Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Quote of the, um, year

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. — Epictetus

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The path-of-least-resistance parent

Information on parenting is like that on climate change: there’s a helluva lot of it out there, and most of it is fairly accurate and helpful but some is woefully irresponsible and strung together on dodgy pretexts. Such articles go against common sense, but people cling to them because they want an excuse not to take the tougher path — they want a let-off.

I just ran into one of these disastrous parenting articles on the Guardian website. It’s written in the style of an opinion piece, but it’s posted in the Parents & Parenting section, and thus imbued with pseudo legitimacy.

What’s the betting this girl will be allowed to study in peace?

Annalisa Barbieri has decided there is a trend towards strict parenting leading to ‘mindlessly compliant’ teens. There is no such trend. Further, she has declared that if a child is well-behaved that is a cause for concern. Well, if it was a Stepford son or daughter, perhaps. But the trend is quite the opposite of how she describes it.

Single-digit kids are getting in trouble with police, tweens are committing serious, even capital, crimes and teens are jacking in their education, becoming strangers to their parents and harming themselves and others. And this is not one-off instances sensationalised by an outrage-fuelled press — although that happens too — it’s good kids I’ve known personally. That is the trend.

...kids who are subject to peer pressure at its worst are kids whose parents taught them to do what they're told.

No — the kids who are bullying them are the ones who’ve realised they can gain great enjoyment from doing so without significant consequence — because they’ve been allowed to get away with murder.

The balanced approach

So what is the right approach? Seen and not heard, and a spoon to the head if they step out of line? Obviously not.

You need to be paying attention. You need to put your energies into good parenting all the time you are looking after kids. It’s like driving — you don’t do it when drunk or over-tired. Yes, I know what you’re going to say: you have to work 23 hours a day to pay for that new 4x4 or house extension and a drink when you get home is your only treat. Well, you’re a bad parent. Make different choices.

That positive energy from you when your kid is broadly meeting expectations will be interpreted as what it is — the actions of a loving parent. If their inner brat starts to ruin things then it’s time for consequences and lack of attention from you ... consistently, because you’re not allowing anger to sway your decisions — just as a good driver doesn’t succumb to road rage.

Be interested in how they’re thinking; feed their thirst for knowledge. Don’t think ‘Gah — another bloody question on evolution; why can’t they ask their flaming teacher!’ Enjoy the privilege of being the person they want to turn to. But don’t try to be their best friend at the expense of good parenting. No — they can’t write on the wall, but you’ll patiently facilitate their free expression elsewhere.

Once you have this positive, loving, yet defined relationship in place everything will pretty much take care of itself up until the dawn of the teens. That’s why they call them foundations — something solid to build on.

Image: Inspirestock Inc. / Alamy


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Jillian & Ed – love, surprisingly

It’s a shocking format for a mainstream TV show when you stop to think about it: woman dates 30 men over a few weeks — individually and in groups — whittles them down, sleeps with some, and couples with the last man standing. That’s The Bachelorette, the US reality series that’s been running, on-and-off, since 2003. What legitimises it in the eyes of puritanical Americans is that it’s all for the sake of true love and marriage.

Jason Mesnick, who Jillian pursued in The Bachelor
Season 13 — unlucky for her

Well, in theory. It’s a spin-off of The Bachelor (where the genders are reversed) which, after 13 seasons, has yet to result in a marriage, despite 6 proposals. But then, The Bachelor has it all round the wrong way. Men’s minds are not wired to deal with being the pursued — some will see it as an all-you-can-eat buffet and others will just melt down in confusion.

Women, though, have their mental checklist, designed precisely for this scenario. It’s there, running in the background, all the time — even when they’re in a long-term relationship. For each potential partner there are columns for pros and cons, with a running total kept of the tally. The list expands to be as long as necessary, new items being added at any time.

If the two totals get too close, like a Twitter counter approaching 140 characters, the numbers go red, and the woman starts questioning things. The partner should take this seriously, and strive to get him/herself back into the black!

Anyway, this difference in mental wiring probably explains why The Bachelorette has had a far better success rate: of the 5 seasons there have been 4 proposals and one marriage.

Interestingly, each bachelorette has already been through the wringer on The Bachelor, ending up a runner-up. But I think the success rate would be similarly high with ‘virgin’ bachelorettes. Um, possibly a bad choice of words, as these women most definitely are not virgins!

No virgin — Jillian wears her sex life on her face

In fact, Jillian Harris was only too happy to sleep with Ed the same week she’d tried out Kiptyn and Reed in the sack. Ed famously got stage-fright, which had Jillian questioning whether to choose him as one of the final two. But then...

¡Ay, caramba!

Yes, the producers actually cut away to an erupting volcano! Of course, they were on Maui at the time, so quite apt.

And so, Ed’s list had the top score and she allowed herself to fall in love. Kiptyn no longer had a look-in, and as carefully as the sound bites were edited as he met the parents and so forth, he was clearly out.

But then Reed returned. Reed had failed to make it to the final two because he was unsure of his feelings and found it difficult to articulate them. His flight back to the mainland had given him plenty of time to figure them out, though, and he determined to win back the girl.

Reed, whose volcano erupted first time round, returns

This rocked Jillian’s world, and all of a sudden it was like a real life version of a thousand trashy novels. Fortunately, the very fact that she was now deeply in love with Ed gave him a whole heap of points. She sent Reed away and her certainty in her choice became firmer than ever. Ed proposed, and Jillian literally jumped for joy.

Tangible true love — a rarity on our TV screens

Despite the artificiality of the circumstances, this is the real deal — true love — Jillian’s version of it, at least. She has already migrated from Canada to the US to be with him, and they plan to marry within the next 14 months. The Guru’s prognosis? Excellent, at least for the near future. (Let’s not spoil the mood by bringing up that old chestnut, sexual variety.) There’s a good chance they’ll marry — probably in TV-land. And what could be more fitting than that?

Images: Go!

