Gen X The First Generation to Have Worse Fountain Pens Than Their Parents.

Children born between 1976 and the mailbox are three times more likely to suffer from badly malfunctioning ink pens than the generation that came before them. Not only will GenX have a disproportionately high rate of stained handbags, they also have up to 18% more chance of experiencing at least one disappointing Club meal before retirement age.

Can we please stop comparing the economic prospects of Gens X and Y to the Baby Boomers’ fortunes? This is not a linear progression.

Baby boomers experienced one of the greatest increases in ‘life everythings’ the world has ever known. John and Sue were born at the thundering apex of the late industrial revolution. Their greatly enhanced wellbeing galloped in on ten thousand flaming jets of fossil fuel. Of course their lives were going to be better than their parents.

On masse, baby boomers have mostly avoided being blown to bits in war, filleted by heavy machinery or turned inside out by some hideous biological liquifaction. Certainly, when viewed alongside the long and dramatic list of their undoings presented in the media – from mesothelioma and heart disease to adult men in velcro sandals, it’s easy to lose sight of their clear run. However, the fact remains, baby boomers experienced an extraordinary growth in human comfort and material wellbeing.

The grumbling statistician deep within my soul would prefer a more fruitful question – how can we explain the revenge effects of the Boomer’s economic flourishing? Given the cornucopia of food, medicine and elasticated waistbands, shouldn’t the Boomers be a bit better off than they are, stumbling towards their 80s with fistfuls of Lipitor?

I would suggest that Gen X and Y might be economically poorer than their parents and grandparents, but will realise wealth in other ways. For starters, they will recognise the shortcomings of the Boomers’ exceptional wealth and prepare for them. Information is a resource.

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Why I only buy books written by men.

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 9.43.48 AM.pngYes, it came as something of a shock to me too. But I think I know how it happens.

I buy books from op shops. This is for two reasons. First: I am poor. Second: There is nothing I enjoy more than tipping an entire cup of coffee and/or brake fluid into a good book. The three-for-a-dollar shelf at the Salvos is the clumsy reader’s natural habitat.

Op-shopping hones my reading choices in a rather hokey way, unmediated by popular media or breathy reviews on National Radio. It introduces a deliciously wobbly stochastic process oriented by little more than, ‘For fuckssake, just tell me which one of these boxes isn’t going to the tip, Russell’.

What it doesn’t do, however, is weight for gender.

Last Thursday’s three-for-a-dollar selection is typical;

  1. a peculiar work of ‘experimental literature’ (Habitus, by James Flint)
  2. a well known but tragically dated work of cleverness (Paul Theroux, The Old Patagonian Express)
  3. a classic that I should have read as a teenager but chose to modify a set of header pipes instead (Huxley, Brave New World).

You’ll note these books are all written by men. Female authors are under-represented in the publishing industry, and therefore, ultimately, on the op-shop shelves. But this doesn’t entirely explain why I end up taking home only male authors (so to speak).

Last year, Booker prize winner, Marlon James firmly planted himself in a towering pile of shit for claiming the publishing industry deliberately appeals to white, middle class women (WMCW). According to him, writers of colour are tacitly encouraged to write WMCW’s stories. This, according to James, is the key to getting published.

James characterised these books as;

“…pander[ing[ to that archetype of the white woman, that long-suffering, astringent prose set in suburbia. You know, ‘older mother or wife sits down and thinks about her horrible life’.”

He’s right, of course, writers of colour are tacitly encouraged to write stories for White Middle Class Women. Mostly however, WMCW write these books for themselves. In other words, most self-involved, white women’s narrative fiction is narrated by self-involved white women.

We’re all familiar with this genre. I like to call it suburban-ennui, it is characterised by suffocating interpersonal relationships, pop-sociologies of motherhood or overly considered evocations of minute moral dilemmas. Frequently, these books do little more than reconcile the small generational differences between the author’s mother’s life (as remembered by the author), and the author’s own. They are unutterably dull and redolent with the scent of score settling. Men are one-dimensional or absent altogether. The storyline is often animated by some kind of contrived family secret *gasp*, a banal horror like alcoholism or sexual abuse of which the white, middle class author knows sweet fuck-all. They are portraits of seething proximity and emotional tourism, a claustrophobic, technicolour yawn.

It’s worth mentioning the type of middle class white women’s literature — something I like to call Gyno Grunge. The apotheosis of the exhausting suburban tomes above, Gyno-grunge is equally formulaic. Unlike their motherly suburban counterparts, these stories typically revolve around a single, hideous alter-femme, women who are overtly, grotesquely physical — comprised of cheesy creases and coarse, unbidden hairs. Venal and lazily violent they are part circus-freak, part modern morality play — women in extremis. Invariably they succumb to the purple excesses of loneliness, masturbation and poor dental hygiene. Their class status and motivations are unpredictable and unknowable. They are foreign and base, a clunky ‘other’. Like its suburban-ennui counterpart, above, Gyno-grunge also makes for dispiriting reading.

‘Suburban Ennui’ and ‘Gyno-Grunge’ comprise an inward-looking women’s lit, as tedious and insulting as it is dominant. And the fear of encountering it amongst the jaunty stacks of paperbacks at the Salvos has me clutching for the Wilbur Smith.

And this is how I end up buying the work of male writers. It’s not that I think all women writers produce the kind of work as described above, but many do, the industry rewards it and I fear I might accidentally read some of it.

I’ve decided, though, that in 2018 I will right the balance. I will only select works by female authors upon which to drop honey and brake fluid. Let’s see how this goes.

We never had water like this under a Labor government.

