Monday, July 18, 2016

Swift Whip

I've been keeping my eye out for one of these for years because my grandmother had one when I was young and I finally found one today in an op shop. It took me nearly two hours to clean and make it like new again. The Swift Whip, a propert product made in Australia, patent ball drive, was manufactured between the 1930s and the 1980s, but the older ones had steel balls rather than plastic ones. Mine is all steel with wood handles so I figure it's between sixty and eighty years old. I love it and will be using it at every opportunity. I went on the Internet and note that there is one in the New Zealand Museum, others are being sold on Ebay. I'm not selling mine.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Black cocky

This is not a very good photograph because I took it through my kitchen window with fly wire screen. Anyway, here's one of those black Cockatoos that tried to ravish my tree.


Before I went to the gymnasium yesterday morning two large black cockatooes landed on the tree in my courtyard and proceeded to tear off pieces of bark. Walking in that artic wind was horrific and if it was 10C degrees it certainly felt like it was below freezing.
Leonie is back from Tasmania so we had lunch out of the severe cold and wind in a large bistro at the corner of Nicholson Street and then she accommpanied me to my appointment with the Sleep Unit at St. Vincent's hospital. After hour an hour waiting in an overheated waiting room (I had to strip down to my last layer of clothing), I was finally told by the neurologist that I was a parasomniac, meaning that I sometimes act out my dreams. Since the dreams are benign and I rarely hurt myself, I don't have to go through having to sleep overnight at the unit with EEG attached to my head.
Leonie and I had taken the lift up the six floors, which made me quite ill, so we walked the six flights down and headed over to Victoria's Secret that little coffee shop hidden behind a hedgerow in Victoria Street. She showed me some amazing old world collars she made using crochet and gave me a little book she'd crochetted right years ago. Here's an example of some of the pages.

More early appointments today and Friday so I'll be wearing five layers of clothing, plus beanie and gloves. Keep warm and happy folks.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Arctic winds

Thank goodness the Richmond Library is finally open again. It was closed for refurbishments and the result is stunning. There are twice as many computers as before and the whole space has been opened up and is aesthetically pleasing. I'm happy because I can print out and borrow DVD's. The wind outside is positively arctic and I was told by my local newsagent where I topped up my Myki card this morning that the rest of the week is going to be even colder. Drat! Almost every day this week I have tests, which means waiting in the cold for public transport. I have appointments with an optometrist, an audiologist and a neurologist and my usual doctor. It not that I'm sick, it's that we are still investigating what may be causing these horrible vestibular migraines I get on a regular basis. Am meeting up with Leonie Osowski for lunch prior to my appointment at St. Vincent's tomorrow. Oh! I just want to express my sense of regret and disappointment that the coalition government have been returned. My message to the Independents in the Senate - Give them hell!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hanson, reconciliation, Islam

Do we think the right to free speech should only be afforded those who agree with and articulate 'our' thoughts and desires? Look, I don't align myself with those of right-wing, conservative politician Pauline Hanson, far from it, but if we seek to shut her down, shame her into defeat, give her less media time, vilify her on the basis that she is uneducated to a level that we would usually desire from our politicians, or that she operated a fish and chip shop (as did her parents in the past) and as such is just an ill informed retail worker, aren't we guilty of being just as intolerant as any group of people who serve to silence minorities because their ideas threaten the mainstream (take for example the Taliban, young men of poor Pakistani families studying the teachings of Islam, who advocated strict sharia law and insisted on dictating the dress and behavior of females within Islam) something Hanson herself is attempting to do through her insistence that Muslim women in Australia should discard their hijabs and burqa's and adopt western clothing, which essentially (at least at a surface level) erases their affiliation with a religion and culture that she finds offensive and threatening to 'our' way of life'. The constant barrage of terrorist attacks by fundamentalist Islamists overseas feeds into the fears that many have about the possible influx of refugees into Australia and the threat they may pose to our culture. Hanson might be reminded that the 'our' in that sentence refers to a population built on multi-culturalism, albeit mainly Christian (63%). By contrast only 1.7% of our population are Muslim. To many, (especially in conservative Queensland) her anti-immigration, anti-Muslim sentiments are well over due and they welcome the fact that her (their) voice will be represented in the senate. We shouldn't be surprised that Hanson (and other groups such as Reclaim Australia) has returned and with her (them) the underlying fears of Australians who feel disenfranchised by current politics and seek to take control over matters that appear to threaten us. We've been down this track before. Through xenophobia, fear and ignorance 'we' demanded that Indigenous Australians relinquish their myths and beliefs, language, dress and culture and assimilate into 'our way of life' without thinking of future consequences

Monday, July 4, 2016


I'm reading two books that were written 114 years apart. Patti Smiths Just Kids (2012) and Emile Zola's Paris (1898). I bought the 1898, Chatto & Windus, London, hardback edition on Saturday at a polling booth stall). Different writing styles but I love them both. Actually, I think I prefer Zola, because the subject matter is grim.
I went to the gymnasium this morning and then just managed to get to the 12.15 showing of The Wait (Pierro Messina, 2015) at the Kino. I'm so glad I did. Juliette Binoche and the film's direction was absolutely brilliant. It was well acted, beautiful to look at and exquisitely thoughtful and emotional. On my way home I took a photograph of the silhouette, twisted, naked  trees in the empty Winter park. Need I say more? It's cold outside!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Marriage Equality, Bestiality, Zoo culture, LGBTI

Marriage Equality according to Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Humans Rights maintains:

men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and its dissolution.

