linkspam is the fatberg of the night

Hey have some feels about the lack of representation of brown people in a movie about EGYPT. ABOUT BROWN PEOPLE. I mean, I adore Geoffrey Rush as much as the next Australian in her early 30s, but never in my entire life did I imagine him as Ra the Sun God. If Geoffrey Rush can be Ra, why can’t I? All lead actors in The Gods of Egypt will be white by Ruby Hamad (an awesome writer)

Lian Low has written part 1 of 3 about the Inaugural Asia Pacific Writers Forum at this year’s Melbourne Writer’s Festival! Stay tuned to Peril for life, but also for further parts!

List of complaints against Beyond Blue campaign dismissed by ASB.

Hey there is some shit going down with the way that Muslim Australians are currently being terrorised, targeted and treated, and it is not cool.

On Numan Haider at SBS (I’m not typing out that headline and you can’t make me)

Three fans ‘humiliated’ by police treatment at Roosters-Cowboys match

A quick recap of all the times Australia treated Muslims like complete garbage (last) week at Junkee.

On the security stuff: Journalists and whistle blowers will go to jail under new national security laws; #heyasio (the only thing that got me through Friday).

Important info on FATBERGS: How bad are they; an Oxford ‘out of control’ fatberg (in April) was threatening homes. HOMES. More recently, Richmond (in Twickenham) was named a fatberg HOTSPOT. We can only aspire to that sort of ecological horror, I suppose. Good thing we have a Great Barrier Reef to ruin.

Liz wants to link us to ‘Is Agents of Shield really an interracial family show?’ Liz is appropriately embarrassed about watching Agents of Shield, but in her heart Melinda May hangs out with Lin Beifong and they trade stories about being reluctant mentors to young women, so that’s okay.

At Kill Your Darlings: Oversharing is caring: the rise of the twenty-something memoir.

SURPRISE: The AFL has a racism, sexism, and homophobia problem.

Busted flush: corruption in Queensland at Overland.

No Award loves infrastructure: The weird afterlife of the world’s subterranean ‘ghost stations’

The Australian Women’s Writers Challenge has a series at the moment, focusing on women writers with a disability. Check it out!

Also on disability, Liz on her tumblr points out a case of disability policing by those who are not really in a position to do so.

The emotion involved in caring for a parent with Younger Onset Dementia at the Dementia Research Foundation.

THINGS TO ATTEND (Melbs only; please submit links to No Award for anything else that might be of interest/relevance) (neither of these are things we have been asked to promote, Steph is just interested in them):

Key of Sea at The Wheeler Centre (free; this Wednesday at 6:15) (Steph will definitely be at this)

Join us for an emotional night of storytelling and song. The Key of Sea produces creative projects – albums and journals – that celebrate Australia’s cultural diversity. The albums pair established artists with musicians escaping war, hardship or persecution.

In this intimate evening, we’ll hear from Danny Katz, Oslo Davis, Alice Pung, Zakia Baig, Awaz and Murtaza, as they share their work. All proceeds of album and journal sales on the night will go to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

The Privacy Workshop ($65/$45; 17 October)

The Privacy Workshop is a world class symposium on digital privacy, rights, and access. A range of respected speakers and thought leaders will gather in Melbourne, Australia, for a day of exceptional discourse through lectures, workshops and panel discussions.

a family situation of dementia

September is Dementia Awareness Month, and I was in the office when I started crying.

We don’t really talk any more because there’s not a lot she has to say. If she does talk to me, it’s usually to ask, “Can you help me? Is today Friday or Wednesday?”

The saddest part has been losing the person you go to when your world falls apart. No matter how old they get, a lot of girls think, “Mum will know how to fix that.”


I was a daddy’s girl, growing up. I tagged along with my dad to train shows and plane shows; we walked on ahead of my mum and my sister on family bushwalks and stomped on ant nests together; we’d look at books of airplane schematics and exchange thick spy novels and murder mysteries.

A few years ago, my father started to change. He was a little slower; a little angrier. He made wildly out of character accusations (but not completely out of character. Just enough). He stopped answering questions.

When I was seven, his parents died. They both had degenerative mental illnesses when they went and, oh, how I was ready for this day. I have been ready since I was seven.


