Friday 31 March 2023

A family feud involving millions

has just ended in the courts here. The judge managed an almost Solomon like judgment at the end by telling all the parties they had to pay their own costs. I imagine those are substantial. Quite possibly the costs run into millions of dollars. It has also taken years. While it might not quite be Jarndyce v Jarndyce it has not been much better.

I have been thinking about this. Succession Law was a compulsory subject in Law school and one of the more interesting subjects at that. There were cases there which could well have been turned into best selling novels and blockbuster films.  What about the will written on a banana skin? Mmm... I won't go there.

I remember one of the university staff who had recently lost his father. His father was very elderly and had not been in good health but we were still concerned of course. We had been told there would be no funeral...and we soon found out why. His son came in clutching an envelope. The envelope, in his father's writing, was labelled, "Dad's funeral arrangements." Inside it was money and the words, "Go out and celebrate the fact the silly old bugger's dead."  The family went out for a meal and celebrated his life.

Wills seem to bring out the worst in most families. Everyone wants something that someone else believes should be theirs. The Senior Cat wisely informed us very clearly who was to have what of his actual possessions. I believe the three of us who are slowly dealing with his things would have done it all much the same way. Much of it was obvious. Middle Cat and I had no use for his workshop machinery. Brother Cat does have a use. He has taken it and now we are getting small things he has made using that machinery and some of the timber. The Senior Cat's great grandchildren are learning to use some of the tools - something else he always hoped for.

We have shared the books. Yes, the Senior Cat left me his books to dispose of as I saw fit. Brother Cat wanted some I knew Middle Cat would not want. Middle Cat has taken some I thought she would want but left others. We asked the Black Cat who flatly refused to have anything to do with any actual objects he had left. Yes, there is the difficult one, the one making difficulties. There is nothing we can do about the fact that her portion is in trust because the Senior Cat did not trust her with a lump sum.

And then I thought a little more. A change of government is a little like a death in the family. The incoming government is inheriting from the previous government. If the previous government has been fiscally responsible there will be money there. It should not be frittered away. Of course the present government will try to say that the previous government has not been fiscally responsible, that the situation is "far worse" than they expected. It is the perfect excuse for breaking election promises. 

I wonder what the incoming party would do if they knew they and not the taxpayer had to pay for broken election promises.

Thursday 30 March 2023

"Welcome to country" ,

acknowledgements and "smoking ceremonies" are not a traditional part of  aboriginal culture.

There were varying ceremonies between tribal groups when they met and needed to interact. That is something that happens all over the world and even within the borders of countries. 

"Welcome to country" however is not that. It is not traditional. If it had been traditional then it would have been around a lot longer than the present "ceremony" has been. I believe it was a previous Prime Minister of this country, one Julia Gillard, who agreed to have one in parliament in order to secure the services of her chosen Speaker.  It helped her form a minority government. 

"Smoking ceremonies" were invented by an actor called Ernie Dingo. He and a fellow actor created the idea in order to welcome the Pacific and Maori athletes to the Traditional Indigenous Games in 1973. There is no "long indigenous history" of such things.

But yesterday there was a fiery exchange in parliament when, having already started the day with an "acknowledgment" one of the Senators tried to include another in her prepared speech. An opposing Senator was heard to mutter something along the lines of "how many times..." and was then called out as being "racist". Was she?

My own view of course is that all these "welcomes", "acknowledgments" and "ceremonies" are altogether too many. What might have once been a good idea has become meaningless. It is just a form of words that has to be said. Those words have less meaning to most than religious prayer or than "all rise" in court or the words of committal at a funeral. It seems they are also becoming less acceptable than the words of the national anthem - and it has to be said that by no means everyone knows the words to our dirge like national anthem. 

We don't need to be welcomed to our own country. I am happy if an airline wants to say something like, "For the locals returning welcome back and to those who are visiting we hope you feel welcome here". I don't want some confected "ceremony". We do not need to start every meeting, even Zoom meetings, with an "acknowledgment". Such statements are meaningless, especially when delivered in a bored monotone. When said that way I actually see it as being disrespectful rather than respectful. It is better not said at all.

I know not everyone agrees with me. There are people who believe that all of the welcomes and acknowledgments are vitally important to "reconciliation" and more. Realistically though they are all too often welcoming and acknowledging people who have more "white" ancestry than "black", whose ancestors are the despised "colonisers".

We should reserve an "acknowledgment" for special, formal occasions. If there is someone present who is a speaker of the local indigenous language then they can be asked to speak a welcome if it is appropriate. Leave it at that. I believe it will have far more impact.

Wednesday 29 March 2023

Gun control matters!

I was appalled by yet another school shooting in the United States. I was even more appalled when I was confronted yesterday with the words, "You were brought up Presbyterian. See this? It's the sort of thing you Presbyterians do." 

The speaker had more to say. He was standing there right where I had parked my trike and he went on to try and tell me that "your religion is responsible for this sort of thing". 

I reached for my bag - intending to pull out the phone and push the emergency button. He was too close for comfort and...well, he frightened me. 

Thankfully I did not need to do anything because someone came running up the ramp and stopped him by saying quietly, "That is enough. That's assault. Move right away now. There are two police down there. If you don't want to get arrested...."

And yes, for once, two police on the far side of the car park. They were both carrying coffees.  My "attacker" stormed off. 

He is mentally ill and it is not the first time he has done something like this. It is not the first time he has shouted at me. There was a day when he let fly with a string of obscenities on the railway station platform at myself and two other women. He threatened to push us off the platform in front of the train. Fortunately the train was delayed and one of the women did call the police who happened to be watching the stop sign nearby...a favourite place to pick up a fine or two.  He was taken off complaining that we had been "name calling".  I don't know how many times they have had to deal with him. He can often seem completely normal.  

Yesterday I wondered what would happen if he lived in the United States and had managed to get a gun. It is not impossible to imagine that he would be able to get one fairly easily there. He isn't "stupid" at all. I suspect he may even be quite intelligent but he has episodes where he does not seem to be able to control himself. He "hates women" and "religion".  It could be a fatal combination if a gun was involved.

Gun control does matter. I know there have been concerns here that we have become a bit lazy about it lately. That won't do. The vast majority of people do not need guns. If someone does own one without good cause then I would question why. There are hobbies apart from target shooting. 

I don't know about the new (and much more radical) style of Presbyterianism in this country but I do know that the old style did not encourage gun ownership. Nobody in my extended family has ever owned a gun. We have been fortunate never to need one to protect others. 

I would not even have hit the man who confronted me yesterday. His behaviour was technically assault. I didn't need to add battery to it. Violence doesn't get us anywhere. It's why gun control matters.  

Tuesday 28 March 2023

Identifying as "aboriginal"

is apparently sufficient to apply for an aboriginal only position with the national broadcaster.

I listened with not a little bewilderment to an exchange between "One Nation" politician Pauline Hanson and a member of the ABC board. I would never even consider voting for One Nation and I don't think I have ever agreed with her but I have to confess I thought she was making an interesting point. There was the job vacancy for an aboriginal person. What did applicants have to do to show they were aboriginal? 

It's a fair question isn't it? Hanson persisted until she finally managed to get the ABC person to say that all an applicant had to do was say they identified as aboriginal. Here was a job where being aboriginal was apparently important enough to say so in the advertisement for the position but all you had to do was state that you were aboriginal. What it then meant was that anyone could apply for the position because it is very difficult to say someone is not aboriginal if they are claiming to be one. This opens up all sorts of issues for the proposed "Voice to Parliament". 

One of the people on the committee which has drafted the words we will likely vote on is a man called Bruce Pascoe. He claims to be aboriginal. He has written a book called "Dark Emu" in which he makes some claims about aboriginal lifestyles at the time of white settlement. Those claims include the growing of crops, living in houses, herding animals and more. He teaches all this at a university.  The problem with all this is that his family tree has been researched by skilled people who can find no evidence for his claims to aboriginal heritage or the tribes he claims to belong to. Historians can find no evidence for the claims he makes concerning agriculture or animal husbandry. These issues have been raised. The university which employs him has been made aware. He still retains his status as an "aboriginal" person and his position at the university. The present Prime Minister has stated "Dark Emu" is a wonderful book.

