Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Upside down Miss Jayne

For those not dwelling in Australia, a brief explanation.... During the 70's, 80's and 90's, the ABC produced a show called Mr Squiggle (the man from the moon). As you can see, Mr Squiggle had a rather large appendage attached to his face - a pencil for a nose. His primary talent was being able to take a group of lines on a piece of paper sent in by a viewer and transform these lines into a picture. Being a marionette, Mr Squiggle was operated from above and, as such, had a tendency to draw his pictures upside down. This often lead to the catch-cry of "Upside down Miss Jayne" (Miss Jayne being the long-running human host of the show).

For Mr Squiggle, it was all about potential and perception. Take 3 random lines and see the potential of what they could be and evolve into. What the viewer perceived to be a bigger bunch of squiggles at the end of the drawing, Mr Squiggle (or his puppeteer at least) would see a completed picture - it just happened to be upside down.

Over at R World, Ron posted a short commentary on the new media, including this link discussing how the existing media is needing to change and adapt to new technologies and demands. It got me thinking about how other industries are needing to adapt and change. As examples: the recording and film industries due to pirating and P2P technologies, the car and energy industries in light of the demands to decrease global warming. A lot of noise has been made by these industries on how devastating these changes are, how they will lead to a loss of jobs, and more importantly, profits. Hell, even little Johnny Howard today slammed the concept of cutting green-house emissions by 30% by 2020, stating

"Sir Nicholas Stern is reported in The Sydney Morning Herald today as advocating a reduction of what? Thirty per cent in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020. Now that would have a devastating effect on the Australian economy.

The idea that this country could achieve that kind of reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020, which is a bare 13 years from now, the kind of economic dislocation, the level of unemployment, the damage that would be done to Australia's competitive position, is self-explanatory, Mr Speaker."
Let's face it - things are in a real mess at the moment. We've managed to successfully and completely fuck up ourselves and the planet over the past century. It is time to change our perception on how we have traditionally done things and see the potential in implementing changes. If this means rethinking the way we work and earn money (both as individuals and corporations), then so be it. Like any revolution, there will be sacrifices made - how many traditional jobs and industries had to change or disappear due to the Industrial Revolution?

Like the little guy below, we need to be creative in the solutions we develop - adjust our thinking beyond what has been done and start looking at what can be done.

Songs played while writing this entry:
"Holiday" Weezer
"Helter Skelter" U2
"Blister In The Sun" The Violent Femmes
"The Chain" Breeder
"Sunsets" Powderfinger
"Human Behaviour" Bjork
"Come As You Are" Nirvana
"Calling Earth" Yves Deruyter
"No Good (Start The Dance)" The Prodigy
"Zebra" John Butler Trio
"Surf Wax America" Weezer

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Catching Up

"I'm still alive" Pearl Jam
Never fear (ir)regular readers, I'm still here. It has been a very hectic couple of weeks for me and there has been little chance for me to sit down and vomit out the contents of my being. Naturally, with so much going on there is a lot to regurgitate so I'll try to keep things concise.
  • As mentioned in my previous post, work is undergoing its bi-annual PDR process (thanks Ron for your support!). To my surprise, when I presented my Objectives and Measures as outlined in the afore-mentioned post, my manager responded well - to the extent of saying "this is one of the best PDRs I've ever read"! Of course, he then went through and changed the Objectives and Measures into professionaleese. Still, I view it as a small victory in cutting the bullshit at work.

  • My folks flew into town last Monday. Because of their impending arrival, I spent the entire weekend cleaning my apartment from top to bottom. Makes me laugh that, even at the age of 31, I still feel the need to present my parents with a spotlessly clean house. Am I trying to prove that I can be self-sufficient or that I am successful in living as an adult? Do I do it out of love because I know that my mum appreciates a clean environment? Or am I just hiding the fact that I sometimes live like a slob?! Jury is still out. Regardless, it was great spending time with them, sharing a meal and then seeing them off on their cruise around the Pacific islands.

  • Yesterday the State Election was held in NSW and I exercised my democratic privilege to vote. The Labour Party was returned to Government after running one of the most slanderous campaigns in Australian history. Honestly, it was vile to watch the character attacks being thrown from both parties, and even worse to hear the party spokespeople defending their campaigns as necessities of modern politics. I would have thought presenting clear, achievable policies which address the populations' needs and concerns was a necessity, but apparently not. I just hope that the 2 major parties read into the fact that 33% of the population gave their primary votes to other parties.

