Friday, November 23, 2012

look no further

That's right readers, it's that time of the year again. 
Once again, FruitCake is bringing you the best guide to the best presents to give or receive this Christmas.

The first thing everyone needs at Christmas is protection from all those inane songs about sleighbells and snow. Do your weekly shop in comfort with these specially designed ear plugs. When Christmas is over, simply turn them upside down and use them as white pawns. A gift that keeps on giving all year round!

Are you one of those people who simply can't tell a joke without spoiling the punchline? Never mind, there will be gags aplenty at your Christmas do this year!! Simply make yourself some of these special denture ice cubes, and slip them into any guest's drink when they are not looking!!! 

Why is this cute little fella called I RUB MY DUCKIE? If you know, don't make the mistake of sharing!!!

The perfect gift for the family's favourite fantasy freak: Canned Unicorn Meat!!!!
[Parsley not included].

Forget Disney-themed Bandaids... these special bandaids are perfect for spots, cuts and rashers!!!!!

At least one gift every year has to be some boring, practical article of clothing, right? Well, you can give two gifts for the price of one with this Jedi Dressing Gown!!!!!! 

For the man who is constantly fishing in his pocket... his very own, special rod!!!!!!!

You won't know who's the turkey this Christmas until people start swapping their Kringles. Yep, it's a special beer can chook cooker. How environmentally friendly is that?!!!!!!!!!!

Remember that resolution you made back in January? Now's your big chance to give those annoying oldies the flick!!!!!!!!!!!

We've never met a woman yet that wouldn't prefer a handy housework tool to any other gift. These special dry mop as you slop slippers come in the only colour combination any Aussie needs - Green and Gold. Bound to be a winner!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The perfect team-building idea for the work place. Let your work mates know you know them well, and appreciate them for who they really are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Of course, if you have a work mate who is not a twat but still something else, why not personalise your message with this special mug and letter set? Comes with 150 plastic letters that will stay where you put them until they are moved.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[Not dishwasher friendly. Recommended for use by persons over 50 only, who know how to wash up by hand.]

There's not an opposition whip in the country who wouldn't love one of these beauties. Forget ringing the bells to announce an important vote, this bullshit button will make it more than clear party members had better get their skates on in time to vote veto!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last but by no means least, here's a gift you'll need to order wholesale cos everyone who sees one will want one. Just touch the guitar T shirt and you'll strike a chord. 
Doesn't matter how shy you are, just wear one of these and everyone at the party will want to pluck you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ho Ho Ho... Condiments of the Seasoning!


How did I forget? If you've checked out my favourite blogs on the sidebar, you already know that Red Nomad Oz of Amazing Australian Adventures  is famous for her quirky and colourful views of Australia.

Due to popular demand, she has made a calendar from her highly acclaimed Classic Aussie Loos series. You, the customer, can even choose which month of the year the calendar will start - an iconoclastic approach to presenting pictures of Aussie Icons!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

sinking feelings, all round

Don watched as the airline steward carefully rocked and rolled with the plane, trying not to let the turbulence disturb her balance.
A cost accountant, Don guesstimated how much the airline saved dishing out coffee during a bumpy ride. His cup was about 80% full. Multiply that by 300 passengers at say, 20 cents a cup that’s a saving of 60 dollars. Not bad.

“And the catering carts are sensible,” he thought. “Just wide enough for the aisles so that if there is turbulence it can’t move around too much and do a lot of damage. That would lower their insurance costs. Not to mention when the carts are out it’s harder for people to get to the loos, which would save a lot on toilet paper and hand towels.”

On the other side of the aisle Don’s mate Fred was thinking about what he had learnt at the convention. His mind was a blank.

Charlie, the third member of their accounting firm, was seated behind Fred. Charlie was not a good flyer. In his mind’s eye a graph appeared; the solid line mapped the up and down movements of the plane due to turbulence, and the dotted line mapped the up and down movements of the lunch he had finished half an hour before. As the plane lurched up his lunch lurched down, and vice versa. He was wondering what units he would use to label the y axis when a bolt of lightning hit the right wing.

The lights inside the plane flickered on and off for a minute, then everything went black completely. In the dark, no one could see Charlie’s knuckles go white as he gripped the armrest of his seat.

