Saturday, August 03, 2013

I do love a Saturday morning

And then I do love the rest of the day as well.

Things that were good about this week:

Seeing this in the media



Here's another one:


Full story here. Although you know it won't really be the Full Story, because that can't really be written down anywhere.

Then there was this, a visual tree guide:

I hope you can make it bigger, it was bigger on the website.

There was some good writerly news that I mentioned might be imminent a little while ago. One of my short stories is being published in the Big Issue Fiction Edition, out on 16 August. Without knowing who else is in it, I'm sure it won't be hard for people to work out who I am. It's a bit exciting though which means there's been three bottles of champagne consumed this week. Not all on one night and not all by me.

That news came through on Wednesday, and that was the same afternoon my mum and Princess and I went to see Monet at the NGV. There is a pool with white bowls, much like the ones from my kitchen. The water moves around and the floating bowls chime against each other. It's gorgeous:



The Monet exhibition was beautiful. We went in at about 4pm and had an hour. It's a good time to go and often we make this type of stealth-approach on a Wednesday afternoon to see the exhibitions. They aren't crowded and it's a lovely mid-week treat. Loved seeing three of his paintings of London in smog/fog. Very Turneresque and just divine. Particularly this one:
 

There was only one painting of the waterlilies and the iconic green bridge but that was well-advised I think, if it was deliberate. Everyone knows about the waterlilies and the little green bridge, so the "Nymphaea" room was filled with paintings of the waterlilies (and even a few irises thrown in) and there was one in particular, round-framed and delicate. So pretty.

In one of the text boxes, a quotation from Monet:

It took me a while to understand my waterlilies.

This resonated with me so much, especially as this week I've been trying to work out what my second book-thing is 'about'. Who the fuck knows? I read today that EB White, when asked by his publisher why he chose to write Charlotte's Web gave a lovely response, describing his inspiration and why he chose to write about a pig and about a spider, then at the end he wrote: 

I haven't told you why I wrote the book but I haven't told why I sneeze either. A book is a sneeze.

I don't know if either of these sentiments make much sense to you but they do to me.

This was good. A panorama pic of Tokyo and you can zoom right in. When I zoomed right in it made me think of some of the scenes in 1Q84 like when they go down a ladder off the side of the freeway. I think I want to read that book again. This week too I bought Murakami's Wind Up Bird Chronicle. I have a lot of books on standby. They are patient.

Tokyo zoom

Then this piece of excrement:

Misogyny lurks in Winton's world of fiction

Such bullshit but it niggled at me and I spent far too much time thinking about the reasons why she is wrong. Luckily, other far more articulate people than me got into the letters pages to rebuff this stupidity.

And finally, this was waiting for me at the back door when I got home yesterday. I know it's not right to call one of your children stupid but really, when there's a shed open and available for shelter. Also a fucking garage...



58 comments:

M said...

oh I loved the chiming bowls at ngv - so sweet! I just adored the film room with the panoramic Monet film playing. Talk about feeling pin sized!

suze2000 said...

Loved Monet's Garden, and enjoyed the bowls as well, though they were slightly ruined by the invasion of buses full of teens who were more interested in their beeping mobiles than the quiet beauty of the piece. I was also disappointed with the room of film of his garden. I've been there. Why oh why didn't they film that in SPRING? When it's a riot of colour and everything looks amazing. Still a very worthwhile exhibition - I've seen a lot of Monets overseas, and was expecting this to be more of the same (especially as he tended to paint the same scene over and over) but there were far more paintings than I expected and at least half were new to me.

I haven't read enough Tim Winton to understand that article - I own several of them, but while I'm good at owning, I'm crap at reading. And I didn't finish Cloudstreet because I lent it to my mother ten pages from the end because she was suddenly taken to hospital and needed something to read. I'm frustrated by not knowing how it ended, but it was so long ago, I'd have to read the whole thing again to understand any ending that I read! So it remains unfinished.

Poor sodden puppy! Why didn't he take shelter?

"My" house auctions next week. Wish us luck and poor opposition!

Alex said...

Oh, poor silly wee dog.

Congrats on the publishing. Is The Big Issue that paper they flog on the corners in Brissy? Is that national? Or are you talking about something down south? Or something else?

Like Suze, I haven't read enough Winton to have an opinion on that. Also, good luck with the auction Suze.

Cheers for sharing that article on the deadly-tredly sheilas. The bits that stuck out most to me were these:

“Being around women, learning that we can interact in a way that was not hostile or competitive; it’s been a very new experience,” said Magally “Maga” Miranda.

Many of the women say they feel they are not taken seriously in the biking community because their rides aren’t as long as traditional rides, there are usually many first-time riders, and the ride will stop and wait for one person.

I've been seeing quite a few things recently that have been reminding me of something I read years and years ago about an aspect of feminist philosophy that I didn't give much mind to. It was about stereotypically feminine qualities like compassion, empathy, co-operation, patience, supportiveness, etc vs stereotypically masculine qualities like aggressive competitiveness, domination, a winner-takes-all, sink-or-swim attitude, etc; and why it might be better for society if making women "equal" was more about making the world more feminine and less about making women more masculine so that they could compete on equal footing in a "man's world", so to speak (Hmmm, I feel like I might have butchered that explanation). Like I said, I didn't think about it much at the time, but now it's been playing on my mind quite a bit. Is it something anyone else has given any thought to at any point? Any conclusions reached?

squib said...

Big congratulations on Big Issue, Melbs. Very exciting!

Am reading Pattern Recognition at the moment (thanks to FTBC) - sure Alex could relate to it, what with the experimental video footage she mentioned on TSFKA. Have to say I like it so far but find all the stuff about clothes a bit tedious, like what jacket each character is wearing, brands and so on not my cup of tea. But I did find myself reminiscing about old message boards (during the George Bush years). Oh, the drama and the trolls and the silliness of it all...

Melba said...

