Wednesday, August 29, 2012

the sapphires

When Australian films are shite, they are really shite.
When they are good, they are really, really good.

This is a great one!

Great soul music; humour; and a brilliantly scripted drama.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

a new “solution”part IV ... it’s all a matter of perspective

As of August 2012 there were 107,000 Malian refugees in Burkina Faso, itself a “developing” country. In this camp, water is rationed to 15 L per person per day.

2nd photo This woman has spent 18 years as a refugee in the Dominican Republic. After her resident’s card expired she became one of the 12 million stateless people in the world. Her children have no birth certificates, and no nationality.


UNHCR identifies a major protracted refugee situation as one where more than 25,000 refugees have been in exile for more than five years. Using this definition, nearly two-thirds of refugees in the world today – over six million people – are in protracted refugee situations.
According to UNHCR, in 2009 there are some 30 major protracted refugee situations around the world.

The average length of stay in these states of virtual limbo is now approaching 20 years, up from an average of nine years in the early 1990s.


Quite honestly, I’m sick of hearing about how unhappy the UNHCR, the world, impractical do-gooders and asylum seekers themselves are with the way we are handling this situation.

I do not bear asylum seekers any ill-will – nor do I bear any ill-will to the many millions languishing in refugee camps elsewhere around the globe.

What does concern me is that if the unreasonable criticisms from outside do not stop, and if the behaviour of detainees does not improve, Australians will develop a case of sympathy fatigue.


What else do we see in Australian news reports?

We do sometimes see pictures of hungry or malnourished children, suffering from a famine. Famine sounds such a temporary thing.
We rarely see people who have been waiting 20 years for a placement, and have little reason to hope for more than they already have.

We see people arriving by boat, risking their own lives and the lives of their children to get here. We know men are leaving their families behind in unspeakable situations, assuming they will eventually be able to get family re-union visas.

We see and hear of people in Australian detention centres going on hunger strikes or mutilating themselves or rioting or destroying property.

There are some things we don't see that we should see, and this applies at home as well as overseas.
Those of us who live in Australia but do not live in ivory towers know somebody who is doing it tough; landlord exploitation is appalling, we all know somebody who is waiting for surgery that severely affects their quality of life.

I'm actually pleased that part of the new deal included an increase in our refugee intake. But when we see what some Australians have compared to what some inmates of detention centres are complaining about I just wish someone would give some detainees a good swift kick up the bum.


Public housing is a thing of the past

105,000 Australians are homeless on any given night.

Story and Photo from The Age

Elisha Fox, with daughters Ava and Amelie, right, and dog Tyson, pays $1300 rent a month for a vermin-infested and dangerous home in Glenroy. 

Picture: Jake Nowakowski Source: Sunday Herald Sun 

Allen Mo, pictured in his cramped bedroom, was beaten by his landlord after he complained about the living conditions in a boarding house. 

One four-bedroom house visited by the Sunday Herald Sun had 16 people living in it, including six people who slept in the garage, with each tenant charged $100.

Breast cancer survivor Janine, 46, was evicted from her Doncaster rooming house when her landlord fled the state.
He had leased 23 properties and left 124 renters in the lurch after he ran off with thousands of dollars meant for rent, bond and bills.


A failing public health system

Elective surgery is surgery that can safely be delayed for more than 24 hoursThe term ‘elective’ is used only to distinguish it from emergency surgery, which is required within 24 hours to save a life. 

Elective surgery does not mean that the surgery is optional – elective surgery is often life saving (for example removal of a tumour) or very important to a patient’s health and well-being (such as a hip replacement). It is also known as planned or booked surgery. Elective surgery can be postponed and, unfortunately, too often is postponed for far too long.

Cat 1
Admission within 30 days desirable for a condition that has the potential to deteriorate quickly, to the point that it may become an emergency
Cat 2
Admission within 90 days desirable for a condition causing some pain, dysfunction or disability, but which is not likely to deteriorate quickly or become an emergency
Cat 3
Admission within 365 days for a condition causing minimal or no pain, dysfunction or disability, which is unlikely to deteriorate quickly and which does not have the potential to become an emergency

With the current state of affairs in our public hospitals, one in ten patients do not receive their surgery within the recommended time frame, and 3 quarters of these are people living in Qld, Vic and Tas. 


part V – onshore, offshore, and other questions

a new “solution” .... part III multiculturalism

In previous posts I’ve already gone on and on about integration

and about the stupidity of proposed changes to the constitution in relation to protecting various cultures

I think Gina Yashere says everything we need to know about multiculturalism.
Her country is full of people who look and speak differently from "the norm"... ain't it a larf?


part IV – it’s all a matter of perspective
part V – onshore, offshore, and other questions

a new “solution” part II ... fraser’s policy, australian resentment

Hung Le

Malcolm Fraser and Vietnamese Refugees

Let me turn now to Solidarity for some information about Malcolm Fraser’s Liberal Government response to refugees following the fall of Saigon in 1975.
In doing this, I should make it clear that I have not checked primary sources, mostly because I’m too lazy, but mainly because if a left-wing organisation like Solidarity is distorting the truth, they would surely be bending it to port rather than starboard, so their points are probably reliable enough for my purposes.