Here in this state we have just had a state based "Voice" passed with great acclaim by the state parliament. The representatives on that have been chosen rather than elected. One of the elders of a tribal group which extends over a large area has stated, "These are white fellas and we don't recognise them."  My friend M.... is deeply concerned by all this. His view is, "We shouldn't be going down that path. It leads to racial division not unity." He is almost certainly right. 

It is a problem we will need to address, indeed should address now. I have looked at the other people on the advisory committee too. One of them was recently barred from Twitter because of the language she used towards someone else. Yes, it was hate speech. She has used it in other places too but she retains a powerful position on the advisory committee. She is also making it very clear she wants the Voice to be a very powerful body indeed.  In this she has the support of other members of the committee. There are no moderate M...s on this committee.

Talking to someone at the event on Sunday I was asked, "Does it really matter though as long as they get this Voice up and aboriginal people get heard?" Of course it matters. If these are middle class academics from urban areas (and at least some of them have little or no aboriginal heritage) then how can they speak for those living in remote communities?  How long have they spent in such places? Will they listen to representatives from there? I doubt it. It means aboriginal people won't be heard and perhaps have even less hope of being heard.

We need to halt "self-identification" and start asking questions. 

Monday 27 March 2023

"It's in aid of the Wildlife Network"

we kept saying. All we had on display were two blankets, one designed mostly by yours truly and the other with plainer squares beautifully decorated with flowers by S....  We were charging $2 a ticket for the chance to win one or the other. All the money was going to the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Network. They will use it in their ongoing work to replant the vegetation lost in the catastrophic bushfires three years ago. This is vital to the survival of their bee population - and they are vital to the survival of the world's bee population.

And there we were in a school hall attempting to sell raffle tickets to people who had come to a mostly yarn event. I like yarn events. Mmm... my paw goes out. I like that skein...look at the colours in that ball...feel this...what sort of sheep did that come from...have you seen that wool/silk mix? Oh yes...but I was hoping I would be too busy to notice any of that. I do not need more yarn. 

The organisers had put us in a lovely position. We were just inside the door on the is the way most people in this country will walk quite naturally. They were going to walk right past us - and the brightly coloured blanket I designed along with my good friend L... three years ago was something they were not going to be able to miss...we hoped. I thought it would be a good day if we managed to raise around $300.

We knew there would be a problem because we did not have electronic facilities. We did not have one of those fancy little "square readers". (I had never actually laid my eyes on one until yesterday but regulars at such events tell me they are now common.) Still, there were a surprising number of people who still had "a couple of dollars" on them and were willing to part with them. S... and Middle Cat and I talked to people about the importance of the work the network was doing. We took it in turns to take a five minute break around the hall during the morning. People I knew came past and stopped to chat. 

We handed out some small finger puppets to small people - all of whom were surprisingly well behaved. Almost all of them actually thanked us...and a good half of them without being prompted. Late morning Middle Cat prowled off to investigate the likelihood of hot coffee and reported that business was booming in the bigger hall, the school gymnasium, next door. "Are you going to spend the voucher you won at the Show last year?" she asked me. 

Things quietened down, as they always do, over the lunch period, so I took my turn to prowl off. I found the stall which had supplied the voucher and bought two skeins of yarn. No, I didn't need yarn but the blue is nice and I will make something that can be raffled off somewhere else. Lunchtime or not the hall was crowded and there were too many people for my liking. It was also not safe to let me loose among all that yarn temptation!

Middle Cat and S.... both wandered off to look at the street fair which was laid out on the rest of the venue. I sold more raffle tickets and talked to more people. Someone I had not seen for several years came past and I barely recognised her. She has not been well and had aged dramatically. Another friend sat on the spare chair for a short while. W.... is good at selling things to people and earned her short sit down!

By late afternoon it had all grown quieter. It is always like that at these events. We were not drawing the raffle. That will happen on Easter Sunday. There were other door prizes and raffles and we want to make ours a bit more memorable than that. 

Middle Cat bought me two more balls of yarn - beautiful, expensive Japanese yarn. It will need to be turned into something very special indeed. 

Then suddenly it was 4pm and closing time. We were out of there in less than fifteen minutes...and tired. It was worth it. We have sold more than $300 worth of tickets and S.... has taken the blankets off to see if she can sell still more at two other venues.

It has been a lot of work - but worth it. The event was very well organised and I have just told the organisers that. Thanks again C... and team.



Sunday 26 March 2023

Today is going to be difficult

although I should have been looking forward to it.

Hopefully I am off to spend the day selling raffle tickets for the last two blankets we have made for the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Network. I have written about this before. It's been a long journey. I am still hoping we can raise several hundred dollars more for the replanting of vegetation for the bee population on the island. It is still very important. 

Since we started the project a war has started in Ukraine, there has been a catastrophic earthquake in Turkey and Syria, cyclones have occurred in other places and there has been the Covid pandemic. This is just to name a few things which have gone wrong.  I know there will be people who will question why we want to support the Wildlife Network when so many other organisations also need help. My answer will be, "Helping to save the world's bee population is vital to food production all over the world." And yes, I know there will be people who will not be convinced by this even while they say they are worried about "global warming". 

I also know we will be treading on egg-shells at times because we have made simple paper finger puppets to give away to the children who come through. We probably have not made enough and we will be criticised for providing some pink ones, some that look vaguely like friendly unicorns, dogs that are blue and any number of other oddities. No doubt there will be parents who will object to us doing it at all even when I tell them "there are no guns, nothing that is in any way violent". I will probably be apologising because they are not all made out of recycled paper and there are not enough lizards there to satisfy the "environmentally aware".  I will have to watch my language and use "they" instead of "he" or "she".  Each time I help a child put a puppet on their finger I will need to remember to ask permission to touch them...and none of that can be done without seeking permission from the "responsible adult" with them to first give them a puppet. 

In our attempts to "protect" children we have perhaps gone too far. We can do all this and still subject them to the idea that they are not "boys" or "girls". We also tell them they must respect the right to wear religious clothing but not a religious symbol and that giving extra rights to some based on self-identification is fine but to question any of this is wrong.

Is is just possible that we have some of this wrong? How do we explain or justify what happened in Auckland?


Saturday 25 March 2023

I was "blocked" by a "constitutional lawyer"

which was interesting because, when I looked at his actual credentials on line, he is not a constitutional lawyer at all. He is posing as one and is vociferously informing anyone who dares to disagree with him that he is wrong. His views on the aboriginal Voice to parliament are apparently the only views allowed.

I won't tell you who he is because there are more "constitutional lawyers" out there doing the same thing. Some of us who dare to even question them or their credentials are now being threatened with legal action.  I do not have the time or energy for that. I also hate confrontation. I know there will be a great more of this sort of thing in the coming months.

All of this could have been avoided if the present Prime Minister had really listened to the advice he is telling us he wants, we need and indeed must have if we are not to be considered "racist". His actions have made a problem where there should be no problem.

I try not to be "racist". I try not to think or behave in a way that would make others consider I am "racist".  My paternal great-grandmother, a crofter's daughter from Caithness, was perhaps a woman before her time. She welcomed an enormous variety of people into her home. She fed (and sometimes even clothed) sailors from all over the world, she employed aboriginal people at the same rate as others on the dairy farm she started in retirement. Her children played with their children. Her attitude was passed down to her children and then her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We know and understand what is expected of us as human beings. It is an acceptance and tolerance of others no matter what the colour of their skin, what they wear or what their level of education happens to be.  I sometimes feel she is still looking over our shoulders even though the Senior Cat, the last of the generation who knew her in this state, has gone.  We have been fortunate indeed.

I have no doubt at all that she would have been opposed to the "Voice" to parliament. Her attitude would have been, "This is not what we need."

She would have supported acknowledging the people who were here before white settlement. Almost everyone I know supports that idea - as do I. We could have had that in a preamble to the Constitution and it would have passed with a resounding "yes" - and rightly so. 

She would have opposed the Voice though, opposed the Voice as something divisive.  She would, I believe, have seen it as "racist". As one of our aboriginal Senators put it, are we to believe that aboriginal people will always be second class citizens in need of special treatment? I don't want that and I don't want anything that might help perpetuate that in our Constitution.

Friday 24 March 2023

"A Proposed Law to alter the Constitution

to recognise the First People of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice"  "Do you approve this proposed alteration?"

Like the Leader of the Opposition I would very much like to see the Solicitor-General's advice. I find it difficult, indeed impossible, to believe this form of words was wholeheartedly approved.  