The bowls were great M, weren't they? I loved them. And yes to the panorama video, although Suze I can imagine it in Spring. What they should have done was a four-season treatment. That would have been lovely. Yes I was also pleased by the variety Suze, he wasn't all about the waterlily though it was obviously a significant stage. Good luck for your house thing, and on the dog?? The answer is she's stupid. I don't know, maybe she doesn't feel the wetness through her hair? Who the hell knows.

Thanks Alex and squibby about the Big Issue thingy. Yes it's exciting. It's the national one Alex so you can hopefully grab a copy 'up there' wherever it is you are in the north.

I've heard of Pattern Recognition, probs from watching old FTBC clips. Worth reading squib? Do you recommend? Ah the old message boards. I remember 'seeing' a random strip tease once in a chat room, it was almost the most erotic thing I've ever experienced. And it was in words, and it was kinda weird. But powerful and strange. What message boards were you on during the Bush years?

And how goes Scortland? You have the Edinburgh Writers Festival on now, going to anything?

Your question Alex, interesting point. I think I've probably heard that suggested before as well and I suspect there's maybe something in it but women like me aren't typical in that I'm quite masculine in some ways. There has to be a way where we can all be who and how we are (within reason) and get along.

What I HAVE been thinking about recently is that it seems to me the only people that can make degradation of women (and I'm talking about all of it - rape, harassment, violence, intimidation, name-calling etc) are men. It will take male voices telling other men to stop it, and it will take men learning not to do it all.

sarah toa said...

Thanks for all those interesting links Melba. And congratulations on the story. It is so good to get a win. I hope you will put a picture of the cover on W.O.S so we can do more whoowhoops!
The Winton link was really annoying. Like you wrote, the letters sorted out the dross pretty quickly but it is frightening, as J. Murray-Smith noted, that narratives and characters are criticised for not sticking to academic agendas. Give me the blood and the guts anytime.
Any more thoughts about PWF?

magical_m said...

Having been to Monet's garden and seen loads of his work when overseas, I was also surprised by the number of "new" pieces. What I really I found fascinating was to observe the difference in his work as his eyesight deteriorated, and then again when he'd had his cataract operations.

Still no ties in the gift shop... you really did snaffle the last one! So we can't be Annie Hall twins. Oh well. ;)

x

Melba said...

Sarah I am CONSTANTLY thinking about PWF. Maybe I'll email you with my thoughts. I've got your email somewhere... I really want to make it happen I think it would be amazing. Thanks for the congrats on the story news, maybe I will put the cover on here.

I forgot to respond above to the Winton thing. I just think it was stupid. I'm not a Winton lover. I do love his writing but have at times struggled with his books but not for any of the reasons the journalist mentioned. But I'm re-reading The Turning and it's just amazing, his writing.

Sorry you couldn't find a tie m_m; it's wonderful.

And here's something for you Alex and for everyone else who may be interested. I'm going through my Internet faves list, and in the 2008 folder, am deleting lots of old defunct blogs (and keeping links to others that are defunct but still alive, will do some nostalgic trips a bit later) but I found this. Amazing:

http://www.obsidianfields.com/lj/sexmap1.0.gif

Happy Sunday night everyone.

Melba said...

And this, AND THIS:

http://www.yaygender.net/pages/gender.pl

squib said...

I've just finished it, yes, worth reading I guess. Three and a half stars from me, David

Old board was half Irish, half American. I had a lot of pointless arguments with Republicans, along the lines of this

Haven't been to Edinburgh since we arrived. Scotland is great but having a slight problem finding a house to buy. Wasting a fortune on rent and all our stuff has been in storage for nearly a year now, including all my books

squib said...

oh, links don't work

http://xkcd.com/386/

Alex said...

Cheers for the links, Melbs, they're both great.

Squib, if that book was anything like my Saturday, there's no way it would've rated three and a half anything.

Glad to hear things are dandy over in Jockland. How have the Squibblings coped with the shift (new friends & school and all that)?

squib said...

Big Squib can't start uni til September so she's been quite isolated from other young things although she's been working part time but she (claims) she loves it here

Little Squib is going fine but she's very addicted to Minecraft. She spends more time with an old friend from Australia linked via Skype as they kill zombies and whatever on MC than she ever spent with him when they were in the same country. Boy, is she going to have the shakes when we go to Spain on Friday and she has no internet for TEN days

Alex said...

Off to uni, ay'? Exciting times. Is she going away for that (coming from out bush, I have this default mindset that going to uni means moving away)? Can I ask what she's studying, or is that too personal? Is it science related?

This Mine Craft certainly has been popular with the younger crowd, hasn't it? Does Little Squib have a general interest in computers, or just recreational? Some knowledge of how the guts of them works seems like it'd be mighty handy for someone of her generation. Maybe worth encouraging if there's a spark there.

Still, ten days away'll be good for her. Could probably do with ten days without email and online news, myself.

I'm sure you've heard we had the election campaign kick off today. TV is constant back-and-forth over trivial shit and the Murdoch press looks to be going hard against Labor. In many ways it seems almost indistinguishable to the rest of the year. What a year it's been, ay'. ... Fuck off, year.

squib said...

She is doing a BA in archeology. She transferred from Aust uni to local uni here so she will be in her second year

Little Squib is in a programming club at her school. There's like 15 boys and she's the only girl :)

The older I get, the more the news seems to be like Groundhog Day, the same shit over and over. I'm voting Greens (if overseas voting all goes smoothly) and, if I weren't so overwhelmed by ennui to even care, I might be a bit annoyed at all these dyed-in-the-wool Labor types who don't agree with just about anything Labor is doing but will still vote for them

Alex said...

Archeology, cool. Maybe she'll discover The Holy Grail, or The Ark Of The Covenant, or even an ancient temple full of weird cultists. Hopefully she doesn't come across any strange alien skulls. They seem to lead to much suckier adventures.*

And good on Little Squib. I think those skills'll be very handy later on, and God knows, we really could use the numbers.

