A Grain of Salt 2020

A Grain of Salt. Sunday. 23rd February, 2020.😎

A funny old week, humidity, like Summer almost gone, politicians away yet again, back on deck tomorrow. Even Shaun Micallef had a rare lack of material for last Wednesday's Mad as Hell. "If you cannot speak well of someone, say nothing." The way our political landscape is shaping an impossibility. We scream for one decent idea, free of angles, just one would suffice, break the policy drought. Let's be brutally honest, he not only puts the finger up when it comes to our Auditor-General, he also puts it on his senior public servant (Phil Gaetjens, formerly the PM's chief of staff?) to take the blame? If there's nothing to see here (Sportsrort) why keep it secret, cabinet confidentiality? ‘All of this has been delivered in a surplus budget without the need to increase taxes.’’ Has he forgotten cigarettes? Did he shaft Turnbull? I suspect he did. That's how he operates. And the Grantsrort? Same thing. Now the royal commission into bushfires, or simply, yet again - passing the buck? Their lips are sealed. What of a vision? Not a hint. Yes, a lot on his plate; coronavirus, bushfires, floods, and never the train shall the Nationals meet. And our Anthony (Albanese) - a net-zero target by 2050 if it wins the next federal election. An ambitious emissions target? Well, a target anyway, a lifetime away, what of 2030, 2035? A shade early to assess his value, if any, for now simply noted (dangerously giving PM Morrison something to attack, as he did to Bill Shorten) eventually however, also the need, our need, for a vision. Like Coles prices, our expectations going down, down, down? [Additional to Sportsrort etc let's add in the $30 million to Rupert Murdoch’s Foxtel service, ostensibly to “promote women’s sport”, $345,000 to Newscorp for a spelling bee? The $400,000 grant to the administrators of a now-closed aged care home in the electorate of Nationals MP Damian Drum, (Victorian seat of Nicholls) while other financially stressed providers have missed out? Not to forget the insulting $150,000 (petty cash) which “will enhance and be in addition to the considerable spending by News Corp and Nine on arts and review coverage" - balderdash. Lastly cuts to family/domestic violence $244,000?] A tsunami of bad government decisions. How many times must we be insulted before we wake up?         



"I'm sick of the government being in my life" said Barnaby Joyce, tongue firmly in cheek, and his podcast with Matt Canavan? Everyday hypocrisy, outrageous as always. The question: "How long for Michael McCormack, supposedly the farmers' friend (laughter). Silly farmers, coal before corn? Fascinating. Rebel groups, Nationals, Liberals and Labor. Michael is their leader, they're chanting, adding "At the moment"? And from Michael "I will lead the National party at the next election."  adding "I'm not perfect". And The Greens, at this early stage (Adam Bandt) still into old tactics - opposing Labor initiatives, albeit right now well short of anything seen as a Labor 'initiative'. 



There's more: The Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, rules the roost. The authoritarian mood continues: The ABC’s legal challenge to the validity of a raid by the AFP on the national broadcaster has been dismissed by the federal court.“No one has been able to demonstrate a direct threat to national security as a result of those stories. When the AFP executed its search warrant here at the ABC last June 5th, its raid was seen – internationally – for exactly what it was: an attempt to intimidate journalists for doing their jobs." A punch in the guts for public interest journalism. And the federal judge, Justice Wendy Abraham, a former Commonwealth prosecutor "the purpose of the warrant in this case was entirely legitimate". I smell a rat. Regardless of my sense of smell, challenging this federal government when it fails accountability is (as it stands now) a  thing of the past. So much for a free media, so much for democracy. The ever reliable Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton, the black and white man (no hidden agendas) and his push for "in house" security, seen by some as authoritarian and a breach of human rights. I see it as another path to corruption. "To protect the kiddies" says our cunning Prime Minister? He thinks we're the kiddies? "If you've got nothing to hide you've nothing to fear" Hey, don't turn this on us. Turn it on yourselves! Russian Boris Pasternak: 'Like a beast on the pen I'm cut off From my friends, freedom, the sun. But the hunters are gaining ground. I've nowhere else to run.' 



One wonders as to the health warnings on cigarette  packs. With the prices forever rising the increased tax benefit to our caring government is obvious, as is (according to the experts) the dangers of smoking to our health. This (apparently) includes passive smoking despite thousands daily sitting on footpaths, drinking coffee, alongside hundreds of cars, buses, trucks and SUV's, roaring by. The health warnings are interesting. [Consuming a western diet for as little as one week can subtly impair brain function and encourage slim and otherwise healthy young people to overeat, scientists claim?] As a confirmed smoker alongside many mates, we continue to survive (just?) by way of harsh adjustments to food purchases, tinned food a particular feature. "Give up" you say, and yet for most of us it's too late. Indeed, like most things, the bottom line is money, our money. Cigarettes, a hiding to nothing. The non smokers couldn’t give a rats.  C'est La Vie?  



Presently enough for another 5 years, maybe a reverse mortgage if I run dry at 89, taking me to 93, unless I croak? Then, maybe consider giving away the cigarettes? In thinking back it was those 5 months in quarantine, enforced national service, barely 18, providing the motivation, rightly (or wrongly) to be done with people giving me orders. I don't recommend it. Better (safer?) to run with the wolves? Small minds amuse small people? 



The continued detention of the Biloela family on Christmas Island and Jacqui Lambie’s secret medevac deal; when?...Have I experienced trauma and exclusion? Yes. Usually the night after a Collingwood loss by less than 6 points...ASIO must have increased its staff levels; noticed more hits to this blog the past week?...Comedy? Friday was the United Nations World Day of Social Justice, and this year’s theme is Closing the Inequalities Gap to Achieve Social Justice. I'll say a prayer...What exactly does "worked hard all their lives" mean? We (mostly) all do. There's no bonus attached to it...On The  Couch, Fox Footy 2020. Jonathan Brown, the talking tsunami, joined by another talking tsunami Nick Riewoldt (replacing) Paul Roos. Not for mine...I have to ask: Why didn't Peter Dutton send the Chinese Australians returning from China to Darwin, rather than Christmas Island?...We all possess a colour-coded (biassed) spreadsheet...The PM, supposedly 'angry' with GM cancelling Holden manufacture; correct me if I'm wrong (rarely?) but wasn't our Scotty (and honest Joey Hockey) part of the mob who cancelled the (well spent) subsidies? Insignificant when lined up with mining subsidies?...Downsizing is a matter of owners' choice, not the government...$4 million for a feasibility study at Collinsville, meaning almost always knowing the result, in advance. "Feasibility" - such a beautiful word?..."We require a massive overhaul of the arts and culture sector to help deal with the existential, climate crisis our country faces." [David Pledger]..."If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you'll better teach it to dance" [GBS]...Have a nice week...Hooroo...www.ello8.com 




A Grain of Salt. Sunday. 16th February, 2020.🙂😎

Dinosaurs walked on Australian soil 95 million years ago. Making a comeback in Canberra? True, this has little to do with the price of fish, more a case of a writer going gah gah, Sunday morning, still the humidity, a Summer indoors, the nightmare possibility of living in Dubai like conditions, self-imposed; forever. 1.5 degrees up from the mid temperature average 12 months ago. The planet needs to decarbonise, to reduce its omissions; (Tell this to China? Not the point. At the very least get our own house in order, head held high?). My keyboard is wet, self pity, an avalanche of tears? Crooked politicians. Played Johnny Cash, loud, "On a Sunday morning Sidewalk" on to "Jackson" the lovely June Carter, bigger screen, louder still. I'm almost 84, 2022 election a lifetime away. I think of my past, the excitement of looking forward to a good night out, a cheerful awakening? Coffee, cigarette, down to business...No mention (in last week's blog) of Anthony Albanese, for good reason. No point stirring the waters when our overweight leaders (Morrison, Dutton and the blustering Michael McCormack) are doing the business for him. Imagine, the renaming of Kingsway to Dutton's Way? Are strip searches (NSW) on the way here? Anthony did mention coal, shudder, but blotted out by Richard Marles effort on Insiders, ABC. Not that hustler David Speers gave Richard a chance, kept butting in. We miss Barrie Cassidy. We miss John Clarke. Maybe a time to step back, a sense of balance. Ignore the rubbish on social media, MM (Murdoch media), being free to write my thoughts. Seriously, if I wrote this blog in Russia, China, or half a dozen other countries I'd be arrested, prison, for life, what's left of it. Sometimes we don't recognise how lucky we are. True, the main thrust of our present government is to make rich people richer. (Example, one of many: NSW government has given the green light to irrigation farmers, cotton farmers, in the north-west of the state to harvest the recent rainfall, pleasing some but causing anger in towns such as Menindee and Wilcannia and on the lower Darling where the river has not flowed for a year) - a secondary thrust to increase the comfort of the upper middle classes, combined with conning the rest of us. Capital gains and negative gearing make it all so easy for them and hard for the others, renters wanting to buy, etc. Time to put a stop to it all, draw a line, and before the line a limit of 2 houses plus place of residence. They attack our unions, deliberately, to make them weaker. Why? And the alternative government, Labor? A better proposition despite the obvious self interests of all politicians; almost all. They purport to care about we lot (presently the leading country in the highest percentage of people over 65 living in poverty) and over time they do their best, but usually secondary to self interest. Even so, we're lucky. Politically, the two obvious matters, aside from health, housing, rent and unemployment benefits - a national anti-corruption commission and obviously a national response to climate change. The bigger problem is the lack of brains (sometimes called common sense) and the old (permanent?) human nature problem of "I'm alright Jack". Who can blame them? The man (and woman) in the street, or 'the pub test' if it suits, is the catch cry "They're all crooks". Cigarette taxes, petrol ($1.25 a litre to $1.70 overnight; justification?) beer, gambling. Every which way. Ever onwards, lately grasping...for our last resort - hope. Have a lovely day. Have I cheered you up? Me? Don't ask!



