May 30, 2013

Let's get this straight: this is exactly what racism looks like

Remember Steve Vizard?  He had a moment.

Remember Glenn Wheatley?  He had a moment.

This, I think, is turning into Eddie McGuire's moment.  No volume of unreserved *support* from his club, Collingwood, is going to put the egg together again.
Racism? We don't get it, because there are no consequences for being an ignorant, smug arsehole in this country.

Had Eddie McGuire made his King Kong remark on US radio, he would not work in the American mainstream media again. Game over, Ed. Buy a yacht.
You turn on American TV, there's black folks everywhere. Last year, they had an NFL panel show on a major network with a black host and FOUR black panellists. No token white guy.

You make a King Kong statement like Eddie McGuire did in that studio, you've got 25 people in the newsroom who are gonna press you against the lift doors and tell you why you're a maggot and you need to LEARN. FAST.
Sam de Brito nails it, in his usual cut through the crap manner

When you've finished with Sam's lacerating and clear sighted rant, consider world famous actor Forest Whitakerbeing stopped in a Manhattan delicatessen by an employee and accused of being a shoplifter (and then frisked).   And then let Ta-Nehisi Coates
spell it out for you (and me), in case you're still not getting it: 
The other day I walked past this particular deli. I believe its owners to be good people. I felt ashamed at withholding business for something far beyond the merchant’s reach. I mentioned this to my wife. My wife is not like me. When she was 6, a little white boy called her cousin a nigger, and it has been war ever since. “What if they did that to your son?” she asked. 

And right then I knew that I was tired of good people, that I had had all the good people I could take. 

May 29, 2013

Another day in paradise

Martin Ferguson has told parliament he will retire from politics at the September 14 election.

Tony Abbott has told anyone listening that farmer's wives will benefit from his platinum-plated maternity leave payments.

The ALP push on with removing the one-off $3,000 baby bonus.

Tony Abbott holds tight to his dream of giving well off working women who give birth $3,000 a week for six months.

Joe Hockey has given up exhorting everyone to wean themselves off the government induced entitlement mentality.

Wednesday Wisdom

You can't learn too soon that the most useful thing about a principle is that it can always be sacrificed to expediency.

Somerset Maugham 

May 27, 2013

Terrorism wins again

The Australian National University has cited international violence in the wake of the Danish cartoon and Innocence of Muslims controversies in justifying its decision to force student newspaper Woroni to pulp a satirical infographic which described a passage from the Koran as a "rape fantasy". 
The university also threatened student authors and editors of the infographic with disciplinary action, including academic exclusion and the withdrawal of the publication's funding.

The piece was the fifth in a satirical series entitled "Advice from Religion" which had previously discussed Catholicism, Scientology, Mormonism and Judaism.

No complaints were received about any of the earlier instalments.
Australian National University bans - only one - piece of religious satire out of fear

When a scandal is covered, does no one know it's a scandal?

Australia's most senior Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, has admitted the fear of scandal led to cover-up in the church.
How's that working out for you?
He said former Melbourne archbishop Sir Frank Little was involved in a cover-up and a former Ballarat archbishop destroyed documents.

He denied he personally covered up offending.

Of course. 
"Many in the church did not understand just what damage was being done to the victims."
How?  How could anyone not understand?  In the church and across the nation?  Children and women (subsumed into a singular grouping, in the traditional manner) continue to be disbelieved when it comes to abuse. This is not unique to organised religion, although organised religions and other institutions with responsibility for the care of children have raised denial and hand-wringing to an art form.

George Pell: fear of scandal let to cover up

Evidence: getting out of bed shortens life

He's 116 years old, he knows a thing of two: 

Mr Kimura retired in 1962 aged 65, after working for 45 years in the Japanese post office. He now lives in Kyō¯tango, Kyoto Prefecture, with his eldest son's widow, 83, and his grandson's widow, 59, and attributes his long life to eating small portions of food, and admits to spending most of his time ''in bed''.
Last man standing from the 19th century

May 25, 2013

Abbott 'prays every day' for election victory

As do quite a number of other Christians, along with a goodly number of non-Christians, atheists, agnostics, Labradors, gum trees, sandy beaches, new born babies and people who've run out of data on their smartphone so can't play any games on the train home from work, so have nothing better to contemplate than Tony Abbott's deliverance to The Lodge.

Many a prayer daily going up, begging for a new Prime Minister.  Anyone will do.  Anyone at all.

