Sunday, December 1, 2013

a letter from fkn

The other day received my local state MP's spring 2013 newsletter.

The man's name is Geoff Shaw [member for Fkn]. Originally elected as a Liberal, he is now independent, holds the balance of power, and has spent the past few weeks fence sitting over State Labor's attacks on theSpeaker of the House.

[Can't for the life of me understand why anyone could imagine a specific politician – in this case the current speaker - to have lesser skills or standards than the rest of them. Why are they picking on him? How much lower /ineffective could he possibly be?]

Shaw is seeking leave to submit a private member's bill to change our state abortion law. As a general rule, I sometimes wonder why we must protect unborn children at all costs, but what we do to them after they are born is sod all  - literally, in fact, if they go to the wrong Catholic Parish School or are molested by a magistrate.

In any case, what good is the introduction of any bill to a parliament that has effectively shut down while everyone plays politics with the all important question of who is fit to be Speaker?

But I digress: Back to the [taxpayer funded] newsletter.

Dear Resident,

Despite allegations made against me and the media attention my family and I have endured over many months, I want to assure Frankston residents that I am more than ever determined that our beautiful city continues to receive the best representation in the State Parliament…
and more in that vein.

The Age article [link above] includes a quote showing how well Shaw talks up the desirability of living or investing in Frankston.

He said he still had support in Frankston: ‘‘I can walk in Frankston, one of the toughest areas in Victoria and I only get well-wishes from people’’.

Inside the newsletter is the usual list of Local Member Achievements. While I'm not sure we needed to spend $9 million for new learning centres at Mount Erin College in Frankston South, I am impressed that 9.1 million has been spent to add 2 mental health short stay prevention and recovery centres to the total already elsewhere around the State

It has been obvious for quite a while that a lot has been spent improving the Frankston Hospital [at least there is somewhere to park now while you wait… and wait… and wait… in the ED].

But whose achievements are these? Those of the Liberal Party of which Shaw is no longer a member? Perhaps some were initiated by the previous Labor Government?

Shaw is working hard to secure funding to replace the Karingal Primary School toilet block. Presumably students at Mt Erin College in Frankston South already have decent crappers. If the Karingal Primary School gets $9m for the project, I shall be forced to commend his egalitarian approach.

Shaw's future aims also include more courts at various basketball and netball association centres – but no court appearances at all for his own flagrant abuses of taxpayer funds. If the local cops have had time to work up a whole swag of 24 charges against him, serves him right for increasing the size of the local Force.

Meanwhile, some people want older people to find jobs [ha] and work til they are 70. Others want old people lucky enough to have jobs to leave them so youngsters will have a chance. Some people believe youngsters already have plenty of job opportunities but refuse to because they are a bunch of lazy dole bludgers. If they got off their arses and went to TAFE colleges, we would not need to hire foreign tradies on 457 visas.

The Vic Govt solution to all these employment woes? To ignore the previous Labor government solution of making the TAFE system a useless joke.

If only I had the super superannuation Geoff will have after his stint in Parliament, I would not be one of those babyboomers soon seeking to be a burden on taxpayers.

Friday, November 29, 2013


Starts at 1:36

Amira Willighagen 9 years

Well it started with Kninginnedag, my brother played violin and I also wanted to do something. So I thought I'd better go to sing. I searched on Youtube a song, and then I heard opera songs, which I found very beautiful, that 's when I started singing 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

not my fault

If anything here seems the least bit offensive to you, I am sorry [though I shall not say for what].

Just blame TO, the devil, she made me do it!

letting go

About a week ago, TO and I watched a movie she had recorded to share with me – she knows I love history, and that on St Patrick's day the whole world is green.

Some Mother's Son starred Helen Mirren and Fionnula Flanagan – mothers of two of the IRA members who went on a hunger strike in 1981. Bobby Sands was the prisoner who kick started the strike, and I well remember where I was when I heard he had finally died. [Sort of makes up for my JFK ignorance, I hope].

"The troubles" [i.e. civil rights movement] in Northern Ireland were ignited sometime around 1968, after which there was a resurgence of Make Ireland Irish sentiment. The IRA became busier, and a hell of a lot of bloodshed, murder, and destruction of families ensued. [Okay – orange as well as green: I can be impartial because Australian job ads baldly stating NO IRISH had just about disappeared by the time I left school.]