Just what are we being asked to approve here? It sounds reasonable until you start to answer some questions, questions to which there are no answers.

It is my belief the vast majority of us would have no problem with simple recognition. If we were being asked to simply recognise that there were people here before white settlement there would be almost no debate. The only real debate there would be how to word the recognition. Even that might not be too much of an issue. We could get that through but we are being told this is not enough.

This is something entirely different. It is not just asking us to recognise a group of people but to recognise them in a specific way - through a "Voice". This Voice is so poorly defined it has the potential to have a much greater impact than the one we are being told is intended.

Our Constitution is a remarkably precise document in many ways. It sets out the powers the Commonwealth (the states and territories as a group) has. It leaves everything else to the individual states. Over the past one hundred and twenty-two years there have been very few changes. The High Court has found some ways of expanding the powers of the Commonwealth through the existing Constitution. (The use of the "external affairs" power in the case of overturning the right to the building of a dam in Tasmania marked a major extension of Commonwealth powers.) 

Our present Constitution does not give an ill-defined group of people a "voice" or what might be ill-defined powers to "advise".  We need to know  who those people might be and if that "voice" is going to give "advice" because, in law, the idea of "advice" is very different from that of the everyday advice we often give one another.  One of the main roles of the High Court is to interpret the Constitution. It is not there to make laws. It can attempt to bend and stretch the law within the bounds set by parliament but it cannot take away rights granted in the Constitution. If we grant those rights then we need to be very clear what rights we are granting.

The current wording is so vague that we cannot have any idea what rights we would be granting.

Thursday 23 March 2023

LGBTQI+ rights or

something else?

As a mere kitten I don't think I really knew that anyone was a lesbian. I knew a couple of women who "lived together" but, looking back, it is much more likely they were just sharing a house. They appeared to live completely separate lives - even getting their own meals and doing their own washing.  The two men next door were a bit "different" but the law never seemed to catch up with them. Certainly my parents were not overly concerned. We simply ignored them. Even during the "free love" and "flower power" years I do not remember hearing much about the LGBTQI+ community. 

Now it seems impossible to turn to the news and there will be a story about LGBTQI+ people and their "rights". There are stories about "gender fluidity" and the "trans children" who need "blockers" and "surgery". There are "rallies" and "flags" and "demands for equal rights". We had a "plebiscite" (at huge public expense) to decide whether "same sex couples can marry". There is debate about whether those who were born "A" can "identify" as "B" in sport, which bathrooms they can use and what the definition of a "woman" should or should not be. 

And even more recently it seems that the most radical of these people have been turning their attention to religion and making demands of those who go to church or synagogue or mosque or temple. "Stop believing all that," they say. "If your religious beliefs don't allow you to completely accept us then they are wrong. You are wrong and we won't accept anything other than the right to protest outside your places of worship and make your lives as uncomfortable as ours." 

Why is all this happening now? Has there really been that growing cohort of "trans" people suffering discrimination in the background now coming to light? Have we really treated them so badly? Do they actually need not just equal rights but extra rights? 

I am wondering if it is too easy to protest, to get media coverage, to make demands of others - and not give back anything in return. Accept me but I don't need to accept you because I am right and you are wrong?

And does anyone have the right to try and deny others the religious beliefs in which they find some comfort and guidance? There is supposedly a right to attend a place of worship of your choice in this country if that is the way you are so inclined. I do not by any means agree with what is taught or said or done in every one of those places. I do not agree but it does not give me the right to commit acts of violence in an attempt to prevent others from attending or believing. I do not agree but it does not give me the right to demand not just equal but extra consideration.

We need to stop giving some of those who "protest" the oxygen of the media. It might also stop the vile antics of some genuinely dangerous extremists getting media coverage as well. 


Wednesday 22 March 2023

Cat scratches can be dangerous

- and now I have you wondering what I have been up to?

No, this is an actual cat scratch I am talking about. Someone I know phoned me yesterday. She wanted to let me know that she will not be at a meeting on Saturday and would also be missing an event on Sunday.

"I just spent a week in hospital and I still can't drive," she told me. Earlier than that she had been trying to get one of her two cats in to the cat carrier to go to the vet for his annual jab. He scratched and bit.

This does not surprise me. I have yet to meet a cat who willingly walks into a cat carrier when asked to do so or even when tempted by a treat. Cats are smart. They know there is something less pleasant at the other end.

Our last two cats were less of a problem. One of them refused to go into the cat basket at all but put a lead on and ask him to get in the car and he would happily sit on a lap and look out the window while the short trip to the vet was underway. When we arrived he knew where we were and, as long as he was being safely carried, he would go in and behave. This same cat was the one who held what appeared to be actual conversations with the vet. The vet would say something and the cat would respond with a sound.  No, not all cats would do this for him. 

The other cat preferred to sit in a cardboard box - still with a lead on and either my mother or myself holding the lead tightly. You don't want cats loose in a car.  Like his mate though this cat detested the cat carrier but was willing to do as required if allowed to view the world from the box. 

The person who phoned me could do neither of these things. I doubt she would get a lead on her cats because they have not been trained to accept that. She would need someone to go with her. Someone should go with her anyway even if the cat is in a carrier. Instead she has to ask someone else to take the carrier into the surgery. I know she loves her cats and does her best to care for them but it is almost a physical impossibility for her to do what needs to be done.

And now, a cat scratch or bite became infected. She left it for a day or two thinking it was not serious but her hand swelled to an alarming proportion, it throbbed. She went to the doctor. The doctor called the ambulance service and she was carted off to hospital for a week. 

As I listened to all this I wondered yet again how long this woman is going to be able to go on living alone - even with help coming in and out. She uses the cats as one of the excuses not to move. The reality is that she is not coping anyway. It is why I get the regular phone calls with the litany of what has gone wrong. She still does not have a mobile phone - well, a working one. I gave her a spare one. It was the cheap and simple one the Senior Cat first had. It is still in working order but it needs a sim card and a few dollars on it for emergencies and cries for help.  There really isn't much more I can do to help. She lives too far away and, to be brutally honest, I am not sure more help is what she needs. She needs to move into smaller accommodation where help is at hand.

I think of all this because I know I am going to need to do the "sensible" thing too one day. Will I be "sensible"? Will I make the right decisions? I hope so.

I doubt this person will. It will be an emergency that causes a change in her situation. Her bachelor BIL will be left to deal with things. He went to feed the cats while she was in hospital.

The cat still has not had his annual jab. 

Tuesday 21 March 2023

No longer allowed to be a woman?

An MP in a neighbouring state is in danger of being kicked out of her party because she went to a rally which was designed to support women's rights.  As I understand it the MP has not actually done anything wrong. 

The rally was organised by someone on the other side of the political fence but it had the support of many women across the political spectrum.  The police were aware of the rally. 

The rally was invaded by two groups opposed to it. One group were "trans rights activists" and the others were "neo-Nazis". The latter group, about twenty of them, moved in and performed a Nazi salute in front of the women trying to speak at the event. The police did nothing to stop them. The MP is now being accused of somehow condoning all this. The trans rights protestors are using it to claim that the women who were there to support women's rights are, if not neo-Nazis themselves, supporters of that vile group.

I am quite frankly appalled. The police may have been trying to avoid any sort of violent confrontation but that group of twenty should never have been allowed to get anywhere near the speakers. We don't need neo-Nazis in this country. Nobody needs them anywhere. What is more the trans rights activists are using the actions of the neo-Nazis to claim that these are the sort of attitudes and beliefs they are up against.

They are using those vile individuals to further their cause while the rights of women to be women are further eroded. The very definition of what "woman" means is under question. People are going to extraordinary lengths trying to avoid answering the question in their efforts not to upset the "trans community". It is fashionable to be "trans" right now. It is so fashionable we are allowing young children to join in and be permanently damaged in order to be part of the fashion trend.

In America a spate of law suits is now beginning because vulnerable children have allegedly been harmed by surgery and hormone treatment when they were too young to fully understand what all this means. On the other hand people are being prosecuted for not using the "correct" pronouns and not allowing "trans" individuals to use the facilities of their choice. Should men who break the law really be simply allowed to "identify" as female and be sent to a women's prison? 