There was a small scream from a seat further up as the steward poured scalding hot coffee onto the lap of a passenger. Don made a mental note to write to the airline suggesting they revise their quality assurance safety procedure for making sure the coffee was not too hot. People were too quick to sue these days. It’s a wonder anyone went into business at all, return for risk being so hard to control.

Charlie’s graph disappeared and was suddenly replaced by a mental picture of the plane bursting into flame, exploding and breaking apart. Passengers and bits of metal flew out in all directions. For a brief moment, Charlie wished he was an economist – someone who, it was widely agreed, lacked the imagination to be an accountant. Surely his imagination was disturbing him unnecessarily.

His lunch suddenly came all the way up as there was a huge BANG.
The plane tilted forward and began nosing its way down toward the ocean below. At an exponential rate.

Don noted the oxygen masks hadn’t dropped from the ceiling. Definitely a breach of contract. When he leant forward to pull his life jacket out from under the seat his head hit the tray, knocking him out. He slumped forward, unconscious, in his seat.

The wheel-lock on the catering cart gave way, the cart pushing over the steward, tipping, and breaking the steward’s nose as it fell.

A greenie in the back row of the plane became anxious. He had thought long and hard before even getting on the plane, worrying if he could justify leaving such a huge carbon footprint in its wake. “Shit”, he berated himself, “now we’ll probably kill a dolphin when we hit the water as well.”

It seemed like an eternity before the plane hit the water. Four passengers, including Don’s wife, had died of heart attacks on the way down.

Into the ocean plunged the plane, down and down into the murky depths until the little air inside the cabin finally caused it to slow. Charlie’s arms dog paddled instinctively, trying to right himself and head back up to the surface. The last thing he heard before he passed out himself was Fred telling his wife he wanted a divorce…


Fred was surprised to discover, when he reached the Pearly Gates, that his clothes were dry. He felt calm. He pushed the buzzer on the main gate, not having to wait too long before a shaft of bright, white light moved closer.
An old man wearing nothing but a nightie, sandals and a long white beared appeared out of the light.

“Next”, the old man intoned in a bored voice.

“Fred,” said Fred. “Fred Smith.”

The old man checked a giant ledger sitting on a disk near the gate. Fred watched, surprised to note he could read the old guy’s mind. The old guy was peeved.

“Why,” the old man wondered, “did everyone assume his name was Peter?”

He wondered on. Why did Peter always get the credit for manning the gate? Hadn’t anybody heard of a Roster? He wondered why the on-call for night duty part of the roster always had his name – Rocky – on it. He wondered what grave sin he had committed a few thousand years ago that saw him stuck for eternity on night shift. It was a long time since he’d had a decent sleep, that was for sure.

“Smith!” the old man continued mumbling to himself. “Everyone who arrives at night is a bloody Smith.” He wondered, too, why an omnipotent God still insisted he use a ledger. A computer would surely be easier. And if they must use a ledger, why weren’t the pages made of paper, instead of great bloody slabs of rock?

He checked Smith’s name and address from the ID offered, then looked up at Fred and the woman standing next to him. “Is this your wife?”

“Yes,” said Fred.

“You were an accountant? On your way home from a convention?”

“Yep”, said Fred.

“Nope,” said the old guy. “You’re for the other place. Says here you were an accountant who used some very creative accounting methods to rip off your clients. You falsified details on your own tax returns. In fact, you loved money so much you married a woman named Penny.
Follow that sign to the holding pen, and someone will be along to get you shortly.”

The next to step forward was Don. Don Jones.
Accountant on his way home from a convention. Liked a drinkie or too. Beer, wine, spirits – anything alcoholic. Did a sloppy job for your clients cos you were constantly pissed.
“In fact, you were such a drunk you married a woman named Sherry.”
The Old guy pointed to the holding area, and said “Wait over there.”

“Name?” the old guy asked, not even bothering to look up.

“No need to look,” Charlie said to Rocky before turning to his wife. “Let’s go, Fannie.”  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

crimes against property

Some decades ago some developer bought up a passel of single fronted cottages in Camberwell. The plan was to tear them down and provide a carpark for a new supermarket or retail complex or some such.

