Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

It Didn't Work

The Shu-Ru that is.

Watch the roo commit hari-kari at about 5 seconds in. You'll probably have to go full screen to see it properly.

We were about 20 kms West of Charleville on the Diamantina Development Road Eastbound.

The driver (not me at the time) didn't have a chance to avoid - not even time to brake.
We've had it drummed into us not to swerve.

Front bumper cracked.

The damage to the car was cosmetic - a crack in the plastic bumper, and ironically, the Shu-Ru was damaged, as it hit the roo before the bumper. As you can see, it finished up folded under the number plate.

The Shu-Ru is almost invisible in the pic.

Dunno if it still worked after the roo strike, but given it apparently failed to do what it was supposed to do in the first place, it probably made no difference.

Unfortunately, the damage to the roo wasn't enough to kill it. I had to dispatch it with a piece of hardwood I found by the side of the road.

That makes four macropods I've cleaned up since 2007.

The date stamp on the video is wrong, BTW. It's 2014.

The clip was captured by my Uniden 800.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Leunig's Poem

Michael Leunig's cartoons are always brilliant, but he also writes poetry.

The topic is privatization.

Here's the text, in case you want to save it.
It's worth learning off by heart, or perhaps being set to music.

It works well with Honky Tonk Women.

They're privatising things we own together.
They're flogging off the people's common ground.
And though we're still connected by the weather
They say that sharing things is now unsound.

They're lonelifying all the public spaces.
They're rationalising swags and billabongs.
They're awfulising natures lively places, 
Dismantling the dreaming and the songs.

Their macho fear of flabby, soft sensations
Makes them pine for all things hard and lean.
They talk of foreign market penetrations
And throbbing private sectors. It's obscene.

They're basically unloving types of creatures.
With demons lurking underneath their beds.
You'll notice that a necktie always features.
To keep their hearts quite separate from their heads.

So if they steal away the people's treasure, 
And bring the Jolly Swagman to his knees,
They can't remove the simple common pleasure
Of loathing public bastards such as these.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

You Don't need French

You don't need to know any French to understand this - a very old rendering of Ne Me Quitte Pas, a song that Brel wrote in 1959 after his mistress "Zizou" (Suzanne Gabriello) threw him out of her life.

Zizou was pregnant with Brel's child, but Brel refused to acknowledge the child as his own.*

It's a beautiful piece of music, and this version is sparse and direct.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

I'm a tragic for French music of the period, particularly that of Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel.

Brel, I think, was actually Belgian....

* Source - Wikipedia

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Ethics and Asylum Seekers

Below is an article on ethics in reference to asylum seekers which was included in this week's parish newsletter. Plenty of food for thought here -

When governments and other authorities treat people harshly, as is now happening to asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island, someone will normally ask whether what they are doing is right. This is the ethical question, and it will receive one of three responses.

Many will say that government policy making has nothing to do with ethical reflection. What a duly elected government does with majority support is by definition right. The strong do what they wish. and the weak suffer what they must. This position should be respected for its honesty even though it will corrupt a society.  

Many will engage with the questions of right and wrong and draw conclusions. Some will argue that the harm inflicted by government policy is ethically defensible. Others will deny it.  

Finally, some people will withhold judgment, arguing that the question is ethically complex and even confusing. Asylum seeker policy. for example. must take into account many issues, such as the protection of borders. the number of refugees Australia can take, the deaths at sea, the behaviour of people smugglers, the attitude of the community to refugees and the cost of receiving asylum seekers. An ethical judgment on the any part of the policy must await consideration of all these factors.

 In other words we must offer an acceptable alternative policy before judging elements of an existing policy to be unethical.

I would argue that this position is mistaken. When we are considering the harm inflicted on people by governments the ethical questions are quite simple. The complexities and confusions arise properly only after we have answered them. They concern how to shape a policy that is both effective and ethically defensible, and how we are to handle living in a society whose government we believe to act unethically.

If we are asked whether it is right to inflict harm on others, we would normally say it is not. The exceptions are when people consent to the harm because it is for their own good, as it might be in medical procedures. or when the harm they suffer is in response to wrongdoing on their part, as it might be in gaol sentences, or when they personally represent a danger to society, as they might in the isolation of plague carriers. But when the disrespect for people's human dignity is inflicted to secure goals that have nothing to do with their needs or wrongdoing. It is clearly and simply ethically unjustifiable and it should be said to be such.