You can read the whole of the [Aug 2012] Solidarity article here.

Key points from that article:

Julian Burnside recently claimed that Malcolm Fraser had resettled 25,000 “boat people” a year. It was soon pointed out that almost all of these people were in fact selected from camps. Asylum seekers who arrived in Australia by boat were still the target of hysteria and discrimination.
They did not face detention, but were initially just referred to charities for assistance while their claims were assessed. Later boat arrivals were housed in migrant hostels.

A total of 53 refugee boats had arrived in Australia by 1981. …Most of the Vietnamese refugees remained in camps in Malaysia and Thailand. Prior to 1978, the government refused to accept more than a few thousand refugees a year from the camps. Their distance allowed the state to control exactly who would arrive, allowing them to keep the number of people to a minimum.
In January 1979 the Australian government announced that it “would deny entry to any passengers on such ships”. It declared its intention to “legislate to introduce severe penalties for those who profiteered by bringing people into Australia without prior authority”.

The Australian government’s solution was to create “regional boat holding arrangements” with Malaysia and Indonesia. In return for Australia taking larger numbers of refugees from the camps, Malaysia and Indonesia would prevent boats leaving for Australia.

Fraser spoke of the country as having a front and back door. Refugees who waited in camps were coming in the front door, while the boat arrivals were coming through the back. His view was that the “solution to people coming in the back door was to open the front door wider”. In other words those arriving by boat were “bad” refugees and a problem that needed to be dealt with.


Australian resentment of Vietnamese refugees?

Today’s spin doctors have access to unlimited opinion polling, but all I can resort to here is anecdotes. Arguing from the particular to the general might be poor logic, but in this case I would like to say

a) I was working at the time with a reasonably representative cross-section of middle to working class people; and
b) Urban myths to some extent reflect opinion

The people I worked with were

Anglo Australians –
one of whom always spent his entire shift in an alcoholic coma, stretched out on some sorted-mail bags in a corner of the building; two of whom were junkies on the way down; three of whom were poofs too terrified to use the urinals [preferring the safety of toilet stalls; three women who went out to the carpark during the break with some of the young guns; myself [obviously a lesbian because I never talked about sport or went out to the carpark during breaktime]; a good mate desperately trying to get a marriage visa for his Asian girlfriend; and a few women who kept to themselves

Anglo Indians,
One of whom was the crudest and most sexist pig I’ve ever met

Egyptian Arabs
Nice, intelligent people, one with a Ph D in physics nobody respected

The usual assortment of Italians, Greeks and Maltese, and Philippinos

Two Poles
One of whom was virulently anti-semitic

Half a dozen Germans
One chap kept telling anyone who would listen he was glad to be half-blind because it’s the only thing that saved him from being sent to the Russian front...
And a woman who constantly made comments about how stupid the British are because, for example, they never located the armaments factory where she had worked during WWII because it was hidden under a kindergarten/school complex.

Half a dozen Vietnamese
Who had no trouble socialising with anyone

The urban myth I most commonly heard about Vietnamese – at work and elsewhere - was that the government gave them inordinate amounts of money to get settled/ started. The clincher was that the government also bought every family a car [ironically enough, usually a yellow car].

In the days before the internet, the only way to send a joke viral was by photocopy and snail mail. One common trick was to mock up a letter with a Commonwealth Government letter head, and type it into a genuine looking document.

A popular version was a letter – personally addressed to the xenophobe of one’s choice – went on and on about how the addressee had been specially chosen to house refugees. The government would pay so many dollars a month and park a caravan in the front yard for them to live in… that sort of thing. By the end of the letter the proposal got sillier and sillier so that only someone blinded by hate could possibly fail to realise it was a prank.

[While I never sent any myself I did think they were rather clever.]

