Surveying the damage

As a straight white male in a straight white patriarchal society, I've been a bit blase about the same-sex marriage survey.

Aside from having to endure another round of conversations with my partner on why she thinks marriage is an archaic form of property exchange, it really has very little to do with me.

In fact, I have so little to do with marriage that it seems silly for me to have to give an opinion on whether anyone should be able to get married.

But it's not about anyone in the sense of deciding who, it's about making it available to everyone.

At least that's what I thought before I started reading comments from friends on Facebook.

Matthew wrote:

The Australian plebiscite, where fathers get to tell the Australian Government that their sons are second class citizens. Thanks dad.

Kristen wrote:

The literally dozens of people who physically and mentally assaulted me for not being hetero, the people who made my life a torture and left me with damage that I am still trying to heal .... they get to vote on whether I am a real human who deserves real human rights.

The politics of Tony Abbott's idea to have a plebiscite as a way  to avoid enduring conflict about a policy that the majority of Australians support really doesn't reflect the outcome of the survey.

It's a mechanism that does little but further delay an inevitable decision that should be based on equality.

In the process it re-opens a lot of psychological scars, as well as fanning bigotry.

Of course, Shaun Micallef has already skewered the whole thing in the way a legally-trained comedian would:

Fran Lebowitz on sulking

Sulking is a big effort. So is not writing. I only realized that when I did start writing. When I started getting real work done, I realized how much easier it is to write than not to write.


A friend from uni runs a secondhand bookshop.

On the weekend he posted on Facebook that a customer had called asking if he had a set of "Disc World" books and my friend couldn't contain his giggles.

Google tells me there are 41 Discworld books by Terry Pratchett and they share in common being set on a disc-planet that travels through the universe atop four elephants on a giant turtle.

I've really enjoyed dipping into the series when I find audiobook versions at public libraries.

Pratchett has a distinctive style of storytelling that is very conversational, almost Socratic in the way exposition seems to effortlessly be placed within quotation marks.

Even minor characters will have a role in fleshing out the plot.

Most recently I enjoyed The Science of Discworld, which is mostly a summary of the science behind our planet from astronomy to evolutionary biology.

I've tried reading the books too but find them a bit like Shakespeare in being language I prefer to hear spoken.

Stephen Briggs' voice now comes to mind when I read Pratchett's prose, as I have been reading Truckers to my youngest.

Crayola Glowboard

When a duck eats mushrooms

According to The Gabzone this is an unaltered panel from Kingdom Hearts, yet it reads like a Disney character having a consciousness-expanding experience.

Warangesda closes this weekend

The exhibition is open a few more days at the Narrandera Arts Centre.

Warangesda details the history of the Mission at Darlington Point with responses from local artists, including AMS Woman Group’s artwork Murrumbidgee Yellow Belly, Treahna Hamm’s Murrumbidgee Yabby and Rodney Simpson’s Greed all shown and all created this year for the exhibition.

This Mission was significant for maintaining Wiradjuri in the region, first as a Christian mission and then an Aboriginal station:

The historic Aboriginal occupation of Warangesda was characterised by a relatively self sufficient Aboriginal community that participated in the economic maintenance of the wider community by the provision of labour to local agriculture. The people also maintained a culturally distinct Aboriginal lifestyle firmly based on the maintenance of family connections over the wider region.
Warangesda is rare in that it is one of only 10 missions established in NSW. It is unique in NSW, as it is the only mission or reserve site in NSW to retain a suite of original 19th century building ruins and archaeological relics.
The place is significant for its association with the last great inter-group burbung (initiation) in Wiradjuri country which was held at or near Warangesda in the 1870s. 

Peter Kabaila is a historian who's written on this area in various publications and has provided the text for the informative panels. His honours thesis was an archeological survey of the Mission site and many of the artifacts he found are now in the collection at Griffith Pioneer Park Museum.

The Warangesda exhibition was an opportunity for me to develop my skills "hanging" the show. I'd been fortunate to get a role working alongside Ray from Griffith Regional Art Gallery and Hape Kiddle, as well as Derek and Liana from Western Riverina Arts.

This experience was rewarding and I was encouraged to contribute ideas, which flowed freely after my initial suggestion to place on the floor the modesty screens that had been decorated with Warangesda history through a project run by Kerri Weymouth.

What do you do for a crust?

Among the trees of Matong State Forest are areas with cryptogamic crust.

This is a specialised community of cyanobacteria, mosses, and lichens.

It works to improve soil stability, as well as offering increased resistance to wind and water erosion.

Crusts are often a feature of arid and semi-arid areas, where their sponge-y texture might also catch seed from nearby plants.

They have adapted to severe growing conditions but can easily be disturbed.

Disruption of the crusts brings decreased organism diversity, soil nutrients and stability.

Full recovery of crust from disturbance is a slow process, particularly for mosses and lichens.

Visual recovery can be complete in as little as one to five years, given average climate conditions.

However, recovering crust thickness can take up to 50 years, and mosses and lichens can take up to 250 years to recover.

Hollows As Homes

Local Landcare Coordinator Jason Richardson has been visiting schools in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area to promote the role of tree hollows as habitat.

