July is going to be busy.

Yikes. So marks are out for uni. Somewhat surprisingly, moving overseas at the start of exams didn’t impact my marks as badly as I thought it would. Little bit disappointed but probably shouldn’t be, all things considered.

Now that marking is finishing and I’m “settled”, my supervisor and I finally had a chat over Skype about how things are shaping up. He was happy but had a few pointers. And by pointers I mean massive overhauls to the entire focus of my thesis. There was much talk of INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY.

Anchorman-well-that-escalated-quickly

What started as a little radio project has snowballed to something much bigger, but still (hopefully) focussed and within scope. Writing about how to improve democracy is great for the old ego. *Climbs on to soapbox.* But it presents the challenge of a near-complete re-write of my two-thirds complete thesis. While trying to write a novella. While writing pitches for articles to earn money. *Gets off soapbox and hides under table.* Hmm. July is going to be busy.

A challenge

As you may know, my partner and I have recently moved to Singapore from Australia. His company moved us over so while he has been trotting off to work every day, I have not been. Thanks to a holiday that was booked way in advance, as in before we knew we were moving, I’m in the middle of seven weeks off from work. I’ve been using that time productively, or at least trying to use that time productively, there may have been some TV watched at one time or another.

Anyway, I want to be a writer, and this is the perfect chance to give it a crack and see if I have the discipline, oh and maybe the skills, to do it. So now that we are officially moved in and settled in our new apartment/suburb/city/country, it’s time to get serious. This post is to hold me to account. I’ve dabbled in a few blogging challenges, writing around different themes and not using adverbs primarily, but I stumbled across a phenomenon called NaBloPoMo. Sounds like an upwardly mobile suburb of New York but it’s short for National Blog Posting Month. Basically you sign up and write a blog a day for a month, I think around a dedicated theme. Upon further investigation, NaBloPoMo is a spin-off of NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. This is where writers, amateur and professionals, sign up and commit to writing a 50,000 word novel in one month. Crazy, huh? When you break it down though, it’s potentially do-able. 31 days in July, minus 8 for the weekends equals 23 days. 50,000 divided by 23 days is about 2175 words a day; eight hour work day equals about 270 words an hour. Sounds achievable? I hope so, because that’s what I’m going to try and do. I’m a journalist by trade and there’s nothing like a looming deadline to get me motivated. So this is my commitment to these 50,000 words. On the side, I’ll still be blogging and writing articles, oh and probably working on my thesis… but I am going to write a novel in a month. You watch.

Disclaimer: I had a head start on today’s 2175 words so I guess tomorrow the real work begins. I’ll keep you updated but I won’t post any of the story, most likely because it will be rubbish! Wish me luck.

Between two storeys

She still remembered which ones creaked. As a child, she would wake early and creep downstairs to play with the dogs or cajole Pop into giving her sweets. She thought of him. Hands stained with oil, rising at 5am to spend time in the garage. “This is a car hospital,” he explained one morning. She picked flowers from the garden, “For the sick cars.” Pop wheezed and gave her a fistful of sweets. The stairs groaned, interrupting her reverie. The agent clip-clopped into the room, “It cleaned up quite nicely. I don’t think there’ll be any problems making the reserve.”

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Back again..

I’ve decided I really admire people who commit to a blog religiously.

(My lovely colleague @em_gramenz http://emiliegramenz.blogspot.com/ is a good example)

I could now explain my absence: I was overseas, on sabbatical, in a coma, been busy being fantastically successful.

Nope, none of the above.
Blog phase was over, now it has hopefully started again.
I think the issue is that I have trouble committing to inanimate objects.
Examples:

  • plants- if it doesn’t rain, they die.
  • eczema cream- “Apply daily for 7 days”, 10 months later, still have itchy wrists.
  • moisturisers- Does anyone actually apply twice daily?
  • blogging- See above
  • newspaper subscriptions- I tried but the backlog created a fire hazard
  • packed lunches- what if I don’t feel like a mustard sandwich at lunch time?

