Friday, June 22, 2012
A British woman who thinks that clothes make the man
I don't think this woman is wise. As I am nearing 70, I too am a serious sartorial offender, despite spasms of fashionability in my earlier days. Anne heroically puts up with my largely absent dress sense but her patience does occasionally earn rewards. I bought a new suit (charcoal grey with a faint chalk stripe) to take her to Die Wiener Philharmoniker when it came to Brisbane. And she has other occasional triumphs. Patience and forbearance is needed with us old guys!
Baggy corduroys with worn patches; faded short-sleeve shirts; dingy, threadbare jumpers and exploding trainers. Glance at most older men in the High Street and this is what you will see.
And could these decrepit garments not only make them look past it, but be the real reason why older men fail so spectacularly when it comes to forming new relationships with their female peers?
A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece in the Mail pondering why older men are such emotional cripples — born out of eight years searching for a man after the death of my partner.
Among the many letters in response were a few from older men themselves which particularly piqued my interest. They claimed that the real divide between older men and women is not their emotions, but their attitude to clothing. While older men are comfortable in their decades-old outfits, women, forever fickle and changeable, always have to be buying something new.
And this difference of opinion causes a distance between the sexes. It might sound flippant, but I think these men have a point. My respondents intended this as a criticism of women, of course — yet it says something not too savoury about older men as well and the pitiful way they will go on wearing the same ancient clothes year after year.
For while men view women’s obsession with fashion as vapid, women see men’s sartorial reticence as, at best bad manners and, at worst, unattractive. My ex-husband Neville Hodgkinson, 68, is a case in point. He was once so smartly turned out. Now it’s a very different story.
At a family funeral three years ago, he arrived wearing a suit that looked both strangely familiar and weirdly old-fashioned. Dark blue, boxy and double-breasted, it was too tight and slightly spivvy-looking.
‘How long have you had that?’ I frowned. ‘Don’t you remember, you helped me choose it,’ he said.
We had been divorced for more than 25 years at that point. And his excuse for still wearing it? ‘Well, it was ahead of its time when we bought it,’ he said. It turns out that since our separation, Neville never buys any new clothes if he can possibly help it. Our two sons, Tom, 44, and Will, 42, have tried to shock and bully him into getting himself up-to-date, but to no avail. They now say he is ‘beyond redemption’.
It seems he is typical of the older man who will cling onto clothes bought decades ago, rather than face the ultimate horror of going into a shop and choosing new ones. When I pressed him for his reasons, he said: ‘I hate shopping for clothes almost more than anything else in the world, and it’s nothing to do with money. There has to be an absolute necessity to buy something new before I will even enter a clothes shop.’
Very many of my male friends share Neville’s view. The other day, one of them, also in his late 60s, turned up at my house in a 30-year-old mac that made him look like something out of an episode of Seventies detective series Columbo. When I suggested he might get a new one, he said: ‘But why? This one is still in perfect condition. What’s wrong with it?’
He, too, said that his only suit was one bought in the Eighties. ‘But it is an Ermenegildo Zegna,’ he added proudly, as if that made it all right.
So many men do not seem to realize that even the sharpest Italian suit will eventually go out of fashion. To them, fashion stands still, and it’s a major reason why women — who stay up-to-date with trends — find it so difficult to connect with older men. If they persist in wearing shabby old-fashioned clothes, what does it say about their minds?
For me, and most of my women friends, outdated clothes indicate outdated attitudes and a reluctance to take on board new ideas. All of which is terribly off-putting. Even older celebrities are not immune from looking shabby and scruffy when they are off-duty.
I once met Chris Tarrant, the supersmart host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, at a party... In short, he looked like a tramp
I once met Chris Tarrant, the supersmart host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, at a party. He was in ancient torn jeans, those all-too-familiar dirty exploded trainers and dingy, once-white T-shirt. In short, he looked like a tramp, and we all know he could afford several shops full of new jeans. But he, like so many older men, apparently prefers to hang on to his existing ones.
Yet while today’s older men seem to be getting shabbier and more ill-dressed than ever before, the very opposite is happening with older women, whose fashion sense seems to improve with each decade. One woman friend was informed by her 30-something daughter that she had just reached her fashion peak — aged 67.
A new book of photos, Advanced Style, pictures women in their 80s and 90s looking fantastic and proving that there is no age limit when it comes to flair and style. The author of the book, Ari Seth Cohen, now says he has so many images on his website of women aged 80 and over looking wonderful, he hasn’t room for any more.
There is even a successful fashion label, The Old Ladies’ Rebellion, aimed specifically at the 70-plus woman who wants to look ‘a bit rock ’n’ roll’. Nobody could possibly produce a book of octogenarian men looking fantastic or launch a fashion label aimed at this age group.
