Freedom of speech: it’s probably not what you think it is

Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of yelling on social media about free speech. It seems that “free speech” has become the defense du jour against criticism for speech which is offensive, bigoted or prejudiced.

Adapting a line from a favourite film: “You keep using that phrase. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Freedom of speech is actually quite a tricky issue in Australia. I might eventually get around to doing a proper post on the subject, but for now, I’ll just outline the basics. Continue reading


Only in dreams: lumberjacks and headless dogs

The Sleepers
Dreamers [detail], Albert Moore, 1882
Last night I dreamed I had just bought a new house. It was large and luxurious, with huge windows and richly brocaded curtains. I was running about with a camera taking photos so I could share them with my friends and family, who didn’t know I’d bought it. I was thrilled that I’d been able to afford such an obviously expensive house. As I explored, I kept finding new staircases and little secret rooms.

Time jumped, and my mother visited, sleeping downstairs in the basement with my two dogs. In the morning she let them out through the childproof security gate on the basement stairs. One came running into me in the bathroom, jumping with excitement. I was trying to calm her when suddenly her head came off. Continue reading

Horses come dappled
Image Source: ‘Appaloosa Horse’ by Lynn Stone, 2 Feb 2011,

Appaloosas are known for their spotted coats. Their base coat may be almost any colour, but all have a white pattern overlaid on the base coat. There are a number of pattern variations, including spots, blanket, leopard, snowflake and marble, plus endless combinations of the different patterns. These spotted patterns are referred to collectively as the ‘leopard complex’.

So an Appaloosa is a horse with a leopard complex. Ha. Continue reading

Horses come in gold

I love horses. Fell for them when I was 7 or 8. It’s all the fault of books, because I have never owned a horse, lived with or near horsey people, or known anyone as horse-mad as I was. Anna Sewell, Walter Farley, Marguerite Henry, Elyne Mitchell, Mary O’Hara and dozens of others: I read every vaguely horsey book I could get my grubby paws on. One year I was given a horse encyclopedia as a gift, and I practically memorized it – which is just as well, because it eventually came apart under the constant handling.

I pestered my parents to let me ride the ponies in the parks, go trail riding, attend horse camps. I wasn’t often successful, because those sorts of things cost money, and we didn’t have a great deal to spare. So I gobbled up library books and daydreamed instead. Continue reading

When feminism attacks: gossip, frocks and haircuts

Image source: Licence: CC0 Public Domain

A little while ago I was at the hairdresser. It’s my little treat. I have a cup of tea and flick through gossip magazines while somebody cuts, washes and dries my hair. A scalp massage once the conditioner goes on is part of the service. I love the scalp massage.

One doesn’t usually come over all feministy at the hairdresser. Nor does one usually spontaneously compose song parodies. But this morning was different. I did both. Continue reading

Adventures in make-up: the problem with brushes

Make-up brushesI started my adventures in make-up with a large face brush, a blush brush, an eyeshadow brush and whatever applicators came with the few products I owned.

I thought I was doing pretty well.

I was quickly disabused of this notion by Google and YouTube. If you want to apply make-up artfully, they said, then you need the right brushes. The better the brush, they said, the better the result. And the key to a natural look is really, really good brushes and a hell of a lot of blending. They said.

Bearing in mind that my first visit to Mecca Maxima for a consultation on a ‘simple’ day look entailed the use of 11 different brushes and scared me silly, I approached this advice with some caution. Continue reading