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Sideshow: Axed By A Biased ABC Board

Bias at the ABC. Yes, it exists. But no, it’s not left-wing bias — it’s bias well to the right, courtesy of the changes to the Board of Directors that Howard instigated. The Sideshow with Paul McDermott has gone the way of The Glass House before it. Both were popular shows, regarded with great affection by many, and both were relatively cheap to make. In both cases scheduling changes preceded the final deathblow. And both shows included political satire that was damaging to the Government and its allies:

G’day folks. Welcome to The Glass House, the program that asks the question ‘Even though today’s anniversary of JFK’s death is sad, isn’t it good at least one American President showed a bit of brains?’ — Wil Anderson, The Glass House, 22/11/06

John Howard has finally said ‘sorry’. Well, not about the Stolen Generation, Children Overboard, Iraq or making us a terrorist target. He’s sorry interest rates have chundered all over his re-election chances. — Paul McDermott, The Sideshow, 10/11/07

The Sideshow also regularly ridiculed right-wing religious fundamentalism. In this moment from the ‘New Moods in Intelligent Design’ series, we discover why God didn’t design The Pyjamadillo, a pyjama-wearing nocturnal armadillo:

Nylon PJs and open flame — recipe for disaster
for three young Pyjamadillos!

The skit ends with the phrase ‘Ergo: God is Smart’ (for not designing such impractical creatures), but the real message is pretty clear: The excellent design of the real armadillo can be perfectly explained by evolution and it’s the concept of Intelligent Design that’s ridiculous.

Conservatives are typically against the avant-garde and risqué, and would have all sorts of issues with the burlesque spirit of The Sideshow, especially on the State’s TV channel, where it would be endowed with a level of legitimacy. What was The Guru’s TV moment of the year, Imogen Kelly frolicking with a cream gateau, would have the John Howards of this world protesting vehemently:

How to lose calories on gateau!

In fact, with many of the musical numbers having a political message, there wasn’t much about The Sideshow that wouldn’t have rubbed a staunch conservative up the wrong way. But it seems to have been the eponymous Paul McDermott himself who’s become public enemy number one with the ABC management. He revealed on the show that some crew’s IDs had been seized and replaced with visitor passes, including himself — now Visitor V3035.

“The star of the show is the A-B-C!”

In what, if the current Board of Directors have their way, will be the last ever Sideshow, the talented team of regulars sang a satirical song with the chorus “The star of the show is the A-B-C!” Over some 30 episodes the artists had put their hearts and souls into The Sideshow, and created something very special — a world in which free thought, progressiveness and creativity came together with a sense of community to engender optimism. “How beautiful is living?!” exclaimed Paul at the end of one ep.

Make no mistake, for the time being it most certainly is not Your ABC.

Images: ABC TV

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Friday, November 09, 2007

The Arias: Ten’s Breach of Trust

OK, so you’ve read Subliminal Advertising on 10. Seriously. And you’re thinking “Yeah, sure, Ten hasn’t acted above board, but we’re only talking about a total of around one second of a two hour show. Is this really such a big deal?”

A corporate-run broadcaster secretly implanting thoughts into the minds of over a million Australians? Well yes, I think that can safely be called a big deal! Still not convinced? Read on...

Captive audience: screens either side of
the stage carry the offending graphics

It is claimed we live in a free democracy. It is a capitalist one, but notionally we are free to buy or not, view ads or not, and so on. Choice, indeed, is supposed to be at the heart of the capitalist system: if there’s a better deal we’ll choose that one, so it’s in all suppliers’ best interests to offer the customer a good deal.

In the case of commercial TV, that customer choice is becoming a problem for the broadcasters and advertisers. Even if the consumer chooses to watch the station, they can easily skip the ads. The obvious solution is to make more engaging ads. New Stella ad? Cool. Girl in Holeproof undies? (“Sock ’em, Rex!”) Hot!

Instead, Network Ten has resorted to the unlawful, immoral and deplorable tactic of subliminal messages within the program itself. And the degree of cold, calculated premeditation is chilling. Take a look at the single subliminal frame added to the graphics for the Breakthrough Artist Album award:

Dying for Type 2 Diabetes? Try Chupa Chups!

First, the background: There are two triangular areas — the bright one in the middle and another highlighted in Fig. A — and these echo the Aria statue graphic (Fig. B) that darted across the screen repeatedly during the evening. Fig. A also highlights an area of spots, which mirror the ‘aria’ wording (Fig. C) — also a recurring theme.

And the logo itself: The actual Chupa Chups logo has a solid yellow background. But here some horizontal texture has been added, along with orange areas at the bottom and a bright highlight on the right. This is done very subtly, using a mixture of partial transparency and hand-applied highlighting.

Why would anyone go to so much trouble preparing a single frame lasting a blink of an eye? The reason can only be to deliberately avoid it being consciously perceived.

“And we would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for you pesky kids!” Rove can be pictured lamenting as he’s carted off to a prison cell! In reality, I suspect there will be few consequences for the culprits.

We get the media we deserve, just as we get the politicians we deserve. When Tony Abbot was caught out lying outright on Lateline during the 2004 Federal Election campaign — “...so what?!” he exclaimed, after finally admitting to a clandestine meeting with a cardinal — his political career should have been at an end. But it’s somehow accepted now that politicians will lie.

Imagine how much, say, Family First or The Exclusive Brethren would pay for the ability to covertly get their propaganda into our psyches.

If people accept Ten’s subliminal ads lying down, we’re laying ourselves open to the Orwellian nightmare...

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Subliminal Advertising on 10. Seriously.

Network 10’s coverage of the ARIA Awards (28/10/07) contained subliminal ads for several major sponsors. Their logos appeared in single frames of 1/25th of a second, hidden within the transition graphics.

The coverage was produced by Roving Enterprises, production company of impish multi-millionaire Rove McManus. They are trying to pass the buck to Network 10, but the transition graphics were integral to the ARIA coverage, appearing on the screens behind the presenters, so they’ll have a job denying complicity.

Is McManus the new Steve Visard? Same toothy grin; same ‘I’ll be your best friend’ persona; same drive for wealth accumulation.

This carefully premeditated brainwashing scheme was unequivocally unlawful and would likely have involved ‘partners in crime’ from Network 10, Roving Enterprises and the advertisers concerned: Telstra, Toyota, Olay, KFC and Chupa Chups. (The involvement of the advertisers is given away by a statement from KFC: “...this was a new technique designed and developed by the broadcaster.”)

But don’t hold your breath for any serious punitive measures from TV watchdog FreeTV. And while the blogosphere may — rightly — give the protagonists some bad press, let’s not forget the old saying: There’s no such thing as bad publicity. Numerous blog posts carrying the advertisers’ logos could even be their desired outcome — hence the colourful allegory of my caption, above-left!

The Guru is appalled by the immoral conduct shown by the broadcaster. It’s an attack on free will, the bedrock of the free thinker — you. In the words of Dr Caroline West, Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney:

Subliminal advertising is banned because it is a form of mind-control: it aims to influence us in ways that we are unaware of, and consequently that we could not choose to resist even if we wanted to.

