Monday, 31 January 2011

Ya gotta get hot to play real cool

This has to be the best Looney Tunes ever made:

Three Little Bops

Every 5-year old should be made to see it!

For a great bit of detective work on who played on it, see Marc Myers' post at JazzWax

The Townsville Bulletin delivers again for the Mad Katter

Another scorching little piece in today's Bully by Nathan Paull announcing/marketing the Mad Katter's search for a publishing agent.  You see, it seems that the Mad Katter has been writing a book.

This completely un-newsworthy effort gets a full half page in the new-look, all-colour-advertising Bully.

Why is it that this mob seem to run every press release The Mad Katter makes?  Why do they continue to give air to Katter's magnificently crafted image as "man of the people" and "David against Goliath"?

I wish they (along with the voters of Kennedy) would instead ask what it is that Katter has actually delivered in all his years of making a good living playing the role of the independent maverick MP (and writing books while relaxing in a business class seat)?

As I noted some time ago - having (gutlessly) dealt himself out of the game in September last, the guy is as irrelevant today in federal politics as he always has been.

Mind you, the Bully loves a bit of colour!

A grubby little newspaper

Well, I see that the departing Townsville Bulletin Editor is ensuring that the Bully's priorities are in tune with those of the Murdoch empire - lots of show and no substance.

On the day he launches his new look 'coulorful' broadsheet (way too colourful and cluttered for my liking) he also chose to run this little number accusing the Qld Government of hording donations made at the time of Cyclone Larry.  The piece is, of course, a lazy rewriting of this nasty little effort published yesterday by their sister rag, The Courier Mail. 

They of course failed to report Premier Bligh's response (published yesterday in Fairfax's SMH):
"There are some remaining interest funds and, as a report made public in August last year outlined, any remaining funds would be reallocated to future disaster appeals and that's what's going to happen," Ms Bligh said.
Maybe Nathan Paull and the others at the Bully have to wait for a hardcopy of the Courier Mail to get their news, because they certainly didn't publish any of Bligh's or Mackenroth's response available in today's Mail:

PREMIER Anna Bligh has rejected as "absolutely untrue" the claim Cyclone Larry victims had been denied funds donated to the 2006 disaster's appeal.

"Every single dollar that was donated to the Cyclone Larry appeal has gone to a victim of Cyclone Larry," she said.

Ms Bligh said remaining money was accrued interest which could not legally be transferred until all outstanding claims had been settled.

"There is one outstanding claim that is subject of a dispute between the owner and the builder," she said.

Ms Bligh said she was very distressed that claims over the Cyclone Larry appeal, in which $700,000 remained to be spent, could deter people from donating for flood victims.

Former treasurer Terry Mackenroth, who headed the cyclone reconstruction committee, yesterday pointed to his committee's 2007 report to Parliament which said any leftover funds would go towards future disasters.

"I can guarantee every cent that was donated has been spent," he said.

Mr Mackenroth said every claim that had been issued from Innisfail had been dealt with and laws had been followed.

"The appeal raised $21.8 million and every one of those donations was allocated and spent," he said. "We were never sitting on the money."

Mr Mackenroth also said criticism of means testing for current payouts from the Premier's Relief Fund for flood victims was ignoring federal law.

"The Tax Act actually requires that all the funds be means tested," he said.

"The funds that are given as emergency payments aren't means tested but after that, if it goes into an appeal fund and people want to get a tax deduction it has to be means tested.

"In Cyclone Larry we made that a very generous means test but there was a requirement it be done."
They would have heard the same thing if they watched ABC 24 or Sky News yesterday.

Rubbish journalism
"But it can't transfer until all legal claims against it are finalised, and that is yet to happen."