There was one little old lady who said “hell no, I won’t go”. No amount of money was enough, because she was not interested in money. She had lived in the house all of her life and, although many of her friends had passed on and she had lost her “community” she insisted she was too old to move and restart her life somewhere else.
For years there it stood, her tiny little weatherboard house smack bang in the middle of a huge carpark, defiantly “giving the finger” to developers. I wish I knew her name, or could find a photo.

This carpark is the home of Rotary’s famous Camberwell Sunday market. Camberwell is a nice suburb, and the market attracts a huge number of potential buyers who are actually prepared to buy something if they like it.

Setting up a stall at a good market is a great way to promote a new product, like a gourmet chutney, or artworks, or photographic services. It’s a chance to market stuff to a very specific demographic.

I haven’t been to that market for a very long time, but back in the day there were some stall holders who had piles of what looked like crap but which appealed to people for various reasons. In a long established suburb like Camberwell, some of the crap had nostalgia value - set designers would come looking for anything from kitchen appliances that no longer worked, to old tools from a particular era.

It was also a market which helped me survive for months, one year, when I was struggling to find a decent job. Living only a few minutes’ walk away, it was easy for me to queue up before cock-crow and grab an “unbooked” stall.

For months, my flat was knee deep in crap. It would have made a great setting for a doco about hoarders only the crap I had was not crap; it was my stock in trade. Acquiring stock was easy: there were always stall holders having a once only clean up around the home. They carted their stuff to the market and there was no way they were going to take home anything that hadn’t sold. They never offered me money to help them dispose of the rubbish, but they were usually happy to give me their left-overs for nothing.

Jim Cairns was there every Sunday, trying to flog his books. I suspect he was quite lonely, and really looking for someone to talk to about any of the burning issues addressed in his books.


One day I made the fatal mistake of setting up a stall at a northern suburbs market, held on the grounds of an old drive-in picture theatre.

A man who had booked three stall spaces opposite me pulled up at about 7.30 am driving a large station wagon, and towing a trailer big enough to carry a car.
I had not seen such a huge pile of non-biodegradable rubbish in my life, nor have I seen one since.

He removed the tarps holding his ‘stock’ down in the trailer, put the tarps on the ground, and proceeded to unload the ‘stock’ and spread it out on the tarps. By about 10 he had unloaded the trailer and the station wagon, then sat down on a folding beach chair, and poured himself a cup of coffee from a huge thermos. He then opened his ‘lunch box’ and pulled out some sandwiches. At about 11 am he started loading all the crap back into the car and the trailer.

All of that effort netted him about $40. I won’t say “only” $40 because his takings were about 4 times the size of mine. There’s a different type of customer in the northern suburbs.
He wasn’t in it for the money, he explained. He collected the crap to annoy his wife. She would shoo him out of the house on Sundays, telling him to get rid of it. This was his way of getting permission to spend a day by himself.
He was a born people watcher, and grinned from ear to ear from the time he arrived until the time he left.

Amongst the detritus spread out on the tarps, some woman had found a piece of brass chain – the sort used to attach plugs to sinks in Victorian bathrooms.
She picked up the chain, examined it, fondled it, held it for a while, then put it back down. After three laps of the market, she seemed committed.
“How much?” she asked.
“20 cents” said the trailer man.
“I’ll give you ten” she said, reaching into her purse for a coin.
“No, 20 cents,” he said.
“It’s only worth ten cents” she countered.
“Oh no,” he corrected her, “that is actually worth 40 cents. Even 20 cents is too cheap.”
She put the chain back down, stared at it for a while, then tore herself away. Two more laps of the drive-in market, and she picked it up again.
“10 cents.”
“30”, trailer man said.

Her eyebrows shot up. “You said 20 before!” She sounded aggrieved.
“It was an investment. I held on to it for a while, and it is now worth more than it was before.”

Trailer man had a ball that day. Chain woman never did buy the piece of chain, but I bet she was kicking herself later. She really was convinced she should be able to put one over on him. No doubt her self-confidence was shattered, that day.

I discovered, that day, that having a stall at that particular market was pointless. But I really enjoyed myself, and the company of trailer man.
“No point to bring anything good here,” he explained. “Here, they just want shit. And still they won’t buy unless they think you are stupid”.


In the Franger area and, in other less sophisticated suburbs than Camberwell, regular traders do the rounds of garage sales on Saturday mornings, bitching and moaning and haggling over ten cents for stuff they can sell at a profit at a Sunday market.