In fact, I can think of only one very old man who is well-dressed: the 91-year-old Duke of Edinburgh. He emerged from hospital recently looking totally appropriate in smart-but-casual tweed jacket with jaunty hanky in the pocket, plus shirt and tie.
Any other nonagenarian coming out of hospital would be in a nasty anorak and old sweatshirt. So is there something about Phil being Greek [He is actually German -- a Battenberg] that allows him to look dapper into extreme old age?
Whatever the reason, there is no denying the slump of disappointment when you go on a date with a man wearing an outfit older than your children.
Regulating Political Speech
It's presidential season, so again pundits are indignant that money is spent on politics. Spent by corporations! And rich people! Because the Supreme Court allowed that, "2012 will be a miserable year," says The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne
2012 may be miserable -- but if it is, it won't be because corporations spend on politics. And anyway, they have a right to spend. In politics, money is speech.
The very first amendment that the Founders chose to add to the Constitution couldn't be more clear: "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech ... ."
Yet most people support laws against political speech -- when they don't like the speakers.
Asking government to regulate political speech is a poisonous idea. Politicians naturally think that people who challenge their power should be restrained. Sen. John McCain led the majority who championed "campaign finance reform" that, among other things, forbade anonymous donors to run ads in the crucial weeks just before elections (when most voters finally pay attention).
My ABC colleagues loved McCain-Feingold. Some conservatives think journalists like the law because it exempts media corporations. But I think it goes back to our gut instinct that corporations are bad and rich people spending money to influence politics is very bad.
But political (and religious) speech is exactly what the Founders were eager to protect when they wrote the First Amendment. It has been nice to watch the Supreme Court overrule McCain-Feingold piece by piece.
In 2008, a court ruled that TV ads for a nonprofit corporation's critical documentary about then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton violated McCain-Feingold. When the Supremes overturned that ruling, saying that corporations and unions may fund political ads, the mainstream media were so upset, they sounded like there had been a coup.
The New York Times said the decision "strikes at the heart of democracy." The Washington Post quoted someone saying it "threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions."
The swing justice, Anthony Kennedy, was right to say: "When Government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful."
He also said, "Political speech must prevail against laws that would suppress it."
The American Civil Liberties Union agreed, but most progressives condemned the Supremes for "judicial activism." I thought progressives favored free speech. I was wrong.
People's stance on free speech often depends on whose ox is gored. In condemning the decision, the offended progressives engaged in amazing mental contortions. It "was wrong because nothing in the First Amendment dictates that corporations must be treated identically to people," said the editorial in The Washington Post. Don't progressives realize that corporations (and unions, which also had their speech rights protected) are associations of individuals -- individuals who have rights? Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was mocked when he said, "Corporations are people." But Romney was right.
One need not be a fan of corporations to see that restricting anyone's speech is dangerous. One government lawyer said that even corporate-funded books favoring candidates could be illegal. That should scare progressives -- the Federal Election Commission put an anti-Bush book written by George Soros under scrutiny. Laws limiting speech have been used more often against radicals than against the corporate establishment.
But the progressives' campaign goes on. The Supreme Court right now is revisiting this issue because Montana's Supreme Court ruled that Montana can ban corporate spending on state politics. Sens. McCain and Sheldon Whitehouse filed a friend-of-the-court brief claiming that allowing corporate speech would bring a "strong potential for corruption and perception thereof."
Right, as though politicians don't routinely constitute a "potential for corruption" all by themselves.
It is shameful that leftists let their hatred of corporations lead them to throw free speech under the bus. There is a smarter way to get corporate money out of politics: Shrink the state. If government has fewer favors to sell, citizens will spend less money trying to win them.
Australia: Qld. conservative government renames and amends Civil Partnerships Act in parliament
SAME-sex couples will no longer be able to enter into a "civil union" in Queensland - they will be known officially as registered relationships.
Under a further change to the previous government's controversial law, the Newman Government will rename the Civil Partnerships Act, the Registered Relationships Act.
The amended, and renamed Act, which was introduced to State Parliament tonight, does away with state-sanctioned ceremonies for people entering into registered relationships.
It also makes it easier for couples to "de-register" their relationship by removing the requirement they go through the District Court, and instead can apply to Births, Deaths and Marriages.
Despite outrage over the proposed scrapping of state-endorsed ceremonies, Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie insisted that the amendments did not "prohibit a couple from holding a private ceremony". "The ceremony does not affect the legality of the registration process," he said.
Mr Bleijie told Parliament that the changes will see the process become "simplified" and "less onerous", and will "more accurately reflect the purpose and objectives of the act".
Premier Campbell Newman revealed last week that the changes were made to appease Christian churches who were "offended" by a marriage-type ceremony for same-sex couples.