Surely it's time for our Prime Minister - to leave the building? Corruption is rife. Improving the country for all of us is what it's all about. This mob simply do not do it. Eligible. Ineligible. Sticks and stones? 43%. Disgraceful. Not only the Sportsrort: The Regional Growth Fund, part of the 2017-18 budget, grants of $10 million or more for major transformational projects to “create jobs in regions, including those undergoing structural adjustment”. A staggering $272 million of grants were awarded — with 89% of them (16 grants worth a total $248 million) awarded just ahead of the election, including our very own Minister for Health (including 'his' health, election-wise) - Greg Hunt. Of that $248 million, Coalition seats snagged $234 million. In the rare instance where grants were awarded to Labor-held seats, the same publicity modus operandi used in the #sportsrorts playbook was followed. The announcement was made by the local LNP candidate or LNP Senator. Sitting Labor members didn’t get a look in. The ministers named on the press rerelease were: Michael McCormack, Bridget McKenzie, Sussan Ley and Andrew Broad.



"A man's gotta know his limitations." About the only words I liked from Clint Eastwood, alongside two other (so called?) screen legends in John Wayne and the recently deceased Kirk Douglas. I settled for this some 20 years ago after a lifetime of reading books, all the classics, various philosophers. I played the blame game of course (as you do) those first 35 years, without an original thought, wasted, but in trying to pinpoint the time, as in Clint's line, I settled for Alexander Pope, essay on criticism, another essay on man. Beyond my scope. Eventually it settled, in my mind, with it a sense of freedom. To quote those football players "It is what it is". Made a difference, accepting the inevitable. Nothing to do with an inferiority complex. No matter your reason, however sound, someone will come along  with an alternative, often better reason? This helps, albeit knowing the other person is smarter (more intelligent) but still I'm able to put forward my reason, in spite (nowadays) of the necessity to use Google (often) for how to spell the words. It then occurs to me, ABC radio personalities Sammy J and Jacinta Parsons; drivel on call? If this nonsense is considered talent why should I not hold my head high? My point? Often (as you may well guess with my stuff) there is no point, but this time  there is; it allows me to write as I see things, not to give up the ghost because others are better; to keep on punching. Karl Popper says knowledge is advanced by the positing and testing of thousands of hypotheses in the unconscious. The key, the problem (and surely this is where Google steps in) being what is shortlisted to the  consciousness. I feel better now?    



Sport: Are they kidding or is it a case of ‘who you know’? Marnus Labuschagne, test player of the year? Pakistan isn't England. David Warner, the Allan Border medal. The players did the voting. Steve Smith head and shoulders above on both counts. No argument. Still, on balance neither Smith or Warner deserved recognition on the basis of (bringing the game into disrepute) perhaps indicating some of those voting weren't prepared to let bygones be bygones. And yet David Warner? Pat Cummins a bit stiff. Bring on the AFL. 



Creative? Aussie couple quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship had 2 bottles of pinot noir delivered by drone "Thank God, the Japanese Coast Guard did not know what the fu#k was going on"...Joe Hockey, a disaster as our Treasurer, now a hero according to Costello's Age newspaper. Why?...Centrelink office closed at Mornington. To Frankston or Rosebud in an outdated bus service? Yet another not so subtle example of 'pissing' on we Australians...Hosiery Lane: Graffiti or street art? To performance art? Take your pic. Prefer the Shirley Valentine approach; speaking to a wall. Prepared for a mind change, assuming Collingwood colours....Imprisoned (incarcerated in a maximum security prison in London and ignored by almost all elected Australian politicians) WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has been awarded Consortium News‘ 2020 Gary Webb Freedom of the Press Award for courage in the face of an unprecedented attack on press freedom. I'm for Julian. Orchids to Australian MPs Andrew Wilkie and George Christensen, to visit Julian Assange and put pressure on the Morrison government to lobby Britain and the United States for his freedom....PM's small business bushfire  package. Be patient kids; you voted for him. Think yourselves lucky you're not entitled to the NDIS..Malcolm Turnbull is writing his book; suggested title "Self Love"...3000 jobs on offer, with Victoria Police - and "be a force for good" Anything's better than working for the other mob, ASIO, listening in on my phone calls?...Patience? Latest Guardian Essential poll; Morrison approval at 39%, down from 45%, now the same as Albanese as preferred PM, proving nothing?... Three females sent me Valentines day messages. Nice huh. Love hurts? I've got no money?...I really should be kinder to ASIO and Mister Dutton's army. Truth be known they are more likely the only people reading my weekly blog...The biggest disaster in gambling; beginner's luck...Every so often some (unfortunate?) person turns 100, and the question " What is your  secret? Often the likes of "A whisky a day". Herewith, in advance , the real answer - BANANAS!. But wait, there's more. Put the banana peels at the bottom of the rose bushes... Hooroo...www.ello8.com



A Grain of Salt. Sunday. 9th February, 2020.😎

What happened to Summer? One of those weeks, the constant humidity, political crooks. Throw your hands in the air, frustrated, shouting "Stuff 'em". The Age political editor Peter Hartcher is back from holiday, sadly. I see him as a front for Peter Costello, but like Unelected Senator Jim Molan I am unaffected by evidence. Apparently the readers, also unaffected by evidence, like him? A so called pro-coal National party, fake news? I escape to the op-shop, three books, to re-read, from Stieg Larsson, Colin Dexter and John le Carré. I feel better now? "A perpetual holiday is a good working definition of hell" [George Bernard Shaw]. Not quite, but the thought is there when well into the eighties living alone. Fortunately, the odd times it appears, the alternative balances it all out. A far bigger problem is our present government, new rules, a downtrodden public service no longer working to statutes or ignoring if appropriate, surviving by doing what they are told. They always did, didn't they? Not really. True, brick walls could arise with important people, the rich and powerful, forever thus, the need for common sense, practicality, stay away, but there was the (almost) absolute security of tenure. Not now. Departments literally disappear, thousands of public servants "services no longer required" and with this a different psychological world, security, as in jobs, gone, forever? We earthlings don't get the truth anymore, we get a warped version of 'their' truth. A secret society, treated as it suits them. Freedom of information, FOI requests? No way, the choice to suck on it. Data retention laws? Web browsing, IP addresses and the URLs they have searched. Imagine Peter (darling) Dutton's lot having control of this one. Lambs to the slaughter. At best - "I read the newspaper avidly. It is my one form of continuous fiction" [Aneurin Bevan]. And there you have it. From February 1st the Department of the Arts - disappeared. Can we rely on the Actors Union MEAA Equity to put up a fight? A squeak anyway, drowned out by all those people in marginal political areas, swimming in their new gifted (our money) swimming pools. [On a positive note some beautiful stuff on television of those coming to help the bushfire victims.]. 



