Monday, September 27, 2010

Busy bee in a golden flower

Bushland exploration

Poking around in bushland near here, I found some things to take photos of. Other than photos, the main thing I got out of the bushland exploration was scratched legs. And the theatre of walking into a spider's web exactly at face-height, which I didn't notice because I was keeping my eyes on the ground on the look-out for snakes. Cue involuntary noises and flailing for that part.

On #groggate

Early this morning while lying in bed and reading the news on my phone, I came across a story about Nationals MP Tony Crook deciding to sit as an independent. This led to actually getting up and turning on my computer to see if I could find out more about this. Maybe I didn't look hard enough on The Age or SMH as I didn't find anything about Crook on there, so I went over to Not finding anything on the front page, I scrolled down to the bottom of it, thinking at least a link to The Australian might give me something about it.

Instead, on the top five news stories for The Australian, I see "Controversial political blogger unmasked."

Totally forgetting about finding news about Crook, I click the link and discover that James Massola had decided to out the writer of Grog's Gamut, which has been my favourite political blog since discovering it just before the election in August. The commentary provided on Grog's Gamut about the election, policies and so on was excellent. It was a nice change to be able to read incisive coverage of politics that actually explored issues, rather than Julia Gillard's earlobe size, whether or not she was married or Tony Abbott's budgie smugglers.

Grog's criticism of the mainstream media for their lack of quality coverage during the election was something that resounded with many readers and was an issue a number of other bloggers had also written about from a variety of angles (Possum's Pollytics for example has had some great coverage of the poor mainstream media coverage of the NBN, and Possum's Let the Great Unhinging begin is particularly interesting - although also worryingly likely).

But back to the #groggate issue.

Grog has written a response to the outing, titled Spartacus no more. There's been a lot of outrage about it on Twitter under both #groggate and #jamesmassola. Interestingly, Jack The Insider outed himself in response to this all as well.

There are lots of other bloggers writing about this issue today (you can see more at Pure Poison, Gutter Trash, B Sides and mUmBRELLA for a start, plus Conscience Vote's Who has the right to speak? is interesting).

The whole outing thing has concerned me, not just because it seems unnecessary. When considered in the light of Grog's posts about the lack of quality political coverage in the Australian media currently, it could be taken as being vindictive, particularly due to bringing his employment details into the matter. Massola writes in the article:

'The prolific blogger shows a strong preference for the ALP, despite the Public Service code of conduct stating that "the APS is apolitical, performing its functions in an impartial and professional manner".'

Which Grog responds to in his entry about the matter (read it here if you haven't already). If Grog has kept the two issues of work and home life separate, then why should there be punishment for it? Whether or not he leans towards the ALP really shouldn't matter. There are loads of other public servants who have political leanings - some are even members of political parties. I can't help but wonder whether he ever would have been outed if he had LNP leanings.

A wee while ago John Hewson wrote Fourth Estate corrupting the political system for Unleashed, which contains this:

"I most vividly remember an early meeting with Paul Kelly, then editor of The Australian. Kelly stated quite emphatically that The Oz had a specific policy agenda, and if I said the right things, consistent with that agenda, I would "get a run". If I erred, I could expect to get a drubbing."

And that incident was back in the 90s!

It bothers me that there are news organisations out there who seem to think they are the ones to set policy agendas and make or break politicians and parties. And anyone who holds opinions on the political issues they "cover" that are different need to be exposed, "punished," made unelectable if they're a politician, etc. Opinion masquerading as news is also bothersome, particularly when combined with an apparent agenda.

There's also the issue of double standards. If they're going to expose an anonymous blogger, why not expose whoever wrote that piece in The Australian that said: "We believe he and his Green colleagues are hypocrites; that they are bad for the nation; and that they should be destroyed at the ballot box" (found here). I mean, that's definitely trying to influence/drive political opinion. And what about all of the stories with "A Liberal source says..." or "A Labor source says..." stuff? Additionally, what about all the stories that bang on about Labor's "faceless men" - such a furphy - and never unmask them, so why a blogger who's done nothing more than write in their personal time about things that are going on in the world of Australian politics?

Instead of encouraging debate about the issues of political coverage in the mainstream media in Australia, journalists have seemed to be terrified of it. This is disappointing, even though the ABC's managing director Mark Scott said in his Melbourne Writers Festival speech that the criticism of news coverage had been raised at a meeting because "dynamic political news was crowding out proper reporting of policy initiatives in some news bulletins . . . We adjusted our strategy as we listened to critics, our audiences - and critiqued our own coverage."

If the ABC is brave enough to do this, then why not other media sources?

Another thing that worries me is which Australian political bloggers are next? It seems almost like a threat in some ways aimed at individuals who have taken the time to explore political matters and may or may not have come to a different conclusion about matters to those The Australian draws.

Extra linky update stuff:
> The whys and wherefores of bureaucratic blogging by Bernard Keane on Crikey.

> Grog-gate: outing as bullying by An Onymous Lefty.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A very orange purse

*Note: this isn't an advertorial blog entry. I'm just having a rambling reminisce/happy customer sort of moment, so if you don't really want to read about Oroton, please feel free to skip ahead and look at other things on here. There are some soothing beach photos down further.