The civil unions issue is believed to have divided the LNP after the party spoke of possibly repealing the legislation during the election campaign.
On Monday, Deputy Speaker Mark Robinson told ABC Radio he personally believed the LNP should have repealed Labor's law to reflect the concerns "of the large majority of Queenslanders".
Gay rights groups have expressed relief the Government did not overturn the legislation but criticised the abolition of state-sanctioned ceremonies.
Some turned to Twitter to suggest the watering down of the laws have made the process akin to registering a pet dog. "I marry (or wed) my beloved. I register my dog," one wrote. "Registered relationships ... next you get a little plastic tag to wear and an ear tattoo," wrote another.
Labor MP Jackie Trad used Twitter to describe Mr Bleijie's stance as "just unbelievably heartless".
An Australian Aborigine debunks the do-gooders
Brad was a self-help guru, who found fortune and fame peddling a bunch of easy answers to a gullible people. Although simply a character in The Simpsons, like many other characters from that beloved cartoon, it is not hard to find people in real life who could play that same part.
After his recent appearance on Australian Story, Jack Manning Bancroft is riding a wave of public adoration. Touted as everything from a future Indigenous leader, to an Aussie inspiration, overwhelmingly, the feedback coming in from his TV appearance has been extremely positive. If you listen to the viewers, he's achieving huge success with Indigenous youth, turning the tide of low expectations and bringing high profile supporters and donations to disadvantaged Aboriginal kids.
At least, that's what Australian Story told them to swallow.
Jack runs an outfit called AIME - Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience. He teams Uni students (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous) up with Indigenous students, to mentor them through High School, for around an hour a week (it must be an action packed hour..). It is supposed to assist with raising the rates of Indigenous students finishing Year 12, and encourage more Indigenous students to go on further, to University studies and a brighter future.
The outfit is funded by both Universities and corporate sponsors (such as Rio Tinto & Google), no doubt as they feel it is a worthwhile cause. Even Thorpey is on board, and he's putting his money (well, to be technically correct, the money of his donors) where his mouth is.
But I can still hear that nagging little cartoon voice of Lisa Simpson. You see, like Brad Goodman, Jack Manning Bancroft and AIME are peddling a bunch of easy answers.
In operation for almost 8 years now, you may be surprised to know that AIME does not operate in a single remote area. Heck, they don't even operate in the Northern Territory, Western Australia or South Australia. You may be surprised to find that in Victoria, they've chosen to work with schools that not only have some of the lowest percentages of Indigenous students in the state, but, they've also chosen schools that are some of the most expensive and prestigious. Schools like Scotch College (who do give two scholarships a year to boys from the N.T), Trinity College and Xavier College. Melbourne Grammar School is also on their list, as is Parade College. Looking at the list of public schools that they work with, it appears the maps past Hampton Park are not in existence. A shame really, as if they were to talk with the Principal at say, Bairnsdale Secondary College in Gippsland, they would find that not only are there schools with a high percentage of Indigenous students, but, that those same students would benefit from any help on offer, as they are some of the neediest and lowest performing in the state.
It is much easier to mentor a young affluent white boy from Scotch, who identifies as Indigenous, than a struggling black kid from the sticks who doesn't dare dream as big as finishing High School with a passing grade. It is much nicer to sit down and discuss the merits of various Universities and the trivialities of campus life with a young kid in a crisp, smart uniform than to try to elevate the aspirations of a child whose parents don't care enough to ensure he is well fed, let alone well dressed and bathed.
For eight years, it appears Jack has deceived himself, and, the rest of us. He's told us he's making a change, and, more importantly, he's Closing the Gap.
He is not.
Instead, he has created a divide. Widened the gap between the haves and the have-nots. While the wealthy Identifiers are improving their outcomes from good or great, to fantastic, the neediest have lost ground. Hell bent on convincing ourselves that things are improving, we place people like Jack on a pedestal. He tells people what they want to hear, and asks only that you throw money his way in return for his good deeds and innovative ideas. Like the citizens of Springfield, we can't get enough of our Brad Goodman and his easy answers.
I don't doubt that there have been some hard luck kids who have been helped by AIME. I also don't doubt that they've done some good work as a result of their programs. Heck, I don't even doubt that some of the kids they've helped have had dark skin. What I do take issue with, is allowing what appears to be a genuine fear of failure to dictate your policy and programs, resulting in the help again going not to those most in need.
Let's say Joe Average decides to start an organisation to help Aboriginal children. Joe wants to be able to get donations coming in by the bucketload, so, he looks around the other organisations who claim to do the same thing as him, and makes his pitch even better than theirs. Red Cross say they will lift literacy rates by 10% among 5-12 year old Aboriginal children by 2015. To get more donations than Red Cross, Joe markets his organisation to potential donors as being ready, willing and able to take that number to 25%.
