Archive for August, 2008

The Spring Preview

August 29, 2008

Melburn peeps.. Make sure to go outside today and catch some of that sunshine! I’ve been sitting outside all day today and its just perfect. Light breeze, warm sunshine, blues skies.. Its going to rain tomorrow, so this may be your last chance until Tuesday, when apparently the sun will come out again to play.

In other news, my beloved blonde model sister went to India last night and so yesterdays daily awkward/embarrassing moment from me was my sister telling me she was going to have to leave for passport control and me bursting out “I’m not ready for that yet!” and erupting into tears, complete with crazy I-can’t-breathe sobbing. In front of the whole airport, no less. I actually saw an Indian family take a few steps away from me with wide eyes. I guess I can be a little dramatic sometimes.

But she is my baby sister, gone all by herself for six months. She’s going to be living in a nunnery in northern India, as a volunteer to teach some Tibetan kidlets how to speak the English. God, not only is she the essence of beauty incarnate, she has to be a humanitarian too. Between her and my social worker sister Min, its going to be hard to live up to the family name.

Be careful, my little curry puff!

“You turn the sky from grey to blue

And its beautiful because of you..”

Rudd Kills My Life

August 28, 2008

Performance pay for teachers is a notion that I’m sure have left many a staff room in outrage. Kevin Rudd and his ugly cabinet of rats (can you feel the bias?) have been pushing his bullshit ‘Education Revolution’ again, a thinly veiled copy of the Liberal Party’s education agenda. At least they will have a clear passage through the Senate, ey? I’d be quite surprised if they held it up in any way seeing as they basically want the same thing. Anyway, seems the move to the performance plan is underway. That means paying the teachers by how well they do their job, what results the kids get etc.

How do you feel about this as a parent, or future parent? Do you want your teachers to be held accountable through a series of reviews from you the parents, students, principals and other teachers? It sounds like a witch hunt to me, we’re already in demand for teachers, why are we going to put them through this kind of bullshit? Would you like to be assessed that thoroughly at work from your clients, peers, managers and clients mothers?

Of course there has to be some form of review, but Rudd is saying that “where a school failed to lift its performance, education authorities should sack the principal, replace senior staff, reorganise the school or even merge it with a more efficient school.” What the fuck? I love the job security, that will do so much to counter the bitter old teacher syndrome so many suffer after years of shit pay and having to put up with crap from kids.

Here’s a quote I found from an article by Susan Hopgood, the Federal Secretary of the Australian Education Union, that critisised the Coalition’s similar merit based teacher reviewing plans:

In those US states which have experimented with this, schemes have usually been abandoned after two or three years. There have been negative consequences for both teaching staff and teaching itself. Some schools have resorted to direct instruction approaches which stifle children’s capacity to think for themselves; others have eliminated entire subjects because they are not tested and therefore seen to be “unimportant”; other schools and districts have engaged in dishonest behaviour in order to get the “benefits” which flow from such a scheme, including the right to remain open. How is it possible to compare the work of a teacher of students with disabilities with that of students in academically selective schools? Many teachers would actively seek to teach in those schools and those classes where students were likely to do well.”

Rudd’s also planning to provide funding for the schools “based on need”. So by not distinguishing between the public and private schools Labor is ignoring the fact that almost 70% of children are in public schools which obviously need a lot more funding than the private. God, he’s a dick. Somebody punch him in the face for me.

And its lines like that where you can see the training I’ve gotten from my journalism course. I’m going to be awesome.

Mayor Moloney Throws A Bone To The Uglies

August 21, 2008

While having a bit of a squiz around I noticed that a lot of Aussie blogs are buzzing with disdain from the comments of the Mayor of Mt. Isa, John Moloney, on the state of the woman drought in his town. He says:

“May I suggest if there are five blokes to every girl, we should find out where there are beauty-disadvantaged women and ask them to proceed to Mount Isa,

“Quite often you will see walking down the street a lass who is not so attractive with a wide smile on her face. Whether it is recollection of something previous or anticipation for the next evening, there is a degree of happiness.

“Often those who are beauty-disadvantaged are unhappy with their lot.

“Some, in other places in Australia, need to proceed to Mount Isa where happiness awaits.

