Monday, December 26, 2011

wind farming the countryside

Last week I was talking to my boss (a USAmerican), who actually didn't believe me at first when I started talking about one of the arguments against wind farms in Australia being the health impact of noise levels.

I should have told him about daylight savings fading the curtains.

So this will go well: NSW landowners to get veto on wind farms
Just two days out from Christmas, Planning Minister Brad Hazzard revealed draft planning guidelines which give landowners the right to veto wind farms proposed within two kilometres of their homes.
Of course I am all for community consultation. I love community consultation. I just don't trust Australians to go into this as informed as they need to be.
The British Acoustics Bulletin has just published what is now the 10th independent review of the evidence on wind farms causing annoyance and ill health in people. And for the 10th time it has emphasised that annoyance has far more to do with social and psychological factors in those complaining than any direct effect from sound or inaudible infrasound emanating from wind turbines.
Much angst over wind turbines is just hot air explains part of why I'm so skeptical at this consultation process. We have a significantly-sized anti-wind farm lobby in Australia, and it preys on fears of things that are widely considered to not be an issue.

One of the most recent major reports on the health impacts of wind farms was issued by a Canadian Working Group (The Potential Health Impact of Wind Turbines). It drew no conclusions, unable to find any direct causal link between wind turbine noise and health impacts. The only thing it highlighted is that "some people may find it annoying" (pg10). A reading of the report implies to me that the report has drawn the same conclusion the opinion piece above does, that "[c]oncerns about fairness and equity may also influence attitudes towards wind farms and allegations about effects on health." That is, people are more likely to report health effects from wind farms if they're not getting a financial benefit. And most reports find that the only significant noise coming from wind farms are during construction and maintenance, rather than during operation.

There’s Australian research into the topic as well. As recently as the beginning of December, an article in Adelaide Now (I know, hush) has been talking about the fallacy of the health impacts of wind farms. And a senate committee handed down findings in July that there was no conclusive evidence around wind turbine syndrome.

It pains me to dismiss someone else’s medical issues just because they’re not internationally recognised, but even if wind turbine syndrome exists and is a real problem, how does it compare to the health impacts of coal?

A few health impacts of coal: particulate related issues such as cardiopulmonary and lung impacts, the injection of mercury and selenium into the water systems and then potentially into people, leading to neurological issues, and the potential for respiratory and cardiovascular issues.

As someone who currently lives in Beijing, is anticipating coming home with a respiratory issue, and who has lived in apartments in Beijing and Melbourne situated on major road traffic routes, let’s just say the potential buzzing of wind farms is probably not an issue for me.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"i have seen firsthand the devastation and misery and death that result from homosexual and bisexual practices"

Following the removal of the RipNRoll ads from Adshel shelters, and the reinstatement today, I spent this afternoon reading the complaints and loling big time. They are an excellent read (seriously amazing stuff), and (unsurprisingly) reading the complaints brings me even more questions. They are freeform for you below!

Adshel has cited being unaware that the complaints were coordinated by the ACL as the major reason why they agreed to pull the ads, thinking they were coming from a wide range across society. Looking at this sample of letters, a number of them are word for word identical, down to the SHOUTING CAPITALISATION, which makes me wonder how closely ad companies (or adshel at least) look at this stuff.

A number of the complainants appear to think that condoms are only required for gay sex, which is making me wonder about the levels of safe sex amongst other groups.

It is apparently all about the children! And also the Christians ("Please, for the sake of all Christians and children"). Which, uh, do people not want their children to know about safe sex? IT IS A GOOD THING. Also apparently many parents don't want to explain things to their children ("Also it is something that children shouldn't see or enquire about" ARE YOU KIDDING ME?). The complaints also reveal that it is all about not owning up to one's own bigotry. All the comments are about the children, and filled with 'it's too PC' and 'I'm not against homosexuals' sort of comments.




Seriously the complaints are amazing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

idaho invisible t day

Today is IDAHO(T), the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia! But the T is invisible. Because the T is always invisible. Which is cool, you know, because the T can totally afford to be invisible. Because transphobia is one of those issues that everyone knows about and that everyone totally understands and nobody ever dies because of it.

There is allegedly a flashmob going on in the Melbourne CBD this evening for IDAHO(T), which I hope is cool.

This seems like an excellent time to remind you of the two WA trans men heading to the high court and that you can help fund them (do it!).

