had been able to have the early safe legal abortion that she wished to have, she would no longer have been pregnant at the time she was infected with streptococcus pneumoniae. She would have had no reason to refuse being taken to the hospital when her parents wanted to take her. With earlier treatment, her lung infection had an excellent chance of being successfully eliminated and she would still be alive today.

The Bells' central claim that parental consent laws are the reason their daughter is dead stands in this analysis, although there are some anti-abortion sites that acknowledge the central claim and attempt to rebut it directly and more respectfully, arguing that if her parents had known she was pregnant they would have also insisted on earlier and thus probably life-saving treatment [6]. I'm sure that if they had known she was pregnant that's exactly what the parents would have done. But the law did exist, and Becky still didn't tell her parents, and she died from what should have been a treatable pneumonia.
[Becky's] mother Karen said, "Two years ago I would have been totally for the parental consent law, but not now. ... Mothers and fathers have both come up and said, 'Well, we just know that our daughters would come to us, we know it.' And I said, 'And I knew Becky would come to me.' And look where she is."
Do the disrespectful anti-choice activists peddling the claim that parental consent laws had nothing to do with her death really not see that their logic fails? Or do they not care so long as their base continues to have the rhetorical wool pulled over their eyes? Why is their language so hateful about teenage girls having to "be responsible" for their "bad choices"?

In our current culture of shame for sexually active girls (but not for the boys they have sex with), teenagers who get pregnant are going to continue to not want to tell their parents in large numbers. Sometimes their reasons are rationally based in fear of abuse, shunning and/or expulsion from the family. Sometimes their reasons are not so rational, but they refuse to tell their parents anyway. How many other teenagers die from complications of pregnancy that could be treatable if only they would tell their parents about being pregnant?

Until we change the culture of shame to one of support, where their choice about whether to continue the pregnancy or not is validated, pregnant teenagers will continue to die because they will not tell their parents that they are pregnant. Parental consent laws do nothing to stop the culture of shame which is the real killer in this instance, and in many others all around the world.

External links:


SF Sunday

  • An interesting review of a movie, and some of its American viewers. I obviously will have to go see V for Vendetta, and track down the graphic novel too.
So it has come to our attention that some people are not able to get past
the "politics" of V and enjoy the flick. Which is odd, as the "politics"
consist pretty much of "Fascism is bad." I'm not one to make blanket
judgements, but you cannot simultaneously root for Luke Skywalker and be
offended at V without revealing something ... curdled in your understanding
of your self and your relation to the world around you.
The rest of kungfumonkey's post is illuminating, and the comments thread is well worth a read, too.
  • I'm reading Snowcrash, a novel I could have read years ago but I wasn't that keen on cyberpunk generally after about my third Gibson. Enough people have said this is a classic that I'll give it a go. I haven't read enough to critique anything of the book yet, so that will be an upcoming post.
  • We recently got the collector's edition of Lynch's Dune, with 2 versions: the original cinema release, and the extended 3-hour TV release with the infamous storyboarded prologue but which restored many cut scenes. I love the style of the cinema release, but always wished it had had more scenes of the Bene Gesserit and the Fremen. I love the extra scenes in the extended version, but wish it didn't have the awful awful prologue, that they'd bothered to spend the bit it would have taken to give all the Fremen the blue-in-blue eyes in the restored scenes, and that they'd cut the new scenes into the earlier movie more coherently. No wonder Lynch did an Alan Smithee on the the extended version.
  • The togster has seen enough pop-culture references to Alien that he wants to see it. So, some upcoming weekend afternoon I get to scare the socks off my son and probaby the tigling as well, while watching my favourite hoyden hardarse, Ripley.
So many books to read, so few really good sf films.

Catherine, Emma, Purdey and feminism

I love the Avengers, along with other super-stylish British action shows from my childhood such as The Prisoner, The Saint and their low-rent cousin Dr Who. And one of the things I liked on these shows is that the female characters usually had their own goals which weren't just getting married: they were the men's allies, not just glamorous sidekicks (although of course that was part of why the actresses were cast in those parts).

I'm obviously not the only one who liked that about the shows. An academic wants to interview women whose first exposure to a feminist on television was Dr Catherine Gale, Honor Blackman's character in the first series of the Avengers.

Did watching the first feminist on television, Honor Blackman as Dr. Catherine Gale, influence your life?