Unlike the civil rights movement in the USA, there simply wasn't the endlessly replayed footage of "great" moments to quite bring the Irish thing home to Australians. No heart stopping photos of a Vietnamese girl running down a road, her body on fire, nor of a lone man with a shopping bag bravely staring down a tank in Tiananmen Square.

At the time of the hunger strikes in Maze Prison, I was aware that the principal demand of the IRA prisoners was that they be given prisoner of war status; that they should not be branded criminals. Aside from what we arty-farties would call excellent direction, editing and script-writing, the film was interesting because it showed me a whole new angle – a new context – for the hunger strike story.

Spoiler Alert [just in case by some miniscule chance you have not seen this film but might in the future].

The film opened with footage of Margaret Thatcher's arrival at No 10 in 1979:

Quite frankly, despite my professed atheism, I happen to treasure the "Prayer of St Francis" and must now add blasphemy to my list of Thatcher's sins. [And being judgmental, yet again, to mine.]

After this opening, a few characters were introduced and fleshed out after which we went straight to the room where some pompous little pommy git was in charge of bringing the troubles to an end with a policy of "isolate, demoralise and criminalise".

The primary intention was to shut down the border between Northern and Free Ireland so the IRA couldn't keep moving freely backwards and forwards. "War" does not leave innocent people untouched, and wars like this one create martyrs and sow discord where once there might have been harmony.

Not only was it a well made film, it dredged up a whole lot emotion and memories; reminders of many of the incidents happening during the Thatcher years – including things happening to Britons.

A lot of people were happy when Thatcher died. Can't swear to it, but I think I was indifferent. When stuff ends, then that is the time to celebrate, and a lot of it ended when Thatcher left office.


What prompted this rambling journey into Irish history was a link posted by a friend on her facebook page to a world map showing thedistribution of redheads. 

As one does, I just kept following random links and bumped into stories about the British Army's Dirty War in Ireland.


As I have often said, I do believe that when people choose to immigrate to Australia they should leave their old wars behind. Nonetheless, I must concede that once somebody dies under unjust circumstances, they remain dead and the personal truths behind those deaths do not change.

Some years ago, we gave Indigenous Australians an opportunity to tell their stories, and were willing to acknowledge their truth. This is hardly compensation, but still a fairly significant way of recognising peoples' realities. It's also a necessary first step in helping people to let go and to move on.

After the fall of apartheid in South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission served a similar function.

We are now hearing some horrible truths emerge about child abuse cover-ups – primarily by the Catholic Church. The abuse happened, it happened around the world and it happened a long time ago, but what makes it important today is that the Australian Church is yet to be honest and open and stop using double-speak to avoid admitting they phucked up. They are still awfully reluctant to see people as people -as deserving some basic respect if for no other reason than they are people.

It would be nice if the Brits acknowledge a few truths as well.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

howard zinn

Matt Damon, a lifelong friend of Howard Zinn and his family, read excerpts from a speech Howard Zinn gave in 1970 as part of a debate on civil disobedience.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

a b & w short

Have absolutely no clue why or how a few lines of this song popped into my head.

I'm sure I haven't heard it for centuries.

Some of the vidclips people post for songs are dreadful - this one is as "aw shucks" as a kitten.


Thursday, November 21, 2013


Former Magistrate Simon Cooper, who has admitted committing crimes against two young boys in the 1980s, has been given a suspended sentence.

"…In sentencing, Judge Stephen Norrish said Cooper's safety in prison posed <insurmountable difficulties>".

no respect for the law shown or deserved

Totally, totally the opposite of the appropriate sentence. Do "they" think we don't think this pig had/has any idea about the special treatment dished out to prosecutors and magistrates who are jailed?

His abuse of power and the absence of ignorance as any sort of excuse [as if it ought to be an excuse] make him less deserving of special treatment, not more.

It's time somebody reviewed Bench Books and re-wrote the rules about what should be taken into consideration when sentences are handed down.

The mere mention of homosexuality draws great outrage from the self-righteous; paedophiles? a ho-hum so-what, here we go again, stop being so bloody politically correct response.

A young Aboriginal child does time [under WA's 3 strike rule] for stealing biscuits, but this prick gets off lightly? Puhleeze.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

the week that was

In a speech to our Parliament, PM Tony Abbott has explained that Australia collects intelligence because a government has a duty to protect its people. His speech implies that it's okay for us to do it because others do it too.
My mother has now returned to haunt me with her mantra…. "and if everyone else was jumping off a cliff, does that mean you should do it to?"

