The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Some bits and pieces

Thursday 4 January 2007 at 11:38 pm

Here’s a few things that didn’t make it into a full post, as I’d hoped:

  • In the week before Christmas, the Federal Court ruled that it’s illegal to so much as link to copyright-infringing MP3s … while I can see the logic behind the judgement, it strikes me as yet more proof of how out of touch our copyright laws are with modern technology.
  • John Howard’s pronouncement from just before the new year, conflating feminism with the desire to get rich through working, and claiming that women in this country have “moved on” from it, hardly surprises me given the ideas he seems to foster about Australian society. Then again (as the lefty crew have widely noted) maybe it just complements Mr. Abbot’s stance on Centacare being part of the contract for a pregnancy advice line. The thing is, Howard is a champion of the game of appealing to his biggest block of supporters, and in that context he’s exactly right. If you’re a couple in a mortgage-belt suburb with two kids, you’re more likely to care about petrol prices and baby-bonus handouts than traditional equality issues like the distribution of household labour or the existence of boys’ clubs among corporate leaders. Together with the fact that feminism’s public image ain’t that great (the last point in this post was a joke, but the issue is real) and the fact that the most obvious battles (e.g. access to education) have been won, I can see what would make people agree with him.
  • This is gold, and reminds me oh so much of the rule of thumb that in Australia, “referendum” is a synonym for “no”.
  • It surprises me to learn how many factors prevent universities from being able to decide how many students they have (contrary to Brendan Nelson’s old goal of campuses with different specialties). Thus, for once I find myself agreeing with UWA’s vice-chancellor about university funding.
  • It shames me to admit that I’m a little sad to hear the news that The O.C. is to be cancelled. In my defence, I point out that Ben McKenzie does have a degree in international politics …!
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End of uni, egad!

Sunday 5 November 2006 at 7:24 pm
  • Briefly: while I am happy with the verdict in the Saddam Hussein trial, I’d argue that capital punishment is hardly the best way to deal with him. I thought the idea was to create a climate of international justice, not one of revenge killings by the victors of war. Then again, the trial’s hardly been perfect overall.
  • Meanwhile, my first & last exam yesterday actually went better than I expected (which hopefully isn’t a bad sign?) and I’m going to miss the caffeine-fuelled cramming with my comrades in our corner of the Scholars’ Centre leading up to it.
  • So this means that … yikes! I have actually finished (both of) my degrees!
  • Somewhat fittingly, my exam (i.e. last ever activity at UWA) was in Engineering Lecture Theatre 1, the same room as my first ever lecture at UWA. I ended up sitting pretty close to where (I think) I was in that class, too. Oh how I miss the days of Maths 101 …
  • As for next steps? Over post-exam drinks at the Queens last night (rather than the uni tav, damned Saturday exams!), several of us decided that feminism, while generally awesome, needs refashioning within a broader social justice agenda and with a more modern PR stance that is better reflective of its wide ambit. Consider yourselves warned. Vive la révolution! ;-)

Newspaper columnists don’t need facts!

Monday 16 October 2006 at 11:39 pm

Being, as I am, behind schedule with draft writing (anyone care to concoct some sources on APEC for me?), I don’t really have time to post anything comprehensive. But I will rant briefly about a ridiculous opinion piece by Bettina Arndt in today’s West Australian, reprinted from the Herald Sun.

The first sign of trouble is when she starts talking about the average earnings data from the Bureau of Statistics — specifically, about wage inequality by sex — and casts doubt over the figures. I have a degree in pure maths, and I’d dare not question ABS findings, least not without some awfully solid evidence. But of course, Arndt doesn’t need any qualifications to denounce the comparison data as “meaningless”.

Later, she makes the sharp-as-a-bowling-ball observation that women, as a group, spend fewer hours in paid work than men. She also enlightens us with the discovery that they tend not to go into technical or construction jobs. But apparently this is perfectly normal … it’s not like there are any social factors keeping women out of science and engineering or anything. No, really.

She offers barely half a dozen words each to mention “glass ceilings” and “second shifts”. And so she should — after all, it’s not like there’s very many women out there who have to work fewer hours because of an unequal distribution of household labour. And on that note, I suppose I shouldn’t call it household labour, because Aunt Bettina tells us that women have fewer work hours than men, full stop. I guess those women do it for cheap thrills, or something.

I really need to stop expecting any kind of insightfulness when I open that newspaper …