Sorry Barnaby didn't win. Not my man obviously, done his dash for 'respect' but there was always a chance he would stir up the stove, something beyond the 'yes' man, Nationals leader Michael McCormack, who, let's be honest, makes Billy Shorten look good. Barnaby obviously putting his ambition way above those of the farmers he supposedly represents. Ho hum. (According to the new deputy leader David Littleproud they are a having mature discussions on climate change. Makes me wonder what an immature discussion would involve?).



The fickle hand of fate? Dad was a front line soldier for over 1300 days, Middle East, New Guinea; survived. After year 10, desperately wanted to work at Bryant & May match factory at £5 quid a week, big money, bonanza. Hated school, hated bloody prefects. Mum wouldn't object. "No way" said Reg, who had only started to make himself known over the past two or three years after saying almost nothing those first years back from New Guinea. "Finish year 11 and you can leave." [Leaving Certificate, entry into the third division of the public service - So?] Bugger, in times when we did what we were told, without question, other than "It's not fair". "Neither is Joe Louis's backside" Mum would say. Mum's rule was different. Free to roam wherever, the one single rule to be home for dinner (tea) at 6pm, again free after dinner. [Reg tried, failed, to suggest we chew our food 28 times?] A fortnight after finishing year 11 taken to town by Reg (no choice) a public servant, Department of Navy, from January 5th, 1953, a clerk, rather than a clerical assistant, met Mary, 5 years later. Had he not survived? [My other two mates who took the jobs at the match factory, disappeared, forever.] C'est la vie...[Much later: Share bikes: When I was 60 I wanted to buy a pushbike. My wife threatened to divorce me. Why? Because (apparently) I was sure to either have an accident or forget it and leave it somewhere to be stolen. Eventually bought one from a chap leaving Australia. $10. Stolen a month later, or was it?] 



A pork pork-barreling tsunami? Senator Bridget McKenzie ("There was no political bias in my decision making") used the sports grant primarily as a slush fund, as stated by the  Australian National Audit review, side stepped by the Coalition; end of discussion. So much for the Auditor-General's "systemic bias towards marginal seats". A $2 million cottage (?) in Middle  Park, a chicken feed ($335,000) apartment in Elwood and a rental in Wodonga. One wonders how the lady finds the time. [Insight? Rob Harris, The Age "Even as a backbench senator, her employees turned over at an incredible rate. Every few weeks there was another story in the media about an egregious misuse of taxpayer money for a VIP jet on a jaunt to Queensland or Perth for some sports event at a cost of thousands.] The sports grants fiasco;  alongside Clive Palmer spending over $80 million 'to buy an election result' - if that's not enough to sway you nothing is. So much for democracy. [WE will pay for those swimming pools, not the coalition, cuts here, there, and everywhere; small, sophisticated, but not THEM.]



Peter McEvoy, Q&A executive producer: "Scott Morrison prefers the shock jocks, he’s made his disdain for Q&A clear, and consistently refused to appear since taking over as prime minister. Why answer questions from an unfriendly crowd? After 12 years at Q&A my faith in the power of reasoned discussion to change minds and build a consensus has taken a battering, but I can’t identify any pathway forward that isn’t built on bringing together people with divergent views to listen, debate and discuss. Perhaps after the hiding he’s received since he returned from Hawaii, Morrison will finally see the point in going on Q&A again. Maybe he’ll hope the change of host or the change of executive producer will make it easier?" [Pigs in flight, look up?].



Thankfully returning to my 6pm time slot of 'The Drum' prior to the 7pm ABC News, the only news worth watching, followed by the hot and cold, 7.30 and Leigh Sales.  Somewhat refreshed after banishing the Summer edition and the painful "know-all" Adam Spencer. My favourite is Ellen Fanning in the Chair, closely followed (apart from her #MeToo love affair) by Julia Baird. Depends on the guests of course, a need to listen to the introductions (where they are coming from) though their bias is generally immediately evident on their initial answers. I often ask myself why I bother, sometimes turning off, sometimes fast forwarding to part 2 in search of a better subject (from my p/o/v) but mostly suffering till the end, despite the Chair's searching (for truth) and the guests showing their particular form of brainwashing.   The Aboriginal guests almost always good value, the relief of hearing truthful answers, regardless of how I see their answers. The Sydney City counsellors always a mystery. Who are they; hot and cold? More of John Hewson would be nice. More of somebody with the courage to speak the truth, rather than worrying how they look, including one or two newspapers representatives.  



Question to Peter Dutton, who told us some 250 fires caused by arsonists. Who caused the floods; Noah? Our Home Affairs minister, not unlike our Prime Minister, seemingly fattened by success?...I'm told the Big Bash League is too long. I wouldn't know. Why watch cricketers in coloured track suits playing amongst (with?) themselves?...If you're  inclined to harsh criticism of the AFL's new $5 million deal with BetEasy at least have the decency to put part of the blame on the players?...At my age I've been asked a million questions but as yet, I have never begun an answer with "To be honest"...The federal government freely doles out the bickies to the states, yet anything for Danny's lot comes with conditions?...Josh Frydenburg is surely number 1 on interviewees to be ignored. Almost all answers can be summarised as 'poppycock'...Roll on pork barrelling, Newstart, Christmas Island and climate change, but the real one, the most serious, is Anti-Corruption! I could suggest the necessity for an anti-corruption commission (the integrity of our democratic process), equally, I could win powerball...David Speers for Barrie Cassidy? Promising...Transurban shareholders have crayfish for breakfast lunch and dinner?..."The Secretary found she was in breach of ministerial standards" The buck stops with you, Scotty? Like hell...."We all wish to be of importance in one way or another" (Emerson) on the other hand the need to put my trousers on while sitting on the side of the bed indicates - it's probably too late...Transparency in government? Dream on... Hooroo...www.ello8.com




A Grain of Salt. Sunday. 2nd February, 2020.😎 

From Rye, Victoria: Too early in the year, in a form of recovery after the multicultural exodus (to Melbourne), the constant television warnings, the never ending tennis and seemingly living in Dubai's humidity. A beautiful Sunday morning at 17 degrees following a strange week. A need to source other points of view amidst the debris, catch my breath, sort of. Freedom of speech sorely tested; step out of line and they devour you, alive. Disagree by all means but why let it get to you? Australia Day followed by the coronavirus, the heatwave, our Prime Minister's blame game at his National Press Club appearance, the sportsrort with Bridget McKenzie, Margaret Court, Bettina Arndt and obviously Daniel Andrews tunnel woes, including support for his Attorney-General Jill Hennessy. A need for a sense of balance, my sense to be sure. I begin with a form of meditation, to go back, way way back. A street full of innocent kids, no cars, the bread cart, the iceman (cometh?) the nightman (rarely seen) cometh. My hero, Hopalong Cassidy, closely followed by Esther Williams and Johnny Weissmuller, later Mister Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, never forgetting Gloria DeHaven. Much later, to this day, Inspector Morse, John Thaw. Hoppy saddled up his horse and rode into the sunset, leaving us with fond memories of his great adventures; victories over those moustachioed crooks in crummy outfits. We never found out what happened to his sidekicks, Lucky and the ageing California? Did they die of wounds during those 66 movies? Maybe they joined Roy Rogers, a singalong, or Gene Autry? And Topper, his horse? I can feel a song coming on. Alas, I'm a fantasist, and a dreadful singer. Morning coffee, black, a cigarette (or two) and...back to basics.



Not big on Australia Day awards, in fact awards in general, hot tosh. which is why I ignored them in last Sunday's blog, tempered by the usual sprouting from Scott Morrison ("In the worst times we stand together" jingoism, obviously not including the Christmas Island family of 4 at $26 million and conveniently allowing Julian Assange to rot in hell) and Anthony Albanese's (good bloke) sprouting. My annual visit to the Rye Foreshore, all car spots taken, Point Nepean Road bumper to bumper, free sausage sizzle, long queues for expensive Italian ice cream, a painful singer, a jarring band and a large multicultural mix crowd, all ages, loving it all, even the music, or what passes for music? The fireworks, yet again, a nightmare. Summary: Pleasant, less nationalism, less flags. Age newspaper 28/1. Sure enough Jenna Price (and others) on high alert against the simplistic butterfly, Bettina Arndt, never forgetting professional do-gooder and publicity shy (?) Rosy Batty. God help those who disagree with them. Well done Bettina, and not a word against Amanda Vanstone? Labor's Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy lost me with her ridiculous action to buy into the awards. Maybe stick with the likes of the Victoria police, Simon Overland's diaries, Nicola Gobbo. Their lips are sealed, or opened, when lying. Enough to put Peter (Christmas Island) Dutton in the shade. Corruption, standing tall? 


