Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hearts Broken

Cruel irony:

VANDALS have smashed local skateboarders' hearts by destroying a large section of the new Pines Lane Skate Park at Elanora. Elanora Police Beat Senior Constable Kurt Foessel said the coping around the edge of the skate bowl may have been smashed with a sledgehammer on Thursday night, causing significant damage...

(It) would cost between $10,000 to $15,000 to repair. "They haven't ruined just one section, they've gone along and smashed it at least every metre and a half, enough so that you can't skate it..."
Skateboarders cause hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage to public and private property around Australia ever year with a practice known as grinding (Wikipedia | About).

The damage caused by skateboarders to kerbs, bench edges, steps, railings, copings and shopfront window sills has spawned an entire industry in preventative add-ons.

Some of these devices might be said to be attractive or at least inoffensive to the eye but they are made necessary only because of attitudes of skateboarders ranging from inconsiderate to simply malicious.

Other anti-grinding devices are plain ugly or detract from the appearance of older property when used as a retrofit to attempt to stop their slow destruction, while anti-grinding devices can make public benches uncomfortable.

It all constitutes the kind of 'pre-vandalisation' with which we've responded to damage caused by inconsiderate and anti-social minorities over the past couple of generations. Instead of punishing this behaviour, we've simply vandalised the built environment before they could, making ugly or less useable or practical the design of everything from phone boxes and bus shelters to, well, park benches.

Lest one thinks one is being hyper-critical of 'kids just being kids', (a) cutting kids some slack shouldn't include allowing repeated damage of property, however unintentionally, and (b), a skateboarder who helped design the $160,000 Gold Coast City Council-built skate park notes:

"It's packed every afternoon with kids from 10 years to 40 years old."
'Kids from 10 years to 40 years old' - it says a lot in so few words.

The same person is now asking the council to install lights and cameras to protect the park from vandals and the police have supported CCTV as an option.

All this might be reasonable if skate parks achieved one of their most frequently stated aims, being to keep skaters off the streets and give them a place to go. However, skate bowls are most often like legal graffiti venues - they are taken over by groups of hard-core practitioners who drive out more law-abiding users and simply employ the legal venue as a place to refine skills openly and with impunity that they will later deploy covertly at other, illegal sites.

So what is the answer?

It's not to stop building stake parks - but it is perhaps to stop giving children and 'kidults' what they want, especially from the public purse, until they learn to reciprocate with what other members of society want. And it is most certainly to come down hard and meaningfully on those skateboarders and their wheeled cousins, in-line skaters and BMX bikers, who do the wrong thing.

In the meantime, all the Elanora skateboarder 'kids from 10 years to 40 years old' who have ever done a grind on a public kerb, step, rail or bench or anywhere else that wasn't specifically built to do it have just got a taste of their own medicine.

It might be worth the repair bill if one or two of them learn respect for other people's property as a result but these days one doubts it.

In the meantime, one is left wondering what motivated a systematic sledgehammer attack on the skate park, an act of much more premeditated deliberate damage than grinding, to be sure.

-- Nick

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Femme's Fatal Flaw in Logic

As observed before, Nicky and I enjoy reading Saturday's opinion pieces, they're good for a laugh.

Like this piece from androgynously named Chris Wallace entitled Women will tire of taking the back seat.

Will they, I wondered? One finds it fascinating to read pieces that purport to speak for all of us with a double-X chromosome.

DO KEVIN Rudd's staff hate women or are they just nasty to everyone?

Rudd press secretary Lachlan Harris is rude to female journalists, according to reports last week, which supplied several examples.

As well, on an overseas prime ministerial trip recently male reporters sat together in a bloc on the VIP jet with all the female reporters seated in a bloc behind them.

Rudd and the boys had a long chat over drinks at one stop on the trip, with the female reporters apparently excluded off to the side, Prime Minister-less.
Whinge, whinge, bleat and whinge.

C'mon Chrissie, sweetheart, you've obviously grown up in the feminist era, what's stopping you from going over and joining in? I do, it's my job.

Kevin Rudd, prima facie, has some powerful positives working for him with women.

