Monthly Archives: June 2010

Now we’ve done it

Damn! We’ve gone and signed up for Dry July. Personally, I blame tigtog: it was her idea.

The idea of Dry July is that you go dry for July (that is, you don’t drink any alcohol), and get people to sponsor you. The money goes to support adult cancer patients. So you achieve a double good: a de-toxification, and raising money for a Good Cause.

No wine. For a whole month. And a long month at that. I’m a little unclear as to why I signed up for this, except that Ms Eleven laughed cynically, and said, “I bet you can’t do it.” Also, she promised $2 for the cause if I did manage to do it. Mr Strange Land has signed up for this exercise in restraint too. The sign-up page invited us to give our reasons: he ticked “Other” and wrote, “Wife.”

We’ve signed onto team Hoydens Ahoy, and anyone who wishes to make a donation in support of us is most welcome to do so.

There’s just one small problem. We’re expecting some drinking visitors in late July. I figuring that we can hold out for most of their visit, but I suspect we will be “buying” some Golden Tickets for one night of their stay. For a mere $25 each, we can get golden tickets, and spend more money to buy some wine, and drink it. There’s something that’s bothering me about this, but I haven’t quite worked it out yet.

It will be hard going for me. I enjoy a glass or two or three of wine in the evenings, and I miss it if I don’t have it (that ought to be ringing little alarm bells). I have decided that I need some motivational star charts – one on the fridge, with little gold star stickers, and one virtual one, on my blog. Expect a star post a day, beginning on 2 July, to record my progress.

Justice is only for white people

Justice is only for white people. That’s the only conclusion that can be drawn from this horrid story.

No charges in WA prison van death case

H/T: Lauredhel, on Twitter

Last year, an elderly Aboriginal man was being transported to Kalgoorlie to stand trial. The air conditioning in the van he was in was not working. The men woman and man driving the van did not stop to check on his well-being, at all. He died.

And now, neither they nor their managers are being held to account. No charges will be laid, at all. Not even manslaughter charges.

It’s hardly an isolated incident. Read the analysis at Overland of the judgement in which five white men got lighter sentences when they beat an aboriginal man to death, because they were men with white skins of good character. Top blokes, totally out of character: when five white men beat an Aboriginal man to death

And back in New Zealand, remember when a white man got a lighter sentence for killing a brown boy. I’m hearing white privilege all over this. Bruce Emery, who stabbed and killed a 15 year old brown boy, was said to be “an upstanding member of the public…”

Yet again, being white is the ultimate get out of jail free card. And that is awful.

[Edited to correct “men” to “woman and man”. Thanks for letting me know, Lauredhel.]


My local federal MP wrote to me this morning. I guess there must be an election looming.

I’m in Sturt, which is held for the Liberals by Chris Pyne. But either Pyne is out of touch, or he doesn’t know how to act quickly, or his campaign is broke, so he can’t afford to throw away material he has already printed when it is overtaken by events.

Take a look at these bits of bumpf.

Not one mention of Julia Gillard in Pyne’s letter about the proposed excess-profits tax on mining companies. Instead it’s all “Kevin Rudd” and “the Rudd government” and “Mr Rudd”.

More than that, Gillard has stolen Pyne’s thunder on this one. Within hours of taking office, she had negotiated a truce with the mining industry, and started talking with them. Pyne’s letter is now just another item for the recycling bin.

Get up to speed, chaps!

The grass really is greener

There are so many things I love about Adelaide and Australia: some IRL friends I’ve made here, singing, the warmth of summer, the Central Markets, aubergines and mangoes (both available in NZ, but expensively so), Kangaroo Island honey, which really is rather special, my kitchen, our beautiful home, the generosity and support from some colleagues here, two in particular, the excellent public school our daughters attend, the robustness of Australian politics, Julia Gillard.

I will miss all of these things when we return home at the end of this year.

That’s right. We’re coming home.

Despite all the good things about Adelaide, I’ve been quite unhappy during the time we have been here, because I have been incorrigibly homesick. I have missed my family and my long-known friends, and I have missed the greens and blues and trees and birds and hills of home. I’ve missed kumera and manuka honey – both obtainable here, but expensively so – and Jersey Benne potatoes. I’ve missed being pākehā, and I’ve missed the cadence of te reo Māori. Aotearoa-New Zealand is in my bones.