Thy will be done.

May 24, 2013

Instant federal funding

This is 2013.  In 2016 Ford Australia will stop making cars here.  Ford has accepted more than a billion dollars from you and me to prop up their factories over the last decade or so.  Upon hearing the announcement of Ford's final demise, the federal government promptly promised $39 million dollars to help the 1200 workers who will lose their jobs.  I've always thought it was a company's legal responsibility to pay out redundant staff, according to the relevant industrial award, and provide professional assistance to see them on their way to their next endevours.

Yesterday, 2500 cleaners, mostly in Queensland, lost their jobs, as the company they worked announced that they couldn't pay their staff ... so, as these things go, the company that employed them went karput.

No government announcements expressing concern or solidarity with the cleaners, no millions of dollars to help 2500 workers and their families, who were not given three years notice to save, plan or find a new job.  No, not for the cleaners a tax payer funded helping hand (unless you count the generous $35 a day that we give to the unemployed), and no government assistance into a fullfilling new career.

Poor buggers.  I wish them a whole lot of luck.  The cleaners, I mean.

Too much, too soon

It's not ok for women to breastfeed in public in Australia; I know this because of the hysterics around any women caught-out attempting to discreetly feed a baby at any business establishment or other public location in the country.  There are even commentators who declare that such women (with no photographic evidence, or even first hand commentary) are brazenly undressing (a public striptease, if you like) for personal attention, and/or are merely making a cheap feminist point by feeding a hungry baby when it demands to be fed.  I'm surprised that no one has yet accused the increasing line of headline grabbing breastfeeding women of stealing a baby so as to be able to put on a public display. 

By contrast, showing the body of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich - who was murdered, violently, unspeakably - on every television news break, on every front page of every newspaper across the world, is fine and dandy. 

Let's not be concerned with the sensibilities of the news-consuming public, and even less concerned for the young man's wife, toddler son, parents, family and friends.  No, it's never too soon and never too much to display the lifeless body of a man whose existence was so shockingly ended.

Let's not be concerned about The Guardian, one day later, drawing moral equivalence between this vile act of murder and civilian deaths stemming from American use of drone aircraft.  It's never too soon and never too much to point the finger at America, to call their acts terrorism, and to draw a straight line between the dead body of a young man in a street a continent away with ordinary acts of war by the state.  (Show me any war in which no civilians have been killed:  drones didn't engender what used to be euphemistically called collateral damage.  It's only in the 21st century that, apparently, humans have become squeamish about such things.  Well, squeamish, sure, but only sometime, only selectively, only when it suits the political ideology, or matches up with the side of history on which one asserts to be right.)

Let's not be concerned with the trite reports informing us that one of the men responsible for the murder in Woolwich was from Nigeria, and was a "peaceful chap" before drifting into the radical scene in 2010.  It's never expected that anyone in the news will be described as having drifted into the peaceful scene, or had accidentally fallen into the good crowd.  

Some days, the world is so fucked up it's enough to induce vomiting.  (For which there's a soothing reality show or an escaped Kardashian to sooth an upset tummy.)

Price rip-off by power providers deeply puzzling to experts

Mr Ben-David said the commission was surprised to find retailer margins had more than doubled in the past two years.

"When, before input costs were driving increase, in the last two years retailer costs have been driving prices. That's been an interesting shift in the market and it's hard to explain in a competitive market why there's been such a marked increase in the retailer share of prices," he said.
Not surprising if you live in Victoria and have had five years of being told that smart meters will save us money, and save private sector power providers money (they can cut their workforce, remember, and won't need to build new capacity), and all this, despite the carbon price, and despite consumers being charged for the smart meters that aren't smart - and, astonishingly, as Mr Ben-David notes - despite having long ago been privatized.  Apparently competition, by some brand of magic, ensures lower prices.

Well folks, only profitable businesses are sold off by the government.  No one should be astonished that retail energy providers are racking it in, and that their profit margins are growing year on year on year.

I'm slightly disgusted that experts needed to study this, and that it took them this long to figure out something that every Victorian worked out all on their lonesome some years ago. 

Power puzzle:  less investment but higher prices 

Duck Friday

May 22, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom

All that is gold does not glitter, not all of those who wander are lost ... 