Apart from the Nazi and the Anti-Semitic, nobody ever seemed to care a hoot about race. It was all about “not fair, he got a bigger slice of pie than I did”. No one resented refugees whether they arrived by boat or not – it was all about the money.


part III – multiculturalism
part IV – it’s all a matter of perspective
part V – onshore, offshore, and other questions

a new “solution” part I .... unhcr, mental health, refugee status

Now this was a national disgrace


Asylum seekers, offshore processing, and mental health

At the last Victorian election I scored a day’s work at a polling booth. While standing with a bunch of other casual workers, sorting formal from informal votes and doing a rough preliminary count of votes, I somehow got talking to a chap about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD], and Vietnam Vets.

Even if he has a healthier lifestyle and better genes than me, there is no way he this chap is old enough to have served in Vietnam himself – though he may well have been somewhere else or be a CMF member.

For all that, I was startled by his dismissal of Vets with PTSD, stating “most of them were f****d in the head before they went – implying that they were a bunch of wusses, and/or that war cannot affect normal people.

I mention this because it goes to the heart of a recent United Nations High Commission on Refugees [UNHCR] comment on Australia’s new/old policy of offshore processing, to deter asylum seekers coming by boat.
We do not want to see a return to lengthy delays in remote island centres for asylum seekers and refugees before durable solutions are found. We are also concerned about the psychological impact for those individuals who would be affected.

Call me callous, but I would suggest that many of the people who will be held in detention have already been exposed to things that would affect their mental health.
I should imagine the only other thing that should affect their mental health further would be a loss of hope – an inability to imagine a future for themselves.


Offshore processing and Hope

Allowing for inevitable human snafus, I trust my government [much as it pains me to admit it] to make reasonable determinations of status. The very few refused asylum are probably refused for good reason.

Few people in detention have any reason to suddenly lose whatever hope they had on arrival. Au contraire, I would suggest they have more reason for hope than they had while handing over their money to some boat organiser.

Most of the people processed by Australia – either onshore or offshore - are granted refugee status and given either temporary or permanent visas.

Now, of course, the first bunch sent offshore are on a hunger strike because they are being processed offshore. This has an impact on children – something that always has and always will piss me off.

It would be unfair of me to dismiss them with a comment like “they oughta getta life” because they don’t really have one, but I do wish they would get – or be shown a reason to get – a better sense of perspective.


Not everyone rejected is a victim of Australian racism

In a previous post reviewing a book about Ali Al-Jenabi, I pointed out an inconsistency in his story  

a) his claim that there is no queue, and
b) his comment that he had already been rejected by the UN in a country where he had insisted there is no queue.

More recently The Age published a couple of articles written about/by a Hazara refugee. I don’t for one minute assume his life has been one of endless joy, but he too made a statement that he had previously been to the UNHCR elsewhere and not granted refugee status. This left him with no choice, he says, but to try a boat.

In his situation I might do the same thing, but I do wish we were not getting the same sort of misrepresentation from asylum seekers that Tony Abbott has made his own specialty. They simply can’t compete.

part II – fraser’s policy, australian resentment
part III – multiculturalism
part IV – it’s all a matter of perspective
part V – onshore, offshore, and other questions

Sunday, August 26, 2012

everyone knows where they were when…

We often hear the line – even from Australians – everyone knows where they were the day Kennedy was shot.
Fail. I’ve no idea. The assassination of JFK was an American thing, but the footage certainly got some airplay here. I remember seeing it a hundred times, but this was after the fact.

MLK Jr? Fail.

The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand? Fail.

We never had a TV at all for a very long time. Naturally when we did get one, it was something that had to be watched at every available opportunity. One day I saw footage of the coronation of QE II – never having heard of a “replay” – and couldn’t wait to tell my mother there was a new queen. Fail.

In 1967 I tuned into a big “first” when Normie Rowe was performing at expo 67 in Montreal and it was to be broadcast live from halfway cross the world. We normally couldn’t get a decent signal anyway as our house was surrounded by prolestackers, and even catching the ABC news occasionally was a miracle.
But the expo from Canada was worse – most of the time the screen was black because the international signal had crapped out altogether.

I only mention this because Andrew wrote about watching the moon landing live on TV in 1969. I remember where I was when that happened, and believing [after Montreal] that such a clear signal could only be a hoax.

911? Yep. Remember arriving at the Mitcham factory where some young buck – whose only talent was for finding excuses to do nothing – started going on and on about a plane flying into a building.
If I hadn’t seen TV footage later I would still be wondering why was supposed to justify him doing nothing all morning.

How many times do we watch some historical drama now and hear a repeat of that infamous radio broadcast on 3 September in 1939:

I am speaking to you from the Cabinet Room at 10, Downing Street. This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that unless we heard from them by 11 o'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.