“And, really, beauty is only skin deep. Isn’t there a fairy tale about an ugly duckling that evolves into a beautiful swan?”

Really, I don’t know what they’re all complaining about. What a splendid idea! We’re killing two birds with one stone really aren’t we? First of all we fix the poor male miners woman drought AND get rid of all the uglies! I mean those women probably wouldn’t have had the chance to get married before, this is an excellent opportunity for them. Any girl would look good compared to an eternity of solitude, wouldn’t she? We can’t have those poor men out there without any female interaction, we need to ship some chicks in there for them to prey on.

Hmm, it would be interesting to see what kind of screening process they use to find their ugly women. What if she were fat, but had a pretty face? And just how ugly do you have to be? What if you were slightly attractive, would you be barred from the shipment?

And he certainly made a great point with that smiles on their faces comment, I mean imagine that, an unattractive woman finding happiness! Who would have thought? Obviously she didn’t receive the memo that unless men find her worthy of a look up and down she must be miserable.

Beauty truly is skin deep isn’t it? I’m glad we’ve had such a gem of a man finally assure us that too, here we are getting our degrees and expanding our minds and so forth, and its such a relief to find out all our time and effort has not gone to waste. Although, he didn’t exactly mention the worth of our personalities. But, who cares! He doesn’t mind if we’re ugly!

Fuck, what am I doing wasting my time hanging around here? I’m off to pack. Come on ladies, lets go do our female duty and supply the world with more nuclear families! Thank god some men in the world are willing to look past the ugly for a bit of ass.

Jabreel’s Inferno

August 20, 2008

“Per me si va ne la città dolente,

Per me si va ne l’etterno dolore,

Per me si va tra la perduta gente.

Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore:

Fecemi la divina podestate,

La somma sapienza e ‘l primo amore.

Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create

Se non etterne, e io etterno duro.

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate!”*

Lately I have been reading Dante’s Inferno and while usually I can dismiss religious texts, it has inspired me to ponder on the (debated) reality of heaven and hell. I’ve never been a ‘Christian’ girl to the dismay of my Catholic grandmother, although in my youth I entertained the possibility and attended a couple of masses with her, and even wore a beautiful silver cross encrusted with shining azure coloured topaz. Although, I admit I wore it more for the beauty of it than the meanings attached.

My parents both rejected the Christian ways of their parents as they grew older, my father once walked in on my Nanna telling us what to say in prayer and cried in exasperation “Don’t teach them that bullshit!”. I was always told that I didn’t have to participate in Religious Education in Primary School, and while I did go in the beginning, I soon tired of singing ridiculous hymns and remembering verses, and arranged to be removed from the class. I’ve never cared for Christianity.

But I can’t shake the belief in Fate, that destiny controls my path and that I’m lead to come across certain things for my own benefit. I’ve never had an inclination to read the Inferno, but a friend of my sisters lent me a big stack of books and it was in there, along with the other two parts to the trilogy. Even then, I wasn’t too keen, but one of my lecturers mentioned it in class and said that no-one could ever reach the last text, because it was too boring. And so with such a challenge issued to me, how could I refuse?

So I’ve been reading it, and with each circle of Hell Dante passes through I wonder is that where I will be? Is this the torture I will suffer? Then I think, you don’t believe in this fairy tale bullshit do you? That death is followed by another life in a magical realm? Such things couldn’t exist. But then, why have I been influenced to read this book? I never wanted to. And it has planted a seed of doubt in my mind, a seed that may have been destined to fall into place to make me question what the world is about.

Not that I would apply that belief in Heaven and Hell to Christian beliefs, I would think of it as something that would push me back to an Islamic path. Otherwise, why would I have made so many strong Muslim friendships and fallen into their culture and beliefs so easily? In Islam, there is the notion that everyone has the chance to revert and it is up to them to take that chance. It seems to me that I’ve been given so much in the way of Islamic influence, so much information, so many connections, but my feelings towards it being truth are unfounded.

If I was meant to be a Muslim, then why was I born with such strong feelings against organised religion, and an unwillingness to believe anything that was not provable through science? I used to tell my Muslim friends, back when I was still on the path of reverting, that they were lucky to be born in Muslim families, because they never felt the conflict of reason versus faith. They used to tell me that the reasoning and signs that pointed towards Islam were all there, but I was allowing myself to be blind to them.

