We’re not going to talk about how many yen I paid for this ticket.

We’re not going to talk about how many yen I paid for this ticket.

To this end, the budget cuts benefits to sole parents and stay-at-home mums, reviews the assessment of some younger recipients of the disability support pension and imposes ”compulsory activities” on recipients under 35, cuts the benefit received by unemployed people aged 22 to 24 from the dole to the youth allowance, imposes a waiting period for benefits of up to six months on people under 30, reintroduces Work for the Dole and introduces a ”restart” payment of up to $10,000 to employers who take on job seekers aged 50 or over who have previously been on benefits, including the age pension.

Get it? Older people want to work, but suffer from the prejudice of employers, so they’re helped with a new and generous subsidy to employers, whereas the young don’t want to work when they could be luxuriating on below poverty-line benefits, so they’re whipped to find a job by having their benefits cut and their entitlement removed for six months in every year until the lazy loafers take a job.

Just how having their benefits reduced or removed helps young adults afford the various costs of finding a job — including being appropriately dressed for an interview — the government doesn’t explain.


How does it help to starve a youngster to the point where they’re prepared to undertake some pointless training course? Is it really smart to take a university graduate who’s having a few months’ wait to find a suitable job and force them into a taxpayer-funded course on driving a forklift truck?
Ross Gittins, “Shifting form entitlement to enterprise,” The Sydney Morning Herald, May 27, 2014

The association of male value with aggression, dominance, and power is one of the most destructive forces in the world, and so it has to be destroyed. Traditional masculinity has to die in just the same way that sexism and racism and homophobia have to die. It can’t be reformed, it can’t be rescued. It has to be replaced. It’s utterly infected, with the celebration of violence, sexual entitlement, throbbing misogyny, and a fake self-confidence that is almost always hiding total self-loathing. If the kind of sick masculinity that leads to these crimes were a religion, people would call it incompatible with modernity. If it were a race, Fox News would talk about that race’s culture of violence. If it were a political ideology, it would be classified alongside white supremacy or anti-Semitism. How could it not be, given the spasms of horrific violence that we now expect to happen over and over again? I don’t excuse Rodger or anyone else for the terrible, unforgivable choices they make. The sickness within our culture is not an excuse. But it is part of the explanation, and it needs to be cut out like a cancer.

Frederik de Boer, “destroy traditional masculinity,” May 24, 2014

Read with reference to this.

May 28

omg you guys I’ve found so many cool nail polishes over here.

omg you guys I’ve found so many cool nail polishes over here.

Top 5 things to say in Japan…

…if your Japanese is kinda garbage.

  1. Sou desu (ne). Affirmation, question, filler — “sou desu ne” kills it as an always handy phrase to make it seem like you have some idea of what’s happening right now.
  2. Daijoubu. Basically means “OK” but is hella useful for any circumstance where you need to reassure people that you’re (i) competent; (ii) not in need of help; and (iii) pretty happy with the way things are going.
  3. Wakarimasu. This means “I understand,” and sometimes “I know,” and it’s the lie I’ve told most often these past few weeks. One thing about my Japanese is that I’m fantastic at asking for directions, and terrifically incompetent at understanding them. Those times when I’m too ashamed to admit I have no idea what has just been said to me? “Hai. Wakarimasu.”
  4. Wakaranai. Or wakarimasen if you want to be polite about it, but I like the plainspokenness of wakaranai better, particularly if you say it kind of sorrowfully. And besides, Japanese folks seem to use the plain form of verbs way more than language books would have you believe. Wakarinai is great for those times when you’ve somehow tricked someone into thinking that you’re actually halfway good at understanding their language and you need to come clean with an “I’m sorry, I have no idea what you just said.”
  5. Sumimasen. Oh, man, sumimasen is awesome. It basically means “excuse me,” but it can be a greeting or an apology or a cry for attention or a filler word or so many other things. Only time sumimasen has ever failed me is when I thought I could use it as a substitute for “I didn’t hear you, could you please repeat yourself,” the way you can with “excuse me” in English. The apparent failure in my thinking produced conversations of great comedy like this one:
  • Nihonjin: [Something mumbled, complex, low-volume, or all three]
  • Me: Sumimasen?
  • Nihonjin: [in a tone communicating supreme eagerness to help, and suggesting no prior conversation has taken place] Hai?
  • Me: Uhh… hmm… ehhh… [silence] … daijoubu.

Learn these five things and you too can sorta kinda survive being a terrible Japanese speaker in Japan!

You wouldn’t think we’d be on the same wavelength, you know? We’re so different.”

“We’re not that different.”

“Totally different,” he said. “Look at us.”

