Friday, May 30, 2008

Get Real on Petrol

Oh pur-lease!! Hands up all those who stopped fussing about those silly petrol vouchers, because when you do the sums, you actually come out worse for shopping at supermarkets. Everybody? Good.

Repeat after me – the 4c a litre discount was not and is not worth the bother, makes you pay more for your groceries, and only adds up to a couple of dollars a tank for any reasonable vehicle.

Diddling with GST, excise, FuelWanks, which might save around the same amount, at the costs of a few schools, hospitals tanks or whatever, is also a waste of time and effort.

Forget it.

Lesson one

If you want a lower fuel bill, buy a smaller, more fuel efficient car. If you live on or near a public transport route, use that when you can and/or get a bike. Lobby for more public transport.

Lesson two

Petrol will continue to get dearer, no matter what anyone does.

It may go up and down in the short term, but there’s only so much of it on the planet, there’s less of it than there used to be, and what there is, is more and more difficult to find and extract.

Repeat: the price of oil will always rise. Get used to it. To make it last longer, we have to use it more frugally. We’ve learnt how to be waterwise – ish. Now we have to start being oilwise.

Here’s how we do it

The most efficient use of coal, oil and gas is to generate electricity, which can be topped up with wind, wave, solar and other renewables.

This makes the best use of dwindling reserves while developing renewable sources to take over.

The most efficient forms of transport are public transport, so we build lots of it, especially electric-powered railways and tramways, for freight and passengers.

Buses and trucks are short-term fixes and relatively inefficient – so make sure they’re either electric or hybrid.

Throw money at developing hybrid and electric vehicles.

Build lots of nuclear power stations.

How to pay for the change

We need to pay the true cost of our resource consumption, and we need to structure the tax system to encourage efficient and renewable fuel use.

To do that, we need to make it cheaper, easier and more convenient to use public transport than to drive.

Everyone within the catchment area of a city should pay a surcharge on their local taxes for the development and maintenance of public transport.

Public transport would then be free at the point of use.

To those who say, “but that’s unfair, I don’t use public transport, I use my car”, the answer is, “you have a choice – use our car and pay twice, or use public transport and pay once”.

Pay to drive into cities – they already do it in London and Singapore.

Give public transport reserved lanes and absolute priority on all roads at all times.

Tax all road vehicles according to their economy – the bigger/thirstier the engine, the bigger the purchase tax, and the bigger the annual road tax.

This already happens in a crude way in the UK and much of Europe – the bigger your engine, the bigger your annual road tax bill. So for a 1 litre car you might pay $200 a year, for a 2 litre, $400 and so on, pro-rata. Why do you think most European cars have small, relatively fuel-efficient engines?

Change the planning system

Older cities, like Amsterdam, mix retail, industrial and residential together. Newer cities segregate workplaces and homes in different parts of town, necessitating long commutes.

We need to start building factories, shops and offices within walking distance of homes, not on farmland on the outskirts. We need mixed use suburbs, not dormitories on vacant land.

It’s not just a question of building a few medium density blocks in Malvern and Toorak, it’s about building medium density industry in Malvern and Toorak, too.

That means planning laws have to change.

Home efficiency

Our homes need to become more efficient. We need to embrace insulation, clever design, solar electricity and other schemes of home power generation, solar hot water, water tanks, in-home water recycling by means of grey-water treatment gardens, home methane generation from waste, and a host of similar initiatives.

These initiatives need to be fully subsidized –for example, you should be reimbursed in whole or part if you install water tanks and a water recycling system. If you generate power to put into the grid, you get paid for that at a premium rate.

Your roof is a wasted resources for harvesting valuable electricity and water that you can then onsell to power and water companies.

Big water, big power, big gas should only be used as top-ups and for emergencies.

These initiatives will be major spurs to development of renewable and recycling industries.

In the face of accelerating environmental degredation, dwindling resources, swelling population, global warming . . . . . . what do you mean, warming’s not proven?