J.R.R. Tolkien

May 21, 2013

May 19, 2013

What the plebs are thinking

Letters to the editor, The Weekend Australia, 18-19 May 2013:

  • It was worth watching Tony Abbott's speech in reply to Labor's budget just to see the look on Julia Gillard's face. Ted Bolton, Boat Harbour Beach, Tas
  •  Cost of 30 minutes electricity to watch Tony Abbott's budget reply -- 2 cents. Cost of my time -- 30 minutes. Cost to see the scowl on Julia Gillard's face -- priceless. Colin Green, Cleveland, Qld
  •  The Labor government is similar to a dysfunctional family that has trashed a rented house and is now demanding that the incoming tenants detail how they are going to fix the mess. Greg Kater, Sydney, NSW

Stinking morality, for dirt cheap goods

Is it our fault?  This refusal of major companies to acknowledge that it's time to stop exploiting and killing the poor - in second and third world countries - in fulfillment of first world demand for cheaper and cheaper goods?  

It's not entirely true, of course, since consumers in Australia (unlike those who get to buy all of their worldy possessions at a Wal-Mart) pay a premium for cheap goods, huge profit margins that don't trickle within coo-eee of poor factory works.  Although Kmart has, going by their advertising campaigns, gone down the path of being a local version of cheap-as-chips disposable everything, which is why I don't shop there - someone, somewhere, was paid a subsistence income and worked inhumanly long hours so that you and I  can buy pretty much anything for a few dollars.  

There are thousands and thousands of factories across the world, churning out crap for thoughtless first world consumers.

The non-response from our local companies is morally indefensible, as it the Wal-mart holier than thou tactic for avoiding accountability.  Of course, this is Wal-mart in standard modus operandi, nothing new to see.
Saying it was unwilling to sign on to the broad safety plan embraced by more than a dozen European companies this week, Wal-Mart said its factory monitors would “conduct in-depth safety inspections at 100 percent” of the 279 factories it uses in Bangladesh and publicize the results on its Web site. 

Wal-Mart promised to stop production immediately at factories if urgent safety problems were uncovered and to notify factory owners and government authorities of improvements. But the company, the world’s largest retailer, stopped short of committing to help underwrite the improvements — one of the crucial aspects of the Bangladesh safety agreement adopted by European companies.

By far, Gap has been the most vocal company opposed to the plan, expressing concerns that overzealous American lawyers could seize on the agreement to sue American companies on behalf of aggrieved factory workers in Bangladesh — perhaps in the event of a factory fire. Gap said it supported much of the plan, but it proposed changes that would greatly limit any legal liability for a company that violated the plan. 

Under Gap’s proposal, if a retailer were found to have violated the agreement, the only remedy would generally be public expulsion from the factory safety plan. 

“The U.S. is quite litigious,” said Bill Chandler, a Gap spokesman. “We put forward specific proposals that we thought would bring other American retailers into the fold. We thought it would be a step forward and would turn it into a much more global agreement.” 

Consumer and labor groups said Gap’s concerns about litigation were overblown. They complained that Gap’s stance against the agreement had helped to dissuade other American companies from signing.
“Gap’s demand is that the agreement be made unenforceable — and therefore meaningless,” said Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, a group sponsored by 175 colleges and universities. “What Gap wants is the right to renege on its commitments when it wishes.” 

Some advocates say the European retailers signed the joint accord more readily than the Americans because Europe accounts for 60 percent of Bangladesh apparel exports and the United States one-fourth.
Wal-Mart also expressed concerns about the joint Bangladesh safety plan, saying it “introduces requirements, including governance and dispute resolution mechanisms, on supply chain matters that are appropriately left to retailers, suppliers and government, and are unnecessary to achieve fire and safety goals.” 
Some of Australia's biggest retailers have refused to sign an international agreement to improve fire safety and working conditions in Bangladesh after the country's worst industrial accident.

Woolworths, Kmart and Target - that all have factories operating out of Bangladesh - have declined to sign the legally binding agreement, which aims to compel retailers operating in Bangladesh to improve conditions and pay for factory repairs and fire safety.

Major chains in Europe, including H&M, Benetton, Primark, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Zara and Tesco, have all signed the pact to prevent another industrial disaster after the Rana Plaza garment factory, which supplied Western textiles, collapsed three weeks ago and killed more than 1100 workers.

The companies who sign the agreement will establish and pay for a fire and building safety program in Bangladesh for a period of five years. The program will include routine building and fire inspections, improved and fair working conditions, appropriate compensation in the case of a fire.