[After watching Cathy Gale in The Avengers] Women were leaving their homes, their kitchens and their creches in droves and going out and starting to throw men over their shoulders, which they've been doing ever since. It was sheer luck that the women's movement was starting to get going then. - Patrick Macnee

My name is Robin Redmon Wright, and I am a Ph.D. candidate from Texas A&M University and that statement by Macnee led me to formulate the topic of my dissertation research. And the more I've investigated the subject, the more fascinated I have become by the avant-garde nature of the character of Catherine Gale and her influence on female viewers. I am investigating the long-term effects of strong, successful, television female role models by looking at the one female character that was so incredibly far ahead of her time.

I want to interview women who were influenced by Honor Blackman's strong portrayal of the world's first televised feminist heroine. All interviews will be strictly confidential. No real names will be used.

I want to hear your stories! If you can answer any of these questions, I would love to interview you for my doctoral dissertation:

1) What do you remember about the place of women in western culture when the character of Catherine Gale in The Avengers first hit the airwaves in 1962?

2) Did watching Cathy Gale on television have an effect on your choices, actions and/or worldview?

3) Can you tell me any stories about how watching the character of Cathy Gale (or the person of Honor Blackman) affected what you did? How you thought?

If you would be willing to participate in this research project, please email me at and tell me briefly about your experiences. I look forward to hearing from all those fans of Honor Blackman/Cathy Gale who were inspired by the actor and/or the character. Let's tell the world how much she meant to women. Thank you.

--Robin Wright

My Avenger hoyden is Mrs Peel, not Dr Gale, because I was too young to see those episodes. I find it interesting that in fandom she is always Cathy, never Dr Catherine. Is it because most of Avengers' fandom is male? Anyway, if Dr Gale was your first TV feminist, Robin Wright would like to interview you.
[the cartoon illustration is from 1964 and was added to Robin Wright's text by tigtog]


Friday night contentment blogging

Mr Tog and the Tigling are off at the rugby watching big strong guys dressed in blue like this try and get a ball up and down the field more often than big strong guys dressed in some other colour.

The Togster and I watched some of the Simpsons marathon and checked out the latest Strongbad email and listened to the rain which is also falling on the big strong guys, and he has now gone to bed. The rain is also falling on my garden, of which my current favorite corner is this:

I am still giggling over this - Shakespeares Sister must be related to Ausculture Jess: here's Shakes Sis' photo-dump of A Day in the Life of a Hard-Presidenting Man (hat-tip to Pandagon)

I am about to reacquaint myself with the glories of Bowmore and start reading something I should have read years ago (bad SF fan!), Neal Stephenson's Snowcrash. (hat tip to Hats)

I may not emerge for some time.


You must be smarter than this lump of inanimate electronics to play statistician when you're a journalist

I have a feeling I won't be the only Ozblogger mocking a Crikey! journalist for truly shocking innumeracy, but I might just be the earliest: what's wrong with the table below, which was appended to a Crikey! article entitled "Putting the Aussie medal whitewash in context" ?

Scroll down and look at Michael Newhouse's table below, on which he possibly spent lots of work: doesn't one figure just jump out at you?

Country Total
GDP to
to medal
631,256 4,126 (4)
131,107 (2)
UK (aggregate) 111
2,140,898 19,287 (12)
184,144 (3)
979,764 18,486 (11)
619,056 (6)
691,876 20,349 (13)
31,772,352 (13)
South Africa 23
212,777 9,251 (8)
1,927,826 (8)
NZ 21
99,687 4,747 (6)
9,160 (1)
Malaysia 12
117,776 9,814 (9)
19,958,333 (12)
Jamaica 10
8,030 803 (1)
273,000 (5)
Nigeria 8
72,106 9,013 (7)
16,096,250 (11)
Kenya 6
15,600 2,600 (2)
5,638,333 (9)
Singapore 6
106,818 17,803 (10)
738,333 (7)
Cyprus 4
15,418 3,854 (3)
195,000 (4)
Ghana 2
8,620 4,310 (5)
10,515,000 (10)

Yep. Wouldn't you, if one figure in the per capita column on a table like this was two whole orders of magnitude lower than the nearby country with a very similiar standard of living - wouldn't you maybe, perhaps, just possibly double-check it?

And nobody on editorial thought it was even a little bit odd, either?

For shame, Michael Newhouse. NZ would have had to win a jawdropping 442 medals to make that per capita rate (the accurate figure is 192,301 Kiwis per medal). I spent a few minutes trying to reconstruct how you could possibly have misconfigured your quotient to get that result, and couldn't get on at all. A simple double-check would probably have caught your error if all you did was miskey the digits. Tch.