Friday, 28 January 2011

Damn he's good

Mr Fish's latest:
Like the post header says, damn he's good

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Australia Day 2011

Something to think about while waving the flag tomorrow:

  • "Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it". ~ George Bernard Shaw

  • "Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception." ~ George Orwell

  • "Nationalism is our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our insanity. "Patriotism" is its cult. ~ Erich Fromm

  • "A nation is a society united by a delusion about its ancestry and a common fear of its neighbors". ~ W. R. Inge

  •  "Born in iniquity and conceived in sin, the spirit of nationalism has never ceased to bend human institutions to the service of dissension and distress." ~ Thorstein Veblen

  • "There is a higher form of patriotism than nationalism, and that higher form is not limited by the boundaries of one's country; but by a duty to mankind to safeguard the trust of civilization." ~ Oscar S. Strauss

  • "Nationalism ... is like cheap alcohol. First it makes you drunk, then it makes you blind, then it kills you." ~ Dan Fried

  • "Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind." ~ Albert Einstein

  • "Nationalism is a silly cock crowing on his own dunghill." ~ R. Aldington

  • "It is not easy to see how the more extreme forms of nationalism can long survive when men have seen the Earth in its true perspective as a single small globe against the stars." ~  Arthur C. Clarke

  • “Patriotism is proud of a country's virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country's virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, "the greatest," but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is.” ~  Sydney J. Harris

  • “(Nationalism is) a set of beliefs taught to each generation in which the Motherland or the Fatherland is an object of veneration and becomes a burning cause for which one becomes willing to kill the children of other Motherlands or Fatherlands” ~ Howard Zinn

  • “Patriotism is a religion, the egg from which wars are hatched.” ~ Guy de Maupassant

  • “Patriotism is a pernicious, psychopathic form of idiocy.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

  • “Patriotism - the virtue of the vicious.” ~ Oscar Wilde

  • “You’ll never have a quiet world until you knock the patriotism out of the human race.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
See also: Australia Day — No time to celebrate by Jay McDonald

One can't live on politics alone... counts too:

Worth a read

A couple of good links found today:
  • Good on him:   School chaplains facing High Court fight.  A guy from Toowoomba has launched High Court challenge because he opposes the Commonwealth funding of chaplains in state schools.  But check out the story's student flood victims angle - I wonder how many school Chaplin's are qualified trauma counsellors?

  • 22 Minutes at Helidon on Monday, January 10: Amazing pictures at the Courier mail showing how fast the floodwater's rose at Helidon here

Townsville City Council finally gets something right - maybe

News just in that Council seems to have finally conducted a post-amalgamation restructure, including cutting 16 management positions.

While I received this on my rss feeder, I can't open the feed or find the story on the Bully's website or the Council's media page

As someone who's had a bit to do with Council professionally, I gotta say that this is not before time - it has been patently obvious since their last restructure that, by modern organisational and management standards, the organisation was bloated at the middle and particularly senior management levels.

Of course, the big question will be - have they 'sacked' the right ones.

More to come as I get the details

Update:  The Bully's link is now working here

It seems that the cuts are confined to Council's two comercial Waste and Water units.  A good start but still way too much deadwood at the "Executive Manager Level" - Cafe Bambinis @ Woolies WILL be happy

Businesses acting responsibly

As an olive oil lover, I was glad to see news that the Australian Olive Association is to introduce national standards for olive oil labelling within the next 12 months.

Contrast this responsible action of the local olive oil industry with that of multi-national big tobacco who "is hoping a new multilateral free trade agreement will enable it to sue the federal government if Australia introduces plain packaging for cigarettes in mid-2012 as planned."


But then, maybe it would be good if they sued - I suspect that it would be even more counter-productive than Stupid Rich Person, Gerry Harvey's, attempt at public relations

Friday, 21 January 2011

Young Australians changing the world - with skateboards

I first got wind of this story via Truthdig -

... As soon as Australian skateboarders Oliver Percovich and Sharna Nolan dropped their boards in Kabul in 2007, they were surrounded by the eager faces of children of all ages who wanted to be shown how to skate. Stretching out the three boards they had brought with them, they developed a small skate school...
The founders’ success with their first students prompted them to think bigger: by bringing more boards back to Kabul and establishing an indoor skateboarding venue, they would be able to teach many more youth, and also be able to provide older girls with a private facility to continue skateboarding.
Check out and (coming soon to the Sundance Film Festival) the movie:

Following on from the theme developed in a previous post, the basis of their intervention is nothing new (in essence a youth development model), but goddamn it's a good one.  And the Doco don't look as if it'll be 'arf bad either.

All power to them, I reckon!  Fantastic stuff!

Update:  My 15-year old just nonchalantly told me that she's known of this mob for a year or two!!  Doh!

