Friday, July 18, 2008

Legal Loophole Exploited!

Catastrophic consequences flow from short-sighted Federal Court decision...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Morris might find this annoying

It's official, you can be annoying. God-annoying being the offset account for God-bothering, which is clearly more deserving of legislative sanction than rainbow T-shirts.

Interesting ratio:

...the judge said the annoyance clause was invalid because it could not have been the intention of Parliament to make such vague and extensive limits to free speech.

Which is probably overly generous while at the same time, given we all know they really are capable of reaching such intention, may be a little problematic. Interested to read the judgement and consider whether this is a case of judicial activism or the provision really carried unforeseen consequences at law.

Either way it's a great end result for common sense and democratic health.

UPDATE: The judgement in Evans v NSW is on Austlii:

It is an important principle that Acts be construed, where constructional choices are open, so as not to encroach upon common law rights and freedoms. That principle dates back to the statement in Potter v Minahan (1908) 7 CLR 277 .... the legislature, through the expert parliamentary counsel who prepare draft legislation, may be taken to be aware of the principle of construction in Potter

Poor Counsel, somehow I doubt they had final say on the form of words used.

The principle of legality means that Parliament must squarely confront what it is doing and accept the political cost. Fundamental rights cannot be overridden by general or ambiguous words. This is because there is too great a risk that the full implications of their unqualified meaning may have passed unnoticed in the democratic process.

With respect your honour, there was no risk of that here!

UPDATE: Skepticlegals also have a parse of the issue.

Last months of only childness

I have been feeling surges of sadness. They come at times like when Bear is peering around the edge of the couch, waiting to catch my eye and burst into a cackle. Or when we are outside and she pulls herself up on a chair, pats the chair beside it and looks at me. Or when she stands in front of me with her hands out, palms up, and asks for "cuddoows".

Things will change. I am happy and excited about the change, but the thought that the total attention and love we give to Bear will inevitably have to be divided, at least in quantity, brings on melancholy.

I never grew up with siblings. I hope it is a good thing, that they are friends and learn from and enrich each other. I hope I am up to the task of being a father twice over.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Morning has broken

Silence. Rustling. Half sleep. Silence. More rustling.



How to be woken with a smile.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

NIMWF : Not In My Working Family

As we say:

Australian families are running themselves ragged trying to balance home and work, federal Families Minister Jenny Macklin says.

Opening the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) Conference in Melbourne, Ms Mackin said long working hours were damaging meaningful connections with families, relationships and communities, eroding "the things that give life meaning". ... Ms Macklin reinforced Labor's commitment to putting children at the centre of family policy...

As we do:

Kevin Rudd warned public servants on Thursday there would be no reprieve from the long-hours culture under his Government. "I understand there's been some criticisms around the edges that some public servants are finding the hours a bit much. I suppose I've simply got news for the public service - there'll be more," he said.

You don't need to be there to feed them breakfast, and you can read them a bedtime story as they sleep.

If taking cheap shots at public servants wasn't a national sport, this would have been his equivalent of Keating's "Get a job".

Leadership starts at the top.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

One Cat, Two Cats, One Bear, Two....

In the beginning, there was a townhouse. Cold lonely corners sat idle as Beloved and I ground our teeth at work. Couches had unused spaces. When one went out, the other ate alone.

Then there was Chairman Mao the Burmese Cat. Mao brought love, perhaps an overwhelming amount of it. He was there in the morning, at the toilet, on the couch, as we walked from the couch to the kitchen, stood in the kitchen, walked back to the couch, usually sweet but always needing more.

We decided such an affectionate boy needed a friend, so we found a girly friend. To be precise, his half sister by breeding (an issue simplified through the snip). He snapped completely, and this blog still gets more google hits from people searching about hissing cats and kittens (still top of the Google world as I write this) than anything else.

He settled, they became close to inseparable. But there was damage. Mao has had a psycho streak ever since, culminating in a powerful bite to my wrist just a few months before Bear's arrival that had him mighty close to a visit to the vet or, almost as bad, being put in a plane and sent off to my parents in the tropics.