Crikey! has made some points I am fully in agreement with regarding the insulting disregard for athletes from other nations shown by the Games commentary over the last weeks. But accepting a way-out figure like the above just because it confirms a preexisting prejudice is very bad journalism. Nevermind, as every maths teacher Newhouse ever had is lining up outside the Crikey! establishment, thwapping rulers patiently against their side-seams, I'm sure he will learn his lesson this time.

I could have done without this

Some readers with whom I've been invisible friends for some time know that my son, the Togster, has Asperger's Syndrome, and thus has special educational needs. Like many Aspies, he is fairly high IQ and quite accomplished with maths/science/tech subjects, but has problems with socialisation and subjects requiring more abstraction and generalising/synthesis skills. There are certain classroom tactics and strategies which can ensure that his learning difficulties are minimised, so that his education can be as rounded and mainstreamed as possible, but they require a fair amount of cooperation between the school admin, the teachers, and the parents.
Togster started high school this year (reminder for the 'merkins, we meld junior high and high school into one here, and kids start in Year 7), and I made sure that I liaised with the school well before he was enrolled regarding his special needs and what could be done. My response from the school was most encouraging, especially from the Year 7 Advisor and the School Counsellor.

A few weeks ago I was feeling especially positive because the counsellor rang and said that she had organised for E, the neuropsychologist who's been working with Togster for years, to come to the school and talk to the teachers, and that she'd like me to be there to help answer teachers' questions about him. I was most willing, and eagerly awaited the counsellor letting me know about the date once it was finalised.
I spoke to E about another matter today. She had the meeting at the school with the teachers last week, and the mother of another Aspie boy also beginning Year 7 at the school was there. Somehow they failed not only to let me know the day of this meeting, but they never rang me afterward to see why I didn't come, or tell me anything about it.
I feel very let down.

Sydney Blog Meet - April Fool's Picnic Reminder

On a very hot Saturday last month, at the latteblogmeet coordinated by Susoz, we muttered about having a picnic on April Fool's Day when the weather would be just that little bit cooler, and to make it a kid-friendly but not family-exclusive event (this is code for we won't be giving you the hairy eyebrow if you turn up sans sprog and avec grog).

Any Sydney resident or visiting blogger is welcome to join us, presuming there's still an us keen on the idea. Hello, lattebloggers? Still planning on picknicking?

The plan is to meet up on the lawn area at the east side of the main pond (in the centre of Farm Cove) with some comestibles and rugs/chairs, and chat away for a few hours, with plenty of space for any rugrats or larger sprogs to run around.

This is the view of the harbour from south of the main pond. The lawn is just off to the right of this shot, backed by some shadetrees and with a convenient conveniences block nearby. Any foreign tourists unused to our climate: don't forget to slip-slop-slap (and wrap) even if it's cloudy as above - those UVB rays are sneaky.

The gardens are a great place to wander around if you haven't been for a while. The rose garden will be busting out in its autumn flush. Oh, and if you amble around the other side of the trees above, you can see some of this sort of thing, if you care to.


Simple arguments

Two posts about gaping policy divides in Western society:

Firstly Chris Clarke of Creek Running North:
"some things are priceless, and the economy thus finds them worthless. "
Read the whole thing, which provoked the following comment from John from Uconn:
"If only we taught children that the invisible hand wanted to choke them to death."

Secondly from Ampersand of Alas, a Blog on Why It Is Difficult To Believe Anti-Choicers Mean What They Say. As the recent Parliamentary debates on the abortion drug RU486 showed, the anti-choice movement here in Australia is still with us, are just as inconsistent as the American movement, and just as determined on forced childbirth for women who act as autonomous sexual agents.

I reproduce the chart Ampersand made to illustrate his arguments below, Actually, I changed my mind because my nice crisp .gif kept on getting posted by Blogger as a nasty blurry .jpg. Phooey. Go read Amp's post over at Alas to see the chart he made on anti-choice arguments.

Categories: environment, conservation, corporatism, consumerism, feminism, reproductive rights, politics


Dawn does not heart Kevin

KTK of bioethics blog Sufficient Scruples has been banned from commenting at the anti-choice fundegelical hysterics forum Dawn Patrol , written by the only journalist ever to be fired from a Murdoch paper for ethics violations, Dawn Eden. Kevin explains how this devastating mark of his social deviance was gained here.

