Let a thousand atheist flowers bloom . . .

3 02 2008

The MySpace debacle ironically appears to be breathing new life into the formation of online atheist communities. At OzAtheist, Bruce plugged a new Adelaide-based atheist MySpace group. And (thanks to Protium for the hat-tip and the invite) I’d like plug a new Perth-based Atheists Meet-Up group.

Although I’m from Perth myself, the fact that I am based in Japan for the next year-and-a-half probably rules me out as a member, but if it is still operating when I get back home, I may consider attending. I say may, because I work in the education industry, and as you know, a large proportion of schools in Australia are in the independent sector. Which means they are allowed to discriminate against atheists. Wait . . . let me rephrase that. They’re partially taxpayer-funded, which means they are allowed to discriminate against me because of my atheism even though they benefit from my tax contributions. In any case, the reality of the situation is that, in a so-called liberal democracy, I have to keep mum about my lack of religious beliefs if I want to secure employment in many schools in the independent sector–even though my specialty, English teaching, has nothing to do with religion (at least, nothing to do with religious indoctrination). And the need to keep mum, unfortunately, may preclude me from joining communities such as the Perth Atheists Meet-Up.

But it won’t stop me from plugging it here, in the hope that other Perth-based readers may be encouraged to join.

Go and talk some sense into The Lazy Aussie!

23 12 2007

The Lazy Aussie is considering expanding the terms of reference of his fantastic blog, The Worst of Perth, to canvass “worsts” from around the world. And as someone who spent most of his life in a quarter of Perth replete with potential Worst of Perth fodder, I think this move will be an absolute disaster. Like Iron Chef USA. Like Good News Week when it moved to Channel Ten.

Of course it would be easy to find examples in any part of the world of the kind of aesthetic and architectural sins featured on the Worst of Perth. Not five minutes from the door of my apartment here in Japan there are enough howlers to keep a similar blog going for months, but I’d prefer to leave that to someone who has grown up in the area. Why? Because the people who are bound to get the most out of a blog like TWOP are those who are forced to look at a familiar landscape with new eyes. Perth’s crappiness is a matter of lore, but I never realised until TWOP came along how funny this could be.

To be honest, I also have a nostalgic/sentimental reason for opposing TWOP’s mooted change of focus. I grew up in Perth’s northern suburbs, in what is known as the “mortgage belt.” The houses date back to the 1970s, to the days when “Mission Brown” was deemed a tasteful colour, when ensuite bathrooms were optional extras, when people actually went out of their way to cover their walls in wallpaper and their floors in lino. The kitchens had “breakfast bars.” The predominant aesthetic was DIY and functional. If an extension to a house–say, a games room out the back–was built with bricks of a colour different from those used to build the original house, no-one cared. If weather and time eventually wore a hole in the cement used to bind those bricks, that’s what old socks were for. The first house I rented in this area had bright orange (albeit threadbare and worn) carpet. Orange. They don’t make mortgage belts like that anymore.

Anyway, The Lazy Aussie is looking for a way to integrate two separate blogs–one on the worst of Perth, the other on the worst of Earth–rather than dilute a great idea. So, if there are any code-savvy readers who can help him out, the relevant post is here.