We know it was a Sunday, but what time of day was it first broadcast? How come every man, woman, child and dog in Britain was listening to the radio at the right time? If the people in these dramas are only listening to replays, why do they always look like it’s fresh news?
They all knew where they were when the announcement was made.

divorce rate set to tumble


The Anglican Church has revamped its wedding vows.

Now, the husband promises

to serve his wife, to love his wife, and to protect her

and the wife promises

to love her husband, and serve, and submit

The original promise, to obey, conjures up images of a chap saying “iron this shirt, woman!”

Submit sounds just plain kinky.

Friday, August 24, 2012

what would we do for fun without our greek and latin roots?

The late, exceedingly clever Ronnie Barker, combining his love for words with his enormous sense of fun.

Our shed is full of boxes of books. Who would have thought books would ever become obsolete? Sure it’s nice to sit down with a good paperback about grizzly crimes and witty detectives, but what is the use of a heap of reference books when we have the internet?

“I read it in the Hun* so it must be true”, once a popular joke, has now been upgraded to “I found it on Wikipedia so it must be true”. Thankfully, Google provides a range of sources we can use to check Wikipedia entries.

Having just stumbled across a paragraph [in a paperback] about disestablishmentarianism, it occurred to me that the internet could tell me what I had been unable to verify for decades… is antidisestablishmentarianism the longest word in the English language?

Briefly, the story is that until 1828 holders of public office had to receive Anglican communion and reject the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation**… i.e
  • non-Anglicans could not enter parliament
  • until 1856 non-Anglicans could not take a degree at Oxford or Cambridge or
  • until 1871, teach at Oxford or Cambridge

In the late 19th Century dissenters campaigned for religious freedom and disestablishment of the Church of England – or separation of Church and State.
Antidisestablishmentarianism was the stance of those resistant to this change.

The longest word has been around a long time.

Naturally Wikipedia has something to add to the story… explaining that, intoxicated with the exuberance of his own verbosity, a Mr Smith created a legitimate new ‘longest’ word – Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis – by more precisely explaining what silicosis is.

It had to be a medical word I suppose, as the names of illnesses are generally cobbled together from bits and pieces of words that describe symptoms [and sometimes also causes].

* The Hun – Melbourne’s very own Herald-Sun newspaper.

** transubstantiation – in the Roman Catholic Church, at communion the bread and wine are said to literally become the body and blood of Christ.
The belief this happens when the Priest says Hoc est corpus meum or "This is my body" gave rise to the expression hocus pocus.
[Appalling to think that over a number of centuries and around the globe, millions of people were tortured and executed defending ideas like this.]

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

vale phyllis

Comedy – construction, timing, topics and all that stuff – is a big hobby of mine, and I was sorry to discover that Phyllis Diller has popped the clog; kicked the bucket; fallen off her perch.

Phyllis was an inspiration in two ways; firstly because she broke through a gender barrier to establish herself as a stand-up comic; and secondly because she was such a late starter.
The message “It’s not impossible, and it’s never too late” is a pretty good legacy for anyone to leave anyone.

In her early years she slipped right into the “Take my mother-in-law – please” school of comedy. The only thing exceptional about this at the time was that the mother-in-law jokes were coming from a woman.

Self-deprecating comments about her looks formed the basis of much of her humour for most of her career and, while this might not be a feminist’s ideal way to get a laugh, she was always proud of the fact that she never ever got a laugh at someone else’s expense.
[This is not to say I don’t love Joan Rivers’ vicious wit, just to say I admire anyone who has a decent value and tries to honour it.]

Her schtick, something no one else could steal, was an incredible laugh. 
It was a gift.

Monday, August 20, 2012

like, cool cats, man

From The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.
The role of Maynard G Krebbs was played by Bob Denver, who went on to become even more famous as Gilligan.


Some people enjoy junk mail, but to me it’s just junk. Whenever I take it out of the box and drop it straight in the recycle bin, I tell myself that delivering junk mail provides someone with pocket money and exercise, and keeps Australian printers busy. But I do wish they wouldn’t clog up the mail part of the mail box, or push the junk mail that’s already there further in to make space for theirs, because it just falls into the garden in a spot that’s hard to get at.

The mail mail is usually junk too. Mainly it’s just bills, or threat threat letters from Senna Link. Sometimes I just look at the envelope and dump it on my desk for later, it’s all so ho hum.

But what can top the excitement of receiving an unexpected letter or parcel in the mail?

For years, one of my cousins and I were pen pals. She’s a few years older than me, but we’ve always been firm friends, and she still sends me letters – always hand written – occasionally.