Julie Stepford has spent some time in Indonesia as mediator in this "little" spat. Ms Stepford reportedly said to SBY "There, there, lovey. I'm sure your failure to locate any intelligence in Canberra was not for want of trying."


The readers' forum in today's Hun [letters to the editor] reflects strong community feeling that tipping in restaurants is unAustralian and should not be made compulsory.

Perhaps I spend too much time napping – doing nothing can be tiring, believe it or not – but sometimes these "issues" appear out of nowhere. Is it a topic that was raised on the teev recently? Did I miss a headline yesterday as I flipped through the paper looking for the crossword?

En tout cas, surely compulsory tipping in eating establishments would be the equivalent of an across the board rise in prices? Surely the projected impact of compulsory tipping should be assessed on that basis?



In State politics, the opposition leader Daniel Andrews has given the Liberal incumbents an even bigger smack in the head than Fkn's rep Shaw did last week: Andrews has released a well thought out traffic action plan.

I say "well thought out" despite my reservations. At least the Labor Party have shown a little of that scarce commodity known as vision. The idea of widening the Tulla Freeway to six lanes, however, seems a little short sighted.
If there is room for widening and if we are prepared to put up with ten years of construction inconvenience, why not just run a bloody train down the centre of the freeway instead and have done with it?

As for paying for this vision by selling our Port for a few billion – it seems a little like a glimpse of the future TO and I face as old farts. What will we do for money when we run out of things to sell?

Meanwhile, despite a vague Federal pre-election promise to significantly expand mental health services, the State Government has announced plans to significantly reduce admin staff levels in the health system. Guess which area of health this will have the greatest impact on? They are nuts to consistently ignore the true cost to the economy of untreated mental illness.


And so to "schoolies" week. Given its timing, it's hard not to compare this silly phenomenon to Halloween. WTF did this "tradition" – which merely replaces ugly costumes with ugly behaviour – come from?

Is this the first generation to experience exam stress?

At the very least we should prevent these entitled yobbos from going to Bali and risking our excellent relationship with the Indonesians.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

i've a confession to make

Finally, we have a promise from Premier Naptime to do something constructive [sarcasm intended]. The 15 recommendations from the parliamentary enquiry into abuse of children in institutions include a recommendation of mandatory reporting.

There is no question that an enquiry focusing on institutional abuse – and cover ups – was necessary. There is no question that the Catholic Church in particular has a bloody lot to answer for. There is no question that in some cities or towns, an obscene number of boys/men have committed suicide over institutional abuse and cover-ups.

The recommendation for mandatory reporting has been made in the context of child sexual abuse in institutions, but it raises an important question about the sanctity or "seal" of the confessional in a whole range of areas where priests hear confessions of criminal activity.

Standard arguments in favour of keeping the seal include the probability that people will not confess at all if they know their confession can be used against them. The corollary of this is that priests will then not have a chance to counsel wrongdoers about the need to right their wrongs.

The notion of 'forgiveness' is a central tenet of Christianity [or at least the less wacko versions]. If we cannot be forgiven and/or cannot forgive ourselves, we have no incentive to try to do better in the future. If our lives are to have any purpose or meaning at all, we sometimes need to start with a clean slate. [For myself this seems an almost daily requirement].

Although I grew up in a predominantly white and Christian Australia, and in particular within an Irish 'Cartlick' community, I now live in a multi-cultural Australia and must concede that if I don't want "others" to put their own religious or cultural beliefs above the law – or at least those of our laws that do have some merit – then I should no longer accept that the seal of the confessional deserves some kind of legal protection.

The Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne has stood by the church's stance on keeping information on abuse gained through the confessional secret, despite a Victorian Parliamentary inquiry recommending withholding information relating to child abuse be criminalised.

No negotiation with the Church required.
It's time to scrap this crap altogether.

We need look no further than the behaviour of parliamentarians two minutes after they mumble their way through the Lord's Prayer for evidence that this is, in practical terms, a secular society.

But in all of this brouhaha about child abuse Christian – and particularly Catholic – religious institutions have to some extent been used as whipping boys [no pun intended]. We must not lose our sense of outrage over the acts of abuse and the compounded abuse of the way institutions have handled the original acts of abuse. But we must not let this enquiry blind us to the everyday reality of too many of our young or vulnerable people.

