mordwen: (academic)
I was a precocious brat. I'm sure that doesn't need stating for most of you, but just in case some of you haven't met me in person and therefore couldn't deduce it, I thought I'd make it clear.

Today Mum told me that, aged four, Jehovah's witnesses came to the door and my father answered it. I apparently tagged along. I then apparently solemnly informed the Jehovah's witnesses that God was dead. My father was thrilled. My mother was mortified. And there began a long career of tormenting God-botherers...
mordwen: (academic)
Went to the Human Rights Charter consultation in Dandenong today. Was very interesting -- lots of discussion at my table on political rights vs social and cultural rights, the framework for rights in Australia (constitutional vs legislative), discussion of the need for remedies and enforceability and so on and so forth. Not enough brain to detail at the moment... besides, I plan to write a submission to the consultation (you can too: submissions due May 29, and don't use the GetUp site to do it unless you're really time poor -- write your own, considered, multi-page submission).

I'm involved with this for a number of reasons: it's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to participate in the establishment of a human rights charter in this country; I've always been interested in global governance and this is a stepping stone to helping shape my world; I want to be able to tell Harper I was involved with it and didn't sit by and let others do it; I strongly believe civic participation is a duty we all share; even more so after yesterday, I'm worried about those who argue we don't need a charter, either because they think God will take care of it or because they think we are subjects of the Crown or because they think that laws restrict rights (yes, all of these points were raised by people at the consultation) [1]; and selfishly because I hope my participation may lead to a career change that I find fulfilling and challenging.

Still on the human rights theme, it turns out I won the video competition! Since I don't own the rights to the Bob Marley song I used, I have to replace the music by next Tuesday so they can play it everywhere and promote the human rights charter. To say I'm thrilled is an understatement of massive proportions.


[1] Well, what do you know? I'm less of a libertarian than I thought. I've been comfortably aware that I'm more an anarcho-syndicalist than a 'pure' anarchist for many years but recently I've been moving more towards liberalism on some issues, at least for the duration of my lifetime, as I can't see a complete lack of laws as workable *yet* given stuff like honour killings and child brides. I still believe education and not punishment is the key to eradicating these things but I think having these things be 'legal' or having no laws made about them gives the wrong message. It's very complicated.

Toys

Apr. 15th, 2009 08:30 pm
mordwen: (Default)
It's not often I 'advertise' for someone but two separate people have given Harper toys I'm completely thrilled about (Lizzie the aqua lizard, gifted by Jo Sumner and Ellie the Elephant gifted by [livejournal.com profile] anthonybaxter ) and they both turn out, completely coincidentally, to be from Barbara Sansoni's Barefoot project. So they're not just fair trade, they're helping women be independent, plus they're hank-dyed cotton and filled with kapok. I have no idea where these were actually purchased, but I just wanted to promote them.

Passover

Apr. 10th, 2009 08:53 pm
mordwen: (Default)
It's Pesach -- Passover -- the one Jewish festival I've been pretty good about observing ever since I had a revelation playing a roleplaying game by Craig Walker ([livejournal.com profile] ozgenre), ironically called Revelations 68:11 (or something, I may have the chapter and verse wrong) at a convention. My revelation concerned the way Jews tell the stories of Pesach as events that happened to us -- to us and not our ancestors. The stories are of slaves being set free from their shackles and of finding refuge in new lands, of wandering in the desert for 40 years and seeking a new home. We tell these stories as if they happened to us because it is essential that someone remembers, and it is too easy for some tale from 4000 years ago to be dismissed as irrelevant by children. But if it happened to me, to your mother, then it is absolutely relevant. It could happen to you.

Passover to me is about refugees now, about abolishing slavery, about human trafficking. This time last year I was at an anarchist (vegan, cross-dressing) Seder (the Passover meal) and this year we were invited to stay in Sydney longer to go to Seder at my aunt's. We said no -- too late notice, have to change plane tickets -- but I'm almost wishing we could have gone, since we didn't have a Seder of our own planned this year.

I don't know what it would have been like. The family is very different now. I've become all nostalgic for the Seders of my childhood all of a sudden: my mother and her sister, my sisters, my cousins -- both now in New York, my grandma and grandpa -- both now dead. My childhood wasn't exactly happy and Seders were hardly without stress: the boredom of hours of service before you can eat, my grandfather's strict adherence to an old Haggadah, my sisters and cousin Vanessa and I all muttering "or her" everytime the old, old book used "him" as a generic and driving my grandfather crazy. The irony of the event at all, given that, as far as I know, not one single person at that table believed in God, yet we all said "If God had freed us from Egypt but not given us the ten commandments, it would have been sufficient, dayenu".