Links: The culprits, the MO and the social consequences in The Arias: Ten’s Breach of Trust.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Worm That Turned

Politics. A can of worms. If someone tells The Guru they positively worship Philip Ruddock and Kevin Andrews, should he set them a koan (a Zen riddle designed to expand the mind), or simply convince them they have powers of levitation and direct them to the nearest cliff?

Party politics is an emotive issue; partisan attitudes are rife, and free thinkers are in short supply. George Washington warned of the dangers of partisan allegiance over 200 years ago, in his Farewell Address:

Let me...warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

If Washington were alive today he’d be turning in his grave!

Anyway, Australia is in the midst of a Federal Election campaign, and the 21st saw the only leadership head-to-head Howard would agree to. And who would have thought the evening would see such high drama thanks to Howard The Worm? I mean Howard and The Worm.

Howard insisted no ‘worm’ tracking real-time audience preference be used. Network 9 did use one, later claiming that their agreement, being with the Press Club and not the Liberal Party, allowed it. However, the warning to them at the time from the control room was unambiguous: “Ah, Channel 9, you are in breach of the licensing agreement; if you continue to use the worm we will pull the feed.” 9 ignored the warning and their feed was cut, leaving viewers with a test pattern and sine wave tone on their TVs! 9 acquired an alternative feed from Pay TV co, Sky, and continued broadcasting — still using The Worm. The control room edited the master feed (used by the ABC, 9 and Sky) so that any time the Channel 9 journalist on the questioners’ panel spoke his face wasn’t shown. The whole debacle sparked more media interest that the debate itself.

Worm approves of Kevin Rudd
The worm is ‘switched on’ (unlike the pundits!)
and moves up to show Rudd well ahead of Howard

And when pundits were discussing the debate, The Worm remained centre stage. They were bemused by how The Worm would swing sharply towards Rudd immediately he began to speak, and questioned the neutrality of the audience. Commentators on both 2 and 9 took this line, missing the blindingly obvious:

The Worm wasn’t on-screen continuously. Now the people responsible for the Worm graphics had evidently decided that it would look slick for the worm trail to start on the centre line each time it was ‘switched on’, taking half a second or so to move to the correct part of the graph. The audience was giving feedback all the time. So if the debate was currently going in Rudd’s favour (which it was almost the entire time), obviously when they started up the Worm it was going to move up off the centre line to show that.

It’s a scary thought that some of the Country’s best political commentators should be capable of such woolly thinking...

Update: (16/11/07) New screen-grab posted, showing the worm being ‘switched on’ at the start of Rudd’s closing statement. (Source: Four Corners, ABC TV)  Text on the circumstances of the feed being pulled has been edited to reflect new revelations that 9 knew very well they were in breach of their terms.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day 2007:

Dawn of the Second Age of Enlightenment

Blog Action DayThe 15th of October, 2007 is the first Blog Action Day. Many thousands of bloggers around the globe are joining forces to raise awareness of a single issue — this year the environment. Just as importantly, it is about demonstrating the power of unity, and the ability of a united world to change for the better. The Guru has signed up to be a part of the event — one that holds great promise.

The First Age of Enlightenment

In American Dream; Global Nightmare we looked at the aspirational vision of America’s Founding Fathers – one of wisdom, unity, integrity and freedom — and how their society sadly transmuted to one of stupidity, divisiveness, self-interest, and oppression. This corruption, though, was a result of the new experiment of capitalism, and not an inherent weakness within the foundations that had been laid. And the inspired thinking of Abraham Lincoln and others was made possible by The Age of Enlightenment.

Thinker with a green background —
Rodin’s Thinker (1879-89) ponders hard

Philosophers, thinkers and statesmen of the day were inspired by the quantum leap in scientific understanding gained from the work of Sir Isaac Newton. They realised that if intellect could win out over centuries-old dogma in the area of physics, there was no reason not to apply new thinking to old problems in all fields of scientific endeavour, as well as law-making, government, morality, and so on.

They also saw that the Roman Catholic Church had been holding back man’s potential, stubbornly clinging to a Medieval view of the world. The philosophes rejected many aspects of Roman Catholicism, including the concept of original sin and emphasis on a hereafter. The Church wielded great political power (something of an understatement for the horrors of the Inquisition!) and dissent was a dangerous business. No wonder, then, that activists of the Enlightenment used the motto ‘Dare to know!’

The Second Age of Enlightenment

The first Enlightenment was difficult to propagate because most people were illiterate, and were indoctrinated from an early age by the Church. Today, over seven out of ten adults in the world have at least basic skills in reading and writing, and (thanks partly to internet cafés) a similar number have internet access. And the truth, as Mulder would say, is out there!

Today’s widespread lack of enlightenment has very different causes. In the developed world, these include apathy, biased media reporting, individual and government self-interest, corporate lobbying/manipulation and information overload. And the religious dogma of old remains, notably in the US. The good news is that there is a strong movement for change. People the world over (even the CEOs of huge multinationals, historically some of the worst offenders) have realised that unchecked Global Warming would be disastrous for all of humanity — including them.

Latter-day Newton, Stephen Hawking,
is no lightweight

Blog Action Day is an opportunity for individuals around the world to realise that the ultimate power rests with them collectively, not the corporations, not lone countries, not even the reckless and inept leadership of the one remaining Superpower. They need only become free thinkers to achieve unity, because the answers are the same for all of us.

Tackling climate change is humanity’s ultimate test. It will cause us to re-evaluate our values, philosophies and moral codes. Priorities will change. ‘Continuous economic growth’ will be seen for what it is — an oxymoron. Collaboration will strengthen local and global communities. Sustainability will become the watchword. In short, enlightenment will prevail. For us to have any chance of sustaining a population of 6.5 billion it has to.

The internet has quietly been uniting us for the past 15 years. But it’s been more to do with a guy in California downloading a dodgy film from Thailand or a kid in Austria playing Doom with a mate in Fiji. The importance of blogging is articulately summed up on the Blog Action Day website. It is helping to foster free thinkers and encourage discussion, both important in overcoming the biggest obstacle to enlightenment in the 21st Century — apathy. Let the motto for the Second Enlightenment be ‘Care to know!’

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

American Dream; Global Nightmare

On July 4th, 1776, the thirteen original American States declared independence from Great Britain, famously expounding the inalienable rights of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”.