So it would be ethically unjustifiable for a government to achieve the goal of population control by having new born babies killed. It would be ethically unjustifiable for a government to alleviate racial tension by making citizens belonging to a racial minority wear a scarlet uniform. It would ethically unjustifiable for a school to allay anger at the behaviour of some of its older students by expelling and shaming a group of younger students.

For the same reasons it is ethically unjustifiable for the Australian Government to imprison in dangerous and uncontrolled situations one group of asylum seekers in order that their hardship will deter others from claiming protection , and so from the risk of drowning  From the ethical point of view the ill treatment of asylum seekers is neither complex nor confusing. In fact in a just society ethical judgment simplifies the making of policy. It eliminates unacceptable options and so encourages good policy making.

Complex questions do arise after the ethical questions are answered. The first question is how to deal in an ethically principled way with the many factors that need to be addressed in good policy. We ought to engage with these complexities, and should expect from time to time to be confused by them. But our confusion at this complexity does not extend to the judgment of what is right and wrong in the way people are treated.

The second complex set of questions is psychological or spiritual in character. When we have come to a conclusion that people are being treated wrongly, how do we relate to people who argue that their treatment is right, or that governments should not be concerned with what is right or wrong? And if our judgment is shared only by a small minority in our society,


 Should we keep our opinions to ourselves for fear of seeming self-righteous? Such questions can lead us to back off our judgment about right and wrong.

As we wrestle with these questions our proper stance is one of courage , simplicity and humility in holding to what we believe to be true we have Luther's words to guide us, 'Here I stand , I can do no other'.

 And if we need ecumenical support, we have Ignatius' account of what is necessary for salvation: 'to obey the law of God in all things so that not even if I were made lord of all creation. or to save my life here on earth, would I consent to violate a commandment that binds me under pain of mortal sin'.

But especially if we are in the majority on any issue, the challenge is to recognize our fallibility, and to engage without shouting, or demeaning those who hold different views.

And finally, we can face complex questions about how we are to act. 

Generally if we come to the judgment that our government is treating people wrongly, our judgment should flow into action, whether it be through prayer, conversation, writing to our local member, or attending a vigil for the afflicted.

Luther's quote resonates with me - Here I stand -I can do no other...

Hovering Memories

I came across this short You-tube video the other day and it brought back some interesting memories.

My bride and I traveled on one of these strange contraptions back in the eighties when we were doing the obligatory young Australian exploring the UK and Europe thing.

I remember the unholy noise it made, the clouds of spray, and the thumping as the rubber skirts hit the swell.

We went from Dover to Calais in early August, and back again in late November.

Strangely, the sea state on the trip eastward was much worse than on the return journey, and took much longer than normal because we had to travel more slowly than the usual 40 to 60 knots.

This meant that the journey took an hour, rather than the 25 or 30 minutes that it should have.

We were driving a Bedford Dormobile at the time which we parked in the car hold, and then wandered into the cabin which was kitted out like a cross between an aircraft interior and a ship's seating deck.

This is the Dormobile

You couldn't see much from the cabin, as the spray obliterated any view.

Still, it was fast, and from memory, relatively cheap.

These machines were taken out of service in 2005.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Little Drummer Boy

 In a lively blog discussion the other day, Andrew Blot Bolt's name came up.

One of the posters (sadly - not I) described him as a "conflict entrepeneur".

Pretty accurate, I reckon.

To introduce a metaphor - Bolt (and others of his ilk) remind me of country shows when I was a kid …..of the spruiker who stood outside the boxing tent beating the drum.
Not much skill or intelligence required – just the capacity to maintain a steady relentless beat….

Anyway, without stretching the metaphor too far, it provides a context for some great music.

And whilst I'm talking about Bolt, below are a few examples of what your eyes are not allowed to see - examples of comment I've made on his blog which this exponent of free speech has censored.

This is in response to Bolt having a little jolly about wall-to-wall Coalition governments.

This was in response to criticism of Tim Wilson's appointment. 

It fascinates me that a conflict entrepreneur is afraid of a humble part time blogger.

Still, it provides a great excuse to post Paul Kelly.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Doctors' Dispute

Photo courtesy Courier Mail

The Doctors' dispute in Queensland is slowly coming to a head.