*sniff* To think I knew him back when we were simply debunking urban legends on alt.folklore.urban. I always knew he'd get right up someone's nose who truly deserved it one day.

Babies, black dogs and benefits

Well now, isn't this study an interesting bookend with the New Zealand study that caused a press stir a few months ago when it showed a correlation between mental illness and abortion of pregnancy. An Australian study has shown that single mothers have much worse mental health than other women.
"Regardless of whether they had children, women without partners were consistently more likely to be clinically depressed, taking antidepressant medication or admitting to suicidal thoughts, according to the first large-scale Australian survey to examine the links between women's family circumstances and their psychological wellbeing.

But compared with single women without children, lone mothers came off worse on all the same measures, said the nation-wide survey, which was divided into two groups: women in their mid 20s and those in their late 40s to early 50s."

[...]They were twice as likely to be experiencing suicidal thoughts, and three times as likely to have deliberately hurt themselves in the previous six months compared with women who had a partner but no children.

Single mothers who were as financially secure as those bringing up their children with a partner were still more likely to be depressed, but the gap was considerably narrower - suggesting precarious finances might be a big contributor to the distress experienced by women bringing up children alone."

Perhaps the mental health of women of childbearing age is adversely affected more by the emotional impact of unplanned pregnancy than actually by the process of abortion. And certainly the lack of a decent welfare net ensuring that single mothers, whether their children were planned or not, have adequate resources to parent their children with confidence isn't helping the situation.
There's no single answer to improving this blight on women's mental health, but certainly the place to start is fewer unplanned pregnancies so that every child is a wanted child and more likely to have two cooperating coparents. Unwanted pregnancies are obviously devastating, which means we cannot tolerate those who wish to restrict teenagers' access to scientifically valid sex education, who wish to restrict access to contraceptives, and who wish to restrict access to drugs which effect medical abortions. Obviously the broader threats to abortion access at all, such as enacted in South Dakota recently, must also be rigorously monitored.
And for those women who take on the extraordinary burden of sole parenthood, whether through teenage bravado, moral commitment or the pain of relationship failure, there needs to be better support. Their children are the future taxpayers whose earnings will provide the funds that will support the old-aged-benefits infrastructure when we can no longer support ourselves. (Tangent: providing a welfare safety net to immigrant children is common sense for exactly the same reason)

It's worth slowing down the consumerist treadmill just a tad - hang on to last year's model just a while longer before you trade up - in order to provide the tax base of the future with the support they need now in order to learn the skills we will need them to have then. It's self-interest, folks: it's just that awful long-term stuff that our pollies don't want you to be thinking about come election time. But we're not that stupid, are we?


Get Up, yer whingers

Thanks to Susoz, I now know we have an Australian netroots progressive activism group a la in the States, which is Get Up!

MoveOn did some credible work in fundraising and lobbying at the last US election. It will be interesting to see what we can do with GetUp here. Their first ad is about the AWB scandal.

One thinks Jess is brilliant

Via Kim at Larvatus Prodeo, Jess at ausculture exercises her peculiar talent as she watched the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games last week and reveals to the panting hordes:

The Queen's Thoughts On The Opening Ceremony (PICTORIAL EDITION)

Makes me cackle like the republican witch that I am.
(Note for furrin readers: small-r republicans in Orstraya have no connection with big-r Republicans in certain other countries. We aren't especially attached to a foreign royal family, they aren't especially attached to the Bill of Rights.)



Back in the days of Taps, Risky Business and yes, even Top Gun the manic edge to the Tom Cruise grin added unpredictability to the characters he portrayed in a way viewers found intriguing. However, since the infamous Oprah couch-jumping incident and the serial displays of TomKat exhibitionism, the manic edge to the Tom Cruise grin is merely disturbing and creepy. (Get out Katie, run! Run!) The action-man-next-door mask covering the mania has slipped, and most of us really don't like what we see.

And of course this is hitting his box office. Ticket sales for the War of the Worlds were fairly woeful for such a big-budget classic story, and for a man used to being a Hollywood player this is dangerous territory. If his next film fails to be a big hit, he'll start to be yesterday's hero for the studios casting the blockbusters, and he's simply not a good enough actor to carve out a continuing career as a character actor. He'll be in Dolph Lundgren psycho-villain typecasting territory within a year if he doesn't turn it all around soon. And it appears he's starting to be concerned that doting dad pics of him with the Cruise-Holmes spawn might just not do the trick.