Friday Funny

Kudelka is on to something here.  The Monk may be digging a hole for himself unless he can find a new mantra that suits the current (changed) public mood.
…and The Lord spake unto Tony and said “Take with you two of everything, except slogans, of which you will be needing just the one.”

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Will the Vatican's Bad Boy Strategy work?

You have probably heard that the Vatican is in the throws of beatifying the last CEO of the multinational conglomerate, Pope John Paul #2.  It seems to me that, like the rest of entertainment industry, the Catholic Church needs to continually create new celebrities in order to reinforce the faithful and maintain and hopefully grow it's market share.  John Paul #2 was a consummate celebrity maker, beautifying some 1,340 celebs in his time - more than the sum of all of his predecessors since Pope Sixtus V#5.

And like any other celebrity industry (movies, music, sport, politics etc), they like to keep their celebrity-making pretty much in-house and under their control - which is presumably why they don't let outsiders verify John Paul #2's supposed miracle.

Of course, you don't really want too much scrutiny when, under the ex-CEO's watch, his Manager for Ireland at the Vatican wrote to Ireland's Catholic bishops urging them not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police and, it seems twice intervened and stopped attempts made by Irish bishops to defrock pedophile priests.

Like the sporting industry is learning - you need to be very careful about who you make a celebrity (think Favola, Henjak, Carey etc).  Or perhaps the Vatican have deliberately embarked on a Bad boys and the cult of celebrity strategy?

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Of Poverty and the Northern Territory Intervention

I was taken by Don Arthur's post in Club Troppo yesterday. Do poor people cause poverty? in which he reviews an essay in the Boston Review by Stephen Steinberg in which he challenges the idea that poor Americans are trapped in a cycle of disadvantage that only they can end.

Needless-to-say, this 1970 quote from Lee Rainwater immediately made me think of the NT Intervention:
"The special ways of adapting by the poor suggest only that effective poverty strategies have to change their income situation before requiring changes in their behavior and attitudes. The major reason for the failure of most anti-poverty programs so far is that they require the poor the change their behavior before they have gained the resources that would change their situation (quoted in The Social Inclusion Agenda)."
And then today I see this nasty little piece from Gary Johns who the Oz are touting as a Former Keating Minister (well a Junior Minister, and one not exactly loved by his former colleagues) and a Professor at the Australian Catholic University (ACU doesn't rate in either of the ARWU or QS Topuniversities rankings of the top 500 or so of the world's universities.)

Clearly the ACU are quite happy to have their Brand associated with little gems like this:
"People now being recruited to university as indigenous are frankly embarrassing," he writes. "Many of these students would not have suffered any prejudice whatsoever and are generations apart from traditional society. "They are heralded as part of the success of a 'program' purely to keep up the numbers. The harm this sort of activity does is to undermine the work of those who actually have to change people's behaviour, not simply recruit those who would have made it regardless. The net impact of such programs is near zero."
Perhaps Johns and the Australian Catholic University could explain themselves to former NSW Indigenous Student of the Year, Dasha Newington and the hundreds like her:

Just exactly how substantial is "substantial"?

I see that the Queen of all things English (and apparently you and me) has "made a "substantial" private donation to the Queensland flood relief appeal, according to a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman"

While initially I was pretty p*ssed off at the hubris in her issuing a press release to tell the world of her generosity - after all, I haven't seen most of the major donors on this list seeking international coverage of their generosity, but then I got to wondering how much she actually donated? 

How much do you reckon would be "substantial"? - $50,000, $100,000, $1 million maybe?

Well within the next four years or so Australia will be spending just 0.5% of it's gross national income on aid programs.  If Queenie were to contribute just 0.5% of her estimated $450 million (USD) net personal worth  her donation would have been $2,250,000 (not accounting for what some estimate as her $17 billion in property holdings worldwide and certainly not accounting for the kids own 'accumulated' wealth).

My guess is that her "substantial" donation was a lot closer to 0.01% of her fortune ($50,000) than to 0.05%.

The sooner we are rid of her the sooner we don't have to put up with this p*issweak attention seeking (let alone the never-ending tripe about her bloody spoilt little children).

