About the mutton flap

Mostly hair.

Errant rubbish

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Radio National is being gutted, apparently. And frankly, if yesterday’s lunchtime sample is anything to go by, perhaps a filleting might do it the world of good.

Yesterday I heard The World Today’s ‘story’ on Australians who are spending $555 million on ‘useless study’. Apparently many students obtain qualifications they don’t use when they leave university.

We were treated to the damning example of the person with a degree in tourism who then got an entry level tourism job. We were told;

‘The boss is unhappy because the employee lacks everyday customer service skills and the employee is unhappy because their degree, which covered things like management and policy) is unused’.

The interviewer, Linda Mottram responded with the theatrical gravitas of a home shopping presenter,

“How much would you expect to pay for this useless education?” she shrieks. “What’s the cost?” sotto voce – to the taxpayer

Perhaps if Ms Mottram had undertaken a useless degree in journalism, she would have instead asked questions like;

 – What is the time frame on deeming a qualification useless? How many of those with ‘useless’ qualifications go on to use them later?

 – Does the tourism grad expect to start working in the industry at a lower level, and work their way up, therefore using their degree later? 

 – If the tourism graduate is short on customer service training, how does this negate the value of their other tourism qualifications?  One thing does not lead to another, or as we simpering morons without extensive customer service training would say, this is a post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy

 – If a student forgoes their tourism degree for a qualification in customer service, and then ends up running the company, do you deem their original qualification useless? 

 – You said that employers were using a bachelor’s degree as a ‘filter’, choosing candidates who had a degree. It seems to me that if a degree makes you more likely to get a job it doesn’t fit well with the definition of ‘useless’. Or are you saying that employers are so stupid they need to be told who to employ?

 – How did you judge useless? If, for instance, the student develops self discipline, or perhaps basic literacy during the course of their degree, is this deemed ‘useless’ to their entry level position? 

 –  Let’s talk about the broader context. SkillsIQ is a government research body. The Liberal government actively supports private training organisations which provide ‘skills training’ in areas like customer service (ingratiating servitude), or using a cloth and breathing at the same time. How do you respond to the claim that this is simply another example of the government attempting to undermine the university sector in favour of their well-heeled donors, the private training sector? 

And finally, perhaps the most important question;

 – Given that the university sector is currently under pressure to limit the amount of the everything it currently offers that isn’t Vice Chancellor’s reimbursements, can you tell us how this isn’t just some made-up, bullshit study intended to appeal to Liberal voting Murray and Janice who always knew that young people’s degrees were useless and students would be better off just working hard like they did in the 1970s, and also aren’t young people annoying and full of themselves?

These are just a few of the gaping holes in the four minute interview. How on earth Radio National can be considered a serious broadcaster beggars belief.

 

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Tidbits

Every day I find out something astonishing and new at the moment.

To wit;

– Sheryl Sandberg’s husband died after losing his balance and hitting his head whilst using a treadmill in Mexico (Lean Out)

– It’s impossible to find out background levels of lithium in Australian groundwater/drinking water.

– Olivia Newton-John’s husband faked his own death and then turned up 12 years later in Mexico, apparently

– Jackie Lambie believe that she isn’t eligible for British citizenship because her father came from Britain to Australia as a child. Good luck with that, love.

– There’s now a shingles vaccine, despite the fact that having shingles doesn’t render you immune from getting shingles again – because you never actually ‘get rid’ of the virus itself.

Racism for some but not others

This morning the ABC had a cracking good joke – an English woman rang in and told a hilarious story about how her son, who is married to a Kiwi and lives in New Zealand came across a car crash in which the two occupants of the car were critically injured. When the son opened the door the critically injured driver (tee hee wait for it) kept asking about his pit rit. Guffaw! Critically injured!

The announcer sounded a bit tired at this point.

Oh yes, she continued, he actually meant his pet rat! It was loose in the car and caused the crash in which the two people were critically injured! Hilarious!

Imagine if someone called the ABC and told the same joke about an Indian with a funny accent. Or a muslim.

I’m not particularly fazed by the NZ jokes thing – aggressive nationalism will always be mocked – it’s bloody good sport. However, I think it’s worth noting that this English lady obviously thought she was in good company, slagging off the New Zealanders. There was something quite smug about it. Or perhaps this is lateral violence, where the Poms can only take so much before they pass it on.