Did you know that it takes around 300 years for nature to provide a home for an owl? It’s even longer for possums.

There are no animals that are able to create tree hollows, such as the woodpecker in North America, so hollow creation is a slow process that relies on fungus to eat away at the tree.

In urban and agricultural areas throughout Australia, hollow-bearing trees are in decline.

In New South Wales, species that rely on tree hollows for shelter and nesting include at least 46 mammals, 81 birds, 31 reptiles and 16 frogs.

Forty of these species are listed as threatened with extinction in New South Wales and the loss of hollows has been listed as a key threatening process.

As part of Landcare’s visits primary school students learned how contested hollows can be, particularly in urban settings where hollows can be considered a public risk.

Jason spoke of his experience observing ringneck parrots intimidate grass parrots from returning to their nest.

The children were fascinated to handle the skull of a grass parrot chick.

The students then had an opportunity to assess school grounds and the surrounding area for hollows and observe local bird life using binoculars.

Burning Seed

Only a bit over a week away now!

Four plot structures

I. The Babadook
II. The Big Lebowski
III. Thelma and Louise
IV. Barton Fink

Is it OK?

My friend Alex posted this chart on Facebook and asked if the RU OK? suicide prevention campaign might be ineffective.

The RU OK? day has been running since 2009 and the chart doesn't seem to make a conclusive link.

However there are plenty of studies that show copycat suicides are a phenomena.

Does talking about suicide contribute to it?


Match wildlife to a hollow

Tree hollows are valued as habitat for many Australian birds, reptiles and animals.

Recently I've visited Riverina primary schools to raise awareness for the role of hollows.

It surprised me to learn that it can take 300 years to make a home for an owl.

Sow what?

English can be tricky when similar sounding words mean different things.

So I was curious when I read this headline and wondered if agricultural fashion had become an area of academic research?

No, it's a a typo and illustrates the need for subeditors.

Sowing seeds is planting them and often used as a metaphor, like the quote from the article here shows.

Game of chicken

Noticed the personalised number plate on this Steggles van at the lights.

Threatened Species Day

Today is Threatened Species Day.

I've been promoting the day with this photo of a Superb Parrot, which is considered vulnerable due to loss of habitat.

It's an older photo that was first published on my Shot Wildlife blog.

Three beer bottles

Saw this trio advertising clothes on Facebook this week and couldn't help but wonder if they were blowing on their beer bottles.

Could they be covering Billie Jean like the Bottle Boys below?

Sounds of (not so) silence

A friend shared this beaut version of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel singing 'The Sounds of Silence' live.

For me this song often prompts one of those 'what if?' moments.

Originally it was recorded without the electric instruments accompanying it, so I sometimes wonder how Paul Simon felt after hearing what happened to it.

After Bob Dylan went electric in 1965, Columbia Records' producer Tom Wilson decided this was now the fashion for folk music:

By June 1965, folk-rock had its first number one hit with The Byrds’ amped-up version of Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.” That month Wilson produced “Like a Rolling Stone,” Dylan’s landmark electric rocker… Without the knowledge of Simon or Garfunkel, Wilson hired session players – bassist Joe Mack, drummer Buddy Salzman and guitarists Vinnie Bell and Al Gorgoni – to overdub an electric backing track onto “The Sounds of Silence.”

Gorgoni later said he regretted the decision:

“I love the song – but those guitars ... they’re just awful. I really can’t listen to it now. ... Of course, all the things that are wrong with the recording didn’t stop it from becoming a huge success. So there you go.”

It's difficult to imagine the song without those backing parts now, but I wonder if it would've still found an audience.

I guess Simon and Garfunkel have accepted the electric instruments, or are they included in the live performance above to meet the expectations of the audience?

These days a producer would make it sound like the version below!


This weekend we held the inaugural Sausagefest.

It came about because some weeks ago while shopping, my partner tried to dissuade me from buying more sausages because we already had some in the freezer.

My response was that we should buy more sausages so that we could compare and contrast the results.

In the past we've compared local pizzas and it's an interesting exercise that I've learned from when I was developing my taste for wine, although I drink less of that lately.

Today we ate five varieties, two were boiled and three were barbecued.

The result was surprising as usually some family members are reluctant to eat kangaroo and it was universally the favourite. The meat was lean and free from gristle, with little extra flavour despite being promoted as containing bush tomato.

In second place was the rook wurst, a Dutch-style hotdog. It was juicy and mild.

Third place was more hotly contested, as I liked the kransky and kids liked the chicken and my partner liked the Italian beef and pork.

A black pudding remains in the freezer and, although I'm curious to try it, no one else seemed very interested in experiencing it.

Fathers Day gift

My son gave me this gift for Fathers Day.

It's a jar filled with positive messages.

Eden's such a little stirrer I see he couldn't help but put this one among them.

Two Men Contemplating the Moon

Two Men Contemplating the Moon by Caspar David Friedrich. 

Samuel Beckett said this artwork inspired his play Waiting for Godot.

PC Hipsta

While looking on Twitter for entertaining memes to share on Facebook, I spotted this police officer with a hipster moustache and realised I'd found the source.

The source of the PC Hipsta memes.

Wonder if copper Peter Winger realises the cultural touchstone that he's become?