In a masterpiece of coinkydental timing, the South Park episode which mocked both Cruise and Scientology (Xenu! XENU! XENU!) was going to be shown on cable-TV, and it is rumoured that somebody got some lawyers to deluge the Comedy Channel with threatening pieces of paper full of "whereas" and "heretofore" and voila!: no more place for that episode in the schedule.

Y'see, the studio that produces the Mission Impossible films also owns the company which owns Comedy Central, and people point out that if Cruise were to threaten to do no publicity for the upcoming MI film that the studio might just pressure their subsidiary to not offend the toothy one for the time being. The studio, Comedy Central and Cruise's people are all denying that any such string-pulling occurred, but nobody appears to believe them.

Matt Stone and Trey Parker vow to never rest in their quest to mercilessly mock Cruise and Co$ anytime they damn well like, and released the following statement:

So, Scientology, you may have won this battle, but the
million-year war for earth has just begun!

Temporarily anozinizing our episode will not stop us from keeping Thetans
forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies.

Curses and drat! You have obstructed us now, but your feeble bid to save
humanity will fail! Hail Xenu.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone,
servants to the dark lord Xenu.

Thankfully, the good folks at Operation Clambake, the place to go for all your truth-about-Scientology needs, have made the episode "Trapped in the Closet" available for us all. If your life will be forever blighted by not seeing Tom Cruise mocked mercilessly by Cartman (and truly, who among us could say that it would not), hie thee hither with your favorite bittorrent downloader (so they can save on bandwidth) and save it for posterity.

And just to put the cherry on the top of this tawdry tale, Isaac Hayes (the voice of Chef) is also a Scientologist, and has tendered his resignation to Parker and Stone citing religious bigotry on the show, an action he took before this cancellation of the episode's airing. Hayes apparently had no problem when the show mocked Christians, Jews and Muslims in other episodes, which is exactly the sort of double-standard those of us who've been reading Operation Clambake for a while would expect.

Weekend Wining

Pinot Gris. Cold-climate Pinot Gris from the Victorian Highlands.

We have drunk half the case before I paired it with the proper meal to not overpower it. Do not drink this wine with spicy foods, it swamps the delicate bouquet and front-palate, making it appear to be merely an unobjectionable quaffing wine instead of a drop worth savouring.

I made chicken-breast with spinach and mushroom in filo pastry, accompanied by julienned vegetables sauted in olive oil and garlic then tossed with roast capsicum salad dressing on a bed of baby rocket and spinach leaves.

When finished with my meal, I still had half a glass of deliciousness left, and on a
hunch I made some toast and dug out the half-jar of caviar (well, lumpfish roe) leftover from lunch. Yes, this Pinot Gris is a perfect accompaniment for the salty fishy succulence. Yum.
GRUMBLE: this post was going to have droolicious pics of plonk and fisheggs, but Blogger isn't letting me upload images. Phooey.

UNPHOOEY: Blogger has relented.



Steak for dinner. A McLaren Vale 2003 Cabernet Shiraz. Aunty's Friday Crime Night.

Now Mr Tog is watching the rugby union and I am blogging.

We both have Guinness. Happy St Patrick's Day.


Wealth and justice in Orange County

It has been pointed out that we feminists who frequent feminist forums/blogs can get a skewed sense of the amount of sexism in society generally because such spaces generally act as magnets for misogynists and their mantra of "what about the men? men suffer too".

I am grateful for the men I know who Get It, and they give me hope that a society that truly values women as autonomous actors is around not too many more corners. But sometimes there's a story which just makes me think that our society is broken, and the sooner global warming and bird flu wipe out civilisation entirely the better.

The Haidl gang rape in Orange County, California is one such story. The only reason these young men ever came to trial is that they not only videotaped their gang-rape and foreign object assault of their unconscious 16-year-old schoolmate Jane Doe, but they showed the tape to friends at parties to brag of what they'd done. The tape was so distressing and their contempt and disregard for the girl so pervasive that when police first saw it they came after the rapists to ask what they'd done with the dead body they'd been abusing, and the foreman of the jury said (after the verdict) that if the public could see the way they treated the girl like a piece of meat that there would be riots. Reading about this case has made me heartsick.

Finally the three rapists have been sentenced for what they did in 2002, although they only got six years each. There's still several acts of the drama to play out with Jane Doe's civil suit against the rapists and also their parents regarding the harassment and character defamation the extremely wealthy families have subjected her to since the arrests of their sons, which led to her changing schools and considering suicide. The actions of the parents are a sickening illustration of the sense of entitlement, corruption of public office and lack of shame for their sons' atrocities that adds to the general horror of this case.

