Friday 27 February 2009


Marcus Einfeld was a judge. He knows how seriously the courts view perjury. So far there has been no explanation at all as to why he chose to lie about a speeding offence. Speeding is stupid. It is irresponsible. A lot of people do it.
Einfeld would have been given a severe rap over the knuckles. He would have been fined. He might have lost his licence. Instead of that he has lost his reputation.
He has always been a fairly high profile figure but he probably ranks along with certain QCs and SCs in terms of legal excellence - and now every decision he has ever made has to be suspect. The presiding judge will have a difficult decision to make. Do you give a custodial sentence to one of your former colleagues?

Thursday 26 February 2009

A little light stirring

My letter in support of Andrew Bolt made it into the 'Tiser this morning. I suspect tomorrow there will be some criticising me. There were a few criticising him this morning but most came out in support.
Those who do criticise will obviously not mind stealing from future generations. I still think we could work our way out of a recession but union demands will prevent that. Chesty Bond is going to Asia. This is understandable. Labour is cheaper there and there is more of it. Australians will unionise themselves out of jobs again.
Despite this the union movement wants the right to access the health and safety files of workers whether they belong to a union or not....clearly a ploy to enter the workplace and put pressure on non-unionists to join or rejoin the union. If they get this then more jobs will go.

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Andrew Bolt

Andrew Bolt's column in today's 'Tiser is sure to raise some comments. The idea of taking responsibility for oneself or having anyone other than 'the government' pay will not be popular with many.
With the largesse it is currently spreading around it is little wonder that the government is so popular at present....and of course the Opposition will be blamed for failing to stop them spending all that money - just as it is currently being castigated for trying to prevent them now.
Do all those people putting their hands out realise that the money needs to be earned in the first place? Probably not.

Monday 23 February 2009

Long service leave

It seems we have about $31bn in yet to be claimed long service leave. Long service leave is a left over from the 18th and 19th century. It is something that is nice to have - like any holiday - but it is not something we can afford to continue with. Like maternity leave and holiday leave loading and a raft of other measures which give advantages to the employed without any return to the employer it needs to be removed from the Australian psyche of rights.
I can imagine the howls of rage and screams of outrage at this suggestion. The 'Tiser will almost certainly not publish such an inflammatory letter tomorrow. We will see.

Sunday 22 February 2009

Cultural literacy

My father came back from church this morning delighted because of two things, one he had been able to greet some acquaintances from nearly 50 years ago by name, two he had been able to share an AAMilne poem with another adult.
The first was made easy because someone said, "Did you know so-and-so is here?" The second is much less easy. The first made the other person feel good, the second made both people feel good. There is a certain thrill in coming together through a poem, in both being able to remember something just for the sheer pleasure of remembering it.
Do children get poetry to memorise now? What sort of poetry do they get? I have seen some of it and it is verse rather than poetry. Some of it is most certainly fun but it does not capture the imagination of the soul. It is not evocative.

Saturday 21 February 2009

Transport woes

Why did he have to complicate things? My old tricycle did not have a differential. This one has. It failed me yesterday. Something went crunch and I had great difficulty getting home. I am now without transport until it is fixed.
This is all very well but, in a car-free-too-far-to-walk-anywhere household, this is a problem. I should be going to a meeting this afternoon. One person who might have given me a ride has conjunctivitis - and I feel for her as it has apparently been exacerbated by the hot dry weather which she hates as much as I do. The other has to be at the meeting early as she is on 'door duty'.
I really would not be too fussed but as "shelf-elf" (lbrarian) I have new books to put on the shelf and I really need to do some work on the new catalogue. The formal part of the proceedings on the third Saturday is always very short and I would have plenty of time to work on it. Oh well, there are plenty of other things to do.

Thursday 19 February 2009

On not getting 'the Marj'

So Media Mike (aka our Premier Mike Rann) has apparently given in to Marjorie Jackson-Nelson and decided to keep the Royal Adelaide Hospital name. The "RAH" also needs to be kept.
Adelaide does not need a super-size hospital in the middle of the city. It needs smaller hospitals further out and specialist hospitals at the RAH and the Flinders Medical Centre. This would be better for the young doctors in training.
Mike Rann cannot see beyond being remembered for a large, unwieldy and inefficient hospital over the railway tracks. It is typical of his entire premiership - it has all been about big in-your-face projects. It is time he thought about what is actually needed instead of tramlines to nowhere and other like projects. He could have done far more on water and sustainable power projects.
The other interesting thing however is that the RAH has 'Royal' in the name - and nobody, not even the most rabid republicans, have suggested changing it for that reason.
Australia does not need to become a republic. It is already a crowned republic but the lack of comment on "Royal" may be more significant than republicans would like.

