Monthly Archives: October 2007

Ink on the Internet is free!

The Internet is prone to fashion fads, just like any other aspect of our daily lives, and nowhere is this more obvious than in the use of colour. A couple of years ago orange was all the rage on government and public sector web sites. I was told that this was because there was no political party with orange as its colour! I gave serious consideration to starting one!

That fad has passed thank heavens but the new one is just as bad. It is what that man of good sense Gerry McGovan calls the greying of the Internet. And no, he is not referring to the age of the average user. Apart from the difficulty of reading grey on grey for “normally” sighted people the overall effect is downright depressing. Do web owners really want to reduce their users to a state of depression where they can barely turn on the computer, never mind visit web sites? And don’t they know that ink on the Internet is free? Perhaps it’s the one thing that isn’t affected by climate change and global warming to the point where rationing is essential.

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Music hath charms

Over the weekend I attended a music festival. I really enjoyed the music, but I think the average and generally ageing folkie has a very strong puritan, or maybe Presbyterian streak that dictates hardship must be endured in return for the enjoyment of such pleasures.

The festival was held in the wilds of outer Wainuiomata, in a Spartan scout camp in a remote corner of a valley, and true to form at one stage the rain on the iron roof of the hall drowned out the music!

Having said all that, and despite the cold and the mud, the warmth and enthusiasm of seeing old friends, and the general joie de vivre of the music made a little hardship worthwhile. But I was glad to climb back into our transport along with a few other less than intrepid souls and return to my warm apartment after the afternoon’s entertainment.

My favourite song, or at least the one that made me laugh the most, went by the glorious title of In Praise of the Colorectal Surgeon!

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Autist artist?

Someone has come up with the theory that Janet Frame was autistic. Autism had barely been identified as a specific condition at the time Janet Frame was cleared of having a mental illness when she lived in the UK. I have read and appreciated most of her work. Just the other day I bought her newly published novel, Towards Another Summer, and look forward to reading it with pleasurable anticipation.

This new ‘diagnosis’ leaves me with mixed feelings and a number of questions. Firstly Janet Frame died in 2004 and can no longer answer for herself. Secondly shouldn’t her writing stand for itself? Should we forever analyse it and her in terms of what condition she had and not simply accept her writing for what it is, exceptional. Of course there should be no shame or stigma or different judgement attached to the work of many creative people who also have impairments and experience disability.

Does it matter whether she had a ‘condition’ or not. If she were ‘treated’ as the promoter of this theory in a medical journal suggests would her writing have been different, or as good? If she had not been labelled mentally ill, and undergone the searing experience of the primitive treatments she endured, her writing might have been entirely different. Would she have written as well, or indeed at all?

I also find myself asking why there is this need to label, to find explanation for behaviours or states of being, rather than accepting and celebrating the richness of the human condition and the consequential richness of world views. If she was autistic so what? How many other artists in different fields could be diagnosed with a variety of conditions, and what would be the point? Where might all this categorising lead us?

All of this is of course, mere speculation. Her writing stands firmly on its merits. She did not, thankfully, undergo a frontal lobotomy, and we are left today with the essential paradox of her life and work, for which we can be grateful, whether or not she was autistic.

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NZ trounces the opposition

No I’m not being ironic. Over the last few days the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the All Black defeat has pretty much drowned out everything else, certainly in the “talking” media.

But it has come to my attention that we are winning on a different and less celebrated front. (Thanks Matt!) While I cringe whenever I hear the word “special” applied in any shape or form to disability, I really want to give credit where it is due, and achievement is achievement no matter how you look at it. Our team at the Special Olympics are gathering up medals like there is no tomorrow! The latest medal count in Shanghai is 17 gold, 9 silver and 9 bronze (as at NZST 9am 9th Oct).

Well done team! Kiwis can still be winners after all!
Find out more at http://www.specialolympics.org.nz/ .

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