There's a huge archive of articles on the trial at OC Weekly andblog-threads at OCW's The Blotter. Warning: much of the coverage from the trial is extremely graphic and may trigger PTSD.

And here's some kudos for Lindsay Picou, who is named as the reason this case had enough evidence to bring the sons of three wealthy families to trial in the first place:

The case began when an 18-year-old woman, Lindsay Picou, found the videotape of the incident at a rented beach house. She was so disturbed that she hid the tape in a towel, put it in her car, and later gave it to a police officer.

Ms Picou was regarded locally as a pariah as a result, eventually having to move away from the area. After watching the videotape, she had feared that the unconscious woman was dead. Her mother told The Los Angeles Times: "My daughter was raised in a Christian home and did what she's supposed to do, and for that, no deed goes unpunished.

"It’s been four years of hell."

Lindsay Picou discovered an atrocity, and didn't just walk away and be grateful it happened to someone else. She didn't just decide not to be around those people but not say anything to them or anyone else about why. She blew the whistle, called the foul, and her actions resulted in them paying the penalty.

Goodonyer Lindsay. People like you give me hope for civilisation after all. I'm glad I read about you today on the anniversary of Hugh Thompson's refusal to condone the massacre at My Lai.


Some time ago on a holiday quite far away

I never got around to posting any of my photos from my Mornington Peninsula Holiday last year, and it's too late to embark upon a detailed travelogue, but bear with me for some excerpts: the light down there truly is extraordinary, and so changeable as the clouds scud on by.

The shot below was taken a few days after a wild storm, so wild we felt the edge at one hundred and fifty kilometres north on our journey down the Hume. We drove from our resort to the National Park and walked along a bush track, where to the delight of my children we startled an echidna, to the bayside beach at Observatory Point. There we gazed along the rotting stumps of a jetty at acres of windswept bay. The waves swirled strangely as they broke on the sand, overcoming the tug of the strong currents racing through The Rip at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay about a kilometre west.

The beach was full of flotsam, ribboned around the base of the dunes, where the tussocks of saltgrass seemed oddly nude. I realised that the storm waves had washed away the usual detritus, tussock-fluff if you will, that usually surrounds each plant. Wisps of dead stalk, windblown twigs, food fragments dropped by overflying birds and packaging dropped by careless humans either on the track or in the bay, then blown into the catcher's mitt of spindly grass: none of that was there. It had all been scoured, leaving the tussocks clinging to the sand limply, robbed of their hoard of mulching debris. Disturbingly, the dunes to the east of the jetty were a protected sea-bird nesting zone. I couldn't tell whether the storm had sent the waves crashing high enough to was away the nests as well.

Further along the beach to the west was this astonishing acumulation of driftwood. I have no idea whether this was chaotically tossed up by the storm, or purposefully arranged by a whimsical beachcomber. I just know it was beautiful.

Away from the wilderness of the tip of the harbour heads, Mornington Peninsula is a gardener's playground. The soil sits on a limestone base, and flowering plants grow mighty there. Enormous ancient buddleias, vibrant climbers and brilliant rosebeds. Throughout our holiday, most days we drove past this extraordinary planting, a colour combination in spring-flowering shrubs that I've never seen before.

Does anyone know what these two plants are?

The limestone is good for vintners as well. There are many fine wineries on the peninsula, but our serendipitous discovery (I admired their gardens from the road) was Myrtaceae Winery in Red Hill. A small winery with limited plantings, so they make sure that they only plant the best for their location, namely a typically creamy chardonnay and a rewardingly complex pinot noir. Mmmmmm.


aiieee! the cuteness!

Via Amanda at Pandagon, who's always alert for sightings of her blog mascot:

Template tweaking

Making a few aesthetic changes, including a slightly larger font. It looks OK in Firefox and IE for me except for that block of whitespace above the sidebar to which Blogger is apparently deeply attached.

If anything makes your eyes hurt please let me know, as long as it doesn't involve removing Mrs Peel.

UPDATE: a better template has been hunted down and ruthlessly groomed. Let me know if I missed a spot.


Iconic Trifecta

Slouch hats, Harbour Bridge and Opera House...

...all it needs is a bloody koala.