The document, which became known as the Declaration of Independence, set out grievances against King George III, who had ignored his Prime Minister’s advice and brought in harsh new taxes for the American Colonies and impeded autonomy.

It was written with noble intentions (the original draft even determining to abolish slavery), and ended with these words:

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

So the original vision of ‘Happiness’ was a communal one — “All men are created equal” and the wealth of individuals can be pooled to help the whole community. It was the socialist ideal. Within that context, and that of acting honourably, self-determination was paramount, and the limitation of government powers was set forth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

This was an effective formula for happiness. We are happy when we have individual freedom and know we are doing good for the community. We are free to put in the effort to improve our lot, but need never deal with the guilt of abandoning others in need.

1776 also saw the publication of The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, the book that ushered in the age of capitalism. He theorised that private competition free from regulation generated wealth more efficiently than a government-regulated economy, and that self-interest would naturally lead to the best outcome for society, as if by an “invisible hand”; there would be a steady increase in the standard of living.

Capitalism seemed to fit in with the philosophy of the newly formed United States — freedom from State interference; improving your lot; serving the interests of society. It became integrated into the emerging society, replacing the initial socialist model.

But capitalism exists through inequality — for one person to get richer another must become poorer. The richer person also acquires power. Big business wins out over small, driving it bust or taking it over. The masses end up working for big business. They have the vote, but government aims to leave the economy alone, under the principals set out in The Wealth of Nations. Within the corporations, only the shareholders get a vote, and they vote for higher returns. To achieve ever-increasing profit, the corporations pay small wages, require long working hours and lay staff off whenever they can. ‘Homeowners’ quickly discover that it’s actually the bank that owns their home when they fail to keep up the mortgage repayments.

Today, most of the most powerful people in the world run corporations or hold huge share portfolios. George W. Bush is powerful, but his agenda is to push capitalism and Christian values onto the rest of the world.

Capitalism is not sustainable. Firstly, if the biggest businesses continue buying out smaller ones you eventually end up without competition; there are only a small number of huge multinationals and they’re all in cahoots. Secondly, the natural resources of the Earth are finite — you cannot continue manufacturing goods to meet a demand you have carefully created because the materials will run out. And you cannot rely on an ever-increasing world population because the food to feed it will similarly run out.

In Global Warming Q&A we looked at the geophysical reasons for climate change. But it’s a world economy based on an American model of resource-intensive capitalism that is the root cause.

It’s time to start living within our means.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Global Warming Q&A

Earth“Is global warming a storm in a teacup? Isn’t it just part of a cycle of natural variation that’s been going on for hundreds of millions of years? Isn’t the scientific community divided on the causes and what the effects will be? Even if it is manmade, what’s the point of action when India and China are industrialising so fast?”

As ever, The Guru has the answers you seek, so sit back and prepare to be enlightened...

What is global warming?

Global Warming (renamed by the Bush Administration’s ‘Ministry of Truth’ to Climate Change) is the increase in Earth’s average temperature coinciding with the industrial age.

What’s causing it?

The rapid release of huge volumes of greenhouse gases, mainly CO2, into a finely balanced ecosystem. (The average Australian household produces 14 tonnes of CO2 per year[1].)

The greenhouse gases act like the glass of a greenhouse to trap more of the Sun’s heat than normal.

Where does the excess CO2 come from?

Fossil fuels. The process of photosynthesis trapped CO2 within the cells of plankton (oil and natural gas) and vegetation (coal) over a long period of time from the Carboniferous (362 million years ago) to late Cretaceous (65 million years ago). (The high plankton levels were towards the end of this period, beginning around 160 million years ago.)

What was the effect of all that CO2 being removed from the atmosphere?

The CO2 had been spewing from active volcanoes around the world, producing first a greenhouse effect and then a ‘super greenhouse’ — a period when all the Earth’s oceans were stagnant and oxygen-deprived, there was no permanent ice at the poles and there were deluges of acid rain. The natural sequestration of the CO2 underground and on the seabed ended this greenhouse effect.

What are the effects of global warming?

Melting of the polar icecaps, rising sea levels, changes in oceanic currents, destabilisation of weather patterns and mass extinction.

Mass ext-what?

Mass extinction. 50 years ago a species was becoming extinct approximately every week. Today, 50 species become extinct every day[2].

As nutrient-rich ocean currents fail and more of the land turns to desert — the amount of the planet in drought has more than doubled in the last 30 years[3] — this extinction rate will increase further as many species fail to adapt to the rapid environmental changes.

And what about us?

Our current population of around 6.5 billion is made possible by the large-scale farming of reliable crops. They form the basis of our diet, and animals that supply our meat also graze on them. We supplement our diets with fish.

Large-scale farming sufficient to feed the current population will no longer be possible if weather patterns continue to deteriorate. Fish stocks, already low, will fall away if ocean currents fail.

But that’s as bad as it will get?

No. Failure of the ocean currents will further destabilise weather systems. They have already been found to be weakening, and part of the Gulf Stream shut down altogether for 10 days in late 2004[4]. Warm surface water at the poles is cooled, and this oxygenated water then drops to the deep sea. Without this oxygen yet more ocean life will be lost. The melting of the icecaps will increase absorption of sunlight, further exacerbating the greenhouse effect, which is a vicious cycle, hard to break once initiated.

If CO2 levels continue to rise unabated, a second ‘super greenhouse’ will begin, complete with stagnant, hydrogen sulphide -laden seas, in which little other than plankton can survive, severely acid rain and highly volatile weather throughout the world.

It will be life, but not as we know it, Jim.

Are you sure about all this? My mate Martin Durkin reckons it’s all a load of hot air!

Yes. Never mind the broad consensus of 2,500 climatologists, geologists, and so on. It’s common sense. We know CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and we know we’re releasing huge and ever increasing amounts of the stuff into the atmosphere. We also know that our climate is destabilising — natural disaster insurance claims have gone up by 5 times in the last 20 years[5]. It’s a no-brainer.

The reasoning a while ago that even if there was only a 1 in 5 chance of catastrophic climate change it was worth acting, was all well and good. It was a ‘stitch in time saves nine’ argument — the financial cost was relatively low and the likelihood of avoiding disaster high if we acted soon, and the reverse if we didn’t. But you reach the point where the evidence is so strong — hottest 3 years on record all within last 9 years[3]; 15,000 Parisian fatalities during 2003 heatwave[6]; flooding in China leaves 600,000 homeless[7]; driest 12-month period Melbourne has seen since records began in 1855[8] — that you have to revise that 1 in 5 chance to a 19 in 20 one.

