Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Real Welfare Cheats

























Unemployment in this country is at a twelve year high.

We keep being told, particularly by News Limited, that unemployed people are dole bludgers.

Many individuals and corporations have made a great deal of money from the privatized job placement industry.

$18 billion of taxpayers’ money has been spent on this scheme since 1998.

Now, Four Corners has revealed fraud and exploitation of job seekers by some of these organisations.

Surely it’s about time the heat was turned on these agencies, and a royal commission established. After all, we’ve had royal commissions into all and sundry since the Coalition came to power.

There is something about conservative governments that creates a default position of exploitation of specific groups. It can be soldiers, indigenous people, or the unemployed.

It is an absolute disgrace.

Many years ago, before the advent of the privatised system, Special Schools in Queensland saw it as part of their role to find post-school opportunities for their students.

At that time, I was principal of Petrie Special School, and we had a programme for the senior students called “Transition”. It was run by an experienced teacher who was off class for a few hours per week, when he would liaise with prospective employers.

In the three years I was there, we were successful in finding work for a large proportion of these students. Remember, these were young people with disabilities significant enough to get them enrolled at a Special School.  

The school did this for free – we saw it as part of our role. Most Special Schools operated in this fashion.

It seems to me passing strange that well-resourced agencies set up specifically for the purpose in the year 2015, have less success in placing the unemployed than we did at a school back in the mid-eighties.

Isn’t privatisation wonderful?

For mine, it’s way past time the real welfare cheats (the companies to whom we outsourced job services) were nationalised and the perpetrators of these frauds were put behind bars.

Nationalise them so that the focus is on finding jobs not making a profit for wealthy shareholders.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Tony Gets Tough



Cartoon courtesy Peter Howard - Newcastle Herald

































So our government is “getting tough” on jihadists using the institutional arms of government - our police and security systems.

Excuse me whilst I yawn (or laugh).

This is not an institutional problem, so there is no institutional solution. The War on Terrorism is likely to be about as effective as the War on Drugs.

The problem is cultural (as “culture” means “a medium for growth”), so the solution is most likely to be cultural. It is certainly not going to be fixed by “getting tough”, either metaphorically or practically.

To change it, the source of the problem (the culture in which it grows) will need to be targeted.

In fact, it can be argued with a great deal of validity that “getting tough” will actually make the situation worse. Daesh revels in macho posturing, and would love to get into a verbal stoush with the authorities using this kind of language. The verbal stoush is a great metaphor for physical violence - It’s their bread and butter. They are essentially a reactive phenomenon. That reaction energises them – they feed on it.

The US military went into the war in Vietnam using strategy designed for conventional warfare. We know where that went. If our national security apparatus uses conventional policing strategy against the threat of fundamentalist terrorism, the result will be exactly the same.

As it looks now, and based on Abbott’s national security statement, that seems to be where we’re headed.

It’s time for a completely different approach based on changing the culture which breeds terrorists.

First, the at-risk community needs to be identified. That should not be difficult. Then it needs to be the target of action, some covert and some in the public domain. This action should involve both punitive and supportive activity.

We could, for example, establish anti-jihadist cadres in secondary schools in areas where there is a high proportion of practising Muslims. These cadres should be helped to develop their own coercive strategies. Some would be covert, some not. They would have to be the best and brightest, media savvy, and situationally aware.

Social media should be overwhelmed by these cadres, and the jihadist messages deliberately targeted for ridicule. It would be important to ensure the operatives were of the same age as those they were targeting. Infiltrating these communities should, over time, reveal the hard liners and those likely to be a threat.

To balance that, these schools and communities should also be targeted with social and material support, not through the welfare system, but through existing agencies. Some of these agencies could be mosque based. The most radical mosques would be those identified for activity.

Local businesses affiliated with jihadist groups and individuals should be identified and their money flow dried up. Again, extra covert powers should be used if required. Above all, this action should be low-key.

As soon as it is trumpeted as the authorities “getting tough”, it will fail. All of this activity should be undertaken quietly and behind the scenes.

Above all – it should not be centrally controlled. And, above all, it should not be used to seek political kudos.

Our national security should be above politics.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Of Cyclones and Family

Pic courtesy Brisbane Times






























Cyclones have been in the news, which is scarcely surprising, given it's Queensland in February/March.

My family has had a number of close encounters with these things, as we lived most of our lives as kids North of the tropic.

The most dangerous of these, on March 11th, 1950, still comes up in family conversation, although only my brother and I were around at the time.