There are some that move in packs – while there are only one or two householders setting up or selling, a swarm of 5 or six will arrive an hour early, and lift as much as they can for nothing.

I’m all for people being careful with their money, but if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s a scab. Another one thing I can’t stand is a tea-leaf.

So we’ve learned to just put crap out for the first hour or two of a garage sale. If somebody knocks it off, good riddance. By about 9 am the people coming by are having fun rummaging, and willing to pay a bargain price for something half way decent if they want it. That’s when we bring out the better ‘stuff’.

if it doesn't move, tag it

Another way people acquire stock is to follow hard rubbish collections from one suburb to another. Some people smash open old TVs or PCs because there are small parts from which they can salvage bits of copper or who knows what. There is one couple who come well equipped - while the chappy whips out his electric screwdriver and dismantles appliances, his chappette loads their ute or van with panels and parts, presumably for sale to scrap metal merchants.

These teams tend to specialise – knick knacks, flower pots, retro clothing. I think it’s good that this stuff can be recycled, and find it silly that it’s against the law to remove stuff from a hard rubbish collection. It’s the careless way some of them spread trash and rubbish all over the place that’s objectionable, and it’s this trashing of a street that ought to be illegal, not the recycling end of business.

All we had to dispose of this year was a dead microwave, which disappeared after about two hours.

What astonishes me is the amount of furniture people dispose of. Patty O’Furniture, for example, that’s no longer the latest fashion. Beds and dining suites. Lounge suites bought at a good price not so long ago, upholstery still as new, and with no wear or tear because it was once in the home of an older, possibly lonely relative.

In between collections, some people use “the corner”. A broken office chair, for example, can be plonked at “the corner” and within two days someone will have taken it. There is a rental property on “the corner” which is an eyesore, so the abandoned rubbish doesn’t look out of place.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

the soap with silk

jesu joy of man’s desiring

Academy of St. Martin In the Fields, King's College Choir, Cambridge & Sir David Willcocks

What a bunch of greedy gutses we are.

Series 3 of Downton Abbey arrived and it takes a lot of discipline to limit ourselves to one episode per night.

Apart from the piddly number of episodes per season produced in a British series, the only other frustration is that no matter how well I know every note of a “tune” in a soundtrack, I’m hopeless at remembering the names of them.

The one above was a rare victory that only took an hour or so scouring YouTube.


The good news is that each episode warrants a second viewing – to sort out the plot points missed; to re-live the best lines from Maggie Smith.

Next viewing is just for ogling the clothes.

Or the models.

What a lark it would be, being paid to act and to dress up in absolutely fabulous clothes.

I’m not a Dowager Countess I’m a Dowdy Countess, but if I lived in a world where this sort of dress was expected I would be in heaven. I would lose weight, grow six inches and dye my hair black just so they wouldn’t look stupid on me.

Unless stuck downstairs with only one or two frumpy dresses to my name, of course.
Slaving my guts out while the male servants stand around and preen in their suits and gloves.

An old Marty Feldman sketch [which goes something like this] pretty well sums up the class distinctions:

Duchess: Please Robert, not before the servants!
Duke: [stops smooching up to his wife]
             Sorry Carstairs... after you.

Upper class or lower class, the one chap we can count on to hold it all together is the butler:

Monday, November 19, 2012

with friends like this, who needs enemas?

even more potty mouthed sms conversations between a dog and his "master"

[dog text is grey, master text is green]

part 3 [more in previous two posts if you have missed them]

still man's best friend [just]

more potty mouthed sms conversations between a dog and his "master"

[dog text is grey, master text is green]

more of these in previous post and in next one

man's best friend

potty mouthed sms conversations between a dog and his "master"

[dog text is grey, master text is green]

more in next post

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

interests include fighting homosexuality

From onkneesforjesus - A blog dedicated to showing how Christians are making the world a better place

My life is all about getting on my knees and faithfully servicing Jesus until He comes.

If evolution is true, why are there still monkeys today?

what price freedom?

RubyeJack opened a can of worms when she wondered why USians voted the way they did in the Presidential election.

In my last post I made some sweeping generalisations about the motivations of more extreme Republican voters.