Some links (mostly older):
Bob Jensen, Lierre Keith et al. : The Rabid, Transphobic Hate-Mongering of the Anti-Pornography Movement by Joelle
Push(back) at the Intersections: I Think You Dropped Your 'T' by s.e. smith at bitch magazine, on depictions of trans folk in pop culture
Intent! It's Fucking Magic! by Genderbitch, at Questioning Transphobia; a great post on intent.
On tumblr, Some politics around supporting trans women’s access to surgery, mostly on transphobia around surgery.
Who’s allowed to reclaim the night? by 3P published at The Scavenger, on transmisogyny at Melbourne's 2010 event.
Also at the Scavenger, Mercedes Allen writes on Advocating for trans people if you’re not trans (I have a few issues with appropriation in this article but overall it's an okay illustration).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

on melbourne's feminist future

So behind in the blogging, but just quickly, three really great posts on the crap going down around the Melbourne Feminist Futures conference:

So, Melbourne Feminist Collective is holding a 'Feminist Futures' conference in late May. Sounds good, and there are some interesting speakers on the list, and a good range of links on their site.

But Sheila Jeffreys? Really?

This is a woman who says trans people are delusional and calls trans-related surgeries mutilation. A woman who is famously anti-sex-worker. Why on earth would such a relic be invited to a conference on 'futures'?

And before anyone comments saying that it's only fair to include such viewpoints, I want you to read this excellent post by Ika Willis. It breaks down the expectation that people whose very existence is being challenged should do massive amounts of unpaid emotional, political and academic labour in such situations[.
(I really recommend reading the linked post by Ika Willis, it is excellent)

Genderqueer 2 genderqueer: Feminist pasts:
I feel, as a feminist that the moment has a lot to apologise for, white middle class feminisms have ignored and pushed out trans women, sex workers women of colour and other minorities, so I am heartened to see that the Melbourne feminist futures conference is reminding us just how far we haven’t come. But inviting speakers and programs with the most bigoted backward looking agenda I have seen in a while.
Hexpletive: Melbourne Feminist Conference demonstrates anti trans and anti sex work position:
A participants agreement has been distributed to all panelists and workshop presenters requesting, amongst other things, that they abstain from oppressive behaviour, including transphobia and whorephobia. The organising collective apparently sees no conflict between this request and allowing Sheila Jeffreys to present a workshop entitled "Why Prostitution is Violence Against Women". Considering her track record and complete lack of remorse for her hate speech against trans* people and sex workers, the Melbourne Feminist Collective has failed to provide a safe space for those groups simply by inviting her to speak. And that's not even getting into the problematic history that is the racism and anti-choice politics inherent to the "feminism" of other anti sex work speakers like Tankard Reist.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"Gay marriage against my upbringing" I just I don't even

PM Julia Gillard: Gay marriage against my upbringing
Ms Gillard said she was "on the conservative side" of the gay marriage issue "because of the way our society is and how we got here".

"I think that there are some important things from our past that need to continue to be part of our present and part of our future," she said. "If I was in a different walk of life, if I'd continued in the law and was partner of a law firm now, I would express the same view, that I think for our culture, for our heritage, the Marriage Act and marriage being between a man and a woman has a special status.

"Now, I know people might look at me and think that's something that they wouldn't necessarily expect me to say, but that is what I believe.

"I'm on the record as saying things like I think it's important for people to understand their Bible stories, not because I'm an advocate of religion - clearly, I'm not - but once again, what comes from the Bible has formed such an important part of our culture."

Ms Gillard said she had a "pro-union, pro-Labor upbringing in a quite conservative family, in the sense of personal values".
This is like some sort of word salad, a mish mash of sentences randomly squished together in the hopes of confusing us, or distracting us, or something. I don't even know what this is.

Here is a list of possibilities:
  • Erasure of every Australian who doesn't believe the bible
  • Erasure of every Australian who wasn't brought up as a Christian
  • Erasure of Australians who have a background which supports gay marriage
  • Erasure of non-Australians who live here
  • The most amazing toeing of the party line I've ever seen
  • Perpetuation of the idea that culture is immutable and what has come before is what we should aim toward
  • Really shitty
Please feel free to add to the list.

Also you know how "we" got "here"? Through things so gross we don't actually talk about them (though we should). So maybe 'denial of evvverything' should also go on that list.