I miss my mother's charoset, the apple, wine and walnut dish that represents the mortar for the walls the Jews built for Pharoah.

Right now, Harper is the youngest child. By tradition, she would ask the four questions. (Well, no, by tradition, the youngest *boy* would ask the four questions, but I don't follow that in my Seders anyway). I was talking with Doug a few weeks ago about the irony of this formulaic questioning now, memorised and sung in a foreign language, and then the rote responses and discussions of what the wise Talmudic scholars recommend you should say to the wise child and the slow child. This has all lost its meaning -- the children aren't listening at this point at all, although I was, as a teenager, finally.

One day, I do want Harper to ask these questions, but in her own language and her own words. Perhaps, "why do we only eat this charoset stuff once a year? It's yummy!" or "why do I have to dip my egg in salt water? It's weird." And I'll tell her, "When I was a slave in Egypt..."

May all people who live in servitude anywhere in the world be free this time next year. May all refugees find welcome in a stranger's land.

EDIT: Telling the Passover story as if it happened to us? This year, the Facebook version.
mordwen: (academic)
You know how I keep saying we pretty much have everything we need now? I lied. Particularly the ABC flashcards and the baby book. A place to record our infant's experiments with gravity! So cute!
mordwen: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] silverblue  linked to this precis of a report into the false accusations of rape. It reminds me I've been meaning to write a post on the false rape accusation that is central to To Kill a Mockingbird. We watched the film of it recently (having named our daughter after the author of the book it was based on, it seemed appropriate).

I remembered it as a story about racism and about class (well, poverty and education levels in America, which amounts to class). If there was a feminist aspect to it, I would have said it was in Scout as the narrator, a young tomboy who Harper Lee is supposed to have based on herself.

Listening to Atticus's closing remarks during the trial, I suddenly realised there was a very advanced feminist statement about female desire in there, about the way that society polices women's desire and how Mayella's father has punished her for having that desire. To cover up patriarchal violence against women and control of women (literally the rule of the father), Mayella falsely accuses the object of her illicit desire of having taken what she was profferring (or in those days, what a kiss promised to proffer). The issue I have is about this false accusation: is this a feminist defense of false rape accusations? I can't imagine a feminist author today being comfortable having this as a central moment for a key character. Yet it's hard to imagine another option for Mayella given her time and circumstances. An English teacher I spoke to on the weekend about this actually sees Atticus as defending his client using the "victim was actually asking for it" defense, which I hadn't considered (mainly because I don't think Atticus is implying that sex occurred and is clearly blaming Ewell for her bruises, so he doesn't seem to me to say she was asking for anything).

Anyhow, I wonder if it would be possible to make the points of To Kill a Mockingbird without a false accusation and I wonder whether that is an artefact of the time or something else entirely...

And if Ewell is in fact a metonymic representation of the patriarchy, then who is the object women falsely accuse to disguise the battering we receive for daring to display our desire?

mordwen: (Default)
Guardian switches to Twitter and converts entire back catalog too, resulting in genius tweets such as:

JFK assassin8d @ Dallas, def. heard second gunshot from grassy knoll WTF

Full article

mordwen: (pregnant)
Jack & I went to Pure Baby's factory outlet yesterday and I bought two organic muslin swaddles. They're gorgeous. They're also ridiculously cheap, as are all the other clothes there, despite being organic cotton. Why? They're made in China.

The web site says that as of the winter 09 range, they'll be using factories that have "social codes" which is terrific as I don't want to choose between organic and labour conditions. It does make me curious about how others make these decisions...

[Poll #1372785][Poll #1372785]
mordwen: (Default)
I may have mentioned to some of you that there was a video competition to promote the campaign for an Australian Human Rights Charter.

Doug very kindly took care of Harper for a few hours so I could make this. I would have liked to do more, but there's only so much you can do with a time limit of two minutes and no spare time in which to make the thing.

mordwen: (ariel flux)
Ganked from [livejournal.com profile] derigueur : Soy tu aire. Spanish interactive art, requires Flash 10. Utterly beautiful.

It's funny, I remember sitting at a press conference many years ago and having some Adobe guru demonstrate for us the various things they were working on for Flash, which at the time was nothing more than a plug-in that played animation. It seemed so far beyond what the Internet as we knew it could do and it seemed like yet more vapourware, something we saw every other day at the height of the dotcom boom. I'm so glad this one has become a reality. We need more ways to make art and beauty in the world.

mordwen: (tapestry)
I was thrilled to find out about this pledge by being named in Rachel Chalmer's post. She is definitely one of the geeky grrls who inspired me in the early days, when we were the difficult, smart women in computer journalism in Sydney before the Internet was a big deal. And of course, Rosie X, who even made Geekgrrl T-shirts (I still have mine).