I am reminded of a line I heard from some comedian whose name eludes me –
"So many men were hassling me all the time, I gave in and got married. Now I find I am not even safe in my own home!"

I am not advocating excessively complex laws about the multiplicity of ways we cheat children. What we really need is a new-found respect for the common law notion of duty of care. To every one, and all the time.

Friday, November 15, 2013


The Central Moama motel had the usual folder full of important info for guests – how to make a phone call, who to ring for a pizza, a form for ordering hot breakfasts – that sort of thing.

In a what's on publication there was actually a listing for an event that was neither a week before we arrived, nor for something happening a month after we planned to leave: Yep, Friday at 4.00 pm the gates would open for the Echuca –Moama show!

To avoid the rush, we waited til about 5:30.

Each clutching a $10 entry ticket, we went through the unpersonned turnstile and set out to see the sights, soak up the atmosphere, and buy some lucky envelopes.

The first promise of fun was an adrenalin rush thingy where you climb inside a giant plastic ball and roll around smashing into whatever. Not recommended for people with hypertension, heart problems, breathing problems, bone fractures, under a certain age or height, and definitely not without a written clearance from a doctor.

Just as well we were not looking for an adrenalin rush, as the chap was still busy blowing up his balls in expectation of the crowds yet to come.

Next attraction was this. It seemed to be free, but we kept walking.

"Sideshow Alley" looked rather sad – two stalls selling showbags ranging in price from $25 to $30.
Three stalls had buckets of fairy floss for sale – possibly from the same wholesaler. Also available the usual greasy deep fried stuff – if the smell was anything to go buy, all cooked in the same oil used at the previous Echuca show.

Further along was a stall selling showbags for $6. The plastic bags containing the goodies seemed slightly perished. Didn't bother checking for use-by dates on the contents.

No lucky envelopes. The what's on entry had pictures of those clown thingys, but all we could find were archery targets [flapping in the wind] and rubber duckies with hooks.

At the holding yards there was a giant sign saying ALPACAS. Inside the holding yards were two poddy calves of the beef variety. It was then we realised the $10 entry did not include any program of events like dog or chook shows, woodchop competitions or whatever.

There was one – count it, one – death defying ride at the back of the showgrounds with not a soul around. Maybe they would crank it up the next day. No matta, I can't even watch those things without feeling nauseous.

TO was performing her own unique version of a hysterical laugh – a laugh I have not heard for months but a sure sign she was starting to relax.

Stopped at a caravan and bought two really, really nice coffees for $5 each.
Sitting at the café table, laughing hysterically at the fun we were already having and expecting, TO decided to shake her cappuccino to move the chocolate around. Bad move. We both laughed hysterically some more.

Some chap had a wagon he has been driving around Oz for a few years to raise money for cancer research – so far he has raised $25,000. His wife? was in the kitchen. I emptied my pocket of a not inconsiderable amount of shrapnel but suggested we would both pass on the sausage.

This contraption looked interesting. Harness both wind and sunshine with a single gizmo. No one around to discuss it with.

Went across to look at the DONKEY SHELTER display.

Patted a donkey named Jimmie.
"How old is he?" we asked.
"About 40 years", we were told.
"How long do donkeys live for?" we asked.
"About 40 years", we were told.
No hysterical laughter, just an animated discussion between TO and a shelter worker about advanced age and the signs and symptoms of renal failure.

24/7 there are only 3 states for me: I throw tantrums, laugh hysterically or cry uncontrollably – thank goodness the meds are working.

Tried to distract myself from Jimmie's renal failure by reading about the rescue of 91 donkeys during the Yea-Murrindindi fires. Tuned back into the conversation briefly and, hearing more about renal failure tuned out again and went back to the display board.

Read a story about one donkey that made me burst into tears. People can be real animals.

Jimmie at a nursing home in Numurkah

TO bought two doggy hampers to put under the Xmas tree for D'Arcy and Maude – not convinced we needed extra doggy bowls or more crap in the house, I suggested we leave the hampers for the Donkey shelter people to sell to someone else and just give them the money. TO bought the hampers and gave them extra money as well. An outing is not an outing without crap to take home as proof of a good time had.

On the way out TO – the only person over 5 years of age I know who will still bend over to pick up a 5 cent coin – spotted some package intacta condoms on the ground. The packaging didn't look perished, but I had no desire to check the use-by date. We laughed hysterically some more, wondering if we weren't the only ones who would find the show did not live up to its promise that night.