OK, but what difference can I make when China and India are industrialising?

Everyone can make a difference — and everyone has a vested interest in doing so. China and India realise the problems and are making plans to lessen the impact of their economic development. China, for instance, says it plans 20% forest coverage, amongst other measures, to offset the CO2 from new power stations.

As the world’s highest greenhouse emitter per capita[9] Australia has a moral obligation to do its bit. Otherwise it cannot hold its head high on the world stage.

And it’s not that hard. The six households in the ABC series Carbon Cops found they could each greatly reduce their carbon footprint — and make substantial financial savings — without sacrificing their lifestyles. (The families with pools kept them; the family with high ceilings stayed put).

We could easily reduce our average CO2 emissions from 14 to 8 tonnes within the next year, and then continue to reduce them as better house design and more efficient appliances became standard. And if we have an ounce of common sense we will!

[1] Carbon Cops, ABC TV, 28/6/07
[2] ABC News, ABC TV, 7/3/06.
[3] Beyond Tomorrow, Network 7, 12/10/05.
[4] Crude (2007)
[5] The End of the World As We Know It (2005)
[6] Cutting Edge, SBS, 26/9/06
[7] thefreedictionary.com, 11/6/07
[8] ABC News, ABC TV, 15/5/07
[9] Four Corners, ABC TV, 28/8/06

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Friends Without Benefits

TrishWanted: Meaningful Overnight Relationship

Meet Trish Young, single mum of seven years and penner of the above dating site tag-line. Trish, who obtained a level of notoriety by reaching the No. 1 spot in the RSVP Top 100, was interviewed for The Age’s Green Guide of 2/8/07:

What’s your dating policy?

I always maintain five men in my life who take on different roles: a man I go to the movies with, a man I have amazing in-depth conversations with, a fun partner who is great with tickle fighting and joking around, one I am intimate with and the last male is on the way out to allow room for another to come.

Classy! Oh to be a fly on the wall as each of her five current cohorts reads the above! Presumably Trish has typically been intimate with No. 5, whom No. 4 is replacing, and No. 3 could more than likely also get a look-in. But it’s Nos. 1 & 2 that are most likely to be vexed by discovering how they’ve been commodified and manipulated. They’re not lovers. And they’re not friends. They’re friends without benefits.

The five roles that Trish ‘maintains’ do not include a father-figure for her child/children. Seems she’s decided to bring them up alone. And you can bet she’s rationalised that decision as being in their best interest. In reality, it’s simply in the best interest of her libido.

Right now Trish is feeling good about her lifestyle choices. The 3,000 ‘kisses’ she’s received on dating sites and high ranking on RSVP have made her feel desired. But she’s setting herself up for a massive fall. As age plays its hand, and the kisses fall off sharply, she’ll have a tangible — literally — sense of loss of desirability. And as her kids approach their teens resentments will mushroom. The life of Trish Young is a house of cards.

Links: Love vs Sex, Susannah’s Regrets

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Michelle: Housemate from Hell

It’s part of the Big Brother Australia formula that they try to stir the pot in the latter stages with a loud-mouthed intruder. Transsexual Nadia (BB05) had evidently been a handful pre-op during BBUK, but as a (post-op) Intruder on BBAUS she was fairly civil. No-nonsense Perry (BB06) did make some waves, but for the most part had a maternal role in the House. Michelle, however, who joined BB07 on Day 50, was a genuine nightmare!

Rude, loud and inconsiderate, Michelle picked fights for her own amusement. “...I really don't give a frog's fat arse who likes me and who dislikes me!” she declared on Day 59. And she meant it.

She routinely swore at people, and couldn’t grasp why the other HMs, who would swear about things but not to each other, had a problem with this. (Not that she would listen if someone tried to explain.) This small irritation was the fuel for an argument she picked with Aleisha on Day 70, which turned into the mother of all BB07 conflicts — and saw the kind of vicious bullying that makes you wish Michelle would be sent for a 20-year tour on a remote deep-sea oil platform!

Bully tactics

Like Nelson, Michelle isn’t bright, affluent or attractive. Like him, a difficult past has left her with a ‘me vs the world’ attitude. And like him, she found herself in an environment where her targets couldn’t get away, and upsetting them provided entertainment for her. (Short of getting physical) she found she could have her fun without the rules or her peers intervening for the most part.

Although it wasn’t Michelle’s intention to make Aleisha so upset, when it happened, instead of backing off she lashed out viciously, shouting “Don't come that crying with me, mate!” That’s the moment pictured above, and it was disturbing to watch.

The argument carried on, in fits and starts, for hours, impacting every Housemate. Later, Michelle said to Travis “D'you now what? It's fun; it's fun stirring people up. Coz it's too boring for me otherwise.”

While she confronted Housemates about any slight way they were annoying her, any issues directed her way were met with the stock “Nah, that's me, mate.” And she even treated her few allies, such as Daniela (who’d used the Twist to keep her in the House) this way.

It wasn’t until her eviction on Day 78, when Michelle got to see the footage of her onslaught against Aleisha, that she finally began taking stock of her behaviour. She looked shocked by the clip, but still defended her actions, responding to Gretel’s “Did you finish that and think ‘Actually, I could have handled that better’?” with “Nah.” But if there was ever a BB contestant who needed to grow as a person, it’s Michelle, and The Guru hopes she’ll look over the recordings and do just that.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Mormon Pigeonhole

The world is slowly becoming less segregated by ‘race’ (a perceived term, with no genetic basis). Unfortunately, religion has stepped up to take the slack, and religious fundamentalism is rife (and not just in the US!)

If it weren’t for the little detail of a potential World War III, it’d be almost funny. “I am Christian and you are Muslim. We have nothing in common; you worship a false god. Oh, hang on, you worship the same god as me. But you don’t believe in Jesus. Oh, hang on, you do believe in Jesus. But not that he rose from the dead. Well, there you go, I knew there was a good reason to consider you my mortal enemy!”

People of different religions are intolerant of each other through lack of understanding and bloody-mindedness. The latter has a lot to do with a central doctrine of their religion — that it alone is right and should survive over all others. A number of Old World monotheistic religions (those established before the discovery of the Americas) include it; notably Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Mormonism, founded in 1830 in the US, is a Christian sect which, unusually, does have a little religious tolerance built in. (Racial tolerance, not so much! Black priests have only been allowed since 1978.)

“I’m here to be real,” said Rebecca before entering the Big Brother House. She wanted to do her bit to cast off the image of Mormons as weird and separate from mainstream society. But she faced an uphill battle.