More than 50 years ago I was spending some school holidays at my grandmother’s house in Wonthaggi. I can’t remember why I was the only kid there at that time, but as much as I loved my grandmother, sitting around with older people can be a tad boring. One of Z’s letters arrived from Melbourne and I read it so many times that to this day I can still remember it was full of her latest riddles:

Q. What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants coming over the hill?
A. Here come the elephants.

Q. What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants coming over the hill wearing sunglasses?
A. Nothing – he didn’t recognize them.

Q. What’s small and black and tears around a bowl of custard at 60 miles an hour?
A. A prune with an outboard motor.

Q. Why do elephants wear ripple-soled desert boots?
A. To give the ants a 50 / 50 chance.

Ripple-soled desert boots were pretty cool, and so was Z. She desperately wanted to be a beatnik when she was old enough to do her own thing. In the meantime, she just drove her family crazy banging away on a set of bongo drums.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

life in the fast lane at frankston

photo shamelessly lifted from The Age

Four cheers for Hazel Gillbee 84, Clarice Artis 97, Trudy Bullivant 90, and Nancye Ayres 89 who set a world record for their 4 x 50 metre relay swim in the “360” group – 360 being their combined age.

Not a bad achievement considering they train at Frankston’s Jubilee Park Aquatic Centre. If the Melbourne City Baths rate a 10, the Frankston pool rates a 2 for sheer crappiness, and a minus 3 for appalling service.

I did see the lovely Clarice doing laps on one of my three visits, and that was at 6-30 am on a Sunday morning.

When Aunty moved to Franger recently, I showed her where the pool is. I told her why I went three times and then gave up on the place when I first moved to Franger in 2004.
Aunty has a more positive and forgiving personality than I do, and she gave up on the pool after one shot.

A decent aquatic centre has been on the Council agenda since Adam was a pup, but state and federal funding policies always come to nothing.

These ladies truly are champion stayers.



If she’d hung around, my grandmother would have been 110 last week.

Her mother died a few days after she was born in 1902, and so she was sent to live with relos; a childless couple who were rather well-to-do. She was taught embroidery and crochet, how to cook, and how to play the piano, as “ladies” were in them days.

For a while – before I was born – she led singalongs at her local pub. At family gatherings – after I was born, she liked to warm things up as the night wore on, and I remember being sent to bed when she played the first few bars of “Oh dear, what can the matter be…”

When I went to visit her not long before she died she was sitting in a chair with a rug over her knees, and her hands were moving back and forth across her lap. “What are you playing?” I asked. She replied “You push the trolley, and I’ll make the wheels go ‘round…”

...brown paper packages tied up with string...

Not all ladies are ‘bags’, and I’m sure even fewer old bags are ‘ladies’… but what do you call a bag lady with a house? The answer, of course, is a hoarder.


Maybe it’s a baby boomer thing. Our parents’ generation lived through some tough depression years, and then had to cope with wartime rationing and shortages.

Growing up as baby boomers we witnessed a huge shift as things went from “usually-fixable” to “cheaper to replace” to ‘not worth fixing’ to ‘obsolete before it’s unpacked’.

But we were around at the beginning of this big tsunami of change, and so managed to absorb some lessons from our parents while the world was still ‘simple’. Lessons about not wasting stuff, and making-do.

There were things no one would dream of throwing out – in fact, recycling was a way of life long before it became an idea.

  • Bits of string were necessary for tying parcels, and especially handy if a shoelace broke a second time and could not be repaired with a knot.
  • Carbon paper was handy for making copies of [handwritten] notes and letters, or tracing.
  • Brown paper had a lot of uses: covering school books, lining cake tins, wrapping parcels, wrapping lunches if there were no paper bags, lining drawers and shelves – and for tracing if there was no carbon paper available.
  • Fruit boxes, if a box was not needed, were handy for bits of wood. When you took a nail out of a piece of wood, you pounded it with a hammer to straighten it so it could be re-used. Wood was handy for building things, or for kindling.
  • Jars were re-used for making jam, buying honey, or storing odd screws in the shed.
  • Kitchen scraps were used to feed the chooks.
  • Old newspapers were used to clean windows, make dress patterns, cut out letters and glue* them onto brown paper to make ransom notes, or collected and sold to the fish and chip shop or the green grocer for pocket money.
  • Potato sacks had any number of uses including a back door mat.
  • When our socks wore out we darned them, when our shoes wore out we bought a repair kit and fixed them ourselves, and even if a shirt wore out we saved the buttons, then turned the fabric into a duster or a pot-holder. When our sheets or the collars of our shirts wore out, we ‘turned’ them.


