A Grain of Salt 2020

SALT πŸ˜₯ 

 

Monday July 6th. "We're all in this together?" Cataract surgery July 2nd, the other eye July 23rd, ever careful; infection and coronavirus health crisis rules. A form of double lockdown, pushing aside depression thoughts, economic and personal, living in Victoria, the Winter weather, those people in the high density Flemington towers lockdown, and following the Collingwood football team? Positivity; what's that? My theme phrase "Ever Onwards" mildly seriously at risk. So much time to think, one good eye, one bad, two lots of eye drops 4 times a day, one for pain, one for infection, organising family and friends. Tried to self serve, missed the mark in 5 attempts, a hand tremor. Way way back, schooldays, school subjects. Always asking myself the same question: Why must I study this subject? Trigonometry, Algebra, Art, not to mention bunsen burners and bloody Science? Haunted by ageing teachers forever reciting "You'd do better if you tried Ellen." Yeah yeah. All my own fault, my attitude, bringing the blame game into focus. Right now, real time, the blame game is rampant. The numerous jackals are hovering, feeding on fear. Am I selfish, probably, relying on elective surgery before they shut that down, or being known as one-eye Ellen until...when?     

 

Generally, after breakfast on a good day (today is not one of them) I sit at this computer with a coffee (in a mug) have a cigarette and stay awhile, maybe 2-3 hours. Eventually peckish, more coffee, toasted sandwich. Unbelievable. The ashtray has another 5 cigarette butts and I have no recall as to how they got there? I blame Scotty. Sneaky prick. The good (if any) news: A small amount of alcohol is allowed, nothing on no smoking. Phew.

 

"Do not believe too quickly" [Kate Grenville].

 

Saturday's Age: George Megalogenis: "The cuts to the ABC, and the CSIRO, the penny-pinching with the arts community and the government’s game of chicken with the higher education sector - all betray a loss of focus." Too true.

 

Letters: In war, a lot of things get sacked, so why not ABC journos? Shoot the messenger, get rid of those dangerous people who expose the truth, whether it be about the killings of Afghani people by Australian soldiers or our spying on East Timor to deny a Third World country its rightful royalties on behalf of multinationals. We do not need reporters because we are holding these trials in secret. The first casualty of war is always truth.....Hong Kong residents (perhaps?) to settle in Australia? Can we reconcile this with the knowledge that there are asylum seekers and refugees still in detention after seven years by the same government? Lordy lordy.

 

The Grattan analysis, released last Sunday week, said the government should inject a further $70 billion to $90 billion into the economy, in addition to the $160 billion already announced, to reduce the unemployment rate to below 5 per cent by mid-2022. The PM announced $270 billion over the next decade on a massive sci-fi arms build-up of hypersonic missiles and cutting-edge weaponry to combat the new menace presented by our biggest trading partner and hitherto economic saviour, China.  We watch, helpless?...and wait?

 

Jon Faine: "Michael O’Brien’s acrobatics must be admired. Without the slightest hesitation, his high-wire act took him from demanding the Andrews government relax the ‘‘draconian’’ lockdown laws to an unhesitating certitude that the Andrews government was ‘‘negligent’’ for being too relaxed with the same laws. The lockdown was too tough until the lockdown was not tough enough." An honest Eden Monaro election, despite Morrison's flying visit, a small victory, federally. Andrews in trouble, nevertheless?

 

True to form? PM Scotty Morrison on ‘‘anecdotal evidence’’ businesses were struggling to hire because people were choosing to take JobSeeker rather than look for work. Anecdotal my backside. Step one on a switch to dole bludgers? On the other hand no mention of pensioners. [Pension: from Small's enlarged english Dictionary "Generally understood to mean monies grudgingly bestowed on ageing hirelings after a lifetime of devotion to duty."]

 

Whilst on my one eye, Essendon defeated Collingwood by 15 points. The Age voting gave 5 Essendon players votes, none for Collingwood. Collingwood's Treloar got more touches than any Essendon player. Magpie Pendlebury also more touches than 4 of the 5 Essendon players. Nothing changes...AFL football, bash and crash, no rules, a mess...Exponential, a popular word of late, can't think of any way to use it?..."There is no greater cause of melancholy than idleness, no better cure than busyness." [Robert Burton]...Time for a beer, hooroo...www.ello8.com

 

 

 

SALT πŸ€”

SATURDAY JULY 4TH: Barry Jones is almost lost for words at the Morrison government’s decision to double the cost of an arts degree to drive students to more ‘‘practical’’ courses. He holds the humanities – subjects like literature, philosophy, art and history – to be key to the search for human meaning. [Good enough for me] [Morrison’s wholesale assault on universities is a massive disinvestment in our nation’s economic future. Real federal funding for tertiary education has fallen 9 per cent since 2010. Then, out of ideological spite, he denied universities access to JobKeeper. He is systematically destroying one of Australia’s great competitive advantages, for which Australia will pay a hefty economic price - Kevin Rudd,]

The AFL season is a joke. Yes, the AFL makes a quid via the television rights and there's a form of continuity with players salaries, but really, are they serious? Are we serious? Shorter quarters, longer in-between times for more commercials, advantages to some teams, severe disadvantages to others, a lollipop competition, at best a TV game show. A form of short term happiness if our team has a win, a very short term shrug if our team loses. Cancel it. 

Kathy Jackson, former national secretary of the Health Services Union of Australia. In 2015 the Federal Court found Jackson had misappropriated union funds and ordered her to repay $1.4 million. We wait, patiently?

Politicians: “That’s a great question." “We’ll have more to say about that.” “Let me be clear.” “Let me be very clear.” “Hard-working families …” “Unprecedented times …” “We’re all in this together.” “Now is not the time” And sadly, we are the muggins?

 

Sunday June 28: Reflections: Trickle down economics. Insecurity, anxiety. What of the future? An  economic crisis,  an inequality crisis, a climate crisis. Jobs, jobs, more jobs, keeping jobs: The ABC, the war against culture, and CSIRO? Does it add up? Scott Morrison denied there had been any funding cuts at the ABC, and yet, after years of cuts totalling $250 million, the ABC operational budget will be more than 10 per cent lower in 2021-22 than it was in 2013? The difference (if any) between Labor branch stacking and Liberal honour list stacking, not to mention Turnbull's Wentworth stacking? The Labor (real) weakness, sealed lips: The secret trial of Bernard Collaery and witness J, the treatment of Julian Assange?  

 

WEDNESDAY JUNE 24TH: The Royal Commission witch hunt (via Tony Abbott) into trade unions corruption returns to bite Dyson (Entitlement holder) Heyden on his bum; high court harassment, denied, sorry - categorically denied, alongside "if" apology. Karma?

MONDAY JUNE 22ND: Michael O’Brien has spent the last fortnight getting stuck into Dan Andrews for being slow to ease the restrictions. The big mystery - Michael's next move?

SUNDAY JUNE 21ST DAY 90: A messy week, the Victorian Labor branch stacking, the cyber attack? the multiple unanswered questions, lockdown provisions reinstated, all seemingly? undercut by the purity of politicians generally. Sounds like the perfect time to stay inside and make a point of blocking out the nightly news, all sources, and revel in the success of the Collingwood football team, so far?

 

The drama unfolds. "The Spring Street Stench" say Neil Mitchell. No surprise there, likely he sleeps under a blue doona. A Costello (Nine) operation planned to perfection. A 60 minutes Sunday expose, Page 1 and many other pages, Monday's Age newspaper on Adem Somyurek, branch stacking. More splashes Tuesday's Age, Cabinet minister Marlene Kairouz, another Age editorial, same subject. Ditto pages 3 and 4. Rats in the ranks; the main game, get Daniel Andrews or the search for the truth? Former prime minister Kevin Rudd said Mr Somyurek was a ‘‘kingpin’’ and ‘‘Frankenstein’’ of the ALP, and called on federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese and Mr Andrews to expel him from the party if he was shown to be involved in misconduct. Clear enough. Rats in the ranks, common, both parties. Smells like Costello with Danny Andrews the main focus, not to mention the Eden Monaro by-election. We supposedly live in a democracy, somewhat twisted by capitalism. Somyurek booted out, no doubt guilty of a manipulated democratic process, equally, no doubt not alone on this one. Good riddance. [The Nine Costello influence? Close to 70 journalists from the Age have expressed their “alarm” over what they say is the increasing politicisation of the Melbourne newspaper. The journalists said they were worried about maintaining the “proud reputation and independence” of the paper because editors were putting pressure on reporters “to produce particular angles”. “As independent journalists we do not favour any political position, party or ideology,” they wrote. “Our job is to find facts, make sense of them and explain them to our readers. We believe stories should be assessed on their journalistic merit.”] No matter the result in Eden Monaro, further to Andrews losing come 2022, I don't feel for the man. He's done a fine job, his results for all to see. Able to have another of life's experiences, still a young man. Sooner or later they all bite the proverbial bullet, dust? sadly, except Costello? Not quite, Pete lost a near certain Prime Ministership. Andrews big mistake was telling us he was unaware of this branch stacking disaster, a bridge too far? Somyurek: ‘‘I accept and take full responsibility for the fact that my language on a number of occasions was simply not appropriate.’’ Not appropriate in public, but who doesn't use inappropriate language privately? Our mate Peter Dutton has personal form – in 2016, he accidentally sent journalist Samantha Maiden a text calling her a ‘‘mad f---ing witch’’, intended to be sent to a colleague.

 

How did the camera get into Burns office? Yes, bad language, disgusting and so on, private stuff, a common thread, no big deal Yes, branch stacking, both sides, Morrison’s own preselection for his seat of Cook was controversial, won after the original victor, Michael Towke, withdrew following the publication of damaging articles about him in News Corp papers. I'm more interested in who set it up and how and where the money came from? Is branch stacking legal? Yes, assuming the candidates live in the electorate and pay their own entrance fees. The key here is where did the cash come from, a slush fund, true, but where from? When corruption is exposed is corruption allowed to return fire? Basically caught with their trousers down, a direct hit, no leaks, driven by honest motivations from we don’t know where, yet? Indeed, more interesting than the grubby story itself. The journalist Nick McKenzie appears at this stage beyond reproach, which obviously includes protecting his sources. Somyurak, from the Labor right, and the expose has whispers of an inside job, though at this stage no certainty. Smells more like a Peter Dutton influence, unlikely as he (Dutton) has spoken up for Burns. Eden-Monaro byelection race entering its final weeks, anything that tarnishes Labor’s brand is a gift to the coalition. All in  all, anything is a relief from the daily COVID-19 numbers. 

 

Secret trial of convicted drug runner Karm Gilespie is to be condemned, fair enough. The same for Australia’s secret trials of Bernard Collaery and ‘‘Witness K’’ spying and undermining of Timor Leste’s rightful oil revenues? Our high and mighty Australian government, picking and choosing as it seems fit. Hypocrisy in action? 

 

Assuming we are under cyber attack, according to Scotty, China? The blame game? Morrison and Payne can shoulder the blame alongside trusted lieutenants Jacqui Lambie and courtesy of The Age, Peter Hartcher? I listened closely to our leader, the details as clear as mud. Surely more information? Morrison, give a dog a bone? and he's popular, strange times?.

 

Melbourne University doing a survey of heterosexual (both working) couples to ascertain who is doing the most work during lockdown. Nonsense. Why?...Interesting: Proposal, a railway Cooma to Eden. The snowy to the sea?...Comedy? Integrity Commission; as a consequence of COVID-19, "Our office is closed and our staff are working remotely"...Andrews lockdown provisions reinstated, a pot of carlton draught without a meal but a dream?...For Vera Lynn's sake, hoping her religion was Jehovah's Witnesses?...Doubling the cost of arts/humanities degrees; author Richard Flanagan: ‘‘Australia will pay a heavy price in the years to come. Nothing is more helpful in preparing the road to authoritarianism’’...Johnny Howard’s statue, Ballarat, now heavily taped in plastic, un-Australian some would say, realistically, has never looked better?…We miss Jon Faine, going cold on Virginia Trioli. Nice enough, but focused on popularity?... Hibernation has arrived, cataract surgery, 5th attempt after cancelling the first 4, one eye at a time. Hoping for an improved capacity to witness more Collingwood victories. Back soon. Keep yourselves nice.."For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together" [ St Matthew]...Hooroo....ello8. 

 

 

A GRAIN OF SALT.πŸ€” 

Mary had a magpie sitting on the grass

Mary put her finger on the magpies?

SUNDAY JUNE 14TH DAY 83: The week that was, big one, always hopefully? with an open fulfilled? mind. Freezing mornings, warmed by the knowledge we’re doing better than 'most'. Who is most, and who is not most? Sorries and sorrows. Our Prime Minister, various state premiers, multiple health experts, constantly telling us how proud they are of US. We get tenderfoot badges, good conduct badges, golden handshakes dependant on consistent good behaviour or, if you like? doing what we are told. Open gatherings a no no, other than Woolworths, Coles, Chadstone. True, some of US bent the rules in the Black Lives Matter hiccup, temporarily excused due to honest approved motivations, or perhaps not political to criticise, not forgetting Belgium's Mathias Cormann, "incredibly self-indulgent, selfish and reckless" Mathias is big on the 'incredibly' word. One footballer kissed a reporter on her cheek; bad form, easy to come down hard on this one, which cheek? Indigenous and supporters on the warpath, heightened, connecting with the American murder. Hundreds of searchers (a community effort) lifted our spirits, maintained social distancing and found the young fellow. Well done Ben Gibbs for locating teenager Will Callaghan. Rare orchid to Scott Morrison for staying out of it. One questions Woolworths and Coles community effort with subtle price increases across the board, particularly fruit and vegetables, but hey, amidst the compliments (and my pensioner $750 gift, though know not why?) we understand the need for shareholder's profits. Collingwood & Richmond a draw in the phantom AFL match, their supporters temporarily on cloud nine, conveniently ignoring past hero Heritier Lumumba's allegation of racism, calling for a public apology. For what? say the supporters; a can't win situation, deep sensitivities, resentment? A beer on tap at the Rye RSL? Sadly no, likely bar and kitchen staff resting up in Cairns on $1500 a fortnight job keeper land. Liquor sales up, apparently not balanced by loss of sales in hotels, RSL’s? Scotty is our Scarlet Pimpernel, here, there, everywhere. And Anthony from Camperdown, long gone, on walkabout? [Note to Albo: Relax. Scotty into immolation. The 51-49 per cent two-party preferred vote in the government’s favour is where it was at the last election despite Scotty's current popularity. Big promises, short on delivery. We await the Eden-Monaro result. On the other hand if Labor lose Eden-Monaro - keep well away?] 

 

The Australian Medical Association has thrown its weight behind a push from Darebin Council mayor Susan Rennie for the Andrews government to fund an ACT-style buyback or subsidy scheme to encourage people to switch to cleaner forms of heating. Wood-fired heating: Letters to the editors, up in arms? The invaders, the trickle UP effect. Northcote, Collingwood, North Fitzroy. The 1940's, 1950's. Bonfires, fireworks into another form of Generation Entitlement. They smell your wood burning and instead of thinking, what a beautiful smell, as we did, they become angry, the vague possibility of damaging little Xavier's lungs; they start bombarding newspapers, their local councils with emails. Historical enjoyment is out of bounds, the new normal, their way or the highway, housing upgrades, a gentrification ponzi scheme, Suburban takeovers, hermetically sealed palaces, a twelve star energy rating, padding around in stylish Rodd and Gunn socks and Scotty emblazoned green? T-shirts. Their children (may) have allergies because they live in a hubble bubble. Not an organic compound in sight. And they despise the old bonfires neighbours. They want to drive them out, the asthma an excuse. Overstated by a factor of twenty to one. On the other hand, way back when, and bonfire nights, two of my neighbours, kids, copped poliomyelitis? 