Left through the unattended turnstiles and gave our tickets to some people on their way in.

Next morning, the motel people suggested the show really only cranks up from about 8pm. I doubt it does, but can tick the "EM show" entry on my bucket list. I'd found a Pictionary game at an op-shop earlier for $4 – it had been a good day.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

marshall engine

fuel for paddle steamers
[prob doesn't include the fence posts]

fuel for houseboats

slipway built 1906
[not sure about boat currently occupying space]

junction of campaspe and murray rivers

remember these?

next: the Echuca show!!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

munch on the murray

The weather was perfect.

Too much frivolity at the next table for me to hear a word of the commentary, but other diners were there to enjoy themselves, so fair 'nough.

Dining out is so often a disappointment, but the Emmylou's reputation for quality food is well-deserved].

TO always has the flathead tails.
Minus the batter and the 5 million chips, a good sized meal

steak I can have anytime, and chicken only if it can't be avoided
although I never eat pizza crust it was thin and crunchy
topping was char-grilled roast veges - yum
snow pea salad
chips? like padding in a 1,000 word essay on a topic that leaves one cold

pannecotta [however it's spelled]
fresh strawzbries and thick, fresh cream

banana and chocolate cheesecake [real cheese]
ditto cream and strawzbries

No cheap and nasty beans used for the coffee

An extra ten points for allowing us to pay only for what we chose from a menu – nothing grates more than pre-paid a la carte meal prices that require me to subsidise alcohol for guzzlers.

Unusually efficient and friendly service – absolutely nothing was too much trouble for Lara. She scored a once-in-a-decade tip from me [very unOrstraylyan but certainly warranted in this case].

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

what we did on our holiday

After TO spent some time visiting relos at Albury, Jindera and Corowa, she made her way to Echuca to meet up with me for the first little holiday she has had in yonks.

 [JJ's TAFE semester has almost finished, and she was free to stay home for a few days and look after Aunty.]

I luuurve Echuca, and it was great to see that restoration of the paddle steamer dock precinct continues apace – even if construction of a modern history centre is well underway.

In between lots of snoozes and well-needed naps, TO and I set off for a cruise and lunch on the PS EMMYLOU.

Without access to the 'net [and with a dose of couldn't be bothereds] I just took a few snaps, wondered what was what or why, but didn't investigate anything closely.

what's the story behind the star of david window?

"art-free" laneway that looks inviting

I think that I shall never see
a picture lovely as a peppercorn tree

flood levels
given what we have done to the Murray Darling Basin
some recent marks are incredibly high

Yep. Despite decades of trying,
I still struggle to get the top part in the picture.

Next - what we had for lunch, and other stuff

Sunday, November 3, 2013

gee, you must have been old when you were born

A few weeks ago, JJ's daughter turned 6. I'm sure sometimes that skype and facebook are the only things keeping JJ sane.

Friday was TO's 66th birthday, and Saturday was JJ's 26th, so lunch at the Fkn RiSsoLe was a rather special day.

TO had gone to buy some candles for the cake, and asked for one 2 and two 6s. "How old are YOU?" asked some little tacker in the shop. "266", TO replied. "Boy, you're REALLY old" the young man observed.

putting out the fire

A special day for JJ, as her mum and my cuz drove from Kyabram to Fkn for lunch.

It was also special because Aunty got dressed, left the house, and sat at a table socialising for 3 hours. It's almost inconceivable that 5 weeks ago Aunty was totally bedridden, but with a positive attitude, lots of medical treatments, and a gee-whiz electric bed that folds in a million spots she gets better everyday.

JJ's mum, my cuz #4,242,243, and aunty

TO's old science teacher was there, naturally. 91 years old and still going strong, she recognised 14 of her former high school students, knew them all by name and had some story to tell about each of them.

JJ is a casual aged care worker at an RSL nursing home. She has a healthy curiosity about history, etc, and has bonded well with some of the extremely old residents of the Kokoda wing. After seeing this display she'll have something else to chat about with her residents.

Yep. A very special day for lots of reasons.

Friday, November 1, 2013

it's official

She's not really an old fart... she has "a condition"


Monday, October 28, 2013

to insanity and beyond

Even in these days of communication by telephone and radio, there is, for many purposes, no better means of communicating with people than a simple letter.

English for Australian Schools - Book 3 [1959]

Many of my once hilarious anecdotes are lost on younger people – the expression "you had to be there" takes on a whole new meaning when "there" means the 1960s.

