Thursday, October 22, 2009

More than me

If someone risks life and limb to escape persecution or poverty, gives everything they have for an unsafe passage and finally gets to their destination and wants to start a new life, they're welcome to come in, as far as I'm concerned.

If someone comes to a new country without a word of that countries language yet learns it well enough to talk to me in a short space of time, I'm happy to repeat myself without thinking them an idiot.

If a person who was qualified in their previous country for a white collar job and works night shift in a taxi while they get the same qualifications they had back home doesn't know the exact way home, I'm happy to point them in the right direction. It doesn't cost me anything to be courteous and helpful.

If someone has done more to earn the respect of their new fellow countrymen than any person who has "waited in line", pay it.

Do you know what someone like me - a white immigrant with family already here, from a Commonwealth country - does to get in?

Fills out forms.
Takes a medical.

That's all I have to do to earn your respect. All I have to do to be considered the "right" type of immigrant.

And I'm glad my parents went through that. Because it's given us a better life, and I love this country. But we weren't hounded from our country. We weren't persecuted, or threatened or in danger.

What does someone who comes here on a piece of crap boat go through? What will they go through if we send them back? What do these people have to do to earn your respect?

Seriously. If I'm the ideal candidate for immigration, if I'm the only type of person you want in this country, ask yourself why. Because I look like you? Because I sound - for the most part - like you? Because when I walk past you on the street, or work next to you I don't make you confront your own prejudices?

Regardless of what someone is fleeing from - poverty, persecution, a hopeless upbringing with no opportunity to get ahead - they've done more to deserve their place than me. I fled nothing, endured nothing more than inconvenience and apart from some mild teasing about the way I pronounce some words, people accept me.

Once we were a nation of "battlers". A nation that gave a hand up to those who were down.

When did that change? When did we decide there was a limit (Whilst still offering a bonus for increasing the population) on compassion?

**EDIT** An additional note. I am heartily sick of hearing the "Don't like it? Leave!!!1!" bullshit everywhere I turn. Seriously? You think that because someone is an immigrant they are never - regardless of provocation - allowed to disagree with policies, politics or any social problems they see? Why? Every single person who holds that belief does their fair share of wingeing about society, but immigrants aren't.

Those people, to a man, believe that an immigrant can never truly be Australian, and only Australian-born Australians have any right to complain.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Taking my own advice

Every time an accusation is made against someone I know on the intertubes - and those times are legion, being what it is - I tell them to ignore it.

Thing is, this "He said, She said" stuff is wasting my time more and more of late. I can here myself in my head telling other people to walk away. Yet there I am, sticking my head in the hyperbole bucket for one good, last dunking.

The blogworld is a funny one. Its given me a lot, for seemingly very little effort. But what it gives with one hand it takes away with the other. Its given me my partner in a roundabout way, and exposed me to a whole range of people and ideas - right and left - that I otherwise would have been ignorant of. It's also exposed me to the ridicule of people who I've never met and don't know the first thing about me. You take the good with the bad, I tell people. Walk away when it gets personal. Don't jump in to threads you know are going to get nasty. Particularly if it involves you.

Yet I seem, of late, completely incapable of following my own advice. I've been getting pulled into blogwar bullshit, or stupid arguments where neither side is ever going to concede ground, going round and round in circles. Following links to nowhere, whilst the stuff that has real value - the writing and some craft projects I've been wanting to do for months now, researched and ready to roll - pile up around me. I'm working longer hours now, and I do not have time for this shit. Yet I seem unable to pull myself away. My tendency to need the last word in any given argument is manifesting itself into threads hundreds of comments long. Even I think I'm an idiot for engaging, yet it's hard to pull away.

So, I'm using a tried-and-true method for getting out of a bad habit.

I'm stepping back from it. Stepping back from the blogworld, at least for the next month. I'll be reading, and I'm going to be working on things for outside of our incestuous little corner of the interwebs that I said I'd been wanting to do for a while now, but I won't be engaging in anything outside of that.

I might be writing here, I might not be. Depends on how the writing projects go. I'll respond to comments that are topical if I write anything, but I won't be getting into arguments here, and I won't be commenting at all anywhere else for the next month. As of 6pm this evening, no more blogwarz. I'll still be on Twitter, for all your whining about late train, twittermasterchef and hair crisis needs, and you can grab me on the gmail account. DM the twitter profile (widget on the right) and I'll send it through.

See you on the flip side, yo.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Criticism is not illegal

Something that Ralph Lauren have apparently forgotten:

Seriously, Ralph Lauren. You put something out that was clearly a mistake, and instead of manning up and accepting it, you try and remove all reference to it and send out the legals?

What on earth did you expect when someone approved that?

Truthfully, the only person who should be suing is the poor girl pictured in your ad. She's probably a beautiful girl, and you've turned her into a laughing stock.

Because we've got soul

Andrew Bolt is back, and he's seen something of the world. He's loped back into his office, having gotten a taxi from the airport, and doesn't like what he sees he find Melbourne wanting.

Maybe it's just me, but every time I get a taxi or drive back from the airport over the bridge and clock the Melbourne skyline, my heart soars. I feel sorry for Andrew that his doesn't. I've travelled the world too. Was born overseas and have made the trek back via god only knows how many places five times. I've seen the sights Andrew laments we don't have, and you know what? I wouldn't live anywhere else.

Fine and dandy the cities that have the landmarks. I've trotted to the top of the Eiffel Tower, I've been on the steps of the Opera House. Seen the London Houses of Parliament. They're all organic to their cities. The latter two are functional. The first was a gift from the Americans. They have meaning. They're intrinsic to their cities. Do we really want a landmark for the sake of having a landmark?

I don't. I prefer the fact that this city has soul. That every time I journey into the city I see something new. There's always something to do, something to see, something to enjoy.

Yes, the Ferris Wheel thing at the Docklands was a bad idea. But for precisely the reason we have no landmark now - the true, enduring landmarks are those that spring up because of what a city already is, not because of what a city wants to be.

Our city is a place of hidden alleys where you stumble across bars that serve drinks in test-tubes. Or an art gallery you never knew existed. Or a tiny restaurant where the owner knows exactly what you want and takes the time to chat to you and your friends. It's footy at the G, it's drinks afterwards at Holliava and the best Souv in all of Victoria (depending on opinion) in Preston. It's music at the Corner.

Melbourne's landmark is it's liveability. It doesn't need some gaudy trinket tacked on to it to make it great. And here's some more pearls of wisdom from Andrew:

"Take Federation Square, all surly elbows and cringing in camouflage colours - just the building for a generation of neo-barbarians with lip rings and bum antlers."

What the bloody hell are bum antlers? I don't particularly think Fed Square is a thing of beauty, but it's a great meeting place, and I think it's contributed a lot to Melbourne's sense of community.

Andrew also hates the fact that the modern is replacing the old skool. He hates that the "Little Italy of Lygon is being diluted by by restaurants of Thai, Lebanese and Malay cuisine."

Right. So what Melbourne needs is some shiny giant trinket and segregation of eateries?

Dude, for serious? Word of advice. Don't write with jet lag. And appreciate what you've got, because you live in one hell of a city, Andrew. Landmark or nay.

**UPDATE** Mike Sheahan weighs in with his opinion that the MCG classifies as a landmark.