Since Bear he has largely controlled himself, something helped by the fact that when on occasion he's turned towards her with a tooth showing he's suddenly found himself flying across the living room. Unfortunately, love him dearly and completely understand his frustrations, but some things meet zero tolerance.

Minh-Minh is a sweet, sweet girly who has never hissed in anger. But she has been shaped by her strong older brother and is always a bit on edge- something I put down to being chased around and pounced on constantly as she grew up. She is touchy and nervy and her tail bushes up at the drop of a pin.

My advice, aside, for anyone looking to get a burmese or similar super-affectionate breed, is get two at the same time. Your life will be easier.

Then came a Bear. They have generally been good, and expressed very little outright hostility, but neither enjoyed the change and both still come running out for affection the moment she's off to sleep or child care. Minh-Minh went through some depression I think, and is still quite needy and vocal about it.

Now a Bear faces the same experience. I sincerely hope she doesn't snap like Mao!

We read and talked extensively before deciding on the 'sibling gap'. Closer means more overlap, competition, and jealousy potential, but also the ability to relate as something like friends when they are older. Further apart means greater separation, both good and bad, until at around 7 years the literature suggests they grow up much like only-children.

Selfishly, closer means getting the early period with lower earning and travel ability out of the way, while later means a good break, chance to have a life in between and get finances and health (especially for poor Beloved) back on track.

We opted for close for both reasons above. We also take nothing for granted, and will make hay while the sun shines. Readers of this blog may remember me posting about a certain lump- I don't assume the landing gear will still be in tip top shape in 5 years or even 2.

Close ages means potential jealousy, and for 'classic' sibling patterns to emerge strongly as the first and second vie to differentiate and find their place. We are both affectionate people and Bear, like Mao in a former life, is used to being 100% focus of everything.

I have a new job, I usually make it home for bath time now and I still have daddy day. I have capacity to help out next time around, to be there with Bear, or with her sibling so Beloved can share the love around. We will try, so hard, to get this right.

It's a little scary.

But I love them both so much, I think it can be done.

I have a good family. I don't know if I expected to be so happy with family, to have all my discontents located in the career and self actualisation side of life. I think I might have expected the opposite, if you asked me 10 years ago.

Wouldn't have it any other way though...

Monday, July 07, 2008

Voter don't save forests and they won't save Garnaut's report

Lest we forget. Latham made a principled stand on behalf of the nation's beautiful natural history and our children's inheritance. Did the noble middle class flock to his cause in droves and hand him back the 2 seats he sacrificed in northern Tasmania?

Lest we forget. I predict the initial good intentions will have to undergo significant nuancing. And no that's not a good thing.

Sexualisation of children is not feminism, homosexuality or the punk movement

It is not the next frontier for bored artistes. It is not witty or clever.

Art's latest cause appears predicated on the assumption that all taboos are there to be deconstructed. This assumption ignores history.

While progress has seen women's rights recognised and sexual freedom for consenting adults gain acceptance, it has seen an age of consent introduced, then raised, so that 12 year old girls are no longer considered partner material.

That is, protecting kids has come with progress, and the age of consent is a notion that has been developed as we have become more enlightened.

At its core is the notion that both maturity and knowledge assist with being able to give consent. These are not conservative rules designed to repress, they are rights handed to those who are still learning about the world and their place in it.

Progressive activists should be seeking to strengthen the protection of the young as an issue deserving advocacy alongside other rights agendas.

Wheeling out your 11 year old daughter to defend herself does not alter the age of consent argument one iota. As for saying:

"It's interesting that if the Prime Minister comments on, say the greenhouse effect, he gets expert advice first," Monash University Associate Professor Nelson said. "I would like to know which art expert advised him on this."

Which child protection expert advised Professor Nelson on his view? And what does art expertise have to do with arguments relating to age of consent?

I'm not saying it's not art, anyone who tries to fight that battle is getting bogged down in irrelevancy.

It is art. Almost anything is art. Move on.