  1. If it’s real and we do nothing – situation worsens, irreparable disaster
  2. If it’s not real and we do nothing – live with existing degraded environment, shrinking diversity, eventual resource exhaustion etc.
  3. If it’s real and we act to fix it – high cost but disaster averted or contained, cleaner and more sustainable planet
  4. If it’s not real but we still act to fix it – high cost but cleaner, more sustainable planet

Queensland Heavied Into Line

Queensland Attorney General Kerry Shine has bowed to pressure from Kevin Rudd and announced he is developing a proposal for a same-sex (and other significant personal relationships) register to present to cabinet.
The state government had previously set it's face against any law change as unnecessary, but unless all the states introduce registers, Ruddy's plan for a network of state-based registers is untenable.
Sothe Sunshine State had to be heavied into line.
The big stumbling block is now New South Wales: it remains to be seen if Kevvies Heavies can screw a result out of the hapless Iemma 'would you buy a used power station from this man' government.

2(am)b/not 2(am)b

This lockout business has been tried before, with mixed success. Interestingly, the 'success' seems to be most marked in the first few months after introduction, so a three-month trial may not prove all that much. And the best outcomes seem to be where they also put more foot patrols on the street and make late night travel safer and more affordable. In Dunedin they added late night buses with security guards on board.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Are you a gay son having problems with your father?

Synopsis- The Lost Boys

Want to take part in a serious documentary/reality TV series?

There are good reasons why modern fathers are estranged from their sons: divorce, interstate or overseas work, separation, corporate demands, desertion or disinterest. However, it’s becoming obvious that there are no good excuses. Boys without fathers lack the most important male role-model in their lifetime – the person whose job it is to show them what it means to be a mate, a husband, a worker, a hero, a lover and above all, a man.

Clearly something must be done to address what has been dubbed ‘the most harmful demographic trend of this generation’. The Lost Boys responds to this call.

The Lost Boys is a groundbreaking factual reality series that deals with the topic of masculinity through father and son relationships. Five urban, estranged father and son pairs will re-build their damaged relationships by undertaking one of the toughest challenges Australia has to offer - to move 500 head of cattle over 200 miles across the outback, in 28 days, living the life of the quintessential Drover.

The Drover is an Australian icon that holds relevance for all Australians, even though most of us are city dwellers. The Lost Boys uses the masculine role- models and the vast landscape of the outback to heal the social wounds that are impacting on our cities.

This is a unique opportunity for fathers and sons to spend time together, learn together, teach one another, face their fears and earn each other’s respect on a level playing field. Endless, hot days of hard work followed by cold nights around the campfire combine to create an emotionally charged experience that will be riveting to watch and relevant to many in the viewing audience. As challenges common to fathers and sons play out for the participants, those watching from home will be given insights and practical tools to apply to their own lives.

Under the guidance of professional cattle men and adventure therapists, the participants won’t be able to escape the fact that the only way to successfully complete the task, and claim their pay packet worth thousands, is to get over the past and work together. This is the best chance they’ll ever get to build a paternal bond to ensure that the Lost Boys become found.

**If you would like to participate in this program, please call Kirsty de Vallance on: 02 9413 8640/ 0403 182293 or email:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Three years and you're in

The Pope has banned any candidate showing "a homosexual tendency" from training to be a priest - "unless they can demonstrate that they have been able to remain chaste for at least three years."

Can anyone explain to me how to "demonstrate" that I've remained chaste for three years? Live in the Big (Christian) Brother House, perhaps?

It's fair enough to say that "The Church . . . cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called 'gay culture'", but to then offer a three-year get-out clause is bizarre, isn't it?

I can see it now - save it up for three years, move in with all the other guys (who've also been holding it in for three years), and then .. . . wheeee, welcome to the candy store.

And I have profound suspicions of the assertion that the Church does this "while profoundly respecting the persons in question."

Sounds more like lip service to me.

The above-the-waist kind, that is.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

California - Why civil unions will never be enough

OK, this is about the US and not Australia - but it's directly applicable to our situation here in Oz. Two quotes illustrate why.

'A law that denies a group of citizens equal access to a public
institution serves no other purpose than to declare that group to be
lesser. And this is why it is nonsense to say gays and lesbians can
enjoy equality before the law while they are barred from taking their
place in one of the most fundamental institutions .......marriage.'

Well, we know that's what the government and their Christian supporters think - they talk about ceremonies celebrating our unions as 'mimicking' marriage. In case you're in any doubt:


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ritual Combat

It seems absurd, at the beginning of the 21st century, to be fighting over access to a ritual.