Therese Rein, Rudd's wife, is a powerful professional in her own right and lends the PM good credentials on his underlying attitude to women.
Right, so Rudd's fem-friendly credentials have to earned by his wife?

That's, y'know, a bit sexist isn't it?

And besides, Therese Rein has earned her money on the back of expansive government contracts so it couldn't have hurt to have had extensive party influence in the form of her husband.

It's just like lauding as independent achievements, the sales of a real estate agent whose husband is the property developer.

Rudd appointed the talented Tanya Plibersek Minister for the Status of Women, another plus. Down a dark alley at night confronted by a pack of marauding men - or in Cabinet confronted by a pack of marauding men - Plibersek is the kind of person you'd be thrilled to have fighting shoulder to shoulder with you.
Often confronted by a pack of marauding men are you Chrissie, or is that just your victim fantasy emerging again?

Rudd appointed four women to really meaty Cabinet jobs, including Julia Gillard, the Deputy Prime Minister.

All good. So why did the story get any traction? Because it happened in this context.

Just four of Rudd's 18 Cabinet ministers are women - hardly benchmark-busting, and Plibersek isn't one of them.

The 2020 Summit got the symbolism on women wrong.
Oooh, do tell.

Julianne Schultz and Jackie Huggins' prominent roles alongside Cate Blanchett visibly saved the day in the end, but only just.
Right, just so long as women were visible it really didn't matter about their achievements.

There have been no "early wins" for women from Rudd's election. Yes, the Work Choices rollback helps, but that's not particular to women.

Contrast the treatment of the car industry and, say, parental leave since Rudd's election.
Let's, shall we?

Both got sent off for review - parental leave to the tough Productivity Commission, cars to the dinky Bracks Review.

The car industry gets prominent handouts even before Bracks has reported, but there'll be no parental leave initiative at least until the PC reports next year.

The definitive work on parental leave has already been done, UNSW academic Sarah Maddison points out - by the Human Rights & Equal Opportunities Commission a few years ago.
It may not have occurred to Chrissie that if (predominantly male) car workers lose their jobs, then the women and children those men support will be disadvantaged as well.

And another thing, women have been successfully raising children without the need for paid maternity leave for millennia, so tell me what the priority should be - ensuring there are jobs today or feel good tokenism?

While delighted about the Howard government's demise...
Yeah, what a surprise there.

...Maddison also points out that much backsliding on policies affecting women in the last decade happened under wall-to-wall state Labor governments.
Gee and one of those Labor Governments is headed by a woman too. Whatever happened to the sisterhood, sister?

I'm inclined to believe Lachlan Harris' defence - that he's rude to everyone, not just female journalists.
Well, that's magnanimous.

But the press gallery women's grief is part of a bigger pattern on women that Rudd ought to join the dots on. We had half the votes in 2007 and we've got half the votes in 2010 as well.
And how dare you assume that my opinions will fall lock-step into yours on gender lines, dearie?

We may be women, but we do have brains of our own.

-- Nora

Mobile Billboards

This week's bru-ha-ha over an obscene T-shirt made the local Gold Coast Hysterical postively orgasmic over the amount of traffic their web site generated:

RELIGION and politics may be taboo subjects at the dinner table but yesterday they yielded its most read story of the year.
Yes, that was the intro.

Not that the issue is new. Similar arrest was made on the Gold Coast about 20 years ago in which a young man was arrested wearing another band T-shirt - this one was The Angels and the lyric at the front: "Am I ever gonna see your face again?" and carried the crowd sung drunken refrain on the back.

But no one at the Gold Coast Hysterical would know that because no one has worked there for that long. Seriously.

Our views on censorship have been articulated before. The bottomline is the kids was walking around as a profane mobile billboard, the content of which reveals the core of his immaturity and stupidity.

Yet typically the media and it seems many of the commenters miss the point - the issue has less to do with religious sensitivities and everything to do with screaming obscenities in public.

Fortunately there appear to be two at least who have got it right:

I agree with Ruth, as a Christian myself, everyone has the freedom to express their like and dislike but do it in a reasonable manner. I think it really was the last word on the shirt that was offensive, you could put jack, bill or john on it, it would still be offensive.