 

Tradies friend Scott Morrison suggested protests were being taken over by other much more politically driven left wing agendas; read as stirring the waters? Should the protesters be charged? Yes, says Scotty; read as a shot at Daniel Andrews? [The Fox and the Bear began to argue as to which was the most cunning animal. The Bear said that he thought foxes and bears took first place. By Jean De Bosschère “We are clever, you and I, but there is one animal that is as far above us as we are above the rest of creation.” “Oh, indeed,” sneered the Bear to the fox, “and what is the name of this marvellous creature?” “He is called the man-animal, and he goes on two legs instead of four, which is a wonderful thing in itself. Here are some of the cunning things he can do; first, he can swim in the water without getting wet; when he is cold he makes yellow flowers grow out of sticks to warm himself; and he can strike at an enemy a hundred yards away!” [The Paris Review] Blooper? Prime Minister Scotty on radio; declared there was no slavery in Australia; blackbirding, asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru? Truth telling? later apologised, in a fashion; the Uluru statement and its call for a makarrata commission commitment to truth telling, a seat at the magical, invisible table? Think about it, come May, 2022?

 

Tony Abbott’s $110 million cut to CSIRO funding (2014) and 1000 jobs lost. Later Malcolm Turnbull insisted the CSIRO work should focus on areas and projects that could be shown to generate profit in the short term? Tony also cut half-a-billion dollars from Indigenous programs and $7.6 billion from overseas aid. Partisan awards? The ripple effects? Tony (no cuts to the SBS and ABC) Abbott, Top honour. Companion, Order of Australia and Bronwyn (chopper gate) Bishop - services to Australia? An alternative form of sports-rorts. And Graham Richardson? Hilarious. [More sports-rorts? $688 million for housing upgrades?]

 

Censorship? Basil Faulty's 'Don't mention the war'? Taken off by UKTV initially, now reversed. Why not Manuel's stuff? A push to remove old television shows, films. Ramsay Street and Summer Bay were mentioned? No, I haven’t watched them. 'Gone with the Wind' in question, also statues, leave our pigeons alone; quite like the idea of said pigeons using Tony Abbott and John Howard statues (Ballarat) as a  toilet? reminding me of those two big German guns (still there) we played on as kids, High street, Westgarth? Will Blue Heelers survive, not representative of our police force in this day and age? Subject to “in for a penny in for a pound" or the more they get the more they want human nature principle. Yes, the racism, the bias, but to a form of McCarthyism, the Crusades? By all means adopt a current representative standard after consultation, but leave what went before stay there, particularly those statues? The national cabinet meetings with premiers and chief ministers during the pandemic should consider the question of Indigenous policy, as in really closing the gap? Note: Late PM's National Cabinet news, Friday, on closing the gap, strategies to address the issue, structural changes, excellent work apparently, targets set, fine words. Watch this space, or, I'll believe anything? "A sophisticated view" -  meaning?

 

Again the PM, Friday: The National Cabinet, sub committees, a national jobs agenda, about creating jobs. A contrite? warm and cuddly Scotty, well coached, kind of being sorry for interrupting our midday movie. Just the one silly? question. The ABC has lost $783m in funding since the Coalition came to power in 2014, including the $84m cut in 2018 and expects to cut 250 staff across news, entertainment and regional divisions to meet a $41m annual budget shortfall. Downright disgusting. And the question? The Coalition continually sprouts getting people back to work, jobs jobs etc, and it costs billions, yet here they deliberately cause the ABC to chop some 250 jobs for $41 million. Motivation? Not only, we all suffer from the loss of Australia's best public television and radio service, by Australian miles. 

 

Our various experts use those two little words - going forward. Not necessarily Cliffie...A Collingwood Richmond draw. Hey, we didn’t win, but we (they?) didn’t lose. Little fish are sweet. Phew. It's a long season...The value of all welfare debts unlawfully issued through the federal government’s robodebt scheme, soon to be wiped, is expected to exceed $1b. Thanks to my old mate Billy Shorten for his good work on robodebt...Petter Dutton on Twitter "We need to make sure what we're reading is not propaganda" No mention of The Australian, Sky News? Dutton referring to Andrews, Palaszczuk. Open the closed borders! A slip of Peter's anti-Labor tongue?...State opposition leader Michael O’Brien into Danny Andrews for not taking a stronger view to the Black Lives Matter demonstration. A man with a  conscience?...Childcare hits women hardest; no mention of men?...We followed the rules at Rye, twice, shutting down the Rye Pier...As long as the recession doesn't become a depression?...Health Minister Greg Hunt's no fool. He mentioned Nathan Buckley as "the great Collingwood coach"...ASIO? "They watch for household secrets hour by hour. And feed therefrom their appetite for power" [Juvenal. Satire 111]...Do black lives matter, indubitably, but I reserve the right to decide my thinking devoid of other people's conditional opinions. Disregarding the fox and the bear - 'I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me' [Kipling]. ...Go Pies, Hooroo....ello8. 

 

 

A GRAIN OF SALT. πŸ€”

Diary of a semi isolationist.

Godot or the antiviral?

 

SUNDAY JUNE 7TH DAY 76: Pondering, courtesy of an erratic mind. Black deaths matter, obviously, ditto social distancing. The op-shops have re-opened, a plus. I look at the books, authors, on special at $1, cheaper than one cigarette. Twenty people at a time allowed, others wait, and I've bought nothing, feeling guilty as I leave?  Been writing this stuff 13 years, many thousands of words. Keeps the mind ticking over, filling in the time. Not many pluses at 84. I watch Mastermind on SBS, it helps. I've given Eddie (Millionaire Hot Seat) the boot. Still has favourites, particularly attractive females and ridiculous questions. I have extra channels (on demand) to watch, just as happy with early Midsomer Murders, also on streaming, whatever steaming is? There's iTunes, YouTube, WhatsApp, Foxtel go, Instagram, courtesy of my son, rarely used. “Stress Management for Dummies” is on eBook? You can't beat a good book, apparently not the case for the younger brigade. Samuel Johnson ”He that reads and grows no wiser seldom suspects his own deficiency, but complains of hard words and obscure sentences, and asks why books are written which cannot be understood.” I tried to write a book, 40 years as an actor - "My Struggle to the Middle". Stopped, half way. A re-read of Frances Parkinson Keyes book "Dinner at Antoine's"? Yet to meet anyone who has read Dinner At Antoine's. Facebook is my main book. They took away my bank book? Our PM, Scotty Morrison, reads books; William Dalrymple’s "From the Holy Mountain" - didn't spot it in the op-shop. A whisky. When I drink I think. Should I give up the ghost? The thought can sneak in occasionally; present times. It's been a quiet week politically, overshadowed by general police authoritarianism, brutality. Lay on Macduff? Moving on... 

   

Paying back the robodebt, supported by social services minister Christian Porter, and then treasurer Scott Morrison, a tragedy far greater than the pink batts saga; but when? Robodebt no more, $721 million, from July, a data-matching system that took annual income data from the tax office, which Centrelink then averaged into 26 fortnightly periods, designed with revenue, not procedural fairness, in mind. They incorrectly got me twice, both in the area of $4000, beat the bastards, weeks of checking my records, long letters. The government projected it would yield $2.1 billion over four years. They do this don't they, consistently; not now, later, giving time for second thoughts. Watch this space? Catches? Then the latest, cash grants to renovate homes, a 4th wave of economic stimulus, building sector, to keep people in jobs. A multi million dollar rescue package. Is this to include social housing? From a government who promised nothing at the last election. How about extending Jobkeeper, seeker? Rusted on Liberals and big business never changes. Recall those 'more jobs' cuts in penalty rates. Zilch. $788 million housing project with earning limitations, basically a housing rort, or general hogwash. [Shifting the sands, by a master sand shifter: Scott Morrison has blamed a welfare principle followed by 'both major parties' for the $720 million in Centrelink robodebts the federal government will repay. ‘‘The income averaging principle is one that has been followed by Labor and Coalition governments for a very long period of time,’’ Scotty was the Treasurer when robodebt was introduced, as he was when the Port of Darwin was sold to the Chinese.] 

 

A few facts wouldn't go astray: 1/ Two-way merchandise trade between China and Victoria was worth more than $30 billion last year. Chinese tourists spent more than any other group in the same period, with 675,600 visitors spending $3.4 billion on trips to the state. International students from China contributed about $4.17 billion to the state in 2018-19. Is China a bully? Is America, England, Australia?

 

2/ The total cases of coronavirus in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is 59 nationwide, representing 0.7 per cent of all cases, an under-representation, as First Nations peoples comprise 3 per cent of our population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 27 per cent of the national prison population. Latest census, First Nations women were being jailed at rates higher than those of both non-Indigenous women and non-Indigenous men. Nearly three decades after the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed down its report, successive Australian governments have made no attempt to address its recommendations. With law-and-order policies electorally popular, they have only made things worse, Peter Dutton et al? The black deaths have not slowed. Since 1991, 432 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have lost their lives in custody, died while denied their liberty. [Stating the obvious: George Floyd murdered, protests, silent or noisy, courageous and dangerous, justified by way of the evils of entrenched discrimination. Looting a separate issue, theft, a crime.] Black deaths matter, true enough. I'm listening, any suggestions?

 

Eight Australian MPs, four senators and a number of members of Australia’s legislature are among those who wrote to their foreign minister before Monday’s hearing and urged that a diplomatic representation be made to the UK government to ask that Assange be released on bail. Citing the impact of Covid-19 in British prisons, they wrote: “The extradition hearings have been disrupted and delayed, leaving Mr Assange unable to have his case heard until September 2020 at the earliest, while deaths within the UK prison populations and illness amongst judicial and penal staff cohorts continue to rise.” A tragedy. Where are you Anthony Albanese?

 

If it wasn't so serious it would be funny? The USA, Inequality, poverty, racism, extreme free market economics, rampant individualism, delusional nationalism and, all those guns, while Space X rocket ship roams for the entitled. 

 

The Eden-Monaro resident who told our PM to get off his lawn deserves a good conduct gold medal..."It's evolved our relationship" said one young lady alongside her man; COVID-19. Very cute, perhaps using Josh Frydenberg's "Technology is evolving"?...Thailand massage parlours to re-open [covid-19] social distancing?.....Refugees treated like animals for 6 years while we complain of a fortnight in isolation?...Shane Patton is Victoria's new top cop. Any relation to Constable Patton who gave a few of the kids hell at the rear of the Northcote police station back in the late 40's early 50's?...."In a world where 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. 

 

 

A GRAIN OF SALT. πŸ˜Ž

Diary of a semi isolationist.

Carlton draught from the tap, please?

SUNDAY MAY 31ST DAY 69:.. Reconciliation week, but not holding my breath for anything positive. Likely a 'seeming' situation, as history shows. John Kennedy "Don't think, DO!' This on the back of the Rio Tinto destruction of the Aboriginal heritage site. One of more than 463 sites that mining companies operating in Western Australia have applied for permission to destroy or disturb since 2010. So much for Ken Wyatt, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Profits and racism, the perfect blend?

 

The word of the past Autumn - "Unprecedented". Those interminable James.A.Fitzpatrick travelogues of the ‘40’s & ‘50’s (“And so we say farewell to Tierra del Fuego, or Shikoku or Palawan”); likewise the Ensuring Integrity Bill (a fancy title aimed at the Unions, likely a lost cause anyway) in favour of Christian Porter and the unions agreeing to sweeping workplace reform (award simplification, enterprise agreements, workforce casualisation, compliance and enforcement of wage rates and union behaviour), the saviour of our ailing economy. Sounds good? Half a chance (correction, a dog's whistle chance) but only if the Morrison crowd can use at least part of that $60 billion saved from the initial $130 billion required to attack the COVID-19 epidemic. Casuals, foreign workers, the arts, TAFE (remember when Howard slashed the funding?), Job keeper, seeker, maker. A re-write of our industrial relations system? A September deadline says our Prime Minister. ‘‘The purpose is simple and honest, to explore, and hopefully find, a pathway to sensible, long-lasting reform with just one goal – make jobs.’’ Unprecedented BS. As always, we live in hope...Ross Gittins in The Sydney Morning Herald: “If Scott Morrison lacks the courage to spend as much as is needed – as it seems he may – he’s likely to be kicked out at the next election because we’ll still be languishing in a recession that’s deeper and longer than it needed to be.” Cynical yes. Always promises, wrapped in words. Morrison said the government was helping the economic rebuild with the “gigantic” Snowy 2.0 project, which has enormous benefits across the region. He said it was all part of the government’s plan to “get communities back on their feet as they look optimistically forward to that future”. You get the picture? Again I say, don't hold your breath.

 

National COVID-19 Coordination Commission. More 'seeming'? Flabbergasted. People telling me Scotty doing  a great job. No second thoughts, no nothing. And truly believe this? Will they change their minds? Eventually, surely. Ho hum. Sports rorts and Jobkeeper, with nothing for the arts; my read as preferential treatment for Liberal voters as against Labor voters; yet governing for all Australians? Stranger still, a PM presently the most popular in history? People believing his good management rather than luck? Early on we were encouraged to attend football matches, not to mention the bushfires? He formed a committee but no Labor federal leader allowed? True, Albanese doesn't have an uplifting speech pattern, but would have been equally effective in this pandemic leadership role, more of benefitting for all Australians. Have we forgotten the curbing of medicare benefits? Climate change? Are we assuming we've got Covid-19 licked? Sitting back, thanks Scotty? Beware, or at the very least re-examine your naivety barometer. [When I complained of having dined at a splendid table without hearing one sentence worthy to be remembered, he (Dr Johnson) said "There is seldom any such conversation" - James Boswell]

 

Amusing? Journalists, in listing numbers and deaths in most other countries, suggest (infer?) the doubt in these figures; less than honest more or less, further the extended inference our numbers are 100% accurate. Good on us. Maybe (ours that is) but certainly not our unemployment figures. 

 

Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter, and JobMaker to ‘bring people together" -  employees and employers. Will Australians put aside their differences to find cooperative solutions to specific problems? Australians might, but not Christian ("I want to listen") Porter. Or Michaelia (Currry) Cash. The magic table, Sally and Christian, industrial relations  reform? Get away.

 

I haven't had a bath since last century. Not only that, for my first 10 (or more?) years we bathed every Sunday night only. Tin bath, cold water tap, hot water added from the copper and a saucepan. I was third one in, which didn't seem fair, but I was not the one making the decisions, by then lukewarm water; the same water, plus mysterious additions?  

 

I’m a theatre person, a lover of the Arts. I’m regularly told spending our taxes on the Arts is a waste of money, which is a sad thing. Arts is a measure of the character of the country, or as Robert Hughes once said “It’s an organic part of human nature, without which our natures are coarsened, impoverished and denied, and our sense of community with other citizens is weakened” It’s the soul of our country, the enrichment of our lives, radiating multiple and intangible benefits for comparatively small amounts of money. Governments don’t spend enough on the Arts and too much of what they do spend goes to arts bureaucrats. We need Australian drama, music, paintings etc. It expresses our own way of life, our values. For mine, it motivates us, to get off our backsides and try something! So, more money for ABC and SBS drama, more money and particularly tax breaks for our artists acroaa the board. PS: For all Australia, not only Sydney?  

 

$7.1 billion to process asylum seekers in Nauru and Papua New Guinea?...The unlawful Robodebt has hit the dust. $700 million. Hey, do not blame our Scotty, OK?...In safe hands? FBI “We are following the path where the facts will lead us.” Minneapolis death, murder (?) by choking, knee on throat, 8 minutes?...New national security laws in Hong Kong, also known as Peter Dutton’s wet dream....Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman and obviously Dame Edna; friends of Alan Jones; no surprises there...Peter Dutton demands transparency?...Hush? Another secret court appearance in Canberra this week by Bernard Colliery, charged with conspiring with a former client, ex-spy (Witness K) and breaching national security by communicating ASIS information about Australia’s Timor-Leste bugging operation...AFL football and the night GF; nothing to do with the fans; all about money...Jobs and growth revisited? JobSeeker, JobKeeper and now JobMaker. Slogans...The AFP, a law unto themselves; bullying... $1652 fine for a silent protest (sitting in his car, legally), that Preston motel. Swastika rules?...A plus in reaching 84? I can re-write my history. Whose to say otherwise?....As for me? "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy" [Camus]...Keep yourselves nice... Hooroo....ello8. 

