Friday on my mind: women

Welcome to our Friday open thread.

I was contemplating a catchy title; something which might grab everyone’s attention – immediately the word Sex came to mind. No, I thought, that while this is always a certainty to gain people’s attention I should make this one harder, so to speak. Therefore our Friday topic is: Women. It matters not a bit what the content might be, as long as it has something to do with the feminine gender.

I was thinking of the evolution of feminism, how the status of women has ebbed and gained, only to ebb again during differing times in history.

Compare the women of ancient Greece with those of Sparta:

Under Athenian law it was required that a woman be under the control and assumed protection of a male guardian or kyrios, firstly meaning her father or other adult male relative. Therefore although Greek women might be permitted to own money or property, the control of this property belonged to the male and he was free to dispose of this in any way that he wished. At the same time, he was responsible for making sure she had food, clothing and shelter, and if appropriate he was supposed to provide her with a dowry if she was of a marriageable age. On her own a woman could neither enter into a contract nor any financial transaction worth more than a medimnos of barley. A woman could sell vegetables and handicrafts, and she could purchase household supplies on a day to day basis, but anything bigger than that required the permission of her kyrios.

Meanwhile in Sparta, a differing opinion existed, that a woman with a brain was considered to be an asset. Females were therefore encouraged to be educated and to a standard . As Plato points out (Protagoras) this education was not purely physical. On the contrary, in Sparta “not only men but also women pride themselves on their intellectual culture.” This was more than mere literacy: it was systematic education in rhetoric and philosophical thought.

Go forward to today’s society and we still have these two images of what a woman should be:

The Athenian image versus the Spartan image. Has anything changed? Are women still expected to be subservient to men, and only due to the fact of their gender. I believe that there are people who would be biased based on anything different, be it gender or race or nationality.

**Apologies for the quality of the film clip

Queensland Decides 2012: What happened in the Sunshine State

It has to be said up front: What happened in Queensland was an absolute political bloodbath.

There is no need to mince words about the final result. However, I tend to disagree with the commentary and analysis that has been proffered so far. Some of it is okay but frankly I think it misses the mark. Some of the commentary out of Queensland is not surprising given the one newspaper state and the conservative nature of the state’s ‘free’ media.

On election night I conducted a live blog and found it difficult to provide any kind of worthwhile commentary or analysis. I was almost flabbergasted by the results I was looking at. I did not rely on Green’s computers and algorithms as I come from the state and could get a better sense of the final outcome from looking at the results in different seats in key regions of the state.

One of the more annoying aspects of the commentary to date is that it seems a lot of it focuses on the South-East corner, but when you take the state as a whole, the regional and rural parts are in many respects more significant to holding government for the long-term than the South-East corner. So in keeping with that thinking I decided to explore the seats around the north and central parts of the state.

But really happened in the Sunshine State?

The Sunshine State didn’t like having their public assets sold or having their fuel, alcohol and tobacco subsidies cut. They also didn’t like the on-going drama surrounding the payment of nurses or the medical concerns with the Patel case. And because of the size of the state there are many different pockets that very much follow their own kind of thinking, think of The Shire in NSW. It’s not unusual for the state to conjure up strange results like the communist being elected in the early part of the 20th century.

It’s also a state that is infamous for their strong strain of agrarian socialism.

So when you consider the results and start to pick through them it looks a lot more like the Bob Katter’s Australian Party (KAP)cannibalised the ALP vote, rather than LNP’s campaign doing the damage. The KAP vote also cannibalised the Green vote but to a much lesser extent. While there has been a lot of commentary suggesting the Greens somehow failed at the election, it is interesting to note that the Greens’ vote didn’t slide nearly as badly as expected by some before 24 March.

In many respects the campaign by KAP resembled the ALP of old. There is no doubt that KAP’s tough talk about keeping public assets, protecting agriculture from coal seam gas wells and reinstating the fuel, alcohol and tobacco subsidises appealed strongly to many Queenslanders.

It didn’t help the ALP cause to immediately turn to Campbell’s history at the first sign of trouble. Though it is interesting that the issue of Newman’s finances and dealing while Mayor of Brisbane City Council didn’t resonate heavily beyond the SEQ.  Yet at the same time there were still murmurs of concern about a return to the bad old days of Sir Joh but these weren’t concentrated or loud.