I just took the ABC's "compass" test. The cartesian plane says I'm almost perfectly Labor aligned, while the bar graph says I'm definitely a Green. I think I'll be having a good look at the independents and minor parties this go around.

I understand why people who are anti-Lib feel like they need to vote Labor to keep something "catastrophic" happening, but I think that's the beauty of the preferential system. What I don't grasp so much is the notion that there's no point in voting for anyone other than major parties because they're the only ones big enough to do anything. Sort of seems like a self-defeating approach.

*Sorry, you've probably heard these a hundred times by now.

Alex said...

Oh, and what do you make of the new Doc?

squib said...

I prefer Matt Smith

Melba said...

I have no opinion. Absolutely none.

Alex said...

Having seen a handful of The Thick Of It episodes, part of me just wants to see him call the Daleks a pack of cunts.

I think a belligerent, foul mouthed Doctor would make a nice change of pace. They could put it down to a faulty regeneration or something.

suze2000 said...

OH god I forgot when I made my original post to congratulate you on the publishment.

If I see a BI seller this week I'll be sure to pick one up. :)

suze2000 said...

I took the ABC test as well. I'm a swinging voter. I have voted Libs before, but it was a long time ago (to introduce the GST, which I voted for even though I knew it would cost me money because I felt it was a fairer tax. Still do, and think it should be raised to 15% instead of introducing bitty new taxes to other things, or worse, cutting spending, though I also strongly believe that it should NOT be added to fresh food, education and books, but should be levied on kid's clothes, as it seems unfair they are so cheap anyway). Anyhoo that aside, I usually vote whatever party pleases me most (used to be Democrats, now it's Greens, but now they are shitting me, well more precisely I want to smash Sarah Hanson-Young in the face most of the time, so I'm not sure who'll get my No1 vote this time) and then Labor to make sure that the Libs don't get in.

I don't know what I'll do if TAbbott becomes PM. When he smiles, it's like being smiled at by a shark.

I suspect I may vote the Sex Party below the line on the Senate ticket. And yes, I'll be numbering every box (and taking along my glasses)! Nobody allocates my preferences but ME.

I'm devastated about Matt Smith, but willing to give Peter Capaldi a go. I've seen some copies of stuff he contributed to Doctor Who fan mags in the 70s so at least we know he respects the role (unlike C Eccleston, who I'm sure had no idea what he was getting into).

Melba said...

Hey Suze it's not this week, my edition is out 16 August. Thanks for the interest, it's a bit exciting for sure. I have to say, though, I do not understand the swinging voter. So you might vote for self interest (eg tax stuff) rather than a broader ideology? And you don't feel aligned to a party sort of conscience-wise? (This doesn't really apply *now* because both parties are as fucked as the other, but even so, I would never vote Liberal. Never. So I can't understand how some people do, or a lot of people possibly.)

Alex said...

Suze, did you find that with most of the questions you wanted give a more nuanced response to what was allowed?

Nobody allocates my preferences but ME.

Couldn't have said it better myself. I always vote bellow the line as well. I have a little bit of suspicion when it comes to the sex party. I like that they speak out against social conservatism and such, but I've read that they receive quite a bit of their funding from the porn industry, and I don't know where they fall on copyright enforcement (I heard today that there's a new push underway in the US to make watching copyright infringing YouTube videos a criminal offense. It's already that way in Japan, I believe).

I find it funny what you said about Abbott being shark-like. I once heard someone who'd met the man describing the experience as having looked into the cold, dead eyes of a shark. That description's stuck with me ever since.

While I don't care to listen to Hanson-Young speak, she doesn't aggravate me the way she does some people. Some of my family members have the same reaction you do. I hear she's probably going to struggle to keep her seat this time around, so good news, I guess.

I saw tonight that Kruddy has endorsed former-premier Power-Point Pete to run in QLD. Don't know how smart that was. I've never met anyone that didn't despise the bastard. A lot of people tend to think he jumped ship before he was lynched. And on top of all this talk about "a new way" and cleaning out the old garbage in the Labor party. This looks a bit fuckin' dodgy to me.

Alex said...

When you say you like the GST because it's a very fair tax, do you mean that it's hard for resourceful people to get around or that it's good to have people of all income brackets paying the same rate, or something else? I've not had an interest in politics for many years and economics is one of my weaker suits, so I'm not so sure about it.

Firstly, I don't know if I see much benefit in taxing the extremely poor, and there's a lot more to basic essentials than just fresh fruit & veg (on the other hand, I don't have a problem with taxing junky processed foods. It'll probably help with health costs too).

Secondly, it looks to me that as the world becomes a more connected place, GST starts to work as a reverse tariff. Look, I know the reason professional computer software cost 100% more in Oz than the US is because of greedy, gouging bastards, but it still stands that if the cost to import is less than 10% (or 15% if you raise it) then it's probably going to be cheaper to shop overseas. I know people are supposed to pay GST on imports over $1000, but you can get a lot for under a grand, especially if you break your order up into parts. I remember there was a push by retailers to bring the limit down to $100, but the Gillard govt said it would cost more to police than the tax would raise. I'd probably be open to the idea of reintroducing tariffs (I don't know why they're so demonised) but nobody, to my knowledge, beside the Kattermites, Xenophon (The Greens?) and that Fuck-Off-Poofs-And-Darkies party (whatever their proper name is) has even dared to raise the subject. Another thing to consider maybe is that as technology improves, it's probably going to become a lot easier to shop overseas for services as well.

Thirdly, and this may be where I really show my ignorance on economics, it seems to me that, for better or worse, in our system, employment is driven by consumption. That was supposedly the basis for the economic stimulus back when the GFC hit, right? If people buy less shit, businesses that sell shit have to lay off workers. So it seems to me that taxing consumption would have consequences inverse to what one would want. Now, I know that you can make the same argument about taxing income, but I think you mitigate this somewhat by having progressive brackets to target wealthy people who can afford to save a higher proportion of their earnings. Of course, the other way you can go is by having people purchase things on credit they can't pay back, but I think we've seen how sustainable that is.