That's the least that should occur.  I hope it goes much further, soon, so that the well-being of workers, not just the buildings they occupy, improves significantly.

Major Australian retailers refuse to sign Bangladesh agreement

May 18, 2013

Concept of alcohol difficult to grasp

For some, the concept of alcohol is very confusing, as in:  the belief that low alcohol beer cannot induce drunkenness.  Nice urban myth, that one.

Of course, people unable to grasp the concept of an alcoholic drink containing actual alcohol are likely best encouraged to steer away from all alcoholic beverages.

Punters confused by light booze

Who's a good little ATM?

Gina Rinehart continues her crusade to bludgeon the have-nots into being grateful to eat crumbs, and to generally take over the running of Australia via owning the soil, the media and hearts and minds of the ridiculously rich.  So far, she's succeeding.

Gina's most recent pronouncement was to suggest to Australian government leaders that shouldn't be treating the mining industry like an ATM.  Damned right.  And what a fine analogy.  (Gina, bless her, has far superior speech writers than those employed by our politicians.)

Let's test her claim:

All companies:  taxes paid into the coffers of federal government each year - $74B

Mining companies:  taxes paid into the coffers of federal government each year - Gina's estimate $20B

You and me:  individual taxes paid into the coffers of federal government each year - $175.4B

The above excludes your GST, your Medicare levy, your superannuation tax payments, your petrol taxes and your additional payments for carbon pricing, as applicable.

Who's the best little ATM on the block then?

Not Gina.  Not the mining industry.  Not industry at all. 

PM sticks to revolutionary plan to obfuscate to the bitter end

 Graham Richardson, still being paid to tell us what we already know:

 The program began with my colleague David Speers interviewing the Prime Minister.

He put to her that the budget would have been in deficit even if the $17 billion writedown in government revenue had not occurred. It was a simple point. The government's own figures prove it conclusively: if there is a $19.4bn deficit then obviously even an extra $17bn does not turn the deficit into surplus. Gillard obfuscated in the same irritating way she always does when faced with uncomfortable truths. I listened as she avoided giving a direct answer.
She has never understood that she would be far better off admitting what the rest of the country knows to be true.

Alas, even when not being confronted with inconvenient truths or uncomfortable hunches, Gillard bobs, weaves, condescends and obfuscates as if the entire populace (not just journalists) is comprised of blithering idiots, too foolish and ignorant to recognise the insult.

This - if it's at all possible to single out only one thing, and I don't believe it is - is the defining reason for Gillard's shockingly disappointing failures as Prime Minister.  

Budget was last will and testament

May 17, 2013

Kid gloves

12 May 2013: Laurie Oakes, questioning Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan about his fifth budget:

"You said (last year) for example, 'the deficit years of the global recession are behind us, the surplus years are here', now, that'll have people laughing in the aisles..."

"So, are you going to get up tomorrow and start your speech saying 'Ladies and gentlemen, circumstances can change, so what I say tonight should be taken with a grain of salt?'."

"Now, another part of your speech that reads like stand-up comedy from last year, you're boasting about spreading the benefits of the mining boom via your mining tax. That tax produced no money... "

"You would argue the fact that last year's budget is now a nonsense when you look at it in retrospect, it's not evidence of government incompetence?"

"Climate change Minister Greg Combet is quoted today as saying Labor people should be confident of victory in the election. What's he been smoking? Have you been smoking the same thing?"

One Treasurer in search of a new job.

One journalist still doing his job.

Party's over, glad you came?

By - John Spooner, The Age

Duck Friday

May 15, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom

You can't see as well as those fucking flowers and they're fucking plastic. 

John McEnroe (to a referee)

May 12, 2013

Ugly budget pending

In the last week of April The Age reported that Prime Minister Julia Gillard had vowed that the May budget would not impose cuts that would "really hurt people" ... that would only a little be of hurting of people. 
I can't remember the last time a Prime Minister had to damn with such feint praise their Treasurer's budget.
Gillard further insisted that new spending would be matched by savings.  That must be her way of showing punters that she has a sense of humour.
No matter which way I look at it, both Gillard and Abbott (when he gets his turn later this year) are determined to piss away billions of dollars on non-productive, non wealth producing expenditure, while taking from those who already have little, and taking from projects that would improve - short and long term - the Australian economy. 
Wayne Swan, meanwhile, insisted that he will deliver "tough decisions" and "structural saves" ... that would be pretend saves.

