Off tomorrow!

Sep. 20th, 2017 07:43 pm
17catherines: Amor Vincit Omnia (Default)
[personal profile] 17catherines
On my grand and crazy choral adventure through Europe.  So you won't be seeing a lot of me here, though I will undoubtedly be all over Facebook like a rash.  Incidentally, it turns out that I'm in Paris for the Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre, which is very exciting, and means that I have been madly signing up to free exhibitions and tours of all sorts of things.  I shall report back when I can.

I finished up work on Friday, but have been running around like a madwoman ever since, because what with everyone around me having horrible health scares or worse this year, I'm beginning to feel a bit morbid about my trip and wanted to see everyone before I left just in case I died while overseas.

Yeah, that's the inside of my brain right now.  It does not sleep.  Sleep is for the weak!  (Or for the plane.)

I also have apparently decided that I am only allowed to ignore the postal survey if I have written EVERY IMAGINABLE POLITICS BLOG POST before I leave.  So in addition to the one from last week, I wrote an epic piece yesterday fact-checking one of those long lists about all the ways countries lost their religious freedom after achieving marriage equality (hint: they really didn't. Also, some people are really paranoid about gender fluidity), and I'm working on four more pieces which will publish at various points while I'm away and after I come back.   Because I'm nuts.

Oh, and I posted my vote back on Monday, because that's rather more important than just writing endless essays...

For a different flavour of nuttiness, we're doing the Global Challenge at work this year, and our team is called 'one small step for science', which pretty much mandates an astronaut theme – and so on Saturday, I led my team on our first big group walk to the planetarium.  We met in Brunswick, at Handsome Her, a café that has achieved peak Brunswick by being vegan, environmentally sensitive (glass straws, no disposable cups or serviettes, free compost out the back for your garden) and feminist (men have to pay an 18% surcharge, which is donated to a women's shelter, and the walls are covered with vulva-themed art.  Except in the bathrooms, which have a menstruation art theme.  It's quite... something.).  Also hipster - every item on the menu has about twenty different elements, including things like charcoal brioche buns, smoked avocado and strawberry baobab ice cream.  Oh, and also all menu items are named for feminist icons.  And there are four kinds of non-dairy milk available for your coffee.

It's hilarious.  The food's pretty good, too.

Anyway, having stuffed ourselves silly on vegan yummies, we embarked on our journey, which quickly turned into a bit of a death march because everyone had arrived late, which meant we hit Brunch Peak Hour, which meant we left late, which meant we had just over 2 hours in which to walk the 12 km to the planetarium before our show started.  Ouch.

We started by walking along the Capital City trail, through Royal Park, until we met Flemington Bridge. Which we hadn't been expecting to meet, but evidently we got onto the wrong trail in Royal Park.  Fortunately this was, if anything, a short cut. Then we wandered through the streets of Kensington, and along a rather pretty path between houses and gardens with rather farm like fences that made us feel as though we were being herded like cattle - we were on the site of the old abbatoir, as it turned out!

Next we walked along the Maribyrnong River for a while, past the glorious golden Buddha statue, and then sadly left it behind us to walk along a rather busy road and under the Westgate Bridge. We had to take a slight shortcut at this point, which was a pity, because we missed a nice little footbridge out over the water.

Finally, we reached the planetarium - five minutes before our show was due to start!  We rushed in, and got to watch a gorgeous show about stars and how they work, which had really spectacular artwork - they would visualise the star as it would look, then stylise it into an art-deco / stained glass sort of design, and it was just stunning.  This was followed by a guided tour of the night sky over Melbourne in September, which referenced the indigenous constellations, and was really fantastic.  Finally, we got a special extra video about the Cassini mission to Saturn, which had of course ended the night before.  So that was really a nice touch, and we all walked out resolving to do some actual star-watching at a later challenge date.

And then we caught the ferry home, because if you can catch the ferry, you must catch the ferry.  That is the rule.

It was spectacular, and fun, and I got 26,700 steps and hurt all over for two days.  But it was worth it.

And this is me signing off for now - I have politics blog posts to write and a bag to pack.  See you next month!

Marriage Equality vote

Sep. 20th, 2017 06:15 pm
dreamer_easy: (*gender)
[personal profile] dreamer_easy
Everyone should have their forms for Australia's vote on Marriage Equality by Monday 25 September. If yours doesn't arrive, then you can ring the ABS on 1800 572 113 or by visiting their Website to get a replacement. (If anyone has pinched yours, then your replacement vote will cancel theirs.)

If you post a photo of your survey form online, make sure its unique barcode is not visible!

Do same-sex couples really have the same rights as married couples? (SBS, 14 September 2017). SPOILER: No, they don't, in some very important ways.

If most people who mail back their vote, vote "yes", then the government says it will vote on marriage equality; if "no", it won't. Frankly, I hope that LGBQTI+ voters and their friends vote these spineless bastards out at the next Federal election. (Labour says it will make marriage equal within 100 days of its being elected).

Speaking of spinelessness, the "debate" over the poll is having exactly the effect the government knew very well that it would: severe stress on LGBTQI+ Australians, especially on young people, who were already at risk. Expert in youth mental health Patrick McGorry responded to Senator Matt Canavan's victim-blaming by suggesting that LGBTQI+ young people have more of a spine than he does. (The rage I feel about this renders me inarticulate, it really does. I keep typing things and having to delete them.) The Australian Medical Association, citing the harm caused by inequality to LGBTQI+ people's health, is campaigning for the YES vote.