I think one of my geek heroes would have to be Rosalind Franklin, who even today is under-celebrated. I also have to name my wonderful friends with their science PhDs who inspire me daily: Dr Christina Flann, systemic taxonomist, running a worldwide project cataloguing daisies; Dr Krystal Evans, working in York on malaria; Dr Lizz Kopecny, working on HIV epidemiology; Dr Hilary Hoare, working on immunology; Kate Conroy, working on her cognitive science PhD concerning memory; Bonnie Alexander, working towards her neuropsych PhD. I'm sure there are others. I love you all.

Also, Sandy Stone, who inspired me to write theory again and who complicates this by challenging the category "women". Here's to a future where it's no longer relevant.

mordwen: (spiritual)
And finally, a few pictures from the naming ceremony on Friday, first one by me, the rest taken by [livejournal.com profile] persephone20 (turns out there was enough detail to zoom in on for web purposes after all! Thank you for taking these at short notice!).

Four pics )
mordwen: (feeding)
Needless to say, Doug took this one.

Harper on the boob

+ one more pic )

Sleeping

Mar. 24th, 2009 09:34 pm
mordwen: (feeding)
The best place in the world to sleep is Daddy's chest...

Harper asleep

+ two more places to sleep )
mordwen: (feeding)
I have so many photos I haven't posted that I'm going to do them in a series of posts...

First, Doug made Harper a second sling using some old tartan he had and then made her a little bonnet to go with it. Too adorable.

Harper in a tartan sling

+ two more pics )

mordwen: (feeding)
Harper aged 8 weeksMy favourite new photo of Harper... She's 8 weeks old today (time flies, huh?) and she's smiling like it's the best trick ever (I'm inclined to agree). I'm yet to get a photo of this as I'm too busy making faces back at her when she does it. At some point, I'll get Doug to take a photo of it while Harper and I are grinning at each other like loons.

The rattle she's holding is the corn-based plastic one from [livejournal.com profile] galagushka . The brightly coloured mat is a polyester thing secondhand from [livejournal.com profile] turtlesnake , but it's an A Bug's Life character, so that's okay, right? *snork* Still trying to make up our minds about merchandising and kids... So far, she has this mat, a couple of Winnie the Pooh things and a Peter Rabbit outfit. We're both very opposed to clothing as advertising and merchandising in general but there are some things *we* think are cute and hell, I've owned and worn various media-branded items in my time (my old and well loved Star Trek: the Future of Healthcare T-shirt, for example).

Anyway, *her* shirt in this photo is awesome: it has the "round and round the garden goes the teddy bear" rhyme on it and then after "tickle you under there" it has "and there" written in various spots like the belly and with an arrow pointing under the arms.


I have many other new photos and will post them as soon as I get a chance to process them...

Lullaby

Mar. 23rd, 2009 09:40 am
mordwen: (feeding)
I'm finding one of my great joys is singing Harper to sleep. The old things seem odd to me (why on earth would you sing to a child about a cradle falling out of a tree??) so I'm singing Tiddas' "Inanay" (I would love a copy of this; can't find it for download) and "Leave Nobody But the Baby" from O Brother Where Art Thou?

Then [livejournal.com profile] cavalorn  posted this Fred Small song (man, I love Fred Small!). Exactly the sort of sentiments I'd want to sing to her. Now I have a new song to learn!



The lyrics )

mordwen: (Default)
I met with Megan from the Merri Creek Management Committee down at the Labyrinth on Wednesday. I walked partway through the labyrinth with her to show her how it was all one path leading to the centre and talked about the various things that I think about when I walk it: how when you seem to be really close to your goal early on, you're actually quite far from it; how when you are on the furthest edge from the centre, you actually don't have far to go; how people who seem to be walking the opposite direction from you can actually be heading towards the same goal.

She thanked me for letting her experience this for herself, reiterated that the MCMC had no idea the labyrinth was there, really, and certainly no idea it was so used in the community; I reiterated that it wasn't just our group and that I had no idea what the extent of usage was, that I was inferring it by the fact it got weeded and that items were put into the gifting bowl I had left there (the irony of that was that while we were there at Harper's naming, a woman on her own and a group of three I'd never met before came to use it). She said the MCMC definitely wasn't weeding it and that she didn't know who had sprayed the fennel either.