Anyway. It's time for some reminiscing.

Back when I was doing my degree, some friends and I were addicted to op shopping. This was before op shopping hit that popularity boom a while back and stores ended up being a) picked over and b) rather pricey for second-hand tat. We'd go most Fridays and find all sorts of stuff. One friend once found a Gucci bag, I picked up loads of vintage/antique jewellery and the other friend fed their Glo-Mesh addiction (which we all suffered from to some degree).

One of my favourite items that I picked up in that time was a white Oroton Glo-Mesh-style handbag. I didn't like it at first, apart from its gorgeous purple silky lining, but came to adore the bag after a few months. I'll have to find it in the moving boxes, take a photo and post it sometime as an update to this post. I also picked up a matching coin purse at another op shop a few weeks after that, although someone had written "50 cents" on the lining of it in biro.

Still, my love of all things Oroton has grown from that experience back in 2002. Later, when I lived near Melbourne, the friend who found the Gucci bag and I would make outings to the DFOs, including the BrandSmart one in Nunawading. They have an Oroton outlet there. Far too tempting. I bought four handbags there - three for myself, one as a present. The justification was that they were quality items, and I wouldn't buy other handbags. Which I actually didn't.

Then with having to move and ending up in a place that's near the beach - hurrah! - but not anywhere near BrandSmart, I found out they have a website, Which has been great for buying little items now and then for presents (or the lovely Alpine hobo handbag I got Mum for her birthday - got it months before her birthday on a giant sale).

I know people often don't seem to think buying brand-name accessories are worth it unless they actually have the money to do so - why put down a few hundred dollars (or thousand) when you can pick up a fake major designer item for $50? For a start, most people can spot the fakes. Plus they're generally poorly made and the emphasis seems to be on flash fashion over substance/quality.

The vintage Oroton and Glo-Mesh handbags and purses sum it up for me. They've stood the test of time and are still going strong as practical, beautiful items. Other handbags I've bought that were brand-new but cheap have fallen apart within months of buying them. Since buying the new Oroton handbags, I haven't needed to purchase other bags. The only thing that's been necessary has been some leather-care product now and then.

Although I have to say, I don't have the same attitude towards clothes as I do towards accessories. Clothes are made to come and go - fabric doesn't last forever, even if there are some items we'd love to have that happen for. But with accessories, if you choose the right ones you can keep them for years, coordinate them with all kinds of outfits and perhaps hand them down to your children/grandchildren.

The occasional indulgence with something like this isn't all bad.

"Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves." - Dorothy Parker (1893 - 1967)

A very green building

Monday, September 20, 2010

On job hunting

The close of September is upon us and I am still job hunting. I'm trying to not worry about it too much, seeing as I've only really been seriously looking since I got back from England in the middle of June. Prior to that, I thought it was entirely justified to indulge in some relaxation, holidays and looking at beautiful things (like the beach - anyone who's visited the blog will notice my adoration of that). Especially after the hell on wheels that was last year.*

But people do keep asking, "Have you found a job yet?" and all sorts of questions like that.

In short, no.

In less short, stop asking unless you're going to add, "Because if you're still looking, I've got a job that would be brilliant and I'd love you to start right now."

I know people mean well when they ask and they're just expressing concern about me as a person (and interest in my life). But when things have changed, I'll definitely let people know. Possibly by running down the street screaming, "YAAAAAAY! I HAVE A JOB!" while flailing my arms in the air.

There are lots of jobs out there in the world. Lots of jobs that I'm not qualified for, mostly. If I'd have known that jobs in media would be so difficult to find years ago, I probably would have been a bit more practical and just had marketing as a minor instead of marketing and English. Or done something else entirely. Become a vet. Scaled Everest. Started my own television show based around adventures in the wilderness that would often end in bobsledding down a hill on a dead moose. Something that would mean less job searches where the results in my area of expertise being all "Senior management/senior journalist/senior communicator with at least 15 years of experience, knowledge of at least five languages essential, management skills a must, ability to negotiate hostage situations looked upon favourably."

So I keep on looking. There are generally enough things for me to apply to equal about five jobs per week. Some weeks there are more than others - the weeks when they're not only looking for multi-lingual senior managers who can build a website, Photoshop images and write the content for an entire magazine while negotiating a hostage situation in Uzbekistan.

Hopefully something will turn up.

In the mean time, there's been many positives. Spending more time with family (hopefully they can still stand me). Spending more time with friends I hadn't seen in ages. Getting to do something about getting my driver's licence FIIIINALLY (although I suspect people have realised I'm only doing it so I can drive to the beach). Oh, and going to the beach of course (if I learn how to surf and have at least five children with bogan names to five different bogan men, then that could really work towards fitting the Centrelink stereotype!).

Plus I've finally gotten around to joining RedBubble and posting some stuff on there. If you've ever looked at some of my photos and thought, "I'd love me one of them on a greeting card or perhaps as a mounted print!" you can now get them through the link below.

*Would write about it, but it'd probably be snarky and really, it's nice to have gotten away from that entire situation :)

Close to a camellia