A lot of this fuss over same-sex marriage stems from the incomplete separation of church and state, and the constant pressure of some churches to resume the control they once had over people’s lives.

At the risk of offending some of them, the fact of the matter is that the state permits religious weddings as a matter of courtesy, out of respect to people’s beliefs, but they have no legal significance.

A church (and presumably a synagogue, mosque, temple) wedding ceremony contains two events. First there is a religious rite, and then the legal one when the couple signs the register in front of witnesses.

In fact it would make no difference if those two events happened in reverse order, or even on different dates (as they do in France), because it’s the legal bit that makes them a married couple, not the preceding ritual.

Religious folks take the opposite view. For them, the couple is married at the completion of the ritual: what happens afterwards is merely the state recognising their pre-existing relationship.

Most gays and lesbians are not especially fussed about the church (synagogue / temple / mosque) ritual. It’s a ‘nice-to-have’, but that’s an argument that gay Jews must have with Jews, gay Muslims with Muslims, and gay Christians with Christians.

Meanwhile most religious folk are not especially bothered about relationship recognition, and have accepted the idea of parallel relationship registers (the marriage register is a relationship register).

So why are we fighting?

They will accept the legal stuff, but they don’t want us to have the religious ritual. We’re not especially fussed about the religious ritual.

Where this gets nasty is, they don’t want us to have a secular ritual either, which is frankly none of their business. They don’t interfere in the relationship recognition rituals of temples, mosques and synagogues, and shouldn’t interfere in the ones at registry offices either.

They say that we can’t be allowed to have a ceremony because this ‘mimics’ marriage – it offends them, because they think it parodies their sacred ritual. What this reveals – and what they carefully don’t say - is that as far as they’re concerned, all secular weddings only ‘mimic’ marriage, because only their ritual can truly recognize a relationship.

My grandmother – who never attended church except for baptisms, weddings and funerals - thought you weren’t really married unless you had a church ceremony. As far as she was concerned, people who tied the knot at a registry office were living ‘over the brush’, as she called it.

“When are you going to have a proper wedding,” she would ask the embarrassed couple?

I suspect this is still the attitude of all those who tick the ‘Christian’ box on the census form, but like my grandmother only ever enter a church or meet a priest for baptisms, weddings and funerals, and the occasional carol service. They don’t feel married without some sort of ceremony. It’s the social equivalent of comfort food.

And it is for the comfort of such folks that the ceremonial component of civil marriages was created. It has no religious significance. It’s just the state making a gesture to reassure people that this is still a real marriage, even if the bloke up front is in a suit rather than a frock.

The bible says “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s”. Civil marriage belongs to Caesar. The churches should heed their own doctrine and butt out.

Friday, May 16, 2008

California Here We Come!

Or to take a slightly more up to date song, 'The Long and Winding Road.....' that leads to equality just got a couple of millimetres shorter. Notwithstanding the intrinsically disordered logic of certain same-sex attracted pontifical pontificators, the inexorable logic of same-sex marriage has won another victory over the forces of unreason.

The law proceeds by logic - unlike the majority of politicians, who are driven by the short-term needs of the electoral cycle - which is why at every turn the non-sexual homophiliac brigade seek to close off legal avenues to equality with constitutional bans and the like.

Stable, well-organised states have two lawmaking components - the assemblies of elected and appointed representatives and the judiciary, with the judiciary (who are not subject to political pressure and can therefore take a more considered and long term view) acting as a steadying influence to curb the tides of emotion to which the elected branch is prone.

Thus the politicians enacted draconian legislation on t-rr-r, and detained Mohammed Haneef purely to make a political point, only in the end to have their manipulations exposed by the courts.

The non-homogenital homophiliacs would have you belive the judges are 'usurping' the power of parliament. They're not, they are merely exercising their traditional constitutional responsibility as one of he checks and balances that stop us tipping over into tyranny. Not for nothing are judges Musharrafs number one opponent in Pakistan.

The real reason our opponents attack 'judicial activism' is that they are unable to sway judges with their emotion-driven, illogical claptrap. Politicians are easier meat.

