Otterday! And Open Thread

Our Open Thread this weekend is hosted by a 1920 Berkshire otter, from a book called “In Berkshire Fields” by Walter Prichard Eaton. Courtesy of internetarchivebookimages on Flickr.

Black and white painting of a snowy riverbank with birch trees overhanging. The water is still and reflects the treetrunks. An otter stands on the nearby bank.

Some of the accompanying text reads:

Sometimes you will encounter the slides on the steep river-bank where the otters play. Like seals,they are extremely frisky and sportive, and will climb a bank to slide down into the water by the hour, like small boys on a sawdust pile, or two of them will pull at a stick like a couple of puppies. In the water they are marvelous swimmers, and can catch any fish they set out for.

Please feel free to use this thread to natter about anything your heart desires. Is there anything great happening in your life? Anything you want to get off your chest? Reading a good book (or a bad one)? Anything in the news that you’d like to discuss? What have you created lately? Commiserations, felicitations, temptations, contemplations, speculations?

Categories: Life

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18 replies

  1. Week three of the Cert II course complete. Well, almost. Our trainer is having family health problems, so he gave us the book, the assessment sheet and a print-out of the answers for Thursday’s class on Wednesday, and told us not to come in that day. So that’s homework. We got issued our work experience placements, and because mine required a police clearance, it’s been put off until the end of the whole course (so I effectively get a week off in the middle of things). I’m semi-formally booked in to see my mother on Tuesday of next week, because our “catch up” session is basically going to be “have you answered all the questions?” and “have you signed everything in the right spots?”.
    Incidentally, a National Police Clearance costs $62 in WA. The number of employers who insist on one as a condition of employment is… substantial.

  2. Does one require a separate NPC for each employer, or does one do you for the lot?

    * * *

    My nose is once again a snot machine, although (crossing everything) so far it seems to be not spreading any further. Still hatessssss it though.

  3. One does for the lot, in Vic. I was in the position of having to have a Working With Children’s Check and a National Police Criminal Record Check (you know, I think there’s an H somewhere in the acronym) because the Dept of Early Childhood (and some other letters which may be another E and a D) wouldn’t recognise my Victorian Institute of Teachers registration record check. They sent out a memo later and all the bureaucrats got on the same page, but only after I paid $100 rather than $60.
    I’m thinking that now we have everyone pushing back on the idea of 40 applications per month, we should pushback on 20. I can’t believe Abbott and his unmentionables didn’t think 20 was rigourous enough.
    It used to be FOUR: and that was difficult sometimes if you were seriously looking for a real job.
    I’m looking at this story about the baby rejected by his Australian family and left with his mother in Thailand.
    At first, the story sounds like baby farming. But they didn’t mention that the Australian family asked the woman to have an abortion, once they knew the baby had Down Syndrome.
    The family decided they couldn’t care for a child with special needs: but the mother didn’t feel she could have an abortion for religious reasons.
    I can’t find any information on the legal obligations faced by the family who asked the woman to carry the baby. Are they supposed to provide financial support for the child? Is it really a case of the birth mother claiming the child?
    I note that the Thai govt is acting to stop gay couples from asking women to bear children for them, but not married infertile couples. I’m sure that will clear up all anomalies.

  4. tigtog: eucalyptus or aloe vera tissues?

  5. Long-time on-and-off reader.
    I am not sure if this has been discussed before here (I didn’t see anything in the archives) but there seems to be a bit of a battle going on at Shakesville between Liss and her supporters vs a takedown site calling itself Shakesville Koolaid.
    I’m having trouble putting my finger on what exactly creeps me out about the criticism site other than to say it seems mostly motivated by hostility and confirmation bias. Also the obsessive hypercritical focus on any and everything associated with Liss or her site seems … unsettling.
    Are there Hoydens out there who have been following this?

