Saturday, November 27, 2004

Hippopotaduck II

I am now the only Google result for hippopotaduck. I am also the number one result for posankka.

The hippopotaduck has been used amusingly as revenge on an ebay seller. Check it out - it's hilarious.

Friday, November 19, 2004

From abstinence to abortion

A Ms Magazine reporter recently attended a US conference on how to teach abstinence in schools in the place of sex education. A speaker suggested using the following metaphor to teach students to abstain from sex, with a real lollipop as a prop:
Your body is a wrapped lollipop.

When you have sex with a man, he unwraps your lollipop and sucks on it.

It may feel great at the time, but, unfortunately, when he'’s done with you, all you have left for your next partner is a poorly wrapped, saliva-fouled sucker.

ARGH! That's just so terrible on so many levels! It's incredibly sexist - putting the guilt, the tarnish and the responsibility all on women. It's gross. And it makes sex seem gross. How terrible are the girls who've already had sex going to feel when they hear that? And those that haven't are going to want to vomit. When they do finally have sex, it won't be without unique issues.

And it's worse when you realise the further ramifications of this kind of education. When kids receive no instruction at school on contraception and STD prevention, you can bet that there are more kids getting pregnant and diseased.

Even at my Catholic school we had some information about condoms and the pill. In year nine we were told that the most effective form of contraception is abstinence ... but failing that there are other things you can do. We even had the condom-on-the-banana demonstration.

A friend of mine had an everything-but-intercourse relationship with her (quite religious) boyfriend. After they broke up she predicted that his next girlfriend would get pregnant, because they wouldn't be prepared for sex if it happened. Sure enough, that's what happened. These were intelligent, reasonable people.

I sure hope abstinence education doesn't take over here - although the Christian Democrats would like it to. It seems that for every stupid conservative thing the Bush government does, the Howard government isn't far behind. Gay marriage, abortion...

Australian politicians are making a lot of noise about abortion these days. At the moment, it's just noise, but some fear that when the government has control of both houses - from July next year - it could become more than that. A recent Sydney Morning Herald editorial suggests how there could be fewer abortions - to reduce trauma to women and to placate conservatives:

The obvious way to reduce abortions is to cut the number of unwanted pregnancies through better education and more freely available contraceptives. But the issue goes beyond contraception. For example, better welfare support may be what is needed to persuade the married mother of two to keep the third child she cannot otherwise afford.

It's painfully obvious, but this government won't be able to see it.

As the slogan goes: Against Abortion? Don't Have One.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

How dare you John?

John Laws, one of Australia's most popular talkback radio hosts, has delivered a hate-filled rant directed at Queer Eye's Carson Kressley, and at the queer community in general, on his 2UE show.

Carson was recently in Australia to judge fashion on the field at the Melbourne Cup. The Sydney Morning Herald reported:

"This is a really serious thing," Laws warned his listeners. "It's not often that I get really worried about this country, but I tell you what, I had a sleepless night last night after watching the television that I saw in relation to the Melbourne Cup. Who is this pompous little pansy prig who's strutting around everywhere yesterday, telling Australian blokes how to wear their pocket square? As he called it. That's poof speak for handkerchief ... Who is he? He might be famous in certain circles, circles being the operative word, we know where they are."

The talking Brillo Pad wasn't letting up, and continued with: "He was judging girls, now what the hell does a pillow biter know about judging girls? They should have had a few truckies down there, or me, or the co-driver even. Fair-dinkum Aussie blokes judging fair-dinkum Aussie girls. Not this pompous little pansy.

"I remember when Australia was a land of proud, dedicated women and hard-drinking and hard-talking men. M- E- N, men. Why this sudden proliferation of pansies I don't know. It's a major issue. It's all very good and well that Australia tolerates people with varied sexual leanings but I don't know why we should be celebrating it. The sooner this fairy flies out and lets us judge our own women on our own criteria the better."

Finally he drew to a close, speaking on behalf of "truck drivers, wharf labourers, free thinking red-blooded Australian men and me". He then went on to play a recorded track saying "Piss Off Pansy". Not quite finished yet, Laws went on to say: "I know what you would like to have said [plays track] 'Piss Off Poof', but you can't say that because that's a derogatory word, so we won't say that. We wouldn't stoop to that, well I really wouldn't want to s-s-s-stoop to anything, would I?"

I'm really angry, and not just because I enjoy Carson's fashion sense. As the Sydney Star Observer said last week, these words are not just offensive, they encourage discrimination and, in some cases, violence. I didn't realise until recently how prevalent violence is against lesbians and gay men - particularly in the inner-city. The AVP reports:
The NSW Police Service Out of the Blue (1995) study found that lesbians were six times more likely to be assaulted than other Sydney women and gay men were four times more likely to be assaulted than other Sydney men.
That's not funny John.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Chicken mince

Thanks to Teemu for sending me this link to a disturbing 1980s Estonian television ad. Kanahakkliha translates as chicken mince. The ad would be scary even if I wasn't a pescetarian. Turn up your speakers.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Hippopotaduck posankka

I recently purchased this purple hippo from the post office. (I also got a cute book of kitty stamps while I was there.) It doesn't look much like a hippo, but I couldn't figure out what else it looked like until Kelly worked out that it is also a duck. Hence hippopotaduck.

This reminded me of a crazy thing in Turku, Finland called the posankka. The word posankka is a combination of the Finnish words for pig and duck. It has been seen in various locations around Turku, including on the river Aura.

My friend Dag has a page about the posankka giving a vague explanation for its existence.

See also xmas posankka.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Just say no... our Federal Health Minister's response to Australia's Hepatitis C epidemic (more than one percent of Australians now have this disease). I have blogged about my love for Mr Abbott before, but for some reason I was surprised by this meanness.

There's a great article here about the government's drug policy and its effects on the infection and incarceration rates of addicts.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Wonderful words and "proper" pronunciation

Today I followed a link to Word IQ and got stuck. Having lived in Finland where so many people speak English so well, I am now really interested in our language. My Finnish friends, for the most part, speak English better than most English speakers do, and it is their second or even third language. So I am under some pressure to get things right. Like most people my age, I know little of the rules of grammar, so correct language is just what sounds right. I'm still learning new things.

For instance, it wasn't very long ago that I learned the difference between less and fewer. Around the same time I finally learned when it was appropriate to use whom instead of who and that sometimes I needed to use me instead of I. And there are still so many bits I'm not sure of (or of which I'm not sure!).

Anyway, the Finns used to tease me about a quirk in my pronunciation that I never realised existed. I would say "droring" instead of "drawing" and I would insert a mysterious "r" between some words: "alpha rover beta", "law rand order". Of course, most Australians do this, but I'd never heard myself saying it.

Well WordIQ have finally provided me with an explanation and a name for this quirk: the intrusive "r". They also have a cool piece on Australian English.