Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Ain't That the Truth?

Over the weekend a friend suggested that I try another dating website, which appears to suit me better. One of the great things about this site is that it has 'personality tests'. I think the one I just took 'Are you a Geek, Nerd or Dork?' was pretty spot on. I love it so much that I am going to use this terminology from now on.

You are an Outcast Genius
 

78 % Nerd, 57% Geek, 61% Dork

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in all three, earning you the title of: Outcast Genius.

Outcast geniuses usually are bright enough to understand what society wants of them, and they just don't care! They are highly intelligent and passionate about the things they know are *truly* important in the world. Typically, this does not include sports, cars or make-up, but it can on occasion (and if it does then they know more than all of their friends combined in that subject).

Outcast geniuses can be very lonely, due to their being outcast from most normal groups and too smart for the room among many other types of dorks and geeks, but they can also be the types to eventually rule the world, ala Bill Gates, the prototypical Outcast Genius.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Found and Lost: Two Versions of Love

I have just finished watching a delightful indie romantic drama called Like Crazy. Sure, it is just a tad pretentious attempting to appeal to the melodramatic film types (like me) and succeeding. But it really captures the essence of falling in love and the tyranny of distance, where months seem to be an eternity and the rush of dopamine that comes with love seems to be the only thing that matters. To outside observers the circumstances of the plot might seem just a tad to convenient: girl from London is studying in LA; meets boy. They date, fall in love hard and fast. They can't tolerate being separated. She decides to ignore her Visa and stay for a few extra months. Naughty girl.


The girl is more invested than the boy. She wants to move Heaven and Earth to see him. He does not wish to make such compromises. One wonders at his exact motivations. He says he misses her, but does not act that way. I rode this storyline through every emotional element. Although love has not lasted across oceans for me it may as well have. Without giving the ending away, it almost seems perfect that this great song plays over the end credits. It is very satisfying.


On the other end of the scale lies A Separation, a movie I saw a few weeks ago that I have been unable to get out of my mind. It is quite simply the best film I have seen in a long time. This Iranian drama is in every way the polar opposite to Like Crazy: where the former is dark, sinister and volatile, the latter remains sweet and endearing. However the central theme of both these films asks the question of how far the characters are willing to go for love? How important are loyalty and honesty?

Where Like Crazy enters on the verge of a relationship, A Separation chooses to throw its audience in the middle of its gripping conclusion, with accusations thrown left and right. However, A Separation is not just about the wreckage of a relationship, but also about the fracturing of honour and integrity. Where the beginning of Like Crazy argues that love can be easy, euphoric and happy, A Separation knows the truth. To quote Louie C.K. 'Optimism is stupid.'

What we have is two diametrically opposed films telling the viewers the values and drawbacks to the most complex four letter word in the English language. As to which version you take on board depends on your perspective. The word remains complex for a reason.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Queen is Dead: Long Live the Dictator.

What does one make of the Queensland Election results?

The ALP are at best left with seven seats of the 89 member parliament. The ALP are not the ‘opposition’ now, but rather a glorified interest group with no talent left in Parliament, little presence in the vital South Eastern corner of the state and its organisational structure left in chaos.

Statistically, the ALP are at their lowest ebb in Queensland history. They have been shown up as tactically inept, with poor communication skills, and a lack of policy credentials. It is easy to blame Anna Bligh, no doubt most will, but most of the blame lies with her advisers. The extraordinary loss would have been minimized if the ALP had chosen to preference the Greens, the campaign dragged on for far too long, and the decision not to go to the polls last year during Bligh’s temporary rise in popularity as a result of the State's floods were all foolish mistakes. As a result, the ALP have destroyed any legacy they could lay claim to.

The bigger questions lie with the short and medium term futures of the Queensland Parliament. What does it say when a Premier has been elected before representing his seat in Parliament? How will the Government be held accountable for its inevitable mistakes with only 13 MPs not representing the LNP? Is parliament even necessary? This is a very sad day indeed for robust debate.

It will be gone from Queensland for the next three years.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Political Euthanasia

Congratulations to the Queensland ALP for broadcasting the worst campaign ad in recent memory.
The last 48 hours of a campaign represent a ‘media blackout’, this means no TV ads, no radio spots, and no presence in newspapers. For most people the above is the last they will hear from the ALP before they go to vote. What is the takeaway here? 