Rebecca gets blue in the Ice Room

Positive and fun-loving from the outset, Rebecca was knocked back and sidelined over and over. Early friends became early evictees. By Day 31, when the first Intruders entered the House, she was at her wit’s end. Daniela was a godsend (so to speak!); they formed an immediate bond, and Rebecca opened up to her new girlfriend: “...it's really hard, every day fighting to just be myself...”

Emma had no interest in a united House. She controlled who could join the ‘Popular’ group, and that gave her a feeling of power, as well as the pleasure of making snide comments about the ‘Geeks’. Rebecca saw only a relationship that needed working on; she didn’t realise that once Emma had decided she didn’t want to know her, the door was closed and there was nothing she could do.

“You know what; an epiphany I've had today? I thought I really don't want to be a popular person, because they really are mean to people, they really do overlook people and they really can be very self-obsessed and self-absorbed a lot of the time,” she said to Jamie on Day 35. Very true. And Emma wasn’t solely to blame; the others in her clique allowed her to bring out their meanness.

In the Ice Room, free from Emma’s influence, Rebecca was accepted by the Popular boys and got to let her hair down. At one point, she dared Travis to sit ‘bareback’ on a block of ice, and when he pointed out he might stick to it said “I might have to pee on your bum!”

On Day 50, she was evicted — in a double eviction with Emma(!) But while Emma got 76% of the ‘Merged’ vote, Rebecca got only 4% — 2% less and she’d have been safe.

Rebecca achieved her goal — without compromising on her principals. Australia accepted her. And the standard Mormon pigeonhole is suddenly defunct!

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Emma’s Eviction – The Start of Her Journey...

Kate was a heinous bitch at the start of her BB experience. But after only 9 days, her outlook changed greatly. In contrast, Emma became cattier and more scheming almost with every passing day. 50 days in, she had established a strong, inequitable matriarchy in the House. And all of a sudden, much to her surprise, Emma was out on her ear.

“What they've got is working for them. OK?” explained Laura to Rebecca on Day 48. “There's a couple of leaders; there's Emma, there's Andrew, and there's a few others, and they're the people that lead the group. And the others are the sheep, and they're too scared to speak up...” This followed Laura’s persecution at the hands of Emma’s clique after her $7 fine from BB for taking photos — something which, as she pointed out, wouldn’t have happened to Emma or Andrew.

Emma chats to Aleisha
Emma recounts 69 things she hates about the HMs

A good illustration of the power dynamic in the House had occurred earlier the same day. Laura had a sore finger from Friday Night Games, and was waiting outside the Diary Room to see Big Brother. Emma, was lying on the sofa, some way from the Diary Room door:

Laura: “I want to see Big Brother.”

Emma: “Well you can go after me, 'cause you're wasting time —”

Laura: “I will go after you.”

Emma: “— and I've got important questions, like food for the House.”

As in wider society, leadership roles typically evolve in the House over time. But these are usually taken up reticently and half-heartedly by HMs, who are only too aware that the one who lays down the law is an easy Noms target. In Emma’s case though, the role is clawed out through a thousand devious and conniving acts. And the power is then abused.

The following day, when Laura — who’d been so upset by her treatment at the hands of the pack that she’d wanted to leave — addressed everyone, saying “...it's not equality...” Emma sensibly stayed silent. But the snarl on her face as Laura walked away spoke volumes about her inner ugliness.

Later that day, it was business as usual as far as Emma was concerned. “There's something about Daniela I just — don't trust”, she said to Aleisha, after interrogating her for details of the conversation the two had just had (bringing her total bitchy acts in the House to 1,001!)

The eviction chart revealed that 73% of the Evict votes had gone to her, while none of the other 6 nominees had received more than 7%*. Now that Australia knows what Emma is like, her journey of self-discovery has well and truly begun...

* The Guru will avoid drawing conclusions based on the ‘Merged’ vote, due to Big Brother’s ‘creative accounting’.

Links: Emma vs Rebecca in The Mormon Pigeonhole.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Fling Chocolate Bar  *sigh*

A new chocolate bar ad has updated the fairytale of the beautiful Princess and her Prince Charming for the 21st Century:

Prince C has a skip in his step. He prepares to take leave of his Princess, on the porch of her palatial apartment. “Well, I've had a great time.” Princess P rolls her eyes, cocks her head and smiles faintly, but says nothing. “And I have your number.” “Yes. Yes you do,” replies a dismissive Princess.

There is an awkward silence, as Prince C is silently devastated and left forlorn. Crestfallen, and realising he’ll get only voicemail if he calls, the Prince manages to say “And I'd better — I'd better get going.” The nonchalant reply comes immediately. “Bye.” Prince C gets out a “Bye” before the front door closes, and descends the steps, wheeling his suitcase behind him. He trips at the bottom.

Princess P looks on, unconcerned, as she starts a Fling bar and chats on the phone. The final caption reads ‘Forever is overrated.™’

*sigh*  One striking thing about the ad is that there’s no sign Prince C doesn’t measure up. The Princess’ sultry look at the start seems to say ‘Yeah, last night was great! (But so what?)’. Thing is, there are plenty of others just as good, and she likes variety and loathes commitment. Sound familiar?

In the real world, you’d have to hope the guy knew how it would play out from the get-go. But what’s missing is the happy ending!

BB’s Susannah (as fanatical a moisturiser as she is) has started to worry about the next chapter in her life. Methinks it won’t be that long before a chocolate bar called ‘Fling’ holds a bitter taste for her...

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Susannah’s Regrets

It is said there are only two pains in the world: pain of discipline and pain of regret.

What, sadly, many people discover too late is that the pain of regret hurts far more. It’s a crucial role of parenting to make the connection between motivation and reward — the payoff of achievement. But the ’90s and ’00s have been all about instant self-gratification — the Playstation leaves a typical ’tween or teen no incentive to, say, devote years of dedication to learning a musical instrument. And because the Playstation (or iPod, computer, etc.) is typically not earned, the kid is done a disservice. It’s called being spoiled, and it’s a Western pandemic.

After adolescence it’s time to party. And have lots of sex. And at the age of 30 you begin to feel an overwhelming sense of regret. This is what Susannah is going through, and there are no easy answers.

It started weighing on Susannah’s mind back on Day 31: “...when I was younger I was always like, ‘Oh, Suzie's pretty; she doesn't need to study; she doesn't need to worry about those sorts of things’... And looks fade,” she confided to Nick. “...what have I really got to offer? I'm not really particularly passionate about anything; I feel quite shallow and like I haven't really led the sort of life I think I should've.”