When daddy got the diagnosis, I was told (not by my dad) not to talk about it. Nobody needs to know. But now that it’s a part of our daily lives I’ve overruled that request more times than I can say, so many times that I don’t even try to hide it any more. When people ask ‘how was your trip to Perth?’ or ‘how are your parents?’, I tell the truth. “Dad has Alzheimer’s,” I say, if they don’t already know. “And we’re getting by.”

I talk about the ups and the downs. I talk about his slowness and his distance. I talk about the toll it’s taking on my mother, his primary caregiver; on my sister, for whom he now plays up, like a child. I talk about how he needs to be told what to do, sometimes, but how I don’t want to take away his autonomy and I don’t know how to balance that. I talk about how my family is struggling and I’m 3000 kilometres away, but I worked hard for this life and I’m not sure I’m willing to give it up.

I talk about how I’m Chinese and Chinese daughters don’t put their fathers in homes; how can I be a good Chinese daughter if I even think about it? But my dad’s not Chinese, so does that mean I can?


Instead of moving back to Perth, right now the compromise is flying there once every 4-6 weeks. I rearrange my work week and I go straight from the office to Tullamarine and from there into four days of family time, giving my mum some breathing space and my sister some room. And I sit beside my father, asking questions and paying attention, letting him be ‘naughty’ but not too far, not far enough to hurt himself. Which he sometimes does. Late on Monday, I fly back to Melbourne, tumble into bed in time for a 7am wake up and back to work.

I thought I’d been open about it, talking about it despite the anguish burning inside, the shame nibbling at the edges. But still my friends ask how my visit home was, genuinely expecting to find it was a fun holiday in the sun and sand. Still other friends ask me to spend time with them in Perth, as if I’m there with moments to spare. So I’m obviously not talking enough.


I was walking through Flinders Street Station on Friday, and saw a bunch of people handing out things. They’re things for September, their blue declaring that it’s Dementia Awareness Month. By Friday, I’d been back from my most recent visit to Perth by three and a half days, and I was exhausted because I hadn’t had a weekend for a while. And there they were, raising awareness about dementia.

My dad has Alzheimer’s. And when I started telling people that he has it, there’s always someone who has been touched by it, too. The woman I call Nan (not my actual Nan). My friend Nic. People at work, who understand when I suddenly disappear to take a half hour call from a family member.

Maybe I’ll get it, too. Maybe I won’t. But if we talk about it, maybe we’ll all be a little better prepared.


What’s really important to me is that we get to treat my dad (and others, of course, with dementia) in a way that respects them, in a way that still allows them autonomy and decision-making. Sometimes I catch myself talking to him as if he doesn’t understand, and it’s not that; he’s just changing, and I can accommodate that.

People with dementia often feel isolated, because they don’t get visited so much – a person with dementia can be confronting, and scary for a host of reasons. But that’s why I want to talk about it. I’m always trying to get people to visit my dad when I can’t be there, and being with my dad all the time is wearying on my mum and my sister.

Alzheimer’s Australia has a bunch of dementia-friendly resources for creating a dementia-friendly Australia.

I’m super into dementia enabling environments (the subtle changes I plan to make on my next visit to the family home are not major but they will, I hope, help).


For example, she says a recent survey showed over 50 percent of Australians think a person with dementia can’t have a meaningful conversation.

“We really need to challenge that, so we would encourage more understanding about the function of the brain, that the messages are just not getting through with dementia,” Mary says.

“So we would try and encourage people to understand some of those behaviours, to take it quietly, to slow things down, and people will understand, to just give people time to respond.”

David and Lennyce both encourage carers and people who have recently been diagnosed with dementia to access all available services, educate themselves and attend support groups.


It’s hard going, but I have hope.

[a photo of me and my dad is going to go here later. but it turns out i don’t have any electronically, and isn’t that an interesting thing]

Letters to NA, the Prime Ministerial Edition

Dear No Award,

The Governor-General is avoiding me and I just caught Malcolm Fraser measuring the curtain rods in the Lodge.  Is this a sign from the universe that I should totally go ahead and borrow money from those totally-not-shady Middle Eastern dudes?

Yours, Gough


Dear No Award,

I really love swimming, but my staff think I go too often. Do they really care about my health, or are they just being ninnies?

Yours, H.H.


Dear No-Award,

The PM won’t return my calls and is pretending that we didn’t pinky-swear about the PMship in Kirribilli that one time. How do I make him step aside?