  • I have started a month of short weeks at work. As mentioned previously work has been a major pain of late, so I booked a few days off spread over a 4 week period (including Easter) in an effort to gain some space and reclaim my identity outside of work. This means I will be working no more than 4 days per week for the next month. Last weekend was my first 4-day weekend in some time and, by Tuesday, I was feeling like my old self again - relaxed, stress-free, happy. Unfortunately, all the good that had been achieved by taking a long weekend was instantly undone by a phone call I received at 19:00 the day before I was set to return to work asking me to come in early the following day. All the pressure and stress came flooding back and this set the tone for the following 3 days. Still, I have only 3 days of work this week to get through, then I can resume the healing.

So that's the past 2 weeks' major happenings in a nut-shell. My posts may be a bit sporadic over the next few weeks (my folks arrive back on Thurs for a 4 day stop-over, Easter happenings and a 5 day trip home for me all in the next month) but I'll jot out a few thoughts when I can.

Songs played while writing this entry:
"Black Girls" The Violent Femmes
"Iris" The Goo Goo Dolls
"Electris" Woody McBride
"Misfits" Cold Chisel
"Phorever People" The Shamen
"Heaven Scent" Bedrock
"Disorder" Slayer & Ice-T
"When I Rock" Thomas Schumacher
"Pride (In The Name Of Love)" U2
"Supernova" Transa
"It's So Easy" Guns N Roses

Monday, 12 March 2007

Rate My Ass

Tomorrow I'm writing my PDR (Professional Development Review). It's something I've done every 6 months for the past 5 years now with the company I'm in. It's a load of bullshit to be honest. The PDR process at my work consists of 3 steps:

  1. the faithful employee writing about how they have been able to demonstrate the skills which got them the job in the first place (objectives).
  2. the faithful employee writing about how they have been able to demonstrate the values which keep them from being fired (values).
  3. the faithful employee writing about how they plan on improving said skills and values should they manage to find an extra nano-second of time in their day (development plan).

For the past 2 years now I have been working without any firm, set objectives - that is, objectives set by my management. Now, while it is nice to have free reign to define and shape my role as I see best suited, this approach does not provide for defined boundaries. It also means that I stand a greater chance of getting a lower rating in my PDR based on the fact that I may not have met the unwritten objectives. Of course, what value is a rating? Unfortunately, this PDR does have a value as it stipulates the amount of bonus I'll get paid.

I can honestly say that I have never once accomplished anything that was listed in my development plan. Whilst the company goes to great expense in performing this bi-yearly gesture of feigned interest in their employees, once the PDR process is over there is little (if any) support provided to allow for growth to occur. Yes, it is a nice to pretend to be interested, but it'd be even nicer to see the company put their money where there mouth is and implement a structure which allows for development.

In this light, I have decided to approach my PDR differently this time round and will writing it as follows:

  • Objective: Implement New Stuff
    - Develop and implement new ideas for the greater good
    - Help other people implement their new ideas
  • Objective: Look After Existing Stuff
    - Keep things running smoothly
    - Assist other people who need help doing their job
  • Objective: Fix Broken Stuff
    - Identify broken stuff and fix it
    - Fix stuff that someone else reports as being broken

Wish me luck!

Songs played while writing this entry:
"Zebra" John Butler Trio
"Totmacher" DJ Hell
"It's A Long Way To The Top" AC/DC
"Speak To Me" Regis
"Your Love Is..." Mati Parks
"First Contact" La Forge

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Stirring the sexism pot

Today is/was Blog Against Sexism Day and here lays my contribution. I have not read a wide range of articles on sexism, nor have I looked at the issue in any depth since uni (I graduated 10 years ago - yikes) therefore I have no sources to back up anything that I may say. So here goes.

Sexism, sexist behaviours, sexual discrimination, sexist attitudes and sexual harassment are bullshit. That goes without saying, but I thought I'd say it anyway. If this is such a simple, basic understanding shared by the majority of the western population, why are these issues still so prevalent? Certainly, there must be some allowance for the ignorance of older generations who grew up accepting these values (or lack thereof) as social norms.... some but not too much. Also, there should be some understanding given to people who have recently migrated cultures (again, some but not too much). However, no excuse should be allowed for the generations of western children who have grown up since the Women's Lib movement put sexism on the political and social agenda.