 

 

 

A GRAIN OF SALT. πŸ˜Ž

Diary of a part enforced isolationist.

Edith Piaf ~ No Regrets

SUNDAY MAY 24TH, DAY 62: I'm out in front by a whisker, and coming up on the outside is this big black bastard, by name - 'When I grow too old to Dream'. I swivel to my right and push him off balance. That's the theory anyway. When I was a brainwashed kid those who didn't see it my way were ignored; ignorance is bliss. Somebody suggested my writing was shallow. Fair enough. What was his point? Around every corner there's these same somebody's making their judgement calls. I defer in favour of my inner voice.   Particularly when I'm watching a murder mystery, using as I see it perfect logic, until contradicted by the voice. Occasionally, if watching a repeat, I pick (the murderer) correctly, but the bloody voice gives me no credit? Surely half points? Says I've seen it before? When? Sometimes voice (or 'wall' if you caught Shirley Valentine the movie by Willy Russell) comes to my rescue. Shallow? He doesn't say I'm not, he does say we're all insecure, a question of degree. He also puts the accuser in my memory cell, forever. Human nature to the rescue. The threat of descending into Gah Gah land. A paid up member of the Duffers Club, alongside Pauline Hanson and, not always but occasionally, Jacqui Lambie, controlled by master duffer Stuart Robert, Minister for Government Services and constant user of the word eclectic. Strangely I'm not depressed, never, from memory, and yet, day after day the same boring routine, leading (possibly?) to the inevitability of daring not to dream, but not yet. Now I can have 5 visitors, a full house. Not that I want 5 visitors. Ever onwards...

 

Getting back to business, as in reality, or not trusting the Liberal party? A $60 Billion accounting error on Jobkeeper. The biggest mistake in history. Just as well it wasn't a Labor bungle. Just as well Greg Sheridan is on our screens in the defence of our Liberal party. So much for cutting our public service numbers. One wonders as to the real cost of other items; bushfires relief package as against the promised, ditto NDIS. The television series Utopia comes to mind. Comedy is reality? Still nothing on the arts and entertainment sector, casuals generally and temporary visa holders; now talking tourism, hospitality extensions? Says our Treasurer Josh "Good news for taxpayers?" Whatever, the blame, or at the very least part thereof, will be shifted to their usual practice, anything other than themselves. They wrote the book. And now, no more bipartisan consultations? They can't blame China for this one, can they?

 

Morrison and company have no positive intentions regarding climate change. If you believe in climate change why vote Liberal? If you believe in the arts why vote Liberal? If you believe in the future of the ABC why vote Liberal? If you believe the Liberals have been dishonest in NDIS allocations why vote for them? If you believe company profits should be taxed less, and oppose minimum wage increases vote Liberal. If you believe in increased government spying on Australians vote Liberal. If you believe those with different sexual preferences are evil vote Liberal. If you agree with our treatment of young people on work/student visas vote Liberal. If you believe in Centrelink offices cutbacks (and Robodebt) vote Liberal. As for the plight of the refugees on Manus, Nauru and that Preston hotel (confiscating mobile phones?) I'll leave this to your conscience.

 

China’s targeting of Australian exports shows the dangers of uncritically hanging off the United States’ coat-tails. Australia might have played a valuable mediation role (pandemic enquiry) but chose to simply jump in behind Donald Trump. Far too early. An international independent investigation into the COVID-19 pandemic? Expect an accurate result on this one before 2025.

 

From The Saturday Paper, Paul Bongiorno; edited: "The claim that the world backed Australia’s calls for an independent inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic is without doubt overblown self-congratulation. The resolution that won unanimous support at the virtual World Health Assembly this week was not ours. It was proposed by the European Union – Australia was one of the 137 countries that co-sponsored it. We were active – along with others – in hammering out the final wording. China is not targeted or mentioned by name – the virus is. There is no inquiry independent of the World Health Organization – the WHO will play the facilitating role in setting it up, despite Foreign Minister Marise Payne last month saying the review should not be conducted by the WHO because “it strikes me as somewhat poacher and gamekeeper”. And there is definitely no suggestion of health inspectors with “weapons inspector”-type powers – which is what Scott Morrison had earlier proposed. Australian epidemiologist and adviser to the international health organisation Professor Mary-Louise McLaws says that in February China welcomed in an independent team of experts from the US, Russia, Singapore and other countries. Under the protocols of the WHO, the body takes guidance from its member states on the severity of outbreaks. McLaws told ABC TV that she can understand why China now wants to wait until the pandemic is over before welcoming further inquiry, because “they are very busy” coping with the crisis. She says it will probably “go ahead in the near future”, and that setting up these teams “takes time”. Alexander Downer praised Morrison and Payne for doing “a fantastic job” and in the end getting “the investigation that we wanted”. This view is certainly not shared by other former Foreign ministers, such as Julie Bishop and Gareth Evans; nor does it impress everyone on the government backbench. Ironically, China hawks, including Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, attacked the outcome for being “watered down” and not having a “reference to China”. Others believe Morrison blundered into an unnecessary provocation of China at the expense of our farmers and primary producers". 

 

Obvious from the beginning: Cuts to penalty rates have failed to deliver the jobs boost promised three years ago when workers were told to accept lower pay for the good of the economy. A new analysis finds the lower rates did not lead to significant new jobs in hospitality and retail, the two sectors where workers lost their old rates for working Sundays and public holidays. 

 

Liberal member for Wentworth Dave Sharma is on the case of Australian doctor Kylie Moore-Gilbert, held in a Tehran prison as a spy. Sharma says her case deserves more support than Julian Assange because he (Sharma) has more faith in the British system of justice?

 

No surprise News Ltd has it in for Premier Andrews. Expect the same from The age, under the guise of intelligent comment?...Jon Faine "The total of Victorian agricultural land owned by all foreign firms – not just Chinese – is 2 per cent by value. Yes, that is not a typo or a mistake. In Tasmania it is 40 per cent. The Northern Territory gets to 29 per cent. British and Canadian investors also have acquired huge stakes, but there seems no hysteria over them."...Where is Scotty? Gone bush for a week? Worry not, due to give a speech on Tuesday setting out some serious postpandemic reform directions. Can't wait?...During world war 2 my friend and I had a secret cave in a secret spot alongside Merri Creek, Westgarth; our escape plan in case the Germans invaded, a feeling of security.  Supplies; leftovers, jelly crystals, from the Food for Britain appeal. Wondering if it's still there?...The National Covid-19 Coordination Commission. Who is on it and what are their qualifications?...Is the Snowy 2.0 project the real thing or Snowy on the trams?...Yeah I know, 1.5 metres. What's that, a yard and a half?... "I read the newspaper avidly. It is my one form of continuous fiction" [Bevan]...Hooroo....ello8. 

 

 

 

 

A GRAIN OF SALT. πŸ’”

Diary of an enforced isolationist.

Yabba dabba doo

SUNDAY MAY 17TH, DAY 55: An epiphany? I'm a whinger. Never been one for whinging (OK, almost never) but nowadays what can one say - Everything's up to date in Kansas City?" Hardly. Will I reach 90? Probably not. Would I like to reach 90? Same answer. I can go three days without shower or shave, still in pyjamas and vegetables in the crisper. Suddenly the conscience. Shower, shave, washing on the line, vegetables to cook; ready. "Be it ever so humble there's no place like home for sending one slowly crackers" [Diogenes Small]. Nah, let's go with this one - "Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live." Stage 1 of the changes. Woolworths Rye crowded again, the walking dead in between the parking lanes. Ever the fascination of what lies ahead; the endgame. A return to lower taxes for big business and the false belief in the trickle down effect (in fact increased profits for them (here and overseas investors) and bugger us, as in the rest?) or a form of social upheaval by way of unemployment benefits, real jobs, small businesses, real health issues, foreign aid, the arts and others? Victoria and Queensland gave something to the Arts, likely ballet, opera, the hoity toity content. Better than nothing? Do we see the ABC get off their backsides and fight for budget increases, or more third repeats? No way Ita Butter-Rose. It's the thinking time as you first wake up, lying there cosy and warm, allowing the mind to speak the real truth, 10 minutes, maybe 60 minutes. Unfortunately, once you pluck up the courage and sweep back the doona, it's all forgotten.[The morning is wiser than the evening; Russian proverb.] Winter is coming. Onwards...or sideways? 

 

Lady luck? I think back to the 1980's, 1990's and full time employment as an actor with back-up employment at racetrack (totalisator companies, later taken over by the TAB) and  wonder how I would have coped had COVID-19 come to pass; all income stopped? Shattered? Not quite. Would have muddled through by way of other options but the possible (probable?) psychological effects makes you think. The danger, loneliness of insecurity. Always conservative in terms of "not knowing what's around the corner" (father through the depression 1930's into 4 years overseas at War, into 3 heart attacks) but this one a real cliffhanger. We feel for the actors. We feel for all those affected, including those medically evacuated from Manus Island and Nauru, now residing in Preston's Mantra hotel. Then there's Foreign Correspondent, ABC. Warsaw, Beirut, New Guinea. I should whinge?

 

The Saturday Paper, edited: Three decades of economic growth have come to a sudden end. The economies of our major trading partners are in complete disarray. The prices of our export commodities are falling. Whole sectors of the economy – arts and culture, entertainment and sport, travel and restaurants – have been crippled. Jobs and businesses have disappeared, and under- and unemployment have risen to record double-digit highs. The fragility of the gig economy and the consequences of casualising the workforce have been revealed as not much more than wage-suppressing ploys. We are doing much better on the health front than we are in dealing with the emerging economic impacts of the great pandemic. For the time being, at least, we have brought the domestic spread of the virus under control with sane management. The relative success of the Australian response has been overwhelmingly due to the Australian people’s commitment to social solidarity, responsibility and common sense. Still, the virus has not been eliminated, only contained. And it is important to remember that the gains of the past two months are conditional, not permanent. Would that we were on the same path when it comes to dealing with the economic consequences of the great pandemic. Casual employees who had worked with a company for less than 12 months were not covered. Temporary visa holders were largely ineligible. The government worked assiduously to prevent universities from accessing JobKeeper, thereby doing great damage to one of our most effective export industries. The arts and cultural sectors were abandoned entirely. These decisions have had savage consequences for the hundreds of thousands of people whose jobs and prospects have evaporated. There is no going back to the Australia we left behind in mid-March. The new global economic realities will impose themselves on Australia just as surely and severely as happened in the 1930s and again in the 1970s and ’80s. [Fair summary?]

 

Slip this one through while our minds are front and centre on the Coronavirus? It had to happen? Peter Dutton to introduce legislation giving ASIO the power to question 14-year-old children, interfere with the rights of legal advisers, and enable the tracking of individuals. This would allow ASIO to seek a warrant so they can question young people between 14 and 18 if that young person is a target of an ASIO investigation into politically motivated violence: which could mean anything. Then there is a serious attack on the fundamental right of a person, whether they be 14 or 40, to choose their own lawyer when they are subject to investigation by ASIO. The bill allows for a prescribed authority, which is a judge or Administrative Appeals member selected by the government, to stop a person ASIO is seeking to question from contacting their lawyer? A friendly judge or an unfriendly lawyer? Also allows for hearsay ‘‘evidence’’ to be used. All ASIO would have to do is tell the judge or AAT member that they have heard from ‘‘sources’’ that the lawyer requested by the detainee is a security risk. ["As a lawyer, one hears and reads stories about colleagues in authoritarian states where such powers are given to and used by security agencies, but one never expected it in democratic Australia." Greg Barns, barrister]. Will also be able to place tracking devices on cars or in people’s bags with only internal approval, rather than a warrant. Parliament’s intelligence and security committee will review the proposed changes. Our Peerless Peter, True to form.

 

Zooming (40 minutes) has been helpful, keeping in touch with the billy lids. Unsuccessful search for a large poster displaying intelligent bookshelves as a back view; a need for something to make me look more intelligent? Preparations pre-zoom - double Jamesons whiskey, one stubby, salt and vinegar potato chips, two cigarettes. In America and England there appears to be a push via social media to sacrifice old people as a consequence in returning to the former, now almost forgotten, state of normalcy? Here in Australia, we feel safer, so far, at least until September?

 

Scotty did NOT approve those Sports grants, and I'm a billionaire...Nothing changes, Robert Burton, 17th century 'Self-love and vain-glory in an era of shameless self-promotion with an obsession with sex and its artificial allurement.'...“If it’s not for sale, you shouldn't put it in the window.” [Michael Cain’s Mum]...Confused: Telstra offer me a FREE upgrade and a $100 credit. 24 months at $2,160. $90 a month. I pay $55?...Industrial relations reform, tax cuts and deregulation said Josh; no wonder the coughing fit....Alan Jones has retired, causing a two page spread in the almost right wing Melbourne Age. Honestly, I've never listened to the man...Remember when Tony Abbot was worried that not enough of us were learning an Asian language?...The Liberal government purports to govern for all Australians, apart (obviously) from our Arts industry...Jack Mundey and saving the Rocks in Sydney; no double page spread, well done Jack...One assumes (hopes?) the anti-lockdown protesters were not Collingwood supporters...I'm with John Smith (The Age 12/5) "Not sure which is more scary, COVID-19 or Sky News."...A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want? [Wilde, Oscar]..."A perpetual holiday is a good working condition of hell," [G.B. Shaw]...Did I say three days? Well, two anyway...Hooroo....ello8. 

 

 

 

😎A GRAIN OF SALT. πŸ˜Ž

Diary of an enforced isolationist.

Are we there yet?  

SUNDAY MAY 10TH, DAY 48: Hard to believe; almost 7 weeks have flown by, though on a comparative basis, leaving aside boredom and seesaw health, it's been a piece of cake. A personal perspective as in soldiering on. I'm a Carlton Draught on tap man, preferably a pot. The question, where does it lead to after our rulers ease the isolation restrictions, that period in time before the discovery of a vaccine, if ever. Dodging a bullet, many bullets? At 84 if I catch it, likely a goner. Rarely travelling; Melbourne perhaps a yearly visit, always only by car. True, the RSL opens. "What's it to be Cliffie?" -  "Same again darling, as always." Otherwise? As an added bonus, eyes on the skulduggery of our leaders, who occasionally sit in Canberra; next scheduled sitting this coming Tuesday, then it's toodaloo until September and the potential of unemployment chaos. Can we trust them? Should I employ a sensitivity adviser? Patience, with apologies to the unemployed, particularly actors.

 

POLITICS? The Indian style medicine show, becoming The Wizard Company, producers of Hamlin’s Wizard Oil, representing the epitome of the trend of “pious” medicine men. "How much is your health worth, Ladies and Gentlemen? It's priceless, isn't it? Well, my friends, one half-dollar is all it takes to put you in the pink. That's right, Ladies and Gents, for fifty pennies, Nature's True Remedy will succeed where doctors have failed. Only Nature can heal and I have Nature right here in this little bottle. My secret formula, from God's own laboratory, the Earth itself, will cure rheumatism, cancer, diabetes, baldness, bad breath, COVID-19 and curvature of the spine." On Friday our Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the premiers mapped out a three-stage strategy to get “a million Australians back to work” in what he calls a “sustainable Covid-19 safe economy” by July? The COVIDSafe app, originally at 40%. now at 40% of the 16 million smartphone users; therefore 25%. Jobkeeper dries up in September. Extended, or pot luck? Our Treasurer conveniently assumes the 4.7 million people on the $1500-a-fortnight job subsidy will have jobs to go back to? Then there’s the Jobseeker at $1,100 a fortnight, down down down? Treasurer Josh “Very conscious the way to get people off the unemployment benefits is to get them back into the workforce, to encourage economic activity, and that’s why the lifting of the restrictions is so important. The quicker we lift those restrictions, the more economic activity we generate.” You've gotta laugh. They tell us Donald Trump is loose with the truth. He's not short of buddies. [Of concern: The banks have delayed loans to the tune of $160 billion.]