Would like to hear your take on all this.

Melba said...

Wow I have a bad period today and am really tired. I'll leave it to you Suze to pick up Alex's questions... Or anyone else.

Sorry, laters. Am too worn out by my innocuous and unnecessary hipster post to discuss real-world, current issues that may affect me and the people I love.

Alex said...

Wow I have a bad period today and am really tired.

Or in other words ... Christ, Alex is crapping on about politics again. Oh, will you look at that, suddenly I don't feel so well.

Seriously though, I hope you're feeling better today. Take care Melbs.

Melba said...

Haha no Alex, really, I think you were directing your questions to Suze anyway? I love the political commentary/questions appearing here, I just leave it to others maybe to respond because I am trying to conserve energy is the best way I can put it. I don't have quite the same level of interest you have and I'm sorry the other place of outlet has ground to a halt for the mo. Shame that.

Yeah the period was/is a heavy nasty 'getting older' one I think. I do remember starting off periods being heavy and painful, so it's kind of like the same but at the other end. Thanks! Have been taking it easy... but also busy if that makes sense. Started clearing out the garage yesterday. Melbs weather beautiful this weekend so I get all 'spring cleaningy'.

Also am having a big partay later in the year and need to get my house in order. I am a hair-width away from full-on weird hoarder shit sometimes, if I don't keep on top of it. (This is an exaggeration.)

suze2000 said...

So many questions!

On Being a Swinging Voter: TBH, I haven't been for a looong time, I've voted Labor ever since Tampa. But I still consider myself one. The point is: I'm willing to vote according to whichever party I believe is best at the time, and I don't let historical loyalties affect that. And no, it's not about what I believe will be best for ME. It's about what I believe will be best for the country as a whole. So I voted Liberal for the GST, even though with my high-consumption lifestyle, it means I pay more tax. But that's how it should be, it's just another way of taxing those who can afford it the most. Few truly rich people live low-consumption lifestyles, they are always buying expensive new cars, outfits dinners etc (I am however, aware that one of the ways to become rich is not to spend money like water and that one can accumulate some wealth even on a modest wage if they are willing to live a very basic lifestye). The poor can't afford any of these things and pay little GST. It's simplistic, but that doesn't make it less true. And when my sister (single parent pension) could be bothered to cook and make stuff from scratch, her family ate very well, and cheaply. It's not expensive to cook a casserole or stew, and you can bulk it up with barley and potatoes. And vegetarians claim ditching meat makes a huge difference too (they can pry my steak from my cold, dead hands!).

suze2000 said...

I voted Labor at the last state election, but only because I knew they were on the way out and I wanted to mitigate the damage. I could just as easily voted Liberal, because I was so jack of Labor. At a state level in particular, I don't vote on ideology. I did think Labor needed to be on the way out. But after one year of do-nothing Ballieu I was glad when they took him down. I'm hoping Labor will get back in next time, put an end to the ridiculous east-west tunnell plans, and any thought of wasting $1.5B on renovating Flinders St (not to mention the distruption that would cause) and instead spend that money on buying more trains, or putting a line to the airport on Doncaster, or something that has real lasting benefit.

I too would be keen to see more tariffs. It would help protect our manufacturing industry (what's left of it) and keep quality clothes production on-shore (if companies like Cue would deign to make clothes for fatties like me, I'd shop there in a heartbeat as I love their aesthetic). I agree too that lowering the GST threshold would help cut the amount of stuff coming here from OS - it used to be $300, I don't know why they put it up! I'm fine with taxing those on insanely high incomes (I think there should be a special tax bracket for anyone getting more than $150K per year, but it should be indexed at 3% per year to prevent bracket creep, though I've also thought it would be good if total household income was taxed, ie if hubby was earning $150K and wife was a SAHM then they would both get taxed at the $75K rate, if that works out to be less, it might help mothers stay home longer with their kids, should they choose to). While I'm on the subject of SAHMs I am appalled by TAbbott's paid maternity leave scheme. Not just middle-class welfare, but upper-class welfare! I don't want to give a woman $75K just for squeezing out a brat if she happens to be a lawyer or something high earning. What a load of bunkum! It's supposed to allow women to stay at home with their babies, not allow them to hire a nanny and go shopping with the rest! So a big NO to that one, while I think the current scheme is fair and fine (I have a coworker about to try it out, so we'll see how she and her partner go with it).

I do not know if raising the GST will actually cut consumption significantly. I think over the last couple of years, most of us who had a little extra fat in their budgets have trimmed their spending a bit anyway - I know I have, to the extent where my only remaining real indulgence is hairdressing and quality skin products. But I guess you are right that it might. I would have thought though that if they increased GST they would have to increase the pension and Newstart to compensate for that. (keeping in mind that pensioners get all sorts of discounts the rest of us wage-earning suckers are not entitled to) It's also my experience that for most people, the more they earn, the more they spend, so it might not necessarily be a given that high income earners can afford to save more. More likely, they just eat out more often, in better places, and keep the economy going that way. ;)

suze2000 said...

I had so much to say here, I had to edit it in Word. I hope it makes sense! But my POV is of someone with a low-professional level wage (I could be earning $20K per year more in WA!) and a husband who earns a little more, and we are always considered by the govt as high wage earners when we can only afford to live in a tiny two bed unit in a good area, which I consider to be unfair! We could be considered to have a lot of money if we didn't have to pay outrageous amounts for housing, not having had the benefit of the housing price boom, we are starting from scratch with a GenY size mortgage and only a GenX timeframe (rapidly running out) to pay it off! And still I vote for the good of the nation, not for myself. I refuse to let my loss of idealism (it having been beaten out of me by experience) to affect my vote.

Melba said...

Wow Suze this a awesome, thanks for the comments. It's clear you think carefully about it all, and know a lot. I couldn't speak that fluently about my motivations and rationale. I really admire you for knowing what you're talking about.