Same old, same old

Senior cabinet minister Greg Combet has attacked some of his Labor Party colleagues as ''whingers'' in an angry and expletive-laden speech to supporters and donors, expressing his frustration at insiders undermining the government's prospects in the September federal election.

At a party fund-raising dinner last Monday, Mr Combet delivered a withering critique of the doomsayers in his own party, insisting too many people were displaying a defeatist attitude in this election year.

Several attendees at the Labor dinner told Fairfax Media the Climate Change Minister delivered not only an impassioned speech, but one that was also angry and full of colourful language, which began by attacking external critics but then rounded on whingers inside the party.
It's always someone else's  fault.  Where is Kev Rudd when you need someone to blame?  Now it's everyone else, on the inside, "undermining" the Labor Government.  It's not the policies, it's not the economic mismanagement, it's not the dismissive, condescending, deflecting, sly political style of Julia Gillard, it's not the damaging deals done with the Greens - it's everything and everyone else. 

Nice team work from Combet though.  Real nice.  Should do a world of good for party morale.  Yep, the audience, apparently, found the whole thing a great rallying cry.  Yep, the ALP have turned a corner, suddenly believing - with no evidence - that they can win the September election. 

Combet blasts ALP whingers.

May 11, 2013

Shoddy reporting at The Australian

Mentally ill 'more prone to violence'  - so declares today's Australian.

Except that it's not true.

People with schizophrenia have been found to be significantly more prone to violence, prompting the author of a new study to call on his peers to stop "fudging" research and downplaying the risks posed by some mentally ill people living in the community.

Given the frequency with which police are prone to shooting schizophrenics who cause any kind of ruckus (in Australia), and given that, invariably, every year there will be reporting of one or more murders committed by a person with schizophrenia (often family members), this supposedly new finding isn't likely to be a surprise to anyone other than the academics making the announcement of their research findings.

The issue is, most people with a mental illness do not have schizophrenia.  

Another co-author of the Victorian study, Jim Ogloff of Monash University's Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science, said that while it was important not to revive old stigmas, families of the mentally ill and the wider community had a right to know about the risks of violence.

" They need to know the facts and, more importantly, when to call triple-0."
Yes, people do need to know the facts, most especially those who have a mental illness, and it is important not to revive old stigmas (well, not to promote stigmas, since the stigmas continue without change), which is why an inflammatory, sloppy and false headline from The Australian is singularly unhelpful to everyone.

Now that's equality

Perhaps it should be a sad moment when a communist country shows us what equality really looks like, but I was quite perky upon reading that men in China who father a few too many babies are punished - not the women.

Strange that I should find this little snippet of gossipy news uplifting?  Nah.  Not really.  It's a nice contrast to every place on Earth, where women are routinely and overtly blamed and punished for every damned thing - for breeding, for aborting, for working, for not working, for eating this or not eating that, for wearing skirts, for daring to be in public, for not flossing ... for generally just being women.

While not yet proven, Zhang will be paying up big if shown that he's the father of seven little 'uns, in defiance of the not entirely strictly enforced one child policy - you can buy extra babies, and people in some areas are permitted two.

Nice, also, that the fines are progressive, based on income.

Family planning officials are examining discussions on the internet that say Zhang has fathered up to seven children with four women. If he is found to have violated the laws, he could be fined nearly $US27 million because the fines are based on the offender's income, according to a report in the online edition of People's Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party.
Seven children - top Chinese film director faces huge fine

May 8, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any. 

Alice Walker

May 7, 2013

Wouldn't it be nice

Wouldn't it be nice if we could free the people of North Korea? 

I often feel that we should be able to pop over there, open a secret door, and usher out the entire population.

The rest of the world is often an ugly, ugly place, human are, far too frequently, not nice at all, but imagine what it's like to live in a country in which you are brainwashed and lied to from cradle to grave; and for those lies, you must survive in poverty stricken circumstances - intellectual and financial poverty; poverty of the mind and body. 

Yes, I often think it would be nice if we could get together to make all North Koreans free, all 24 million of them - that's two million more people than we have here.

May 6, 2013


Sooooo, is the September federal election set to be EPIC?

Not a routine routing. 

A super-duper EPIC FAIL for Labor? 

iCaz thinks so. 

(Wonder if Tom Waterhouse has time to take my bet?)

May 1, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom

When genius interfaces with mediocre minds expect violent opposition. 

Albert Einstein