It's of interest in our family as I have a brother and a niece both medicos.

Lawrence Springborg has been going flat out to smear doctors refusing to sign contracts.

Below is a Facebook posting from an anesthetist in Brisbane worth sharing as it links to factual information that reveals the engineered lying that the LNP is using to try to push these contracts through -

Hi friends. I am an Anaesthetic registrar at the Royal Brisbane & Women's hospital. Along with my colleagues I am trying to raise public awareness of the current dispute between the government and public SMO’s - we are now in a state of scary uncertainty regarding the future of Queensland’s public health system and I urge you to please take a few minutes to become better informed about what is happening.
Here are just a few facts regarding the statements the Newman government is saying:
Doctor’s earn $400 000 working 40 hours a week.
FACT: http://www.health.qld.gov.au/medical/docs/payrates_2012.pdf - this is what we get paid. We get paid allowances for overtime and fatigue (inadequate break between shifts) – this is to ensure patient safety so you don’t have tired doctors.

Doctors have rorted the state of $800 Million over the last 9 years
FACT: Queensland was forced to increase the pay of senior doctors after the Bundaberg/Patel scandal because the state could not attract properly qualified Australian doctors to the public hospitals. Why? Because Queensland paid 25% less than other states. Queensland increased the pay to catch up to the other states and it has worked, rebuilding the hospital system over the last decade.

The Auditor General reported doctors were double dipping in the public and private purse
FACT: The report stated 7 out of nearly 4000 may have, so 99.9% have not. Those who have should be held accountable. Those who have not are public doctors dedicated to your health, earning MUCH less than they could in the private sector.

Meanwhile, the other unpaid vital roles of senior doctors goes unnoticed.
• Teaching of Medical Students, Junior Doctors and other health professionals
• Assessing overseas trained doctors to maintain safety standards
• Research and Audit to ensure Queensland continues to provide world leading health care

This includes training ME. Without my consultants, I don’t have a training position. My registrar colleagues will not get trained – and there you’ve lost the next generation of specialists.
I completed a 3 year Ba. Medical science, 4 year Ba. Medicine/ Ba. Surgery - then completed 2 resident years, one year as an ICU Registrar at PAH and am now a 3rd year anaesthetic trainee and will not become fully qualified until I'm at least 33 years old. My position will no longer be accredited if I lose my supervisors. It takes 13+ years to become a consultant specialist - plus continued training throughout your career, not to mention further training to hone unique skills within a speciality. The thought that Newman / Springborg thinks our public specialists can be easily replaced is completely insulting.
The government now has an all-out smear campaign against doctors (with Courier Mail tightly wedged in its back pocket), taking out full page ads to slander SMO’s. Obviously we don’t have that luxury, so my aim is to raise awareness and present my views on the matter, backed by a few facts.
Just over 12 months ago, doctor representatives and the government agreed on the MOCA 3 – a detailed contract regarding conditions of medical officers until 2015. (http://www.qirc.qld.gov.au/resources/pdf/certified_agreements/cert_agreements/2012/ca546_2012.pdf) . Last year the government changed legislation to push through these individual contracts, which took away the right to industrial action and means for dispute resolution (including disputing unfair dismissal), and these contracts also can be changed at any time by hospital administration – they can alter hours and place of work – but worst, the politicians and administrators will dictate patient’s treatment options, NOT the doctors. Ever heard of the Staffordshire hospital enquiry? : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9851763/Mid-Staffordshire-Trust-inquiry-how-the-care-scandal-unfolded.html - read here what happens when bureaucrats, administrators and budgets drive healthcare, instead of its frontline medical staff. Closer to home – Dr. Jayant Patel – don’t be fooled thinking it was solely about a criminal surgeon looking to harm people with a scalpel – the government set bottom lines and unreasonable KPI targets and that’s how they got the Bundaberg disaster.

^^ THIS IS WHY OUR DOCTORS ARE REFUSING TO SIGN. It has nothing to do with paycuts or loopholes - it is the potential loss of a doctor's ability to protect and treat our public patients, which is you and your families, with the best care possible.
These SMO's have your back - please, if you agree with this post, show your support and consider signing this petition :

Update - Some concessions from the government, but the prognosis isn't good.

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