The Women's Electoral Lobby page on the survey has a list of helplines, which I'm sure they won't mind if I reproduce here:
Switchboard (Qlife) 1800 184 527
queerspace, drummond street services 03 9663 6733
Victorian AIDS Council (03) 9865 6700
Mind Equality Centre 1300 054 284
headspace (03) 9027 0100
Rainbow Network (03) 9479 8870
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
Black Rainbow (08) 9228 0354
Lifeline 13 11 14
Black Dog Institute (02) 9382 2991
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

(There are also a few links in my last posting.)

Finally, just because I found it interesting, here's a report on the complexities of the debate in Asian Australian communities (chiefly Chinese, Vietnamese, and Filipino.)
dreamer_easy: (refugees)
[personal profile] dreamer_easy
First group of refugees on Manus and Nauru to be resettled in US (GA, 20 September 2017). One of the detainees, Abdul Aziz Adam (of The Messenger podcast), has posted on Facebook that some of the detainees have already been told they will be moved within a week. (I haven't posted much about the refugee swap with the US because of my scepticism. Never been happier to be wrong!)

Victoria steps in to help 100 asylum seekers cut off by Coalition (GA, 9 September 2017) More states could help asylum seekers denied welfare by Coalition (GA, 11 September 2017). Only NSW ruled it out.

Manus Island: judge approves $70m compensation for detainees (GA, 6 September 2017). "Lawyers hope to have sum paid before offshore detention centre closes next month in what is Australia’s largest human rights class action settlement." Most of the refugees have signed up for the compensation, though some may have done so in the belief that they have no other options, and some have lodged objections and want a trial instead.

Nauru President indicates $8,000 visa fee for journalists will be waived next year (ABC, September 2017)

Australia's refugee capital 'shows what the country can do' (GA, 23 June 2017). "Fairfield in Sydney’s west has resettled roughly half of all humanitarian migrants to arrive in the past 10 years. ‘We’ll always open our arms,’ its mayor says."

It's funny...

Sep. 18th, 2017 10:25 pm
dreamer_easy: (*feminism)
[personal profile] dreamer_easy
... where you can find comfort. I'd entertained the gloomy thought that bullying would be literally universal. Self-awareness, I figured, accompanies sophisticated social behaviour; you need to know what other people know, what they're thinking, and you need to be able to compare that with what you know. Sentience depends on theory of mind depends on social behaviour, which leads to social aggression - policing the boundaries of your group.

At least that's what I thought, but as it turns out, octopuses are not just famously intelligent, but (with exceptions) they're not at all social. They need theory of mind for a different reason: they're carnivores, and they're prey, interacting with many different species. They don't need to know what each other is thinking (although I'll bet they could make a good guess): they need to know what's on the mind of a predator or a potential meal.

This is not to say that octopuses have the same amount or kind of consciousness or intelligence as humans; but the fact that there's at least one other pathway to sentience gives me hope.

Flesh, Strange

Sep. 18th, 2017 12:46 pm
dreamer_easy: (*writing hard yakka)
[personal profile] dreamer_easy
Back to working on the novel. Looking good until chapters four and five, which are a messy patchwork of bits from different drafts which don't fit together - people do things for reasons that no longer exist, that sort of thing. What a mess. I've already rewritten a chunk of exposition; I'm going to have to do the same with the actual action, writing out an outline, making it make sense and then rewriting from scratch. Gee it would have been nice if I'd done that IN THE FIRST PLACE. Oy

Finished a robot story

Sep. 12th, 2017 05:08 pm
dreamer_easy: (*writing)
[personal profile] dreamer_easy
4300 words. Putting it in the drawer to marinate. Next: back to Strange Flesh!

Links: Gender again

Sep. 11th, 2017 12:15 pm
dreamer_easy: (*gender)
[personal profile] dreamer_easy
Why do transgender children raise the hackles of 'tolerant' Australians? (Good Weekend, 9-10 September 2017). Benjamin Law does a great job of addressing concerns about children and adolescents transitioning, such as the possibility of misdiagnosis, and whether treatments are reversible. (An Explainer from The Conversation outlines treatments.)

Almost half of trans young people try to end their lives. How can we reduce this alarming statistic? (The Conversation, 1 September 2017) "Almost 90% have been rejected by their peers, 74% have been bullied, 79% have experienced issues with school, university or TAFE, 69% have experienced discrimination, and 66% have felt a lack of family support. Issues with accommodation or homelessness have affected 22% of the study respondents. These experiences reflect societal attitudes towards trans people and demonstrate that they continue to be marginalised. Such attitudes can be changed through raising awareness of gender diversity to create a more accepting society." I suspect that prying the ACL loose from its barnacle grip on the government might also help.

Marriage Discrimination is Harmful to LGBTI Australians' Health
(headspace.org.au, n.d.)

Gender Help for Parents Australia

The Gender Centre

Transcend

As Up Over, so Down Under? The politics of transgender bathroom access in Australia (SBS 16 January 2017). "The Australian right takes its cues from the American right (witness Cory Bernardi’s enthusiasm for Trump), and right now, the American right is gunning hard for transgender people." | Where does Australia stand on transgender people serving in the ADF? (ABC, ). "... the cost of assisting transgender personnel over a 4.5 year period is roughly equal to 0.2 per cent of the [Australian Defence Force's] yearly health spend. The US military spends at most 0.13 per cent of its yearly spend on treating serving trans members."

Can transgender TV characters help bridge an ideological divide? (The Conversation, 9 August 2017) A study suggests that entertainment might be more effective than news coverage when it comes to changing peoples' attitudes towards trans people. This is good news plus a call to action for fiction writers like me.

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