I feel deeply and genuinely concerned for that miniscule group of individuals who genuinely need to "change sex". There are very, very few of them. They often have physical characteristics which are suggestive of some sort of biological problem. They need all the support, love and care we can give them. It would be an appalling situation to be in. I am sure they often feel lost and lonely and that they may well long to be definitely male or female.  It is a very different thing from choosing to be "trans". 

If you do want to identify as "trans" that is fine with me. That's your choice, a choice you have the right to make. However I do not see it as giving you any right to tell me I am no longer allowed to be accepted as a woman. If  biology says one thing then simply saying another does not give you any additional rights.

The MP who attended the event in support of women should be allowed to identify as a woman and state that. That should be seen as an ordinary right.


Monday 20 March 2023

Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths

or STEM as the acronym goes is the "big" thing in education now. Forget the arts, languages, the social sciences, creativity and the like. No, you won't need those - but you will need maths and science and computer coding skills. 

Anyone who has been following the news in the English speaking world will be aware of the "AUKUS Alliance" and the "submarine deal". It all involves billions of dollars of defence money and is demanding all sorts of STEM skills. This is particularly so in this state where there will be some submarine building activities. 

Naturally the Premier is talking up the need for schools to be concentrating on teaching STEM skills. He is heading back here and straight to the Education Department to demand to know how this will be done. He does not want to know whether it can be done but how it will be done. Fair enough I suppose. Schools are supposed, among other things, to be a means of educating the younger members of society to cope with the future. If the future includes nuclear powered submarines then they need to be able to handle the building, use and maintenance of such things.

But there are some problems here. Yesterday one of the local children could not add eighteen and five without resorting to his fingers. He is of an age where the answer should have been almost automatic. He did get the answer right but he was obviously uneasy about having me stand there and wait for the answer. I don't think I am that frightening? He had come and asked if he could have some timber from the shed. Was that one piece going to be long enough or did he need two for his father to cut to size?

At least he will get some minimal practical skills from his father. Some children don't get any. As this boy's father put it to me later in the day, "They don't know a hammer from a screwdriver." Most of my generation knew those things before we went to school. My brother and BIL can both turn their hands to anything. They have added rooms to houses and renovated the interiors. Middle Cat and I know something about those things, indeed Middle Cat has done a lot to help her partner from time to time. 

But STEM does not teach these things. "Tech studies" as it is called can be done without ever touching a tool. You do it all with a computer apparently.  Really? 

But they will need people who can actually make the components for the submarines. They will need fitters and turners, welders, panel makers and much, much more. It can't all be done by computer. These huge things are going under the water. They will be nuclear powered. They are incredibly complex pieces of engineering. All the smartest STEM graduates in the world are not going to be any good if they have never tried to bend a piece of steel - or some equivalent activity.

Teachers are going to say, "There isn't time. How do we add more to an already crowded curriculum?"

I suspect there is an answer to that. It may not be a very popular answer but we could remove a lot, indeed almost all, of the "social education" which takes place.  Do all those "woke" ideas really need to be taught in school? Could we replace them with more reading, reading comprehension skills and creative writing? Could we add art, craft, metalwork, woodwork and more? What if we actually taught children to read and to think creatively? What if we gave them the skills to both design and build the submarine?

Sunday 19 March 2023

Getting Vladimir Putin to the ICC

may never happen. Many people would like to see it happen but hold out little hope. If it did then there are many others who would object.

In the middle of all this there are children who have been simply taken away. They are seen as the "cannon fodder" of the future. They will not be given "loving homes and an education". Instead they will be told you, "We saved you. You owe us your life."

It is not quite the same thing as the "adoption" it is claimed to be. I have however been thinking about the issue of adoption. It has been in the news again. There have been two quite different stories recently. One was of a couple who were refused the right to adopt two children they had been fostering over some years. They want to give the children a certain future. There have been no complaints about the way they have treated the children, indeed the contrary is true. Their care has been commendable. It has been loving and kind. There is no impediment to adoption at all - except for the fact the children are "aboriginal" and the parents are not. 

Policy dictates that aboriginal children must be placed with aboriginal families, their own family if at all possible. It doesn't matter what might actually be in the best interests of the children in this case. It is what policy demands. Some years ago I was involved with a family who had fostered an aboriginal child. He was wild, a real trouble maker. He was passed on to this family having been through more than thirty placements. Nobody could handle him. It was hoped this family could. The father was a former officer in the army. He was used to dealing with trouble makers. 

They tried and it looked as if things were finally getting somewhere when someone realised that the family was "not aboriginal" and the child needed to be placed with an aboriginal family because the policy was to place such disturbed aboriginal children with aboriginal families. It was a policy designed to "ensure they grow up within their own culture". Nothing could have been less likely. The child, all of nine years old, was moved on. I wonder now how often he has appeared in front of the courts.

The other story was of a boy who is about to go with his father to Everest base camp. It's quite a trek. They are raising money for a charity which helps "suitcase" children, children passed on from one family to another as foster children. This boy was a suitcase child. He has been one of the fortunate ones. He was adopted - and the adoption worked.

I know not all adoptions work. We often hear about those. We don't hear about the vast majority which do. We hear stories about children "reunited" with their birth mothers - but we don't hear nearly as much about the trauma that causes the child. We hear the happy stories, the feel good stories. We do not hear about the adult child forced to move not just house but job and interstate in order to get away from a birth mother who is "demanding her rights". We do not hear about the adoption which "fails" at the last moment because the birth mother changes her mind even though she is never going to be in a position to care for the child herself. 

Adoptions here happen because parents want to adopt. There are all sorts of obstacles put in the way.  I doubt such care is taken in Putin's Russia, indeed suspect there are many children in old-fashioned orphanages. They will be indoctrinated there and perhaps end up fighting their own families without being aware of it.

If someone can get Putin and his co-accused in front of the ICC they will be doing the world a favour. We need to start thinking about what adoption really means.


Saturday 18 March 2023

Computer printers are

fine when they work and when they don't work...

I really do try not to use paper unless it is necessary. I do try to keep a hard copy of bills I have paid. That seems sensible. There are things I need to back up...there are USBs for that or Dropbox or even emailed to myself (and thus available on another computer in an emergency). But the printer...yes, I need the printer!

This blog post is likely to be short. The person who sorts out computer problems for me has just called to say he will be over shortly to "reunite" me with my printer. It has not been working ever since we finally needed to transfer the files from the old computer to a newer version. (Why do Windows have to upgrade at all????)

It has all been a long, slow process - or slower than I would like. I could have called in a "professional" technician to do the job in a day - and been charged far more for it. "Computer S...." as we call him is not a professional but he is one of those people who knows more than most professional computer people. He charges me far less. He does it in his own time of course but I expect that. He's grossly overweight, morbidly obese in fact. It worries me because he is a nice person and I hate to think his life expectancy is far less than it should be because of his weight. He needs what little I pay him. He needs me to listen to his other issues at times. Nobody will employ him because of his size but he gets by on odd jobs here and there. People can call him. Yes, he can do that - not today perhaps but tomorrow. Really urgent? He will see what he can tonight all right? He is an asset rather than a liability when it comes to the actual work that needs to be done.

He phoned me about 7:30 this morning....can he do it now? He knows I will be up and doing things. He probably has not been to bed. I let him know it's fine.

I want the printer because, next weekend, we are planning to raffle off the last two blankets for the Replanting project. We will be at something called the "Fibre Feast".  There may not be many small children around but I want them to have the pleasure of being gifted small paper finger puppets. (No, I do not have time to knit them!) I would like them to be able to wiggle their fingers with a dinosaur or a kangaroo or a dog or something on the other end. I want them to "pretend", to use their imagination.

It might also keep them occupied for a moment or two while their "responsible adults" look at something...or even buy a ticket for the raffle.

So having the printer is important. I need to print these things out. It's also important to let S.... know that he can do the job he has promised to do. He eats less when he is feeling good about something else. 

Friday 17 March 2023

Bored? They do it because they are bored?

There is an article in this morning's paper which looks at the "gangs" in one of our towns in the north of the state. The journalist quotes the young members of those gangs as saying they are causing trouble because they are "bored".

I think we have heard this before. "We're bored. There's nothing to do." 

My mother's reaction to that would be, "Well, I'll find some work for you to do." I remember another parent actually saying to my mother, "Your children never seem to be bored" and Mum replying, "No. They know I'd soon find something for them to do."