“We’re both English majors,” Cath said. “We’re both white. We live in Nebraska. We listen to the same music, we watch the same TV shows, we even have the same pair of Chuck Taylors—”

“Yeah. But it’s like John Lennon writing with … Taylor Swift instead of Paul McCartney.”

“Get over yourself,” Cath said. “You’re not half as pretty as Taylor Swift.

Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl (2013)


When things were getting too intense — when Wren found out that Jesse Sandoz was cheating on her, when Cath got fired because her boss at the bookstore didn’t think she smiled enough, when their dad was acting like a zombie and wouldn’t stop — one of them would stand on her bed and pretend to pull an imaginary lever, a giant switch set in the air, and shout, “Emergency Kanye Party!”

And then it was the other person’s job to run to the computer and start the Emergency Kanye playlist. And then they’d both jump around and dance and shout Kanye West lyrics until they felt better. Sometimes it would take a while…

ilu Rainbow Rowell.


Kanye always crawled right under her skin. He was the perfect antidote to any serious frustration. Just enough angry, just enough indignant, just enough the-world-will-never-know-how-ridiculously-awesome-I-am. Just enough poet.

You’re making me feel sorry for you again,” Reagan said.

Cath turned her fork on Reagan. “Don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me.”

“I can’t help it,” Reagan said. “You’re really pathetic.”

“I am not.”

“You are. You don’t have any friends, your sister dumped you, you’re a freaky eater … And you’ve got some weird thing about Simon Snow.”

“I object to every single thing you just said.”

Reagan chewed. And frowned. She was wearing dark red lipstick.

“I have lots of friends,” Cath said.

“I never see them.”

“I just got here. Most of my friends went to other schools. Or they’re online.”

“Internet friends don’t count.”

“Why not?”

Reagan shrugged disdainfully.

“And I don’t have a weird thing with Simon Snow,” Cath said. “I’m just really active in the fandom.”

“What the fuck is ‘the fandom’?

Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl (2013)

You guys. This book.

May 24



Billie - “Because We Want To” (1998) (#794, 1 week) Under discussion here: http://freakytrigger.co.uk/popular/2014/05/billie-because-we-want-to/

How much of this Popular entry is about Doctor Who? Quite a lot. Also! Stage schools v art schools in British pop, and two types of teenage rebellion songs. I like my binaries in this one.

I liked this part particularly:

This is one of the big late-90s pivots in British pop — the point at which stage school really started to become the training ground for a pop career. And to accentuate the shift — though one trend does not cause the other — it happens when the art school tradition that had fed into UK pop since Lennon and Stu Sutcliffe has begun to sputter out, a victim of funding cuts and the end of student grants.

The rise of stage schools following the decline of art schools has an ongoing effect on who gets to be pop stars in Britain, a shift in emphasis that also shapes the critical reception of UK pop music. Critics train themselves to spot and respond to the kind of qualities the art-pop tradition fosters: self-expression, conceptual fluency, executing your ideas well. The story of British pop in the 60s is — partly, at least — the story of people discovering how fantastic an arena pop was for those qualities.

A performing arts education — I apologise for the vast and possibly ignorant generalisations I’m committing here — is set up for slightly different things. Performance, obviously. The discipline and craft to repeat those performances. And the ability to inhabit, interpret and communicate material, deeply and quickly. Pop music should benefit hugely from that stuff too — though almost nobody, whatever their education, gets to be famous in pop while being awful at communicating and performing.

It’s not that one educational tradition is good for pop and that one is bad. It’s not that a stage school background means you won’t be great at the kind of things art school brought to pop.


It was such a relief to arrive in Fukuoka from Busan, and not because I disliked Korea (which I didn’t). But after having been unable to communicate with anyone, being able to use even rudimentary Japanese felt remarkably freeing.

Now, having been in Japan for coming up on two weeks, I’ve found the limits of my Japanese, but, better, I’ve found how far I can stretch them. It’s immensely satisfying to realize how much better I get at communicating with the people around me each day I am here, how each stupid thing I say leads to me saying a less stupid thing the next day.

But my language abilities are limited — sometimes I think that, in being unable to communicate with the English language, I’ve lost the single thing I’m best at — and that has created a strange situation whereby all my speech is necessarily proscribed.

Yet sometimes I will meet someone who, I can tell, is fluent in English, and at those times, the too-easy outpouring of words from my mouth seems excessive. After days and weeks of carefully measuring and preparing words, those occasions on which I am suddenly allowed to unleash a lifetime of learning, I feel like in doing so I’m being indulgent. Should I really so readily embrace the opportunity to turn thoughts into speech? Is it fair to unveil my words upon people simply because they can understand them?

English never felt like opulence before. In a few weeks, it will once again be as commonplace as oxygen. But, at the moment, using it seems like a luxury to be grasped transiently and jealously.

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