When Niki Savva, The Australian, speaks against you (Scott Morrison) you're in trouble: Excerpts: "He should not have gone to Hawaii, should not have lied about where he was, should not have called into 2GB from Honolulu to deliver an apology of sorts, should not have tried to excuse his absence by saying: “I don’t hold a hose, mate, and I don’t sit in a control room.” It was patronising, belittled the efforts of those who had sacrificed their lives, their holidays and time with their families to battle with hoses against monster fires they had never before encountered. His dismissal early on of Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s suggestions of compensation for volunteer firefighters when Morrison said they wanted to be there. He should not have tried to cover up his blunder on Kangaroo Island, when he said it was for­tunate people were not killed there, by saying what he meant was that no firefighters had died. He should not have authorised a party political ad to promote his call-out of defence forces. He should have given advance warning to Shane Fitzsimmons and other senior emergency personnel of the ­decisions, and his mates should not have briefed against NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who behaved impeccably every day. The Opposition Leader barely put a foot wrong this summer. Appropriately empathetic, he was out there every day, was not overtly political and made constructive suggestions — belatedly picked up by the government." [Mishandling the bushfire disasters? An understatement.].



Being a Collingwood man; not before time: John Wren: A Life Reconsidered by James Griffin - is as much a study of the process of history, of Wren as historical and cultural myth, as it is a biography of him. Griffin's reconstructed Wren is less caricature and more substance, a successful working-class entrepreneur with a distaste for class-based privilege at every level, who supported striking workers and the unemployed, who never turned his back on those he grew up with or spurned the Australian Labor Party as his fortune grew. Yet at every turn, Wren's success was greeted with rising alarm - a millionaire supporter of the Labor Party. A gentleman could lose his house betting in the salubrious confines of a private club, but a working man's tote was illegal, immoral and a sign of certain social decay. In Griffin's impassioned rehabilitation of Wren, this institutional cant and hypocrisy is laid bare. Wren tolerated neither; what he sought was wealth, not middle-class respectability. [John's tote take at 10%, way better than the TAB. "Go Pies!"]



Small business (red tape) reality? Peter Caldwell says his brewery, unlike other buildings in the area, was spared. But, regardless, the business has suffered a 90 per cent downturn, losing $30,000 of revenue a week. He has had to sack 13 casual staff. The prime minister announced “a comprehensive suite of measures to immediately support impacted small businesses”. On January 20, the brewery director immediately applied for the $50,000 on offer. He was told that because his business had not burned down, he was not eligible. So, he then sought to apply for the $500,000 interest-free loan, only to be told he first had to have exhausted all his available funds and meet five other stringent conditions. “On the one hand I had to show I was virtually insolvent, while on the other I had to demonstrate a capacity to repay the loan. At the same time, the government had not yet worked out a process for the loans."  


Winston Churchill 1938 "The arts are essen­tial to any com­plete national life. The State owes it to itself to sus­tain and encour­age them….Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the rev­er­ence and delight which are their due.” [Initially it was John Howard who cut ABC funding, later even more, by Tony Abbott.]



If the coronavirus had begun in Washington would we have shipped them to quarantine on Christmas Island?...Can I use my cashless welfare card at my local Rye fresh food market?...An Ensuring Integrity Bill. The name alone emphasises the hypocrisy of the Morrison government; ditto the Religious Discrimination Bill...Tanya Plibersek, so promising before the last election, took her bat and ball home after the result. Now, belatedly returns with a call for schoolchildren to recite a pledge of allegiance to Australia. That should do the trick?... Michaelia Cash supporting Bridget McKenzie; obviously. Talk of Bridget being shown the door. I'm for our PM being shown that door...Our wonderfull CSIRO is working on a vaccine for coronavirus. Thankfully ignoring the Coalition history; twice savaged by funding cuts and job losses...A government cannot solve problems when its only priority is minimising scrutiny. And as his press club address laid bare, nothing has changed...A tax on sugary drinks? Another righteousness of the cause? Allocating the extra tax to help the schools, more likely to disappear into the government slush fund...Do we need Americans to tell us how to name our stadiums?...Considering Henry Bolte may have had Ronald Ryan hanged for his own political gain, perhaps we could re-name the Bolte bridge the John Cain bridge?...Ash Barty as young Australian of the year, and I'm a fan, but honestly, a nonsense political popularity award...Check your financial wellbeing with the ANZ bank? More nonsense. As good a reason as any to close your ears during commercials....“Shame on Jill Hennessy, the Victorian Attorney General for responding to muckraking from ideologues rather than seeking proper evidence.” [Bettina Arndt]...Juvenal, Satires: Juvenal then attacks another set of hypocrites, those aristocrats who make no secret of their proclivities while they pronounce upon morality...Keep yourselves nice...Hooroo...www.ello8.com




A Grain of Salt. Sunday January 26th. 2020.😎

Happy Australia Day? Empire Day as a kid, different date. We relax with the holiday feeling if nothing else. I'll leave the right day for others to sort out. Here in Rye we call it 'Evacuation Day', as in tomorrow, 20,000 visitors return to Melbourne, thus we return to peace. A (quickie?) on politics, can't help myself? In 2015 the Liberal Party, the National Party and the Greens voted together to cut the pension to 330,000 Australian seniors. (Labor voted against it). The successful passage of the cut delivered a political “win” to the relevant Minister, Scott Morrison, who was subsequently promoted to the position of federal Treasurer. Now, of course, he’s our climate denial Prime Minister. Scotty, in addition to his 'thoughts and prayers' abolished the climate commission,  slashed the fire and rescue budget and repeatedly ignored the concerns of our fire chiefs. And that's not all - Fun and games? Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie's $36,000 to her shooting club and Nationals leader Michael McCormack's $147,000 to his son's football club. We, way down here, hidden, on Health minister Greg Hunt's Mornington peninsula, knew of these rorts before the last election, courtesy of Greg's umpteenth colour brochure, sporting clubs, yachting clubs. Yachting? Assumed initially as insurance, because of the surprise win by local Labor Nepean MP Chris Brayne. Not so, all part of the pattern. Look after sport, costed by arts cuts. So much for "our" money. [Bridget McKenzie’s office was told it was ‘not appropriate’ to approve sports grants after applications closed. We know the rest. Maybe Morrison's happy to let this remain a headline in the short term?]. There was a time when respect was part of the National Party, way back then called the Country Party, looking after our farmers, albeit often dominated by the Liberals. Then came Barnaby, now Michael McCormack, the yes man, aided by such stalwarts as the Queensland coal mining duo in Senator Matthew Canavan and George Christensen, ignoring the bushfires in favour of more coal mines, etcetera etcetera. Like the question of Australia Day, I'll leave it to Scotty to sort it all out, never? Bring on 2022? Not quite. First the need for an inspirational leader, presently unseen. Albanese: “very clearly we won’t be taking the same policy” on franking credits to the 2022 election, although he did not rule out grandfathering the policy so existing shareholders paying no tax can receive taxpayer-funded rebates while future shareholders miss out. Also, the 45% emissions reduction target was a mistake, electric cars. Try skipping the (not so) subtle Bill Shorten jibes and concentrate on the Coalition? [See Carrillo Gantner's piece, "Coming up"] Brigdet McKenzie and Michaelia Cash; the perfect double. As for the Auditor-General, sack him Scotty?