It was a huge mistake to go after Newman in the way the ALP did but in the cut and thrust of an election campaign it can be difficult to know whether such strategies will pay off. And had the ALP won the election, I’m sure many would’ve given credit to the negative campaigning for the win.

At the end of the day, many of the woes suffered by Queensland Labor at the election were started soon after the 2009 election was won.  While many have already said the road to recovery for Labor will be long and bloody, I’d say that aboslute power will corrupt Newman and the LNP, and Queenslanders will be unhappy the ‘saviour’ didn’t deliver.

And if he doesn’t deliver, Newman may find it is the LNP wiped out at the next election.

A quick footnote: Apologies to everyone that continued on with the discussion and analysis of the Queensland election on my last post “The Queensland Election Rollercoaster”.  Hopefully you all haven’t grown bored of talking about the election results.

Postmodernism versus Journalism

From what I’ve read here at Café Whispers I would say quite comfortably that we are postmodernists.  From what I know of the media puppets in this country, I’d say they are not.

I will argue my case.

Postmodernism is a term, or set of ideas that emerged as an area of intellectual study in the wake of the social and economic transformations of the 1960s.  Despite being one of the most important paradigmatic changes of the last half century it has been difficult to define because it is a concept that appears in a wide variety of disciplines or areas of study, including art, architecture, music, film, literature, sociology, communications, fashion and technology.  If we looked at postmodern as a word, we could readily place it among a network of ‘postist’ concepts and modes of thinking, such as ‘post-industrial society’, ‘post-structuralism’, ‘post-colonialism’ and ‘post-rationalism’.  All of these – and this is relevant – appear to represent the attempt to articulate the sense of a new age dawning.

Postmodernism, to some, is a crisis of meaning and confidence in Western culture.  For the most part of the last two thousand years the West has identified itself as a global authorising culture, but challenges have now been made to this authority by other cultures.  At the same time, a number of groups – such as women or minority groups – have made claims from within Western culture that have questioned standard assumptions about Western theories of knowledge.

Does that sound like us?

Continue reading

It’s Common Wealth of Australia

So Liberal Party dominated State governments (with an assist from mining companies) are planning to challenge to the legality of the Gillard government’s carbon and mining taxes in the High Court.

Read more:

As Chris Bowen (Immigration Minister) recently found out, there the are often a few surprises handed out with court rulings.

In the Social Sciences, we have what is known as the Law of Unintended consequences,  a perverse effect contrary to what was originally intended.

State politicians and at least one mining billionaire have suggested that the requirement of Section 114 of the constitution is that the Commonwealth not “impose any tax on property of any kind belonging to a state”

The assumption here is that the mineral resources are state government property and these resources are indeed owned by the crown. There is only one Australian crown and that is vested in the Commonwealth of Australia (Federal Government). So it is possible that there is no such thing as State government ownership of these minerals.  The High Court could determine that these mineral resources are the property of ALL Australians (common wealth) and this may mean State governments have no right to claim royalty payments.

So if State Government’s insist on their “pound of flesh” they may end up with nothing.

Gotta love the Law of Unintended consequences, so c’mmon Liberal State Government’s hava go.

John Howard and Family Values

John Howard and Family Values is a probing article to be found over at Ærchies Archive.  I’m sure Ærchie won’t mind if I quote some of his fine work:

Much has been made of the fact that our current Leader of the Opposition has John Winston Howard, lately Prime Minister of this Parish, as his hero, mentor and inspiration.

We all know John Howard. Little bloke with glasses who wore a daggy track suit at every opportunity.  Spoke a lot about family values and yet seemed unaware that the policies his Government implemented forced fathers to spend more time at work and less time with their families.  Appeared to want a return to the White Australia Policy with his extreme actions against “Boat People”.  Demanded but failed to get adherence to a Ministerial Code of Conduct so he had to drop some 7 ministers from his Front Bench.  Before the end of his second term as PM! The attrition rate was so high he had to drop the Code of Conduct! Supported Patrick’s on the waterfront to destroy the Unions. Appointed a founder of the HR Nicholl’s Society to be Treasurer of Australia. Took Australia into an illegal war.