It’s hard not to dismiss some Republican voters as nutters because, let’s face it, some Republicans do seem more than a tad “out there”.

Although the nutters might be Conspicuous, the bulk of the Republican party’s supporters – a silent majority if you’ll pardon the expression– are good, intelligent and sensible people. 

As much as Michelle Bachmann seems a bit – well, funny – she is no joke. Enough people have voted for her to make a member of Congress.

As she tells it, Michelle just struggles to get the words right when she opens her mouth. 
To be fair, I can be incoherent and waffly enough while tapping away at a keyboard, so I can’t pick on her for failing to find the words she is looking for when she has to speak without having time to think.
It's what Bachmann has to say when she finally gets her point across clearly is harder to understand or excuse.

She has a Palinesque grasp of history and economics, and has some unlikeable values. Perhaps the words “pray the gay away” are all you need hear to get the general idea.

Not all Republican types are educated, aspiring politicians.


Not all Republicans show a lack of compassion, or insight into other people’s day to day struggles.

In most democracies, most people want the same thing regardless of how they vote. They want to do well for themselves and their families and do good for others with whatever they have to spare. 
Most of us want the world to be a nicer place. Even people like Michelle Bachmann don’t deliberately wish anyone harm, however harmful their policies might be.

In political terms, the only difference between people on the left or the right is what they believe is the best way to go about making the world a nicer place.

The most significant difference between left and right opinions about how to make the world a nicer place revolves around money.

Who should decide what pies are made, how they’ll be made, and how the pies should be shared around once they have been made – governments, or the people themselves?

private enterprise and a free market economy

The US has a culture that enthusiastically extols the virtues of private enterprise and a free market economy. We could go so far as saying that for many USians a free market economy and social or political freedom are two sides of the same coin – you can’t have one without the other.

People on the right tend to have a stronger preference for a free market economy than people on the left.

Free market theories assume that people are motivated by self-interest. Given the choice between sitting on my backside and having everyone else pay my bills, or standing at an assembly line 60 hours a week, self-interest suggests I’d be stupid not to sit on my backside. On the other hand, given the choice between sitting on my backside starving, or standing at an assembly line 60 hours a week, self-interest suggests I’d be stupid not to get a job.

In the long run, letting other people pay my bills would be unfair to everyone else.

Many of the things we have today we only have because someone else acted in their own self interest. If we live in a city we rely on a shopkeeper to bring food to us, but the shopkeeper does not usually do this out of the goodness of his/her heart.

As one of Rubye’s Republican voters, missrobin,  put it: “…if there is a problem, someone will step up to fix it – if only so they can make money…”


the job of government

As a rule the free market, private enterprise and capitalism often solve important problems more efficiently than any government could. But we must remember: Like democracy, a free market /private enterprise/ self-interest/ price system might be the best system there is, but it is far from perfect.

One of the biggest flaws of a free market system – and there are plenty of flaws – is that it works as efficiently when put to an immoral use as it does when put to a good use.
Without a free market /private enterprise/ self-interest/ price system the supply of illegal drugs would be far less efficient.
Without a free market /private enterprise/ self-interest/ price system the arms industry wouldn’t facilitate mass murder half so effectively.

Not everything we do is okay just because there is a buck in it.

Even in the best democracies, some government intervention is required to

  • limit the operation of a free market when the outcome is harmful
  • compensate for some of the free market system’s inherent flaws

myth: free enterprise saves taxpayers money

Governments can be unbelievably inefficient, but private enterprise is not always more efficient, simply because it is private.

Theoretically, it’s better if private enterprise rather than government delivers essential goods and services. It’s in their owners’ best interests to be more efficient and cost effective. The added bonus is that, with profit as an incentive, private enterprise absorbs all of the risks involved in getting those goods and services moving.

The Global Financial Crisis or GFC occurred because, in an unregulated free market, a heap of free enterprise banks made a heap of questionable home loans. If I understand correctly, these questionable home loans were made precisely because it was in the best interests of individual lenders to make them.

Unfortunately, what resulted from this individual self-interest was not in the country’s best interests. Because the banking sector was on the brink of collapse, the whole US economy was on the brink of collapse. If the government had not provided money to prop up the banking sector, everyone would have suffered far more.