We know we are going to lose, please don’t be too hard on us.

Pathetic.

Imagine such an argument in a sporting context. Down by ten goals your football team decides to call a forfeit with half an hour to go. Then the team decides the time would be better spent grabbing a few drinks at the local bar.

It is quite frankly insulting. What’s the point of the many ALP volunteers who will hand out how to vote cards on Saturday? What was the point of me investing 8 years of my life in an organization that gives up so easily.

You have lost my respect and my vote.

I am disgusted.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Retired?

I’m wasting my nights…

I would like to be watching old TV shows, or movies, or reading the ever increasing list of books on my Kindle. Instead, I’m actively going against my anti-social nature by trying and failing to parse every candidate on internet dating websites. I’ve read most profiles two or three times now. In my mind, I have instantly ranked them:
  • Must Haves: The girls I click on instantly, the ones who I’d die to go out with.
  • Second Looks: These girls have an obvious flaw, but failing a lack of ‘must haves’ I’d go out with them on the basis of a second look.
  • Safeties: The girls who I think are beneath me, but may want to go out with me.
These days there are far too many ‘safeties’ and all the current ‘must haves’ have rejected me in some way or another. Scratch that: all girls from all categories have rejected me in one way or another. Lucky I am good at rejection. Rejection has existed all my life, so I am used to it. I am not afraid of it. I know I am rejection’s punching bag. It knocks me down and I get the fuck back up. It is not sad. It doesn’t make me upset (anymore), it is just life.

However 9 months at this endeavour and zero emotional intimacy achieved, means that internet dating has been pretty much fruitless. Sure I found TCF who has helped me survive and become my rock, and I have two new budding friendships on the horizon. All this is great, but it was not what I came for.

So on the advice of TCF, I took one final stab last week. She suggested that finding the right person should be based on my passions. So I typed in ‘politics’ into the advanced search results: six results. Yay! Except they were all variations on ‘don’t talk to me about politics’. So I typed in ‘Tegan and Sara’: 4 results. They were all girls looking for girls. Stereotypes can be accurate occasionally.

Now I have to wean myself off scouring internet dating search results, as pathetic as that sounds. I have decided to flip my schedule to cure my affliction: fun stuff in the day, work at night. I have the discipline to work because I know I have to do it. Fun stuff can be put off. Nobody does internet dating during the day, so no one will be there.

Productivity + fun- rejection = yay?

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Everything But Denied

My plans to move to Brisbane and live independently have hit another road block. Last week I was told by the Department of Housing that my application for accommodation has been ‘everything but denied’. In other words, they cannot formally say they have declined my application because the Government know me and they know my reputation. After all I have been calling the Department every week now to check on the status of my application. They know I will raise hell if they let me.

I have been actively seeking to move out of my parents home since December 2010. First I had to ensure I could receive in home support from Disability Services (DSQ), because if I couldn’t get help to take a shit or get something to eat there is not much point in trying to look for a place to live. It wasn’t until last November that I received this essential 'in home' support. That is right, it took me 11 months to ensure that I would not have to pay someone out of my own pocket to feed, dress and bath me.  Now comes the challenge of having to improvise yet again to gain access to my most basic right: my own roof over my head.

When coming up with ideas about how to do anything I want to do, the question is not ‘What does it take for me to get this done?’ but rather ‘How many obstacles do I have to overcome to maintain an equal footing with the rest of society?’ Every day of not being able to live independently is a day wasted. I cannot get access to basic resources. I cannot make the ‘fresh start’ that I so badly need. I cannot foster the new relationships that I crave. I cannot take risks and I cannot enjoy my own freedom.

I wanted to move out 452 days ago. I should have moved out years earlier. But I can’t: all because I can’t take a shit on my own. It is a life that is ‘everything but denied’. 

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Two Decades On: The Benefit of a Good Education

Today marks two decades since I started attending a ‘mainstream’ primary school on a full time basis. On March 13th, 1992, at the beginning of Week Eight, Term One, I along with nine other physically disabled students arrived at Mitcham Primary School in Adelaide to attend school for five days a week. I started at Mitcham on a part time basis two years before, first going there one day a week, and then progressing to two. My other days were spent at Regency Park Centre, a special school in every sense of the word.

