11 September 2014

Needle vs Haystack

Because one in a million isn't always good.

You went searching for a schism in the study of autism,
‘Cause you’re certain vaccines cause it, and that needs to be explored.
And for every tract or lecture in support of your conjecture,
You found many more against, which you summarily ignored.

All the scientists conforming to the norm of global warming
Are, in your opinion, wrong, or at the very least misled;
Since an expert crunched some figures, showing human-centric triggers
Are a load of crap, so never mind what other experts said.

You’ve heard claims that every fossil ever found makes a colossal
Case for evolution here on Earth, including humankind.
But you noticed an omission in the record of transition
From bacterium to human, so you’re sure we’ve been designed.

You could search the world all over for a tiny four-leaf clover;
Or a hidden ukulele in a pile of violins;
For a prickle in a thicket, or a lucky golden ticket,
Or a silver needle buried in a haystack full of pins.

You’ll find papers reinforcing the position you’re endorsing,
So hooray for you, you clever sausage! Everybody cheer!
But the confirmation bias of statistical outliers
Doesn’t make the weight of evidence against you disappear.

29 August 2014

How to be a Christian

He’s the champion of the poor, the lost, the meek and dispossessed;
He invites all creeds and colours to his parish to be blessed;
He believes in being human, and in peaceable protest;
He loves Jesus, and he calls himself a Christian.

They’re a loving, married couple with a huge and loyal flock;
Spreading news of God through microphones and family-friendly rock;
They already know the getting-into-heaven secret knock;
Praise the Lord! Ch-ching! They call each other Christian.

He attends the sick and needy, if he gets the flights for free;
He tells lies and sells his arse to gain election victory;
He’ll support a wealthy mogul, but turn back a refugee;
He’s not quite a priest, but calls himself a Christian.

He’s ensconced within the Vatican, with wine and jewels and prayer;
He condones the rape of children by the men charged with their care;
He’ll protect the church’s name, but not those families in despair;
He’s a cardinal, and calls himself a Christian.

Now, I’ve read the Holy Bible, but I’m still a bit confused;
About what a “Christian” says and does, and how the word is used;
Which behaviour’s unforgivable, and which can be excused?
By what standards can one call oneself a Christian?

When I look to Christian leaders, their example isn’t plain;
Some are good and meek and giving, some destructive, cruel and vain;
But there is a single common thread, a prevalent refrain:
Someone’s Christian if they call themselves a Christian.

08 August 2014

Erica Betz

Because 1950s babies are better than your babies.

Eric Abetz, Leader of the Government in the Senate, Minister for Employment and unabashed anti-abortionist, expressed his respect for studies "back from the 1950s" that support a link between breast cancer and abortion in a television interview last night.  The people on the internet went crazy, and this morning the Senator is on his back-pedal bike, claiming that he was cut off when he was about to say that the link isn't supported by current medical thinking.

Whatever, Eric. You're attending the World Congress of Families event in Melbourne this month because it has aims that you "broadly support". You've never been shy about your stance on abortion and so-called 'Family Values' which is the world's worst euphemism for "Ladies and Homos should do as they're told".

I can't speak for everyone, but I think you meant it.

Eric Abetz has no regrets.
He said what he meant to say.
A woman is best when stout of breast
And well in the family way.
He’s here to discuss your uterus -
It doesn’t belong to you;
Those studies begun since Menzies’ run
Are not worth a brass razoo.

29 July 2014


Because I honestly don't know.

Could it be I’m not a feminist? I’m never really sure.
I don’t think it means the thing I used to think it meant before.
And despite the helpful anecdotes and practical suggestions
From enthusiastic people on the web, I have some questions:

Can I shave my legs and armpits? Can I shop for sexy bras?
Can I ask for help with moving house and stubborn lids on jars?
Can I sneak a sidelong glance at well-formed bottoms at the gym?
Can I praise a man’s physique without objectifying him?

If I take my husband’s surname, have I finished being me?
If I earn more than my partner, is that inequality?
If I pole-dance in a bar, am I exploited or empowered?
If I don’t walk home at night-time, am I smart or just a coward?

Is it ok if I giggle when a sexist joke is funny?
Is it ok if I answer when a male friend calls me “honey”?
Is it ok to say “suffragist” instead of “suffragette”?
Is it ok if I don’t assume that every man’s a threat?

Should I ask the girl who risks her life by learning maths and reading?
Or the woman left to perish slowly, faceless, cut and bleeding?
Should I ask how FGM or acid-throwing victims feel
About whether it’s insulting when a man pays for a meal?

27 June 2014


Because 1985.

This morning, my sister Jo was having trouble with an earworm, and she was nice enough to share her troubles with me:
"I have the
My Name Is Zoran
song stuck in my head."

I think we need some back story here.

The year was 1985. We'd gone with a bunch of giggling Duran-Duran-fangirl companions to see A View to a Kill, featuring a peroxide-blonde Christopher Walken as Max Zorin, corporate super-villain. We decided he was fabulous (Not Nick Rhodes fabulous, but still top shelf).

So we all got together and wrote a tribute song, to the tune of a long-forgotten bank advertising jingle. Because that's what 14-year-old girls do.

Here it is, pulled from the far back part of my brain (as you can see, I've maintained the same standard of lyrical wizardry for the last 30 years):

My name is Zorin
And I'm a psycho
I like blowing up people in their face.
It's so funny but
'Cause I'm so mental
I was given steroids when I was three.

Have a great Friday. 

30 May 2014

Disease, False Balance and Meryl Dorey - a Guide for Media

Because her opinion isn't news.

For the benefit of media who think it's worth consulting anti-vaccine lobbyists for "their side" when writing about the serious issue of immunisation, I'd like to suggest a few points, if I may:

1. Right now in Australia we're battling outbreaks of measles and whooping cough

2. Evidence has shown that creating false balance by providing anti-vaccine speakers (who have opinions based on opinions) a platform alongside medical experts (who have opinions based on evidence), makes people give more credence to the anti-vaccine view than if it was presented in isolation. 

3. As I see it, if you include an anti-vaccine lobbyist alongside an expert in a story about vaccination, you are hindering the success of public health initiatives and contributing to the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases.

4. This:

Who says having eyes to read stuff with trumps medical degrees?
Who says doctors murder babies? Yes, it’s (tut, sigh) Meryl Dorey.

Who says people who shake babies aren’t to blame for fractured ribs?
Who says death from Whooping Cough is just some mother’s made-up story?
Who says measles is a gift? That’s right, it’s (head-desk) Meryl Dorey.

Who says AIDS might not be real because she’s not seen HIV?
Who says polio’s still rife, but in a different category?
Who says vaccines cause autism? Same old (face palm) Meryl Dorey.

Who says Meryl Dorey’s incorrect? My state’s HCCC.
Who says Meryl’s claims are bulldust? People at the ABC.
Who says Meryl is misleading? Why, the Office of Fair Trading.
So don’t put her in your story, ‘less your story needs degrading.

16 May 2014


Because it's not all about cricket and prawns.

Endless beaches
Parrot screeches
Desert sands of rusty red.
Tiny cozzies
Giant mozzies
Spiders that can eat your head.
Oil refining
Big pit mining
Possums, snakes and kangaroos.
Beer for sculling
Sharks for culling
Sweaty Southern Cross tattoos.
Racing horses
Border forces
Offshore gaols for refugees.
Children stolen
Cities swollen
Wilderness devoid of trees.
Budget crunches
Coward punches
Freedom to insult a race.
Climate stalling
No point bawling
Better than another place.