Yours faithfully,



Dear No Award,

I have a plan for fighting the Depression, which is an excellent plan, and much better than the Melbourne Plan, which is silly because it comes from Melbourne not Sydney.  In the event that the Governor of NSW sacks me, would you recommend getting the NSW Police to fight the army?

Sincerely, Jack Lang, The Big Fella


Dear No-Award,

The PM won’t return my calls and is pretending that we didn’t pinky-swear about the PMship in Kirribilli that one time. How do I make him step aside?

Yours faithfully,



No Award 亲爱的,如果我被解雇,几年可以败坏而且我的替补员还有我的政党,因此摧毁,好不好?K07

[Dear No Award,

In the event that I’m fired, is it reasonable to spend the next few years undermining my replacement and my party, leaving it in a shambles?



Dear NA,

Are you there, God? It’s me, Tony.


Dear No Award,

There’s no possibility that history will judge my government’s policy of limiting immigration to white people, is there?

Yours faithfully,

Edmund Barton


Dear No-Award,

My opposition to the Japanese racial equality proposal at the Paris peace conference after WWI won’t have any lasting repercussions for Australia, will it? I’m pretty confident about this one, ngl.


Billy “That Pestiferous Varmint” Hughes


Dear No Award,

Look, I just think that Hitler guy isn’t so bad.  Sure, he invaded Poland, but who needs Poland?  Nazism has its good points, though it’s all a bit too foreign and weird.  Do you think I should keep urging England to keep on appeasing Germany?

Hugs and kisses,


PS, I’ve been thinking about using nuclear weapons to dredge harbours. That couldn’t have any side effects, could it? Best.


Dear No Award,

Some dickhead keeps lighting lanterns on hills in Bathurst. Is there anything I can do to stop the bastard?


Ben Chifley


Dear No Award,

I really want to become Australia’s most effective yet least popular PriPrime Minister Julia Gillard and Governor General Quentin Bryce toast the Centenary of Canberra. Photo: Andrew Meares  stolen from the SMH webpageme Minister yet. Should I start by being a woman or calling the Opposition Leader a misogynist in parliament?

All the best, Julia


Dear No Award,

It looks like there’s going to be a war, and I’m feeling a bit neglected by HH. Thinking about hooking our great nation to that charming Roosevelt inspite of the objections of a whole lot of losers. I’m also going to introduce unpopular but socially and racially progressive politics during a time of upheaval. This can’t end badly, can it?

Best Regards,

John Curtin


Bonus Premiers:

Dear NA,

Someone seems to be coming along in the middle of the night and smashing up all the heritage buildings in Brisbane.  Unfortunately, the noise attracts protesters.  How many cracked skulls will shut that nonsense down?



Dear No Award,

I’m worried my legacy won’t uphold itself after I’ve gone. I’d really like to build something in my image, that really speaks to me. I love my mancave back in my house, so what about giving the state a really gigantic shed?

Love lots, Jeff.


Dear NA,

I can’t recall.



And here’s the thing that started it all:


Royal Commission resumes

Former PM Gillard has returned to the witness box, where she’s facing questions over renovations she made on her home in 1993 – allegedly funded by money from the union slush fund.

Gillard has just told the commission that she went to Queensland for a holiday, and that while she was away, her then-boyfriend Bruce Wilson “commenced with a group of friends demolishing the bathroom”.

Gillard had apparently been talking about renovating the bathroom for months. “BruceWilson obviously thought I should get on with it and created circumstances where I had to get on with it,” she said.

“By the time I came back the bathroom had been demolished so I had no option but to get the rest of the renovations done.”

To which NA respectfully replies: dump that bastard, and you too can become PM of Australia.

This post was constructed with assistance from noted Fatberg Zoe (again. She’s pretty gold).

the fatberg of melbourne

In early September, Fatberg Fever gripped Melbourne, after the announcement of a Fatberg discovered by Yarra Valley Water in February.

Fatbergs are a serious problem, and one about which Stephanie, as an environmental professional, is qualified to speak.

SOME FACTS ABOUT FATBERGS and your drain system:

  • A fatberg is caused when fat, grease and oils smush together and block pipes. It’s kind of like fat in your arteries, but it’s the arteries of your city!
  • The problem is compounded by increased waste generation in urban centre.
  • Improper waste disposal is a sin! (And also a crime)
  • Things that you can’t put down the toilet or the sink: wet wipes; tissues; pads and tampons; condoms; oil; nappies WHY WOULD YOU EVEN WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, plastics, paint.
  • Things that you shouldn’t put down the sink: food scraps.
  • Fatbergs could possibly be a source of biofuels, but do not try to create one in order to find out.
  • The biggest fatberg ever found was under London, the size of a 747.

