Thursday, 12 March 2015

Musings on hypocrisy and virginity tests

I was reading a mag in the staffroom yesterday as I tucked into the lovely stuffed capsicum I'd taken for lunch, and I almost choked when I read this 'In Brief' snippet, :
 Virginity tests averted
(Jakarta, Indonesia), Feb 11 - A member of parliament on the island of Java has been scrutinised following an attempt to introduce forced virginity tests for females planning to graduate high school. Kusen Andalas, deputy head of the district, insisted that the plans will not go ahead. 'I don't think it's ethical to carry out such tests. It is against people's rights'.

Seriously, ya think?

The article made me realise, yet again, how little personal power we have - how our dignity and privacy can be stripped away by unscrupulous, unethical - dare I say in some cases twisted? - officials who truly believe they have a mandate to do whatever they bloody well like to us.

Was the official in question merely a 'dirty old man' who gets off on the thought of probing high school girls and tries to shield his depravity with a veil of religious devotion to 'purity'? The conspiracy theorist in me can't help also wondering whether it's part of a larger and far more insidious plot to deter girls from wanting to get an education - to make the prospect of even finishing high school abhorrent, a rite of passage only achievable after a shameful, irrelevant and unnecessary invasion of her most private self?

How the hell do these creeps get hold of power in the first place? What kind of morons vote them in?

When my train of thought reached that point I derailed it. After all, I live in the country that voted in a creep who has spent the last 18 months locking up children and torturing asylum seekers.

I live in the country whose government is wringing as much political mileage as it can out of pretending to be compassionate and locking horns with the Indonesian government over the impending state-sanctioned killing of two Australian drug runners who knowingly flouted Indonesian law, and whose own Federal Police actually tipped off the Indonesians in the first place, knowing the consequences of drug-running through Indonesia.* WTF???

I live in the country whose government refuses to accept any whiff of responsibility for the deaths of Reza Barati, a 23 year-old Iranian asylum seeker who was killed on Manus Island during rioting at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre as an unwilling 'guest' of the Australian government, and 24 year-old Iranian asylum seeker Hamid Kehazaei, who died because of unforgivable delays securing urgent medical attention while he was also a 'guest' of the Australian government on Manus.

I live in the country that points fingers at other countries' human rights records, while ignoring its own deplorable treatment of its own indigenous people; whose self-titled Prime Minster for Indigenous Affairs supports the defunding and closure of remote aboriginal communities because they are lifestyle choices. Arrogant, ignorant, offensive creep.

*Let me make it clear that I do not support the death penalty. What I also do not support is the hypocrisy of a government that apparently values the lives of convicted criminals over the lives of innocent people who have fled torture and terror in their home countries.

For the Guardian story about this lowest of low acts, click  here

Monday, 9 March 2015

"52" the whale - lonely or a loner?


The very talented Kristin Rule alerted me to a fascinating story the other day about a solitary whale that doesn't sing at the same frequency as other whales. Called 52 because that's around the frequency it sings, it has never been found although its voice has been heard (by us, not by other whales).

Inspired by 52's story (and because she's a creative genius) Kristin retuned her cello to 52's frequency and composed a beautiful piece of music that you can hear on Kristin's website (the link at the top of this post) or here.

What a fabulous idea!

I googled 52 the whale and found all sorts of articles. 52 has been dubbed 'the world's loneliest whale', and Kristin contemplates this idea on her site.

Isn't it funny how humans like to assume other creatures feel the way we do about things? Is 52 lonely? Or is 52 simply alone, independent, fearlessly traversing the oceans singing its heart out for the simple joy of being alive and free?

Loneliness is a terrible thing but it's my contention that it's a lot easier to be lonely in a crowd than it is when you're alone.

I used to ride my motorbike everywhere - usually by myself - and it used to bug the crap out of me when people asked if I got lonely riding by myself. Nope. Loved every second of it. Starting when I wanted, ending where and when I wanted, stopping for a break if and when it suited me - time to have the headspace I craved to think and create, to be alone with my thoughts and to enjoy the scenery. I found it energised me, short-circuited my anxiety and made me feel absolutely at peace. I got to see some lovely places and developed a lot of self-confidence as well - bonus!

I get similar benefits just living here in Mallacoota, and perhaps that's why I don't do a lot of motorcycling any more - I don't need to (although when I get around to it I still enjoy it a lot). Living here I spend a lot of time alone but I am never ever lonely. Like 52, I sing my own song, and for me it's a very positive thing.

Thanks for introducing me to 52's story, Kristin, and for getting me thinking!

Go here to support the project to find 52.

Oh, and if you're of the opinion that maybe 52 doesn't want to be found (it remains elusive, despite first having its song recorded in 1989) then at least consider supporting the scientists who are researching the way that acoustic pollution is harming whales. Find out more here


Sunday, 8 March 2015

Mellowing in autumn

Hard to believe I live on THE road to Mallacoota when this is a pic taken in my front yard
I love autumn. There's something seriously mellow and magical about it. At about 6 o'clock on an early autumn evening my front garden transforms into a playground for all sorts of birds, and they don't care that I'm only a couple of feet away from them.

After a monster day of lawn mowing, gumnut raking, leaf disposal, gravel sweeping, catmint cutting, potato baking. dishwashing and short story judging I indulged in a well-earned bit of novel reading and hammock relaxing this afternoon. After about 5 o'clock it turned into an unexpected bit of bird watching.

There was a peculiar yellowish tinge to the light that meant smoke. Not bushfires though - now that the bushfire season is allegedly over, the season of 'controlled burns' begins, to prepare us for NEXT year's bushfire season. There were controlled burns happening out Cann River way and further west. It was a little eerie but it added a strange golden dimension to the air that had me spouting Keats in my head. Somehow, though, I don't think that Keats had controlled burns in mind when he wrote about the season of mists...

But anyway - in this 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness I watched with delight as:
  •  An eastern spinebill sipped at a grevillea bloom about 3 feet away from me. 
  •  Half a dozen female satin bower birds hopped and squawked around my yard with a very obvious sense of ownership. The glossy male with his blue-black plumage and silvery beak deigned to put in an appearance as well.
  •  A little troop of king parrots swooped to the camellia bush that has these amazing apple-like ‘nuts’. They absolutely love to devour the large round seeds that live inside these fruits.

Nom nom nom

The king parrots' target - the apple-like nuts of this camellia (you can see an opened one on the left) that they find so delicious
  •          Tiny brown thornbills – I’ve decided they are brown thornbills and not striated thornbills as they lack the light brow that seems to be the main way of telling them apart – had a pool party in the birdbath, making joyful zizzing noises.
  •        Bronzewings and wonga pigeons browsed the surface of the newly-mown grass while a magpie with a whiter-than-white back stalked around looking for something tasty to eat. I keep hoping it's the young magpie who was chased from the nest a couple of months ago – this bird seems to have made the garden its own, and I’m glad. It looked so very miserable as it sheltered in my car-port while its parents sat sternly on the tv aerials, ready to swoop and peck to prevent it returning home. Magpies really know how to get their ‘grown-up’  kids to leave home…

Poor baby looked so forlorn
Tough love, magpie-style. For a few days the parent birds attacked the youngster at every opportunity, to make it strike out on its own and live independently.

The lightest of breezes wiffled around me in the lovely hammocky cocoon where I lay devouring the visual feast of the watery blue sky, the golden light, the multi-hued greenery and my many feathered visitors, and I felt what can truly be described as absolute contentment. Life is very very good.