Posted by: Dean of brissy 10:53am Thursday
I am an atheist and still found the T shirt offensive. Not because of the reference to Jesus but because of the obscene word. Can you imagine a parent faced with a child learning to read asking "Mummy, what's a C***?" With rights comes responsiblilty and the need respect the rights of the public.

Posted by: Ruth Lievesley of Nerang 9:35am Thursday
Would that everyone else be so sensible.

-- Nora

A Clockwork Pumpkin

A bunch of spoiled 21st century western kids get bored and decide to act out scenes from a violent video game:

In the real-life re-enactment of the game, the crazed youths' rampage involved mugging, several break-ins and an attempted car-jacking in Garden City. "They decided they were going to go out to commit robberies and emulate the character Nico Belic in the particularly violent video game Grand Theft Auto," said Nassau County Police detective-lieutenant Raymond Cote.
Anyone suprised by this has their head in the sand and anyone who says 'only in America' is fooling themselves.

Gross immaturity and violent behaviour are hallmarks of young people throughout the West, including Australia:

A REMARK about a man having a 'pumpkin shaped head' might have been the catalyst in a violent brawl in which three teenagers were allegedly stabbed, the Southport Magistrates Court was told. "We walked in and had a couple of drinks. I was walking around and I walked past one guy and rubbed his head. I said he had a pumpkin shaped head," he said. "He then grabbed me by the throat and the scruff of my shirt ... I ended up walking away and sat down to think. I stood back up and yelled at this guy."
This is not because the West has lesser values than other cultures but because we have mostly abandoned the values that previously gave young people resilience and real strength, not the mock strength of bravado, bluster and violence.

Young people want for nothing so they are bored with everything, seeking more and greater stimulation to allieviate the tedium of a world where nothing is denied them.

Middle class kids exhibit the extreme nihilist behaviour popularly associated in times past with the spoiled brats of the upper classes while kids raised in more impoverished circumstances soon learn that our world's lack of meaningful consequences for ones actions mean that what you don't have can be taken with relative impunity.

The American video game fans were 15, 14, 16 and 17, were bored so they mugged a man, beat him and knocked out some teeth before committing break-ins and enlisting two more friends to stage car-jackings.

Nassau County's Detective Cote continued:

"These teens have difficulty separating fact from fiction, fantasy from reality. It was quite alarming."
But hardly surprising.

-- Nick

Monday, June 02, 2008

Kids Behaving Badly

A history lesson stretching from just after the defeat of Napoleon to the present day:

There was a time when the most powerful curb on bad behaviour was the shame that attached to being upbraided by a police officer or an adult. That stigma has gone, along with any deference young people once felt to the older generation or people in authority...
It's worth reading the whole piece, just as this is:

What we are living through is nothing other than the death throes of 20th-century ideology: the idea that the state is the only repository of civic virtue and moral authority.
-- Nick

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Above Rubies

A wife - for a woman whose full time role is managing a household, what might her 'job description' include:

Running the household? Making sure there's enough food in the cupboard and ensuring the house is clean? Perhaps involvement with her husband's career - entertaining clients, acting as a personal assistant?

That doesn't sound so bad does it?

In one's own professional career, it is extremely common to encounter the husband and wife business owners where the wife's role in the business is bookkeeper, office manager and personal assistant in addition to managing a household.

That doesn't sound oppressive does it?

Well, it does in the bizarro world inhabited by feminists who have castigated a man who has give the label 'virtual wife' to a job advertisement as described above.

Domestic violence worker Chantal Eastwell, who is helping co-ordinate Brisbane's Feminist Conference, was shocked.

"What angers me is that some men do think they have the right to control women in this way," she said.

"It's terrible to have the attitude that women are subservient, and I hope no one wants to take this job."
Ms Eastwell obviously believes that a woman working in partnership with a man is the equivalent of servitude.

What would she rather women do? Just sit on their arses all day waiting for hubby to come home and shower them with jewels? Or live the Sex And The City self-indulgent and empty-headed neurosis first hand?

Stay angry Ms Eastwell, stew in your silly impotent rage - the rest of us women have work to do.

-- Nora