A week is a long time
It has been over a week since I last posted a blog, but so much has happened. Whenever I think of posting, something intrudes on my time and my thoughts. So far:
As you can image, I've been very busy, but I've also been spending a lot of time thinking about fathers and my own fathering. Possible because a number of things have really brought home the difficulties, pain and beauty of fathering: a birthday, the death of a pet, cutting the grass, and a major childhood illness. It could also come from the research and interviews I'm doing for an article on men who are very active and involved fathers. What are they, do you ask? Or, is there any other kind?
- My son turned FOUR on Monday. He is an amazing.
- The day before that I found our cat, who had been missing for two days, around the side of the house. As it turned out, he had been bitten by a tiger snake, and we had to put him down. It was crushing, and I could summon too few words to express what I felt. It is also hard to explain the death of a pet to a four-year-old.
- I've had a cold and been working on an etymology project for my writing and editing course. It guts me when I'm too busy being a student of writing and editing to be a writer and editor.
- My son now has chicken pox. Ouch.
Well, these are some of the questions I've been trying to figure out, so when I have a better idea, I'll share it with you.
Oh, and I came across this pretty amazing blog/website. Jeremy of Antipixel is doing some amazing stuff in design, and has the kind of lovely way with words and images that I admire and enjoy. When I get around to scanning in more photographs, or getting my hands a digital camera, I hope to post some images here.
Give us a break
Although loathe to give him any more web time than he deserves, I notice that Australian Foreign Minister Downer has been attacking the Australian SBS journalist John Martinkus, who was kidnapped in Iraq and then released. (Martinkus claimed he was released because he is against the Coalition's invasion and occupation, and speculated why some were kidnapped and killed, and not him). Downer:
It's a terrible thing to have said. I was absolutely astonished when he said that ... suggesting that it might be okay to execute particular types of people or to take particular types of people but not others.God help the guy if Downer is taking him on. In response, SBS news director Phil Martin said:
Look, I think people need to understand that the circumstances were John was taken from the streets of Baghdad, into custody, with a pistol held at his head for almost a day in circumstances where he didn't know whether he's going to live or die.
Point made. The full story is on the ABC's 'PM' website.
He was then bundled onto an aeroplane and travelled for a similar period, non-stop to Australia and emerged from an airport terminal to a media scrum and was expected to be able to give a coherent and detailed interview about the circumstances. Give the guy a break.
Fathers' day out
The Farmers’ Market at the Collingwood Children’s Farm is one of those places where you see a lot of fathers out with their kids. On the second Saturday of each month, the Farm sees a phenomenon that is increasing throughout parts of Melbourne: men proudly in charge of their young children while they shop, showing their kids the goats, chickens and pigs, or minding the kids while their partners either shop or rest. The men’s ages vary, and they range from your professional types to your inner-city ‘alternatives’. From little bubs in pouches slung off their young father’s shoulders, to five-year-olds running away from dads with peals of laughter, to the eight-year-old negotiating which drink he can get his dad to buy from the juice stand, there are children of all ages holding, or escaping, the attention of their fathers.
If the debates in the Australian media about how far men are actually prepared to be active as fathers and put in the time caring for their children are any thing to go buy, then the Collingwood Children’ Farm experience is an aberration. The cynics say these are just ‘weekend’ Dads who enjoy the occasional easy leisure activities with their kids while they let Mum sleep-in on the weekend. A common perception is that fathers still don’t put in the hard yards with child-rearing during the week or outside of leisure activities, leaving their partners to organise child care, volunteer for canteen duty at primary school, or read with their kids, on top of running the house. I don’t think that this is the case anymore. The scenes at Collingwood, while replicated replicate throughout Melbourne, are only the public expression of a growing trend of men taking on more and more responsibility for raising their children, and relishing it!
I see it amongst my friends who have children: men who have been active in raising of their children since they were born, who juggle the demands of their jobs with those of their households, and for who being an active father is very much a part of who they are, and how they see themselves as men. Many are making the necessary sacrifices that women have long been forced to cop: taking on part-time jobs, studying part-time, or resisting the pursuit of full-blown career paths, so that they can have the time to spend with their young children, and share the load of caring with the mothers of their children. These men have been the inspiration and role models for my own choices and practices in my parenting – what I want for my son, from my working life, and the choices I’ve made about study and work. I think its time they were acknowledged too.
girl with a movie camera
When I allow myself the time to surf, and I get a chance to catch up on my favourite places to visit, I am reminded of how much i like girl with a movie camera's blog. Her design is so clean and clear, she posts regularly, and has a witty and expressive style. Her post from Saturday reminds me of one of those little joys of creative work. Besides offering an insight into her making a film, she writes so well, with a cool sense of wonder or awareness of the details of what's going on around her. A film-maker's eye for what's around you? Check it out.