She reiterated that there is a longterm plan for a wetlands there and asked again whether we'd be prepared to move the labyrinth. I said it was doubtful after so many years of walking the energy into the ground (it turns out Tracey, the woman I hadn't met until Friday, knows Wendy Rule, who was one of the people who made the labyrinth, and she agreed that moving it wasn't an option). She said that the MCMC had put the big wetlands plan on hold (I think as a result of this discovery, but that wasn't clearly stated) and that they would welcome our input on designing a wetlands plan for the area that incorporated the labyrinth. I said we'd very much like to be involved with that and that we'd like screening plants between the labyrinth and the path. She thought that would make sense. She also mentioned that different groups "adopt" different parts of the creek and surrounding bushland and that we would be very welcome as "custodians of the creek" as they call them.

So, who's up for forming Friends of the Merri Creek Labyrinth?
mordwen: (Default)
My Dad used to have a book with this title... I have no idea what the content was, as I never read it, but while 'fat' is obviously something that occurs in both the male and female population, I have to agree with the sentiment that fat is an issue that feminists need to address. These days, we'd call it body image. Unless you're writing a blog for The Age, in which case you clearly call it fat. I'm not actually going to go into the backward-mindedness of this woman who thinks a size 14 is fat, but I do want to examine something [livejournal.com profile] nihilla  said to me the other day, which is "do you really mean it when you say you think you're too thin?" (I'd just asked her to take the seven bags of spearmint Suga lollies left over from [livejournal.com profile] raven_'s bonbonnieres away from me as I'd just eaten a whole bag).

Cut for far too much detail )

When I say I'm too thin, I mean, "I'm 67kg, and that's a kilo under my regular weight but I'm carrying all this extra saggy belly fat right now, which I assume is about 2kg worth. I want to lose that which I'll do slowly through exercise, but that means I'm 'really' around 65kg right now. My arms look very thin right now. My face is a little more angular than usual. I definitely need to eat healthily and heartily to make sure I keep my weight up, especially as I'm breastfeeding." I don't mean, "Oh wow, I'm so skinny I can eat whatever I want!" and I don't think there should be a wildly swinging relationship with fats and sugars anyway (that is, I think "I'm skinny! I can eat chocolate and sugar and cake!" and "I'm fat! I have to diet and avoid chocolate and sugar and cake!" are pretty unhelpful thought patterns). I also don't mean, "I think my shape is perfect and I don't need to do any exercise".

Now, back to the feminist aspect of all this. First is the question of whether my weight and my attitude to it would be so carefully scrutinised if I were male. The answer depends on the culture: these days, rather than succeeding in removing body shape/weight from the public agenda, gender equality has simply transferred body image concerns onto some men as well. The multinational companies that depend on lack of self-esteem had to engineer that transition or they would have gone out of business. I don't think people tell men they "look good" depending on their weight so much though. People constantly said to me, shortly after Harper's birth, that I "looked amazing". I think this partly related to how "skinny" I looked given that many new mothers still have a lot of pregnancy weight on. I also think it related a little to the fact that I sleep very well so I didn't look as haggard as I might otherwise. I'm often told I look good when I've lost weight and I don't get those comments when I put on a little. The comments mostly come from other women. I think that's a problematic thing, not only the reinforcement of thin=beautiful, but also the fact that it's women, the policing of each other's bodies that we're encouraged to do.

Saying out loud that I think I'm too thin when I am is partly about giving Harper a good sense of body image. It's a delicate line to walk, between anorexia/bulimia on one side and obesity on the other. Both affect women more than men, I believe. And there are all the stories of nine year olds on diets and the rising issues of diabetes and obesity in our children. I fight self-image all the time, because I was brought up in this consumer magazine culture reading Dolly as a teenager just like anyone else, even though by Uni I was a honking feminist and have never read adult women's magazines in anything other than a critical context. I'd love it if she doesn't have to.

mordwen: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] qamar  linked to this TED video. Pranav Mistry is a student at MIT who has invented a device that projects data onto any surface, resulting in a very Minority Report-like interaction. Look at a boarding pass and it will connect to the Internet-enabled mobile phone in your pocket, retrieve flight information and project it back onto the ticket for you to read. Draw a circle on your wrist and it will project a watch. Look at a book and it can retrieve Amazon reviews and ratings. Look at today's newspaper and it can update the story and add video from the paper's site. I'm not quite sure how they're doing the tag cloud trick when he looks at a person... it's not face recognition... anyway, the whole thing is intensely cool. Of course it is, it's being demoed at TED.

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