Monday, 17 January 2011

How to be right and oh so wrong

While Barney Joyce and his sidekick the Mad Monk were predictably the first to try and exploit the devastation from the Qld floods, I was surprised to see Bob Brown having a go yesterday:

Coal miners to blame for Queensland floods, says Australian Greens leader Bob Brown

He might be right, but his timing is all wrong - a dumb move that will cost the Greens in Qld

UPDATE:  I have removed the link to the Murdoch story to deny them the few extra click-throughs they might get.  Instead check-out Pure Poison's analysis of the story.

I still reckon that Brown should have stayed quiet for a few more days (except for expressions of grief and support).  It strikes me that the floods will either finally get Queenslanders really wanting action on global warming or it will get them blaming the Greens and the environmental movement for the whole disaster. 

He needs to play it VERY carefully as the politics of this are quite delicate - which of course is why Martin Ferguson released this spray in response (a Murdoch link I'm afraid)

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Great activists never die - their tactics live forever

This story about residents of the small British town of Stony Stratford borrowing every single book from their local library in an attempt to stop it from being closed reminded me of an extraordinary 70-something who led a similar revolt (invented the tactic?) some 35 years ago - against the State Library in Adelaide.

Arthur Mortimer was what you'd call a radical librarian - as I remember him, a rather eccentric retiree who rode a bike, read nooks to children and kept time with a alarm clock (wind-up and with bells) that he carried in his shoulder bag.

The post-Vietnam 70's in Adelaide were (amongst other things) the days of the community media movement - a reaction during the late-60's and 70's to the corporatisation of the mainstream media and governments' manipulation of them during the Vietnam days. Pre-Internet and before Julian Assange was born, the community media movement ultimately gave rise to the network of community based non-profit broadcasters we have today.

Interwoven with the community media movement, community information activists (a combination of welfare workers and librarians such as Arthur) were agitating for community access and control over information - activism which led to the network of Citizens Advice Bureaus and Community Information Centres we see today around the country.

And it was within this context that Arthur committed himself to getting library services into the information and cultural desert that was the working class western suburbs of Adelaide.

Again, as my memory records it, Arthur's first step was to get a few mates together and create the organisation C.R.O.W. ("Concerned Residents of the West") - giving his one-man movement organisational legitimacy and gravitas and a base from which to launch his demands for a fair go for the West. 

From there, Arthur launched two most stunning (and ultimately successful) tactics:

  • Assembling about 100 mates and mates mates, Arthur led a march from the SA Parliament down North Terrace past the Gov's place to the State Library where they preceeded to borrow all of the fiction under 'A' and warn that they would be back the following week for the B's etc.  As I remember he got front page of The Advertiser on Monday and we never had to go back for the B's

  • Creating a national security alert (and national press coverage - about library funding!!!) when he sent egg powder in envelopes to federal Cabinet (or was it all federal MPs?) along with extracts from Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss (a slightly obtuse reference to the '75 Whitlam Government's Inquiry into Public Libraries chaired by one Mr Horton).
All great fun at the time but, the thing is, Arthur won!! - as Susan Marsden notes in her A History of Woodville (1977) (pdf here):
The "West" had long been deprived of good, local library services, and public agitation, led by the humorous, but determined C.R.O.W.'s ("Concerned Residents of the West") stimulated a profound change at State library level to a direct involvement with local libraries. The most dramatic period of expansion in public library services, provided in co-operation with Councils, was between 1977-1979 when 10 new services came into operation in the Western region, three of these in Woodville.
You won't find much about Arthur on-line although I did find this reference which is held in the SA State Library: Information and power : an activist view.

I wonder if Julian Assange has read it?

Enough for now.  Sometime remind me to tell you the story of the Dewhurst's - a couple who saved some 300 young men from going to Vietnam from their Northern suburbs lounge room.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Rebuild 3: Qld Flood Benefit Concert

Live in Townsville or on Maggie Island and at a loose end tomorrow NEXT SUNDAY afternoon?  Why not take in a bit of local live music and help the flood appeal at the same time.  Full details here at The Magnetic Times
Source: Magnetic Times
PS: On ya Mal

Bullsh*t survey proves bullsh*t surveys are bullsh*t

So far, at least of my predictions about what you would read in The Bulletin over the holiday period seem to have come true.  By my count, numbers 1, 3, 7 and 12 have been ticked off already with No 9 getting fulfilled today with the headline Victims pay for crime:  Townsville region courts are sentencing criminals too leniently, a survey says.