I don't get, though, your first statement in your second comment, about voting for Labor when they were on the way out and you wanted to mitigate the damage. Also, the first I've heard of a raise in the GST was tonight in the debate, mentioned in passing. Has this been suggested? There's no way, if so, it would be to curb spending; it would only, and could ever only, increase government income and that's why they'd do it. To pay for some shit budget-wise or to offset deficit.

And then finally when you said this: [on GST] "it's just another way of taxing those who can afford it the most" - people who can afford tax, aren't they taxed the least? And people on lower incomes, aren't they taxed most heavily when it all comes out in the wash? When GST is applied to so many every day consumables, that every day people buy, and things like books for example, not a luxury in my er, book, maybe they are, I don't know, but it seems to me the GST just made the whole country a lot more expensive to live but things like hospital care, education and social services just continued to degrade.

My guess is you're a Coalition voter who sometimes votes another way? Because I don't think an ALP die hard such as myself would ever NOT vote on ideology and I'm thinking the only other way must be the LNP way. Maybe I'm wrong, and it doesn't matter to me really. I am trying to not care about politics so much these days. [Yearns for 1983]

Melba said...

PS I like your third comment, talking about GenY size mortgage with GenX timeframe running out. I think we all need to realise, like from now, that buying and owning a house in this country - in the cities anyway - is no longer the default expectation. I sold my flat in funky St Kilda a while ago, to pay school fees and get rid of my mortgage that had gotten bigger instead of smaller. I now have cash in the bank, we rent, have no mortgage and it's a much nicer way to live. Maybe there'll be some money to help my daughter buy something one day, maybe not. But we just have to live to live I think; not any other combination, like maybe work to live, or work to die. (Sorry, that's pretty hippy.)

When was the auction again?

Alex said...

What did you make of the debate overall Melbs? Did you watch ABC or the worm on 7? Is it just me, or is Kruddy starting to sound like Howard? Tougher on boat people! Lower interest rates! Lower taxes! Fear the alternative! FEAR IT! Also, he seems to be copping a pizzling from the media over his use of notes. Good to see they're concentrating on the important stuff.

And no, I don't think any party would raise the GST in order to reduce people's spending. I think they would raise it for the reasons you mentioned. Reduced spending would be collateral damage.

On your comment about mortgages; I think the NBN should be a big piece in the essential-infrastructure-puzzle that makes it feasible for certain types of people to get away from the centres of big cities. Of course, even once you deal with the infrastructure side, you still have to address the culture aspect of it and convince people to move, rather than just taking out bigger and bigger loans in order to buy a house.

Suze, thanks for your replies. I used to feel bad about posting massive comments on here too, until Melba told me she was cool with it. I do have follow-up questions and comment, but I'd like to preface them by saying, I'm not trying to win an argument or beat you into submission or anything here. Until 2007, I was a terribly uninformed person when it came to politics. I am still learning and none of my opinions are set in stone. Still hammering a lot of them out.

I largely agree with what you said about income tax, parental leave, and manufacturing. I tend to think economies should be diverse and not overly-specialised in order to weather global problem. Sadly, we seem to be going in the opposite direction, with agriculture probably set to follow manufacturing. I am highly dubious about this concept of the so-called "services economy".

On GST; I agree that it isn't going to curb the expenditure of people with more money than they know what to do with, and yes, I wouldn't lose any sleep over taxing those people on everything they buy; but I'm talking about those further down the food chain. If you have to pay an extra 15% on all your essential purchases (which is more than just food)*, there's going to be less left over for discretionary spending. And for very poor people, 15% may be the difference between having home insurance or not.

*On a side note; from a scientific view, it's looking more and more like bulking up meals with carbohydrates from things like potatoes and barley may not be such a good idea.

Alex said...

cont...

I am also not a person who feels aligned to any party. Coming from the country, I've lived in enough seats, represented by National Party members with percentages big enough that they could treat their constituents with utter contempt. I think it's better for one to have a political ideology and vote for the party that best represents that. And I think we're all in agreement that the "bad" kind of swinging voter is the one that goes into every election just wanting to know "what's in it for me?" Also, I think it would be completely reasonable to vote against a party whose policies you liked if you thought they were dangerously corrupt/inept/etc (not at all like the set-up we've just had, which I think has worked quite well, but has been portrayed in the media as dangerously inept).

Having said that, there are a few concepts that I see as being central to the greater Liberal Party "brand", which I do not agree with:

1) Everything should be privatised, because a deregulated, competitive free-market will always find the cheapest, most efficient, and user-friendly solution to any problem. Bullshit. A country is not a business (or a household, for that matter) and sometimes things have to be done that don't make "good business sense". Especially in a place this big, with such a small population. If we left it to the free market, a quarter of the people in this country probably still wouldn't have access to a phone network.

2) Fairness (not discriminating on class, or participating in "the politics of envy"), means that all benefits have to apply to everyone, regardless of wealth or income. This goes to what you were saying about the parental leave scheme. Not only do I think it's ethically questionable for governments to throw money at people that don't need it (and yes, that includes me), but in certain areas, it can create unwanted economic skews and price distortions.

3) Giving breaks to high income earners and squeezing the poor is a "carrot & stick" approach that incentivises people to be more productive. This goes hand-in-hand with that thing Joe Hockey sometimes says about how we shouldn't worry about wealth inequality, because what we should be doing is "growing the pie" so that everyone has more. I'm willing to be corrected on this, but I don't see how that's possible when our economic system seems structured to grade wealth on a curve. Surely growing the pie just makes the pie less filling per gram. Saying we can all be rich is like saying, if we're all in a race, and we all run as fast as we can, we can all come first and nobody will be in last place. It just doesn't work like that. No matter how much money you have, if everyone else has lots more, you're still poor. The only way I can see to get around this is by doing what some of the UAE countries do and fill out the bottom of the curve with an underclass of impoverished foreign laborers. This is a shit idea. Yes Dubai, I'm looking at you.

