Lay off Amy Winehouse.

At a Sunday bike fix not long ago Val had some music playing on his bike’s loudspeakers. It’s a setup with an old car amp and speakers on panniers on the back of the bike running off an ipod. Kinda dinky.

A song came on with the most beautiful smokey blues voice and I asked him who was singing. Sure enough it was Amy Winehouse singing “Back to black” from her latest album. I was very impressed. I had no idea quite how good she is.

The discussion came up about her supposed drug use. Fancy that, a musician doing drugs. What will the world come to! ;-) Of course, when you think about it drug use has sometimes seemed almost mandatory for anyone in the arts and music scene. Before there was heroin and tablets there was always wine, hash and opium. For many thousands of years these things were available legally.

It is no coincidence that opiate drugs work so well because they fit the endorphin receptors in the human brain. How many thousands of years were these plants cultivated by humans for exactly that purpose?

A large part of the complaint about Ms Winehouse came from the US trash media. I’m beginning to wonder if it wasn’t because they’re jealous of her talent. The US media seem to think they’re the whole point of evolution and planetary development sometimes.

Not to mention inventing the war on drugs. Using “save the children” (TM) as a cover, in spite of the drugs industry in the US being second only to petrochemicals as a money spinner and many large drug companies being based in Texas… conservative politicians have created a you-beaut-wonderful straw man to use as a whipping boy to distract punters every time another one of them gets busted for snorting crack and screwing street kids. There isn’t really a war on drugs or the troops in Afghanistan would be helping set up schools and hospitals, not stuck in a penny ante tit for tat with guerillas armed by the Saudis. Same is true in Colombia. They could have had farms growing food, instead the US wanted coffee and coke, so they set about upending South American economies with standover tactics described as free trade agreements.

Aside from all of that, the real problems with illegal drugs are mainly the fact that they’re illegal. If they weren’t brewed up in backyard dunnies and cut with rat poison, we’d have plenty of pills kids could try out safely. Those who are going to get addicted can always get addicted to legal or illegal drugs and at least there’d be some safeguards and harm minimisation in place.

Humans are always going to want to alter their consciousnesses. Hell, we’ve only really had an egotistic “I” conscious self for a few thousand years anyways. Maybe drugs helped trigger this evolution? If Governments really gave a rats arse about the damage done by illegal drugs they would be setting programs in place and ignoring the hysteria in the media. Or at the very least not exploiting it in the name of re-election. How about exploring some of the reasons why kids want to do drugs? How about some limits on the emotional abuse and sexual content of advertising that pushes people over the edge? (And if you think that’s an overstatement consider that advertising is known to affect and alter the physical function of your brain).

In the meantime give Amy a break. The last thing the poor girl needs is to be a scape goat for a slow news week in Hollywood. Heh, the people that castigate her on television look like they’re made of plastic anyway.

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Reeling them in.

The headlines in the morning papers read thus: “Libs left reeling by Labor surge.”

It’s not really news that the Liberal Party are having a hard time after their former dictator departed. And this isn’t the first time I’ve recommended a book by Marion Maddox God under Howard. The Liberal Party in Australia are hard-line conservatives and pretty much a festering hive of right-wing extremist religious politics. Some have described them as Fascist or Nationalist.

All this brings something of a sense of deja-vous to those of us living down here in Victoria. After a preening fascist moron was voted out everyone breathed a premature sigh of relief. Ding dong the bastard’s dead… or at least voted out on the end of a boot, where he can hopefully do no further damage. And we’re still realising quite how much damage he did. After Kennett sold off all the utilities and public transport, the problems arising from such a fire sale are still coming home to roost.

We had a newer, friendlier Premier, one who made noises about having learned lessons and governing in the interests of the voters. What we found after some time was that though the noises coming from State Parliament were different, in practise nothing was.

The public transport system is one prize example. The opportunity arose last November for the State Government to take the reins again, which they forfeited and the system is as crappy as ever. Likewise selling off the utilities was supposed to make them lean, mean and efficient. What actually happened is that the utilities are now owned by mostly overseas interests, many, many jobs were lost and the famed improvement in service has boiled down to the introduction of two and three year contracts to keep people chained to a particular provider at the expense of any improvement in either service or competition.