Yeah. That guy.

To read the rest of the article click on the link above.  It’s recommended reading and I’d implore you all to visit the site.  Well done, Ærchie.

In the meantime, why not make this an open thread on John Howard?  Let’s face it, we just love to talk about the guy. :mrgreen:

For all you fans out there here’s a photo of Howard demonstrating to Putin how cricket umpires signal 4 runs.

SYDNEY. With Australian Prime Minister John Ho...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Queensland Election Rollercoaster

It’s only one more day before Queenslanders head to their local polling place to elect their next government.  And it seems that all the money is on the Liberal National Party.  While many commentators and pundits have written off Labor, reducing it to a cricket team, I’m not all that convinced; well not yet.

As an election junkie and a former Queenslander, I know that Queensland is a strange place to run elections.

Despite being a former Queenslander, I still have many friends across the state and while there is a great sense about the state that the LNP will win, there has also been a growing ‘what if’ sentiment. This has really crept in over the past week-and-a-half as Newman refused to release details about policy costings, and have been really stirred up since Palmer began declaring that the CIA was attempting to destroy Australia’s economy. The oddball statements from Clive Palmer the mega-backer of the Liberal National Party coming out just before the Party looked set for landslide may soften the landslide. Such statements will remind Queenslanders of Clive’s links to and influence within the LNP, regardless of how much Newman tries to distance himself from Palmer and his comments. Such things will undoubtedly make people begin to think of the bad old days of Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen running the state.

Indeed the commentary from Palmer has even overshadowed the LNP’s announcement of how they’ll fund their election promises. However by all accounts the announcement still left many questions unanswered. The various blitzes are truly on and watching the trends on Twitter, Ashgrove is the Bennelong of the Queensland elections (I’m sure someone else has already said that).

And as the time ticks away the interwebs are being swamped with last minute commentary on Twitter, a lot of it just sock puppets for the major parties. Despite my hopes for a social media election, those of us with more than a passing interest in online electioneering were again disappointed.

So what will happen tomorrow night?

Unfortunately it seems that the result will be known in the first hour after polls close; well that’s the tip from some of Australia’s best known psephologists. I’m more hopeful than that and believe that the state will throw up some very unexpected results with some closer-than-expected races.

One thing is for sure, for those of us outside of Queensland at least, all eyes will be on Ashgrove.

My prediction:

I won’t declare who will win which seats. I think that’s foolish. But I do believe the LNP will win in a landslide, winning at least 70 seats.


Don’t forget to join me and many others on 24 March from 7.30pm (AEDST) as I provide live commentary on the commentary and deliver my own opinions and analyses as the results come in. It’s interactive so you can join in and give your own thoughts and opinions. Click to get a reminder now.

On yer bike

I caught by chance a comment yesterday that sounded more like a plea than a throw-away line.

“If the Liberals were a serious political party you’d think they’d get rid of Tony Abbott as leader”.

This came after the social media sites had been abuzz recently with speculation about a possible challenge from Christopher Pyne.  A challenge that never came.

The same rumour had been circling Canberra for a day or so and it is unusual for a political rumour in Canberra to have no basis of fact.  The rumour had us believe that Pyne was enlisting Joe Hockey to get the numbers for him.  It was either untrue, died in the arse, or put on the back burner.

But one day someone will tap Abbott on the shoulder with this message of doom: “On yer bike”.

Let’s indulge ourselves and assume there was some truth in the recent rumour.  But let us not assume that Pyne might be the only contender.  If there were to be a challenge from whom is it likely to come?

To appease the gossipers I’ll start with Pyne.