The Senior Cat was well aware of the "boredom" issue. He was the one who taught so many local children woodworking skills, conjuring tricks and how to plant a seedling. He showed them how to make origami cranes and told them the story of the thousand cranes.  When one of the 16yr old boys came and asked him to make something his response was, "No, you can make it yourself. I'll show you how to do it." That boy has gone on to be a skilled carpenter.  He has just finished making his partner a bench seat for their garden.

My parents didn't believe in "boredom". As kittens we were provided with plenty to do that cost very little. Yes, Mum was a mostly "stay at home" mother until the Black Cat started school. She only taught for short periods before then, mostly as a relief teacher. Of course because she was a teacher she also knew how important it was to make sure we had plenty to do. Boredom was not allowed.

I don't remember other children being particularly "bored" either. It seems to me that someone would always be planning something. There would be a game of "cricket" or the building of a "cubby" or an "experiment" with something or other. There were games of "cowboys and Indians" (with plots from the Saturday afternoons at the pictures) and, in our part of the world, "rescues at sea" and more.  

I tried explaining this to a couple of the older children in the street not so long ago. They were puzzled. "But how did you do it if you didn't have any stuff to do it with?"  The idea that we might have managed with almost nothing. "Didn't you have a proper cricket bat and ball?"  Well we did sometimes but an old fence pail and a used tennis ball worked just as well if those things were not available.

I used to think my niece and nephews had a lot of toys when they were young. Compared with us they did have rather a lot but their own children have far more. Their own children also have music lessons, dance lessons, sports, drama and more. Their lives are constantly filled with activity that is not self-generated. I don't think my great nieces and nephew will ever be bored gang members because their parents will see to that. They also have "grandpa" - Brother Cat - and his workshop. He has taught them all the basics of using some tools. They have all made things with him. They garden with his partner. She encourages them to make puppets and put on "plays".  There is always a big jigsaw on the go and, because all the activity requires fuel, they help in the kitchen.  Screen time is not banned but it is discouraged through the provision of other activities. But is this normal now? Do I dare mention the "s" word?

There is that delightful exchange in Randolph Stow's book, "Midnite" where would-be "bushranger" Midnite asks Khat (a very intelligent Siamese cat), "What is a typewriter?"  Khat's reply is, "It is a machine for writing books. A hundred years from now people will be preposterously lazy."  I wonder what he would have to say about screen based "entertainment". 

Screen based "entertainment" is obviously not satisfying the young gang members. I wonder if a woodwork shed might help? 

Thursday 16 March 2023

The Alice Springs Beanie Festival

is now gathering together the 6000 or so beanies which will be up for sale. This year's event will be held over 23-26 June if you happen to be up that way.

I have contributed ten beanies - the maximum allowed if you cannot go and help. My good friend W....has contributed another ten. She has been more than once and tells me it is great fun helping. The whole event brings in tourists and trade to an area which desperately needs it.

I made nine of the beanies I contributed and my friend M.... made one. Hers went in under my name because, if we sell any of them, then the funds will go towards the science scholarship that was set up in the name of a late friend of mine. The scholarship is only tiny - enough for the actual school expenses of an unaccompanied girl to go to school for an extra two years in Africa. It is something though and we usually manage to sell the beanies to cover a good deal of the cost involved.

M...'s beanie was accidentally attributed to me - something I have now rectified - and yesterday I was telling someone about this. She looked surprised and then said, "Why bother? Nobody would have known. It's only a beanie."

Well, it mattered to me. M...'s beanie won a prize in the state show. It is beautifully made. I cannot take credit for it. I would have known. M... would know if I told her. My friend W... was the one who alerted to me that it had gone up on the FB page under my name. She knows too. We both think it matters.

So, I have put a note up on their FB page and explained. I have told them where the beanie has come from and how it has won a prize... and I have told them where the funds will go. I think I can be almost certain it will sell now. It will give M.... a thrill because she likes to help others, something which her deafness often makes it difficult for her to do. 

I had an email from M... yesterday - I had sent her the picture from the FB page and said I would explain. Her reply was a single "smiley" face. This morning there was another - a row of the same smiley faces and "thank you I like to help". 

I like to make sure she gets acknowledged too. 

Wednesday 15 March 2023

No, it isn't a yellow submarine

- at least I don't think it is. 

The news has been filled with stories about the AUKUS "submarine deal". We are, so it is said, going to be building some submarines in this state.

Maybe we are or maybe we aren't. It is still a long way from binding contracts being signed. We have already paid out close to a billion dollars to the French for a contract that apparently was signed but the conditions were not met, not right, not quite what it appeared to be, not what we wanted....or something.

This one does not seem any more likely to me at present. Apparently the American Congress has to agree. We are friendly with the Americans - hence the US part of AUKUS - but does that mean they will give up the secrets of their old nuclear submarines? I am not holding my breath.

It is all incredibly expensive too of course - some estimates are as high $368bn. Given cost blow outs (and there will be some) the figure is probably closer to $740bn. I won't be around to see this because there will be "delays" as well - and I don't expect to live quite that long. This is currently thirty years in advance planning - make that forty at least.

All of this is apparently about "defence". I am aware we need "defence". I would much prefer we did not need the armed services at any time. It would be good if they were simply defensive, that we knew they would never need to go to war. That's unlikely. There have been rumblings about China lately. Will they use all this as the excuse to try and, as they see it, retrieve Taiwan? I know this worries my Taiwanese neighbours.

It has been obvious to me for far too long that the best form of defence a country can have is properly targetted foreign aid. The aid given has to be the sort that benefits those who need it most in a way that helps them be self-reliant. Rather than telling all those young men who make the perilous journeys in search of a better life "we don't want you" we should be telling them something different. We should be saying, "You can come and we will train you in new skills so you can return to your country of origin and build new lives for yourself and others. We will give you the seeds of development and you can do the growing." 

Oh yes, it is much more complex than that. I know it is but it is a possibility we need to keep in mind. Just one of the billions of dollars spent on those submarines could plant so much more good will.  

Tuesday 14 March 2023

Council rates are going up again

by almost 10%. That's a huge increase...and not one that can be justified. 

I did not vote for the current mayor. I did not vote for her because she has an agenda I do not believe is appropriate. Councils are there for things like "rates, roads, rubbish" and some community services. They are not there to push an extreme political agenda or heavily woke ideas. 

The current mayor obtained a lot of votes by promising "free solar panels" to anyone who did not have solar panels but wanted them. Of course these solar panels are not "free". They are being paid for by the rate payers. What is more they have apparently ordered more than they can currently use so they are "selling" them at "reduced prices because they were bought in bulk". I am told they are not the best solar panels available - and that some installers do not want to put them on the roof.  This house already has some solar panels - which we paid for in the usual way and so do other houses. We do not benefit from this scheme but we are subsidising it for others so the mayor can claim some "green" credentials. 

She has also gone ahead with buying "pride" flags for the council. Now if people want to fly "pride" flags on their own buildings that is fine with me but there is just one flag which should be flown on a council building and that is the national flag. If there is a second flagpole then there are occasions on which it is appropriate to fly a second flag but flags (and their maintenance) are expensive. Always flying the flag of a tiny group in the community for the purposes of "inclusion" is not "inclusive" at all. There are many other groups in the community which feel excluded and discriminated against. We do not fly flags for them.

She has also gone ahead and started to rename some local landmarks. They are being given "Aboriginal" names. The mayor tells us that this is being done in consultation with the local aboriginal community. There is a problem with this. Our council area runs over more than one tribal area. The tribes often clashed. They spoke different languages. There was more than one name given to some landmarks. In some cases people have no idea what something was called. The mayor is relying on information from people who are not experts and who could just as easily be making something up. (Before you tell me not to be ridiculous, this happens more often than researchers want to acknowledge.) Renaming places is expensive.  It is also wiping out a lot of important local history.

The community bus service has been cut back. (It relied on volunteer drivers.) The library budget has been reduced and has to be fought for even though it is the biggest community service there is - used by hundreds of people everyday.  The mayor wants to cut back on rubbish collection "so people will think about doing more recycling" - which is why we already have a recycling bin is it not?

One of the people on my regular pedalling route tried to go to a council meeting recently. They are supposed to be open to the public. It was not open to the public. He had been trying for months to get the council to do a simple alteration to a drain in his street. I have no engineering knowledge but he does. He explained it to me. It makes sense.  He has offered to do the job himself so that water can be saved. No, he may not do it. When will it be done? It's on the council list - for 2027. It would take a council worker an hour at most. 