This is where things get tricky. Instead of working harder or smarter with old theory, or implementing some new, previously untried revolutionary program to work with struggling kids, Joe simply takes his half-baked organisation to selected areas, excluding any schools with kids that have consistently poor outcomes or a high percentage of low-income earners as residents. He works with a small group of children who identify as Indigenous (often several generations removed from a single full-blood ancestor), offering nothing new or exciting, but, simply uses their natural progress to fiddle with the averages and achieve his goals on paper.
We're a nation that likes facts and figures, but, we're a population that likes them spoon-fed to us. We certainly seem to prefer it when someone else tells us what conclusion we are meant to draw from statistics and percentages, if our current mindset is anything to go by. Indigenous specific statistics are no exception. In the twenty years from 1986 to 2006, the Indigenous population doubled. While part of this is attributed to natural rates of procreation, the Australian Bureau of Statistics states that this staggering increase is also due in part to people identifying as Indigenous where in previous counts, they did not.
The boom in our numbers has been great for those trying to 'Close the Gap'. All of a sudden, gains can be made, by little more than a tick in the box. We can all reassure ourselves that we're going forward, not backwards, because the statistics don't lie. As a percentage, we have more middle income and high income Indigenous households than ever before. As a nation, we've made serious ground when it comes to preventable childhood diseases ravaging Indigenous youngsters.
But that's when you look at the nation as a whole. When you take the statistics and break them down, you see the real picture. Urban Indigenous populations are making all the gains. The remote communities make little gain, none, or in some cases, are going backwards. While their often fair-skinned, urban counterparts are achieving on par in almost all areas with their non-identifying peers (the gold standard we apply when we speak of a Gap), the improvements of which we so often speak and celebrate are just not being delivered to those who need it the most. Those who were struggling then, are most likely to still be struggling now. My experiences with remote communities have done nothing but strengthen this conviction. The overwhelming poverty, dysfunction and suffering remains at the same levels year after year for many remote communities, but to hear the city slicker fauxborigines speak, we're doin' fine. We hear self-appointed Elders constantly tell us the importance of Welcome to Country ceremonies and demand their performance as a mark of 'respect', yet never think to question why they have placed so much focus on a shallow tokenism, when children are being abused and neglected.
Instead of helping their poorer, blacker cousins, often, the fauxborigine exploits them for their own gain.
We are allowed to get upset when intellectually impaired children are excluded from across the board testing (Naplan) in an effort for a school to post an artificially inflated score. It is unquestionably wrong for a school to discriminate against disabled children in order to appear as though their students are outperforming their expectations. Why are we so afraid to apply the same logic when discussing Aboriginal students? At present, should you dare to point out that disadvantaged, dark skinned Aboriginal children are being excluded in much the same way from programs such as AIME to keep their success rates high, you will be denounced loudly by every fauxborigine with a Twitter account. Accusations of racism if you admit to being non-Indigenous, and, a perpetrator of lateral violence if you happen to be black like I am. Personally, I despise a term like lateral violence being levelled at me by someone with pale skin. The term implies that the accuser and myself are on an equal footing, when clearly, we are not. I cannot hide what I am, they can and do. Even if they have 'identified with their culture practically from birth' (a readily coined phrase by many in the 'Industry'), it makes no difference. They demand every Caucasian person in Australia admit that they are the beneficiaries of White Privilege, yet refuse to accept that simply by virtue of their own pale skin, they too are the recipients of this very same Privilege. Hypocrisy at its finest.
During his TV appearance, Jack compares himself to an Undercover Cop, with regards to his Aboriginality. He explains that people cannot tell he is Aboriginal just by looking at him (just as one cannot tell an Undercover Cop in plain clothes is a Police Officer), and because of this unique position he holds, he is able to permeate the various layers of society and discover racism across all walks of life (and of course, is personally offended by it - give me a break). Lucky him. I don't know a single black skinned and obviously Aboriginal person who wouldn't mind trading skins for a day so he can really learn what it's like. Perhaps then he will stop making ridiculous and insulting statements and realise just how good he has it.
Overhearing a racist joke or comment is so far removed from being rejected dozens of times for rental properties or jobs for no other reason than the way you look. Seeing an Aboriginal person be refused service by someone who just served you without problem is light years away from being the person denied that simple courtesy again and again. Having two people in primary school call you a name after you told them you are Aboriginal is a walk in the park compared to having that label applied to you almost every day, and that label sticking with you long past the days of the schoolyard, without having to utter a word about your heritage to anyone.
I hope Jack will decide to prove me wrong and start working with impoverished and remote Aboriginal communities. It will be much harder than working with the kids from a private school, but I can promise you that it is infinitely more rewarding, and I warn you that it will at times, break your heart.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.