mercoledì, febbraio 22, 2012

The Australian version of excitement

We are having interesting politics in Australia these days. The system by its nature is interesting, given that it's parliamentary, proportional representation, all those good things, but in a social and media context that is downright presidential. Rupert Murdoch had to give up his Australian citizenship when he went to take over the USA but he certainly didn't give up the stupidicization of the Australian media landscape, which is far more ingrained here than it is in the US, where you have enough dissenting voices all over the spectrum for alternative viewpoints to be economically viable. Anyways, it's got to the point where people really reckon that the personality of the prime minister is dreadfully important, and that forming a coalition government is the political equivalent of being shot in the head. It makes for drama.

To make a longish story shortish, Kevin Rudd, who was serving as the foreign minister after being tossed out of the prime ministership by his own party in 2010 after pushing for a mining tax the mining companies reckoned was too high, has just quit the cabinet and seems to be mounting a challenge to the prime ministership, which is held by the woman who replaced him in 2010, Julia Gillard, who is polling abysmally. That's pretty much it.

In principle I reckon it'd be nice if his challenge worked. The transparency of the motives behind his ouster - the replacement mining tax proposed immediately after his departure, which is being implemented in July, is significanly gentler, something I don't think is at all appropriate in terms of the fiscal treatment of companies whose purely extractive business destroys the other industries operating in its vicinity and gives people long term health problems that the state will be on the hook for paying for - are a little glaring, and obviously contrarying to my pinko sensibilities.

But more dominant in terms of my feelings on the subject are my own notions of a presidential-style, republican sort of leadership, which I got infected with by watching too much American TV, no doubt. You see, when we were still living in Belgium, preparing to move here, I was actually quite keen on the personalities leading the dominant political parties - Kevin Rudd, Malcolm Turnbull, and Bob Brown. They all seemed to be enormously bright and have platforms, and things. Ideas sort of people, rather than professional politicians. How nice, I thought, that we'll be living in a country with such apparently substantive politics, after the technocracy and political impossibility of Belgium. How nice that even me, as a grumpy socialist, would be able to at least have intellectual and even ideological respect for the leader of the right-wing opposition. Yay. And then, by the time we get here, Julia Gillard has taken office, cutting the mining tax to less than what, say, a supermarket company pays (a flat 30% on profits), and Tony Abbott, who won my game of "Australian or Mildly Retarded" years ago, is the leader of the opposition. I felt gypped.

All that should have warned me, I guess. Oh well. Here I am, paying taxes as absurdly low as the mining companies, so I'm not going anywhere until the house is paid off. And just watching Australians get excited about all this, and not fully understanding it myself.

lunedì, febbraio 20, 2012

Why you pick on people your own size

Male violence is fucking difficult. There are lots of little ways in which male privilege, to use the going term, is a pain in the bum, but when it comes to anger - well. It's a threat to women, and it's a burden on them too, and sort of explains why a combination of strength and silence is so universally desirable in a man, if by silence one is alluding to a broader self-control.

One of the men I love best in the world got done up for domestic abuse, one time. I don't want to get into the details. His woman told him something - well . I'm not talking sticks and stones, I'm talking a big action, and its bigger consequences, all being let out at once. I'm a pretty calm person, but if the F-word came into the house and told me what this man I love got told, I honestly can't say what I'd do. Maybe I would attack him. Maybe I'd just run away, or die. I mean, it was a really shitty thing to get told, to the degree that it, for most of us, would be a situation as novel as suddenly finding yourself in the middle of a war. What would you do if you were in the middle of the war? I've always suspected I'd crack up but I really don't know.

So I understand why the man I love lost his shit. In fact, he didn't even lose his shit as much as I suspect I might, in a comparable situation. But here's the thing: he's six four, and the woman he lost his shit with barely clears five foot, and whether she's done wrong or not (and you'd have to consult the great god Rashomon to try to work that one out), and whether or not you can understand why someone would lose their shit in that situation, he just can't do it - or at least, he can't do it, and still be in the right.

As soon as it gets physical, that's it. It's gone. You're somewhere different and somewhere wrong. You've moved from two people arguing to one great big person scaring the shit and risking the safety of one little one. Maybe you don't think of yourself as the sort of person who beats on women but now it doesn't matter what you think. By losing control you've lost what is admired in being a man. Yeah, you didn't tie her up and beat the shit out of her for fun; you aren't some sort of calculating sadist, but you've still got to appreciate that being the sort of person who's going to physically mix it up with someone half your size when you get mad enough to lose control makes you at least as dangerous as a sadist.

Anyways, the man I love registered all that. Faced the legal repercussions of what he'd done and more importantly, faced the emotional and psychological repercussions of what he'd done. And life has carried on rather more satisfactorily for him since then.