Christopher Pyne, the Member for Sturt, is a man who likes to indulge in a daily hissy fit whenever he walks into, or is within cooee of, Parliament house.  It’s hard to believe that this public character reflects the electorate he represents.  The electorate of Sturt is cluttered with the elite suburbs of Eastern Adelaide.  Shopping centre car parks are packed with BMWs and the centres themselves with expressionless peroxide blondes sipping on lattes and doing nothing else but look rich.  Husbands at work won’t be home until after midnight.  The kids are nearby creating havoc.  Spoiled, noisy, demanding creatures who will have no friends once they realise that life and society expect some sort of contribution or sacrifice.  They present a good case for the return of corporal punishment.  They belong to the cohort group that Pyne has clearly been engaging with in his electorate.  His behaviour imitates them.  I wish he’d talk to their expressionless mums; the ones whose opinions are best kept to themselves, if allowed to have one.  Pyne might gain some respect if he imitated them instead.  If elected as his party’s next leader he will follow in the mold of a failed previous leader and idol of his, Alexander Downer.  He is a serious contender but seriously, is a joke.

Joe Hockey’s electorate also represents the upper echelon of well-to-do Australians.  The constituents are much like Pyne’s mob except most of Hockey’s go to Church on Sundays.  They love Hockey as a God fearing Christian, oblivious to the fact he is a complete goose.  His record as Shadow Treasurer is laughable.  His record in the Howard Government was also laughable, being Howard’s hired gun to sell WorkChoices, which ultimately lost him the election.  He can’t do anything right.  He can’t say anything right.  I doubt he knows how to think.  Oddly, he is very popular and will attract a big fan base as leader.  “Joe for PM” will be the slogan of the right.  He is proof that you don’t need brains to be a politician but it’s unfathomable as to how he made it this far.  He too is a serious contender, but also a serious joke.  At least the leadership will remove him from his current position where he is a complete embarrassment.

It’s incredulous that Abbott hasn’t had Robb deported, or jailed, or kidnapped, as he often goes off in different tangents than his party and leader.  Well, his mouth does at least.  He doesn’t attract trust from the wider community and is considered sneaky and devious.  These are great attributes for a Liberal Party leader but I doubt that Abbott sees him as a threat.  Neither do I.  Robb has personal issues and while his honesty in revealing these is commendable, as well as being a rare step towards transparency, there are those within the party who could easily use these to discredit him if he ever became a threat.  That his name is always circled as a potential leader is hence bewildering.  Do they mean ‘stand in leader until his political career is destroyed?’  He joins Pyne and Hockey as a trio of candidates the least likely to lead their party to an election, let alone an election victory.  I can’t see any of them being cut-out for the job.  They lack brains and balls.

And then there’s Malcolm Turnbull.

Malcolm, where’s your balls? 😉

Queensland Votes Live Commentary

G’day. My name’s Alex and this is my first (and hopefully not last) post on Cafe Whispers.  It’s quite an honour to be posting to a blog I’ve read for a while now. Oh you can read a little more about me here.

Anyone who has been paying attention to the news over the last few weeks will know that Queensland is currently in the grips of a state election. Queenslanders will be heading to the polls on 24 March to elect a new government. The unicameral system of parliament adopted by Queensland makes for cut-throat campaigning as political parties and independents vie for votes for the all important seat in the Legislative Assembly.

The campaigning has already been feverish with the LNP, led by Campbell Newman, and Labor, led by Anna Bligh, duking it out.

There has already been some excellent commentary about the prospects of the major parties and the various opinion polls. There can be no doubt that the aggressive campaigning by the Greens and Bob Katter’s Australian Party will spook the major parties and it will be interesting to see how the major parties respond.

So far it seems like LNP and Labor are sticking to the familiar campaign formula of kissing babies, stump speeches and true-believer functions. Even though both the major parties have suffered the usual slings and arrows about candidates, where they live and their membership to swingers’ clubs, such things seem par-for-the-course in Queensland politics doing little damage to either party.

But with polling day still a days away, there is still more than enough time for the campaigns to get wacky (or wackier). I expect a lot of wackiness from Bob Katter’s Australian Party with the fanfare we saw last year as Bob showed his new class of politicians how to campaign Katter-Queensland style.

We will definitely see a plethora of visits by Bligh and Newman as their respective campaigns attempt to blitz electorates by cramming letterboxes with leaflets; round-a-bout squatting and going to every single community event and fete. And that’s not to mention the inundation of political advertising on TV, radio, online and in print.