Also, I think you can look at some of the countries generating high amounts of mineral wealth in Sub-Saharan-Africa to see why hard work in a deregulated market doesn't make everyone rich through simple "pie-growth".

And having said all that, my chief problem with the Labor party is that, as I watch them over time, they appear to be becoming Liberal-lite.

Melba said...

I thought the debate was shit, Alex. I thought Rudd less impressive than Abbott, or let me put it this way: I thought Abbott looked more relaxed, more likeable, more confident. Rudd gave a poor performance, seemed tense and his arrogance seemed to really show. My mther said he was advised not to look at Abbott while Abbott was speaking; this was ill-advised to me because it made him look haughty at worst, disengaged at best. Abbott was looking across, looked like he was listening. In terms of content, I didn't listen that closely but Abbott was worse than Rudd; he didn't answer questions at all it seemed but Rudd only answered them after sneaking in points he wanted to make. So Rudd was better on content but not by that much and not as much as I would have expected. Neither of them had any statesmanlike qualities that I could see, all Rudd's hand gestures were just just kind of embarrassing, so regulated and robotic. Such a turn off. I *used* to think, at one stage, that Rudd was not bad presentation-wise. Now I think he's terrible, or last night he was. I watched ABC. I don't do worms, just like I hate tweets under QANDA, too distracting. Am off QANDA anyway, unless Germaine or Barry Humphries or someone like that is on, I cannot abide the pollies. Twitter on Monday night is unbearable too. AND DON'T GET ME STARTED ON FUCKING OFFSPRING. Last week everyone was going on about it. I don't give a fuck. I don't care that Patrick died.

The debate. In short: not good but I didn't watch to have my mind changed, just to see how they both performed. If there's another I'll watch again just to see if any adjustments have been made in their demeanours but I've decided I'm voting Greens and will, I think, do my preferences as per their direction.



Alex said...

I don't know Offspring. TV show, is it?

just on what you said about Rudd looking robotic; you notice Gillard became all robotic and started doing those stupid fucking karate chops after she became PM. She was fine as deputy. I can't imagine they've had exactly the same advisors, but it must be standard wisdom in those circles now or something.

Even Abbott's more mechanical than he was before he became leader. Of course, since he "naturally" came off as an aggressive creep, it's probably an improvement.

I guess everyone's afraid of doing or saying something that might end up as a "negative" six second clip in endless re-run on the telly. Makes for some shitty, passionless politics, doesn't it?

Melba said...

Offspring yes tv show.

Did you see the still photo where Rudd and Abbott shook hands at the end, and Abbott had stepped right in and given a steely glare? Looked like he was ready to/wanted to punch.

I don't like the way he's parading his daughters too, showing how he's got women [on side], Rudd's doing it too. And talking about sex appeal. And argh.

Caught up last night with AOF (forgot to ask about VitD!) but she is quite politically engaged and I think was horrified that I don't know my electorate name or whether it's a Liberal/Labor or swing seat. Pathetic I know.

Alex said...

I didn't see the still, but I saw the video when I watched it the other night.

Yes, it's funny (in an idiotic kind of way) how it seems the way to appeal to women voters is not so much to address issues facing women, but to be seen surrounded by them. "Hey, look how much these women love me! So should you!" Yeah, piss off.

I live in a fairly tight seat. I like that. I feel more like my vote actually counts. Not like living in a seat with a National who has a 20% safe margin. That's fucking depressing.

Been doing a bit of (superficial) research on the VitD thing. From what I've found, if you take too much, your body can start hoarding calcium, which can eventually wreck your kidneys (among other things).

Those 1000IU tablets are equivalent to 25μg, and one of the Aus Gov health sites I found lists the maximum safe daily dosage as 80μg. Going by that logic, you probably don't want to take more than 3000IU (3 tabs) per day.

It's fat soluble and your body can store the excess and/or build it up over time. I've seen literature about doctors giving patients "mega-doses" in monthly or longer periods. Apparently it just stays in the system and gets used as needed.

Can't verify all of this. Apparently there just hasn't been that much research done on it. A lot of the trials have apparently never been duplicated. But I thought you'd like to know.

Melba said...

Hi Alex, yes I've read about the kidneys and calcium but I read that it would take absolutely mega doses, far more than anyone would EVER take to have that risk. I did recently see a printout of a doctor's research, he has been researching VitD and its effects - beneficial - for 30 years. It's been his life's work. When I locate it again I'll give the link. I think you're right to be cautious, and I possibly am taking a risk in staying on the high doses. Let's keep digging around it.

actually I think this is him: Dr Holnik and on his website there are lots of articles and also comments from people, this one is interesting:

"Taking 1000iu daily you won’t have to worry about toxicity at all. You can take several times that amount without worry. Our family tries to keep our 25(OH)D level between 70-80 ng/ml, and we need to take 1000iu per EACH 25 pounds of body weight to achieve that in the coastal San Diego region. That’s 3000iu for our 10 yo son during the school year when he’s indoor more, 5000iu daily for me (age 47), and 8000iu for my husband (age 54). Even in SD, CA, I could only get my level to 44 taking 2000iu daily. I tried getting more (prudent) sun instead of supplements last spring and summer (including a 2 wk vacation in Italy) and my level dropped to 40 ng/mL in late August, when I would have the highest levels of the year. Purdent sun exposure wasn’t enough. 5000iu D3 daily brought it up to a nice 76 ng/ml this winter and I feel much better than I’ve felt in years – more stamina & energy, more resistance to colds, better winter mood."

Here's the url: http://vitamindhealth.org/

Yes he looks like a freak but who cares?

One thing is clear to me, that it's very hard to find out what the normal range, the upper levels are and what level toxicity might be at.

Ok here's the sort of levels that I read and it made me relax:

http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/am-i-getting-too-much-vitamin-d/

"Very high levels of 25(OH)D can develop if you:

take more than 10,000 IU/day (but not equal to) everyday for 3 months or more. However, vitamin D toxicity is more likely to develop if you take 40,000 IU/day everyday for 3 months or more.
take more than 300,000 IU in a 24 hour period."