I know....I know. All these things are the sort of things which happen everywhere but I am going to be paying hundreds of dollars more for things which should not be done and watch water go along the street instead of the proper catchment area instead. Meanwhile the mayor is telling us how "inclusive" the council is. The engineer just happens to live with his male partner and would prefer the drain to be fixed than a flag to be flown.  

Monday 13 March 2023

Banning mobile phones in school

is coming into force in this state and the students are not happy about it.

The ban is coming in following the uploading of videos of school yard fighting and other issues. Whether it will be the answer to some of the problems is anyone's guess. 

I have seen the media footage of some of the violence in the school grounds. I have also seen a video on the phone of a young friend. He was not happy about it.

"How did you get it?" I asked him. 

"One of the others sent it to me.  He wants me to tell because they know I wasn't there so they won't think it was me. If I do tell then he's going to know I did and...well you know."

Oh, right. I do know.  The complications...I tried to think this through. They are supposed to report any incidents like that but it certainly makes them vulnerable.

"Can you talk to your Dad about it?" 

He shrugged and then said, "I hate this stuff. People don't talk to you. They just do this stuff instead. There's always fights."

Always? I wonder about this. There are certainly reports about such incidents. Some of those incidents have been very violent indeed. Are there less violent incidents also occurring as well? I have no doubt there are.

I can remember a couple of scuffles at schools I attended. They were over quickly and those involved were quickly hauled into line. I can remember the Senior Cat standing there and looking at two panting perpetrators and telling them, "In my office, now!" He left them there for so long they thought he had forgotten them. He had not. By the time he returned they were apparently looking thoroughly sheepish and talking to each other again. I doubt any more was said.

What I cannot remember is the sort of incident where everyone stood around in a circle chanting, "Fight!" or something equally stupid. We dealt with our disagreements in other ways. No, we were not angels. We argued and name-called and there was some bullying. There were people we liked and people we didn't like. There were people we avoided but there were no "gangs" that I was aware of. Rural schools tended to be too small for that but my brother does not remember any in the big high school he attended in the last two years. 

Do mobile phones actually encourage such violent behaviour? I don't know. I am not aware of the latest research. It is obvious the Education Department here thinks banning phones will help reduce such behaviour. It will be interesting to see if the ban has any effect.

What I hope might happen is something different. If the ban remains in place I am hoping that students might start to talk to each other more instead.


Sunday 12 March 2023

Commenting on news sites

is fraught with difficulties. There is usually a limit to the number of words you can use. Yes, that's a good thing in a way. It means you need to think about the most efficient way to use the words you have. Some people are very clever about that. They can be very amusing as well.

That's fine but there is also the issue of "moderation". Now yes I understand it is necessary to have moderators because the owners of the sites do not want comments to do harm to themselves. Responsible owners do not want to do harm to others either.

Unfortunately it also means that moderators can filter out material with which they personally disagree. That is not the purpose of moderation but it happens. They can also filter out material which they want to believe is factually wrong even when it is resubmitted with a link which shows something in action.

This happened yesterday. I had a phone call from someone who said, "Hey Cat how can I get them to publish this? They are wrong and I uploaded the video to show them. They still refuse to publish it."

My answer was, "You probably can't." Given the content it did not surprise. It concerns the highly controversial "Voice" to parliament. The video clip showed an exchange between a very senior public servant and one of the senators at Committee level. The Senator was exploring the issue of how much consultation, if any, had gone on prior to the government making an announcement. Asked at least three times the public servant admitted there had been no consultation. The government has simply gone ahead and made a major announcement without legal advice. That is potentially dangerous.

Now one of the more controversial columnists has written his weekly column. It is about this issue. It was available on line yesterday. It is in the paper this morning. I have read it. Many people will read it. It is an opinion piece. Many people will be influenced by it. The little bit of extra information N.... wanted to add might at least have caused some people to question what was being said in the article. It is simply a fact, not an opinion. Interestingly the video clip has disappeared this morning so I can't include it here. It's a pity. It was interesting but we don't want people to have opinions do we?


Saturday 11 March 2023

A holiday on the National Disability

Insurance Scheme?

I might not have taken too much notice of the article in this morning's paper because I am well aware that the NDIS is not working the way it was intended to work. "Rorts" as they are called here are rife.

But this morning I am running late because a distraught mother phoned me and asked if I had seen the article. "How in the bloody hell do people get to go on holiday when we can't get any help at all?"

It's a fair question. This family has a severely autistic non-verbal son. To say his behaviour is "challenging" would be a gross understatement. He can't be left. No school will have him. His mother cares for him during the week. At weekends her husband tries to give her some time off but D...'s behaviour makes this difficult. They tried to get some "respite" once but they were called back even before they had reached their intended destination because D.... behaved so violently. 

Since then, despite all their efforts, help has not been forthcoming. We are in the process of trying yet again. There is plenty of agreement that they should be eligible for some help but the nature and amount of that help is something else. 

"What I'd like is just a few hours a week. A trip to the supermarket would be a real treat. I don't want other people to do the shopping. I want to do it myself. I want to sit there for half an hour and have a coffee someone else has made. I want to go to the hairdresser instead of J....(Her husband) trying to do it for me. The last time I went out was to the dentist and J.... had to take time off so I could go."

D.... is too big and too violent for me to even contemplate offering to help. There is nobody they can ask. People have just deserted them. I can understand that. D... is not nice to be around. He is constantly making noises and moving in agitated ways. The smallest irritation can cause a major melt-down. He throws things. Getting him to take medication which might calm him is very, very difficult and not that effective - and there is a problem getting a doctor to come to the house. Several weeks ago the police were called by a neighbour because D... had escaped into the front yard - stark naked and screaming. 

Yes, the family needs some help. This is what the NDIS should be for but the article was about how some families are going on holiday using NDIS funds. That's nice. It's good they get to go on holiday because everyone needs time out occasionally. The problem is that what the NDIS is being charged for this often far exceeds the actual cost. When the providers are charging another several thousand dollars over and above the actual cost that is wrong. Those several thousand extra dollars need to go elsewhere. The money should go towards helping D....'s family and others with needs as great as this.

The system has to change but it will be difficult. Those who have been getting help they could manage without and things like luxury holidays are not going to want to give them up. Who can blame them?  

In the end it might cost us more. D...'s mother was in tears again. Both parents are on anti-depressants. I just wonder that they are still together and care for each other as much as they apparently do. D... needs specialist full time care elsewhere - but there isn't anywhere. There isn't anywhere while others go on holiday. 

Friday 10 March 2023

An exhibition of needlework

lured me out of the house yesterday. I actually caught the train - for the second time since Covid hit our shores.

The train journey was not particularly enjoyable. It was crowded with people going to events at Writers' Week and elsewhere. Thankfully I managed to get both the trike and myself on and off safely. 

I had something to drop off for a good friend at the Embroiderers' Guild premises and, that done, I had given myself an hour to prowl around and look. Oh yes, I looked. 

I spent more time in front of some exhibits than others. That is always the way of such things. Some things caught my eye. Others did not. I was, as always, amazed by the variety. Yes, some of the work was done from a kit but there was also much which was original. One piece had every colour of the rainbow and in shades within that. Another was the pale blue of Wedgewood with soft white. There was an armchair covered in Jacobean style embroidery - no I could not sit on that. I would worry I might spoil the work involved.

I found my friend's jewellery. It will absolutely suit her when she eventually wears it. I looked at other small things. I made my way right around the exhibition room and then along the path to the smaller exhibition area. 

The fish which has won the annual prize is an extraordinary piece of work - designed and made by the winner. It is difficult to contemplate the amount of work involved in the making of it. The very delicacy of it would make me afraid to try and pick it up. It was almost translucent but it still seemed to swim towards me.

And on the table in the centre of the room were some toadstools. Now there are toadstools and there are toadstools. These were the very best sort of toadstools made of tiny, tiny beads and bling. I left them wondering if the minute residents of these tiny places wander around at night looking at the exhibition in ways we cannot.

The hour I had given myself was over too quickly...but I hope I can go again next year.  

Thursday 9 March 2023

Saving the Kaurna language?

The "Kaurna" language is supposedly the language of the people of the plains on which I live. Move about a kilometre further and you come to the foothills and the low mountain ranges where there were other tribes and other languages.