 

For the record the ABC has lost $783 million in funding (and 1000 jobs) since the coalition came to power in 2014. AND YET - By January, the ABC was No. 1 in the country, with an audience of 11.2 million, well ahead of the Murdoch news site. The most recent figures, for March, showed its audience up to 15.2 million, a 53 per cent gain in a single month, and almost three million ahead of its closest rival. AND YET - Last month, the Morrison government announced it would provide some $100 million in relief to commercial TV, regional radio and newspapers. It also suspended Australian content quotas for this year, and possibly next, a move that has saved the networks money at the cost of content producers, already hard hit by the coronavirus shutdown. On the only sitting day of federal parliament in April, in response to a question from Labor, Prime Minister Scott Morrison ruled out restoring any funding to the ABC. “The ABC is doing an excellent job,” he said, “and they’ll continue doing that job with the resources that have been provided to them.” [On a personal note, despite the treatment of the ABC by the Coalition and Murdoch, I see them (it?) as digging their own graves; wimps come to mind.] 

 

Another point of view, similar, sports rort saga? Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan withdrew his attack on Daniel Andrews (“failure of leadership” for not reopening schools). [Read as a stirrer supreme, Prime Minister Scotty Morrison, being aware of Tehan's intentions, possibly suggesting them initially, noting the fallout, a word in Tehan's right ear, withdraw? Job done, yet again, blaming it on the Bossa Nova?] Just saying. [Daniel Andrews; decisive, clarity, empathy and compassion. May 11th was announced weeks ago. The political pressure, insults, ignored with dignity. Dan the man, our man.]

 

Kevvy Rudd. 2003: "Lies were reported as facts. Credible sceptics were downplayed, ignored or attacked as unpatriotic “appeasers”. The thrill of landing a big “story” overtook the media’s fundamental duty to prevent the public from being deceived. Journalists who believed they were muscling up to a looming security threat turned out to be working instead against their own countries’ long-term interests. And in all this the Murdoch media were leading the pack across the anglosphere as the unrelenting cheerleaders for war – and vilifying those, like me, who opposed it." 2020: China has much to answer for, including the ultimate origins of the virus. But if Trump’s claim in the Wuhan laboratory saga ultimately ends up being disproven, either by the Five Eyes or by US intelligence itself, then the irony is that the net political winner will be China. The humiliation when no WMD were found in Iraq? Beijing would seek to exonerate itself as a result of egregious presidential overreach – once again aided and abetted by the Murdoch media. This is why the watchword of any sophisticated intelligence agency is caution in endorsing premature conclusions until all the facts are on the table. [Yanks: "A significant amount of evidence where the virus came from." No details? File note: Re-submit September 2020].

 

From Dr Joe Flood, CSIRO Officers’. "There is only one statement of any consequence made by the Chinese government on COVID-19, and that was on January 12 when it isolated SARS-CoV-2 RNA and shared the sequence with the world. This was done in only seven days after notification of the first case of novel pneumonia. By comparison, it took more than 150 days to sequence SARS-1 in the US, after the epidemic was all over. By doing this, Chinese medical scientists made the development of testing kits immediately possible and arguably saved millions of lives. A vaccine may be next." 

 

Scotty: “Australia can’t keep under the doona forever.” True. The Aussie spirit, the Australian way, or for those who disagree - the un-Australian way? Busy busy. Up and at 'em. Check my notes, aka my bible, kitchen bench. At my age the 'notes' have become my 'what's on' type of thing. Breakfast, Read The Age online. A walk, around 1500 steps. A second coffee while checking out Virginia Trioli? Shower, shave, washing. Lunchtime already, watching/listening to ABC midday news. Check out Facebook, a few 'stirring' type comments, washing on the line, time for my nap, 1-3pm. Put washing away. Read one of 3 books online, thinking about tea, dinner. Zooming 5.30. Preparations pre-zoom - double Jamesons whiskey, one stubby, salt and vinegar potato chips, small serve. 7pm, tea. dishes, clean up - to green tea and a biscuit or two. Catch up on pre-recorded, The Drum, Mastermind, ABC News, 7.30. Foreign Correspondent. Lastly, a movie. Day done. Offsets/intrusions: Visitors, singular, 2 metres apart. Woolworths for food. Medical appointment. Chemist. Council cleaner. Rain. Local newspaper. Telephone conversations. Emails. Writing this blog. [Scotty. No time for keeping under the doona.]   

 

Life way well be 'just a bowl of cherries' but be careful of the pips...Zooming and bookshelves; maybe the need to impress, but does it work?...Little Richard kicked the bucket today, at 87. Tutti Frutti, Good Golly Miss Molly etc. Fond memories (as a bodgie) along with Gene Vincent and Johnny Ray, Festival Hall, too many years ago...Part of the scene these days, calls to report/dob left right and centre. Encouraging people, convincing them they’re doing the right thing, which of course includes the many wingers in our society. God help us...Our Queen on WW 2 “We kept faith because the cause was right, and it carried us through.” [Sweet]...Julian Assange?...Brigid Delaney, The Guardian: "The defining images and in many ways the story of Australia’s pandemic has been told through beaches." Nonsense. We're a country, not Sydney...Liberal MP Gladys Liu decries mindless racism against fellow citizens of Chinese heritage. No mention of her Prime Minister and/or the Home Affairs minister?...Spare me from any of Dean Jones meanderings on cricket...If it's a choice between instant gratification and predator awareness always choose the latter...Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed. [Russell]....Hooroo....ello8. 

 

 

A GRAIN OF SALT. πŸ˜Ž

Diary of an enforced isolationist; 

Paddle like the devil, underneath?

SUNDAY MAY 3RD, DAY 41: My late wife was a Bee Gees fan. Stayin' Alive. Appropriate, I'm more into "The Lost Weekend" with Ray Milland? I must be one out. So many coming forward with (seemingly) wonderful ideas to combat being in remand. Not so I, beginning this weekly blog with (more and more) the blank mind. Leave me alone in my misery? Harder still in this current weather. Fancied fish and chips, a short drive. No go. Had to get out of the car and queue, in the bloody rain. Evacuated in favour of scrambled eggs. "Life is for living give it a try, open your heart to the sun in the sky" What sun? Isn't self pity a wonderful feeling? And now, for a change of pace, here's our unified one, Scotty Morrison: "Generally, people are doing the right thing" code for agreeing with Scotty. Download the COVIT app. A protection, a path to a COVIT safe Australia, a return to a normal Australia? Pursuing a common sense, reasonable approach; how it all began, supporting the goodwill of decent Australians, a more liberated economy and society." What is an indecent Australian? I'll believe anything. China and Australia's global, economic interests. If the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping, was to carry on like the President of the United States of America, as in mouthing off the past two months, can you imagine what our press would be saying about him? Already are, of course, by stealth; Scotty, assisted by Peter Hartcher, The Age. Saving lives, protecting lives. Pats on the back for all of us. Also known as the launching of the tracing app, or (as a further claim) border protection. Lah de bloody dah...

 

COVIDSafe tracing app; 4 million to date. "To hasten the path towards lifting lockdown restrictions" Scotty the medicine man? Under the biosecurity determination the government has made – an interim legal measure until legislation is passed next month – the entire database must be deleted once the pandemic is over. The chief medical officer, currently Professor Brendan Murphy, would determine when the pandemic was over? The law stipulates the COVIDSafe data can only be used for Covid-19 tracing, or for prosecuting anyone who breaches the law governing the app’s use. The app is effectively exempt from the Privacy Act, governed instead by its own specific privacy protections. It is illegal for any unauthorised person to decrypt the data, or to coerce anyone to install the app or upload their data. The law also bans discrimination against individuals who choose not to install the app. Australian Privacy Foundation chair David Vaile is concerned the government is pitching the app as a choice between safety and privacy. “It is a more manipulative, rather than a straightforward, approach,” Then there is Stuart Robert, the federal minister responsible for the introduction of a government coronavirus tracing app? Could it be worse? Marginally. Peter Dutton, who raided journalists homes, offices, add in robodebt, take your pick. Why? To counter terrorism, pedophiles, fraud? Surely human contact tracing is the proven preferable option than trusting the app to this lot? They tell us they want 40%, or 7 million. Nonsense. They want the tracing  app. They will settle for much less? 

 

Josh Frydenburg: Recommitted huge personal income tax cuts – legislated, though not yet implemented in full – that heavily favour high-income earners. The personal income tax cuts passed last year will cost $158 billion over a decade and come on top of a previous cut worth $144 billion, passed by the Turnbull government. Continuing with small government, lower taxes and the trickle-down theory? [Liberal backbenchers are urging the government not to back down on its industrial relations agenda and push through a union-busting bill to spur economic growth after the coronavirus pandemic.] An uncertain future for young Australians. Unemployment, under-employment, the casualisation of the workforce, the road to more loss of careers? More than 6% of jobs already gone bush, currently predicting 10% by the end of June? The JobSeeker benefit to $1100 a fortnight for those out of work has doubled (but for how long?) the $1500 JobKeeper payment for employers to pass on to employees to keep them in work and an estimated 1.1 million workers in insecure work were excluded from JobKeeper, a disproportionate number of them young people. Economist, Saul Eslake: “The history of past recessions tells us people who do lose their job during recessions can take a long time to get them back, and the longer you are out of work the more likely it is that when you do find [a job], it will be of lower status and with lower pay.” Out PM is open to new ideas, on the other hand he's on the blower to Trump, leader of a country not presently noted for helping the man in the street, a jobless rate presently way above ours? 

 

Then there's our Clive (Palmer) claiming he has stockpiled 32.9 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19. There is no medical proof for Clive’s belief that hydroxychloroquine is “the best hope for those suffering Covid-19”. Trials have shown no improvement for patients treated with the drug, even in combination with other drugs?

 

Malice; another point of view, Nicholas Whitlam: "Malcolm writes “Nick Whitlam became unhappy. Neville and I never understood why.” Not true. Neville knew. Everyone in the firm knew. It was because of his unwillingness to work as a team, his unwillingness to think beyond the transaction at hand, gross rudeness to subordinates, his inconsiderateness and his discourtesy, and a single-minded inclination to resolve conflicts by intimidation and confrontation. Neville stayed with him when we split; he was always closer to Malcolm than to me. We had some very talented people at Whitlam Turnbull. Most left the firm when I did. Dr Kerry Schott bailed out immediately, as did a young Rhodes Scholar whose parting shot was: “I know, Malcolm, you think that you are the smartest person in the room here at Whitlam Turnbull; let me include you into a secret: you are alone in that belief. He did nothing on the republic, failed to get anything done on climate change – indeed it seems he was obliged to do nothing in his 2015 agreement with the Nationals – and he only got same-sex marriage up after an unnecessary plebiscite that delayed the parliamentary vote and caused great anguish and hurt to the very people most affected by the reform. He goes to great lengths to justify these failures in this book, but his arguments are unconvincing. True reformers find solutions to problems. They proselytise; they campaign. Not the New Malcolm. If it didn’t get traction, he moved on (rather like Rudd). The New Malcolm seemed to have lost all fight." [Take your  pick?]

 

Yet another? Our old mate Kevvy Rudd: Malco's chapter in his book A Bigger Picture on broadband. "A shocker. It opens with Liberal folklore about Labor designing the NBN on a beer coaster mid-flight to Brisbane (or was it a napkin flying to Darwin?) and then claims his subsequent butchery saved $30 billion. Hogwash. The facts are: Turnbull’s copper NBN is now three years overdue, $21 billion over budget and ranked 62nd in the world for speed. His claim that Labor’s NBN was secretly over budget is political fantasy, akin to Barnaby Joyce’s prediction of $100 lamb roasts under climate action. If Turnbull had kept our full-fibre plan, the rollout would virtually be finished, costing about $45 billion instead of $51 billion, with speeds around 100Mbps." [Too true for mine.] Enough on Malcolm. Time to put him to bed, historically. 

 

NOTED: As in not left in the lurch. In addition to money for the arts via Danny Andrews lot after being shut out by PM Morrison the decision to make financial support available to international students, also shut out by a mean spirited disregard of these people by the Commonwealth. Add in the government’s move to provide advance funding to encourage independent schools to act against the advice of state government, wedge politics, bullying, (political power verses union power?) while at the same time doing very little to support higher education and protect the economically important international student sector. Politics at play, true colours? So much for consensus (unity) around the national cabinet table and Scott Morrison's veiled threats, not only the famous app, but the attack on Daniel Andrews, previously agreed policy on school children; "All in this together" (again) on the assumption you agree with Scotty?

 

Epicureanism or stoicism. Philosophy, The Age: Since the epicurean ideal already resembles the way many of us are living under lockdown. The epicureans sought a life of simple pleasures: eat and drink well, spend time with good friends, cultivate your domestic sphere. Avoid politics, forget about fame and great wealth. Don’t worry about death or god. That need to form meaningful social bonds is abundantly evident during the first week of lockdown. Zoom is suddenly everywhere and friends are scheduling virtual catchups. A note slipped under my door suggests drinks on the porch at 5pm, and the result is a socially distanced block party. [No politics? Maybe switch to stoicism.]

 

Australia has failed to improve on its record low ranking in a global measure of government corruption, prompting renewed calls for a powerful federal integrity commission to be established “without delay and political wrangling”...NSW police had told the state parliament there was no evidence the documents had been downloaded from the council website, leading to Angus Taylor’s distinction between “download” and “accessing”?...A mouthpiece for the Chinese authorities accused Australia of being a “lackey” of the United States, one of the most reliable things Beijing has ever claimed?...So many people talking good reads. No mention of my favourites, the Carter Brown books (Blonde) of the 1950, '60's?...I'm big on history. As a boy I visited Captain Cook's cottage...Hail narcissistic pollies and divisive philosophies; can we make a case for weapons of mass destruction, like last time?...The China business alongside our first nation business underlies the racism, embarrassing, all of us...Neighbours is back in production; ‘‘We can’t have any kissing scenes or hand-holding for the time being. But longing looks are fine.’’ We thank God for that?...Declan Greene, artistic director of the Griffin Theatre Company: “The arts and entertainment industry in this country is being quietly dismantled by our government.”...Listening to: Shrink the Virus 3RRR podcast, worth a listen, particularly the episode on rumours and  experts;...If you believe in God you're on a winner, if true. If not, as in no God, what have you got to lose?..."Sorrow seems sent for our instruction, as we darken the cages of birds when we would teach them to sing ." [Richter]...Hooroo....ello8. 

  

 

A GRAIN OF SALT. πŸ˜‹

Diary of an enforced isolationist; 

Calm and unruffled on the surface - quack quack.

 

APRIL 26TH, Day 34. Enforced Isolation? Am I stir crazy yet? I read somewhere "No point in hanging around the back of the herd once your time's up." I'm 84, maybe I didn't read it, maybe it came to me in a dream, a nightmare? The daytime nap gone, sleepless, disappeared like (spectator) Anthony Albanese. Will I return to a form of normal? The old is gone, so said our leader, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, out of Hawaii, opposed measures to combat climate change and rejected additional funding for firefighters. Keep in mind when a form of the Endgame arrives? Welcome to ignorance and blame. No need of proof, secondary, more often than not driven by fear, not necessarily admitted. Constant the information bulletins, Premier, Prime Minister, health ministers, daily, television radio news 24/7. Variations (taxes, guesses) to the fascinating endgame. Malcolm Turnbull in the middle counting his money, crying foul. Racism already obvious, blame and an Asian face, violence; profiteers, your money not your face. One day at a time. Deep breaths, from the diaphragm. [Parliament returns the second week of May. Remember parliament, where they ran our country? Labor wants reform of the enterprise bargaining system to boost wage growth, the government is favouring “productivity” measures, which could include wage and conditions reductions. Either way, we get the opportunity to hear Albanese, or perhaps more of Kristina Keneally, Deputy Labor Leader in the Senate, starring on Insiders today?Recall our PM, winning the last election, promising...NOTHING?] 