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Michael Atchison

Michael Atchison is dead. I never met him but I miss his cartoons. He stopped doing those a short while back. The Advertiser had a great cartoonist in Mr Atchison, not just good but great.
He drew well - and directly onto the page with pen and ink. His wit was incisive. He had the capacity of the world's great cartoonists - he could make people think, and often make them think without the use of any words at all.
He also had a trademark 'dog'. The untidy little creature in the corner (obviously himself) would often make the most incisive comment of all.
The creator of Insanity Streak would do well to study Atchison.

Monday 16 February 2009

Not awake

Called to see an old lady this morning and she did not answer. Fortunately she was not awake instead of not alive. I am glad I waited and tried a second time. I nearly let myself in -and that might have given her a heart attack if I had woken her and she had thought I was an intruder.

Unlike the fool of a young man who called at our door this afternoon. He tried to insist he was not a canvasser. I don't think he understands the meaning of the word. He tried to argue and I eventually threatened him with a prosecution for trespass and told him to run-not-walk off the property. I don't know what it is but I find strange young men with smarmy smiles unnerving.

Sunday 15 February 2009

Smoke not rainbows

The haze is still in the hills behind us. It comes from the Victorian fires. I could smell it yesterday morning. One of our tanks is empty. We desperately need some rain but there is none on the horizon. They could do with even more in Victoria to put out the fires.
They are raffling off one of the shawls at the church today. It is the rainbow coloured shawl I actually knitted last year as we passed through some of that bushfire country. It is most unlikely that I will ever go back to Bendigo. The trip was interesting enough and I am perhaps glad I had the experience but I cannot understand why some people go back year after year.
Now there is another reason not to go and that is because of the appalling devastation. Those in the midst of it do not sightseers and gawkers.

Saturday 14 February 2009

A toothbrush and some knickers

Some people are apparently very generous but I wonder if they are giving things they simply want to get rid of? People in a disaster zone do not need a dinner set - but they do need a toothrbrush and clean underwear and some of the most basic things.
Even that pales into significance if you have lost your wheelchair and cannot get around!
I just took a look at an internet discussion list for people with disabilities in Australia. The bushfires have not even been mentioned. Are they all so wrapped up in their own little world that they cannot think of their fellow disABLED? I am not officially a member of the group any more so I do not feel I can intervene - it would be the sort of behaviour that would have the rednecks in the group down on me again. All the same I find their apparent lack of compassion and concern disturbing....surely they could at least be saying "I have a spare X could someone in the bushfire zone use it?"
I would love to be able to write a cheque for a million dollars right now. It would not bring back what people have lost but it might help them start anew.

Friday 13 February 2009

The purpose of the Senate

Senator Nick Xenophon has caused an uproar by refusing to vote for the government's economic stimulus package, at least as of yesterday. There may well be some horse-trading today that will get it through. He wants money for the Murray brought foward and more money spent on the Murray as well. It sounds laudable but it is likely to make him unpopular enough to lose his seat at the next election.
In all this Australians seem to have lost sight of the original purpose of the Senate. It was supposed to represent the states, senators were supposed to represent the states. These days it is about party-politics. Nevertheless it is a house of review and all governments need a house of review. It saves them from what could become a dictatorship - and Rudd would like a dictatorship.
Mr X could have done everyone a real favour however. It may remind some of the need to work with the Senate, not against it. The government is refusing to listen to Opposition concerns that the stimulus package is too large. It is too large. It will not fix the underlying problems, especially those of restrictions on employment. Work Choices may have been unpopular but it was made unpopular by an unrepresentative union movement determined to hang on to the many 'rights' it has gained at the expense of job creation over the years. It is simply too expensive to employ people, employers cannot take the risk. They move off-shore and we all lose.

Thursday 12 February 2009

Show a little consideration

At the point where Australians are being asked to dig deep and give generously to the bushfire appeal at least one charity is still trying to raise money on its own behalf for a local cause. Yes, I know local charities are still going to need money but, at least for this week and next they should resist the temptation to try and sell raffle tickets for luxury items. They are likely to get turned down and it will be a 'phone call wasted and more money wasted.
Yes, there will be some who will still think "What's in it for me?" and buy a ticket - but they will also buy a ticket two weeks down the track.
Let's concentrate on the needs of the bushfire victims. This has hit many Australians hard. A lot of us live in or close to bushfire prone areas. South Australia could still get hit with a serious fire. We have been fortunate that there have not been fires in some areas. Many people are undoubtedly conscious of this and thus anxious to help.
The wonderful Manager of our local St Vincent de Paul has managed to find someone to take the boxes I have been fortunate enough to put togerther. Not having a car is a nuisance at a time like this but a cheerful man 'phoned a short while ago and even asked if he would need the trailer. We decided that two trips in his car should do it.