Stormwater drains go straight into the sea/river/ocean/bay. There are not consistently filter systems. Drains are different, but not that much different, as demonstrated by Fatberg.

My favourite quote ever is this one, from David Snadden of Yarra Valley Water:

“We all know where number ones and number twos should go, but there is no such thing as a number three, so please do not put anything else down the drain.”


If you want to see some pictures, check them out here – I won’t gross out NA readers by subjecting you without warning.

Our love of Fatbergs is so strong, music happened:



“Fatberging across the universe, on the starship Fatberg, under captain weaves!”

In conjunction with some friends and a need to avoid work, here is an ode to the Fatberg, written by noted Fatberg Zoe:

In sleep it blurbs to me
In dreams it came
That berg which calls to me and blurbed my name
And do I dream again for now I find
The fatberg of the city is there
Inside the drain

Blurble once again with me
Our strange duet
My power over you grows stronger yet
And though you turn from me to glance behind
The fatberg of the city is there
Inside the drain.

Those who have seen your fat
Draw back in fear
I am the fat you wear
It’s me they hear…

Your/My foodscraps and my/your fat in one combined
The fatberg of the city is there/here
Inside my/your drain

It’s there, the fatberg of the city!
Beware, the fatberg of the city!
It’s there, the fatberg of the city!
Beware the fatberg of the city!

In all your fantasies, you always knew
that blob and blurbleness
Were both in you
And in this drainage pipe
where fat is blind
the fatberg of the city is there
inside the drain

it’s there, the fatberg of the city

squiiiiiiidge, my fatberg of sewerage
squiiiiiidge, my fatberg
squiiiiiiidge for me

squiiiiiidge, my fatberg!
squiiiiiiidge for me!

Good day, No Award. Please watch what you throw down the sink, toilet, and stormwater drains. Your city thanks you. 

other places; other people; othering people

A travelogue is an old tradition; an old form of writing. There are records of travel diaries as early as the second century CE; there are Arabic travel journals in the twelfth century and Chinese travel literature in the tenth. There are diaries and journals; maps and economics; boredom and poetry.

A travelogue is the transcription of an adventure; of an exploration; a movement into the unknown or, less commonly, into the known. Travel literature considers one’s identity, and one’s country, and one’s world.

A travelogue is, often, a reflection of the self.

A travelogue tells the audience a lot about a traveller. Between the lines are the things the traveller sees every day, and the assumptions a traveller makes, and the joys a traveller takes from moving through the world.

writer's victoria tweet:
writer’s victoria tweet: “what drives people to suffer in parts of the world with unpronounceable names & indigestible food? we’ll ask @tomdoig”


In Australia, and predominantly in English-language writing, a travelogue is about the traveller; and in its way, it is about the other. This requires an assumption around who is the audience, and who is the other, for there are few other ways to represent those with whom the narrative comes in contact.

I love travelogues. I love them for what they tell you about a person, and a place, and sometimes, what they tell you about yourself. I love travelogues of Australians in Australia; non-Australians in Australia; Australians not in Australia. (I also love travel tales of people in China and Malaysia and Singapore, the other places of my heart) I love these because whether these are travel stories of people in their homes or not in their homes, their stories are always new to me, and there’s always an exploration and an unfamiliarity and a joy, of sorts.


I love it when people talk about their travelogues!

In other news, here’s Other Places, a thing Writer’s Victoria is hosting tonight:

What drives people to leave the comfort of their everyday lives and suffer in far-flung parts of the world with unpronounceable names and indigestible food? Is it our essentially “nomadic” nature, as Bruce Chatwin claims? Is it “The Call of the Wild”? Or is that just a bunch of pretentious First World rubbish? All of the above, according to Tom Doig, author of Moron to Moron: two men, two bikes, one Mongolian misadventure. Come along and find out why.

The audience: clearly not me. Though I choose to leave the comfort of my inner-north Melbourne home, it’s for the comfort of the family home in Malaysia, with its squat toilets and five grown adults in two bedrooms and mosquito netting. I’m a person with a name that is, in its way, unpronounceable (certainly many people mispronounce it). My food is, to many people, indigestible. So, in the dichotomy of the audience and the other, I’m pretty comfortable in assuming I’m the other, here, despite having been born in Australia and loving a good travelogue.