  6. I read Shakesville pretty regularly. Melissa McEwen says the site was started by disaffected commenters. They are harassing her, her husband and moderators. They got really active after her post about the abuse and harassment she receives.
    If they were contenting themselves with bagging Shakesville on their site, you’d say well have fun kiddies. But being driven to actively harassing McEwen? Creepy and cowardly.
    I don’t understand this urge so many people have to exercise power over others by frightening and upsetting them. The harassers on the ‘Kool-aid’ site exude satisfaction: it’s very disturbing. For me, ‘Kool-aid’ is a reference to the poison at Jonestown. It seems appropriate the site is called that: but again, disturbing.

    • I’m torn because there are people with whom I’ve interacted positively on both sides of the Shakesville/DSKA divide, and I hear the pain from all of them. I don’t doubt that Melissa receives plenty of abuse and harassment generally, but I share the DSKA doubt that she has any way to determine whether any particular instance comes from people commenting on that site. On the other hand, the glee shown by *some* at DSKA at any instance of Melissa showing a human failing appalls me.

  7. I thought the Kool-Aid phrase pre-dated Jonestown?

  8. I don’t have anything substantial to contribute to the Shakesville issue, but I think “drinking the Kool-aid” is originally from Tom Wolfe’s book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968), or the events that book was based on.
    It does sound entirely plausible that people who were already harassing Melissa might have joined the commenters at DSKA, possibly without the site admins realising. Certainly that dreadful zero-sum glee comes out in the comments sometimes.
    The one-more-row crochet monster is eating me and I am trying hard to get other things done this weekend.

  9. I have no doubt there’s some good intentions among the SVKA crowd, but the signal-to-noise ratio between people I’ve seen with constructive criticism and the ones taking delight in putting the worst possible spin on the most innocuous things seems pretty low
    To me the whole thing just came across as mob mentality and a downward spiral of “MM is the worst, and so we’ll keep reinforcing how much the worst she is, so everything we read is clearly more proof of how she is the worst, and she’s ATTACKING us by saying we’re harassing her, when we’re just giving legitimate criticism, and she can’t prove anything, and that’s just more reason to tell people how much the worst she is!”
    I think if there’s legitimate criticisms of the way somebody runs their space, there’s better ways to address it than a site devoted to parsing every sentence with the worst possible assumptions of bad faith and speculating wildly about the mental health and unstated motivations of people. The best of progressive politics, IMO, includes helping allies to realise when they’ve made mistakes, not attempting to shut them down and silence them (a stated aim of SVKA).
    Glad others have seen the malice amongst some members of that community too. Though I admit I’ve probably seen the worst of them in the few days I’ve been following, rather than the best.

  10. Re: SVKA
    I can’t say I’m all that sympathetic to either side.
    I used to read MM back when it was “Shakespeare’s Sister,” and while I agreed with many of the things she said about feminism and politics, I wasn’t happy with the other aspects of the site. It’s basically a virtual social circle/clique/frat with MM as queen bee, and to fit in, you have to love all the people & things that MM loves and hate all the people & things that MM hates. (The phrase they used was being “all in.”) I didn’t like her list of hates and loves, nor the ways in which that love or hate was expressed, and when it was made clear to me that it was not my place to criticize or disagree, I left. If I have to choose between being “all in” or “all out,” I’ll go with “all out,” thank you.
    On the other hand, it is Melissa’s blog and I think “her blog, her rules” applies. If you don’t like how she runs her party, spend your online time elsewhere. It is not a social justice site or a support site — it is about what MM is interested in, which happens to include certain social justice issues, among other things. It is a “safe space” only to the extent that MM needs to feel safe. IMHO, criticizing SV for not being “the best of progressive politics” or for not being a safe space for some people misses the point.

  11. I’ve been ill for a week and a half now and I’m just starting to feel more like my usual self. Ugh.
    I was wondering if any of you fine folks might like to host a Down Under Feminists Carnival? You can put as much or as little effort in as you like, it’s just about spreading the love of community participation.