Is anybody listening, more to the point in the unlikely event you have anything worth talking about, can it be better said by talking to Shirley Valentine's wall? The short answer; yes. All around me (almost all?) people are not listening. Sometimes they appear to be, in between their (apparently) fascinating happenings on their iPhone 10's or higher, sometimes (if I'm lucky) shoving in an 'aside', a one liner type of thing, thus returning to their fascination? Showing me a picture? Why? Am I boring you? Why are you here? Why am I here? One lives with this fashion, wondering what happened to conversation, a philosophical approach of going with the flow, of necessity, combined with a touch of sadness. I'm a good listener. Eye contact, the story, the consideration, the comment, but not necessarily always, the comment that is. True, when it becomes clear enough you've been having a political opinion (or the like) shoved down your throat it can be dismissed, or  consider taking up the challenge, or (more often) you can see another point of view, a sadness in need, loneliness, an understanding of the talker, all sorts of listening advantages, another world, currently lost in their own, now likely a majority, world of ego. Does this make sense? No doubt this depends on where you, the reader, is coming from. There's always a small chance of involving a true listener, the wall having no particular personality, or right of reply? I grew up listening. No gadgets, visiting uncles, aunties, for a meal, staying on, train home, fortnightly affairs, likewise home visitors, relatives and friends, putting their situations, listening to my father's replies,  almost always proceeded by pauses varying in length. [Mum didn't say too much. She would set us straight, afterwards]. Interspersed with instant biassed comments, often noisy, often seemingly stupid (kids should be seen and not heard) depending on one's point of view. I miss it all, another era, sometimes highlighting the loss, but not too seriously, in this new gadget world, and Facebook, but always, nevertheless, in search of a real conversation. This is not a cry for help, the loneliness thread. I've had 15 years, a veteran. One can recognise the traits in others, assuming, sadly, one is prepared to listen, maybe even help? I'm a listening savant. There's a story behind most people, a raison d'être if you go deep enough. Not too deep. After all, who amongst us doesn't have a secret life...within? 


Yesterday began the Chinese year of the Rat, my year, 8th time. When I was 12, my second year of the Rat, I spent 2 nights in a tent, the backyard of a friend in Tootgarook, baked beans for Christmas Day lunch. Ridiculous, never again. I think it really took hold with the bloody yacht. 1972, another Rat year. Probably not, but it’s the best I can  manage so I’m going with it. I was bowling along (in life) reasonable job, a few beers, early married, 2 kidlets. Often broke but paydays every second Thursday, no problem. This bloke was a boss, the fantasies of yachting, come alone he said, to Blairgowrie, Siberia? There we were on shore, for 2 hours, while he (apparently) did lots of things with ropes, or something? Another 2 hours sailing, Port Phillip bay, sharks? A beer or two. Phew, back to shore, on the  beach, another 2 hours to pack it all up? The 3 hour return trip Melbourne to Blairgowrie. Why are these people so excited about all this effort? And cost. The beginning of my fascination as to what exactly do these rich people get from their additional activities combined with their bank balance. Don’t get me started on skiing, and snow, an unfathomable activity. The poor alternative is those (men) who sit for days on the Murray river, tents, beer, yakking, barbies? At least the fish are fresh, if you know how to gut them. Skip forward 50 years and still cannot understand what the rich people get from these silly activities, prefer dim sims to Peking duck. Could it be that I’m a descendant of Robert Burton, 1577 - 1640,  the Librarian of Christ's Church College, Oxford who spent his life in his study, writing his book, The Anatomy of Melancholy? I went to Oxford, 1996, loved it, but of course I would, being a fan of Colin Dexter and his Morse detective series. Oops, I've drifted away from whatever my point was. Not to worry. It's the weather, or the tennis... 


Carrillo Gantner: Apart from the fact that January 26 does not mark the first European landings in this country, not even the first British fleet nor even the claim to the land for the British Crown; apart from the fact that it marks a landing in a place called New Holland rather than Australia, that it represents the establishment of the prison colony of New South Wales and not the newly united Australian nation; apart from the fact that it was a very unhappy day for both the 800 exiled convicts and their soldier guards aboard the fleet; apart from all of these significant issues, how can it be a date that brings us all together when the date is a day of such anguish for Indigenous Australians as it marks the start of the process of murder, theft, dispossession of their land and destruction of their culture, a process that was often brutal, violent and immoral even by the standards of the time, as contemporary protests show? Not surprisingly, the Indigenous people have called this day a “day of mourning”, “Invasion Day” or more recently “Survival Day”. [Daily Review. "Carrillo Gantner AC on Australia Day].



"We need new leaders," Australian Lynnette Wallworth told the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Monday night, in accepting a Crystal Award for global cultural leadership. "Those who led us here aligned themselves with corporations over community, with privilege and power over shared humanity and with ledgers over values. There is an extinction going on, it is the death of a worn-out way that no longer serves". Nice to see a form of fightback by members of out arts community. Considering this government's approach to the arts, a need for much more fightback. 


WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson; Julian Assange. “We have now learned from submissions and affidavits presented by the United States to this court that they do not consider foreign nationals to have a First Amendment protection. Now let that sink in for a second. At the same time that the US government is chasing journalists all over the world, they claim they have extra-territorial reach, they have decided that all foreign journalists which include many of you here, have no protection under the First Amendment of the United States. So that goes to show the gravity of this case. This is not about Julian Assange, it’s about press freedom.” Crucifixion?



They love it don't they - the righteousness of the cause. Apply to whatever suits; cigarettes, beer?...Should drivers be fined for coming too close to cyclists; as usual they have this one 'arse about'...Archaisms? It’s no more enough to ‘tell us’ it’s now ‘talk us through it’. I’ve given up on ‘incredible’, everyone is using it? ‘Finally’ is now entrenched in place of ‘at last’. As for 'actually', ‘just quietly’ and ‘that’s a good question’? Sammy J on the ABC - "It was actually incredible." I surrender......Brodie Grundy on a 7 year deal. Ridiculous. Top ruckman but not a top instinct player...The old favourite 'Practice makes perfect' is over-rated...I know little (well, nothing) about science, but the increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events is beyond doubt. Climate change is real; end of discussion...Tony Bilson, restaurateur, a man on my wavelength; who died this week aged 76 - had no time for fools and ‘‘little time for those who weren’t fools but may have disagreed with him’’... Charming? Smoking area. Attractive, 40's. Lit a cigarettes, one puff, butted it. "Are you winning?" I asked, daringly. Angry, storming out. "Couldn't win a root in a raffle" Not a local?..."It is only the first bottle that is expensive" [French proverb]...Hooroo...www.ello8.com



A Grain of Salt. Sunday January 19th. 2020. 

It's time, surely, those dreadful bushfires, deaths, destruction, smoke haze, heat, Morrison's late promises (after a shaky initial assessment), the drama, the anger, the difference between Murdoch media and the ABC coverage, to take a breath or two, awaiting the haze to subside, in the air and from the mouths. Hot, hot air. Until parliament sits again. Parliament? Have you forgotten? They sit you know, up there, in Canberra, to run our country. All about power, not necessarily money. Do they run it, or are they the representatives of the real runners? The bushfires at $2 billion and counting. Let's not get too excited. Of necessity, to shut us up? This mob gave $444 million to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, (Who?) only one of a dozen others, including coal company upgrades. Double bungers, triple! Too big for mere me. I see the Coal influence waiting for the smoke to dissipate; come another few months, regaining total control. Corruption? Who knows? Australia Day soon. A barbie, a lamb chop. Starting to realise (with a smile) the true meaning of insignificance. 



Let's hear it for the bees, in a lot of trouble due to the bushfires. A need to stock up on honey before the price hike; in my coffee the past 40 years. My love of bees, honey, started as a boy. Mason lived three houses up, would consistently thrash me at marbles (allies) and strut after each victory. In a street full of kids (fathers invisible or at the war) come Christmas Day I got the good stuff (Mum would buy on tick and pay it off for most of the next year, whereas Mason would get socks, or a singlet, breeding resentment. Why me?). Revenge by Mason, on my exquisite marbles collection. Lost around half till I called halt. More bad stuff via Mason; name calling, chicken etc. One day he had a bad eye, stung by a bee. Sad stuff Muzza. The following day another bee sting, the good eye. Mason (Muzza) the Chinaman? Commiserations Muzza mate, insincerely. Redemption? Maybe one for the psychologists?



Speaking of my favourite subject (psychology), an online psychology degree for seniors? "Psychologists in their process of study have learned not only to understand the conscious and unconscious thoughts of other people and how they affect their behaviour, but also their thoughts and behaviours, predict future patterns, and learn how to manipulate them for the greater good, including the privilege of understanding yourself, how to deal with people at your workplace and society. This knowledge will help you choose work environments that are accommodative to your traits, help interact frictionless with others". OMG! No prizes for guessing my thinking on this nonsense. 



So there I was, the RSL, having a quiet pot. Enter another, and after a perfunctory greeting mentioned the bushfires. "It's the Greens and Labor" he said, an obvious increase in his blood pressure, adrenaline, emotion. "Why Labor?" I replied, calmly. Then followed quite the diatribe as to deep reasoning underlying his argument. Being averse to violence I eventually (quietly) asked "What television news do you watch, 7, 9 or the ABC?" "There's only one" he replied "All those others tell you lies." Then emphatic, Fu##ing Lies! Fair enough, a pause, so...which one? "Fox" he said. "Fox news. You want the truth? Watch Fox News!" ["No amount of evidence will ever persuade an idiot" - Mark Twain]. Strange as it may seem, although the world is never short of idiots, people rarely take into account the high percentage among said idiots, who are far away from being fools.   