Another thing that haunts me is a dream I had, back when I was still ‘Islamic’, on the eve of Ramadan. The Ramadan before that I had been fasting only every second day, which was a stark comparison to the Ramadans I’d fasted before, when I would only miss out on a few days. And so, I began to wonder whether this was truly the path for me and said to myself if I couldn’t fast a whole Ramadan, I could never be Muslim.

Anyway, the eve of that Ramadan (I think it was 2005 or 2006) I had a dream that the angel Jabreel (or Gabriel) came to me and told me that I must fast, and that I had to look after a young majnun (Arabic for a crazy person, or mentally retarded person) or all would be lost. He didn’t exactly say those words, and in all honesty I can’t remember any exact words or even remember his lips moving, I just remember the message. And in my dream he was shining with a bright golden light around him, he had golden hair and bright, intense, scary blue eyes and he was so powerful that I was overwhelmed with fear, I was completely freaked out by him in a way that I can’t even properly explain.

I woke up straight away and then immediately thought, it wasn’t real, it was just a dream and turned to my side and closed my eyes. The moment my eyelids shut I saw the vision of him again, just as frightening as before, and I quickly opened them with a gasp. It was 6am, or something close to it, and the sun was shining into my room. I was pretty cut that I’d woken up so early because it meant I’d be awake and so, fasting longer, but I was too afraid to close my eyes. It would have been a good start to a Ramadan, being up so early and having a lot of time to listen to Islamic lectures and learn to pray, but that Ramadan I barely fasted at all. I ignored the message.

When I told my Muslim friends of the dream they were astounded. My best friends mother interpreted it and said that it was a very good dream, that it was extremely rare that one would be blessed to receive an angel in their dream and that the majnun was myself. They all could not believe that even after such a powerful and scary dream I was still holding back from reverting. Sometimes, neither can I. But then I think of the world through eyes of logic and reason, and Islam seems once again like a strange fantasy.

I still feel the guilt though, and I can’t shake it, especially after drinking. Even now, I feel bad for every sin and I try to stay ‘pure’. I wonder where I got it from, I was never enough of a Catholic to begin the guilt process. Its so weird being stuck in the middle. But I can’t get past the parts of the religion that I feel are wrong, even though it feels like Fate leads me towards it so often.

So I let it go.

*Translation: Through me is the way into the woeful city; through me is the way into eternal woe; through me is the way among the lost people. Justice moved my lofty maker: the divine Power, the supreme Wisdom and the primal Love made me. Before me were no things created, unless eternal, and I eternal last. Leave every hope, ye who enter!

Birth Of The Bullhorn Baby!

August 18, 2008

Congratulations are in order for Andy of The Bullhorn whose wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl last night. They’ve named her Lauren Antoinette and she’s a very healthy eight pounds, six ounces. Go on over and congratulate him or read about his hectic Sunday. Well done Andy, I’m sure you’ll make a great father!

Web vs Print

August 16, 2008

Its a bad time to be a journalist. Not that they would ever admit they were losing the fight. The Green Guide from The Age on Thursday had an interesting article about ‘citizen journalism’ but stuck mostly to the uploading videos of events as they happen side of things while pondering the morality of documenting a crisis instead of taking part in it or helping. An issue journalists have faced for years, of course. And as you might expect from a print journalist, all forms of ‘citizen journalism’ were undermined as not being proper, because they were not ‘trained’ to write about things with an unbiased eye, as they themselves had been.

I found the article to be lacking depth and highly questionable, especially in motive. Journalists find their way into the field without degrees all the time, there is no set of qualities one must fulfill to become a successful writer, all you have to do is write well. Anyone can research, anyone can be at the scene of the crime to make an account of it, anyone can conduct interviews. Hence, freelance writers are often people with no ‘qualifications’ other than shit loads of experience, especially when it comes to fields like travel writing.