These people would prefer to see clerics, not judges, as the unelected rulers of us all, as they are in Iran and Vatican City.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Surface illusions - monkey brains and the power of myths

Some people take exception to bible stories being characterised as myths, legends and fairy stories (if you're interested in exploring the mythical nature of the bible stories, click here for a very accessible exposition). That attitude actually trivializes the tales and perverts their real intent, because fairy stories are some of the most powerful, and true tales we posess.

Take a look at this famous painting by Magritte. For those of you who don’t read French, the caption says, “This is not a pipe.”

Now I’m not one of those art whizzos you see on TV who tell you that the orange in the bottom left hand corner of the portrait of Margathe Van Whiffenpoofen is a sly reference to the fact that she was having an affair with a member of the Dutch royal family at the time, which is also the reason she isn’t dressed in white, etc. etc.

So when I was first shown this painting, my literal mind said, “But it is a pipe – anyone can see it’s a pipe. What’s the guy talking about?”

Most of my fellow students thought the same, until the teacher said, “What are the characteristics of a pipe? Can you pick this pipe up, put it in your mouth, fill it with tobacco and smoke it?”

The penny clanged into the pan (I love sarcasm but it’s not a good teaching tool) as it dawned on us – it’s not a pipe, it’s a PICTURE of a pipe. The point being – to cut a long story short – that the representation of a thing is not the thing itself. The picture of the pipe SHOWS us what a pipe looks like, but the MEANING of the picture has nothing to do with pipes. The meaning is about pictures.

All pictures, books, plays, all have this double characteristic. On the surface they’re about one thing, but their meaning lies below the surface. The very best art has such a beguiling surface that the meaning slips into the mind unheeded. We learn something without knowing we have learned it.

All books are fiction

All books, plays etc., are works of art - fiction, if you will - even when they’re dealing with a factual subject. A biography, for example, is a story about a real person, using as much of the facts as are available to the author. So we get authorised biographies, where the subject collaborates with the writer, and the unauthorized version, where the subject is either neutral, indifferent or actively hostile. Neither is ‘the truth’ about the person.

In the authorized version, the subject has been able to exert their personality on the author, consciously or unconsciously revealing and concealing. In the unauthorized version, some factual material may have been hidden from him. However, the facts are not everything. They are only the skeleton. The important part is the interpretation and emphasis of the writer. A good biography will tell you a fair bit about the writer, and the culture into which it is published, as well as the ostensible subject.

This is why ‘new’ biographies come out all the time – each writer is the product of his or her own society, each generation has different concerns and attitudes. A Victorian biography won’t say much about sex, for example, whereas a later one may spend a great deal of time on the topic.

History of all kinds is subject to the same process. I remember being taught about the causes of the First World War, with a lot of stuff about inter-country rivalries, unstable empires, interlocking treaties etc. etc. And then along came A J P Taylor.

WW1, said Taylor, was caused by railway timetables. All the other stuff was important, he said, but the crucial thing that tipped this particular argument over into universal war was caused by the fact that the German railway system and timetables made a partial immobilization impossible. Once the mechanism to move troops up to one border was set in motion, they had no choice but to send them to their other borders too, even though they didn’t want or need to.

I have no idea if that theory is still fashionable today. Probably not. But the point is that a new historian with a new viewpoint came along and told a new story, using exactly the same historical facts that had been used to tell the previous one.

In the case of A J P Taylor, one possible truth is that the author craved recognition and notoriety – he was one of the first, if not THE first, television historian – and so quite deliberately looked for controversial interpretations of the facts, so as to keep his name in the public eye and his books and TV programs selling.

In other words, ALL books are fiction, even the ones allegedly based on fact. This does not mean they do not contain truths, merely that the truth is not to be found in the literal interpretation of the words.

Books only have meaning in context

Which brings me to another point. It is difficult, if not impossible, to discover the meaning in a book unless you know the context in which it was published. And the older a book is, the harder this becomes. Taylor is within my living memory. Shakespeare, for example, is not.

This is why scholarly editions of Shakespeares plays sometimes have only a line or two of dialogue on a page, the rest being taken up by footnotes explaining, for example, that this word has changed its meaning since Shakespeares day, that this saying meant, perhaps, the rough Elizabethan equivalent of ‘Half your luck’, and so on and so forth.

Read literally, they do not make sense, and can even give an impression totally at odds with Shakespeares intentions.