Wednesday 11 February 2009

More arson

It is unbelievable but there have been more arson attacks in Victoria and two small attacks in the Belair National Park. I wonder if they have been sparked by the publicity?
There is another sort of potential arson too - those fools who live in fire prone regions who refuse to clear the area around their homes because they believe it should remain in its 'natural' state. These same people would be the first to scream if their house was not saved in a fire, the first to say they should have the fire trucks at their home first because they are in the greatest danger. They do not mind essentially stealing from others when the insurance premiums go up for everyone.
Responsibilities have to come before rights when the lives of others, such as responsible neighbours and firefighters are at risk.

Tuesday 10 February 2009

Toll rising

The death toll in the Victorian bushfires continues to rise - and seem more and more unreal.
We went through that region last year. Many of the homes are just weatherboard and some of them must be heritage listed they are so old. They are often tiny as well. But, they are still people's homes, filled with possessions and memories and irreplaceable treasures.
I cannot imagine losing what we have.
It is so strange and frightening to see the lost, blank look, the look of shock and numbness on people's faces. Will other people understand that, like the displaced people from other disasters in other places, some of these people will simply not be able to do anything. They will not have the emotional or physical energy to do anything - and they are the lucky ones. It will take months to positively identify the dead, hold services for them and even more months - perhaps years - for the burns victims to recover as far as they can - and they will all still be scarred for life.
I am still conscious that all it will take is one idiot and one match and it could all too easily be the same here. Australia is not a kind country in terms of fire and flood.

Monday 9 February 2009

Getting out

In the course of doing research some years ago I interviewed a young man who had done a remarkable thing.
At a mere 12 years of age he was home with his 9 yr old sister when they were warned of the need to get out because of a bushfire in the next valley. His parents were out. He and his sister calmly packed the second family car with the contents of his father's filing cabinet and their animals (a cat, dog and several angora rabbits). His sister emptied the freezer compartment of ice to keep the animals as cool as possible and added water for themselves. This boy, who had never driven a car off the property before - and only twice on it under supervision, then proceeded to drive slowly out of the fire zone because he rightly judged that his parents would not be able to reach them after all. When he reached a checkpoint the police had to get him to drive on until they were out of the danger zone.
Somewhat older he admitted to me that the experience was terrifying. He still had nightmares about it. He had waited two years beyond the age he could have got his licence to drive simply because the experience had made him acutely aware of the enormous responsibility involved.
This boy and his sister had been well trained. They knew precisely what they needed to do in the emergency and they did it.
We need more training like this. If there had been there may not have been the horrendous loss of life in Victoria over the last few days.
When they catch the arsonists responsible they should be incarcerated for life with hard labour.

Sunday 8 February 2009

Unsolicited e-mail

No, not the Nigerian scam sort but the sort that comes from a business once it has your e-mail address.
It is understandable that they should add you to their e-mail database but it is irritating and, I think, impolite. It is even more irritating to have to give a reason before they will unsubscribe you. (I wonder if it will even work and whether, despite claims to the contrary, they have passed the address on.)
I am not a person easily swayed by advertising. I use the grocery advertisements to find out which of the two supermarkets has likely items on special but that is about it. I am happy to visit bookshops and secondhand bookshops and that is about it. I do not enjoy other shopping. Perhaps it has something to do with a certain lack of finances but I suspect that even with finances shopping for other items would not be particularly interesting. I wonder how the Japanese can make a national hobby out of shopping. They have limited space so they must shop for small items - and where do they put them?

Saturday 7 February 2009

Culturally different reading

A US friend has just told me she never reads what she calls "British cozies" - crime yarns. She finds them tedious and the characters intolerant - her words, not mine.
It makes me wonder about cultural differences in reading. I find it hard to tolerate many US writers of crime. The books often seem overlong, padded out for the sake of producing something long rather than literary.
I often find the characters even less realistic than those in the lightweight series by some British writers.
Good writers are much less likely to turn out dozens of books, their characters are not going to be as well rounded. The research will simply not be there. The story lines will be contrived and even formulaic. It is not Mills and Boon perhaps but it can still be formulaic.
Perhaps enjoyment also depends on the purpose in reading. If an evening's entertainment is all that is required then one of a lightweight series will suffice.
But, I think there is also a cultural difference here. I have a feeling that the traditional British village/town/county/city setting is very different from the US one. The procedures are different. The relationships are different. British characters may be reserved rather than intolerant. It can make them more complex and more interesting.