Also, the unbiased eye? Since when has that been a factor for journalism? The entire article reeked of print media bias, and I’ve gotta tell you, if I can read your article and pick which side you are on then your ‘training’ has amounted to shit. This applies to a lot of the mainstream media we come across, the media companies profit remarkably (sometimes in ways more indirect than through profit) by subtly influencing our opinions on certain topics, and of course in advertising. In the case of Today Tonight and A Current Affair it is not so subtle, and perhaps thats better, because at least we can see through it.

The fact of the matter is that circulation of newspapers is in decline. The state of magazines is volatile, because the content can be found online and due to a monthly or weekly printing, it is almost always out of date by the time it reaches the consumer. In the same Green Guide, I found an article about Britney Spears small guest star role in ‘How I Met Your Mother’, a popular sitcom, which I had known about months ago, from accessing websites such as PerezHilton.com and TheBosh.com. Magazine articles are often stale, so they must push away from current issues to stories that are less influenced by a need for fresh information, like ‘Ten ways to spice up your sex life’ and so forth. Also, print media is suffering because it makes most of its revenue through classified ads which have all moved to the web, creating websites like JobSeek and the Trading Post Online.

Myself and the youths of today can be described as ‘digital natives’, we’ve grown up with the net. It is often our first information source, not the second or third as it is with older generations. Fewer young people are buying print and older readers are moving to the web. We are seeing fragmentation of media audiences, falling into smaller niches that interest them, like Middle Eastern politics or gaming news.

Blogs are increasingly popular and accessible. They are now fulfilling a journalistic function with the most recent post getting prominence and equipped with the eye witness aspect, they are strong first account sources and often provide very sophisticated analysis on a broad range of topics. A better article to read on ‘citizen journalism’ from The Age is this slightly older (2005) article, a profile of sorts on Al Gibes, the online editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He argues that newspapers are no longer the ‘gatekeepers’ of information and must change to avoid being superseded.

Journalists basically have double the workload now. Before they had to write an article to be handed in at the end of the day, to be published for the following mornings print, now they have to cover both the online and print editions. So they will be working on that article for tomorrow, while finding sources and conducting interviews, and on top of all that they must update their website with the new information every couple of hours or so. This isn’t happening in suburban media or magazines yet, but its definitely affecting the larger print media.

So really, I’m not surprised to come across journalists who are grumpy with our beloved blogs. If I was them, I’d probably do some underhanded biased article writing myself. But then again, I’m from the internet – we’re all about integrity here!

Walkin Into Spiderwebs

August 14, 2008

“Why don’t you call me no more?

It was every night you was callin me before

Given half a chance, you’d be knocking at my door

So tell me whats changed?”

Remember back in the days of Optus Freetime? I was 15, and all I ever did from 7pm onwards was talk on the phone for free. Back then only about 20% of the school had a mobile, so there was a little clique of us who got each others phone numbers and would call each other up to talk about well, basically nothing. I’d talk to people who I’d never really spoken to at school on the phone just because they were also in the mobile club.

Back then I was the best conversationalist. I knew all the popular topics, if I wanted I could wax lyrical about practically anything, for hours on end. But that wasn’t my style and it never has been. What I used to do was ask questions, coerce their opinions and subtly change topics into the direction I wanted the convo to go in. Talking too much has always exhausted me, but getting others to open up was fun. I think I have a trustworthy voice, or an honest face or something, because I am the master at getting people to spill their secrets. Maybe it’s because I’m kind of quiet in demeanour, or because I don’t gossip. Whatever it was, I always knew who liked who, and who hated who, and where the next party was at.

Now I think maybe I’m getting anti-social in my old age. I used to love sms, every mes was like a little letter waiting to be opened. I knew the secret phone codes to get free messages and I could reply in 20 seconds flat. Now whenever my phone vibrates I inwardly groan and wonder who’s bothering me this time. I used to have my phone on vibrate so that other people didn’t notice how often it went off (every 5 or 10 mins – I had a very attentive ex) but now its so I don’t hear it. I can’t be bothered with communication.

“You make me wanna throw my pager out the window

Tell MCI to cut the phone calls

Break my lease so I can move

Coz you a bug-a-boo, a bug-a-boo

I wanna put your number on the call block

Have AOL make my emails stop

Coz you a bug-a-boo

You buggin what? You buggin who? You buggin me!

And don’t you see it ain’t cool..”