In a perfect free market, the opportunity to make a profit provides an incentive to free enterprise to accept risks – but a free market is rarely perfect without government interference.
The bankers making all those bad loans were gambling and, when they lost, taxpayers were left with their gambling debts.

There are really only two certainties in life; debt and taxes.
The right’s preferred system – an unfettered free market – can hurt taxpayers as much as the left’s preferred system of taking directly from the rich to give to the poor.

For all its flaws, the free market /private enterprise/ self-interest/ price system is the best system, but people who expect it to always deliver the best result are kidding themselves. There is always a need for at least some government intervention.

next: the sum of the parts

Monday, November 12, 2012

the right viewpoint

Following the re-election of Barack Obama, Rubye Jack acknowledged that there are intelligent and caring people who voted for Mitt Romney, but was struggling to understand – amongst other things – why working or middle class people would support him.

TMD [too much detail] is my specialty, but it is not my mission in life to force it on people. Rather than hog the comments space under her post, I thought I might blurt on endlessly about the possibilities here.

 The following sweeping generalisations are not intended to denigrate any USian – as my thousands of readers will know, I am more disgusted with Aussie Politics than words can adequately express.

Because I’m talking about the US, in this post I use the word “liberal” to mean those whose politics are left of centre, or are more inclined to vote Democrat than Republican [the right of centre, conservative party].

One of the first comments under Rubye’s post points out, quite rightly, that many people simply vote as they have always done.
It’s only the small portion who change their vote or level of participation from one election to the next that ultimately decide the outcome of an election. [Don’t know about the States, but here we call them ‘swinging’ voters.]

Let's start with the people less likely to swing:

In previous posts I’ve blurted on about Joe Bageant’s explanation of why rednecks think and vote the way they do.
To oversimplify; in living memory a white class with small farms and Bibles but little education were once reasonably self-sufficient and content. Now they are unemployable and disenfranchised.
Farming technologies and cheap overseas labour have compounded their problems, but when looking for an explanation of what went wrong, the most conspicuous changes they can see/ understand are personal, emotional and smaller – growth of govt, less conservative lifestyles, and changes in the racial/ cultural composition of their communities. This poor white class is still largely uneducated.

Their way of life was destroyed by big [agri]business, and they were later exploited as cheap labour by other big businesses. Now that they are an unemployed underclass, they see this as a problem caused by governments that don’t want to encourage big business thereby creating jobs.
As the late and great Joan Robinson said

...the misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all.

Of course, following the GFC, so-called rednecks and other undereducated people are not the only class who are unemployed. But if this predominantly god-fearing underclass was educated, would their attitudes change? That would depend on the type of education they had. In the US there are two diametrically opposed approaches to education:
Liberals believe education should be about exposure to new ideas and a willingness to question the status quo. Conservative education focuses more on religious or work oriented goals.

For the left, the Bible – especially the New Testament – can be seen as an exhortation to be kind or even altruistic. For those on the right the Bible – especially the Old Testament – might sometimes be simply be a tool for confirming warped views of the world.


Conservatism, by definition, is anti-change. Conservatives like to think about the good old days when divorce rates were low and life was a slice of apple pie.

People need certainty and therefore hesitate to embrace change. The past is not a foreign country, it is a place people understand and therefore a place that offers certainty.

Poorer people might seek a change in their personal circumstances but see the means of achieving this as a universal return to old values. They are more likely to do this if they believe their class has fallen in status and opportunity over time – if the position of their class has shifted from relative privilege to relative disadvantage. For them, the American Dream is being replaced by a nightmare. 

Humans might not miss what they have never had, but they sure as heck will miss something if it is taken away.

Liberals, by definition, seek change. Change can be scary – especially to those who have only experienced negative consequences from change.

Some poorer people might seek a change in their personal circumstances but see the means of achieving this as a universal shift to new values. Unlike classes whose status has fallen over the years, some of the never-have-hads cannot be threatened by change – the possibility of change is the only thing that offers them hope.

Q. When is a minority no longer a minority?
A. When the buggers start breeding and multiplying faster than the once-hads.

John Meynard Keynes observed that workers rarely gave a hoot about their absolute worth, it was their relative worth that drove them. No one wants to see themselves losing ground. We don’t have to win the race, but we don’t want to start off in fourth place and end up tenth.