The stuff we keep because it might be useful one day is different from what it used to be. When the battery in my first mobile phone was beyond useless, someone opened a drawer and pulled out a newer old model I could use.
Last year, I discovered that the only way I could get a cheaper phone plan was to buy a new phone. Insane. I still only use it for calls and text messages.

We – by which I mean TO and I – also keep some stuff because, well, because it’s a proof thing. “This is how we lived”. “This is what we used”.

I often accuse TO of being a hoarder but, to be fair, the only real difference is that the stuff she keeps is bigger than the stuff I keep. I have an envelope full of carbon paper. She has two packets of transparent overhead projector sheets she’ll never use. I have a skinny old school atlas in which all the parts of the British Empire are coloured red. She has a great big fat huge Macquarie dictionary, and a thesaurus. I have a tub full of vinyl LPs I’ve yet to convert to CDs, while she has an analogue iPod.



[Not TO's]

TO’s father was a very resourceful man. When he kept the stuff TO keeps now, it wasn’t hoarding, it was practical. I never met the man, but sometimes I know that he lives on in his daughter, who believes a penny saved is a penny earned.
It doesn’t matter how worn something is, “it will still be alright for ages yet”.

She likes that activity some call fishing but which I call barbaric.
There she was, one day, on the pier at Sorrento. She dropped her bucket over the side to fill it with water, and the rope finally broke. The bucket sank.

There we were, one year, exploring Innamincka and Bourke and Wills territory. “I’ve always wanted to throw a line in, in Cooper’s Creek.” She stood on the bank, flipped her arm back and forth to cast the line, and a very tired piece of fishing line finally snapped. She lost the lot – hook line and sinker.

There we were, one fine sunny day, a few kilometres out from Frankston in her little fishing boat. It was a lovely calm day. She tossed the anchor over the side.

I told her the rope was rotten.

How can I call her a hoarder when she is such a tosser?

*a paste of flour and water

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Here’s a set of hypothetical questions based on a real live person’s real situation [not me!]
Your gut reactions would be interesting, and maybe even useful.



Imagine you are the hire and fire person for a company – a large company – that has a very large administration section. You’ve advertised for someone to work in your payroll section with four other people. Not to be in charge of the payroll, just to process parts of it.

You receive an application from a woman who is a qualified chef but now wants a desk job. She has completed ¾ of a bookkeeping diploma at a TAFE, and as well as the usual accounting theory and so on, has successfully studied the practicalities and ins and outs of payroll including income tax, employee deductions, state payroll tax, and the way companies make payroll deposits to different banks.
She is still working part-time as a chef while studying, and has recently spent 9 months in a temporary, full-time job in a data processing centre – as well as cheffing and studying.

Promising so far? If the application looks neat and well typed with no mistakes and if she actually had the qualifications necessary to do the job, would you put her application in the “might get an interview” pile?

wotcha reckon?



You make an interview appointment with the applicant. Two people arrive at the appointed time, and you discover that the applicant is a deaf person, accompanied by an interpreter. The applicant is clean and well presented, and seems to have a pleasant smile.

What are the first thoughts and/or questions going through your mind?
These might be personal thoughts, or job related.

That’s all for now. Any honest feedback would be appreciated.

wtmi #2

I’ve tried to create an impressive on-line persona, but recently let myself down: Having made a perfectly trivial comment in my previous post about farting in a library – ‘twasn’t me – it seems I have finally stumbled upon a topic which has generated some interest. Not one to let an opportunity go to waste, I now present an entire post of great scatological import, and dedicate it to Dina. If the topic sounds unpleasant to you, perhaps you should come back another day.

Dina believes that farts are not chocolaty. It seems her olfactory sense is more sensitive or more frequently utilised than mine. I can argue neither for nor against her conviction on this score.

Dina has provided examples of American euphemisms for the word/ action fart/ farting. One such is “I have garbage in my tuchus’. Without intending to insult anyone's culture – I suggest 'tuchus' is Yiddish rather than American.

However if, for the purposes of this topic, we might borrow from other/ imported cultures, then an Australian euphemism using rhyming slang is 'horse and cart'.
Any rhyming slang visitors can call on in conversation with a 2nd or more generation anglo/ aussie will earn them brownie points.

However, short anglo/saxon words beginning with f have force, do they not? Any written expression good enough for Geoffrey Chaucer must surely be rated as ‘great literature’, and thereby socially acceptable in common use. [My use of the expression ‘common’ here is intentional.]

Another Australian expression I have heard which sounds more nicerer than 'fart' is botty-burp. Polite people will, if caught short, apologise for contributing to the hole in the ozone layer and then add something comforting and reassuring like ‘oh well, better an empty house than a bad tenant.”