Letters were delivered twice a day M-F, and once on Saturdays. Just as well the PMG provided such an excellent and efficient postal service back then – despite a proliferation of [unvandalised] phone boxes few of the people we needed to communicate with had phones themselves.

How well I remember the day Aunty Min returned from the phone box at the end of the street, fuming and foaming 'cos she couldn't work out how to make a call. Instead of lining up her pennies ready to drop them in when somebody answered, she had put them in the slot before dialling the number.

A google image search for old PMG phones failed to provide a picture of so much as an AB phone. Tried E Bay only to find these labelled "vintage" phones.

Now Smugg, one of the most evil gods of Karma, has well and truly got it in for me.

The teev crackles and sparkles when we turn it on so now we don't leave it on standby, we just leave it on on.
It's not that we can't afford to replace it – when we bought it a few years ago we had to pay someone to set it up. Now we don't even know what to buy, so complex are all the special features and, so absent, are all the recognisable plugholes what accommodate DVD/VHS player, special device for the hard of hearing, and the box what comes with pay tv.
[Personally, I could not care less. If it ain't on DVD I won't even watch it, but Aunty loves a good UK TV detective story – paint drying with dialogue added though they are.]

For the second time, my touch-screen mobile phone has gone on the blink and as soon as I press the doo-hickey to dial out a call-ended message appears.

Bought some software online and then realised I needed a more advanced version. Sent a message asking how much to move up to the super deluxe program and got a reply with a URL. Clicked on the "forgotten password" button and got a reply with a URL requiring me to enter my email address and password. Should I just give up and pay full price for the swisher version?

Windows 8? Excel 2010? Let's not even go there.

For the second time I have bought TO a decent computer. I use the first one I bought for her - it's fantabulosa.

After 3 months she has not so much as looked at the second one I bought her.

Hers takes fully 30 to 60 seconds to respond to each mouse click. She can't access work files/ emails without using Chrome, and bitches and moans the whole time we work on the problem "together". I made this second attempt to upgrade her because it was a run-out model with Windows 7 installed. While she has long resisted changing to Windows 7, Windows 8 would drive her to the knife block in the kitchen. Of course, I will get there first, because she seems to assume I can help her. No, I will use a self-service check-out before I attempt to use Windows 8 again. She would be on her own.

Managed to find an OEM disc of Office 2003 to upload to the above-mentioned new you-beaut beastie. Does TO want to try and use a "new" email screen? Have decided to set up a gmail account for her and forward an email from each of her 5 million, never-culled, contact list. When old beastie finally dies, at least she'll have access to people's email addresses.

I know there is a folder somewhere on the old system that contains all that address data but a) can't find it and b) doubt if it is readable by Office 2003 unless I link the two machines and ask the new one to import the data. As for her 20,000,002 internet bookmarks…

I have hundreds of vinyl records. I do believe some people pay ridiculous prices for them even if they have been partied on, wined, dined and danced on, used as drink coasters or frisbeed. Today's DJ's don't know nothing 'bout "scratching" vinyl.

Not wanting to sell these vinyls until I have actually recorded all the stuff not available on CD, several years ago I bought a turntable with USB connection.

About a month ago, for the third time, I went 'round and 'round in "logic" loops trying to record from the wretched thing. Admittedly this was only a 4 hour marathon attempt, this time.
Does my sound card work? Followed several suggestions; pc showed me a picture of one and said yes it's working.
Do I really have one, asked another thread? Followed another suggestion and was confronted with a list of hardware stuff gobbledygook but could not tell if any related to a sound card at all.
Went to bed.

It's not that I'm loathe to call for help, but who can I trust? My experiences with other "experts" – plumbers and electricians amongst them – have not inspired trust or confidence. One electrician installed our new downlights, then came back to fix them, then another had a go and a few weeks later one of the lights not only fell out of the ceiling but would not work at all. If cuz #25 had not visited Aunty  and fixed it, the light fitting would still be hanging down from the ceiling.
Which [finally] leads me to my point: - if someone unqualified like cuz # 25 can do what experts can't, why can't I cope with all this IT stuff?

All these things that make life easier just give me ulcers.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

god bless 'em

This makes Whitlam's supply crisis of 1975 look like a storm in a teacup. The leader of the House of Reps has used his majority to say only he will decide when the house can vote on whether the US government should stay shut down or not.

