A few hours after Stephanie’s linkspam went up on Monday, I was emailing her with more things to post. So!
Remember that time we shared some lessons from Australian ’90s music? Vass linked us in her own linkspam, and then she linked this:
In which Paul Keating’s pro-Asian policies merge with manufactured pop to create … a really depressing series of failures.
During one of Girlfriends early interviews, a cynical musical journalist asked the girls outright what made them any different from New Kids On The Block. Loau answered “we’ve got tits”, at which point the girls management went into damage control. Loau was gently at first, then much more firmly, reminded of Girlfriends rules. According to Loau, she was reminded not to say tits, bum or any words that indicated Loau knew what sex was, and she was to live in a world of perpetual joy and innocence. It was a reminder to all the girls that Girlfriends image was not to deviate from the squeaky clean, that they were to act as if they didn’t even know what a boyfriend was.
Also from Vass:
I actually disagree with this post, mostly because it argues that Julia Gillard has a “general” accent. If this was true, she wouldn’t have received so much classist abuse for it. (Note to self: find time to write the massive post about Doctor Who‘s Tegan Jovanka and Julia Gillard and the silencing of women who sound working class.)
But also, I disagree with the premise that Australia doesn’t have regional variations. There is absolutely a Queensland accent, and even an Ipswich accent. Not to mention the famously posh stereotypical accents of Adelaide and also Melbourne’s suburbs like Brighton.
And there are also variations for people with non-English speaking backgrounds. I once worked with a woman who could tell whether a speaker’s family was Greek or Macedonian based on their inflections.
Decolonisation and Dinosaurs — or, the woman who stopped the theft of Mongolia’s fossils.
The Secrets of Star Wars: it’s very important that you know about Star Wars’ almost Australian canon:
After a dinner of “thanta sauce” and “bum-bum extract,” Luke embarks on a long-winded, jargon-filled explanation to his younger brothers about the Force of Others. Originally discovered by a holy man called the Skywalker, the Force is divided into the good half, “Ashla,” and the “paraforce,” called the Bogan. To prevent people with “less strength” from discovering the Bogan, the Skywalker only taught it to his children, who passed it on to theirs.
Passed it on via an old Monaro, we can only assume.
In more Melbunny transport news: Melbourne Bike Cabs; the failure of myki fines; and some stuff about the East West Link (please note that No Award’s official position on the East West Link is yeah nah mate). And also the sad truth about Melbourne’s transport future (spoilers: there won’t be any rail link to Tulla).
More for infrastructure nerds: photographs from the construction of Melbourne’s City Loop. The official opening in 1981 featured pretty girls in T-shirts and bikini bottoms, because if there’s one thing that needs to be sexy, it’s a rail network.
Are Muslim Women Right To Be Afraid Of Australian Schoolchildren? First Dog on the Moon is No Award’s favourite cartoonist, although we’re mildly concerned that Brenda the Civil Disobedience Penguin violates Stephanie’s copyright on her life (eg this old cartoon about the east west link). But the Dog nails it, as usual.
Normally No Award and MamaMia prefer to politely ignore each other — which is to say that we pointedly ignore MM and they are unaware of our existence — but they ran Jo Qualmann’s piece on being asexual, and we think that’s pretty great. It’s good to see marginalised voices in the mainstream! Also, Jo is good friends with Liz’s brother, and we are more than happy to bask in her success.
Do you obsess over the BoM’s reports? As cyclists, No Award does, and so it’s important to understand the changes to how weather will be reported. (It’s not hard)
Also (you can tell Stephanie is currently reading the news sites), evidence (in case you needed it) that Australia’s Commissioner for Human Rights is a dingbat:
Mr Wilson said he does not support banning burkas, but questioned why some women wear it.
“I do find people walking around with full-length or burkas or hijabs or… I always get the different ones confused… confronting, because it is not something that we are used to seeing in Australia,” he told 612 ABC Brisbane.
“I always wonder and question whether people do it voluntarily.”
He said people were “well within their rights” to wear burkas, but “it doesn’t mean I don’t find it confronting”.
Liz notes: by all means, let’s concern troll about the hijab and its variations, while closing down women’s shelters. That link is from a few months back; I signed a current petition relating to a St Kilda shelter on the weekend, but have managed to forget the link.
(Liz also notes: I am not Muslim, but my stepmother is. She chooses not to wear a hijab for feminist reasons. Her sisters choose to wear it … also for feminist reasons. It’s complicated, and we at No Award aren’t interested in playing at being white saviours.)
Finally! Interesting women of history! The Empress Dowager Ci’an!
Now, Liz is an educated and historically literate woman, and she grew up in a family with a very strong interest in Asian history. Yet it was only last week that she discovered that, for twenty years in the nineteenth century, China was ruled by two dowager empresses — Cixi and Ci’an. It’s the little-known Bitches Get Shit Done Era.
…but seriously, I had never heard of Ci’an until I started reading Jung Chang’s biography of the Empress Dowager Cixi. Which is great, by the way — not just because it’s interesting, but because Chang is a big old Cixi fangirl, and at least once a chapter she starts ranting about traditional historians erasing Cixi or minimising her achievements, or perpetuating myths about how she and Ci’an hated each other, when in fact they were BFFs.
I paraphrase. Slightly.
As a general rule I’m wary of revisionist histories (especially when a lot of the primary sources are in a language I can’t read), but Chang’s work here feels solid. She’s very much writing for a general (and western) audience, but her facts seem reliable. I expect we’ll hear from Stephanie if she’s made any egregious errors.
Anyway, Cixi is brilliant and clever and vastly under-appreciated by history. I have some quibbles with the way Chang writes for people who are entirely ignorant of Chinese culture, and substitutes western concepts for actual translations — like “Praetorian Guard” for what I presume are the imperial guards — but I expect Stephanie will be able to speak at more length on that topic when she eventually reads it. She’s currently, um, “enjoying” some amazingly racist travel writing, so you should send some good thoughts her way, and also vegan cupcakes. She needs them.