 

Greg Sheridan The Australian on the ABC's Insiders last Sunday, hypocrisy taken to a new level? Complaining about the investigatory work ABC reporters had done on Cardinal Pell, an unfair “monolithic” attack? Said Greg “The ABC is so powerful that it needs to do better in terms of internal balance. With great power comes great responsibility. They gang up on innocent human beings in a way that constitutes a breach of human rights in this country” [Indeed they do, Murdoch's newspapers and A Current Affair front and centre. And the ABC, our ABC, catching up?]  

 

The Saturday Paper: On January 9, China alerted WHO of the outbreak in Wuhan, nine days after a doctor set off the alert online. WHO issued a media statement about this and on January 23, one about “containment measures” the Chinese had put in place. On January 15, WHO announced the “coronavirus outbreak shows Asia needs to step up infection preparation”. On January 30, the organisation declared to the world “the outbreak of coronavirus constitutes a public health emergency of international concern”. It was not until February 28 that Australia recognised the contagion as a “pandemic”, and the country didn’t introduce social distancing until mid-March – about two months after WHO announced China had told it about the outbreak in Wuhan. On March 11, WHO formally announced that coronavirus was a pandemic. Two days later, PM Morrison said there was “absolute reason for calm” and he was going to the footy and encouraging others to do the same. The Libs want a shakedown of WHO, when really there should be an inquiry into why politicians in the West ignored the threat for so long, notwithstanding a stream of alerts from Geneva. [A spokesman for French President Emmanuel Macron reminded Morrison that there should be "transparency for all players" not just the World Health Organisation. Donald Trump?]

 

Jacqui Lambie loud and clear on her “poppy pledge”: “ I will stand at my driveway, at dawn this ANZAC Day, in silence, to honour those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice." Fair enough, no argument there. What of the asylum seekers and refugees held in offshore detention by Australia, no more the benefit of the medevac legislation for urgent treatment in Australia, which was repealed on Senator Lambie’s casting vote. Apparently some lasting benefit in her decision to sign on to the government’s agenda to make life as miserable as possible for those in offshore detention. The details of the deal were secret and delicate to announce at the time because of “national security”? [When will it be time, or is it another Kathy Jackson situation?] 

 

There’s a sameness about Malcolm Turnbull and our Kevvy Rudd, both not part of their respective power groups (far right libs and Victorian right wing Labor) breeding a type of ‘up themselves’ resentment. Neither; one of the boys, one of the clan. Turnbull no great thinker like Rudd but his heart was in the right place, generally, despite his lacklustre performance as Communications minister and his efforts on our internet system. Kevvy a shade more intelligent; also had to back out on some of his climate changes ideas, but for mine (only mine?) both essentially working for all Australians, whereas their enemies both sides were more into maintaining their own power base. What happened to Snowy Hydro 2.0? Philosophically, nothing changes. 

 

Still on Malco, from his book A Bigger Picture: Morrison’s ambitions to seize the top job, going all the way back to 2012, when he writes that Morrison was “sounding me out” about challenging Abbott as opposition leader. Again in 2014, with the Coalition in government, Morrison was of the view that Abbott would have to go “by the middle of 2015” if his performance as PM didn’t improve. He saw himself as the replacement. The book reveals Morrison and his allies had advanced plans to dump Abbott, much to Turnbull’s surprise. He writes Abbott felt betrayed by the double-dealing – and that Turnbull is now convinced Morrison did the same to him, using his allies to manoeuvre two spill motions in the party room to thwart Peter Dutton and set the stage for the then treasurer to seize the top job. He believed Cormann’s role was the most dishonourable, because they had become “good friends”. Cormann had claimed to the then prime minister’s face – in his office, accompanied by two other ministers, Mitch Fifield and Michaelia Cash – that Turnbull had to quit because Dutton had the numbers. Turnbull writes: “Mathias regarded Scott as emotional, narcissistic and untrustworthy and told me so regularly.” The source of the untrustworthiness was apparently the belief that Morrison regularly leaked to the media and could not be trusted with confidences when it came to developing tax reform proposals. On RN Breakfast Cormann insisted that he “absolutely trust[s] him” and that he has had a “very strong, positive and productive relationship with Scott Morrison for a very long time”. [Inspector Morse 1: "Watch the mouth. It gives away what the eyes try to hide" also said by Lord Byron. Inspector Morse 2: With Peter Dutton in mind? Icarus, Greek mythology. Wings constructed from feathers and wax, warning of complacency and then of hubris. Icarus ignored instructions not to fly too close to the sun; when the wax in his wings melted he tumbled out of the sky and fell into the sea where he drowned, or  perhaps rescued by the Ruby Princess?]

 

Let's hear it for Danny; multi million arts rescue including La Mama and the Melbourne Comedy Festival...A thank you to all cigarette smokers, our taxes paying for your survival...Scotty's "fresh set of eyes" - can't wait?...Weird? - French researchers are planning to test nicotine patches on coronavirus patients and frontline health workers after a study suggested smokers may be much less at risk of contracting the virus?....Should I mention the school kids and home schooling? Nah, bloody kids. They'll be fine...Should we have 2 airlines; obviously, monopoly means costs to us, and whoever comes in, our government should top up regional services...Liberal state MP Tim Smith’s call to cull the flying foxes; maybe cull Tim?...I'll make a deal. If Peter Dutton leaves the building I'll download the COVID-19 tracing app...Dear Lord, please save me from reading anything Peter Hartcher writes, including any television appearances...Trump blames China as expected. London to a brick Morrison will follow suit, even in the face of Trump's strange behaviour the past month, indirectly as always..."We're all in this together" including golfer Sam Newman..."Gather the rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying, And that same flower that blooms to-day, Tomorrow shall be dying." [Herrick]... Hooroo....ello8. 

 

 

 

A GRAIN OF SALT. πŸ˜Ž

Diary of an enforced isolationist; 

From here to Eternity?

MONDAY 20TH APRIL 2020. DAY 28. Blowing a gale outside, cancelling my 1228 steps walk. Enforced isolation really hits home come the weekend. My previous life was a psychological calendar. True, my day by day calendar had written in important notes, toenails appointments, doctors and the like, but not for weekends. Saturdays (particularly this time of year) have disappeared. Ditto Sundays, same as same as. AFL and local Football, the RSL, coffee in a local cafe with friends, kids, out to dinner, a movie? Now, as one awakes on a Saturday morning, and it (eventually?) hits you what day it is, misery steps in. An extra hour in the cot feeling sorry for myself, patiently awaiting (in warm comfort under the doona) the arrival of a new form of motivation, getting up? Bugger all on my psychological (mind), helpless, the need to stay positive. Escape from this remand will arrive, one day. Up and at ‘em? Breakfast, shower and shave, maybe put a shirt on. See what happens, though deep down you know nothing much will happen. Hey! Stop that. You're 84, better off than thousands, millions. The so called 'good innings'? Self pity is self waste. Perhaps it’s time to re-read Daniel Dafoe’s Robinson Crusoe; how to successfully, albeit forced, live alone? The final episode of The Captive ABC next Friday. Should I access ABC on demand? No. Bugger it. Take the chance of still being here. Moving on...

 

Caring for our community, says our Council, or a farewell to common sense? I’ve managed a walk most days. 1228 steps (.78km) a short 3 minutes rest and another 614 steps to my home. A psychological break and the severe loss of my daily hour or so (social interaction/intercourse?) visit to my local RSL Alas, some bright spark on our Mornington Peninsula Council has had a brainwave. Resting not allowed. Roped off. Previously just me, alone. No more. Creation of laws without consultation? They may look like idiots and talk like idiots but don't let that fool you. They really are idiots. [Groucho Marx]?

 

Richard Denniss, The Guardian: The question is, do we want to keep “crushing the curve” by keeping 25 million people locked in their homes, and out of their beaches and parks? That’s not a medical question, it’s a democratic one. The sooner we acknowledge that, the better our democratic debate will be. We don’t need to pit scientists against each other to resolve such a question, we need to pit arguments and options against each other. Like it or not, those questions will need to be asked and answered in the coming weeks. We must admit that while sheltering in our homes and locking up our borders has helped drive the spread of the virus down towards zero, hiding from the world and each other for another 12 months will not make us “stronger” or “more resilient”. It will just make us more stressed, isolated and impoverished. We need to be open and honest about the role of evidence, the role of democracy, and the limits of both. [Sounds reasonable anyway, until we come to who decides?].

 

A voluntary phone app controlled by the government to speed up the tracking of covid-19? Beware. Freedom at stake. Well, a better sense of freedom if we ignore this. Real freedom is long gone. Indeed, if Peter Dutton gets his way freedom will leave the building. The talk of needing 40% to sign on, the go ahead with it, knowing, I suspect, the certainty of the 40% dickhead content. Depressing in the light of how Albanese has been effectively squeezed out of any decision making process and with it Morrison's high approval rating despite his incessant slogans; building a bridge? Federal Labor is becoming a nonentity. We get what we deserve?  [Note: Thousands on the Covid-19 hotline, dobbing delights, reporting social distancing breaches, all part of that 40%?]  The Age editorial says we must press ahead wth the virus tracking app. They would of course, now into the blue neckties point of view, faintly hidden. [Morrison: He would not rule out making it compulsory for Australians to download the tracing app – and carry the phone at all times – if sufficient voluntary take-up was not achieved. ‘‘My preference is not to do that; my preference is to give Australians a go at getting it right. That’s my objective, that’s my plan A, and I really want plan A to work.’’ He called on people to support the initiative ‘‘as a matter of national service’’ akin to buying war bonds, saying that while many would ordinarily never download such an app, ‘‘this is not an ordinary time’’.] National service, war bonds and a warning. FFS! A relief, Scotty backtracked on the 'warning' bit, albeit we know, (again, deep down) he meant it. 

 

School's back, along with the media overload, so many stories concerning our pampered possums and caring/overbearing (?) moms and dads. I come from classes of 40 or more, war years, to my own children, to my grandchildren. A process, variations, mostly good teachers, rarely any disasters. And now; the be all end all? Politicians (as always) to the backline. The kids will run their own races anyway, the main problem, consistently, overbearing mothers, sometimes stupid fathers.

 

Malcolm Turnbull: "If Dutton, were to become prime minister, he would run off to the right with a divisive, dog-whistling, anti-immigration agenda, written and directed by Sky News and 2GB, designed to throw red meat to the base. With no constraints, Dutton would do enormous damage to the social fabric of Australia. It’s one thing having the tough cop handling border protection and counter-terrorism, but not at the head of our multicultural society”. Turnbull on what Morrison said "‘I don’t want gay marriage. And because referendums are almost always defeated, I think that’s a good way to ensure it never happens.” Morrison also ran interference on the issue. In the 2016 election, Turnbull says the issue of marriage equality was broadly neutralised until “this equilibrium was thrown out in the last crucial week of the campaign by Scott Morrison, who had been the principal advocate of a plebiscite”. Again, on Morrison "“Many of my colleagues encouraged me, without success, to mistrust Scott and to see his briefings as malign, the calculated undermining and manoeuvring of a Machiavellian plotter. And yet we enjoyed a close working relationship. Despite Mathias’s begging me to be selective in what I told him, I continued to be open with Scott. He seemed to me to be my most likely successor, and as far as I could I preferred to work with him as a trusted partner. Scott, like many politicians, wanted to keep himself constantly in the centre of things. That was the purpose, Mathias maintained, of Scott’s constant stream of briefings, mostly to Simon Benson at News Corporation.” [Likely, obviously, read as sour grapes from an ex PM. My personal reaction to our Scotty's speeches is not so much what he tells us, more what he doesn't say. He plots? On the other hand his decision to return to parliament early next month (rather than the earlier decision; August) is a temporary relief. An unauthorised copy of Malco's book sent via the web, apparently from someone in the PM's office. Certainly not Scotty, but a fair chance Scotty was involved, in one way or another, as I see it?] [The Guardian: A senior adviser to Scott Morrison has apologised for sending unauthorised copies of Malcolm Turnbull’s memoir to 59 friends. Grain of salt for mine. Instructed to do so by Scotty, the balance of probability, previous form? Who knows, who cares? The old saying - “I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him”. Depends on where you’re coming from, politically. Malco has asked the AFP to investigate. Good luck with that one.]

 

Daily I awake wondering what I'm doing here, what benefit, what reason to get up? Why am I bothering to turn the lights off as I move from room to room? Results flattening out, for how long unknown. Modelling? "Social distancing is holding new COVID-19 infection levels low enough to eliminate the virus from mainland Australia. While the expert team behind the modelling has not estimated a date by which the virus could be defeated, they project it could be months away, rather than weeks. Yet loosening social distancing restrictions will inevitably lead to it returning and cases rising, researchers say, which means we would need to maintain such measures to keep the virus at bay, rather than return to life as normal. Sorry, I'm repeating myself. Off with the fairies. Possibly connected with no sex for 20 years? On a lighter note, did a zoom with the kids.  A pleasant interlude, little fish sort of thing. [Little fish came from years of playing blind poker, winning a small pot; little fish]. I tell myself "What would I be doing if I wasn't isolated?" Not a lot? Gives me a  laugh. I do this writing blog with the New Orleans jazz band (Tuba Skinny) on screen. Alternatively reading a book, also on screen. A NEED to get into a rhythm, a mind thing. Always had it, thankfully, but in this situation more difficult. The comedy is in the detail - The government is attempting to get the economy up and running. That was the same reason for the massive tax package changes for the rich and famous; did not work then either? More comedy - Some are suggesting changes to Scotty’s big tax cuts to the entitled types. Also no franking credits, capital gains, negative gearing. Hogwash. And another - “The big four banks are ‘here for us’? Also, talking of AFL football come July on "Footy Classified" channel 9 - a show about nothing? Lastly - blaming Peter Dutton for the  Ruby Princess debacle? [Never forgetting "The Anzac Spirit"]

 

ARTS/DUMBING DOWN? 2013: Australia elects a Coalition government. 2014: Abbott and Brandis slash more than $100 million from AusCo arts programs taking most of the funding from Creative Australia back. 2014: Brandis and AusCo launch a new strategic plan and grants model: A Culturally Ambitious Nation. Creative Australia effectively destroyed. 2014: $254 million is cut from ABC and $53 million from SBS over the next five years. 2015: Over $100 million stripped from the Australia Council by Brandis. 2016: Only 128 small-medium arts companies receive AusCo four-year funding for 2017-2020 out of 262 applications. 65 who had previously received funding miss out. 2016: 57 vocational creatives arts courses are dropped from being eligible for VET student loans from 2017 because they’re ‘lifestyle choices’, including dance, animation, design, acting, journalism, photography and writing. 2018: Another $84 million cut from the ABC. 2019: Morrison announces the Dept of Communications and Arts will be eliminated and incorporated under a new Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, and Communications. 2020: Only 95 small-medium organisations receive AusCo four-year funding for 2021-2024 out of 412. 2020: Amid the Covid-19 pandemic crisis the Government votes against broadening the JobKeeper income subsidy to the freelance and casual arts and entertainment workforce. 

 

The lily-livered high court decision on Annika Smethurst (invalid Australian Signals Directorate warrant). Matt Collins “The High Court’s judgement might lead to more tightly drafted search warrants, but it will not deter future raids on journalists and media organisations. For that, law reform is needed, starting with a recognition that investigative journalism is in the public interest and not a crime, even – especially – when it exposes stories that the powerful would prefer never to see the light of day.” [Gutless is more accurate. Ditto the George Pell decision.“an assessment of evidence by an appellate court is a poor substitute for the assessment made by the jury. The belief in the validity of the life experience of juries?]