The Kaurna language has almost gone. All that really remains are some words. Even the pronunciation is uncertain. "Kaurna" is usually pronounced "Garna" or "Garner" but even that is uncertain. 

Despite that there is piece in this morning's paper claiming that there is work going on to ensure the language somehow survives. There are said to be twenty-one schools teaching it.  It is said that this is the "original" language and that it is being "developed". The language is described as being "strong" and "resilient".

It is none of those things. I do know something about language death and the death of the culture which goes with it. It always saddens me because we lose so much when we lose a language. We lose an entire way of seeing the world. 

But Kaurna was lost long ago. It has not survived white settlement. It was a language not fit for that purpose. The people who used it had entirely different language needs.  They only needed to communicate on a daily basis with a very small group of people over a very small area. For the most part they did not even communicate with the tribes in the hills less than hour's walk away. There is evidence they fought one another rather than befriended each other. 

The Kaurna vocabulary of the time was suited to their daily purpose but it was not suited to contact with the white settlers. They needed to create words or use the words of the white settlers. History shows us that, for almost everything, they used the words of the white settlers. This was inevitable because before you can create words you need other words which allow you to express the necessary concepts. 

So what are they really doing here? They are not saving a language at all. Are they trying to create one? If so, how? If so, why? Is this simple a woke exercise?

Language learning in this country is not something with which we seem to have much success. For many years schools taught Latin, French and German. There were after school classes in subjects like Italian and Modern Greek. Then "Asian" languages became a "thing" and we started teaching Japanese and Chinese - often so badly it was of no real value at all. Widely spoken languages like Spanish, Arabic or Swahili were ignored completely. Despite the influx of refugees from Vietnam there was little Vietnamese taught. Even now it is hard to find schools which teach these things.  

I don't like the idea that the Kaurna language has been lost but so have the languages of the hill tribes. If the present work is simply a woke exercise without any strong foundations, and I suspect it is, then it is wrong. It isn't saving a language at all.  

Wednesday 8 March 2023

A "toxic" culture in the police force?

Apparently a senior police officer in this state, one close to retirement, has been suspended for writing a letter saying there is a "toxic" culture in the police force in this state. There are also statements they are understaffed and that there is a litany of other issues which need to be addressed.

While the police in this state may do a good job I have to agree with at least some of what the officer has said. I have long thought there is something wrong with the initial training police receive. Yes, you want people who can apply the law and deal with those who break the law. You want people who can control traffic and crowds and deal with a wide variety of incidents from traffic accidents to domestic violence. It is not an easy job.

But there are people in the police force who do the wrong thing too. My experience with them has been varied. I once had the police move some now old fashioned radar gear out of my way on the footpath with a cheerful call to each other, "Look out, tricycle coming through" and then a "Go carefully." I went carefully.  On occasion they have seen me attempting to cross a particular road at a particular point and waved me in front of their car.  That's something I really appreciate.

I have never been convicted of a traffic offence but I have had a policewoman try to make me break the law. I have had another obviously bored policeman tell me off for not putting a rear paw on the ground at a stop sign with "How do I know you have stopped if you don't do that?" is hardly necessary if you are riding on three wheels rather than two. He just wanted to have a go at someone.

We see them sometimes in the shopping centre. It's a pretty law abiding area and they are usually buying takeaway coffees and their lunch. It is interesting to note they expect (and get) to be served first. They don't talk to other customers. It seems like arrogance even when they might be able to say, "Excuse me an incident has been called in and we need to get on." They seem to ignore small children now. We knew the local policeman when I was a very young kitten. He would crouch down and talk to us. In a small country town he knew all of us. He taught the Irish boy how to help the rest of us get like ducks across the road so we could go to "help" at the railway station. 

But training has changed, perhaps because the police no longer walk their territory. They drive. They don't mix. 

Some years ago I met a policeman who did talk to me. He had been trained in England and he was thinking of returning there. He did not think it was perfect there by any means but he told me he thought the new recruits here were being trained to be "distant". I know what he meant. You might not want police to be too friendly but you do want them to be approachable. It might induce cooperation in general - and that might go some way to solving some very real problems.


Tuesday 7 March 2023

Dealing with a deceased estate

can be simple or it can be complicated. 

Some years ago I helped someone deal with her father's estate. He owned very little. He was in a nursing home when he died and he had, sensibly, passed all he could on to his two children prior to his death. We were left with some clothes, a few books and other possessions, a bank account and his electric wheelchair.  The last item was given to the nursing home. The clothes were given to charity. The other items went to where he had stipulated. The whole thing was over very quickly.

The Senior Cat's estate is taking longer. There were long delays caused by Covid restrictions and complications with the codicil relating to the Black Cat.  The granting of probate should occur soon but that will cause other issues. At least we are aware of them.

I was not the executor for one of the people I had power of attorney for and I am not, thankfully, executor for her recently deceased sister. The friend I was PofA for had her affairs well arranged. She had made it quite clear to the executor who was to deal with what. I remember her saying, "I don't want my estate to be paying out thousands to a firm to deal with all this." 

In the end my friend had very few possessions. Like the elderly man she had given away a good deal before her death. We spent an afternoon writing a list of what she wanted to go where. The only thing that upset her was my refusal to allow her to give me anything. I kept telling her that she could not do this as it might seem like undue influence. This is not strictly correct but I did not want to seem to be seen to benefit. We muddled through that.

Her sister however left no such instructions.  The solicitor is dealing with all this instead. More than once I have been asked if I know something or where they might be able to find someone to pass on non-personal documents. Haven't they managed to find anyone else who knew her? Apparently not. They will be paid for all this of course, very well paid. I do it out of a sense of duty. The sooner it is done then the sooner the charities she named will benefit. That is what makes me do it. I don't know whether to be irritated by the solicitor's apparent inability to do the job without recourse to me or irritated by her failure to be more specific about who does what.

My nephew has been named as my executor. I have a list for him but I am going to renew it. I want to be specific.  

Monday 6 March 2023

Having "conniptions" anyone?

Not so long ago Philip Ardagh asked if anyone still uses the word "conniptions".  Yes!

I had a friend who used it frequently. She died not so long ago and I will miss her saying things like "she was having conniptions". 

E... was what was once known as an "Infant School" headmistress. She was down to earth, straight talking, funny and kind. Children would have felt secure in her presence. They were certainly happy to talk to her. 

I don't know if she used "conniptions" with them. Quite possibly she did. It is the sort of word children like. I have told more than a few children about it. One of them used it in school recently. Her work was marked with "this is not a word".  I sent a message to the teacher who did at least have the grace to apologise and mark the work up. Child and I are now plotting some other unusual words...said child having complained they had not participated Lev Parikian's "World Cup of Random English Words".  I was told, "If I had of known about it I would have liked to know what words people like and find some new ones."

So now I have introduced this child, and others, to Cian McCarthy's "words for the weekend" on Twitter. I came across these by accident. Unlike WCoREW these are words he has found which are very different. He offers four for the weekend - choose one. I am naughty I have tried to put two into a sentence each time and send them back. This last weekend the words were "turveydrop", "boscage", "quadrivium" and "nuddle" and I managed to nuddle along to the quadrivium. No, you can hunt for those words yourself. That way you might remember one of them and add something as delicious as "conniptions" to your vocabulary. That would be scrumdifferous. 

With all that though I have yet to come across anyone else who uses "exturbadant". It seems that really is a word unique to this family. I am not sure which one of us coined it or used it first but we all used it from time to time. It (sort of) meant, "interesting, peculiar and different" all rolled into one. 


Sunday 5 March 2023

Brightly coloured plastic toys

were strewn across a road I pedalled down yesterday.

There were a lot in the particular shade of pink we associate with that "doll" with the impossible figure but there were also bright yellow, red, orange, a little green and a bit of blue. There was a sort of climbing frame, some broken Lego, a table and three (broken) chairs.

Obviously someone had been clearing out. Perhaps it was all there for the "hard rubbish" collection. A couple of teens were kicking some of it up and down the street. Nobody else seemed to be around.

I detoured past the teens and the rubbish. There was no point in getting involved. The two boys did not look friendly. They had shouted obscenities at me and someone running past them. Hopefully someone in the street was going to see them fooling around and do something about it.