The question was raised about whether there is a difference between boy-farts and farts-general. While I believe there is, Dina doubts this is so.

The 'pull-my-finger-thing' is something boys do and, no matter how often, they seem to think it is always funny and a joke that never loses its impact through repetition. It’s almost as if they believe practice can improve performance.

I was surprised to learn Dina thinks of the ‘pull-my-finger-routine’ as a 'custom'. I do hate to blow my own trumpet [if you’ll pardon such an expression in this context] but sometimes I am quick to learn: I fell for the finger-thing once and once only. About 12 months later I celebrated my fourth birthday. However, if Americans wish to think of it as a custom worth regular celebration I shall be politically correct and accept it – grateful that I live some miles away.

The Americanism ‘floating a biscuit’ must have had some obscure beginning, but I cannot for the life of me imagine what it might be. A similarly strange Americanism is ‘cutting the cheese’.
The only reference to cheese I’ve heard used in a gastro-intestinal context - this side of the equator - is that it is often carried by hikers who appreciate its binding properties, a source of the expression ‘bunghole’.

Just as children are individuals born with unique personalities, it is possible that entire families have shared personalities – a family-specific philosophy of farting, if you will.

My personal philosophy is that there is a time and place for everything. Farting may well be a perfectly natural bodily function but, like defecation and copulation, some natural bodily functions are best kept private.
Accidents happen, but I do not appreciate people with foul bowels relaxing their sphincters anywhere in my kitchen, or at my dinner table.

Some people feel differently. A very dear, long term friend is quite happy to fart anywhere and everywhere. She tells me that when she was growing up there was a firm family rule that no one should fart where three or more people were gathered. Not fair. Where there was only one other person present, farting was allowed. This rule ensured that the guilty party could always be identified.
Watching TV one day with her brother she was complying enthusiastically with this rule when, as he got up to leave the room, her brother suggested she would rather shit herself than get up and go to the toilet. I do believe he might have been right.

Remember how American TV introduced Australians to such eloquent affirmations of truth as “Is the Pope a Catholic?” or “Does a bear shit in the woods?” Surely these cannot top the Australian expression “Does a fart have lumps?”

Oh, I could go on. On the other hand, I’m not sure I can. Right now, I can hear my dear departed grandmother saying, over and over, ‘Where e’re ye be, let your wind blow free, for that were the death of me.’ I need to leave now and distract myself with something worthwhile.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Board games can be fun. One game friends and I played constantly when it first came out was Trivial Pursuit. Every player had a strength or two, and a weakness. When it comes to quiz questions, my Achilles Heel has always been sport.

This is what I know about sport:

  • Don Bradman played cricket.
  • Not even Msgr Willis’s sermons were as boring as cricket.
  • Nothing on earth is as boring as cricket.
  • Jack Clarke [Ron’s brother] wore the number 1 guernsey for Essendon, and John Coleman – whose statue is in the main drag of Hastings – wore the number 10, and Michael Long, number 13, won the Norm Smith medal.
  • What else… oh, there are two AFL teams whose names begin with F; Fremantle and Collingwood.

Playing Trivial Pursuit, I was always the first or second person to get 5 pieces of pie. But I never, ever got that 6th piece of pie for a sports question, or won a game for about 8 months until the unreal happened:
Til the sports question I was asked was “What is the length of a tennis court?”

My first response to any sports question is HOEWIK*?

But I did it. Somehow, I pondered and chanced upon as good a guess as any, and got the right answer.


After I finally had a win I went straight into shock and forgot the answer, and to this day I have no idea how long a tennis court is.

Have you ever had an UN – REAL moment?

*How on earth would I know?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

call me anything, just don’t call me late for dinner

I hate to admit I’ve been trawling the IPA* website, but sometimes it’s better to hear something straight from the horse’s as mouth**.

Mr Rabbit has been in trouble for saying the LNP would repeal S 18C of the Racial Vilification Act.

Stupidly, he made a reference to Andrew Bolt’s infamous ‘professional Aborigines’ article. In said article Bolt took sarcasm to an all time low, and mentioned some high profile light-skinned Aboriginal activists by name. With particular reference to Larissa Behrendt he not only made an error of taste but also of fact.

In Am I Black Enough For You, Anita Heiss explained her decision to join the action taken by Bolt’s targets. What offended her was not so much the content of the article itself, but the hateful filth left unmoderated on the Hun’s blog-space.
That the Hun provided a space for people to spew race hate was what really made her angry.