 

Peter Collignon, professor of infectious diseases at the Australian National University Medical School, “We’re going to have to wait at least 18 months or two years before we know what’s really on the cards,“My real worry is that if you overdo this, and particularly if we put in rules that don’t actually make biological sense, people are going to become resentful – particularly the 20- and 30-year-olds who actually transmit this more than anyone else, but have a low risk themselves. We will need to keep social distancing for the foreseeable future, and that, I think, means bars and clubs and that sort of crowding is off the agenda. But people driving around in their cars, or sitting on park benches, or catching a wave at the beach, are not a risk, provided they obey distancing rules. We have to keep people on board till at least October or November, and maybe for two years, You can’t turn everybody into hermits”

 

I took out a 3 year membership last Christmas (Rye RSL) at $90 rather than the yearly job at $40. Spitting chips...The Insiders Sunday. Marise Payne, who spoke well. "The key to 'going forward' is transparency" referring to China. Fair enough; hoping the same applies to our government...I think of some of our politicians: “If any of you have a desire to be mediocre, you will probably find that you have already achieved your ambition.”...Those of us who have experienced the need to quickly move aside as a female is charging down the aisle with a trolley full at Woolies goodies can now appreciate the calmness, good nature, of current Woolies visits...Mad as Hell, Shaun Micallef and Co, continue to battle on without a live audience. A shining light of the media, Wednesday nights, recommended for those in need of a sense of balance..The old saying "You never know what's around the corner." And I'm not about to look. I repeat - Beathe easily, from the diaphragm...Hooroo...ello8. 

 

 

 A GRAIN OF SALT. πŸ˜Ž

Diary of an enforced isolationist; 

April 14, 2020 - Ever Onwards????

FRIDAY 10TH APRIL. 2020: DAY 18. The endgame and the key phrase - "Keeping Australians safe.". Sounds good. The 3rd of my diary blogs, hoping to make sense of it all if I come out the other end (so to speak). With the current estimate (could be longer?) at 12 to 18 months it becomes a race to stay safe until the arrival of the magic antidote. Admittedly my mild depression is a lifetime away from refugees on the islands, transferees to Australia holed up in a hotel (Mantra; Preston) under Medevac and obviously Julian Assange in an english prison. Be nice  to see Albanese standing tall for Assange's return to Australia; I'm dreaming. I'm told it's better to catch it and recover. As at midday, 986 recovered, Victoria. As an odds man what's my chances; 10%? Hope springs eternal. Other than smoking cigarettes I'm now into healthy food, psychological more than reason, walking daily, 900-2000 steps. Still, more concerned with the endgame, which is presently a mystery. As for Scotty, our  national treasure's key phrase - noted. The slogans keep coming. Onwards... 

 

Neil Pigot. edited: "The Australia Council has, with impeccable timing, cut funding for a plethora of small-to-medium arts organisations across the country. It defies belief that at a time when our cultural industries are in crisis, when we are pouring billions into the economy to save businesses, our peak arts funding body, still struggling to claw back tens of millions George Brandis swiped from them several years ago, is being forced to shut arts organisations down through lack of support. I guess we are the only $112 billion industry in this country the government has decided needs a kicking during a pandemic. Despite the bullshit from arts ministers prior to the current crisis that lauded a “healthy and vibrant creative sector”, years of ideologically-driven policy making that has bordered on hostility and has flown in the face of expert and industry opinion, has left the arts in tatters, so much so that now even some of its most notable practitioners are standing on the precipice of penury. I don’t know what the world will look like when this is all over, but unless we undertake to have a wholesale rethink of our approach to supporting the independent arts and journalistic communities in this country, unless we recommit to our common wealth, we will surely have sounded their death knell? [Is it as bad as all that? The Jobseeker payment for singles has been doubled, plus rent allowance. Just asking.] 

 

SATURDAY 11TH APRIL Kevin Rudd, The Saturday Paper, edited: Last month, the World Bank warned that an additional 11 million people could be pushed into poverty across South-East Asia in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. According to some estimates, there could be as many as 500,000 deaths in Indonesia alone. In the Pacific, some of our island neighbours have only a handful of ventilators. Initially, many hoped the tropical climate of our near neighbours would help quash the virus, as it did with SARS almost a decade ago, but that is clearly not going to be the case. Likewise, the relatively youthful population of our region appears not to be the barrier for which we all hoped. Indeed, Indonesia, with one of the youngest populations in the world, currently has the highest reported death rate from Covid-19, although that will be partly a consequence of limited testing and the uncertainty around the nation’s true caseload. We need to ensure there is a strong framework for regional trust and co-operation, which will become vital when the situation inevitably worsens. The collapse of an economy or the breakdown of society in just one South-East Asian nation will quickly affect all of us across the region. Many will seek to leave any emergent chaos. The challenge for the Australian government is to ensure it is a constructive participant in the region’s crisis management, even if ASEAN as a particular vehicle has its limitations. Roughly a quarter of Australia’s $4 billion aid budget goes to the Asia-Pacific region, support that must now be fast-tracked and focused in immediate public health needs.

Tabcorp “respectfully” requests a six-month suspension of rent and outgoings from April 1 to September 30. The relief would give the company “much needed relief and capital to enable the business to be relaunched once consumer confidence has been restored”. If granted full rent suspension at all its 374 retail outlets Tabcorp could save an estimated $20 million. The remaining 4000-odd betting booths are inside pubs and clubs. [No mention of the obvious increase of online gambling?]

A big horse racing meeting; Sydney Cup day, results unknown, as I've deleted the nightly news well before any sports results. Family Zoom (5) for an hour from 5pm. Had a whiskey, one stubby, 4 cigarettes, salt and vinegar thins on hand. Weather dreadful, heavy rain, near gale force winds, effective 9 degrees, no walk today. 

 

SUNDAY 12TH APRIL "HAPPY EASTER"? Still cold.  Walked the bare 900 steps. Read the Sunday Age online, useless newspaper, roughly the same standard as the Sunday Herald Sun. Also read yesterday's Age, Peter Hartcher full on about his hero (Scotty) but no mention of those not part of his generous, temporary cash package. Still, the big credit for mine, unmentioned by Hartcher, is our PM admitting he did not know; our future that is?   The letters section full of whiners; I gave up. Peter Dutton has gone quiet, likely reviewing his negative gearing income? I'm thinking about all those weird films of the past, end of the world crap, Mad Max beyond Thunderdome etc. Now? No so bloody weird? The kids want fun, a favourite word. Maybe we all do? As a kid we had this huge kitchen, no windows. high ceiling and a long rectangular table which we could turn into a table tennis table, allowing for so many hours of pleasure. As in now, isolation, assuming the right table, something for  the kids to entertain themselves? [I read this somewhere: "Is our health at stake? We have a right to know relevant facts, and policymakers surely have an ethical duty to be fully transparent. The public (we?) are more likely to support radical and unfamiliar new policies if we can understand the rationale for their introduction. We are still permitted, even obliged, to continue to assess, evaluate and – if appropriate – criticise the government’s behaviour?"].

 

MONDAT 13TH APRIL.DAY 21. Victoria: 1281 cases, 14 dead, confirming the fragile strategies are working, says Andrews, adding 'to ease restrictions is not the responsible thing to do at this time'. Morrison's temporary ‘‘coronavirus supplement’’ effectively doubles the rate of unemployment benefits to about $550 a week. Returning the dole to $40 a day after six months won’t be politically possible. Meanwhile, his temporary JobKeeper payment of a flat $750 a week undercompensates higher wage earners while overcompensating lower wage earners, including many casuals. All seemingly sensible in the  overall, but again my thoughts are honing in on the possibilities in our very near future. Police already booking people for minor offences, thankfully not all.  Handing out power willy nilly, for our  benefit (?) is far too easy to accept. The real possibility of a form of hysteria in the making? Protection yes; but for how long are we under the threat of a form of house arrest? If, as indicated, this goes on till the end of May, what then, in addition to the inevitable increased debt and increased stress? No parliament, no real questions, no scrutiny? More laws to accept? Thankfully some insightful media commentators but sadly (if anything) the stuff coming from our ABC seems more to 'encourage' us to accept, to be told, with little, if anything, of the opposite point of view? I'm no expert, true, but thank you very much, I prefer to make my own conclusions rather than be told. 

 

TUESDAY 14TH APRIL. SAY 22.  COVID-19 peaking England and USA. Those Yanks will no doubt play a blame game, but not necessarily on Donald Trump. The AFL are talking of the 2020 season beginning (or re-starting) mid July. Ambitious? I'll believe that when I see it, always assuming I'm still around. No real news of when our outbreak is likely to peak, for now the numbers manageable by way of our forced isolation. The calm before? Already the eager beavers on how to repay our massive debt after the storm. Based on what we lose on the pokies every day we should be in front by $2.5 billion come May 31st.  Pensioners to include their house in the assets test, negative gearing? Fairy floss. The same weakness here (as in England, the USA) - the need of a leader of substance to come out of the woodwork. State of emergency extended for another 4 weeks, as expected; indeed likely to end of May. Acceptance and trust? Politicians? Walk - 1034 steps. There's that word again: "Students who can learn from home MUST." Animal  Farm? A morning Age piece from Peter Hartcher and his appearance later on The Drum. Way way down the bottom of my list of favourite writers, near the top of dangerous writers list. Talk of signing up for a phone app as an addition to coronavirus? Talk of testing up to 12,000 a day. ABC radio promo: "Turn on ABC Melbourne, because getting through tough times forever, is what we do." Nonsense. Not just the police reporting social distancing orders. Dobbers are having a ball; dangerous at best. Generally, the emotions are steady, as in "all is well" but an underlying warning of danger hidden somewhere in the rear of my brain. Maintaining the one day at a time approach, for now? Woolworths for food, conveniently replacing daily walk; and beer, cigarettes.   

Who dares to suggest our government (and Labor) have no appreciation for the arts? I know for a fact they have a theme song - "Roll out the Barrel", we've got the blues on the run?...One cannot help wondering if our government is hoping the asylum seekers simply fade away...Real Needs; first the firemen and women, now the supermarket shelves packers, drivers, hospital staff et al?...Profit and endless economic growth no more; I wish, I dream?...Agree with Danny Andrews; after the (virus) ball, endgame, infrastructure looms as a large part of the answer....Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Old or young, we’re on our last cruise.”...ello8. 

 

 

A GRAIN OF SALT. πŸ€”

Diary of an enforced isolationist; 

Lucky Last????

FRIDAY 3RD APRIL. 2020: DAY 11. How to balance the odds and measure your courage (fear?) against them, health first, cash situation following? Some 38 years at racetracks working for totalisator companies (eventually the TAB monster) sometimes manually setting the odds after a temporary system failure. All for the cause of the racing God; turnover. Before CoCoCorona I'd have reckoned on a 99% chance of celebrating (?) my 85th birthday. Now a weekly challenge at 88%. Not to worry? Enjoy? Rare indeed - The Age printed my letter - "I was going to write 'Every oldie who kicks the bucket means one less on the pension'. Then it hit me. I’m 84. That’s me!" Flushed with success I sent another "In anticipation, the question "What do you attribute to your reaching 100 years of age?" "Eating bananas!”. This theory/belief is now in the process of undergoing severe testing. A mere 16 years till a letter from the Queen. Eat more bananas." Certain NOT to print this one, but hey, passes the time. The alternative is to go (going?) bonkers. Weather nice, again, maybe the last before the cold? Suggestions, things to do, things you never got around to doing. But wait, they're saying 90 days? Tons of time. One needs to be psychologically attuned. Better to put these ideas into re-submit, the slow burner; say early July? David Crowe The Age "What is the endgame? Is it herd immunity, eradication or a long hibernation until the vaccine comes? What is the strategy to get there?" Indeed. More information please. Apprehensive, depressed? Not quite. The family zoom; last night, all on the one big screen. Nice. Allows a break from retreating into memory, like (hard to believe, but true) - At 13 I applied to the Navy to be selected as a Cadet Midshipman. The stupid dream of coming out an officer with a degree. Knocked back of course, family background likely, with Dad a bus conductor, wish I had saved the knock back letter. Lesson learned? Yep, who you know, vital, forever, if it suits your particular style, never been mine as it happens. To quote a friend of mine "The trick is to run your own race, in the middle of the pack." Suspicious by nature. The constant question - WHY?

 

SATURDAY 4TH APRIL. The Saturday Paper, Barry Jones; edited: "What is the evidence that supports the health measures that are being taken? What are the competing views? Of these, we know very little. Most important of all, we do not know what economic decisions are implicit in the health choices being made. If there are none, let us know. If there are some, what are they? Then, and only then, can the community make an informed judgement. Without transparency, and scrutiny, there is no democracy. The need for federal parliament to return to pass the wage subsidy measures, so soon after it was suspended until August, shows precisely why parliament should be sitting – preferably in Canberra, but if that’s not possible during this crisis, then virtually. The sharp increase in executive power has been accepted with a shrug in Australia, seen as a regrettable necessity. But we should be alarmed if this unchecked power is matched by a decline in media scrutiny. As the power of social media grows, AAP potentially disappears and regional newspapers collapse. As former High Court justice Kenneth Hayne pointed out, if we want hard evidence that can be tested, we might need to have a royal commission. Evidence emerges from the courts or occasionally from a senate committee. But from government? Not a chance. Ideologically, three sacred cows have been put down: that growth is an end in itself, that the budget must always be in surplus and that a more generous JobSeeker Payment would encourage people to rely on welfare. And federalism is providing a useful pushback, with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews speaking simply, directly and powerfully about the disease, and not bloviating about the economy. Best of all, the prime minister appears to be calling for scientific evidence, and statistics, instead of praying for a miracle. Is it possible that after a recovery, government could use science and technology to cut our CO2 emissions? That would be a real miracle." [Recalling Barry (and wife) Acland Street, St Kilda, Sunday mornings, breakfast, regulars, both reading their newspapers?].

 

Australians have always had an apparent willingness to give away their liberties, yet rarely at such a scale and with so little consideration of what is actually necessary."..."A recent US Gallup poll found 60 per cent of Americans thought Trump had done a good job with the pandemic. Is our greatest threat from acute and chronic stupidity?"...Our PM stopped the boats, sadly however, not the Ruby Princess....VICTORIA - designed to reduce the effect to zero; Morrison much the same but at a slower pace. Is it turning? Not tested by doctors generally? A need for a central testing regime to tell us the more accurate figure? The lower the level the less the chance of an epidemic? 

 

Those old Tarzan films, Johnny Weismuller in his jungle, natives, medicine men, no talk of curves. Graphs now, Jane’s (curves) forgotten. With Tarzan it was the the lions, later the banks, now the unknown, the power of the preacher, bankruptcy, the invisible virus.This modern day preacher has not only the medicine men/women but also an army of henchmen/women, watching; teleconferencing, temporarily free via zoom, but for how long? Privacy, security loom large. Whose privacy? Needs replace entitlements. Whose needs? Ditto 'necessary' measures, entitlements. Sooner or later new security restrictions re teleconferencing; the problem, abolishing any said restrictions, AFTER we get on top of the monster; IF? [If you're reading this stay cool. It's Saturday, newspaper, a beer or two.]

 

From Lizzie O’Shea; chair of Digital Rights Watch. "The great historian of technology, Melvin Kranzberg, is perhaps best known for his belief that technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral. There is no doubt we can use technology to fight this virus, but how we do so will have implications for all of us for decades to come. Putting respect for human rights at the centre of any project will be critical – both to help contain the virus and ensure our democracy is resistant to authoritarianism." Here here Lizzie. 

 

SUNDAY 5TH APRIL: Johnny Cash; 'Sunday Morning Coming Down' to start the day. The loneliness of the coming Winter without football? The curve has apparently stalled. "No red team, blue team, no bosses, no workers. Just Australians. We're all Australians now." The patriotism bit hits home no doubt. Not quite, for mine. More money for the needy, Scotty, heading towards heroism? Perhaps the dealmakers, the rich, need us to maintain their plundering ways when the nightmare is over? I can't help thinking I'm Captain Bligh, taking off in my ship of life, a longboat, no crew, and to where? I'm far from alone. Those bastards cut La Mama funding to zero, the birthplace of so many Australian performers, in the scheme of finances, chicken feed. Stress rules the waves, even on a Sunday. Just me, and my shadow. It could always be worse; some other country could think in terms of invasion; Australia, boats, sitting ducks?