Skite, as in ego, an overflowing concept of self. I've never had much to skite about, not that it caused me grief, although I have noticed (on rare occasions) falling for this trap. I'd generally pull my head in and give myself a stern inner lecture via that inner voice in my head (who refuses to speak only when spoken too). "Silly old fool." In and around my restricted social circle it appears to have become a natural obsession, so I'm putting it out there - Stop Skiting! Nobody is listening, and if they appear to be interested, they are being less than honest. Then the like minded skites; waiting for you're particular skiting story to finish so they can tell their own inimitable life story, mostly males. Particularly the tough ones. The false pride in the look, the walk (strut) the rooster stance? Tattoos? We do not care if you're tough fella, if indeed you are. Pull your head in, ever heard of a razor, go have a shave, go for a birds beak, go see a psychologist. Unless of course you're a wharfie, or a butcher. Men are partial and passionate, merciless, covetous, corrupt, subject to love, hate, fear and favour, and who chooses virtue for its own sake? Get the message? Take it back a peg, sometimes two pegs.



Mumbo Jumbo? The Americans, the government anyway, always defending right-wing dictatorships, leaving the weaker one's cherry ripe for Russia and China. I'll say this for the Yanks, they don't jail their writers. A form of culture is still there, hopefully, standing against injustice, apart from Julian Assange. On the other hand let's not forget McCarthyism 1950's and the ruined careers of artists, hailed as outcasts. Right here now, our PM, the attempt to end those who oppose climate change by protesting in the streets. The downgrading of the arts. Solidarity before individualism? Didn't Lenin once say "There must be a priority given to the general interest of humanity, even above that of the proletariat". If he didn't he should have. We all live in a rainbow world, sterile idealogical combat. The closer you get to it the clearer it becomes, your  ideals, the rainbow, vaporised. The more you learn the more the problems, Vietnam a good example. How did they return to pride, standing tall, after that one? The truth is (my truth obviously) the political world is beyond anyone's control, even though we abide with it, and simply need a new leader at times when matters threaten. The culture of toleration and wealth. Survival, join the crowd? The quicksand of unreality. No? So tell me where I'm wrong? Not keen on referring to overseas politics, enough trouble here, but this one time, confused. How can Donald Trump order a murder of another leader when not at war and (seemingly) come out trumps? I'm not a Trump man but this other bloke (Iran's Ayatollah) looks a bit suso for sure. They all do. Still, best I button my lips. 



John Hewson, on basic questions: Why are we building inferior French-designed subs instead of leasing from the US; why we have made ourselves more of a target for terrorists and the likes of Iran by having joined wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now the US armada in the Straits of Hormuz; why would we contemplate an additional “national guard” to handle disasters? Always worth reading is Hewson. Good questions.



Channel 9 (no surprise) with a story on Woolworths checkout free supermarkets, coming soon, including interviews with two people who "can't wait"? As a news item, or advertising for a  rich client? And we the public? Lambs to the slaughter, not in my time but eventually. Didn't watch channel 7, likely one on Coles, same thing. Woolworths put their prices up last Monday, surreptitiously as always. Not every item, just here and there, cigarettes obviously, more cunning than our PM?



In 1996 I considered my last year as a Rat, the 12 year cycle over 60 years. Not so. Next Saturday 2020 is yet again the Year of the Rat, my eighth, according to Chinese zodiac, the Metal Rat, starting from January 25, lasting to 2021 Lunar New Year's Eve, Feb. 11. Cool cookies! Powerball? If you don't hear from me you'll know.



With all the news outlets taken over by the bushfires let us not forget the family of 4 on Christmas Island, Julian Assange, and the thousand or more refugees on Nauru. Indeed, all as a result of our present government....From The Age "Mr Hockey concludes his eventful four-year stint as Australia’s envoy to the US next week." Eventual, or sucking up?...Meghan Markle; the sadness, the harshness, of the female mafia. Be strong sweety...Apparently a syphillis epidemic. Relax, I'm fine...By the time I need to use the grandpa mugs those kids gave me years ago, they'll be grandpa's themselves...Morrison is "Evolving our policy". He thinks we are fools. Maybe he's right?...I tried Monty Python's 'The Meaning of Life' last night; none  the wiser? Fortunately taped 'Young and Beautiful' 2013, France, overnight. A tale of sexual awakening. Positivity?...Message for Elly Varrenti, ABC radio. Try slowing down on the use of the word 'incredible'?....Dividend imputations? "For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together" [St Matthew]...Hey, credit where it's due, a whole column with hardly a whisper on our Prime Minister and nothing on Peter Dutton. Peter who? Hooroo...www.ello8.com




A Grain of Salt. Sunday January 12th. 2020.😎

It appears to be all about power, this feeling of being better, superior, richer. I watched Jack  Nicholson in "A Few Good Men", a good drama but waylaid by seeing Jack as a Peter Dutton lookalike. In the sense of power, superiority anyway. Two others - "Ocean's Eleven" and "Casino". Better still "The Night Manager" with Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie) who is so rich he has his own private army, bodyguards and females on call. I prefer a kitchen sink drama, or a good murder, but lately I've honed in on these shows. I buy the 10 week powerball, a  few entries. A gigantic prize in the millions, but what to do with it if I win? True, the real chance in excess of once every hundred thousand years but forever a possibility however minuscule. Thus, a study of where these cardboard characters get their pleasures with all their benefits. True, they go out at night, gambling venues, parties, visually stunning food, ladies, people giving them compliments, dressed to the nines. All that hurdy gurdy stuff is a no go. I lock the front door at 7pm and if I want a meal I can call for a pizza or lasagna, ice cream and a banana for sweets. What's left; daytime pleasures? An afternoon nap 1-3 pm. The RSL for a pot or 3 after 5pm. I suppose I could get someone to do my Woolworths shopping, maybe drive me to the airport, but who wants to dress, pack and sit on a plane for 10-20 hours, albeit first class? To  where? A Greek island? Nice, but too many hills. And  even there I'd do the same as here; nap, a few beers. And who needs a bloody bodyguard? Women, you ask? Nah, plenty at the RSL, not as glamorous, but then again I'm no oil painting. You get my point? As for the important one, that superior feeling, that's a mirage. I've watched it all my life, never been impressed. No  qualms. If they want to feel that way, may they swagger forever. True, at one time or another we all get a form of need to feel better, maybe even superior like Sir Peter, or clever, as a salesman, like Scotty, but by and large, as in politics, they all wake up, unless of course you're a one-off, like little Johnny Howard. Conclusions, IF I win? None the wiser. Shouldn't I be a teeny bit jealous? It's their lifestyle; they're welcome to it.      



The Guardian: "The impacts of the climate crisis are now clearly manifesting in ways beyond rising temperatures. In Australia, the conditions for severe bushfires are occurring far more regularly (hot days, dry land and high winds). And the country is now suffering its most intense bushfire season ever. The quantity of land burnt, the smoke pollution impacts, the temperatures and number of homes lost are all breaking historical records. At the same time, Australia is pioneering the denial of climate disaster?" On a local level the fascination of those ensconced with like (denialism) opinions; RSL and surrounds. Emphatic, a sense of anger. Wondering if they are attempting to convince me, or themselves? 



ABC sports presenter Georgie Tunny on Nick Kyrgios bouquets for his $200 per ace, motivating others, listing them adding "nothing from Rafael Nadal as yet but likely something during the Australian Open" By what right?



Victoria Police officers have conducted unauthorised record checks on unsuspecting members of the public, handed sensitive information to politicians, and disclosed details about confidential cases to family, friends and journalists. And in another growing trend identified by Victoria’s anticorruption watchdog, some police members are also being deliberately “groomed” by people who want access to intelligence for criminal or financial benefit. The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission has raised concerns about a broader problem of unauthorised access and disclosure of information across the force after several cases involving high-profile officers 



Publicity Gold? Findraisers/bushfires. Way over the top. The government gave $1 billion bickies. Maybe two. Why so many other contributors? Comedians and television, Bushfire relief comedy gala? Exposure? Excuse my cynicism. Followed by - calling on others to provide free services, all income to the fund, or costs ‘as low as possible’? And so it goes. I checked the newspapers; my name and the $20 not a  mention?