As for exactly where we are going to… if I say that it’s not a main centre, and we will both be working at what I shall call Greenhills University (following HarvestBird’s exemplary soubriquet for Concrete University), does that give you enough to go on? I guarantee that none of you save those already in the know will be able to guess what I will be lecturing in.

One of the greatest delights of Australia for me has been the on-line community I found here, of wise and witty and feisty women. And some men, of course. I was thrilled to be invited to join the team at Larvatus Prodeo, and I hope to continue to blog for them from time to time, letting West Islanders know what’s going on in New Zealand. I hope that my on-line community here will come home with me, as my New Zealand community came to Adelaide. I shall miss meeting up with some of these wonderful women in real life, as has happened from time to time, but there are wonderful women and men to meet up with at home too, some of whom I have met already, others of whom I hope to meet for the first time (also one, two, three, four, and no doubt many more). I’m also hoping to rejoin my book group, albeit with a little bit of travel involved for me, and to see more of a beautiful group of women I used to meet for dinner every now and then. I shall miss singing duets with my friend Melissa, but at home, my friend Helen is a wonderful soprano, and we have songs to sing together.

We’ve told our girls that we will be moving, and they are both saddened and excited: sad about losing friends they have made here, but pleased to be moving closer to their beloved grandparents. We have tried to explain to them that it is possible to be both sad and happy at the same time, and that feeling glad to be back in New Zealand does not reduce the sadness of leaving Adelaide.

Lead times in academic jobs are quite long, commonly stretching to six months or even more. So we will be here enjoying Adelaide for some time yet. All going well, we will leave after the school year has finished, but in time to be home for Christmas.

What are they really teaching in those scripture classes?

There’s an on-going stoush in New South Wales about scripture classes in public schools, which I written about before: Irony. Some Christians are argued that scripture classes are very, very, very important because children learn ethics from scripture. Which is tosh, of course – see Mindy’s excellent post about this claim: Values are not exclusively Christian.

But what is actually being taught in those scripture classes? The Macquarie Centre for Research on Social Inclusion has taken a look, and the results are… revealing.

Creationism creeps into NSW schools

STUDENTS at one NSW school were told by an untrained scripture teacher they would “burn in hell” if they didn’t believe in Jesus

And, elsewhere in the state, children at other schools were given creationism showbags. A survey by Sydney’s Macquarie University also found 70 per cent of scripture teachers think children should be taught the Bible as historical fact and 80 per cent believe students should not be exposed to non-Christian beliefs.


Scripture teachers generally discouraged questioning, emphasised submission to authority and excluded different beliefs.

Isn’t that great! Just what you want in the public education system: children being taught to not question, to defer to authority, to become rigid thinkers. An excellent strategy for the complex and diverse world of the 21st century.

An alternative ethics program has been developed for students who opt out of scripture classes, and is being trialled in schools. Here’s what one student she was learning in ethics classes.

A few words from an Ethics trial class student

The teacher gives us situations like whether we think something is fair or not, and then we discuss the topic and give our own opinions. It’s important because it gives us an opportunity to see other people’s point of view and perspectives on things without anyone being right or wrong. That means we feel like we won’t be judged on our answers and gives us a chance to justify what our perspectives are.

I know which I would prefer for my daughters.

Friday Feminist – Christine de Pizan (6)

Cross posted

After hearing these things, I replied to the lady who spoke infallibly: “My lady, truly has God revealed great wonders in the strength of these women whom you describe. But please enlighten me again, whether it has ever pleased this God, who has bestowed so many favours in women to honour the feminine sex with the privilege of the virtue of high understanding and great learning, and whether women ever have a clever enough mind for this. I wish very much to know this because men maintain that the mind of women can learn only a little.”

She answered, “My daughter, since I told you before, you know quite well that the opposite of their opinion is true, and to show you this even more clearly, I will give you proof through examples. I tell you again – and don’t fear a contradiction – it it were customary to send daughters to school like sons, and if they were then taught the natural sciences, they would learn as thoroughly and understand the subtleties of all the arts and sciences as well as sons.

Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies, 1405

A picture to savour

On the front page of ABC News:

A picture of Julia Gillard, titled, “Prime Minister Gillard”.