We’re currently experiencing a king tide.
This morning ABC radio interviewed a meteorologist about the rising water levels.
“Yes, it’s about the distance from the sun. So we should be seeing the water recede nearer the end of the week. There’ll most likely be some water dropping into the weekend”.
Most likely? Should be? Ahhh, this isn’t actually meteorology.

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.

 

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.

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 until I read our local newspaper this morning.

The front page featured a group of local fishermen petitioning for an artificial reef. 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 group don’t give a shit about the artificial reef. They’re concerned about sea level rise – specifically, the lack thereof.

Our Council has had the audacity to suggest that the avalanche of scientific evidence regarding climate change is probably accurate. Sea levels are likely to rise. But not without a fight. Because nothing turns back the ocean like a group of crimson-faced fatties belligerently sweating into their nylon short shorts. It’s in the bible, somewhere near the back. Check the index for; ‘coastal inundation’, or ‘double-brick’.

Between artificial reefs and sea level rise it’s hard get a moment of peace.

But all is not lost. 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.

Vote to marry a year ten brachiosaurus!

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To begin – this shit, from the ABC, no less. IT’S NOT A FUCKING VOTE, it’s a survey.

The whole point of a survey is so the government doesn’t have to have a vote. I note however that this article comes to us from ‘Hack’, the Millennial’s ABC, so one doesn’t expect it to be remotely accurate because, like, facts are like so, like lame or something, meh.

Second – the NO media campaign ads.

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Apparently these ads are going to be popular, because they have women in them. Women who don’t make any sense. Seriously, there are some coherent arguments against SSM (depending on your point of view) but these ads don’t encompass them.

Here’s a snippet of the dialogue;

If same sex marriage is passed it will be like overseas, where we don’t have a choice anymore….

That’s right, everyone will be forced to marry gay people.

Also, Concerned Mum of Tuggeranong (she’s the slightly cross eyed lady looking upwards towards the camera in faux penitence) says;

If same sex marriage goes ahead my year seven boy will be told it’s OK for him to wear a dress to school next year

Yep, that’s right – this survey will have far reaching consequences that may or may not bear any resemblance to the original fucking issue. Here’s the outtake,

If same sex marriage goes ahead my year seven boy will be told he can wear a fur-suit and marry a brachiosaurus! Won’t someone think of the children?

Quite. So let’s think about those children….well, while everyone was working themselves into a state about the ‘damage’ same sex marriage will do to children, these two stories emerged, one about toddler Braxton Slager who drowned in his foster carer’s illegal backyard pool, and the other, Braydon Dillon, the nine year old boy who was killed by his father in Canberra;

I heard Slager’s mother and father complaining vociferously about their son’s death on the radio. Apparently the state services had ‘let them down’. Even the Minister, Prue Goward, called them to apologise. The system is broken!

The media intimated that the toddler should have never even been placed in foster care. His mother said she didn’t want him placed in foster care, and that she was already the primary carer for other older children. Surely he could have stayed in the loving embrace of his mother?

But let’s be clear-eyed about this – FACS don’t remove toddlers because Mumsy doesn’t have the latest Wiggles DVD. In fact, a recent report showed just how hard it is to get FACS to do anything at all,

It shows in July 2012, the St Mary’s office closed 60 per cent of “risk of serious harm” reports without assessment due to competing priorities, while in June 2013 at Mt Druitt 86 per cent of reports were closed without assessment.

I’m prepared to entertain the idea that FACS thought the toddler was in immediate danger if he stayed with his mother.

It’s worth noting, given the statement above, that  FACS in Western Sydney might appreciate a lazy 122 million dollars, but no, we need it for the government sponsored survey that’s going to tell us exactly how bad it would be to officially recognise gay people who are already raising children perfectly well, as married.

Which brings me to Bradyn. I was thinking about him as I heard the ‘No’ campaigner telling ABC’s Patricia Karvelas that the best environment in which to raise children was with a mother and a father. Bradyn Dillon’s father hit him in the head,

…multiple times between December 2015 and February 2016.

The final beating, which caused previous brain injuries to re-bleed, was sparked over an accusation Bradyn had stolen lollies from his father.

Dillon had just beaten Bradyn with a belt as he was bent over naked on a coffee table.

“Bradyn told the accused he didn’t want to live with him anymore and that the belt did not hurt,” the documents said.

Dillon then forcefully hit and kicked his son in the face and head.

Bradyn’s mother had contacted authorities multiple times to report this abuse, although for some reason Bradyn couldn’t go and live with her. I won’t speculate as to why. Once again, we witness the failure of authorities to protect a child at risk. 122 million probably wouldn’t go astray there either.

Then, still on the subject of children, I see this morning that the Catholic church has come out against same sex marriage. Yep, the catholic church has defined gayness as an act of moral turpitude. Let me get a pen.

And final salvo in this weird, stupid and offensive campaign that seems to know no bottom, goes to the frankly weird campaigning of the Greens – I received an email from them with the subject line;

You’re enrolled to vote YES!

This is ridiculous. IT’S NOT A FUCKING VOTE.

The Greens shouldn’t tell anyone they’re going to vote yes, it’s smug and presumptuous, and finally, people who aren’t enrolled might think this means that they are, and therefore not bother to check (yes, the email came before the cutoff to update your enrolment details).

Opposing same sex marriage because it might damage children is patently fucking ridiculous, as there are thousands of gay men and women raising children already. People’s ability to provide a loving home isn’t dictated by their sexual orientation. It just plain isn’t. You might oppose it for other reasons – mainly due to western-judeo christian something-or-other and that’s a matter of religion, but the ‘community is just thinking-of-the-children’ argument rings hollow in the light of the horrors above.

If you’re that fucking concerned about the welfare of children, put all your efforts into stopping parents from hooking into the methamphetamine. 122 million dollars might help with that.