I’m so crap with keeping phones too, they’re always getting stolen or lost. I get drunk and its all over for phone safety. But I really don’t care to lose them anymore, I welcome the break. I love the mystery of not being able to be reached 24/7, people not constantly knowing what I’m up to or where I can be found. How can I be an enigma when I’m only two steps away from you on Facebook or a phone call?

My friends know I screen their calls. I do it in front of them. You know when you’re sitting there having a drink with someone, and their phone rings and they look at it like ‘Pffft, no. Denied.’ and put it back on the table after silencing it? That’s me. I’ll get back to you in an hour or three. Maybe tomorrow. I have friends who know I won’t get back to them within an entire week because they’re used to it, you know, they’re the demanding ones. The ones who want you to visit them every night after work, and expect ten text message replies back to back. I just don’t roll like that. I need my space, yo!

“Its not hot that you be callin me

Stressin me, pagin my beeper, you’re just non-stop

And its not hot that you be leavin me messages

Every ten minutes and then you stop by

When I first met you, you were cool

But in this game you had me fooled

Coz twenty minutes after I gave you my number

You already had my mailbox full!”

So, what’s changed between Year 10 and now? I don’t even know. Maybe too many dickheads have my number. Or I’m more independent now. I could probably benefit from a new set of digits, a clean slate. You know when you’ve had your number for just a bit too long, and guys you used to date start to randomly message you out of nowhere, making the world awkward again? I’m pretty much there.

It wouldn’t do a lot though, because the most persistent ‘friends’ have Facebook, they could just ask me for my number again. Sometimes I want to delete FB so bad. Why make life easier for everyone? It was better when it was coffee shop catch ups and five minute phone calls to organise them. I liked that life. I was 16, playing grown ups with my older out-of-high-school chick friends, in heels and sipping lattes, flicking my hair and batting my eyelashes at cute guys who walked past. We’d sit there swapping tactics for playing mind games on our latest crushes and back then our advice seemed to work. I owned that world and everything made sense.

So anyway, I was going to change my number but I really like the digits I have. Theres a triple zero in there and its so easy to remember. Good numbers are hard to find these days. You know you can buy awesome numbers like 0404 333 888 off ebay? They’re pretty expensive though, some sell for $10k. Thats what reminded me of all this, my first phone number had ‘576 570’ in it, and it was the pinnacle of numbers in my group of friends. I would have kept it forever, only someone stole my phone, beginning the cycle of the love-hate relationship I still endure with my personal tracking device. Ahh, life.

“Sorry I’m not home right now

I’m walkin into spiderwebs

But leave a message and I’ll call you back

A likely story, but leave a message and I’ll call you back

And its all your fault, I screen my phone calls

No matter who calls, I gotta screen my phone calls..”

Another Dead In The Name Of Religion

August 12, 2008

A 19 month old boy was starved to death for not saying ‘Amen’ after eating, by a cult which included his own mother. Oh, you cruel animals. How could you do that do a child? No offense to those who follow organised religion, but why are we all still suffering violence at your hands?

For a long time, I was making the moves towards reverting to Islam. I was listening to Islamic lectures, fasting during Ramadan, reading the Koran, learning to pray. I’ve always dressed conservatively, so that was no problem. I was learning Arabic, which I had gotten pretty good at. I can understand what people are talking about quite well, my speaking is disjointed though, I would love to continue with the language some day.

One thing I couldn’t understand about the religion, despite loving it, was the part that women were not equal to men. I asked a lot of my Muslim friends about it, but never got a satisfactory answer. I suppose I should have asked a Sheik, but I didn’t. I let myself be discouraged after years of study. I knew more about Islam than most of the Muslims I knew, but I just gave up.

I’m not saying all this to show Islam unfavourably, I still think it is a beautiful religion, based on submission and peace. I’m merely trying to show you that I understand. I get where you are coming from. I understand that giving yourself wholly to a religion provides unmatchable comfort and a relieving sense of the world being as it should be, all is taken care of, all is well. The meaning of life is under wraps and all you have to do is the best you can, to be a good person. It simplifies everything.