Some, such as Liberal backbencher Cory Bernardi believe it's a slippery slope from the introduction of marriage equality to legislation that condones marginal practices such as polygomy and bestiality, and may result in the marriage, not just cohabitatiion between human and not-human others. He introduces in his concern two lines from Leviticus 18:22-29 in the King James Bible - Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womakind: it is an abomination. Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself is a confusion.
His emphasis of course is on bestiality - sexual activity with animals, because we humans appear to condone, or rather, don't find disgust in our relationship or sexual activity with all kinds of not human objects and machines (vibrators, blow-up dolls, etc) used as mastabatory adjuncts, or pre-coital devices for sexual arousal. Indeed virtual sex and sex with robots (humanoids equipped with teledildonics) is already being developed, a time foretold by David Levy in his book Love and Sex with Robots (2007). Sub-cultural individuals called furries - who wear fursuits, identify with and dress as animals and meet up with like minded others who engage in physical activities such as rubbing, hugging or stroking, which provides psychological or physical satisfaction. A fairly benign kind of activity, that conceals race, gender and body type and allows a freedom of contact not found in usual human interractions.

When it comes to desire and sexual satisfaction animals don't discriminate between humans and objects. Dogs in particular have no hesitation in mounting the leg of a human or attempting to mount a person who is bending over. Human response is generally to dissuade the animal from making us an object of their desire. Well, excuse me, but I didn't give you permission to use my leg to masturbate. My male cat would often bite and tease our fluffy feather duster, dribble at the mouth and become aroused whilst thrusting itself into the soft surface. We usually watch this activity with good humor, passing them off as 'just animals'. We forget that we are essentialy animals, the major difference being that we are the animal that knows it will die.

Zoo culture and zoophilia, still an underground movement and considered deviant, has all the same, been acknowledged and perhaps embraced in part by the Australian philosopher Peter Singer who is on record as defending 'consensual' sex betwen humans and animals and is concerned only with whether the sexual contract is 'mutual satisying'. In his article Heavy Petting he explains:

The taboo on sex with animals may, as I have already suggested, have originated as part of a broader rejection of non-reproductive sex. But the vehemence with which this prohibition continues to be held, its persistence while other non-reproductive sexual acts have become acceptable, suggests that there is another powerful force at work: our desire to differentiate ourselves, erotically and in every other way, from animals.

I personally believe there is no accurate way of knowing whether the animal you wish you have sex with has given permission, and you may say that if the animal does not fight off your approach then it has given consent. But all kinds of things are in play in this scenario. Your pet is fed and housed by you and generally gives you unconditional love; so any display of affection or sexual attention may be accepted by the animal under duress. There are some that think sex with an animal might be considered statutory rape and others believe that since an animal is only an animal that we don't have to have to afford the same considerations to it. After all, we humans (except those who are vegetarian) use animals for our own ends. We slaughter and ingest animal flesh and use animal bioproducts to extend our life, what difference does it make if we also use it for our sexual gratification?

Richard Kahn from the University of California in Los Angeles says that

The steady growth of Zoo subculture, the rise of a number transdisciplinary scholarly studies on bestiality, and a changing legal status for animals in many nations, may very well point to changing conceptions of human identity that support Singer’s view of existence as a continuity between human and non-human animals. Zoophilia, if not bestiality, then, represents a marginal but potentially illuminative practice of how new conceptions of equality, reciprocity, and love could be made manifest between human and non-human species. However, it is certain that Western society’s long standing taboo against bestiality remains powerfully proscriptive for a great many people and so, as conceptions about bestiality and zoophilia continue to emerge and confront society, they are sure to generate and be met with heated disapproval. (The Encyclopedia of Human-Animal Relations, Mark Bekoff (ed.), Greenwood Publishing, Westport, CT. 2006)

The fact is that animals do not have the same rights as humans. Human speciesism (human supremacism) reigns, maintaining that non-humans who do not share our morality should not be given similar rights. Sadly, some humans, namely those who form part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex community do not have the same rights as the majority of heterosexual human beings in regards to marriage equality even though they are members of our species and our humanity!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Little Nightingale (said questionly in whispered voice)

It was 6.9C degrees when I arrived in Melbourne around 9.45 am this morning and as I've said before, almost too cold to be out in the weather, it was much better and tolerable when the sun finally peeped through the clouds.
Flinders Street Station 25/6/2016. Photo Julie Clarke, taken on my Windows Phone
I specifically went into the city to see the exhibition and 14 minute animation called The Nightingale and the Rose by Del Kathryn Barton at ACMI and it was worth being out in the cold. The exhibition has extensive, exquisitely drawn images for the animation and other associated artworks and was a real pleasure to view. You really must go and see this, its free, however a warning; it's quite sad. What is love, if not the feeling that your heart has been pierced by a thorn? Below are some stills from the animation, remember it' all hand drawn. Bye the way 'Happy Birthday Nan', you've been gone forty years but I always think of you on your birthday.
Stills from DKB animation by Julie Clarke