This memory was jogged by my brother the other day when he sent me a newspaper report he found on Trove, from the Cairns Post of the day. Here it is reproduced in full -



CYCLONE FLATTENS CARMILA,  A SMALL SUGAR TOWN

YOUNG GIRL KILLED AND FOUR OTHERS INJURED

BRISBANE, Mar. 12.

Telephone communication with Carmila, the small sugar town 65 miles south of Mackay, which was flattened by a cyclone on Saturday morning, remains disrupted. A train from Rockhampton with Post Office repair men on board has been delayed by track washaway between Rockhampton and St. Lawrence.

Four persons injured when the cyclone struck Carmila were taken to Mackay Hospital today. They are. Wilmer Bahr (67), who has a probable fracture of the arm and ribs and injuries to the face. He was struck by the branch of a falling tree, which killed his 18-year-old daughter, Evelyn, on Saturday morning. Five-year-old Beverley Russell, of Carmila, who has a probable fracture of the collarbone and leg. She was struck by a falling tree. James Randell (31), who has a deep punctured wound in one foot. It was cut with broken glass while he was inspecting cyclone damage at his cane farm near Carmila. Michael Mandrusiak (35), of East Funnel Creek, near Sarina. He was struck by a sheet of roofing iron and suffered a deep cut on one arm.

NOT ONE BUILDING ESCAPES DAMAGE

Not one building in Carmila escaped damage. Three cottages and a dance hall in the town were completely wrecked and 15 cottages and business places are uninhabitable, including the school residence. The balance of the buildings in the town are without verandahs, roofs and steps.

Homeless families and a teacher are occupying the school, while six families are in Anglican and Catholic churches.

Twenty farm houses, within a 10 mile radius of the town, have been extensively damaged and cane crops flattened and wind- mills blows down. It is estimated that 50 per cent of the cane harvest would be lost.

Only the railway telephone line from Carmila is open. All other phone wires have been cut to ribbons and mixed up with timber and furniture from wrecked houses.

BELIEF SUPPLIES.

A relief train from Mackay arrived at Carmila today in light rain. The train took relief supplies of building materials and skilled tradesmen, including five Mackay plumbers who responded to a call from their union secretary to go to Carmila with him and give their services free to the stricken townsfolk.

Over 50 homes and buildings were damaged in and near the town and it is believed that the damage will. exceed £50,000.

Plumbers and Works Department employees worked throughout today to restore the damaged buildings in case further torrential rain should fall. Twenty P.M.G. officials, still working tonight to restore communications to the town, said Carmila seemed stunned but not dejected. Townsfolk walked about today and talked and talked.

Kalarka, Flaggy Rock. Eulalie, Karloo West, and Orkabie, between Carmila and Sarina, suffered heavily. Railway buildings and farmhouses were seriously damaged for 20 miles from Carmila.

One of the "homeless families" was ours, and the "teacher" was my father. I still have memories of the noise, the gable end of the house ripping away, and the sight of dead possums blown out of the trees.
At daybreak you could see for miles through what once had been dense scrub, as all that was left of most trees was the trunks.

The interior of the school residence was awash, as the roof was completely gone, and my brother was sloshing about saying "Dis is da beach". That story was told for years.

The reference in the newspaper report to the unionized plumbers helping out is interesting. Sometimes we need to be reminded of the place of unions in our history, especially given the orchestrated demonization of the union movement recently.

I remember my mum and dad saying the rosary whilst we huddled under a sturdy dining room table in what was left of the school residence. It worked - we all survived without a scratch.

I also remember living in the school for a few weeks after the blow with another family whose house was destroyed. The father of the family became ill and was soon diagnosed with TB, which meant my mum was instructed to burn all our sheets and pillowcases because of the risk of infection.

Much of this bed linen was wedding gifts, and my mother was pretty distressed, but that was what was done back then. I can still recall the smell of the burning bedclothes.

I have a great deal of sympathy for anyone caught in a tropical cyclone. So far, at least, TC Marcia hasn't killed anyone.




Tuesday, 17 February 2015

RAVing

RAV4 in sunny Charleville


It's time for another vehicle review. I also haven't blogged on the road for a while, and need to revisit the process so I don't get rusty.

Politics is more than usually bizarre, what with "captains picks" and other childish stuff, so I'll leave it alone for a bit.

The vehicle is a Toyota RAV4 diesel, in which I will cover 3000kms this week, mostly on outback roads.
This means many hours of cruising at 100/110km/hr, something it does pretty well.

It is also wieldy, and feels very much like a Camry, which is hardly a surprise, given that it's built on the Camry platform. Spending the best part of a week in a car means to get to appreciate its strengths and weaknesses pretty quickly.