  12. I’ve had a bit of luck this week. I was doing the usual scramble of applying for jobs on Seek, some of which were more about keeping Centrelink off my back than because I thought I had any hope of getting them. Colour me surprised when I had an email the next day from one agency asking to arrange an interview. There’s a weird pattern emerging: the less effort in my application (I didn’t even bother with a cover letter, for pity’s sake) the more likely I am to get a response. Maybe job agencies are like cats, the less interest you show, the more they show. 😛
    Anyways I rock up to the interview, which was the most fun I’ve had in any job interview (we found time to talk about knitting, shopping, how Queensland summers are the worst and how ridiculous the whole Centrelink system is and the changes being brought in are just punitive). Dude asked where I was at, what I was looking to do, and we pretty soon established that the job I’d applied for was a non-starter, because it’s in Port Melbourne (I’d known that bit) and goes 9-5.30 (I hadn’t known that bit). I wouldn’t be getting home till after 8pm, so that wasn’t happening.
    BUT what is happening is that I’m booked into a Certificate IV in Business Admin from next week, one of the government funded courses, so I don’t have to pay anything. I’m also on the agency’s books for temping, and interview guy will look for school hours stuff and/or work near rail lines. He’s had the whole travelling 5 hours a day thing himself, he knows it sucks.
    So, some study and qualifications to do, and hopefully a better chance of getting a job at the end of it!

  13. Hooray! Glad to hear the system is working for someone 🙂

  14. An article I was reading mentioned that these days an hour and a half of travelling to your job each way is considered completely fine by the bureaucrats who are probably driven to work by someone else.
    It’s really not.
    Glad that turned out so well, kitteh.
    Eric Abetz is anti-safe-and-legal-abortion, I am not surprised to hear. He was on TV and was outed as attending some anti-choice woo festival otherwise masquerading as a conference. Mia Freedman and the AMA told him off. (She doesn’t usually earn a tick of approval from me, but in this case, go Mia.)
    But Julia Gillard was out of line for suggesting women should worried about their rights under the blue tie brigade.
    It’s such a long time till the next federal election.

  15. Who has three hours to spare each day? That sort of commute _might_ be fine if you have no kids, no organised extracurricular activities on weeknights, and you have access to decent comfortable public transport with seating, coffee, and wifi… otherwise, not so much.
    Wasn’t there a campaign relatively recently encouraging people to connect and be involved in their communities, through voluntary work, community activities (music, gardening, whatever), that sort of thing? On account of it’s good for mental health and good for the community? How can anyone do that with three hours of commuting stacked on an 8.5-9 hour workday? And with all the pension changes… expecting a mostly-disabled 69-year old to do that?!

  16. It takes commitment to living where you do. People in the Blue Mountains do commutes like that. Some because they want to live in the Blue Mountains, others because it is cheaper to live there and catch the train in. The further out you are the easier it is to get a seat on the train for your early morning commute and the cheaper the rents. I guess that the upside is that you wake up on non-work days in the Blue Mountains. The downsides include horrific commutes.

  17. The ninety minutes each way thing has been a “thing” since at least the nineties – I can remember being taught about it during my ASO1 traineeship days (I was put in the Newstart benefit area for training, so I got to learn a lot about how the whole thing worked back then – not much has changed). It was largely aimed at people who were living in cities like Sydney and Melbourne at the time – back then, ninety minutes would pretty much put you covering the length of Perth (and certainly the breadth of it; this city is long and narrow). These days, ninety minutes is a standard commute (I’m doing about ninety minutes, or just over, getting from where I live to where the Cert II training is happening by public transport).
    Oh, a nasty little sting in the tail of that one: if you’re offered a job which is within 90 minutes reach of where you’re living, you have to take it, or lose your benefit for up to three months. This is what had Himself and myself taking jobs in Bunbury when we were living in Parmelia – thanks to some fancy roadworks, Bunbury is now within the 90 minute reach of Perth’s southern suburbs by car. Yay.

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