Of course the data that this and the earlier ones base their conclusions on are totally meaningless - they only tells us about the views of that proportion of the population who read the Bulletin and could be bothered to then fill out and send off a survey form.  To conclude or propose that people who read the Bulletin are like everyone else is a nonsense.

True to form though, the Bully report this bullsh*t as fact and on that basis spin a story about the need to get tougher on sentencing - including by interviewing the authoritative voice of the Townsville Residents Against Crime group (see: 0.01% of Townsville citizens can't be wrong).

The whole thing is nonsense (but dangerously so) and no more honest or valid that this press release accompanying the release of Blogging Townsville's own online poll:

POLL SHOCK:  Murdoch's Townsville Bulletin doomed

An international survey released today reveals fatal reader anger about Rupert Murdoch's most peripheral outpost.

The Murdoch empire was rocked today with the release of a world wide Internet survey of attitudes towards the Townsville Bulletin

Globally, over 70% of respondents described The Bulletin as a shocker or as embarrassing.  A further 11.5% of respondents had never even heard of The Bulletin.

It is thought that the five respondents who indicated that they viewed the paper as Rupert's pride were the only staff remaining at the Bulletin and were sucking up as hard as they could.

The two votes describing the Bulletin as 'cerebral' are being investigated as it appears that they were sent from the same computer in the Townsville Bulletin Editor's office
Note to The Bulletin:
Next time try Googling "perceptions of crime" - No. 2 on the 269,000 long list is this little number, for example:  (Mis)perceptions of crime in Australia - Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice, Brent Davis and Kym Dossetor, Australian Institute of Criminology, July 2010.   To save you time, you can even download the paper here (pdf 1.29 MB)

Any ideas for a new poll topic??????

The Magpie's Nest is full of it (again)

It's amazing how quickly you can achieve something when yow what you're doing. It seems that it only took 14 deposits in The Magpie's Nest for Townsville's very own Magpie to get far enough up The Bulletin's nose to draw a reaction where it took me a year and a couple of hundred posts to draw a reaction!

While he's been dumping the dirt on the Bully's editor-in-command since his first droppings in the blogiverse, he seems to have generated a real fightback at Fortress Murdoch down in Ogden St. with last week's post revealing that Pete 'Typo' Gleeson is being transferred out by the Murdoch machine to spread his management magic in some other minor outpost of the empire. The post is recommended reading for those who'd like to know more about editor-in-command Gleeson's style.
I know that the language breaks the blog
etiquette rules but I just couldn't resist.
Source: Unknown and hopefully not litigious

Clearly demonstrating the old adage that "the truth hurts", The 'Pie reports in this week's post that the commander-in-edit editor-in-command responded to the Old Bird's outing of him with a bit of good-old, true-to-form smear.

While the Old Bird's post sets the record straight, for me it confirms a suspicion I've long held - that there really is a fortress mentality within Ogden St. and the Murdoch empire more generally (witness, for example, their reaction to the rise of the bloggers). It seems to me that this is symptomatic of a dominion under threat and in decline. And typical of all empires in decline, HQ invariably promotes to commander-in-edit editor-in-command those with the greatest ability to create a fortress mindset amongst the foot soldiers/workers.

Of course, eventually even the foot soldiers see the inevitable and start to turn on the crumbling empire!! Hopefully, The Magpie started the tide in this small outpost.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Of floods and politics

I started drafting this post days ago but just couldn't bring myself to blog about the politics of the Queensland floods while the disaster was unfolding.

Thankfully, politics have largely been left out of the media during the height of the disaster.  But now that the danger appears over a few observations hopefully won't offend:
  • Tony Abbott and John-Paul Whatishisname must have been spitting chips for days - watching Gillard and Bligh getting seemingly endless TV, radio and press coverage (e.g. Bligh's tears this morning will be re-run time and again for days).  They sensibly didn't even try to compete but goddam they would have been fuming.