Shakespeare also wrote history, or to be more accurate, historical fiction. Take, for example, Julius Caesar. All the main characters actually existed, and many of the events depicted took place. But the Caesar we see on stage isn’t Caesar, he’s old Wills idea of Caesar, as interpreted by the actor and the director.

Directors try to achieve something of the same’ contextualising’ effect by playing around with the settings, moving them to different countries and eras, to try to give the audience some idea of what the play would have felt like to the original audience.

I must have seen at least three Macbeths set in a quasi-Fascist context, with Macbeth presented as a Hitler-like figure, and of course there’s the famous Kurosawa film which turns him into a Japanese warlord. But we can never see the play as its original audience would have seen it, and never have access to the range of meanings it would have conveyed to them.

Yet we cannot create meanings that are not here somewhere in the original text. At least one of the fascist Macbeths I saw simply did not work because the directors vision was at odds with the play itself. In this version, Macbeth was a strong man attempting to cleanse Scotland of an effete and exhausted dynasty, so that when the rightful heir assumed his throne at the end, he was a dissolute queen with a retinue of leather-clad pretty boys.

This ‘camp’ Macbeth failed because the meaning it dug for was not there. There was no gold in the seam where the director was looking for it. But there was a seam of gold – of truth and meaning – as Kurosawa discovered.

So, to recap. The surface story is always fictional to at least some degree. The truth lies below the surface, not in the words themselves.

Monkey brains

The next question is – why? Why are books always written this way? The answer lies in the dual nature of the human brain, as recent research has uncovered. The ‘monkey brain’ – the old, instinctive brain that makes your heart suddenly race or your blood turn to ice in your veins – and the ‘human brain’ – the rational, thinking mechanism that is producing this text. We like to believe that Mr Human is in control, but in fact, Mr Monkey makes all the decisions, quite unconsciously, and Mr Human follows along a short while after with the rationalization.

Experiments were done which showed quite clearly that decisions were made and acted on before the areas of the brain responsible for conscious thought lit up. The notion that Mr Human runs the show is a rationalization produced by Mr Human himself. The decision is already made. Think Before You Leap – The Age

This makes sense. When we were but apes on the plain, we needed fast ‘unthinking’ responses to survive. Only with development of complex societies did we begin to develop a system to review and sometimes rescind those unconscious decisions.

Hence the dual nature of books. The surface words talk to Mr Human, while the deep meaning speaks to Mr Monkey. Truly great books work on both levels – they’re satisfying both intellectually and emotionally. And it explains why some rather average books nevertheless enjoy great success. The surface words may not be put together all that well, but the deep story satisfies Mr Monkey. Did someone say ‘Harry Potter’?

This is also why old stories whose language we can barely understand without a lot of footnotes and explanation, like Shakespeare, can still work. The deep truth, the underlying story, still satisfies Mr Monkey.

This is why even older stories – the fairytales, myths and legends, the stories that form the books of the great religions – still have great power. The underlying story satisfies our primitive self.

For example, if you tell a story of a man who could not die, the rational mind knows it can’t be true. But Mr Monkey, the ever-alert, instantly reactive paranoid ape on the plains, the part that is all about survival at all costs, who lives in constant fear of death, is soothed. He can stop worrying. He can stop pestering Mr Human with incessant demands. He can even snooze. Thus the rational mind can begin to grow and blossom – and it did.

If you want a brilliant exposition on how all this works – and a wonderful evening of theatre – grab the DVD of Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods. It’s a near-perfect example of everything I’ve been talking about. On the surface it’s a witty, clever, charming musical based on traditional fairy-tales. On a deeper level it’s all about the power of those tales, and all other stories.

“Careful the tale you tell, that is the spell,” says the song. All storytelling is a form of magic; all books are books of spells. Our language acknowledges this. We speak of ‘a spellbinding performance’, a ‘magical transformation’, a ‘storytelling wizard’, and countless other metaphors.

Creeping irrelevance

But we must not mistake the painting for the pipe. Our oldest stories about deities began as oral traditions. They were not written down for centuries. As they were passed on from generation to generation, they changed. Each storyteller added something of their own personality to the tale. Emphasised different aspects of the story to adapt it to changed conditions. Some stories fell out of favour because the conditions they were created to address no longer existed. New ones were made.