How far have we really come in changing to a non-sex based mentality? A couple of centimetres. Video clips still portray women as sexual objects - eye candy for the male viewer. Even Madonna, Pink and other "liberated" singers convey themselves in sexual manners although this is marketed as statement of female sexual power. Advertising agencies still predominantly use female actors for adverts promoting cooking, cleaning and child-care goods. Female actors are still cast as secretaries, beauticians or shop assistants in movies. Sometimes, they are upgraded to corporate high-flyers, but usually in an industry which is considered feminine such as the fashion industry. If they are outside of these media-driven norms, they are portrayed as "different" or "unusual" in some way - the ball-breaking bitch, a lesbian or a rebel.

Is sexism so ingrained into our cultures that it will never go away? I recently watch Ayen's Cooking School for African Men on SBS. This doco followed a Sudanese woman who set up a cooking school for Sudanese men in Australia. According to the doco, in Sudanese culture, males do not cook - full stop, no correspondence will be entered into. For the men interviewed, they viewed cooking as a purely female task, it would be a sign of weakness for a man to even enter the kitchen. Likewise, the women interviewed said that men can't cook as it isn't masculine. The problem is that, due to the large number of Sudanese migrants coming into Australia, many young Sudanese men are living in all-male share houses and practically starving as none of them know how to cook and refuse to cook.

Western culture isn't that much different. School children still view cooking as a female oriented task, regardless of the fact that the majority of professional chefs are male. Sure we "liberated" western males know how to cook, however a guy who professes to enjoy cooking is often viewed as being a little bit (if not completely) gay by both men and women. We continue to feminise the basic duty of feeding one's self to survive even after years of being taught better. Sexual stereotypes are still rife, regardless of gender.

Sexism, like racism, will be with us for generations to come until such time that we as a society can see each person as a unique individual and not as a collection of stereotypes conveyed by media and culture.

Songs played while writing this entry:
"Give Your Body" Random XS
"Come And Die" Therapy? & Fatal
"Gimme The Car" The Violent Femmes
"Surrender" U2
"Automatic" Chrome & Price
"Angel Particles" Hallucinogen
"High Voltage" AC/DC
"Disorder" Slayer & Ice-T
"Mutant Was In Love" Taho
"Black Hole Sun" Soundgarden
"Tremor Christ" Pearl Jam

Monday, 5 March 2007

A little bit political

Ok, so I'm on a bit of a social/political awareness kick at the moment.

At the top of my blog, you'll find a banner for We Will Not Be Silenced which will take you to the video embedded in the Watch This entry below. The first time I viewed this video, I had tears in my eyes. The sheer strength of DJ Paul Edge's music and visuals coupled with the speech by Reverend Graylan Scott Hagler (Senior Minister of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ and National President of Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice) is so poignant in light of current global matters. At a time when the world is facing mass struggles and injustices, the consciousness of its population shifts toward matters of social justice, equality and humanity. It is up to us as citizens of Earth to demand of our governments that these fundamental rights be applied through their actions as the elected representatives of a global population. In this year of elections, we have the opportunity to make our governments take note of our concerns in the way both local and global matters are presently being handled. It is time to take action, demand change and to be heard.

Currently, on the right hand side of my blog, I have a banner to Blog Against Sexism Day. This event has been organised by Vegan Kid at short notice. I'm not sure what I'm going to write about at this stage - something to do with the bullshit behind why sexism is still prevalent in today's society no doubt. Check back on March 8 to find out!

Lastly, below is a video created by as part of their effort to stop the clash of civilizations. It highlights the fact that, regardless of race or religion, we are all the same. There is a petition to Israeli, Palestinian & international leaders on the site which will be delivered to world leaders in late March 07 demanding Middle East peace talks. I think we all agree this bullshit has gone on for far too long and it is time to put an end to the death and destruction in the Middle East.

Songs played while writing this entry:
"Rocket Queen" Guns N Roses
"Re:Evolution" The Shamen
"Acid Wiss" DJ Skull
"Don't Go Now" Ratcat
"Disorder" Slayer & Ice-T

Saturday, 3 March 2007

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