Its strengths can be listed as economy (averaging 6.9 litres of distillate for every 100kms covered), ease of operation, especially the audio, and interior space. I usually don't bother pairing my iPhone with the Bluetooth in the fleet cars as it takes too much stuffing around, and requires a read of the handbook. This was unnecessary in the RAV, as the process is intuitive and took about a minute. It is roomy inside - especially in the rear.

The audio has a simple touch screen to set it up, which becomes a reversing camera when you go backwards - a useful gadget for us old geysers who find craning our necks to reverse difficult.

Its weaknesses include noise, lumpy seats and bare bones trim. It has about as much interior ambiance as a Kelvinator. The fitout is basic, but I guess this is the fleet version - what was called, back in the day, the "poverty pack".

It reminds me very much of a Hyundai Santa Fe diesel in the way it feels on the road, which is not necessarily a bad thing. You can't fault the fit and finish, and it seems as tough as old boots. I would expect that it will last a very long time, and thrive on neglect. Having said that, Toyota petrol motors last well so long as regular oil changes aren't neglected.

I assume the diesels are the same.

In summary, it is a Toyota, even down to the trademark smell, and it is likely to be reliable. But it is a work tool, and not the sort of beast you look forward to driving.

3000kms will probably be enough.




Thursday, 12 February 2015

"Free" Speech

Milly Dowler's Speech was not free - it was stolen and used to enrich Rupert and his minions.






























The term "free speech" is tossed around with gay abandon by the likes of News Limited hacks like Bolt and Blair.

Trying to grasp exactly what they mean when they use it is far from straightforward. In Bolt's case, he seems to believe that he is free to earn a living by enhancing and magnifying conflict.

He also appears to believe that he is free to decide which groups should be demonized, and that no law should be on the books which interferes with his right to make a quick quid for News Limited. Hence his tantrum and threats of resigning from political comment when his employer backed away from appealing the decision brought down under 18C, and his obsession with its removal. He didn't have the cojones to carry out the "no politics" threat. Principle obviously took a back seat to the almighty dollar. That, at least, was consistent.

All of this behavior has its own strange logic - it makes sense. What does not, to me, make any sense at all is his reluctance to allow others the same freedom he demands, specifically, the right to write comments on his blog.

I do this from time to time, but frequently, the posts don't get published. There is an interesting pattern to this. He will not publish anything vaguely critical of his employer. I do it because it amuses me, but also because it shines a light on his warped perspective.

Here, gentle reader, are some examples. I took screen shots of these submissions which were censored - (click on the screenshot to enlarge it) -
























The context of Bolt's post was criticism of ABC bias, a common refrain. The irony of moderating out a comment critical of his own boss is clearly lost on Bolt.

Then there's this one -























This one was probably censored because of my criticism of Bolt as a conflict entrepreneur. It must be difficult for him - being such a sensitive soul and all, in that a remark made by an a part time amateur blogger is deemed a threat to his reputation.

Again, he will not publish any reference to the fact that he posts hate for a living -
























Then there's Blair, the wimp who makes a quid by attacking women.

He simply refuses to post any of my comments, which is a worry, given the declining readership evident on his page. He's lucky to get a dozen or more responses on some of his posts, and they generally come from the usual boganesque suspects.

Like Bolt, he has it in for the ABC -























And, like Bolt, he will brook no criticism of his boss -























So we have the spectacle of two News Limited employees who are completely wedded to the party line, and when Rupert says "jump", they reply in chorus "How high, and when will I come down".

That is comprehensible, but what I fail to understand is why they are afraid of a humble blogger.
Obviously smearing women and Muslims is far less threatening............




Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The Miracle Of Francis

Image courtesy The Dish

























I'm not in the habit of reblogging, but will make an exception in this case.

Andrew Sullivan's thoughtful piece about Pope Francis is worth it.

It includes this paragraph from one of the Pope's essays -

I would not speak about, not even for those who believe, an “absolute” truth, in the sense that absolute is something detached, something lacking any relationship. Now, the truth is a relationship! This is so true that each of us sees the truth and expresses it, starting from oneself: from one’s history and culture, from the situation in which one lives, etc. This does not mean that the truth is variable and subjective. It means that it is given to us only as a way and a life. Was it not Jesus himself who said: “I am the way, the truth, the life”? In other words, the truth is one with love, it requires humbleness and the willingness to be sought, listened to and expressed.

Here is the whole piece.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Of Lame Ducks and Other Things



Couldn't resist this, gentle reader. The line at 2.24 is a doozy.

Somehow ducks are becoming a recurring theme.

It's completely beyond my control.

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