Once writing was invented, a problem arose. On the one hand the stories were no longer forgotten, but now they did not change, or at least, changed more slowly. This meant that valuable wisdom was not lost when a storyteller died.

But it also meant that stories were no longer dropped when their relevance became questionable. And when stories did change, it was more likely to be through error rather than in response to a social need.

Manuscripts had to be copied by hand. Sometimes the scribes made errors. As copies of copies of copies were made, the chance of error increased. As people began to travel more, stories began to be translated into other languages, to be told in different social contexts. Like Shakespeare, they became susceptible to misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Those translations were also hand copied, by people with no connection to the original story. Then the translations were themselves translated into yet another language, and so on.

Then comes a catastrophe. It is decided that some stories are too important to be lost, too important to be changed. A selection process takes place: some stories make the cut, some don’t. And from then on no-one is allowed to change them.

If the story is strong enough, if the deep layers still charm Mr Monkey, then the story survives. We can still enjoy Shakespeare, with a bit of help. But if the world has moved on so far that the conditions the story was meant to address no longer exist, we become baffled, and the story is either forgotten, or is appreciated only for its pretty surface.

If stories form part of a religious faith, then they are not allowed to die, because if they do, the religion will die with them. Instead a whole industry springs up to explain, expound and interpret the stories, and keep them alive.

Shakespeare is God

I have used Shakespeare extensively as an example. One could very easily posit a Church of Shakespeare, with Shakespeare as God and Stratford on Avon as Rome.

A revered dead leader, divinely inspired, who is lavishly praised. Sacred texts –referred to as the canon - which you tinker with at your peril. Tremendous intellectual battles over the meanings of these texts. Centres of worship where performances are given. These performances may be traditional or, in an attempt to maintain their relevance, they’re given a modernizing makeover. The language may be modified to make them more accessible to modern ears. Again, huge battles over which way is the best, the purest, the most authentic.

Performance centres are terrific tourist attractions, but they are also propped up with large government subsidies. They are derided as benefiting only an elite minority. And the peak bodies running this whole enterprise constantly stake the moral high ground for themselves, because its ‘culture’, ‘great art’.

Sounds a lot like organised religion, doesn’t it? All this fuss over a few ‘fairy stories’ just goes to show how powerful, how important the stories we tell ourselves are. And how unreasoning belief, faith, intuition, the hidden Mr Monkey in us all who governs all our actions, can bulldoze Mr Human into doing what he wants, however irrational. And thinking up the reasons afterwards.

If the fairy story still has magic enough.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Gays don't want marriage

John Heard is at it again, missing the point entirely (click on the headline to see his latest rant in the Herald Sun).
He says that same sex attracted men and women "simply don't want gay marriages" and most gay partners have "no intention of ever "formalising' their relationships."
The point, however, is not that we want marriage - we want EQUALITY. A great many heterosexual couples aren't keen to marry, and many have no intention of formalising their relationships, but they can if they want to.
We can't, and until that is changed, we remain unequal and our relationships branded inferior.
I don't especially want marriage, but I will fight for it till we get it.

After meeting John Heard and being subjected to his bullying and hectoring on air, I'm even less inclined to give his point of view the time of day.

One point - he says on his blog that we 'massaged' the listener feedback, implying that we made it seem less favourable to him than it was. In fact, we declined to read out all the messages, or parts of messages, that were nothing more than personal abuse directed at John. For the record, of the 60+ responses in the course of the show, none backed John 100% and only a handful backed him in a qualified fashion. The rest disagreed with him.

Several - and many responses to me privately afterwards - expressed great sorrow and sympathy for John, and prayed that he would come to his senses before it was too late.

He says a lot of other things I could take issue with, too, but I decline to waste my time

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Eye Candy II

For gentlemen who prefer blonds, even when they come out of a bottle, this young man is worth a look.

Natural blond would be better, but at least this gives us a chance to offer to do his roots for him.

And we could touch up the carpet to match the curtains while we're about it.

Is he really this shape, or have Cosmopolitan resorted to photoshop to exaggerate his V?

Skins star Mitch Hewer posed naked "to raise awareness for the Everyman male cancer campaign", or so he says.

He also talks about what girls like about him, so perhaps he plays for the other side. But in that pose, who knows what he may be hiding?