I even started off leaning towards Mr Henson in this debate- his photos were not part of an attention-grab, and there is clearly some merit in being cautious before interfering with free expression. Or before agreeing with everything Huffy Hetty gets hot-headed about. I know this area is a magnet for wowsers.

But the latest effort was designed to make a statement, the editor of the Art Monthly has said as much.

This is not the next great liberalisation agenda. It is not clever. And nothing will lead to a splurge of draconian law making, one that'll have overwhelming popular backing, than a few bored artists trying to make hay with this issue.

Leave it alone, stick to putting things up in galleries where rockspiders in raincoats can't make malicious use of them, and I don't see any issue for the coexistence of children's images in genuine art on the one hand and a robust child-focused protection regime on the other.

UPDATE: See, legislation now on the table.

UPDATE II: Return hat tip to Skepticlawyer.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Pram-averse obsessive compulsives

Yes there are pram nazis who are wholly inconsiderate or try to ram everyone out of the way. But most of us are just trying to get around and do what we need to do, acutely self conscious of being in the way in a society that for all the working families hype is about as child friendly as a Burmese razor blade factory.

So I need some obsessive compulsive to pester me unnecessarily about as much as I need a full length Justin Timberlake tattoo.

I'm in the main Northcote Shopping Centre newsagency all of 15 seconds trying to decide between AFR, Monthly and Guardian (yeah I know, not much consistency there) when the shop gent asks me to move the pram. He's polite, and fair enough- although I observe there's comfortably room for 2 people to walk in side by side, and there's no-one else in the shop at all, nonetheless I've unintentionally left it at a slight angle, using a fraction more space than necessary.

S'ok, I straighten and move it slightly further to the side. Now you could drive a motorbike in beside it with no risk of annoying Bear with the exhaust.

I turn back to the Monthly.

A nanosecond ticks.

He steps back towards me: "Very sorry [no, if you were sorry you'd fuck off and leave me alone] but it's still in the way could you move it some more?"

Now some of you who've experienced pram nazi conduct may at this point think I'm playing this up. But I assure you, at this point there was well over a metre completely free, still no people looking like they'd be coming in, and only another 20cm to the wall in which I could move the pram.

I moved it the 20cm.

A nanosecond ticked.

I put back the Monthly and strolled out. No purchase today. I felt not a little annoyed at this whole Pinteresque incident. Want to know why?

Because I spend my whole time going around people, trying not to be a nuisance, reassuring Bear, loading groceries into a basket while pushing the pram, reassuring Bear some more, giving her something to eat, going around more people, finicking, faffing, and generally working hard to make the journey as smooth as possible and I don't need some obsessive tool whose - see it for yourself if you're in the area - entrance is largely blocked by buckets of crap and junk anyway, like a cross between a newsagency and a $2 shop, harassing me because he obviously has a nervous twitch about, or active dislike towards, prams and people therewith.

Funnily enough, as I strolled away I thought of a completely novel use for the bag of fish fillets I was carrying.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Nerves relax, tears well, and Bear is expecting a sibling

Says it all doesn't it?!

First trimester over and all is looking good. Some fine hand waving, a good strong pair of legs, a big head with 2 clearly visible hemispheres of brainage and a little heart beating at a million miles an hour.

Oh Bear, your life is about to change.

Oh Mao, oh Minh-Minh, here's hoping you've adapted to the first one by then.

Oh Beloved, you're a stronger person than I.

Oh my, feels like champagne-o'clock already!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Feeling a cluster of nerves

Sitting on the balcony waiting for a storm to cross the harbour. The cloud is deep azure, the wind has cooled. We try to pretend we aren't scared. But we want this rain so badly.

We will sit all night, watching.

Enunciation 101

Beloved, we need to have the 'swearing' talk. You know how we're ignoring the issue until Bear is old enough to notice and pick things up.

Well, this morning I said "Bugger!" Bear didn't miss a beat, twice for good measure. At least I have to say you'd have been proud of her flawless enunciation...

(All beloved could say on reading this was to correct my use of 'annunciation' to 'enunciation'. With a look that was well beyond smug...)