 

MONDAY 6TH APRIL: DAY 14. Raining, 12 degrees. Winter doona changeover. Mental preparation for a trip to Woolworths. Is salt and vinegar potato chips an essential necessity? The subtleties of supermarket's pricing, ever in evidence. Milk half price again, easily accounted for in other items; licking their lips. Guards at the entrances, walkie talkies on hand. The hot cross buns looked inviting; Thursday's visit if allowed. The rain stopped, a touch of sun, fancied a walk, short walk. Sit on a bench half way, rest up, a cigarette, inhale the salt water, Port Phillip bay. Apparently sitting a no go. Why? Stupid rule. Not to worry. The Queen's message did the trick; "I feel better now?" "International students who have lost their jobs should go home" says our hero Scotty. A no brainer; pre-coronavirus form; the leopard? Casuals 'less than 12 months' ruled out, ineligible for Jobkeeper program. A million casuals? Sad perhaps, but Newstart better than a kick up the backside. Now in MY day - oops, better not go there...

 

TUESDAY 7TH APRIL: No council cleaning lady, no vacuuming and no washing (fake) wooden floors? Where's my broom? At least I could walk; 870 steps. Street sign, Melbourne Road, Rye " Go home - locals only"? Maintain your rage some say, referring to the capacity of the medical emergency centre at Rosebud hospital. Slightly over the top. Offer of a free weeks digital subscription to Murdoch's Leader (it's always been free?) plus access to all stories from the Herald Sun; cunning? Lots of stupid China blaming. Like the Pell decision, not unexpected. Morrison's approval at 59% (previously 41%), expected. Sheep, following the leopard. I found the broom.

 

WEDNESDAY 8TH APRIL:. The Age; phone tracking should be used to stop virus. Big Brother? Starting to smell the hot cross buns. Normally just the two, but why not half a dozen, weight worries gone? Could be worse; lady walked out of her enforced isolation (Hilton hotel) for fresh air. Stayed in those supposed opulence type hotels, windows locked; don't blame her. I’m no fan of Andrew Bolt but he has a point on the ABC’s witch hunt of George Pell. Sadly the past fortnight, the only difference between 9 news and the ABC news  is the commercials. Georgie got off. Beyond reasonable doubt, the flaw (perhaps?) of a High Court overruling a jury decision? The (obvious) elite cynicism of Christian Porter, his face tells the tale, despite Shakespeare's ("no art to find the mind's construction in the face"). Still, $1,500 a fortnight not to be sneezed at, (the disappearance of neoliberalism?) ditto free child care and increase in Newstart. Another 900 steps today. Starting to feel like Herb Elliot. Not much thinking, simply shuffling, dormant brain. Often wished (unsuccessfully) for a higher level of intelligence. Those value years, 16 to 30, stuffed any chance of that, or not?  Any excuse? As I've said, leopards don't change; obviously the odd exceptions. Reading Ray's book two, The Kingdom of Men. Slowly, very. "A democratic communistic community, overseen by fascists". Sounds familiar, Christian Porter? 

 

THURSDAY 9TH APRIL. DAY 17:  Easter shopping done, in and out like a ferret. Home, shower, washing, spray and wipe. Phew. Hot cross buns. A road bloc, Great Ocean Road? Maybe all roads in and out of Rye? Again, over the top. This Zoom business is like doing a play. Timed for 5.30pm. Set alarm for 5,25pm = my 5 minute call? Minus the adrenaline...They continue to say "when things get back to normal." Normal has left the bloody building. Progress is a dirty word, always said it, now, likely spot on?...Let's hear it for civil libertarian lawyers...Treasurer: “During this crisis I’ve been talking with John Howard.” Is that a plus or a minus?...Finish with a song "When I Grow too old to dream" What else?...Let's Hear it for the hypochondriacs?...Finally - The 'Dobbers Delight World' continues...Happy Easter...ello8. 

 

 

A GRAIN OF SALT. πŸ˜Ž

Diary of an enforced isolationist.

March 24, 2020. Trapped, forced isolation. A leper? A type of remand. Drifting back, way way back, 1966, 30 years young. Not for long. I'd lived alone since 2004, why should day 1 be any different? Coronavirus; arsehole. The stress factor. Why shower, shave? Why a clean shirt, same suffices? Robert Redford on television, The Company You Keep, good stuff, hated the reporter Shia LaBequf, his character that is. Still, Julie Christie and Susan Sarandon helped, careful with my words. Woody Allen tried, in his book, unsuccessfully according to female reviewers; no surprise. With all my ups and downs; tea, coffee, whisky, cigarettes, I can make a 125 minute movie, plus commercials last the whole bloody evening. Made a note for myself, my brave new world of 'notes'? "Get oxazepam script. Buy panadol mini caps, iodised table salt." It's all happening, as Bill Lawry used to say...

 

March 25, 2020. The remote (lifeline) was dodgy, an urgent need for spare double A's. Made a note. Newsagency and chemist. The three necessities (in no particular order) being television, computer and sleep. Also a flu injection and pick up new glasses. Didn't need the glasses but needed SpecSavers to give me another 6 months before the urgency of cataracts and the possibility of no driving licence. So I sort of squared my conscience ledger? Again, stress levels, no need, daytimes fine. Note: What better time, not now, maybe tomorrow; take my time, check out every drawer, a clean-out? Television, Dublin Murders, episode 6, and I'm still lost, but I like it. I feel for the kids, my kids, all kids, including those under 66. At 84 I've had a good innings, two beatings (not counting teachers). Countless heartbreaks, a few beers, easily mended, maybe a week?

 

March 29th Sunday Age. Jon Faine: "Premier Daniel Andrews has shown clarity, an absence of waffle and consistency of message. His previous incarnation as health minister in the Bracks/Brumby years has served him well. It familiarised him with the lingo and jargon of the health system, a trust of doctors, and a preparedness to question their advice. He knows who to listen to and who to regard with appropriate scepticism." Agree.

 

Monday 30th March. A long walk to the footpath and back, thrice. 500 steps. Pondering, an isolation danger, bringing back not so nice memories? Way way back, before 1970, driving, Burke Road Camberwell 3am, deserted, took a final swig of whisky, threw the bottle out the window. Divorce, said she, unless, never again to reach my lips. No option. Three dry months, reverted to beer. Back again after 50 years, darling gone to God, or somewhere. 4pm. Whisky, then beer. Cultured, guilt controlled, obviously, never forgotten. [If St Peter has access to this, a type of Register of Un-entitlements (?) a fair chance of no entry into Lah Lah land? Maybe an opportunity to ask him (St Peter) one or two questions like, why is it I grow breasts at the same time I lose my bottom? Also, what's with his mate Noah allowing two bats on his bloody Ark?] Before this mad bat virus Trump was elected and the British voted themselves out of the European Union (and possibly with it) unqualified dependence on the United States? Donald Trump (psychopathic narcissist?), white male racism, and neo-fascism? Nostalgic imperialism? Do Australians prefer the 'easy life' (no gains, no envy or revenge, no self-aggrandisement.) opposed to their duty as responsible citizens? Now is the hour, so to speak. The Yanks, the British, the world over; the same percentage of dickhead voters as we in Australia. Whose to know? Humour emails, the puppy dog one, others, on call, in serious moments - an escape route.

 

Tuesday 31st March. Wow. Son set up this zoom.us thingo. An email from him, click, and there they are on screen. Steve, Jennifer and Cliffie. Fascinating, not that I got a word in, and able to record. Not that I did. Able to prepare, shave, cigarettes, whisky. Breaks the drought somewhat. 

 

Wednesday 1st April. The Ides of March begone. In fact March 15, Julius Caesar "Beware the ides of March." A superstition after many deaths; my family history. The realisation of the 'now' eventually comes into focus. Checked the letter box, opened the letter. Should I give my hands a thorough wash, can the postman be trusted? Spray and wipe. The newspapers, the blame game, whingers unlimited. Shut the f##k up and follow the rules, trust the (variable?) experts, obviously. Sure, our Prime Minister is crafty at best, chopping, changing, go to the football, stay home, but it's ours to put up with. Should the public be told? Dare I say - "It is what it is? And I am what I am, as is Scotty, forever. If we get through it he's a hero, not necessarily Trump. Don't tell me what we should have done months age. Now is the hour. Was that a song? Another, "All alone am I" "Isolation"? No, that's Multiplication. Lockdowns, now seemingly necessary, but later, the  Petter Dutton's of the world; danger? Hey, I'm eighty bloody four. Appointment in August, skin specialist, burns off possible cancer spots, tells me to stay out of the sun? I've upped my daily smokes, bugger the cost? A block on alcohol purchases, why? The 'voice' in my head, or wherever, going full pelt. The question: Should I get upset for so many others being dickheads or come to terms with my own reality? Can I survive these bat viruses? The bookies say no, and yet, I half expect I will. Daytime anyway. Night time the ghosts attempt to enter into the conference, upsetting the emotional input of a good television murder. Temporarily offset by deep breathing. Returning to the hope of the hero winning out. The necessity to see the ending. Bugger, the final episode is next week, will I last? [I'm not on the pay scale for 'on demand']. Surely I'm not stupid enough to think I'll see this nightmare through? I set my mind to basics. I'm lucky. Eighty bloody four is not to be sneezed at. Enforced isolation is a long way from enforced discomfort. A full pension, Scotty's $750 (eventually?) no worries, unlike hundreds, thousands, possibly millions of others. Morrison on television, Facebook. When isn't he? Some adore him, not me. A leopard is a leopard. Delay delay, stop talking, do. Patriotism and religion, promises promises, not today, soon. Like self-deprecation, foreign in Scotty, to my way of thinking. "Don't Look Now" 1973 movie that spooked me, was, as it happens, on television the other night. Just watched it, again. As if I'm not spooked enough? A little dwarf in the movie, murderer. Took me back to the last night of a Victorian country tour of "Away", 1980's. Bendigo, last show, a few beers, and I must have copped a whiff of marijuana (allergic). Woke around 3am, no idea where I was, turned the light on, none the wiser, struggled to the front door, opened it to see, middle of the carpark, under an umbrella, sitting on a directors chair, the dwarf. Shite! Shut the door, light out, valium, back to sleep. Woke up, still shaken, bus to Melbourne, told no-one. Home 4pm, wife holidaying on the Gold Coast. An empty house, no way. Telephoned the airport, taxi Tullamarine. Come 8pm, on the balcony, gin and tonic, beer. Cured. Today's Age. 18 months for a vaccine. Bugger. I need to hold out to 85.5 years? Also - "Tax cuts in doubt." I should bloody hope so. A bad idea in the first place. Then perhaps the disgusting negative gearing and franking credits, or am I dreaming? Dublin Murders episode 7. At long last, starting to understand it all. Must last another 7 days for the final episode? Allowing for social distancing, why can't you walk on the beach? Stupid. 

 

Thursday 2nd April. Beautiful rain. Gloomy but welcome. Who reads the sports pages anymore? Replacing my daily walk with another quick trip to Woolworths; Wounded Bulls? Vegetables, milk, bread, canned stuff, cigarettes, last till next Monday. Home and extensive hands washing, conveniently ignoring the fact my hands had touched the front door, fridge, kitchen bench, bathroom door and likely a dozen other miscellaneous touches; spray and wipe? Not to worry; Scotty is praying for me, despite (me) being surplus to requirements? "I'm busy doing nothing, working the whole day through, trying to find lots of things not to do." I walk to the bus stop, twice daily, 800 steps. Deserted. A feeling of making up the numbers, for no apparent reason. It must be lonely being a polar bear. Reading. The Kingdom of Men (Ray Mooney, computer) and Agent Running in the Field (John le Carré, in bed). I'm a fan of le Carré and so pleased to see his feelings (in this book at least) accord with mine on Brexit and Trump, so far. Half way through both, recommended. Haven't watched the ABC News since Saturday. It's the blue backing and those pink (assuming viruses) buzzing around. I catch up on either Facebook or the first 25 minutes of The Drum, unless (obviously) it's not Julia Baird and her lifelong passion of violence against women. Sparing a thought for the sadness of Julian Assange, left to rot in an English jail; gutless Australian politicians, both sides. And our Scotty? It took a while, but better late than never. At this vital stage, in fact all stages have been vital, Scott Morrison and our very own Greg Hunt, are coming good. Credit where it's due. I shall (for now) forget how they cut CSIRO funding, slashed ABC funding, slashed Centrelink staff and ignored climate change. Fairs fair? One day at a time, "Till the end ???" (the Perry Como Eddie Fisher song?)...Hooroo...ello8. 

 

A Grain of Salt. Saturday March 28th, 2020.πŸ€”

Last Thursday, March 26, 2020. Day 3. I recall much the same feeling (forced isolation) the morning of day 3 in 1955, Navy, National Service, and 150 days to go. A different form of isolation. Gestapos in control, mind games, orders, no choice. The survival challenge. How in hell does Julian Assange manage it? People (me included) often say they're unafraid of death. The ultimate test. This next 7 days may tell a tale (my guess only) - the question of the effectiveness of our health system. Face mask? Nah. My face is a mask anyway, hidden stress? Is this, in fact, my last post? Meantime Scarlet O'Hara "I'll worry about that tomorrow." Maybe Bette Midler - "From a Distance"?

 

 

New rules, more power, more police, and yes, the conclusion "for our own good". Power worries me. Not as it stands now; more a where can it lead to question. Parliament not sitting for 5 months, August, did Labor agree, surely not? Give a dog a bone and lookout: Breathe steadily from the diaphragm? The meaning of 'essential' is indeed confusing. Sunday 22nd March, 2020: Scotty: "We have already taken significant actions." I'd have cut the word 'already' and replaced it with 'at last'. In normal times (remember them?) I would have watched a number of news items in preparation for this piece. Alas, I've blocked most of them in a bid to relieve self stress, a relatively new symptom. Too many people, all telling us their interpretations, correct behaviour? A dobbers' delight, heaven on earth for them, letter after letter to newspapers? An invisible Cliffie coming from near enough to a closed (or closet) environment not unlike a form of remand searching for the true meaning of "essential". Who decides, Morrison or Andrews? Epidemiologists on call? May they be much improved on those GFC financial advisers. Howard Hughes comes to mind, complete seclusion early 1950's. And we thought he had a screw loose? Here and now, we hold our breath, for a fully functional NBN and television! The 'essential' of double A batteries? One feels for the unemployed. We were aware of the many thousands NOT counted in any unemployment figures who worked just the one or two days a week, now joining the REAL numbers, millions. We feel for the Mornington Peninsula black economy; cash popularity diminished. We feel for those grey nomads, as free as a bird, open road, open sky; no longer. Where to prop when you’ve sold your house to finance the great adventure? Is Peter Dutton reducing rent on his 5 properties? What of those who voted for Scotty to maintain their lives involving 4 or 5 houses, property losses and the need for rent income to maintain their (former) easy money lifestyle? And Scotty's cuts before coronavirus? Too many to list. Public service departments, Centrelink staff obviously, the ABC funding freeze, easily the best service throughout this past week. The glaring hypocrisies, inconsistencies, the knowledge they are keeping things from us, particularly, clear information what is and isn't, changing on a daily basis. Add in the additional (or different) rules state to state. All combined to (almost) ensure dangerous stress levels never before experienced in most of us.  

 

 

As it happens I am doing the decent thing. I follow the rules, common sense. The Mornington Peninsula coming in at number 2 of the evil CV list? An 'essential' Woolies visit, vegetables, fair chance previously handled, avocados, almost a certainty others have done the squeeze test. Yes, they are spraying the hand held baskets, but on that risk basis the vegetable area a potential minefield. Back home, alone, thorough hands wash, soap and water, problem solved? I very much doubt it. Wash the car keys, front door, wash bought items before storing? No. We take the odds, presently in our favour, but shortening.  Back to home alone.        