I suspect many Americans still think of their country as a place of refuge from religious persecution, and various forms of totalitarian rule. It follows that for them religion and less government must be good.

[Christian] Fundamentalism isn’t just about the literal interpretation of scripture. It can’t be, given there are so many conflicting literal interpretations. What religious rigidity and stagnation do offer is another source of certainty which reinforces resistance to change.

While the rest of the west was experimenting with socialism, McCarthyism was exerting a very strong conservative influence on generations of Americans. This was the ‘duck and cover’ era when Communism and death became inextricably linked in a lot of impressionable young minds.

The obvious failure of the USSR has also reinforced the perception that socialism of any degree is evil. It’s irrelevant that the USSR was as socialist as my right boot, or that it was really a totalitarian state built on a transparent lie. The lie has become truth through repetition – there is no need to read Marx or question anything. [Best never forget, though, that Jews started all that and cannot be trusted.]

Nothing unites a community like a mutual threat. WWII, Vietnam, wars in [mainly oil-rich] states and then 911 were galvanising – people could be unemployed whites but still belong to something successful and strong that doesn’t let anyone push them around e.g. America. War, sadly enough, provides a feel good buzz.

The military is big business and big business means jobs. As it’s a big budget item, reduced military spending can shake the economy very badly.

American politics, as one chap whose name I forget put it, is all about the ‘3 Gs” – guns, god and gays. This sums up the right's way of thinking fairly well, I reckon.
It’s the foundation and source of a lot of Republican policies, the specifics of which are a whole ‘nother topic.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

let she who is not dim cast the first stone

If “Twitter for Dummies” couldn’t help me does this mean I’m no dummy?

Kirsten Neel, on the other hand, has got this twitter stuff sorted. An 18 year old from the US state of Georgia, she tweeted the following message after hearing Obama had won the election:

"I'm moving to Australia, because their president is a Christian and actually supports what he says."

If Google News hadn't taken me to newspaper reports of this hasty comment – apparently she meant our previous president – I would have missed all the twit-wit comments. Some of them were pithy, to say the least. For example:

…the type of information you would expect from someone who uses a 2,000 year old religious tome as their primary schooltext

30 years ago the running gag was that it takes a computer to really get the most from human error. What’s the 21st century equivalent of putting your foot in your mouth?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

kuu kuu kardiya

kuu kuu kardiya and the women who live on the ground*
                                                                   [Lee Cataldi]


australian museum october 1982

behind the microphone
pale face and hair
I was almost sure          sitting
in the same row of desks for ten years
one doesn’t forget
the toss of the head

black and gold dress          gold
handbag fat
as a bank account

in the draughty hall
the Warlpiri women wait
their painted breasts
delicate as earth

and into
the mismanaged white festival
miraculous and powerful
fine harmonies          the certain
feathery presences

the artists stop
discuss a point of style          the song
continues          it is
a continuum sometimes
they sing it aloud

the women move lightly          brown
skin black skirts in a ring
like a windbreak
          at dawn blue
smoke from cooking fires          bodies
stirring in blankets a warm
outcrop of earth


the white woman
comes out of the house          she says
          wash the clothes
          finish the job          wipe
          the children’s noses          we are
          taking these children away
          it’s for their own good

the women who live on the ground
disappear into the desert
stepping lightly
out of their regulation mission bloomers
their ragged jumble sale clothing

their voices fade as water
sinks back underground

jukurra jukurra they say
taking their children with them
into the heart of that furnace
where spirits rise whiter than clay


the women are in the school
with the children who
are learning to read
yirdi they say
wirlinyirnalu yanu marluku
we hunted for kangaroo
nganimpa karnalu walyangka nyina
we live on the ground

the white woman
riding her mop like a broomstick
screams about the building
          what a waste of time          they should be
          learning to spell must and ought
          they are filthy          look
          at their noses          look
          at the dust on the floor
          at the dust on the ground

outside the school the children
write warlpiri in the dust          write
kuukuu kardiya in the dust the hot wind
blows into eyes throats noses
into all the clean clothes

the women who live on the ground
watch the white women fade
after a few years
back into their motorcars
after one or two of those seasons in which
the spirits of the secret places
open their giant lungs
and burn the houses to ash

*The Women Who Live on the Ground: poems 1978–1988 (Ringwood, Vic: Penguin, 1990).