With Queensland Labor fighting to keep the expected outcome respectable, and Can Do Campbell refusing to answer questions of policy costings and his so-called dealings while Mayor of Brisbane City Council, we can expect a thoroughly interesting finale to the state election campaign.

Although I say that as an election junkie.

Join me on 24 March from 7.30pm (AEDST) as I provide live commentary on the commentary and deliver my own opinions and analyses as the results come in. It’s interactive so you can join in and give your own thoughts and opinions. Click to get a reminder now.

Think, then speak

Communication is the transactional process of sending and receiving verbal and nonverbal messages.  The messages are interpreted and meaning is assigned.

Each communication exchange can be categorised into two settings.  Symmetrical where the participants acknowledge an equal status, or complimentary where there exists an unequal status as superior or inferior roles are conducted.  A person’s attitude and understandings often pre-determines the setting.  Think of Tony Abbott.

Further to being a transaction process, communication exchange consists of the following components:

  1. Source – the person who generates the communication.
  2. Channel – how the communication is transmitted.
  3. Message – the content of the communication.
  4. Receiver – the person/s who receive the message.

Within the above components various functions are performed such as encoding or decoding messages, and promoting or providing feedback (responses).  Good communicators are aware that competence in these functions will enhance successful communication.  Primarily these include knowing what is to be communicated; keeping the message clear; emphasising with the listener (ie transmitting in a way that is convenient for the listener); and looking for feedback.  Think of Tony Abbott.

Knowing what is to be communicated appears straightforward, yet many messages are distorted by not choosing accurate words.  A message is more likely to have a meaning and encourage a response if the key components are addressed.  The planning principle is to know what you are going to say before you say it.  Think of Tony Abbott.

Keeping the message clear is summarised as expressiveness: the ability to communicate ideas and feelings effectively.  This suggests that ability and effective communication are two separate identities.  The ability is to enter into communication without pre-conceived perceptions and without distorting the picture of the self.  What a person thinks of themself will be the image they portray.  Think of Tony Abbott.

Empathising is a clear indication that the communicator knows his or her audience.  Empathetic responses identify a person’s right to their beliefs and opinions (or any other differences) and good communicators literally place themselves in the shoes of the listener.  This enhances communication in that messages can be transmitted that are convenient for the receiver.  Think of Tony Abbott.

Fundamental to enhancing all the above communication skills is one underlying factor; communicate ethically.  Simply, speak to a person in a manner similar to how you would wish to be spoken to.

Complex factors which can impede successful communication are cultural differences and communication barriers.  Australians interact in a multi-cultural society, yet most have difficulty in exchanging conversation or appreciating the cultural differences.  The popular world wide use of our spoken language – English – contributes to this lack of understanding as locally Australians have had little need to explore new languages or partake in cultural exchange.  This ethnocentrism – judging other cultures based on one’s own cultural values – whether it be intentional or not, creates difficulty in cross cultural communication.  Think of Tony Abbott.

Communication barriers are responses whose impact on communication is frequently negative.  These barriers appear up to 90 percent of the time during conversation, and of their many forms I have selected two: diverting and advising, as these are frequently employed.  Diversion is an obstruction to impede communication by those who lack the necessary listening skills, or by those who feel uncomfortable with the topic under discussion.  Such instances can result in topic diversion.  Think of Tony Abbott.

Advising is an innocent roadblock that one gives or receives on countless occasions.  Exchanges that are intended to provide simple advice rarely ever reach the core of the problem.  From my own experiences I would agree with the suggestion that to engage in worthless advice negates competent communication.  More often than not the adviser is not an authority and this is recognised by the listener, and the listening ‘stops.’  Think of Tony Abbott.

Let’s consider the above and think about Tony Abbott.

I saw something I can’t explain

Someone left a comment that between 1,000 and 1,500 UFO sightings are reported in Australia each year.  This triggered a suggestion that the Café talk about UFOs.

It’s an open forum and one I put up reluctantly.  After all, we don’t want to attract any kooks.



Anyway, I won’t say anything: I’ll leave that up to you.  Surprise me.

Lenticular cloud

Image via Wikipedia