Or I could just be very lazy.
Anyway, I just remembered the reason I sat down to write this: shameless self-promotion!
I didn’t exactly do nothing on my blogging break, I’ve been published!! For true! Like a proper almost-journalist! Here’s the link!

http://issuu.com/southeastasiabackpacker/docs/issue_15_web

Page 42!

Next step is to get paid…

Likelihood of employment?

Dear esteemed potential employer,

Shut up.

Got your attention, didn’t I?

Now close all your other tabs. Close your Twitter and Facebook. Close YouTube. Stop bidding on that item on Ebay. You’re wasting your time. But more importantly, you’re wasting my time. My valuable time. So cut the crap and pay attention. There are three things to know before we begin, so listen closely:

  1. I hate networking.
  2. I hate resumes.
  3. I hate cover letters.

You may think it’s ironic that I’m sending you this cover letter. Shut up, smart arse. This is not a lesson on the intricate nuances of the English language and this is also not a cover letter. This is me telling you to give me an interview. And you better dress nice. Give me an interview and I’ll show you just how fucking right for the job I am. No, more than that. Just 15 minutes of my time will give you the opportunity to see that I would be such an incredible asset to your organisation that you will create an EXCLUSIVE NEW POSITION PURELY FOR ME.

Expectations:

  • Multi-media (for all intents and purposes) foreign correspondent based in either India or South East Asia.
  • No video. I don’t do video.
  • Overarching organisation must be global, large, powerful and diplomatically immune with an unsurpassable legal department.
  • Opportunities for often and significant advancement.
  • Travel allowances, living expenses and drinking money provided separately to remuneration.
  • Positive, nurturing working environment.

Remuneration

I would like to be handsomely renumerated. None of this Grade 1 journalist, “I’m fresh out of uni and will work for whatever remuneration that can be sucked out of the vending machine by my own chapped and bleeding lips” bullshit. Handsome. Remuneration. Think Bruce Paige’s salary. Six figures. Six even figures, none of which are zero. And they all must be divisible by 4. Apart from those specifications, just however much you think I’m worth.

Working hours

Now South East Asia correspondent appeals to me, so does India correspondent. The thing about these two places is, however, that they are subject to seasonal, inclement weather. I don’t do wet seasons, I don’t do Mumbai in summer. Those times will be taken as paid leave.

If this letter hasn’t convinced you, you must be some sort of intellectually-deficient, Cretaceous-period pond scum. Pass this on to someone with more cells.

Regards,

(Note the absence of words such as ‘kind’, ‘warm’ and ‘loving’. Be grateful to get even the lowliest ‘regards’.)

Bridget

Do opposites attract?

So a recent domestic spat got me thinking on this topic…

Yep, airing dirty laundry on the internet, always such a good idea.

Opposites attracting is one of those relationship theories that have been around as long as relationships themselves.

I’m sure everyone can think of ‘that couple’, the ones that are so insanely different, explosively fight all the time but have been together forever.

But how different is too different?

(Wow, I’m feeling so Carrie Bradshaw right now!)

The phrase ‘opposites attract’ is irritatingly vague.

What opposites are they referring to?

The religions, the politics, the family values, the future, the personalities?

The topics you don’t talk about around the dinner table seem eerily similar to the ones you don’t talk about in relationships…

And the ‘attract’ part?

Attraction is great but what sort of staying power do opposites have?

Deep stuff. It even prompted me to do a bit of research I have actually done a little bit of research on this topic.

According to my good friend and university assignment aide, Wikipedia, the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator is “the world’s most widely used personality assessment”.

Basically there are four categories:

  • Extraversion/Introversion,
  • Sensing/Intuition,
  • Thinking/Feeling, and
  • Judging/Perceiving.

The test tells you which ones your personality leans towards.

Fun right?

Here’s a free one, go on, you know you want to…

http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

For example, I’m an ESTP, almost the polar opposite of the boyfriend.

So after this comforting finding, I engaged my research partner, Google, to find out about compatibility and found this site!

http://tinyurl.com/6mr3or

So, semi-scientifically, do opposites attract?

According to that site, there are types that attract their opposites and types that don’t.

Really conclusive and helpful.

Well, I don’t know about the science, or whatever it is they call that, but my opinion on opposites?