But Squidsy - gah. Squidsy is not the man I love. Where Squidsy is at now is the end of the progression: "why is she scared of me? I didn't lay a finger on her" segueing into "she shouldn't be scared of me. I didn't put a bruise on her" to "she's lying when she says she's scared of me. She gave me as good as I gave her" to trying to physically intimidate her on the street when she files legal documents he doesn't like.

It's started making me sick to have him around, and I don't really want us to do it anymore. Frankly, I feel betrayed, because we really extended ourselves with him, and really saw him as a victim. I feel stupid for having extended myself and there are few things I like less than being made to feel stupid. And you know, I don't even wholeheartedly want to un-extend, because I still feel sorry for him, because he's got fuck-all else in terms of friends here, besides a nice girl he's seeing who he won't admit he's seeing except when he's drunk, because she's fat, and then he'll only acknowledge her in the crudest of terms. The F-word tells me those sorts of terms are pretty standard for an Australian of Squidsy's social background (BTW, the next person who tells you Australia is classless society? I invite you to kick them in the balls for me) but that, and the whole situation, is starting to repel him pretty badly.

Squidsy, I'm sure, would say he hasn't lied to us. But this sort of slow reveal of things he hadn't said before or that aren't quite the same as what he's said before is wearing us both down. It's all so pathetic. He doesn't deserve to lose his kid - there aren't many who deserve that - but a) he's really giving his ex a lot of ammunition (the "physical intimidation on the street" was in front of the cops, for fuck's sake) and b) what the fuck, man. Your wife left you for a reason, not just to be mean. You have to find a way to think that through and negotiate through that, both so you can raise your son and so you can fucking learn something from this situation.

All of this is based on info straight from Squidsy, BTW. I've started hanging out with his ex-wife a bit again and she's all age-of-Aquarian focused on moving forward, and not doing any bad-mouthing; Squidsy's doing a pretty great job of making himself repellent and then bragging about it.

Fucking people, man.

domenica, febbraio 19, 2012

Because the greatest kitchen of all is happening to me

What days, readers, what days of fate and change and fear, and I'm not going to write about them. Everything is fine.

I'm distracting myself from what days these are with the new kitchen, which I'm cooking in so constantly you wouldn't think I had a job or another Mandarin exam next Friday. I love this kitchen so much I could puke. Leaving Australia will break my schizo heart someday, partly because of the animals, partly because of the good weather, and now, I'm afraid, because of this kitchen. God, I love it. I guess we can just adopt a general real-estate policy of buying houses or condos with shitty kitchens and ripping them out and putting nice ones in instead. But no other kitchen, of course, will ever be this kitchen, with the fairy wrens singing outside, and the fruit bats hollering, and the water dragons scurrying by - just looked up and saw one now - and this fucking awesome gas range. Oh, this fucking beautiful kitchen. You know when you're in love with someone and you're so happy but the happiness is enescapably tinged with a melancholy that makes it all the sweeter - the melancholic awareness that one day death will seperate you and you have no idea of the emotion you're feeling is actually as eternal as you feel it is, and really only God knows, and you've never felt so realized, and so really you, so powerfully you, but also so absolutely helpless in the hands of fate? Well, I don't feel like that about the kitchen. But it's on the same spectrum, probably.

Anyways, if I love something this much, I think it needs a name. I'm gonna call it Caetano Veloso.

I'm also distracting myself by reading Liasions Dangereuses. Actually, I think I'm re-reading it. But I've got to the point now where I'm honestly not sure, sometimes, when I'm reading a book, if I've read it before. Which is a mercy, really; I'll never run out of good books this way. And re-reading a thing always brings new meaning to it. I have a distant, possibly false memory of mostly thinking LD was just an amusing little book about French people being assholes, but I'm getting a lot more out of it this time.

Well, just one really important thing, actually; if I make a baby girl, I'm gonna make her read this fucking book so she will understand that male charm is just one asset like another, like a big schlong or being able to lift you up, and it's certainly no reason to fall in love with someone or trust them. Also, so that she'll understand it shouldn't be your problem if someone else wants you - just like it's not their problem if they don't want you.

I'm not sure how to address the issue if I make a baby boy, BTW. This is an aspect of Western gender relations I find fascinating - the fairly common phenomenon of women feeling guilty if they don't, or don't want to requite someone's emotions - and the fairly common phenomenon of men feeling sort of victimized and angry if their emotions (yes, a boner is an emotion) aren't requited. I don't say it's always like that, or even that it's the rule it's like that and when it's not, it's an exception. It's just a couple of things that seem to happen an awful lot. And it seems so wrapped up with vanity, childishness, duplicity, guilt, self-loathing, all sorts of awful things . . .

No wonder "love at first sight" is such a thing people think about it. Wouldn't it make things so beautifully easy if it was always that way? Two people look at each other, and bam. No further discussion, about emotional things anyways, is necessary. There it is. I'm a lazy enough person that I'm pretty sure I wouldn't bother with a love that wasn't at first sight.