There's something weird about how civilised these people are as they say they don't give a shit about any of the people affected.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

performance art

"Have you noticed that after a week in Italy we haven't seen one busker?" TO asked.

We were heading for the Piazza del Duomo, and about to catch our very first glimpse of Florence's famous cathedral.

A few seconds later we turned the corner and there she was… An old gypsy with one of those pathetic little plastic drinking cups that wouldn't hold a euro, on her knees in an attitude of prayer.

I cannot tell a lie… we both broke into fits of hysterical laughter.


The picture below does not seem to be from Florence, nor does it seem to show any bona fide Gypsies busking, but it did make me smile.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

true crime

Have just finished reading John Safran's Murder in Mississippi, a 'true crime' story. In a gumshoe kind of way Safran went here and there, spoke to this person and that but, unlike a novel, the 'crime' is not 'solved'.

As in a crime novel, place is a character, so in that sense it provides an interesting portrait of Mississippi today.
It has been suggested elsewhere that the "left" is full of groups with diverse ideas or obsessions: because those on the left struggle to present a united front they struggle, collectively, to match conservatism's "power".
The satisfying thing about Safran's portrait of Mississippi is reading about just how piddly and divided various white supremacist groups are.
What they seem to have in common is that their ideas are vague references to how things once were rather than how they might be.

It's very easy to idealise the past, and to forget that in many respects life improves when we are prepared to change. But change to what?

Howard was happy to rabbit on about the ANZAC spirit, or the achievements of Don Bradman. What had he to say about the future rather than that it should ensure there is no change in the future.?


Perhaps all of our politicians should be forced to wear corporate logos on their parliamentary clobber,
so we could identify the names of their real sponsors

The most significant trend we are seeing now in politics is a shift to corporatism. Corporatism is not 'justified' as a way of achieving some vision for the future but as something economically necessary that must be instantly effected without any thought to the future. All we have to measure its desirability is  some vague suggestion the consequences and benefits are self-evident.


Plans for building infrastructure are increasingly piecemeal and reactionary. We are given limited and often only undesirable choices, then told we can only have one or two. When we do choose from this restricted set of options, we are then told we made the wrong choice, and ignored.

The new freeway link in Melbourne is an example of something that advantages certain corporations. Now Victoria's government is talking up plans of building a new super suburb near Werribee – way across the other side of the universe from the new, "vital" freeway extension. Again, the need to plan for improvements of public transport are dismissed on the grounds we can only afford limited amounts of infrastructure. With the focus on creating a super suburb in the west without addressing the need for public transport, we are seeing plans that can only lead to the marginalisation of yet another suburb full of people.

There is a tragic similarity between this and the way Joe Bageant described the evolution of 'redneck' culture in the U.S. where once self-sufficient farming communities have been disenfranchised, and the way Safran describes exactly the same thing happening in the Mississipi Delta – an area occupied predominantly by African Americans.


It is often claimed that Australia's primary value is encapsulated by the phrase "a fair go". Perhaps this could be interpreted to mean any of a dozen ideas, but I am tempted to try and define it as a spirit of "inclusiveness".

If I rail against the values of a limited number of refugee groups, it is because their unwillingness to assimilate is characterised by a rejection of inclusiveness.

The English class system was once quite rigid and classes within that system were defined by their source of income – old money, new money, the professional classes etc – the less rigid system that evolved in Australia did not define people by their source of income but rather by a sense of inclusiveness.

There will always be people who choose to marginalise themselves or feel alienated from society, but the growth of class divides is exacerbated by the willingness of our governments to marginalise people through poor planning: through planning, for example, that alienates suburbs full of people by denying them transport or the means to move freely.
Someone recently posted a YouTube clip of Bill Maher – an American pundit I rather like – who explained the difference between USian Democrats and Republicans in terms of the difference between gridiron and baseball - both run on different economic models.
Those who support losing [poor, community style] baseball teams, he says, stop going to games early in the season if their team has no hope of winning.

"If you are not IN the game you become indifferent to the fate of the game, and maybe even get bitter".

Australia is fast becoming a country where people are excluded from the game by poor planning, and transparent rationalisations of corporatism. Our values seem to be shifting from a nation built on inclusiveness to a nation dependent on divisiveness.

Am I simply romanticizing a past which was largely unsatisfactory and is today unworkable? I don't know. Perhaps we never did value inclusiveness at all - but its share price is definitely plummeting.