Weekend eye-candy

We can't always be so serious. Sometimes we need a little light relief. So here's a bit of eye-candy to brighten the weekend.

I'm not much on rugby players as a rule - battered noses and cauliflower ears are not my thing. But at 19 this guy has most of that still to come.

He's Will Chambers of Melbourne Storm, and with a come-hither look like that, I reckon he'll go far, in or out of the scrum.

I certainly know how far I'd like him to go!!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Mimicking Howard

Couldn't say it better than this, so I won't.

The only thing I can add is that for me at least the honeymoon is over. After all the guff about keeping his election promises, when KRuddy found he had given two contradictory ones - one to the pseudo-Christians of the Australian Christian Lobby, that he wouldn't allow anything that 'mimics marriage', versus one to the gay community and the ACT, that he would let them legislate for civil unions - he decided to mimic Howard and keep faith with the pseudo-Christians.

Lest we forget, Australian Christian Lobby officer-in-charge is Brigadier Jim Wallace (above), former counter-terrorism expert and ex-head of the SAS, an organisation dedicated to perverting affable young Aussies into inventive and secretive elite killing machines, sent overseas to deniably murder for their country. Hardly the most Christian of professions.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

ACT caves in - 'nationally consistent' plan in tatters

After promising to pass a civil partnerships bill in the teeth of federal opposition, the ACT government made a humiliating climbdown today and agreed to pass the measure minus the public ceremonies that Robert McClelland insists, "mimic marriage."

Tasmanian activist Rodney Croome says Kevin Rudd may offer a national partnership registration scheme as a trade-off.

Some such move became essential last week when when West Australia joined New South Wales in refusing to enact a state registration scheme.

The position of the Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia is not known, but sources suggest they too were poised to refuse to fall into line the the federal governments plan for a system of 'nationally consistent state-based registries.'

Since the existing registries in Tasmania and Victoria are not consistent neither with one other nor the now-emasculated ACT measure, that plan is now dead.

The government have still not produced a logical coherent justification for enacting a separate but unequal system of relationship recognition for same-sex couples.

Meanwhile the Greens will introduce a same-sex marriage bill into the upper house.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Saints ace wants gay jibes ban - full text

Russell Robinson - Herald Sun - May 03, 2008 12:00am

Former St Kilda champ Nathan Burke teams up with a farmer to press the AFL to introduce rules protecting gays and bisexual people from sexual vilification

NATHAN Burke quickly learned never to take a backward step.

Frankston’s Pines estate was tough and the kids who survived were flint-hard or could run fast.
Those who didn’t adapt, the so- called sissies and pansies, were generally ostracised.

The St Kilda champion draws on those experiences to guide him.

Such was the case when he took a telephone call from gay activist Rob Mitchell for his help.
It took less than five seconds for the former Saints skipper to agree.

Together, this duo is fighting for gay rights in Victorian sports clubs, and Burke believes they’ll have little trouble recruiting other champion athletes.

They have already seen Victorian Youth and Sports Minister James Merlino, who has promised his support.

Now they’re looking to the Australian Football League in the hope of establishing an education program, and a system of penalties and sanctions similar to its successful racial vilification measures.

“I grew up in a tough part of Frankston and’ can visualise kids who’d been branded as sissies, pansies, or who played with the girls,” Burke says.

When it came time to play football at lunchtime they’d be told to, Go back and play with the girls, you’re not playing with us.

As you grow older you start to realise the harm you were possibly causing, even though you might not have been one of the Instigators.

“The fact that you didn’t actually stand up and do something about it at the time, you still feel it, By being passive you are still culpable.”

He says that was a reason to accept Mitchell’s invitation.

“When Rob rang me and identified the problem I could’ve been passive and just wished him good luck, but that would’ve been perpetuating what did as a kid,” Burke says.

In a separate development this week, the Federal Government announced it would scrap discrimination against gays in Commonwealth laws.

More than 100 amendments will be introduced to Parliament next month in areas ranging from superannuation, taxation, social security and health care.

But in the community vilification of gay, lesbian and bisexual youth, particularly in sports clubs and rural areas, remains an alarming social problem.

Depression awareness group beyond- blue says recent studies have found gay men aged between 18-24 are 3.7 times more likely to try to commit suicide.