Being with someone exactly the same as you would be boring; I don’t want to date me!

Differences keep things interesting and besides… there’s no heat without friction…

: o )

Playing politics with religion

Banning the burqa. It seems everyone, everywhere has a strong, and often loud opinion about it.

Outraged politicians and irate feminists around the world are mounting their soap boxes to decry the horrendous oppression of women behind these black veils of woe.

All without looking at the facts.

People who support a ban on the burqa are either ignorant, racist or pushing their own hidden agenda.

Speaking of which, let’s start with politicians.

Earlier this year, France’s lower house of Parliament overwhelmingly approved a bill to ban the wearing of a burqa or niqab, both full-body veils, in public places. The ban proposes a 150 euro fine for the woman herself and a 30 000 euro fine and one year jail sentence if a man is found to be forcing the veil to be worn. President Nikolas Sarkozy has strongly supported the bill from the beginning claiming it’s a matter of French identity. Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie told the BBC it was a victory for democracy and for French values.

All this talk of French values in this context is slightly confusing. The French are a proud people, to say the least, and national identity is a hot topic in Europe at the moment, but what has that got to do with Muslim veils?

Joan Wallach Scott of The Guardian says the ban has little to do with the emancipation of women.

“Outlawing what the French call “le voile intégral” is part of a campaign to purify and protect national identity, purging so-called foreign elements… from membership in the nation,” she writes.

Sarkozy is using nationalism and paranoia about rising numbers of immigrants to fuel his own agenda. But it’s not just the burqa bill that proves this. France’s recent purging of the Roma gypsies, a propose law that takes away the citizenship of foreign-born citizens if they are convicted of crime, as well as the new portfolio of the Minister for Immigration and National Identity. In addition, the burqa ban passed on the eve of Fête Nationale, the anniversary of France becoming a democratic republic.

The most alarming part of this blatant political xenophobia is that the world is watching. In Belgium, Spain, Italy, Britain and even here in Australia, the debate has been gaining intensity and momentum.  Banning the burqa is an easy political distraction. Most of Western Europe is grappling with the huge, real issues of coping with immigration, globalisation, diminishing concepts of national identity, and not to mention financial troubles and instability. Banning the burqa is an easy way to manipulate the paranoia surrounding Islam and disguise the fact that real issues are not being addressed.

Isolating a minority to win popularity seems like a cretaceous and low act so why is it working in this day and age? The answer is fear. Fear of an unknown and misunderstood culture. Fear that has arisen from the bigoted idea that the only thing under a burqa is plastic explosives. Taking away a Muslim woman’s right to wear a burqa is the most overt and corrosive way to sanitise their culture for Western values. It is estimated that of the five million odd Muslims living in France, a mere 2000 wear the burqa. It is a tiny number of people to warrant such a bill. But despite these numbers, the burqa remains one of the most recognisable aspects of this culture and banning it isolates the entire Muslim population. It shows intolerance, misunderstanding and prejudice.

Feminists, and some self-serving politicians, argue that it is a garment of female repression. Certainly there are women who are forced to wear the burqa by male relatives but they are far outnumbered by those who have chosen to of their own free will. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.  A ban may seem like a convenient, popular way to exploit people’s ignorance and paranoia but it causes far more harm than good.

And to all those angry feminists, surely this is what we’ve been fighting for? The right to choose?

Any talk of banning the burqa is simply thinly-veiled racism.

References

Haussegger, V. (2010, May 21) The burqa is a war on women. The Age. Accessed September 2, 2010 from http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/the-burqa-is-a-war-on-women-20100520-vnp3.html

Silvestri, S. (2010, July 13) Fracne votes on the burqa. The Guardian. Accessed September 2, 2010 from http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/jul/13/france-burqa-ban-veil

Wallch Scott, J. (2010, August 26) France ban Islamic veil. The Guardian. Accessed September 2, 2010 from http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2010/aug/26/france-ban-islamic-veil

BBC News Europe. (2010, July 13) French MPs vote to ban full Islamic veil in public. BBC Online. Accessed September 8, 2010 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10611398