I recently had my blood tests, will get them to send a hard copy. And ask about my calcium levels...

suze2000 said...

God no, I'm not an LNP voter. I don't claim an allegiance to any party.

I may have joined The Democrats if it hadn't imploded and become irrelevant. But I like their ideology of all party members voting on policy decisions.

I liked Labor a lot better under Julia Gillard than now. I liked it best under Kim Beasley, but I think that may be the West Australian in me.

Completely agree with your assessment of bad LNP ideology Alex. And while I'm at it, I'm not a fan of cutting the public service beyond natural attrition. The main reason being they end up on the dole anyway, and again they get a health care card (costs money), cheap transport (subsidised by the rest of us), will drop their private health insurance and end up in the public system (costs more money) and are now taking up the time of Centrelink and other support services. Better not to replace people who leave and take your savings naturally, without damaging vast swathes of people and their future employment prospects. (and we have lost 2 staff members of about 20 this year due to hospital budget cuts, which I don't like, but at least no-one's getting the sack).

suze2000 said...

About voting Labor in the last Vic state election:

I knew that Labor was never going to win the election. Having seen what happens when a party wins with a massive majority (You only have to look at QLD at the moment with Crazy Campbell in change - they run roughshod over their constituents, driven by selfish ideology all while knowing it will be at least two elections before they get kicked back out of power), I voted Labor in the hopes that if enough people did the same, the Libs would only get an 8 seat majority rather than the 16 that was expected.

suze2000 said...

On VitD: please be wary of 1) the information you get off the internet and 2) where you have your blood analysed for it.

I strongly recommend that you have your VitD analysed by LCMSMS. As this is a highly specialised technology, there are few labs doing it this way. Here in Melb, you will have to get to The Alfred and have your blood taken there. Don't get it done privately, it's an expensive test (to Medicare) and the private lab companies choose technology that will give them the best profits, not the best quality results.

I don't know that much except to say that when I don't get enough sunlight I am a miserable cow (as I am at the moment most desperately hanging out for a holiday in the sun).

suze2000 said...

PS I don't believe trickle-down economics exists, let alone that it works. The rich just get richer at the expense of the poor, who continue to be poor (at best) or get poorer (more likely).

Melba said...

Hi Suze interesting comments on the VitD testing. Of course a person needs to be wary of anything they read on the Internet about anything, and I am, but thanks. I'm not on the high dose because of something I read on the Internet.

The Alfred is close to me but I don't know where I would go to get it done, do they have a pathology service?

Why not take some VitD yourself? Helps with mood!

Alex said...

I agree with you on attrition over mass sackings, Suze. However, I do tend to think something has to done about the levels of bureaucratic, procedural, theoretical, non-sensical, pedagogical, paper-shuffling, arse-covering, bullshit that seems to pile up in, well, everywhere these days.

Every government at every level talks about it, and then, well ...

Ah, I dunno.

And don't get me started on Cunty Campbell. QLD governments of all stripes like to crow about our single-house parliament making us the state for action. State of self-indulgence and unchecked fucking corruption, more like (although, I suppose NSW gives us a run for our money).

Anyway, gone bush at short notice. Back in a week or two. Will check in when I have time and an internet connection.

suze2000 said...

Melba, there is a pathology service at The Alfred, it's in the Main Ward Block on the Ground Floor, just near the main lifts. Parking on site is expensive though, but there is street parking all around and if you can snatch yourself a two hour space (Punt Rd I think, outside of peak hour), it's free.

I have taken VitD in the past but ran out and keep forgetting to buy more. I do take a combined calcium, magnesium and VitD from Blackmores though, when I remember. Certainly it's inferior for VitD, but I need calcium too. (though I might argue that given my love for cheese and Milo, perhaps less than I think?)

It's funny you say that about the Public Service Alex. I've worked in hospitals here and in WA and there's a LOT more layers of management and bureaucracy in WA than there is in VIC. The management structure there had at least two extra layers in it, to perform essentially the same functions. Keep in mind too that it's the lower level plebs that actually do the work and are responsible for the output of the department so it always baffles me that it's always the plebs that lose their jobs first in a job cutting environment. I've seen this happen a couple of times now, and it's frustrating, especially when you are the pleb working harder for the same money.

Melba said...

Thanks Suze! I called my doctor to again ask about my most recent results, spoke to the nurse she said my VitD levels were very good, then asked what levels I was taking each day, I told her, she went and checked w/ a doctor who said I should reduce it to one tab a day (so 1000) but I want to know WHY, not that's wrong I know why from their perspective but I want to know why not keep taking a high level as long as my kidney/calcium/etc is ok, and how to go about checking all that. Because if it makes me feel so great why shouldn't I keep going unless there's a real reason why not. Maybes aren't valid. I know in the past when I've reduced to say 3 a night I seem to notice a creakiness and stiffness in my body again when I get up in the mornings, that isn't there when I'm on the higher dose. Maybe psychosomatic, but even so, if it helps, then what's the harm?

I'll get it checked again at the Alfred, this is really helpful thanks. I'm banging on about it so much I think because I have never felt this energised and positive and want to maintain it as long as I'm not in danger, obvs.

suze2000 said...

The problem with kidney failure is that it's an invisible disease. Unless your blood test contains kidney monitoring as well, you can't say it's not putting them at risk. And even then, you'd want to be cautious. Kidney damage, once incurred, is irreversible. And having seen a coworker go on dialysis and then the long wait for a transplant and now the lifelong complications that go along with having a transplant and the need to keep the new kidney healthy, I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.

It's a bit like taking dodgy HGH you buy off the internet. Yeah it'll make you feel like a teenager again... until you get CJD because they extracted it from human cadavers instead of synthesising it properly (not that I'm saying this definitely going to happen, but the risk is not insignificant).

Melba said...

I don't even know what HGH is, oh, human growth hormones? Who the fuck would take that? Not me! I think it's important not to mix something like that with something like VitD which many people are deficient in and most people could do with a supplement.