Sam Phillips, sports reporter, The Sydney Morning Herald. "Nick Kyrgios implodes at Australia's ATP Cup." Some things are worth repeating; John Steinbeck on critics: "This morning I looked at the Saturday Review, read a few notices of recent books, not mine, and came up with the usual sense of horror. One should be a reviewer or better a critic, these curious sucker fish who live with joyous vicariousness on other men’s work and discipline with dreary words the tiling which feeds them. I don’t say that writers should not be disciplined, but I could wish that the people who appoint themselves to do it were not quite so much of a pattern both physically and mentally. I’ve always tried out my material on my dogs first. You know, with Angel, he sits there and listens and I get the feeling he understands every tiling. But with Charley, I always felt he was just waiting to get a word in edgewise. Years ago, when my red setter chewed up the manuscript of Of Mice and Men, I said the dog must have been an excellent literary critic. Time is the only critic without ambition. Give a critic an inch, he’ll write a play." 



From Anson Cameron,  The Age : "I haven’t physically assaulted anyone since I left school. But daily, in reverie, in a queue, I commit imaginary violence on those who stand before me. I give the bloke in the jokey Hawaiian shirt a kidney punch in the atoll. Thumb-jam the wireless earbuds of the next man deep into his canals and watch him stagger away suddenly beset by an inner voice that sounds horribly like Neil Mitchell. Then a roundhouse kick to the stutterer at the head of the queue romancing the barmaid so slowly, and I am there, barside. The only person not despised by anyone in a queue is the unnoticed soul at the very rear. And she is quietly imagining a drone strike that engulfs all, after which she will pick her way along the smouldering trail of shoes to the bar and order something complicated". Good stuff. Too true.



A panther in the Blue Mountains or a feral cat; not again?...The Sunday Herald Sun may well be up there as the most useless newspaper ever, but to be fair, it only beats the Sunday Age by a whisker...ABC News, Why ‘coming up’ when it’s coming up anyway?...To those people telephoning offering electric light globes free replacement, for the umpteenth time; NO...Fascinating, the Ivanhoe residents letter writers, seemingly all Liberal voters?... Please note - all you people who came in hard against our Nick Kyrgios; I wasn't one of them...So many of these climate deniers voted against Billy Shorten. Understandable in the circumstances. It's human nature not to own up to being a dickhead....Treasurer Josh, always 'Going forward'?...Prince Harry (6th in line) and Meghan - Either 1/ A joint decision (at best) 2/ Under the thumb (at worst) or 3/ A lifestyle change in favour of the lady's happiness (common sense)...Those amazing Yanks. They lost almost 60,000 young lives in Vietnam and many more thousands injured for a lifetime. Still the appetite for wars. Sadly, the soldiers have no say, including ours..."If I'd had listened to the critics I'd have died drunk in the gutter" [Chekov]...To re-quote myself "In my personal experience I always let the wife decide, unless of course I disagreed...Hooroo...www.ello8.com




A Grain of Salt. Tuesday 7th January, 2020.🙂

Initially a holiday in Hawaii followed by a coal-related trip to India. It could have been worse. The bushfires could have happened mid way through his India excursion. As for alt-right neo-Nazis and sadist trolls; a narcissists picnic, or (to use Waleed Aly's words) "an egotist's paradise and a public hell". With it all the scammers, fake charities, website scams. Never forgetting our 'better late than never' Prime Minister, re-named 'Luau' Morrison - "Those confronting the terrifyingly destructive and deadly fires will be ‘‘inspired by the great feats of our cricketers from both sides of the Tasman’’. Surely Luau, aka ScoMo, got it arse about? Our annual day of rampant nationalism (Australia Day) looms large, and with it a fascination of how it will be seen due to the recent (and current) tragedies in NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Kangaroo Island. 



October, 2019. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (at the Queensland Resources Council, an organisation representing peak mining interests) railed against environmental protesters in a lunchtime speech, warning of a “new breed of radical activism” that was “apocalyptic in tone” and pledging to outlaw boycott campaigns that he argued could hurt the country’s mining industry. Morrison: "His government was looking at “serious mechanisms that can successfully outlaw these indulgent and selfish practices that threaten the livelihoods of fellow Australians.” He argued the “right to protest does not mean there is an unlimited license to disrupt people’s lives and disrespect your fellow Australians.” December 2019, into January 2020. Chalk and cheese, vive la difference - Scott Morrison - Danny Andrews.  SchMo - far too late with his 'be calm' press conference, a top shelf tragedy, initially vague on ADF assistance, at the least those affected starved for information, motivation; a plan, what of a plan B (?). A "do nothing' PM with a platitudes plan. Can, could have, done much more. As for our funding starved ABC, cheers for a first class job; surely the need, the urgency, for increased funding? In the face of this disaster we can expect our Prime Minister to change his former coal (vote winning?) strategies, but is it enough? Loved the way Scotty initially said the states have to ask us. Along comes Danny doing just that, including a positive plan of action. Scotty announces "We are not waiting to be asked?" Then a promotional video on how Scotty is getting on with it. A national disaster, and as those Yanks say - the buck stops with him. More to the point, is he sincere? Whatever - time to "leave the building". 



Jessica Friedmann is a writer and editor living in Australia" "Like the early colonists, our Prime Minister turns to the destroying angel; fate. Funding cuts and poor land management has brought these fires to a pass – rapturous fate. My anger is so ferocious it has died down into exhaustion. This is a man who once brought a lump of coal into Parliament and cradled it like a baby; who could ever expect him to acknowledge the link to climate change?" Another nail in ScoMo's foot? On the other hand let's not get too excited. If Scotty steps aside we might get Peter Dutton? 



The announcement by the government some 135 Australian Federal Police would carry assault rifles at Australian airports from early December. Prime  Minister “A further step to keep Australians safe”. Why this dramatic development was necessary and what risk or threat it sought to prevent wasn’t something Prime Minister Scott Morrison was keen to make explicit at a press conference with Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton and AFP commissioner Reece Kershaw. Seriously, this mob, leaving aside their coal grubbing money making bugger the poor activities, can't wait to have CCTV to every room in every  home, not (obviously) in theirs. Shudder.



Kevin Rudd: "The uncomfortable truth is the government’s response just doesn’t pass the pub test. It’s been evasive, tepid, tone-deaf and, above all, too late. It’s been conducted as an exercise in “issue management”, rather than a substantive response to one of the worst natural disasters in our history, with every shoulder to the wheel. And the Australian public can spot a fraud at a thousand paces". The Abbott denialist cult has taken over the entire Coalition. It continues under Morrison and, when they oust him soon, it will continue under Peter Dutton. It’s become the battle cry of the far right which now runs the entire conservative show in Canberra. And yes, before the Murdoch media leap to Abbott’s defence, I know he is a firefighter. Good on him. The problem is most of the fire chiefs just don’t agree with him on the impact of climate change. Nor does the CSIRO. Nor does any credible climate scientist in the world. The Liberals won’t change on climate. Denial is now their DNA. They may start pretending to care. Scotty from marketing is good at that. But we all know it will be paper thin. That’s why this lot have to go. Before it’s too late for us all."



History, sadly: "A Shorten Labor Government will stop the Federal Government’s reduction in funding for our firefighting capabilities by returning to a 50-50 funding split between the states and territories and the Commonwealth. Labor’s investment will ease the burden on state and territory governments, develop new national programs including a national risk management model, and national research and development programs including trials of new aircraft and night firefighting activities. Labor can pay for new firefighting aircraft the smokejumper units because we are making multinationals pay their fair share and closing tax loopholes for the top end of town". 