  • While not competing made sense - Abbott staying on holidays throughout was stupid (although not too stupid as it turns out because the MSM left him alone on that one).  Showing up in Briz today (as I just see on the ABC he has) could be equally as stupid - if he gets time on the news tonight, everyone will be reminded that they haven't seen his mug since this started and see him turning up now as cynical politics

  • In the same vein, the disaster will be a political boon particularly for Bligh but also for Gillard - look for an early bounce in the polls which I suspect will be more significant that BlueMilk ponders in this piece at Hoyden About Town.  The sad reality is that disasters and starting wars is great politics for an incumbent - if managed well politicians become leaders of a people facing a common 'enemy'.  It's one of the reasons Bush and Howard took us to Iraq and why Howard used (so successfully) the "We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come" line (and all those others designed to demonise).  Religious nut-jobs have of course also know this since time immemorial.

  • It will be fascinating to watch how the Qld and Federal conservatives try to find political capital out of this.  Certainly Tony Abbott's first two attempts - Let's dam Queensland and (bizarely) Let's stop the building the NBN - both seemed to have backfired or at least fallen flat.  Again, I note that the religious nut-jobs were the first to attempt to make capital

Finally, and nothing to do with politics - I hope the people operating the Wivenhoe Dam get some sort of medal after all of this is over 'cause it strikes me that it was their good management that saved Brisbane from far, far worse.

X Base Backpackers - crapping in their own nest and everyone else's

Without actually reading the story, the Council battles to keep beaches beautiful headline in yesterday's Bully reminded me of these pics taken a few days ago on the beach in front of X Base on Magnetic Island:

A thong, beer bottle, glasses and can scattered below the high water mark

Garbage on the beachfront rocks
Building rubble on the beachfront
Not only are X Base desecrating a public beach by failing to do a simple task like a daily beach clean-up, and are abusing the only absolute beachfront commercial property on Magnetic Island, by publishing these pictures, hopefully their brand will be permanently damaged by their environmental ignorance and abuse.

Then of course, from a straight business perspective - how stupid is it to have your front door and single greatest commercial asset littered with crap?

You can prove how dumb they are and help ensure that brand X Base gets it's dues by sharing this post with as many people as possible and by emailing base Backpackers at and letting them know how you feel.

I understand that, owners of the X Base and base Backpackers brands, the Recreational Tourism Group Pty Ltd, ) is in turn owned by (amongst others) Babcock & Brown and Accor Hotels.  Accor is of course one of the biggest hotels chains in the world and also owns the Four All Seasons on Magnetic Island (and a few in Townsville as well)  so maybe an email to them will be helpful too.  However, and interestingly, I couldn't find either a corporate or a complains email address for Accor Hotels or the Accor Group so I'll be leaving my comments on their Investor Relations contact form here.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The (never ending) Queensland Floods

What do you say about a disaster like the Queensland floods? The loss of life and horrendous property and environmental damage is just astounding.

As someone who has been through flash flooding in both the Flinders Ranges and the Todd Creek, I have a fairly good idea of the terror and helplessness many down south must be experiencing right now. 

There is plenty of other content online which I won't try to reproduce or match here but, for me, this BOM graph of river levels on  the Lockyer Creek at Helidon says it all really:

"Mother nature has unleashed something shocking out of the Toowoomba region. What we have here in Queensland is a very grim and desperate situation" - Premier Anna Bligh
I was expecting the fruitcakes and global warming denialists to start coming out of the woodwork about now and I haven't been let down - see this item just in about 'christian' 'pastor' Daniel Nalliah from the Catch the Fire Ministries who has written on his website that Kevin Rudd is responsible for the floods because he "spoke against Israel" in December 2010 by calling on the Jewish state to allow international inspectors into its nuclear facilities

These fundamentalists (be they religious or political) are what give rise to that other big news story - the Arizona shootings - but that's for another post

Friday, 7 January 2011

Of dogs and defrauders and dams

Koala 049
Pic: George Hirst, Magnetic Times
Reading in the Magnetic Times of another koala killing by domestic dogs on the island is a stark and bloody reminder of our apparent inability as a species to live in some sort of harmony with our environment.