Most of these attempts occurred after they had identified themselves as gay, but before they had a same-sex experience and before outing themselves.

Mitchell, 44, says he chose Burke because of his football profile and his experience as a player during the controversial racial vilification times.

‘For me, it’s all part of the same thread. You’re discriminating against someone for something that can’t be changed,” says Mitchell, a farmer and computer programmer.

But is the problem so significant to warrant more rules and sanctions?

“That depends on what criterion you use,” replies Mitchell. Maybe the numbers are fewer, but let’s look at the impact because what happens to the people on the receiving end of the vilification — their risk of suicidal thought more than triples.

“So, let’s say in Victoria there are 10.000 people being vilified because of their sexual orientation.

“If you gathered them together on a football oval, would you be prepared to tell them: ‘We’re not going to look after you because there’s not enough of you being degraded?’

‘That’s the message you’re sending to them. Then there are those standing on the sidelines who get an implicit message that it’s OK to vilify people.’

Burke, who retired five years ago after 323 games and was recently appointed a St Kilda director, works for a management consultancy with expertise in cultural change.

“I dare say that among the 600-plus AFL footballers there would be a gay player . . the statistics show that would be the case,” he says.

“So, why haven’t they come out like (former rugby league champion) Ian Roberts? I don’t know,
“I’m pretty sure nowadays that at an AFL level it wouldn’t be a problem for the other players. We’ve all moved on,”

Burke says throughout his career stones circulated about certain footballers including teammates.

‘But they were rumours, There Was nothing concrete,” he says.
“You’d get players from other clubs coming up and saying things like, ‘This bloke hasn’t got a girt, and ‘The boys are really suss about him’.”

Burke recalls the AFL's initial approach to racial and religious vilification on the field and the players’ reactions.

“First of all the league had to get a policy in writing, because just to go around and tell people they shouldn’t abuse people racially would never have taken hold.

“That’s no way to change a culture. By having it in writing, that keeps the players accountable.

“Then the AFL needed some high profile champions to push the cause, such as (Bomber) Michael Long, and before him (Saint) Nicky Winmar.

‘Now they have an education program which every player goes through every year. I sat through the initial ones and there was a lot of scepticism, with questions like, ‘They call themselves wogs, so why can’t we cal] them wogs?

‘Then after every year the skepticism gradually wore off,”

Burke believes the change occurred because some players became aware of the social significance, some feared the penalties and others respected Long and others who pushed for reform.

Burke and Mitchell have had talks with senior AFL officials. Now they want to see AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou copy the racial program to protect gay and bisexual players.

They want to show him the dramatic statistics of suicides by young gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
The State Government has taken steps to counter anti-gay bias.

Alter their meeting with Merlino the pair were told in a letter of an impending manual to help sports leagues and clubs on governance.

“I anticipate there will be a chapter in the manual on the topic of combating discrimination in all Its forms . . . It would be useful to get your group’s input into the drafting of this particular chapter,” Merlino wrote,

Burke knows change is overdue.

“As a friend of mine recently said, ‘You can only whinge for so long’.”

ANYONE with personal problems can call Lifeline on 131 114; Victorian Statewide Suicide Helpline on 1300 651 251.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Rainbow Special Tonight

On tonight's Rainbow Report we'll be devoting the show to the coming legal changes:

Stephen Jones from VGLRL on what's in, what's not,and what next.
Rodney Croome on the politics of it all, the wriggle room for the Liberals to back away from support, and how Canberra's surprised at the way gay marriage has suddenly become THE issue.
Andrew Grenache of Australian Marriage Equality on how major corporates are signing up to recognise gay marriages, civil unions and registered partners in their company benefits schemes
And Mark Orr, President of ACON on growing old disgracefully and how the changes will make life easier for mature gays and lesbians.
Plus insightful analysis from Cathy Anderson and Ron Theile - tonight, 7-9pm Joy 94.9 streaming live at for non-Melbournians.


Nepal gets its first gay representative in parliament

Sunil Pant has to be one of the worlds great gay heroes. He put gay rights on the Nepalese national agenda, defending gays, lesbians and in particular mehti (cross-dressers) from a hostile society and a corrupt government and police.

That would be an achievement in itself, but he's done it in the middle of a revloution and civil war - a truly amazing achievement.