Extract from the blame game, Danielle Celermajer; Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney, [ABC Religion and Ethics]: We can identify the political representatives who refused to meet with fire chiefs who had been seeking to warn of, and act to mitigate, the impending disaster. The same political representatives who approved and continue to approve new coalmines in the face of scientific consensus on the effect that continuing to burn fossil fuels will have on climate in general, and drought and temperatures in particular. The same political representatives who approve water being diverted to support resource extraction, when living beings are dying for want of water and drying to the point of conflagration. We can identify the media owners who sponsor mass denial of the scientific evidence of the effects of a fossil fuel addicted economy on the climate. The same media owners who deploy the tools of mass manipulation to stoke fear, seed confusion, breed ignorance and create and then fuel hostile divisions within communities. We can identify the financial institutions that continue to invest in, and thereby prop up toxic industries, and who support the abovementioned media owners so as to protect themselves from accumulating stranded assets. We can identify the investors who use their financial and social capital to support politicians who will protect their financial interests. We can identify a corporate culture and a legal system, populated by lawyers, management consultants and financial analysts, that incentivise or even require companies to maximise short term shareholder profit and externalise costs to the future and the planet. And then we can identify parties closer to home. Business owners and investors whose profits depend on systems of extraction and resource exploitation. Consumers addicted to lifestyles based on resource extraction and the exploitation of the natural world. Citizens who prioritise narrow short-term interests over the sustainability of the planet. Citizens who lack the courage or fortitude to take ourselves through the social and economic transformations required to give our children and the more-than-human-world a future. Citizens who do not bother to take the time or make the effort to develop well-informed opinions, but would rather run to the comfort of the truisms of their tribe. We can also identify the humans and human cultures that have told ourselves that we are superior to, and thus have the right to dominate and exploit, other animals and the natural world. That we are the ones who get to flourish, and that everything else that is here, is here for our use. That other beings are not life but resource.



In this type of disaster the shonky comes to life. A general sense of taking due care with all new data bases set up for this type of emergency. I'll settle for the Bendigo bank...More importantly the ABC budget cut 2020 at $14.6 million. It's "our" ABC. Your coalition government at work?..."The fires have nothing to do with politics" said our PM. Fair call apparently, to many, certainly not I. Was he talking to us, or to himself?...“If all major Australian media played the climate issue straight, a denialist government couldn’t survive...At this time of land disaster, we pause with the knowledge we all live on this one earth. A need to treasure it, not dig dig dig in the cause of cash cash cash. Desist...Check out Tom Gleason, Gala awards for a  laugh...,"In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." [George Orwell]...Sticks and stones will break my bones, so go easy, hooroo...www.ello8.com



Thursday 2nd January, 2020.😎

"Freedom of speech is much more palatable when the opinions of others align closely with one's own". [Ed Rogers]. If Margaret Court chooses to preach to the converted let her be. The act of taping her preaching and playing an edited version on television is unnecessarily stirring the waters. The ratbags of the world have enough ammunition without encouraging them, and I'm not referring to Margaret Court. One can surely make a case for similar preachers the world over. ScoMo's Hillsong? No way, protected by the Murdoch media. January (Janus) returns, bracing ourselves for the onslaught after the mild schoolies entree. Two faces looking to the future and the past. Croats, Latvians, Italians, Greeks, Moslems, Asians, people "of African appearance" the Rye carnival and ski jets. Time to visit the 'Donate Life' Website? Nah. My organs are, ever so nicely, close to being stuffed. And visitors, this time of year? I thought they'd never leave. If people are nice enough to dewdrop in one must abide by the social niceties, but please, limit these occurrences to under 60 minutes, once annually. I live alone, the master (temporarily) of my domain. Call first! Allow me to prepare? I could be in the middle of something important? I might even answer the eau de cologne? Twice already, a walk along the footpath, shops, Point Nepean Road, many different accents, surprisingly, the odd Australian; joke Joyce. Happy New Year? May you continue on, by way of 'approved puritan behaviour'. Another year to maintain the rage, or settle back and smell the red roses. Well, 50/50. As always a day at a time, thankful for the internet, the iPhone and Carlton draught beer, from the tap.



How long has this government ruled the roost, 6 years, 7 years? Still the theme song "the mess Labor left us in", the so called 'mess' now doubled, tripled? I ask myself how anyone  with the slightest social conscience can believe this government handles our economy better than Labor. As for the voters, who voted against Bill Shorten on a whim (rather than a vote for Scott Morrison) we can settle the explanation in two words - Greed and apathy? I'll leave it to two others (Rudd and Flanagan) to intellectualise it all for you...   



The Guardian. Kevin Rudd: "The time has come for a full royal commission into the ownership and operation of the media in this country. Murdoch has too much power. The rest of the print media is now heading to the right. The ABC, under systemic editorial and budgetary attack, its board re-politicised by the government in defiance of the ABC Reform Act (2012), is now frightened of its own shadow. And social media offers no credible alternative as a common, neutral platform for any form of national political conversation. Taken together with Clive Palmer’s $60m paid campaign against Labor leading up to the last election (the likes of which we have never seen before in our politics), the growing swagger of the conservative’s general assault on the independence of the public service and other national institutions like the ABC, together with the new intellectual respectability now being accorded the authoritarian right both in this country and across the west, we can no longer simply assume, in the absence of fundamental reform, that the Australian democratic project as we have known it for the last 100 years will necessarily remain the permanent condition of our politics for the future." Too true, ever so sadly. What to do? We await, with a sliver of hope, for a new hero, to rise...from the ashes? Richard Flanagan: "In Tasmania, the Liberal government intends to legislate for environmental protest, legislation that has flourished under Morrison. As Australia burns, what we are witnessing nationally is no more or less than the criminalisation of democracy in defence of the coal and gas industries, a war between the voice of coal and the voice of the people. And that war is in Australia being won hands down by the fossil fuel industry. Morrison’s Pentecostal religion places great emphasis on the idea of the Rapture. When the Rapture arrives, the Chosen – that is, those Pentecostalists with whom the prime minister worships and their controversial pastor – will ascend to Heaven while the rest of us are condemned to the Tribulation – a world of fires, famine and floods in which we all are to suffer and the majority of us to die wretchedly, while waiting for the Second Coming and Scott and co wait it out in the Chairman’s Lounge above. Could it be that the prime minister in his heart is – unlike the overwhelming majority of Australians – not concerned with the prospect of a coming catastrophe when his own salvation is assured?" [Confused? Simply greed and apathy? Maybe add in power corrupts? Or the standard response - "Our emissions, at less than two percent of global totals, will not be decisive in the fight. Therefore, it follows, we can change nothing. So let’s sprout new coal mines all over Queensland, and leave the issue to someone else."?] 



The federal government, which funds Aged care assessment teams (ACAT), has announced a network of private assessment organisations (now consisting of state-employed nurses, geriatricians and social workers, work at public hospitals to assess the level of care required by individual elderly Australians), will deliver privatisation from April 2021, with a tender to be held next year. WHY?



Turn on the television, read the newspaper or look out the window. See what is increasingly obvious to many – for Australia, dangerous climate change is already here. It’s simply a matter of how much worse we’re willing to allow it to get. Here's a story grab from The Age Thursday. "Corryong to Tallangatta. At the pub, the locals seemed unperturbed. They explained that, due to the topography of the local hills, fire would never reach Corryong. They encouraged the women to relax on their hotel’s balcony and enjoy nature’s show. “There’s plenty of beer”, they assured them. Climate deniers extraordinaire? However, newlyweds Clio Gates-Foale and Jessica Window decided to join the 85 kms convoy to Tallangatta." Good for them. Safe.



I have a blue jeans coloured wool cardigan I feel comfortable in. Holes in the elbows, both sleeves. People point this out, even the lovely packing ladies at Woolworths. Perhaps they think I'm not aware of it? Fascinating. 



No comment required: "Hospitality and retail workers will miss out on close to $50 million in wages over Christmas and New Year because of reductions in penalty rates. Economist Jim Stanford from the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work said hospitality and retail workers would be $16.3 million worse off for each of the three statutory public holidays including Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. ‘‘You are looking at $48.9 million combined.’’ 



RSL. Dedicated Smoking Area: Met a couple who travelled to Melbourne to watch the excitement of fireworks? From Rye? Suggested they look up the advantages of a Wellness Centre. They were none the wiser (as anticipated) so I gave them Greg Hunt's telephone number. 



The commonality: Politicians, conmen, everyday liars, actors: "To forget everything except the ground you stand on and the face you speak from - at that moment."...The horror of those bushfires, and somehow our man SchMo will talk his way out of it, helped along with the aid of apathetic voters...Electricity and gas prices up from Jan 1st, cheers for privatisation...I'm with John Thaw, Colin Dexter's 'Morse'; "Drinking makes me think". Add in smoking..."In a world in which duty and self-discipline have lost out to hedonism and self-satisfaction, there is nothing like closing your eyes and going with the flow. At least in a fantasy, it all ends happily ever after." [Edwina Currie]... Hooroo...ello8