Gun violence

There’s currently strong push to identify mass killings as expressions of male dominance. Consider this article in Salon.com that tells us;

Research conducted by Everytown for Gun Safety found that 54 percent of mass shootings between 2009 and 2016 — defined as incidents in which four or more people besides the shooter are killed — involved the killing of a partner or at least one family member. There are certainly outlier cases; it’s not clear that Adam Lanza, who murdered his mother before going on to massacre a bunch of children and school employees at Sandy Hook Elementary School, had any history of domestic violence. But the typical mass shooting case is one where a man attacks a group of people in order to hurt or kill a female partner over whom he wants to exert or maintain control.

Wait, so mass murders that aren’t caused by domineering, pissed off men are outliers? 46% is not an outlier.

You might be thinking; why quibble over this? Surely men exerting domestic violence against women is bad, right? Well yes. But talking about why shooters do it detracts from talking about how they did it; The shooter was mentally ill or depressed or a wife-beater. So, guns don’t kill people, mentally ill, depressed wife beaters kill people. Or so the gun lobby would have it.

When in fact, guns kill people. Yeah, it’d be nice if everyone with violent tendencies could reform their ways, but on the off-chance that this may take a little more than a couple of millennial hashtags about #love, it might be an idea to take away the high powered weaponry.

Conversations

Yesterday

Kid gets off bus buzzing and happy.

K. N says I’m her friend and she gave me this friendship ring. It’s because we’re friends!

M. Cool.

K. She also says I should wash my hair and conditioner it, because she said she could smell a funny smell and she thought it was me. She said I would look heaps better with shiny hair.

M. Well, you have a shower every day, and you’ve been swimming a lot, so I doubt you’re stinky. But OK, you can use conditioner if you want.

This morning

K. Mum, can I wear talcum powder today?

M. No, we’re walking out the door, it’s too late for that conversation Wait, is this cos N said you smelled bad yesterday?

K. Yeah, she said I should wear perfume, but I told her that my Mum only lets me wear talcum powder, and that’s only sometimes.

M. Ok, let’s get this straight. Sometimes girls tell one another that they should change something about how they look so they look prettier, or that they should smell different. They seem like they’re being nice and being your friend, but it’s actually called; ‘Being a bitch’.

[perhaps could have toned this down a bit, but the kid is used to this kind of straight talk chances are she’ll survive]

M. It’s a bit like bullying where someone tries to make you feel bad, but in this case they’re not necessarily trying to make you feel bad. It’s just a thing that girls learn to do to make other girls feel like they’re inadequate and that they need to do something to themselves to improve themselves.

K. But why do they do it at all?

M. There are a couple of main reasons. The first is that it makes money. Companies do this thing where they tell you there is something wrong with you when there isn’t. But then they make you think there is, and then they tell you they have a product that solves the problem. But there wasn’t a problem in the first place.

Have you got two legs? Are you tired of having two perfectly operational legs? Are the bottoms of your legs always in shoes? Yes! Well, we’ve got the solution, the new Suzuki 1000!

K. I don’t know what you’re on about Mum [exasperated but increasingly common look]

M. Look, companies tell you that something normal about your body isn’t normal. And then they sell a product that will change it. And then they become rich, by solving a problem that wasn’t a problem in the first place. That kind of thinking has become quite normal, so that’s one reason that girls think it’s OK to tell other girls that there is something wrong with them when there isn’t. Make sense?

K. Yep

The other reason is a thing called sexism. Have you heard of sexism?

K. No.

M. It sounds like sex, but it’s really just the old fashioned idea that girls should be pretty and smell nice, and play with dollies, and that’s all they can do. No science. No Operation Ouch. No maths. 

K. No maths? Whaaaat? But we all do maths at school.

M. Yeah, but with sexism girls think it’s OK to not be good at maths, because what’s really important is that they look pretty and smell nice. Imagine if you couldn’t go to the Physics Learning Labs because you were a girl.

[Look of abject horror as this freaky alternate reality sinks in]

M. Yeah, so that’s sexism. The important thing to remember is that N probably isn’t trying to be horrible when she tells you there’s something wrong with how you look or smell. It’s just something some girls are trained to do. So you can still be friends with her, but just be aware that you’ll hear this kind of stuff from time to time. What’s important is that you are aware that there is nothing wrong with you, and you get to decide if you want to change something about yourself. 

A good thing to ask yourself is; would this friend still say this stuff to me if I was a boy? Would N tell a boy that he smelled bad or should use conditioner in his hair?