Mr Rabbit did not praise the article but nonetheless took up Bolt’s cry about freedom of speech.
In his address to the IPA, Mr Rabbit was primarily concerned with the question of political control of newspapers, and the idea of a government holding the media to a government standard of what constitutes truth. In a ‘fairer’ context, here is some of what Mr Rabbit had to say:

The Coalition rejects the Finkelstein proposals and calls on the government to do likewise.

It is not the role of government to manage the day-to-day practices of journalism; to dictate who can and who can’t control Australian media outlets; or to “score” media coverage against unavoidably subjective standards of fairness. The job of government is to foster free speech, not stifle it. It’s to increase the number and the range of people who can participate in public debate, not reduce it.

Additional regulation is one current threat to free speech in Australia. Another is the operation of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which prohibits statements that “offend”.

The not-yet-under-Goebbels’ government-control media took his comment about section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and ran with it.

In support of freedom of speech, Mr Rabbit included the mandatory ‘defend to the death’ quote from Voltaire, but also made some other valid points.

Freedom of speech is not just an academic nicety but the essential pre-condition for any kind of progress. … To the extent that alternatives can’t be discussed, people are tethered to the status quo, regardless of its effectiveness…

Why am I supporting this would-be leader whose ideas I generally find loathsome? Because on this issue he is right.

Free speech can be restrained at the margins but only in order to secure other important rights.

Let’s be clear: insulting, humiliating or intimidating others on any grounds, racial or otherwise, is deplorable. It should be everyone’s goal to elevate the standards of public debate, not lower them [Mr Rabbit’s irony probably unintended] and to demonstrate respect rather than disdain for the various components of our community.

Why repeal S 18C?

… a “hurt feelings” test is impossible to comply with while maintaining the fearless pursuit of truth …

The Coalition will repeal section 18C in its current form [emphasis mine].

Surely we need some kind of legislative prohibition of hateful vilification. What could we do to provide such a prohibition if S18C is repealed?

Any prohibitions on inciting hatred against or intimidation of particular racial groups should be akin to the ancient common law offences of incitement and causing fear.


There are two related issues I would like to go on about here.

Firstly, as I have said before [and will continue to say til I get the wording more eloquenterer] there is no way to legislate common sense. The more governments try to pin down what pisses us off, the more problems they create.

Common law is based on the concept of what a ‘reasonable person’ would think. Decisions in common law do not rely on and are not restricted to statutory waffle whether something is just or not.

The concept of ‘offence’ is totally subjective.

We would not have to rely on necessarily inadequate statutes if ‘we the people’ had reasonable access to common law. Access to the right of redress at common law is what governments should be aiming for, not the type of ‘micro-management’ Rudd has been allegedly guilty of.


Secondly, with respect to Bolt’s article and questions of racial identity, we should remember that Larissa Behrendt has been accused of tweeting a particularly personal and vicious remark about Ms Bessie Price.***

Australia’s indigenous people are many peoples and are also entitled to be seen as individuals. Ms Price is not legally or morally bound, just because she is black, to toe some imaginary indigenous party line. Even if this were true, who in God’s name is Larissa Behrendt to decide what that party line should be?

Ms Price has been vilified for speaking in favour of the Northern Territory intervention. As our indigenous people are many peoples and as they live in many disparate communities, it is appropriate for decisions about the intervention to be made at community level.

Ms Price has been endorsed by the LNP coalition as a candidate in the next Northern Territory elections. If she were standing in my electorate I would vote for her in a heartbeat.

She and her [white] husband campaign tirelessly for white understanding of black issues, and against violence in Aboriginal communities. She works to achieve an important goal that is too often forgotten – the adaptation of traditional indigenous culture to a new reality without total destruction of that culture.

Ms Price is a gutsy, committed, honest and compassionate woman of vision. She would have every right to take offence at the way she is disparaged by Aboriginal thought police - but only if it is racially motivated?

Statutes cannot always and everywhere force people to act decently without stifling important debate.

What Mr Rabbit is proposing is not to silence the Larissa’s of this world.
He is proposing that I should be able to write a post like this without someone taking offence too far.
What he is proposing - effectively if not consciously - is that someone at the Hun should take responsibility for moderating Bolt’s provocative blogs, and be careful not to leave ‘inciteful’ remarks unchallenged.

Stop Press – it seems someone is out to get Bessie Price under S18C of the Racial Vilification Act. Let the games begin.

*The Institute of Public Affairs, Australia
** My almost Freudian slip would not have been personal is it appeared in Hansard, but why should I lower my standards?
*** Was the tweet as personal as it appears to be in the photo above?