Other recent examples include:
  • Big Agriculture's arguing that a once in 100 year flood event means that attempts to rescue the Murray should be put on hold - unbelievable!  Read Gary Sauer-Thompson's full post here at Public Opinion

  • Tony Abbott and Barney Joyce's response to a whole heap of people who built/brought on a flood plain ending up wet (and to Julia wining the daily news cycle for the past week or more with pics of her hugging damp Queenslanders) - a committee of farmer-MPs (presemably expert in hydrometeorology, surface hydrology and hydrogeology), to compile a list of dam sites! He didn't actually commit to build them but imagine if he did - just before a 1 in 200 year flood event. See also Ruchira Talukdar's response here at The Punch

Sadly, all true stories I'm afraid

Stupid rich people - Gerry Harvey

Personally, I reckon the whole GST on internet purchases thing was the invention of Solomon Lew.  I'f I'm right, Gerry Harvey is even more stupid than it seems:


Idiot! and as for the company who's providing him with brand positioning advice ..............

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Labour market policy 101 - victimise the most vulnerable

From Paul Norton's letter to the Fairfax press - published in Larvatus Prodeo today:
The Federal Government’s response to the National Welfare Rights Network’s call for an increase in the unemployment benefit is, predictably, to reject this call on the grounds that the best way to help the unemployed is to help them to find work. This is humbug, for two reasons.

The first is that the unemployed are hindered, rather than helped, in their job seeking efforts by things such as undernourishment, lack of medical care, poor mental health, bad teeth, underspending on clothes and grooming, and unstable housing situations, which are all predictable consequences of having to live on the current level of unemployment benefit.

The second is that the Federal Treasurer is on record as claiming that an unemployment rate of 4.75 per cent – that is, about 500,000 people on the dole – is “consistent with full employment”.

The result is that the unemployed are currently being crucified between two metaphorical thieves which have robbed modern Labor of its intellectual and moral fibre – on one side, economic policy orthodoxy based on neoliberal dogma concerning the supposed “non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment”, and on the other, tabloid and focus group mythology about “dole bludgers”.
I also liked this contribution by 'Huggybunny' at comment #8 to Paul's post:
When I started work the unemployment rate was about 1%, Menzies was in power and all the “reffos” were working two shifts. You could walk out the gate of one factory and into the gate of the next and change jobs in five minutes.
Now you need an email account, a CV, a resume and a degree in Horde(Horse?)Management as well as some smart clothes. Nice tits and teeth help if you are a female.
Oh yes it was a brave new world back then, the free market and Capitalism had triumphed over despotism and despair.
It was to be only a matter of time before the socialist revolution took over and we would all be free.
So what have we got?
Despotism rules in most of the globe.
Imperialism runs rampant.
The bees are dying
The fish are dying
The wildlife is dying
The water is polluted
The air is polluted
The climate is on the cusp of thermal runaway.
Sorry Pandora, Ben, Meg and Nell, I will do my best to fix it before I go.

All power to the cartoonists

I've long thought that the newspaper article that has most influence on public opinion is the editorial cartoon. It is the one piece that everyone reads and absorbs - otherwise they wouldn't chuckle at the good ones.

Seeing this Ron Cobb 'toon from '73 reminded me again of the power of a good cartoon.  As a young adult this, amongst others (eg Captain Goodvibes), had a hugerole in shaping my understanding of the world that lasts to this day.

As Dave Riley at Left Click notes, 38 years later Cobb's 'toon is "archetypal of what underpins contemporary Australia and the meaning is as potent and relevant today as it was when the image was first drawn.

Scary isn't it if you pause long enough to consider it?

Men and Religion

Ever wondered why all of the traditional religions and most of the new ones too (maybe with the exception of the Quakers) were invented by and are controlled by men?  Power, dominance and wealth with as little work as possible is a boy thing in all species it seems!

Cartoon via Values Australia

Monday, 3 January 2011

On a Mission from who to do what??

Today's Bulletin report of the further decline of the NQ Fury held no real surprises for me - they lost again and only managed to draw about 6,500 to their match in Melbourne, so what's new!

What did surprise me (only because I take so little interest in the team or the sport and so hadn't previously noted) was that the financially failing Fury are now (apparently) sponsored by religious charity, Mission Australian - in fact, they are The Fury's principal sponsor partner.

Exactly why a charity would sponsor a sports team is well beyond my logic (perhaps they were concerned that Lifeline and the Salvos are beginning to dominate the local market and they therefore needed more exposure??).  However, and more to the point, I wonder how many people donating to Mission Australia are aware that some proportion of their donations are being used to prop-up a failing football team?

I certainly wouldn't donate to any charity who sponsors a professional sports team in an industry that so extensively promotes alcohol and misogyny.