Here it comes
Here it comes. In this morning's print news, treasurer 'elect' Costello has flagged the possibility of Australian facing an economic downturn, contradicting Treasury's predictions. Check out the comments to my previous post. More Howard 'non-core promises' to be identified.
What makes the coming economic slag fight and union basing so much more distressing is the extent to which wealth in Australia has grown - but then, amongst whom? In last night's news coverage of this, it suggested that the data collected doesn't show how the wealth is spread across the country. I can tell you its not in my backyard.
Lost for words
I thought of any number of things I wanted to say about the result of last Saturday's general election, but I've been at a loss of words. I certainly did not expect the most conservative government we've had since Menzies to be returned with an increased majority. Various things came to mind. I even tried to begin a few lines, but gave up: I struggled for the words to make sense of what's happened, or to even express my anger or frustration.
I thought Howard's re-election in 2001 in the wake of the xenophobic scare campaign against refugees (children overboard, the Tampa, SIEV X) was bad enough. This time, without the racist overtones of the last scare campaign, I didn't expect an increased return – but was fervently hoping the Coalition would be removed.
As the election results unfurled before me on television, I exchanged text messages with a friend. What she text me while Howard gave his victory speech best encapsulates what I feel and think at the moment: "Howard is truly awful." Oh, and then she said:
History really is riddled with very ugly small men. So much meanness & bigotry in one person. If only we could lock him up in the desert.Yep.
But the other thing that left me speechless was how the small, fundamentalist Christian/right-wing party Family First has succeeded to getting so much attention and votes in its first ever election! And, more frighteningly, that FFP could have one Senator for Victoria and possibly hold the balance of power in the upper house! All because Labor and the Democrats sold out on their supposed progressive ideals to give preferences to Family First AHEAD of the Greens! For SHAME!! Personally, I hold Kim Carr, leading ALP 'left' Victorian Senator, for allowing this to happen!! The Democrats have just shown that they will return to the conservative politics from which they came, or to oblivion!
Since I've had time to stew over the many things about this election's results that I've been angry and frustrated about, I have remembered that if I remain lost for words, then the conservatives' victory would be truly dark. The conservatives must not be allowed the victory of silencing those who dissent, even if the silence is only from being bamboozled or shocked into muteness. So must we all refuse to be silent. Blog on!
leunig on Saturday's elections
I'm angry that The Age caved in and has backed Howard's re-election at this Saturday's polls.
This is totally inconsistent with the opinions of the economic editor and contributors, who have been critical of both Howard and Latham's plans and handling of economic issues, so this bullshit about continuing under the strong economic leadership of Howard's government just does not ring true.
This is also so inconsistent with The Age's coverage of the other issues that the Howard government has been a bastard about: the treatment of refugees, lying to us about the weapons in Iraq, and then joining Bush's invasion, and using terrorism to justify the most disgusting human rights abuses: Guantanamo and more!
The Age editors: you have lost your honour, and my respect!
At the very least, Leunig's cartoon appeared in today's edition, and although I don't like Leunig usually, i agree with his sentiments today, and I've decided to post it here, as a slap in the face of both The Age editors and Howard's grey men.
And we worried about journalistic integrity, the Murdoch press, and whether The Age could keep up its identity and independence? HAH! I'm worried for ALL of us now!
Click on the image to get a clearer look and to read the text.
I've just tried 'BlogThis' and I'm enjoying the fact that it works. I hope it makes posting a lot easier and faster, and allows those spur-of-the-moment inspirations to be easily posted here.
More election blogs than you can poke a stick at
I came across a few more blogs and websites that are devoted to political issues and the current elections. It’s funny because the morning after I included some election blogs in my post about giving refugees some attention during this election, I found The Age’s article on the growing use of political blogs and websites in this election campaign. Of course, I am more interested in those that are critical of John Howard or espouse progressive or left politics. Here are some good ones:
dearjohn.org is put together by a collective of young graphic designers who trying to reach a younger audience for this election, with the clear purpose of getting them to vote Howard out. Some pretty groovy image based stuff on the site, though I wish for more text. I like their iron-on messages for t-shirts: “Dear John – it’s way too late for sorry”. Merchandizing as politics? Or just cool?
Margo Kingston, Sydney journalist, is the Sydney Morning Herald’s ‘web diarist’ (a grand name for a blogger?). She is also behind www.nothappyjohn.com (not coincidently the title of her recent book) and seems to cross-fertilize marketing it at encouraging people to find out more and to dissent. Hmmm. Marketing as ‘citizen’ engagement? However, Margo’s book has clearly resonated with some, and she’s also launched another campaign site.
Backpages comes from Christopher Shiel, a historian and writer who offers political food for thought that attracts a lot of comments, and he posts regularly – a good enough reason to visit?
Just watch out for the right-wing scum who , according to The Age report, seem more successful, if not prolific, at multiplying conservative election blogs like the poisonous toad-stools that they are. I won’t lead you there. They’ll attract their own followers like flies to a turd.