But I hate where religion goes when you take it too far. Too many people have died in the name of it, especially considering they preach for ‘peace’. Discrimination is promoted by religion and thats where my problem lies. No homosexuals, no female priests or sheiks, no marrying someone from another faith. They are wrong and we are right. They deserve to burn. I have this part of me that wants to believe, and yet another part that screams, “A bunch of old patriarchal minded men sat down centuries ago to dictate how the world should be lived, and you’re listening to them? Are you fucking stupid?”.

And then the other part of me who laughs at this quote: “Christianity – The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.. yeah, makes perfect sense.”

Everyone has the right to believe what they like, faith is a complicated thing and I am not one to tell others how to live their lives, even if I disagree with them. Why was that boy not returned the same courtesy of simply being allowed to choose whether or not he agreed with his mothers ‘cult’? I don’t know, I’m pretty disgusted right now, so forgive me. I know I’m being very offensive. I know that extremists are not examples of religion in its whole form. But, I’m not wrong in saying religion discriminates.

It does, and thats what makes it unacceptable.

Pakistani Spectator Interview

August 10, 2008

I was contacted for an interview by The Pakistani Spectator about my blogging habits and beliefs. You can read it here if you want. After a careful perusing of their site (read: scanned a few posts for signs of right wing ideology :P) I’ve decided that I like them, and they seem very dedicated to updating and covering Pakistan related issues thoroughly. Check them out here, if you are so inclined.

Cheers!

For Now, These Hot Days, Is The Mad Blood Stirring

August 9, 2008

“The cityscape where I stay is gettin hot now

Unemployment is high and buildings is gettin chopped down

Gold teeth populating the block

Slurring slang they ignite on the lookout for cops

Make the shots ring out like the liberty bell

No escape from the heat that’s getting hotter than hell

Like the oven’s on broil, with blood stains in the soil

Pimped on in the colors of crown royal..”

When the summer heat is sweltering, not in the blissful middle stages where frolicking in backyards through sprinklers is rampant, but the unbearable humid and unrelenting fan forced oven temperatures, I can admit I’m not in the best of moods. While I love the summer and I probably mention it every two posts, I hate the sweaty, unbreathable days where all you can do is lay in the dark under the air conditioner, or if you are even unluckier, under a fan. So is it any wonder that the heat has been linked to violence? Shakespeare was onto it well before The Age was. We are no strangers to the idea, with common sayings such as ‘heat of the moment’, ‘hot under the collar’, ‘hot head’ and so on reinforcing the idea of anger with hot temperatures.

This can only get worse with the current climate change. Cue the Luli pointing to global warming again, attempting to influence some changes in attitude towards the phenomena and perhaps an incentive to get motivated in changing our lifestyles. Things are only going to get worse, until we manage to get our emissions down to reasonable standards. And even that is not enough, we need global cooperation, a massive scale of effort. Surely I don’t need to point to the pictures of Beijing, to get the point across?

I’m still cursing Howard for his bullshit spin on whether or not global warming is real. It has already been proven that we are the cause, yet the amount of people who debate with me about its existence fucking stuns me. The power of denial is incredible. In the face of damning scientific evidence, Howard said ‘No I don’t believe it,’ and we all go along with him no questions asked. Must be such a slap in the face to the experts.

What we are doing is not enough, we have to start converting our houses to solar power or other renewable energies. My mother is a big fan of the most annoying tv ‘news’ shows on the earth, Today Tonight and ACA, but the other day even they made a strong case in favour of solar energy houses. A woman has converted her house and now generates so much electricity with her solar panels that the electricity company borrows from her, and pays her for HER electricity. Her bill reads +$20 or something. Look, if those shitty propaganda machines can agree, surely the evidence is damning?

Say it costs $12,000 to convert, if the government paid everyone $8,000 of that, who wouldn’t be willing to change? We can do it, we have the resources and the money, I mean come on, we’re working with surplus now.. Lets put it into something helpful. Fuck the baby bonus! These quick fix programs are not going to work. There is overwhelming evidence that once the caps melt (roughly 30 years), the world is going back to the Ice Age. I hope you can snowboard.

“It’s sad the map of the world is on you

The moon gravitates around you

The seasons escape you

And I always was, always was one for crying

I always was one for tears

No, I never was, never was one for lying

You lied to me all of these years

The sun’s getting cold, its snowing

Looks like an early winter for us..”