It is really funny therefore to watch Morris Iemma, the scheming weasel of NSW Parliament who is doing for the NSW Labor party what Jeff Kennett and John Howard did for State and Federal Liberals. No one in their right mind thinks that there will be any benefit in selling out public utilities. There must be a very, very nice future job or golden handshake in the works for someone in all of this and it sure as hell ain’t the voting public!

The corporate media helped sell the idea and the utilities when the fire sale was on in Victoria and at Federal level with Qantas, Telstra, the Commonwealth Bank and energy utilities sold for a song, they now enjoy a very, very modest level of criticism of such sales. Rather than every Australian being part owner of the gas, telephone, electricity, public transport, a national airline, a bank and of course the water infrastructure, now very few individuals hold shares and most are traded by multi-national conglomerates.

The utilities are run with a profit agenda. This is a huge problem for global greenhouse solutions. No one’s promoting serious changes to the status quo because they are more interested in a profit and share prices than they are in say, eliminating the use of coal fired power stations. No one’s pushing hammer and tongs for every household in Victoria to have rain and grey water systems because, you guessed it, there’s a profit agenda. Despite the damage being done to the environment and the risk to the survival of humans and many other animals, money still talks the loudest among the groups of old white men who run the global kleptocracy.

Unfortunately we’ve over-learned our stereotypes too well, otherwise every woman worth her salt would be making noises about the utilities being returned to public ownership in order to make the necessary changes. The stereotype of leftist politics and the fabricated need to avoid such like the plague has been drummed home so far that some people think Labor is left wing. Nothing could be further from the truth.

While we wait in vain for anything practical and positive to be done about global warming, we watch the approval ratings of the new government climb and climb, while Brendan Nelson shoots himself in both feet with gay abandon. We watch another Sydney Anglican employ the tactics of ‘bread and circuses’, as did his predecessor, and create commissions and enquiries into all manner of things. He even had his national youth summit and a listening tour. In reality, it’s all show. What is happening is little different to anything prior. A lot of song and dance, and bloody nothing really changes.

And the media’s still raking in the money with it’s embarrassing collusion in the whole sordid sideshow.

Bah, humbug.

Male privilege circumvented by teh ‘nets and geek grrrls.

Hoyden has founded the Australian chapter of Hollaback. Hollaback Aus is a blog where you can post pics of men who have been harrassing you, should you record them on your mobile or digital camera.

* A note to harassers: All emails containing threats, bluster, abuse, insults, rudeness, and general douchehoundery may be published, here or elsewhere, and/or appropriate action taken. Harassers and their apologists have no expectation of privacy on this blog.

H/T to Twisty for this one.

Yay. That’s it. Fortunately I don’t have a use for it presently, unless I scope back through my past and take pics of various church ministers, adoptive father and other assorted retrograde semi-human evolutionary anomalies…. But what a freaking great idea! Out the bastards. And mucho kudos for any woman who makes use of it.

Happy May Day!

Well, it’s that time of year again. While students in Korea and employees in Russia might be celebrating with a vodka or a riot, things will probably be quieter in the land down under. We may still be waiting for a revolution. You know, realising that people are human beings and not units of labour. Remembering that we’re part of the life of the planet and not merely consumers. Connecting with some sort of idea that humans created what we think of as the economy or culture and that if we made this one, we can just as easily make it into something else. Something more practical, more inclusive and less damaging.

In Australia women are particularly still waiting for a revolution. In recent days we’ve been vilified, stabbed, shot and raped… Not to mention the legislation of financial abuse that hasn’t been altered or even addressed by the current Government.

In spite of all this, Happy May Day. Because we can change it if we want to. It’s a waning moon at the moment, a good time for banishing and letting go. A good time for rituals that release all the stuff in the past that’s unhelpful and poisonous. Time to clear the decks in order to move forward.

Not that it would be beneficial to repress the past and forget it’s lessons. Simply that forever focussing on the evils in the world, all the horrible things that men do to each other and to women, can be so dreadfully depressing and seemingly hopeless. We continue on, often in spite of the carnage going on around us. We persevere hoping that in the midst of the abuse, we can create something for ourselves and experience life, love and laughter with friends.

And in spite of all the bullshit in the media and corporate construct, we can still spend some time in the bush reconnecting with the sacred natural.

Blessed be.