It's a shame the boys with the big guns were in the shade while the morning sun was bouncing so brightly off the Opera House, because it really screws up the composition. They were there, of course, in order to set off a twenty-four 21-gun salute (note artillery box in foreground) for HM Queen Elizabeth II of the UKoGBaNI, who will be arriving at the Opera House to dedicate some renovations around about the time this post hits the blog.

And the cartoon character they are holding up? She is on a round-the-world trip from an elementary school in Kansas, being photographed having lots of adventures. I thought her school-friend back home might like to know that Flat Rachel was beside Sydney Harbour the same day as the Queen of England, as I notice the American media at least seems to get more excited about the royal family than we in the British Commonwealth these days.

She also met some fellow tourists in a spot with better lighting, so at least she got a good photo of the landmarks.

Flat Rachel is part of a Flat Stanley class project. So far she has been to Texas, Massachusetts, Lancaster UK, Oslo Norway, Zurich Switzerland, Perth and now Sydney Australia. Next she goes to New Zealand and then finally back home to Kansas. Phew!


Rumour mill

Heard on the radio this morning, a rumour is flying around that the reason for Qantas closing its Sydney airport heavy maintenance facilities is not that it was *required* as a cost-cutting measure, but that the airport operator, Macquarie Bank, has opted to terminate Qantas' lease on the space in order to refurbish the area as a retail hall.

Is this true? Or is it just a rapidly generated urban legend, telling us all "what's really going on" in the world of corporate greed once again serving institutional shareholders before the workers who generate their profits and consumer safety?

If it does turn out to be true, how long does the continued privatisation of tax-payer owned infrastructure get to shit on Aussie workers from a great height before the voters will tell Canberra that economic rationalism is an evil ideology and anyone who advocates it is committing political suicide?

The heavy maintenance group at Sydney Airport employed hundreds of highly skilled workers earning a wage sufficient to support a family and a mortgage. A huge new retail hall will still offer hundreds of jobs, but they will be lowly skilled retail work and will not offer a wage to support a family, let alone a mortgage as well.

Privatisation is not an Aussie's friend.

UPDATE: the rumour apparently arises from the Brisbane Courier-Mail in a story published on 9 March. There has been no followup on this story from any other media since.

Are you a Thompson or a Calley?

Next week, on 16 March, is the anniversary of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam in 1968.

Lt. William Calley was in charge of one platoon of the American troops who killed either 112 (USA military figures) or 504 (Vietnamese figures) civilians. Helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson and his crew refused to take part in the killing or condone it, landing his helicopter between American troops and Vietnamese villagers and evacuating the villagers.

After the event, Thompson was pilloried for threating to kill American soldiers while Calley was lauded as a strong leader who successfully neutralised a credible threat, to use the depersonalised military lingo. It took years for the truth to come out, and even then only Calley and a few others were court-martialled, even though all indications were that a long chain of command condoning the massacre had existed. Calley and others did what their commanders were careful not to directly order although they made their approbation clear: kill, kill, kill whether they are VietCong or not. Some men who took part later acknowledged that they knew it was wrong but "went along" through group loyalty and fear of the consequences of standing apart.

Thirty years after the massacre, Hugh Thompson was finally awarded the Soldier's Medal, "for bravery not involving direct contact with the enemy", the closest that the US Army has come to openly acknowledging that there was no military justification for the slaughter at My Lai.

Thompson rejects any imputation that his bravery was unique, taking pains to laud one of the soldiers on the ground, who when threatened with death by his platoon-mates if he didn't take part in the slaughter, shot his own foot off rather than kill civilians in cold blood. Not having a helicopter, that man had fewer options and no ability to save others as Thompson could, so he mutilated himself for life as the only option he could see to save his own life while not taking other's lives.

Few of us are in such literal life and death situations, where our choices affect not only our survival but also that of others, but circumstances where doing the easy thing and/or the approved thing is not the same as doing the right thing come up every day.

Flea writes an eloquent homage to Thompson in a letter to her sons for them to read when they are older, describing how they will be in situations where others are doing wrong, and that when that happens her hope is that they will take inspiration and courage from Hugh Thompson and do what is right.

We all could learn from the courage of Hugh Thompson and all those others who have stood up to immoral orders and group pressure and said "no more". Examples such as Pastor Martin Niemöller's anti-bigotry exhortations, Bertrand Russell's pacifism, Annie Kenney's suffragism, Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent disobedience, and many others who risked imprisonment and worse because they saw a need to stand up for what is right.

Do you have the courage to do the same?

In social situations, where an individual/gender/race/sexuality is being verbally degraded by others, do you let it slide by or do you confront it?