One of the greatest gifts that each of the 10 children had were strong and determined parents. The move towards ‘mainstream’ full time schooling was literally years in the making. All the parents bonded together to lobby the Education Department because they believed that fighting for an inclusive education was what their child needed and most importantly, what they deserved. The bond between those parents and the battles they fought is something I know I take for granted often. Without them working hard to lobby the government I would not be where I am today. In many ways, the bond between our parents is stronger than the bond that their children have, somehow many of them have stayed in touch and remain close friends while their children have forged their own paths.

‘Mainstream’ schooling benefited me more than any therapy could. It allowed me to demonstrate that I was just as capable as my contemporaries, and develop skills that I still use to this day. It challenged me in a way that a ‘special school’ environment could not. It allowed me to be a typical primary schooler as I rejoiced in playing Duck, Duck Goose on Sports Day, learnt my times tables and traded Tazos at lunch time. Perhaps, best of all it normalised ‘disability’ for the rest of the school community, because at Mitcham we were not segregated: we were just ten students.

In this regard, credit must also be given to the staff. All my teachers at Mitcham Primary were fantastic, they encouraged me every step of the way, never allowing me to use my disability as a petty excuse. I could not have asked for a better education. They really were ahead of their time.

In the 1990s as disability models shifted from ‘instutionalisation’ to ‘inclusiveness’, the ‘Annex program at Mitcham Primary’ as it was known, helped pave the way for modern special needs education. If you asked my parents twenty years ago whether I would have achieved so much academically I doubt they would have believed you. Mitcham was the beginning of a long journey that made such things possible. And I am just one child. Twenty years later kids with disabilities still attend Mitcham. The legacy of our parents, the staff and those original ten students lives on in them.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Trapped By Stupidity

Sometimes I wonder how I can live in a world where people are actually conditioned to ignore the absolute obvious?

Then I realize that once I voice my disapproval at such stupidity I am branded as a cynic. I think this only applies if you think ‘cynicism’ is a synonym for ‘well informed’.

And then there are moments when I am absolutely appalled that I am referred to as part of the ‘disabled community’. This is not because I cannot walk, or that I’m in a wheelchair, it is because for 99% of the time what the ‘mainstream community in the disability sector’ sprout as gospel offends and sickens me down to my very core. Yet I am an unwilling participant in such debates, due to bad luck and misfortune surrounding my birth.

It is made even worse by the fact that I am the ultimate hypocrite. I actually have to ask some of these people for help, so I can attempt to live something resembling a ‘normal life’. You might say, ‘try something else’, but the sector and the tools they use are so incestuous, the structure so rigid and backward that I am left with no choice but to beg these idiots for help. All because my brain does not work as it should.

I am forcibly attached to a ‘community’ I want no part of, for the rest of my life. And I will be forced to play by their rules forever. That I must submit reviles and terrifies me. Yet above all else their ignorance controls my destiny.  

Friday, 2 March 2012

Disability: Always the Policy Backwater

In the wake of Rudd’s departure as foreign minister, comes the news that former New South Wales Premier Bob Carr will be appointed as his successor. Behind this headline is the far more distressing news that the current Parliamentary Secretary for Disability Services, Jan McLucas has been appointed as the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary (in addition to her existing portfolios), arguably the most demanding position for anyone outside the Ministry.

So is the Prime Minister really serious when she suggests that she is committed to disability reform, despite the lack of merit in the NDIS? Gillard supposedly regards it as ‘...the biggest reform since Medicare’, at least rhetorically. This evidence suggests otherwise.

I’m reminded of a piece I wrote for RampUp in January last year:
In political terms, the members of government who are assigned to look after the Disability portfolio usually fit into two distinct categories. The first type is often seen as dead political wood whose lack of talent cannot be scrutinised by the media due to the portfolio's low profile (see the various successions of office holders in the Howard Government). Alternatively, the position is given to an up and coming political talent who is not quite ready to be promoted in to the Ministry and is assigned to Disability as a stop gap measure until they gain more experience (for example, Bill Shorten). In both cases this demonstrates that disability policy does not have the respect it is entitled to… 
Disability policy in this country is a classic case of all talk and no action. Governments trumpet increases of funding to show the public that they are compassionate. They expect people with disabilities to be thankful to them for being so generous. When the support I require just to go to the toilet each year actually does cost the same as a mortgage on an average house, I'll be thankful. Until then I remain skeptical.
The announcement today just further illustrates these points.