K. No, I don’t think so.  

M. Ok, that’s sexism, consumerism and body politics covered. Now, try to remember to get your jumper out of your tote tray please, and have a look for missing containers. Here comes the bus.

 

Artificial grief

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Straight to the pool room

There’s no shortage of issues to be concerned with at the moment, foremost of which is Australia’s energy ‘restructure’ that will have major implications for this country’s emissions…not that you’d know because no-one seems remotely interested in it.

What everyone is interested in is the ridiculously polarised debate over the detainees on Manus island. Honestly, it’s like the two sides of the media collude to create a brainless duopoly. Missing altogether is any mention of the real mandate of the anti-asylum seeker politicians.

It’s all very well to talk about how few asylum seekers are coming to Australia, or how Australia should admit those who’re currently being held in (or ‘released’ from) the Manus island detention centre BUT the main reason Australians continue to vote against asylum seekers is that they think if Australia admits everyone who comes by boat or plane then more will come.

I personally think Australia should take many more refugees than it does – we are currently engaged and complicit in fucking up the Middle East, and have benefitted massively from its general instability, now and in years gone by. Even the most cursory examination of history will tell you how this works. However, that’s my perspective and I know it’s not a popular one.

What needs to be addressed in the refugee debate is the perception that if more can come, more will come. I have only once seen an acknowledgement or discussion of this idea in the mainstream left media (in The Monthly, several years ago).

Now, it’s hard to imagine a more pressing issue than the status of refugees being abandoned in Papua New Guinea. Or at least that’s what I thought. And then I read our local paper this morning. A group of fishermen is petitioning for an artificial reef. That’s right, it turns out that after 200+ years of European despoil there just isn’t quite enough shit cluttering up the bottom of the ocean. If only there were just a little bit more!

After all, it’s getting harder and harder to catch fish, so clearly there needs to be something that organises them into a more easily accessible area. And actually, while we’re at it, let’s get rid of the Marine Park as well. Because God knows, that thing has heaps of fish in it.

You might think this issue is a little mundane, but that’s where you’re wrong. Because the fishermen are not the only local group furiously sweating into their heavily branded baseball caps this week. There is another group of ‘concerned locals’ who’re being actively concerned in the direction of the Mayor, this time about sea level rise. That’s right, our Council has had the audacity to suggest that the avalanche of scientific evidence regarding climate change is, in fact, true. And not only is it true, it will cause the sea to rise. But not without a fight. Nothing turns back the ocean like a group of crimson-faced hefties belligerently sweating into their heavily branded baseball caps. It’s in the bible, somewhere near the back. Check the index for; ‘coastal inundation’, or ‘double-brick’.

There is a delightful symmetry here. Because, on the off-chance that protesting sea level rise does not hold off the inexorable creep of the ocean, our local coastline is set to acquire a rather substantial artificial reef, complete with brick-and-tile patio and floor mounted swivelling bar stools. That’s right, most of the region’s waterfront properties will eventually fall into the sea.

The fishermen would love it for the snagging opportunities alone; ‘Fuck, Bazza, I’m snagged on the rotunda’ would enter the lexicon, a development that is certainly overdue.

The fish would love it too – they could lay their eggs in the entertainment unit and hang fibreglassed humans above the bar.

Why I’m not rich is beyond me.

Wooly thinking part two

Does autism correlate with high IQ?

Or is this simply a form of reverse stigma?

I’ve mused about the apparent paradoxes in the diagnoses of autism before but I’ve yet to find anything that’s making me think that most people with autism are bloody geniuses.

There is a study which suggests that many of the genes implicated in autism are also those implicated in high IQ, but, as anyone who knows anything about genetics will tell you, it’s very difficult to identify ‘a gene for X’. Basically, this is the equivalent of searching for The Bachelorette gene.

I particularly enjoyed this article that told me that people with ASD are brainy because compared to the general population,

Nearly half of children (46 percent) who have been diagnosed with ASD have an above average intellectual ability, however, it differs from person-to-person.

That’s right, almost fifty percent of those with ASD fall above the average! Which I guess means that 54% fall below the average. Which tells me nothing except that as a population people with ASD are slightly dumber than those without ASD. It depends, I suppose, on how they define ‘average’ – for me, I take a pretty straight up mean/median approach, (the sample was 10 000) but maybe they decided that the top of the curve was actually a table top.

I see you, kurtosis, and I place a plate and some chips on top of you!

How good is science reporting? I mean, really. This shit is top drawer.