Susannah and Thomas
“It’s time to go, Malibu Susannah!”

On Day 35, she welled up, and was comforted by adoring fellow mirror-kisser, Thomas:

Susannah: “I'm really scared.”

Thomas: “What are you scared of?”

Susannah: “I'm scared of going back [into the outside world] and hating everything, and feeling disappointed in myself.”

Thomas: “What would you be disappointed for?”

Susannah: “I just feel like I just whittled away all my time, because I just thought it would last forever, and it doesn't, and all of a sudden you wake up, and you're, like, ‘Oh my god, I'm 30, and what have I done with myself? Partied a lot.’”

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Trey Parker – American Idiot

Don’t wanna be an American idiot; one nation controlled by the media

So goes the Green Day track ‘American Idiot’. It was a big hit, and resonated with a huge number of US teens. It’s hard to imagine the same sort of success if the song was about any other country. ‘Venezuelan Idiot’? Doesn’t really work. ‘Spanish Idiot’? ¡Que not! But ‘American Idiot’ is instantly understood by many in America and around the world: someone who believes the world according to Fox News; someone who believes you can win a war on terror by employing terror tactics; someone who may well believe the world is less than 10,000 years old*; someone who’s fiercely patriotic but loathes many within their own country due to race, sexuality or faith.

But South Park co-creator Trey Parker has made his name by being an American Idiot. And (ironically) chances are the same American teens who pump up the volume for ‘American Idiot’ are going to be huge South Park fans.

The Guru has dipped into South Park on and off for years. Kenny dying over and over again? Funny. Butters trying to take over the world? Funny. Cartman’s love/hate relationship with Kyle? Funny. The clunky animation, foul language, unrealistic voiceovers and zany storylines? Funny. And then there’s the twist at the end — the common sense that causes everyone to realise the error of their ways and ‘learn something’.

Every so often, there’d be an episode that seemed to cross the line. But hey, it’s South Park; it’s supposed to be edgy. And the next ep would consign any doubts to the brain’s dusty recesses.

These niggling doubts grew, however, and with the discovery of Family Guy it became clear that a cartoon could be edgy, (a lot more) clever and funny, without making you feel sick to the stomach, as the bigotry of Trey Parker and co. could.

The Guru started looking more closely at the episodes he’d been tending to steer clear of — and the results were disturbing.

Cartoon propaganda was dropped behind enemy lines during World War II. Because it was funny, soldiers often kept hold of it. The lesson from history is clear: we shouldn’t bypass our moral judgement just because something makes us laugh.

* Polls indicate around 45% of Americans believe this — more in future posts.

Coming soon: The Guru dissects a South Park episode.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Jamie’s Existential Crisis, pt 2

This intense three-way dialogue continues for some time. In an attempt to find the common ground, Andrew and Aleisha both discuss their analysis of him:

Andrew: “When I see you look at me — there's only been a couple of times this has happened — but when you and Nick were chatting and I was in the pool I was just like —”  *does impression of thoughtful look*  “— and that's me analysing —”

Jamie: “You're analysing my looks.”

Andrew: “Exactly.”

Aleisha (later): “Everyone was like ‘Jamie knows something’, ‘Jamie knows this’, ‘Jamie knows that’, because [of] your fake expression, so we can read you just as well as you can read us...”

As this lengthy, intervention-style heart-to-heart-to-heart came to a natural conclusion, the best course of action would have been to give Jamie as much time as he needed to reflect on things. But he’s put under pressure to have his say, and, when he runs out of housemates to listen to as delaying tactics, Jamie finds himself addressing Aleisha, Andrew, Joel, Rebecca, Susannah and Thomas:

Jamie: “Yes, I am an analytical person.”

Aleisha (laughing): “Good start!”

Jamie: “Yes, I have a higher IQ than you guys. —”

This is a comment that really grates. And it’s a credit to the supportive nature of the group that, even with the alcohol flowing, no one breaks in to pull him up on it. Doubtless, Jamie would be excellent at spotting the odd one out in the sequence 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 14, 15, 30; that does not make him smarter than or superior to the next person, which is what he’s implying.

Feeling defensive, the walls are back up, and, without the comfort of a sympathetic one-on-one, he is taking solace in a familiar feeling of general intellectual superiority.

“— I will continue to read people — that's what I do. I hate the fact so much that the smart guy is the guy that's crying, the guy that's upset, the guy that lets things get to him! I understand that I am the fat guy in this house —”

At this point, Jamie’s been crying on and off for the best part of an hour, and is feeling embarrassed and angry. The ‘fat guy’ reference brings a passive-aggressive attack into play: make the group feel responsible for his current state.

Susannah: “What?”

Aleisha: “You said this to me about two weeks ago; that you're the nerd, that you're the fat guy, that you're the guy that's not fit, you're not the hot guy. You're being an idiot if you believe that you're in here because you're not as fit as these Romo people!”

Thomas: “I'll agree 100% with what Aleisha just said. You're not in here for your surface person.”

Again, hats off to the HMs for doing their best to be supportive. Unfortunately, Aleisha’s comment is ambiguous, Jamie taking it to mean that he is as hot as the others. He shoots it down, and Aleisha runs off to the Diary Room, upset.

Jamie came very close to understanding what was making him so upset — the isolating walls he’s built up around himself — and so begin a process of change and growth. But instead, he remained defiant about his analysis of others (which many of the other HMs do just as much), insulted six of his fellow HMs, and left Aleisha feeling like crap:

“It makes me really angry to...pour my heart out to them [Jamie] because I think that will generally change how they look at life, and for them to shut me down and make me feel like a small country bumpkin that has no idea!”

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Jamie’s Existential Crisis, pt 1

A lot of tears are shed in the Big Brother House. But Jamie’s experience on Day 40 was something more profound. To pass it off as a mixture of stress from the weekly task and the effects of alcohol would be to miss Jamie’s crisis of self.

The catalyst was a three-way conversation with Aleisha and Andrew. Aleisha in particular was bothered by his analytical stares and questions. When Rebecca tried to put in her two cents’ worth, the dialogue was already quite intense, and Aleisha and Andrew asked her not to.

Jamie: “I feel really bad that someone had to leave this conversation because they felt uncomfortable.”  *wells up*  “I feel really crap someone had to do that.”