But I was also reminded of several things when I saw those toys. The first memory was of something not so good. My maternal grandmother bought one of those ghastly dolls. I don't think she really thought we would play with it because it was one of those things she told us we had to be "very careful" with. I can remember how excited she was by this new toy. They had probably not been on the market that long in this country.  I was never a very "doll" sort of child and I thought it was awful. My mother, knowing what my reaction would be, warned me prior to seeing it that I was to behave myself. I tried but her mother was still "very disappointed" I did not enthuse over it. We children never played with it in the end. I have no idea what happened to it. Over the years I have helped children knit clothes for these dolls but I still don't like them at all.

But the abandoned table and chairs brought back a good memory. We had a distant elderly cousin in another state who was very generous with money at Christmas time. I remember struggling to write letters to this man. It was not because I did not want to thank him. I did but I didn't know him so it was very difficult. Our parents though were very sensible. I had my first proper doll as a result of his kindness and my brother had his first teddy bear. Several years later my brother and I had a very well made table and four chairs as a result of his generosity. The set was made from wood and it was sturdy. It lasted four of us, then my brother's children and then his grandchildren. The set is still in use - borrowed by another family with a young child.

And that is what can happen when things are well made from timber. I had a dollhouse (the one I turned into a railway station) made by the Senior Cat. I had a walker filled with wooden blocks made by him. My brother had an even bigger set of wooden blocks (now used by visiting children).

The Senior Cat made similar things for all his grandchildren and for the children in the street while he was still able. Every time they have been cared for, stored away for the next generation when no longer needed. When Middle Cat suggested to her boys they could pass the rocking horse on to their much younger cousins there was outrage. They were not parting with Henry! She gives it a loving pat whenever she is in the room it is stored in.

I don't think that sort of thing happens with most plastic. Plastic doesn't last. It doesn't feel the same. It can't stand up to the same sort of rough treatment - although Lego does seem reasonably tough and does seem to get passed down.  But, timber is timber. Properly made wooden toys will last and last. Things like the building blocks are often seemingly simple but their play value is immense.

I hope the children who had those plastic toys which were strewn across the street also have some wooden ones they have been able to keep.

Saturday 4 March 2023

Reducing the postal service

is not going to help.

The postal service is not there to "make money". If it can break even that is a good thing but simply reducing it to try and cut costs is not the answer.

When I first went to London they still had eleven deliveries a week - and first and second class mail. The service there was extraordinarily efficient. Back here in Downunder we had already had the service reduced to five times a week in the city. Out in "the bush" it was another story - you might get a delivery once a week in some places. If you were relying on it being flown in to a sheep or cattle station it might be even less frequent.

But people still got a lot of mail. The internet has changed that drastically. It is expected that people will have access to the internet - and that they will be prepared to pay their bills online. Some companies will even charge you for sending out a paper bill. It is all about "saving the environment". You save paper and fuel and you pay with, as Brother Cat put it, "a flow of very expensive electrons".

And what happens after that? How many people print off a paper copy of the receipt - "in case the computer crashes" or "because I need it for my records" or.....

My internet provider recently merged with another company. The new outfit refuses to use Paypal - in which I keep a small amount for the precise purpose of paying such bills. I have had to get a "credit" card from the Post Office to pay the bill - because I am not going to give them my bank details. No, I don't have a lot in the bank - but I would like to keep what I have. I would prefer an old-fashioned paper bill but I know I am not going to get one.

A very small friend was here with his mother the other day. The post man left some mail in our letter box while she was here. I suggested to S.... that he could open the box and get the letters out. At not quite three years old this was something he actually found exciting. It was even more exciting when I let him look at the seed catalogue my SIL had sent on to me. It was a real piece of mail. He could hold it in his hands. "Do they do it always?" was, sadly, a question about the post-person which had to be answered, "No, not every day."

But we do almost always get some mail. It is slowing down as the Senior Cat's subscriptions cease and the letters associated with his estate grow less. When the solicitors for the estate of the person who died a short while ago wanted to know something they sent me an email - and I replied the same way. 

But recently I came across some university essays the Senior Cat had written. They must be around seventy years old. The paper is brown with age. The typing is faint. The ink used to mark them is even fainter.  I have put them to one side for Middle Cat and Brother Cat to see. As I did so I thought of all the essays that will never be found in that way. I read the work of students "on-line" now. I am co-supervising a doctorate long-distance. I have not even met the student physically and almost certainly never will. He has never sent me a letter. I have no idea what his handwriting is like.

It's all rather sad really. It would be rather good to revive the art of letter writing. 



Friday 3 March 2023

Flying "pride" flags

is one thing but demanding they be flown is another. Also demanding that very young children be introduced to LGBTQI+  "identities and culture" is another. 

Having a "drag  queen" reading stories to young children in libraries is not something I would feel happy about participating in. If adults want that sort of entertainment that's up to them. I don't understand how it can be entertainment but then I don't understand how "rap" performances are seen as entertainment either. I just accept that other people feel differently.

But children's entertainment is different. Children don't have the same opportunity to choose, to accept or reject, to make judgments. They don't have the life experiences or the understanding. They may well know that there are "boys" and "girls" and that there are differences. To be told that "boys can be girls" and "girls can be boys" or "some people are not boys or girls" is simply confusing and unnecessary. 

LGBTQI+ people are a miniscule proportion of the general population but they get far more attention than other groups. Within that there is an even smaller group who claim "discrimination" and demand attention. They claim all sorts of "inequalities" and "lack of acceptance" but is it really the case? Many of the issues around marriage and inheritance have long since disappeared. Yes, there are issues in sport and in the placement of prisoners. There are still a minority of people who will discriminate against anyone with a different sexual orientation but does that really demand the level of attention demanded?

This was under discussion yesterday. This morning I had an email from someone who told me her neighbour's grandchildren had been exposed to a  drag queen reading to them. The daughter and son-in-law were very unhappy about this. It was handled in a way which meant they were not made aware of the "nature of the entertainment" until it was too late. English is not their first language. They had no idea what was involved. The nursery school in question told them the session was "story telling by a performer". Perhaps it was but that was only part of the story.

There are undoubtedly other parents who feel pressured into exposing their children to this sort of "culture". Not to do so would open them up to charges of discrimination, of lack of acceptance and more. That may not necessarily be the case. It might just be that, like many people, they think sexuality is a private matter which should not be flaunted. 

Or should we give people of a different sexual orientation not just equal rights but greater consideration? 


Thursday 2 March 2023

So you want to tax the family home?

Along with more taxation on our superannuation the government is apparently now considering taxing the family home when it is sold. Oh the Prime Minister denied they wanted to do it when the Treasurer refused to rule it out but the denial is worth nothing.

The government is undoubtedly desperately looking for ways to cover the cost of some of the outlandish promises they made in order to get elected. They were not in the least bit subtle about what they were doing. Remember the $275 rebate we were all going to get on our electricity bills? My next electricity bill will shortly arrive and it is going to go up rather than down - even though I know I will have used less power. Nobody is going to see a reduction. 

They will be hit in other ways too. But, the family home? In effect such a move would then cover all houses which are sold. It's not a good idea at all. What if someone wantes to sell up because they have been offered a new job in another location? Do you tax someone for that reason - especially if they moving to a location where housing may be more expensive? Moving house is expensive. My parents were forced to do it more than once because of the terms of their employment - teachers had to work anywhere in the state and could be moved at the whim of the Education Department.  They did have accommodation of a sort provided but they paid rent for it. If you did not have that then the expenses would be even higher.

And what of the person who wants to move into retirement or aged care accommodation? Isn't this something to be encouraged? Why should they pay something more for doing the sensible thing and freeing up the house they have been living in for an entire family?

I am no economist - something which is probably all too obvious - but it seems to me that a move like this would mean there would be people trying to remain in their own homes for longer. They would be struggling to maintain them. They might require other services which would be more expensive to provide to single dwellings. It would not, to my mind, be a cost effective move.

I thought too of those co-housing arrangements in some parts of Europe where they attempt to cater for both young and old in the same community. We still don't seem to do anything like that here. People still want single unit dwellings on their own block of land. It is even what they are encouraged to want although more duplexes are starting to appear.

There are already a great many unavoidable expenses which amount to a tax when moving house. Each time I look at something I add ten percent to the price they are asking to cover the associated costs.  

And the thought of having to clear out all the things in this house? Why should the government even consider asking us to pay to go through doing that?