So far my favourite responses have been on twitter:

Hannah Gadsby:
I had a conservative upbringing too, Julia Gillard. That's why I hated myself when I found out I was gay. You could help prevent this cycle.
and my friend Josie:
You can't fault the logic, marriage equality is not traditional. Neither are women prime ministers, so I expect her resignation post haste.
Now, in this time of our atheist PM reminding us to read our bibles, I'd like to remind everyone that there is an equal marriage rally in Melbourne this saturday at 1pm. You should go if you can. And I know it's not quite the same, but go see a movie whilst MQFF is on. Though I guess it's not a part of our culture, whatever that means.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

women in print: brief panel notes

Last night I went to the Women in Print event at Readings in Carlton, being held for International Women's Day. The event was a 45 minute panel discussion with three panelists and a moderator. I rocked in, my belly full of burger but with room for one of the cupcakes I'd been carrying around all afternoon. Bamboo Gnome and I found a spot right up the front (we had been advised by Fi on the best places to stake out) and we settled in. I even took notes.

The panel started off weirdly, which is why I started taking notes. Louise Swinn (Sleepers editorial director) commented that actually maybe there are more women being published in Australian than overseas stats (and some Australian stats) would suggest. This point wasn't really engaged with, which I thought was weird given the whole point was to talk about Women in Print and what the status is.

Sophie Cunningham commented that when she was the editor of Meanjin, more essays were submitted by men; women were more likely, even when approached, to say 'I'm not an expert.'

There was some consensus that it's important for women to learn to be jerks* in order to get somewhere in print - they definately have to promote themselves, and push themselves forwards (and how this is exacerbated by the need in today's publishing world for authors to self-promote, and how unwilling many women are to do this). At points this almost veered in to 'if only women would push themselves they'd get published,' which is a little close to victim blaming if you're not examining the underlying themes of this. These themes were touched on a little, including a brief discussion of the second shift, but only in very Eurocentric ways. Statements such as 'only in the last fifty years have women had that exposure,' coming from an all white (seeming) panel, never fail to make me bristle.

Other things that make me bristle: "I don't want to get too Bolshie;" and the way these sorts of discussions always seem to revolve around or have an emphasis on terms and concepts like "penis writing" and "vagina writing." Way to be super cis-centric.

Overall it was an interesting talk (shame about the diversity), and it has reminded me that I should always say yes (if possible) when asked to give a talk.

*just to be clear: I think that a woman (or anyone) can be confident and promote oneself without being a jerk; however during this panel sometimes 'being confident' and 'being a jerk' were conflated so they seemed to be the same.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

tuesday afternoon why can't i log in to the network links

I'll totally post some words up soon! But for now, have some links whilst I continue hoping IT will sort out all my issues.

Race/ethnicity stuff

Some comments on New Age Appropriation, particularly about Yoga.

Also a bit on appropriation and yoga, and also about copyright, this is not a post about yoga!, by colorblue.

Awesome article by Lia Incognita at Peril, Fissures and friendships: how I became a woman of colour, on identity and identification.

In the Age, Absent faces, on the lack of representation of Asian women in Australian modelling.


A book review and a look at stereotypes up at Dove Grey Matter, Between worlds: the jilbab and being transgender in Indonesia (the book review is for Jangan lepas jilbabku! (Please do not remove my jilbab!)).

Nationalism and identity in a disaster, an interesting piece at the Drum, about how the use of nationalism erases a spirit of shared humanity.

A bit related to the yoga stuff, and a bit not: On White Women and Buddhism at Angry Asian Buddhist.
Brought together to discuss these questions are the brilliant minds of Grace Schireson, Christina Feldman, Lama Palden Drolma, Rita Gross, Lama Tsultrim Allione, and Joan Sutherland. These authors delve into the history of women bringing balance to the Buddhist community, current forward-moving trends and the outlines of a more equitable future for us all. But apart from these great women and their compelling discussion, I found something missing.

Namely, Asians.
Sexuality stuff

Ardhra has a post filled with links about resources for LGBTQ people from non-white/non-Western cultures. It is a fantastic reference list and I recommend checking it out.

An analysis of Scar (from the Lion King) as queer, first by charlie danger and then more by srawr.


At Flat 7, Ana Australian comments on Gender and Urban Inequality, specifically on older single women as 'the new face of homelessness' in Australia.