Blood tests do check kidney functions along with liver don't they? The so-called 'full-bloods'?

No one seems to be able to tell me, though, and I can't seem to find it, the levels at which toxicity (and presumably kidney damage) can occur. If it's a huge amount that I'll never take and never reach, then it seems stupid to be discussing this. The levels I've seen have been in the tens of thousands ius daily. I know Alex said it can accumulate in the kidneys but I need more info for it to be something for me to listen to.

Your co-worker went on dialysis for something else, didn't they, not VitD?

I know it's good to be cautious and thanks for the info but I still feel I need more information about it. Will continue to muddle on.

Melba said...

I don't even know what HGH is, oh, human growth hormones? Who the fuck would take that? Not me! I think it's important not to mix something like that with something like VitD which many people are deficient in and most people could do with a supplement.

Blood tests do check kidney functions along with liver don't they? The so-called 'full-bloods'?

No one seems to be able to tell me, though, and I can't seem to find it, the levels at which toxicity (and presumably kidney damage) can occur. If it's a huge amount that I'll never take and never reach, then it seems stupid to be discussing this. The levels I've seen have been in the tens of thousands ius daily. I know Alex said it can accumulate in the kidneys but I need more info for it to be something for me to listen to.

Your co-worker went on dialysis for something else, didn't they, not VitD?

I know it's good to be cautious and thanks for the info but I still feel I need more information about it. Will continue to muddle on.

Melba said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melba said...

Hate the duplicate post.

Alex said...

My brother is a P.E. teacher, sports coach, and general gym junkie and he tells me that lots of people take human growth hormone, primarily for the benefits that you are describing getting from VitD. It's commonly called "the fountain of youth". Actually, the comparison probably isn't such a bad one, since VitD is a steroid hormone.

From what I've read, VitD accumulates in fats. It's the excess calcium that buggers your kidneys.

Also, from what I've read, it seems there just hasn't been enough experimentation for anyone to be confident about naming an upper limit. Even the stuff I've found on government health advisories has footnotes like: "These figures are based on a single trial that has not been replicated." In that podcast I linked to, the bloke says something about how, as he researched the subject, he quickly became familiar with all the names and studies regarding VitD, primarily because there just wasn't that much.

I don't know what gets tested for in what blood tests. I'm going to have to get a new doctor before I can get anything like that done anyway. My local surgery recently closed down, which is a bit crap.

Alex said...

Also, despite my caution, I have gone up to 1000IU per day (i.e. the recommended dosage on the bottle).

Melba said...

Hmmm, ok I read more (the Q&A part of the freaky-looking doctors 'Horlick' this morning) and I have a new plan of action:

1. I am stopping it for 4 weeks to bring my level down which at 111 is possibly too high to keep sustained

2. then I'm going on 2000 daily ongoing

3. I'll have bloods done again at the Alfred in 6 months and also get my calcium checked (also should have bone density done, have never but at my age might be a good idea.)

It does seem 4 - 6K a day is possibly too high *ongoing* but seems common/ok for a period of time to get low levels up.

Also found out the 'half life' of VitD is approx. 2 weeks. Whatever the fuck that means, so what is stored depletes by half every two weeks? I guess that's what it means, Alex? Suze?

Alex, you haven't had a blood test so you don't even know what your levels are?

So...

I also want to say that I'm not a hypochondriac and I'm not one of those people who self diagnoses and is always on the internet googling cancer symptoms. I just want to be proactive about my health and I do think that for the so called health industry, actually let's call it the medical industry, and including Big Pharma: they don't want well people. They'll never admit it, but it's sick people that give them their incomes. It's that simple. (I know, the doctor vow or whatever is to 'do no harm' but if they are stuck in one thought-zone about treatment and anything outside that is ridiculed/denigrated, then they'll never change the thinking and 'do no harm' comes close to equalling 'don't consider everything available' and 'do the bare minimum'.

So when GPs are offhand about supplements and people making lifestyle changes with diet, exercise etc, it's quite telling. I would never refuse conventional medicine in favour of alternative treatments but I do want to manage a blend of the two and not be passive with my health.

Wow. Rant. Over.

Suze, would like to know what your job is? If you're happy to share. You seem to know stuff. If you're a doctor I'll giggle for days!

Melba said...

Oh and Alex on the HGH, yes I have heard about that stuff so I do get why people would want those benefits and I do get why people would take something to get those benefits, especially if they think it's 'natural'.

And yes, I take your point that VitD is also a hormone - didn't know it was a steroid hormone. I just don't know much about this stuff, this is true.

suze2000 said...

Melba, I'm not a doctor. Sometimes I think I know nothing, but I AM a lab scientist (I'd specify, but I have a thing about posting that sort of info publicly).

My friend with the transplant had nothing to do with VitD, but the end result of kidney failure is the same, no matter what the cause.

The term half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for the levels in your bloodstream to drop by half (assuming you don't take any more VitD). That also doesn't really allow for the VitD that would be stored in your fat (or at least I don't think it would). See now I have to go to work and ask the doctors (except I'm on holiday so it'll take a month, haha).

A full blood count is what doctors ask for when they want to check your haemoglobin, white blood cells, and platelets. Unfortunately, nothing to do with kidney function. Unless you see U+E written on the request form, he's not looking at your kidney function. Similarly, he has to write LFT for liver function tests.

As I age, I've considered trying to source some hGH because of the promised benefits. But I know that my doctor wouldn't prescribe when there's nothing wrong with me really, and I'm not willing to try the black market stuff. So I understand what you are seeking.

I don't really have an opinion about what's an appropriate dose and what's not. I'm just concerned because as I said before renal disease is pretty silent - until it's not.

I'm sure you can't hurt yourself by taking the recommended dose on the packet. That much has to have been established. Also keep in mind that it's a fat-soluble vitamin and as such if you lose weight, it will be released in higher amounts from the fat lost.