Andrew: “No, but it wasn't their conversation to be in. Know that, Jamie, it wasn't their —”

Aleisha (at the same time): “It wasn't their conversation anyway —”

Jamie: “Everyone has a right to speak to me. Alright?”

Aleisha: “Stop crying.”  *puts hand on nape of Jamie's neck*

Andrew (at the same time): “Everybody does, but it was the wrong place —”

Jamie: “I AM NOT CRYING!”  *Aleisha hastily removes arm*  “No, alright, I'm sorry. Put your hand back there.”  *laughs and guides Aleisha's hand back*

A teary Jamie
A profound moment in Jamie’s life

Aleisha is finding her way through Jamie’s protective persona in a way Andrew never could. Jamie’s constant analysis has been his buffer, but has isolated him — a double-edged sword. With his guard down, he momentarily has an intense connection with another soul.

Aleisha: *giggles*  “Jamie! OK, Jamie, no, listen. This is not a personal attack on you;”  *guides Jamie's head to look at her*  “you're a beautiful person —”

Andrew: “You are, you're a great bloke.”

Aleisha: “— and you do mean well, and today, when you showed sincere that you were very upset about what you had to say, was a prime example — look at me — that you were feeling very upset —”

Jamie (sounding teary): “I'm analysing you right now.”

And here is the nub of the problem — Jamie knows that his analytical behaviour is an issue in (and out of) the House, but feels powerless to stem it.

Aleisha (sounding kind and unfazed): “I know you are; it's OK, I know, that's what you do.”

Coming up next time: In Jamie’s Existential Crisis, pt 2, the HMs’ good will towards Jamie is put to the test...

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Emma’s Brother’s Reality Check

They say the path to Hell is paved with good intentions. The man who, aided by his daughter, held up a sign at the last BB Live Eviction show saying “Emma, Your Dad Is Dead” doubtless had good intentions. But if he’s expecting a VIP pass to the Celestial Temple he could be in for a nasty shock.

Moral outrage is emotive, and can lead to actions which are very poorly thought through. The Age behaved irresponsibly in reporting the news of Mr Cornell’s passing in the way it did. Fortunately, Defamer reports that none of the Housemates saw the sign during the live crosses to Gretel.

In a heartfelt open letter at what must be a very difficult time, Emma’s brother, Matt, has articulately countered the ill-informed views and advice in Nick Sheridan’s piece and many other media articles. If you only read one item on the BB website this year, make sure it is this one. BB will always have its detractors, but the current series was evidently very special for the late Mr Cornell:

Our dad was extremely proud of Emma’s achievements so far on Big Brother. He would watch her each night proudly from his hospital bed heckling rivals and laughing at Emma’s wicked attitude and antics. Without you guys and this Big Brother experience he wouldn’t otherwise have had this opportunity and insight into his daughter’s life, thank you.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Ins (2) and Outs (3) of Big Brother

Demet — Out

Demet’s sixth sense? Suspect. When flirtation becomes a way of life, a person can have a seriously skewed take on things. Having said that, a lot of Demet’s vibes were on the money. During the White Room ordeal, while Kara bawled her eyes out Demet calmly said “I think you were just waiting for an excuse to cry”, and carried on practising belly-dance moves.

Demet is evicted
Emma discusses her breasts Demet’s eviction

Her opinions of fellow HMs were biased to say the least, and on Day 25, while discussing Zoran with Emma, she threw in a racial slur for good measure: “I can't believe how dirty Zoran is, hey. Then again, I just look at him, right, and he just reminds me of like a — any wog boy that doesn't do anything, yeah, because everything's done by their mothers...”

It often happens that groups in society that have had to endure verbal attacks take up offensive words used against them so as to neutralise their effect. But two wrongs don’t make a right. And so doing typically causes the words to flourish and the groups to self-ghettoise. It’s a pity we didn’t get to see one of the HMs challenge Demet on this.

Hayley — Out

In the hyper-reality of the Big Brother House, absence has already made the heart grow fonder, Andrew having taken just five days to realise Hayley is the girl he wants to marry. “...Hayley's the most emotional person you'll ever meet,” he said to Laura on the evening of the surprise eviction. Well, at least he knows what he’s letting himself in for...

Laura & Daniela — In

Laura (like Cruz) should definitely have been a HM from day one. Passionate, complex and fragile, the week or two she’s likely to remain as an Intruder won’t be nearly enough. And what better HM for this year’s environmentally conscious House? By the way, according to this BB article, Queensland, one of the most drought-affected States, doesn’t allow the use of grey water in houses!

Daniela seems an astute judge of character, getting a handle on Emma after just two days: “Yesterday, in one day I really noticed a lot of her pulling away from the rest of the group to sit in a room and kind of whisper and — I know that she wasn't talking about me, but seeing that makes me think, you know, it'll be my turn eventually, and that really turns me off.”

Nick — Out

The Guru’s favourite moment from Nick’s brief time in the House came during his first evening:

Travis: “Are you a gay bloke, Nick?”

Nick: “Er, y-yup.”

Travis: “No, that's alright. No, eh, oh, no, I ain't 'oldin' back mate; I asked you, you gave me the answer, so good on yer.”  *shakes hands*  “Eh eh, eh, straight up, don't worry mate, good on yer!”

Emma: “That's just Travis — you'll get to know Travis.”

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Emma’s Father’s Parting Gift

The Age reports that Emma’s father has passed away. The headline? “Grief expert slams Big Brother”. Naturally. There’s nothing like a little moral outrage to shift newspapers.

Emma's boyfriend Tim Stanton told News Limited that Mr Cornell had asked that his daughter not be told of his death until she left the house.

So The Age is outraged that Big Brother has gone against a dying man’s wishes and informed his daughter? Wrong. The outrage is due to her not having been told.

Mr Hall [a psychologist specialising in grief and bereavement] said that given Emma, who at 24 is an adult, she should be informed of the death even if it goes against the wishes of her family.

As well as needing to brush up on basic grammar, journalist Nick Sheridan should at least pay lip service to journalistic balance. Defamer reports more of what Emma’s boyfriend had to say:

“Her dad didn't want her to be upset or to feel like she had to leave the house to come to his funeral,” Mr Stanton said.

“He didn't want to ruin the experience for her. She might be upset when she comes out and finds out what has happened, but I think she'll understand.”

Here at Guru, we would go one step further. We believe that Emma will see her Father’s wishes as showing his respect for her and what she’s achieving. After years estranged, it is surely the most precious gift he could have left her.

Update: See Emma’s Brother’s Reality Check

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