Friday 6 February 2009


The second round of university and TAFE offers came out today. Along with that there was a list of courses in which there were still vacancies.
I wonder why there are vacancies in any courses, particularly in courses like engineering. Don't we need engineers? Or is there some other reason for failing to fill those courses?
We almost certainly have too many students attending universities. All generations claim that standards have dropped but I believe that current complaints about dropping standards may be justified.
Cut off marks should not be everything of course. There are courses, such as teaching, where other abilities and personality also count. Nevertheless cut off marks are important in the way the system is run.
I suspect the matriculation system really needs an overhaul. I wonder what would happen if I applied to do any of those courses with vacancies? I never matriculated, most of my fellow students did not. It was a rare thing once. People went on to training for a number of things without it and some of us even went to university. Is it really so different now? Learning styles have changed of course. I cannot imagine sitting in a lecture theatre, reading set texts or having to turn in essays on specific topics.
I think it may be Warwick University that gives very good students the option of studying alone. It must require considerable staff input as well as student motivation, application and maturity. What are the results like? It's an interesting thought.

Thursday 5 February 2009

Spending other people's money

Government is, among other things, about spending other people's money. It is taxpayer money of course.
In this case it is money that taxpayers have not yet paid. It is money that the present generation of taxpayers will never pay. Their children will pay some of it. Their grandchildren will pay more.
I suspect that history will prove Turnbull right and Rudd wrong. Contrary to what is being said it is not merely a desire to keep free market policies in place on Turnbull's part. He's a banker. He knows the dangers. He would not be committing almost certain political suicide unless he had grave concerns about where the present stimulus package is going.
It would be nice to have what Rudd is offering, nice but irresponsible. In politics however the short view is everything. It is today that matters. It is about opinion polls and remaining in power. It does not matter about the future. So we will probbaly get the nice but irresponsible package with a few tweaks around the edges. This is probably what Rudd is counting on. He will be able to say he listened to the concerns of his opposition, especially those in the minor parties in the Senate. I wonder what maverick Nick Xenophon will demand?

Wednesday 4 February 2009


$42bn. This is what Kevin Rudd plans to spend to 'save' the economy. It will not save the economy of course but our PM likes to make grand gestures. We will add this package to the apology to indigenous Australians and the signing of Kyoto.
The question probably should have been , is it better to try and kick an economy or massage it?
Kicking may have a short term effect, enough to get the PM through the next election. When he has completely ruined the economy the other mob will have to take over and try and repair the damage yet again.
Massaging the economy would have made more sense. A drop in interest rates, tax cuts (especially for low and middle income earners) and ditching pay roll tax might have done more to help.
Handouts of $1000 are more likely to find their way to the poker machines.
On top of all that we still have unions demanding pay rises, teachers going on strike, no agreement over the River Murray issues and a failure to handle the power supply in a heat wave. It is interesting to note that there is no money being spent on water or power issues in this 'stimulus' package. I wonder why not?

Tuesday 3 February 2009

Can people debate online?

I have been looking at The Forum. It is supposed to be an on-line debating area - largely Australian. It appears to have a mix of participants.
It is split in two. There is a section for essays from various academic and journalistic types who might not get their work in anywhere else - and a chance for others to comment on that. There is another section where contributors can write up a paragraph or two and bring up an issue for debate.
The concept is good but, as always, there are individuals who fail to see that the idea is debate and not dissent without discussion. I think there is a difference. Some of the participants are not really participants at all. They behave more like the worst of our politicians.
I suspect that Kevin Rudd is going to be one of the latter. He is moving rapidly back to the future. Whatever is driving him (and his thoughts appear to be more and more confused) it is not doing the country any good. We need some clear headed, rational debate. The results may not, almost certainly will not, be what the union movement wants and the results may even make some members of the business sector unhappy. Unless you make some people unhappy you are probably not governing well. The difficulty is to make the right people unhappy and get the best results for everyone. Making the unions happy is not going to do that. They are stuck in the past.

Monday 2 February 2009


The bread, our good homemade bread, has gone mouldy. Now I know I do not put preservatives in it but this is a bit much. It is only two days old.
We do not eat a lot of bread this weather and a medium size loaf can (should) last about four days. My fault, I should have put it in the fridge because I also bought a pack of 'mountain bread' this week. I would like to be able to make this wonderfully thin, flexible leaf of bread. Indeed I have yet to try any recipes from Flatbreads and Flavours. It has been too warm to think about actually baking bread outside the bread machine. I wonder if someone could invent a machine that does the entire flatbread process in a domestic setting? It seems however that even bread machines are out of favour. They are not easy to acquire.
I like experimenting with recipes but I have not been too adventurous on the bread front. My father, willing to try most things, is a bit of a traditionalist with respect to breakfast and his toast and marmalade.

Sunday 1 February 2009


My father asked me to tell him the difference between a digraph and a diphthong this morning. The first is a group of two letters expressing one sound, the second is the union of two vowels pronounced in one syllable. It's a fine difference but there is one.
It is the weakness with dictionaries of course. We use words to describe words, the meaning of words. Even if we think we get the meaning across and the other person appears to understand us they do so within their own experience and not ours.
It makes me wonder how Margaret really saw things. Her experience of the world was so limited.