People not from the “first world” travel, and then write about it. People from the first world can be pretty rubbishly pretentious.

“The Call of the Wild” is primarily a racist concept used in racist situations (white people talking about not-white people).

I really wanted to go, because I love travel writing and I’m currently working on a brown person’s travelogue (mine). Now, I really want to go and find out if this event is gonna be as casually, thoughtlessly racist as it sounds like it’s going to be, but I really can’t justify the $50 just to get angry.

If you go, let me know. I’ve got some questions.

writer's victoria tweet:
writer’s victoria tweet: “are travel writers responding to ‘The Call of the Wild”? we’ll ask @tomdoig on Monday. Join us…”

Other Places
Writer’s Victoria
The Wheeler Centre
September 8, 18:30 – 20:30
Non-member $50 / Member $35 / Concession $30

I have not made my sadness known to Writer’s Victoria, as I’m not currently a member. Lately, as I publish more and more regularly, and as I truly begin to consider myself the writer part of ’emerging writer’, it’s something I’ve been considering. But right now, after this, I don’t want to. How can I expect support from an organisation that promotes this exclusion?

indigenous literacy day

As a Chinese-Australian, growing up in Perth’s outer suburbs, Steph was privileged to gain an excellent education and a sufficient reading level, that she has used to collect degrees to hang around her neck. Not all Australians have that same advantage, however, and Indigenous Australians are amongst the least able to access education and literacy resources.

The first Wednesday of September is Indigenous Literacy Day, and today is that Wednesday. Last year, Steph and Liz Got Caught Reading (wow, based on those photos, it sure was warmer this time last year!), but this year we are both at work so probably shouldn’t publically admit to being reading right now. But you can!

You can find out all about Indigenous literacy at the Indigenous Literacy Foundation webpage, but here are some key facts:

  • Indigenous homes, particularly those in remote communities, have fewer books, computers and other educational resources than non-Indigenous homes. All of these factors are linked to children’s achievements at school and in the development of English literacy skills. (Bortoli and Cresswell, 2004)
  • The development of English literacy skills is important for the life opportunities of Indigenous children and youth. Literacy provides them with ‘the necessary skills to interact within mainstream society and avail themselves of the broadest range of civic, social, educational and employment possibilities’. (Mellor and Corrigan, 2004)
  • The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students emerges early. Non-Indigenous students far out-perform Indigenous students in benchmark tests for reading, writing and numeracy in Year 3 and Year 5. By Year 7, the gap has widened, particularly for numeracy. (DEET NT 2006)
  • By the age of 15, more than one-third of Australia’s Indigenous students ‘do not have the adequate skills and knowledge in reading literacy to meet real-life challenges and may well be disadvantaged in their lives beyond school’. (PISA cited in Bortoli and Cresswell, 2004, page 11).

That is bullshit, right? Help close the gap by supporting the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and Indigenous Literacy Day. There are lots of events across the country, many bookstores are donating a percentage of takings for the day to the ILF, and if you donate you’ll not only be helping our country and Indigenous Australians but also you’ll probably look more attractive.*

Donate early, donate often. No Award will love you for it. 

Track ILD events on the hashtag #ILD14


Quick Link Roundup

The always excellent Luke Pearson at Eureka Street: Making Indigenous Literacy Day Obsolete

Carla McGrath, this week’s IndigenousX tweeter: Indigenous excellence is personal, it’s individual, and it’s about education

At the Wheeler Centre: It’s Indigenous Literacy Day Tomorrow, a good summary post

At the SMH: Tiwi Islands students take part in writing workshop for Indigenous Literacy Day



*not guaranteed by NA.


Got a sharehouse problem? Let us attempt to solve it for you!

Liz and Steph have lived in a lot of sharehouses.  We have experience.  And also lots of friends with experience.  If you find yourself, say, with flatmates whose drunk friend turned up at 5 am on a Sunday morning and possibly pissed on your couch, only you can’t tell for sure because the couch cover and mattress have mysteriously vanished … well, we don’t have an answer for that, because that’s Liz’s life right now, and she’s not one for confrontational things like asking questions outright in a face to face and mature manner.  

But if you have a query, or a good story to tell, or advice re: Schrodinger’s piss couch (that isn’t going to wind up on, this is the time and place to ask, and we’ll answer in a post in the near future.