If you're out on a girls' night, and one of your friends is very drunk and a few men you know offer to take her home, do you just let it happen and hope that she will be OK? Or do you decide to sacrifice some of your fun night, and make sure you and your other girfriends get her home safely?

If you're one of those men taking a drunk girl home, or at a party where a woman is sleeping upstairs and the other guys talk about having a "little fun" with her while she's passed out, do you stand by? Join in? Or stop it?

When deciding how to cast your vote, when one candidate offers to make life a little easier for you by making life harder for others, does that candidate deserve your vote? Are you willing to get by with just a little less when it means others that are struggling can have just a little more?

Be a Thompson.


Blog against Sexism on International Women's Day

Actually I'm a day late for Blogging Against Sexism - busy day yesterday with no time for blogging after I got my comedy festival tickets, and I couldn't think of anything original to say anyway. So here's a few choice quotes on Women's Rights and Sexism from 1792 to the current era to chew on:

Women are systematically degraded by receiving the trivial attentions which men think it manly to pay to the sex, when, in fact, men are insultingly supporting their own superiority. ~Mary Wollstonecraft

Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less. ~Susan B. Anthony

To emancipate woman is to refuse to confine her to the relations she bears to man, not to deny them to her; let her have her independent existence and she will continue none the less to exist to him also; mutually recognizing each other as subject, each will yet remain for the other an other. –Simone de Beauvoir

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat, or a prostitute. ~ Rebecca West 1913

Any intelligent woman who reads the marriage contract, and then goes into it, deserves all the consequences. ~Isadora Duncan

Easy is an adjective used to describe a woman who has the sexual morals of a man. ~Nancy Linn-Desmond

I've yet to be on a campus where most women weren't worrying about some aspect of combining marriage, children, and a career. I've yet to find one where many men were worrying about the same thing. ~Gloria Steinem

We haven't come a long way, we've come a short way. If we hadn't come a short way, no one would be calling us baby. ~Elizabeth Janeway

We've begun to raise daughters more like sons... but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters. ~Gloria Steinem

I will feel equality has arrived when we can elect to office women who are as incompetent as some of the men who are already there. ~Maureen Reagan

It starts when you sink in his arms and ends with your arms in his sink. ~Author Unknown

“Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” ~Pat Robertson

Sexism is a social disease. ~Author Unknown

Go and have a satirical snicker with Chris Clarke, then read his more thoughtful previous post, then check out the 10th Carnival of the Feminists.


Cracker Sydney Comedy

So, I just got my tickets for Ross Noble in the Cracker Comedy Festival.

I'll probably also go to see Jackie Loeb, who I worked with a few years ago when she was going through a totally undeserved career slump. If you like stand-up musical comedy impressionists, she's one of the sharpest absurdist best.

I also love the Scared Weird Little Guys.

If you can get to Sydney this month, go off and have a laugh. The Cracker team have put on a really good lineup this year.

Disclaimer: although I worked with Jackie off and on for a year or so and like her a lot, we're not best mates (although I'm up for a drink anytime, sweetheart) and she's not paying me anything, so this is an honest recommendation. She's great.


Go go Gadget Mars

Some guys have essentially invented a tricorder that's going to Mars in 2009.

I heard an interview with a team leader, Robert Downs of the University of Arizona, on tonight's Science Show.

Based on the Raman spectrometer, which gained for its inventor Sir C.V. Raman a Nobel Prize in 1930, the device is about the size of a cellphone and shoots a laser beam which vaporises a thin layer of the surface of a material then records the spectum of the vaporites. The recorded spectrum is then compared against a database of known spectrometry, and thus the signature composition of various materials enables rapid identification of such diverse materials as diamonds, cocaine, anthrax and botanical specimens.

At the moment, the unit going to Mars costs about US$130,000 to manufacture and will be looking mostly for minerals known to have an affinity with water in their formation. Downs and his co-leader M. Bonner Denton envisage a not too distant future where such handheld units will be much more affordable and commonly used by scientists in the field, safety investigators and even law enforcement wanting to quickly analyse samples.

So cool.

UPDATE: apparently NASA has another type of "tricorder" as well, using neutron beams.


I find the actual awards show tedious, but I like the red carpet fashions purely for the inevitable faux pas. I try to avoid this overused word, but really, it's pure schadenfreude at its most indulgent.

I want to see which fashion victims are going to look less lovely than these two fine specimens a few years ago:
And unlike these guys, the outfits mustn't be satirical.