 

 

Then obviously, the gold diggers, never far away, some in those Centrelink queues? It’s the Australian way? 5000 extra Centrelink staff, many previously dismissed, interestingly around the same number have been ‘let go’ from Department of Human Services since 2013? Casualisation, cost-cutting and trickle down, a history to haunt the Morrison government, their mandate, to enrich their supporters at our expense? The financial bomb - blown up, in their (and our) faces? Outrageously (as I see it) many people truly believe the shambolic Morrison is doing a good job. A Sydney get rich scrounger leading our country? Give me a break. Yes, I know he thanked me. I'm apparently "up to the test". Political strategy (in spy terms) is a euphemism for conspiracy and espionage. Pre the virus it was all about power and money with a touch of corruption, depending on one's point of view. Now it's all about scrambling, while appearing to do the decent thing. The loss of Bill Shorten as PM wounds me, recalling his efforts as National Secretary of the Australian Workers Union at the time of the Beaconsfield mine disaster. [The Centrelink queues cock-up was clear evidence of this government’s relentless cuts to social security. Shorten says we should be telling people the truth. He said when the government was confronted with the collapse of its information technology, it immediately chose “to resort to a fairytale rather than just be upfront with people”]. Do we miss John Clarke and Bryan Dawe, Kerry O'Brien, Barrie Cassidy? Blood oath. And Leigh Sales? Courageous. And the end result; no idea. Why would anyone want to eat bats? Will our ‘do gooders’ society, self isolating gestapos, fuelled by an increased level of anxiety, drive us to drink? Indubitably. 

 

 

Bill Bowtell, adjunct professor at the Kirby Institute for infection and immunity at the University of New South Wales. “Let’s cut to the chase. They were warned 12 weeks ago by WHO [the World Health Organisation] and others what was coming. They did not accumulate test kits. They did not accumulate the necessary emergency equipment. They did not undertake a public education campaign. They gave no money to science, no money to research, no money to the International Vaccine Institute, no money to WHO. They diligently did not do anything useful.” Morrison’s government has been slow to the awakening on the medical and economic fronts. It is all about risk management, according to Norman Swan, who agrees with what Professor Bill Bowtell, a key adviser on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, says. Bowtell was scathing of the government’s green light for last weekend’s major sporting fixtures - “Reckless and beyond stupid”. Fair enough, but the (now) reality is to dismiss the spilt milk philosophy and move forward?

 

 

Pluses? Again, the importance of stress levels. I live in between; six two bedroom B&B's one side, a public carpark rear of the Rye strip shops the other, and the RSL across the road. Normally accustomed to noise, including the school kidlets lunch hour and 3pm, similar to living across the road from a train station, which I also did for over 40 years. And presently, next to nothing. Rarely uninterrupted on an afternoon nap; I awake thinking it's morning? Music. Up loud. For now? And reading. And writing. And a walk around the empty block. And comedy, anything to make me laugh. On hand, valium, 2ml, not so far. Fortunately, I didn't win powerball. That would have sent me 'over the  edge', over myself, over the Cliff?

 

 

Just a thought. Politicians pay cuts? No chance?...Boris Johnson has the dreaded. The real possibility of a Donald Trump bankruptcy? [Deaths in favour of the economy?]...My $750? It's on its way...One old mate said to me "Have a good weekend". I let that one pass through to the keeper...Apparently ventilators save lives. Where's mine?...You have to feel for Mad as Hell. Can't be easy doing a comedy without an audience in the midst of the bats tsunami...Amanda Vanstone, The Age newspaper. Isn't she a wag?...Nauru detainees are safe from the virus, at least, or are they?..Premiere Danny Andrews warns against dinner parties; no problem here...AFLW. Commentator: "The Gold Coast Suns like to get numbers to the foot of the ball."?...Flu injections early; got mine Wednesday. Still breathing...Lastly, the famous one, my favourite: Thoreau: “I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” Not quite Henry. When you have a choice, true, but now, 150 days to go?...Have a nice week?...Hooroo...ello8.

 

 

 

 

A Grain of Salt. Friday 20th March, 2020.😎

Welcome to our brave new world? I'd forgotten the disastrous mid 1940's poliomyelitis. Almost. Recalling the "keep away from them" warnings, the fear obviously. Read about the great plague in London, the great fires in London, the Spanish flu, but here, Australia 2020, never crossed my mind. It took years before the Salk vaccine. Tempted, being an odds man, to quote the odds, deaths, recovery rate, Italy; too depressing? Living within the various forms of anxiety. [But I will - see later]. Could well be my last blog? Clark Gable's famous line "Frankly my dear I don't give a damn" no longer applies. Some, (thankfully few) adopt the 'kill or be killed' poison; hoarding. One wonders if a ration system along World War 2 lines would work; there being no shortages of anything in the supermarkets; particular shortages temporarily a result of a form of idiocy panic buying, seemingly spreading faster than the dreaded virus? "Avoid anyone prone to viruses including old people" What? The mark of Zorro on old people? Staggering to the line, 84th birthday. Sunday. Cop it and cark it? - not yet. A feeling of uselessness. And my boys, Collingwood? Why are they playing football? What a mess. 

 

 

It was only months ago when Scotty (Morrison) dropped three (or 4?) public service departments and announced “get on board and implement the government’s agenda". Meaning funding cuts. Recall the CSIRO, and others? His offering - 'thoughts and prayers'? Recall his bushfires Liberal Party policy speech? Recall his answers to Sportsrorts? Recall his bringing coal into our parliament; "Don't be afraid" he said? Gobbledygook! Can you blame me? Some say coronavirus is a form of socialism, and I'm Snowy on the Trams, or a Monkey's Uncle? The big one's will be compensated, opera, ballet, theatre, printing money. What of the small millions, casuals, actors, countless types who make a quid here and there. Centrelink? Newstart? Long queues, forms to fill in, patience, determination, and then, and then, say 3 months, 6 months, it arrives. As always a who you know system, nothing to do with socialism. Am I bitter? - no way. More fascinated. I'm a political person, but a long long way from letting politicians upset the beauty of living my life, albeit near the finish line. And now, eventually, at last, a nice change in our Prime Minister, after initially beginning this disaster (like the bushfires) with lots of "We We" speeches. "Stop hoarding" said Scotty, spot on. Then he added "It's UnAustralian"? Nah, silly, we're multicultural, but better late than never, credit where it's due. Now, at least, Scotty is on the ball, always remembering there's no need for Scotty to personally hoard. Had he increased Newstart he would have received a standing ovation. Now he has to? Now, at long last, we look to our Prime Minister to do what he was elected to do; lead, for all Australians. Yes, it's likely if we ever get through this disaster he will return to his real self, but for now, we give him our attention. We are listening, wide eyed. Dig in people. Stay safe. Share if possible. Check out your supply of 2ml valium.

 

 

COMEDY: Not quite a fringe festival, but we work with what's in front of us. Scott Cam, looking like a sitting duck, lost, alongside world famous speaker Michaelia Cash “It’s the Australian way”. Maybe he's into believing his own publicity? I recall his early shows, looked like a good bloke. Be careful Scott. Too much time at Channel 9 (or is it 7?) can be catching. They're using you, perhaps? And Michaelia? Suggest David Speers invite the lady on to Insiders (ABC Sundays) in place of Gerard Henderson. Comedy is good for the soul. We miss Gerard. Then we are blessed with the wonderful Princess Pauline and her stint on The Law Council of Australia parliamentary inquiry into the family law system, chaired by Liberal MP (and honest John) Kevin Andrews. Apparently abandoned short term, thank God. Good for them. At best, another set-up. [Note, apropo of nothing: Always a fan of Fringe festivals, often better plays and (more) often better actors than the headliners.]

 

 

Before Scotty's change of heart, seeing the light, last Saturday's Age: Hartcher: "Prime Minister Scott Morrison will not be tested for coronavirus despite spending hours behind closed doors this week with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton." Of course he was tested, but we, the public, will believe anything? Also, from Peter Hartcher, "Morrison and Frydenberg have shown the judgment and realism to abandon their impossible dream. And not a moment too soon. It would have been better had they got ahead of this crisis and announced a stimulus package two or three weeks ago, while confidence was still holding up. Before panic-selling of shares and panic-buying of toilet paper. But credit where it’s due." What credit? They had no choice!

 

 

The famous lap of the Gods? Having covered the political aspects, a need to realise the degree of the virus. Figures are frightening. Over 250,000 cases, 10,000 deaths and 89,000 successfully recovered. Our figures relatively light but with the double multiply effect (the old piece of paper trick folded in half; 103 times and it's as thick as the Universe) it will be at least the end of May before we can get a (relatively) clear indication, an evening out, and even that's not certain. The stress factor is taken to another level. It's one thing to be struck down with an almost fatal illness in old age, another altogether with the dreadful thought of your children, grandchildren, on your passing, possibly equally at risk.  

 

 

Shares in Coles, Woolworths; buy now?...Overrun with shifty types, internet, email, facebook. Be careful xxxx...Football AFL. Bigger than coronavirus? No...Mad as Hell (Shaun Micallef, Wednesdays ABC) without a live audience; still a breath of fresh air...A bit of a twist; no-one is allowed in (to Australia) no-one can get out?...Amazing the regularity of things coming back to haunt Jeff Kennet; closing the Fairfield Infectious Diseases hospital...Millions more accessing porn; so much for 'home alone' living? Just guessing...Last line, from my play, 1995 Rio would be Nice - Louis B Mayor at the departure gate for eternity. “Nothing matters.”...And then we come to Seneca: “We are often more frightened than hurt; and we suffer more in the imagination than reality.” Spot on brother...Keep yourselves nice, if not, be calm...Hooroo...ello8.

 

 

 

A Grain of Salt. Saturday. 14th March, 2020.😎

The weekly Sunday blog a day early; who knows if I'll make it? Harvey Weinstein copped 23 years, in hospital with a chest complaint (panic attack?) but nothing newsworthy can overshadow coronavirus. The vacant toilet paper shelves, another form of panic attacks, and now, admitting or denying "fear" -  a reality of the elderly apparently (me) but for the vast majority a mild illness. One thing is certain, it’s all about following our health leaders, nothing to do with politics. Morrison's economic stimulus should not be a sales pitch, including the “team Australia” nonsense - “It’s about being level-headed and learning from the mistakes of the Rudd government during the GFC”? Peter Dutton is in virus recovery mode. Scott Morrison (and Joss) in a form of anxiety, knowing the stimulus/virus success measures (and the recession possibility) holds them in a form of judgement. The water bill can wait; more important matters?

 

 

World without end. Amen. "Hope springs eternal" once our rule for everyday living, is fast diminishing when faced with no control, the lottery of life. Bringing to mind the jiving contests in years past. Cool, calm, narcissistic, and then some bastard taps me on my back, and I'm out - of the contest. All over, no appeal process? Life wasn't meant to be fair? If you're reading this I'm still here? Eight days till the big one. Eighty bloody Four. This time last year I gave myself a faint hope. If I can hold off coronavirus I'm in with a show, but less certain by the day. Had pneumonia 3 times in my youth, a chronic cold until National Service and came out cured. Pneumonia struck again 2017, Rosebud hospital, cured.  Suddenly the immune system becomes important. Coming in contact with a previously unmet germ. Boosting the white cells telling the female germ (obviously) to take a hike; no entry. More high-fibre foods, vegetables, fruit, exercises (as in walking the Woolworths aisles). "One of the happy side-effects of exercise is it reduces stress, which is next on our list of immune-boosting priorities" says Sheena Cruickshank, a professor of immunology. Fair enough. So can reading a book. Not panicking, but concerned, not in carking it, more the obvious loss of losing my stash of cigarettes and not being able to watch the final episodes of the Dublin Murders, not to mention concern for my Billy Lids. The television, newspapers, having a field day, every bloody day, telling us not to stress (thereby adding to it), what to eat, the symptoms, what to watch for, my hands withering away from soap and water, various experts (don't you love them?) coming back the next day with updated expertise. Remember all those financial experts before the GST, they slunk away for 6 months? Just before my father died he whispered to me "Look after things" I would tell my kids "Look after each other." As always a day at a time; no choice, no panic. For almost 84 years I've lived with a bottom line of "worry when it's time to worry". Chin up. As I've said many times - 'Keep yourselves nice." 

 

 

What, me worry? "Italian doctors say the coronavirus pandemic may require patients over a certain age to be banned from intensive care units and left to die to give others a better chance of survival...Australia: Doctors will be forced to make tough decisions about who can access lifesaving hospital care if the coronavirus escalates in Australia, a leading emergency room physician has warned after the World Health Organisation declared a global pandemic." [Charming.]

 

 

Scott Morrison (our elected neanderthal?) back in front as preferred Prime Minister, Guardian essential poll. Don't get me wrong, murderers the world over. Putin's a pain, Trump and Johnson, but this bloke? Every action he takes depends on others. A 50% share with state governments, big business urged to play its part - ‘‘How you support your customers, suppliers and employees during the next six months will say more about your company, your corporate values and the integrity of your brand than anything else you could possibly do otherwise. We also need your investment, looking ahead to the opportunities on the other side. Take the opportunity to invest in the skills of your workforce or the capital projects that will provide the pathway for a new season of growth.’’ Conceding that any budget surplus would now instead be injected back into the economy, Mr Morrison will say dealing with the health crisis sweeping the world is now the only priority for the Coalition government. "We need your perseverance, your planning, your enterprise," he said. "We need your common sense. We need your calm. We need your commitment. But we need your patriotism as well." Patriotism? Very cute. Every announcement becomes a Liberal Party sales pitch. All I see is Pathological narcissism. $750 to kick start the economy, or the cynical buying of goodwill? The buck stops/starts with Scotty, and Josh, treasurer Josh Frydenberg, making Billy Shorten look like a Las Vegas entertainer? We were in trouble before the bushfires despite the nonsense budget surplus announcement; low wages, household debt, unemployment, a massive part time casual industry et al. [The Guardian: The Coalition has spent much of the last 10 years characterising fiscal stimulus, including cash payments, as budget-wrecking communism, so assuming the current discipline holds, this collective epiphany is genuinely interesting.] Moving on... 

 

Woody Allen's autobiography bought by Hachette. The staff at Hachette walked out, publishers acting as censors? Similar to the police, and (some) judges, and those calling for Bettina Arndt's head. Sad. I would like to read his book. I would want to read his book if he were found guilty, (accused, but not proven, of abusing his own child) because I am interested in the man, his work and his life. I do not check up on the moral purity or criminal record of a writer before I read them. Moral outrage is not necessarily the solution. So on and so forth. [Health Minister Jenny Mikakos; Victoria’s Health Minister seems to be one of the country’s first victims of the Persona (panic) Virus. This disease, first detected in the US about six years ago, tends to be more virulent among politicians. Its symptoms include uncontrolled activity of the voice and the typing fingers, simultaneous with brain dormancy. Left unchecked, it can undermine an entire nation’s immune system, thus enabling the virus to penetrate the population ever more easily...Robert Nial.] 

 

 

A repeat, to brighten my day. 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." Good stuff.

 

 

Super sad: Former U.S. Army analyst Chelsea Manning (originally sentenced to 35 years jail, commuted by Barak Obama in 2017, jailed again last May) attempted suicide last Wednesday while in a Virginia jail. U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton told Manning that she would remain in federal custody “until she purges or the end of the life of the grand jury.” meaning what? Revenge at the lowest level, a similar fate awaiting Julian Assange. Latest: A federal judge has ordered that Chelsea Manning be released from jail, fined $256,000.

 

 

Amazing: There are more important things than a game of football?...Note: If you were an early toilet paper hoarder do you fess up or does it remain a secret for life? Whatever, you will never forget your guilt...Rosie Batty was “dismayed” by a decision to award Bettina Arndt. Wondering how Rosie felt when Alan Joyce got one?...Cheap petrol, but nowhere to go?...Sure enough in they come (like flies) comparing the deaths, illnesses, with smoking; silly...From our intellectual Attorney-General Christian Porter "Casual workers are able to afford to self-isolate because they get extra loading in lieu of sick and annual leave,"?...What's worse, the spread of coronavirus or the spread of fear?...Harvey Weinstein should have skipped bail and choofed to Iran?...Mosquito weather. Don't forget them...Sammy J 774 mornings. Seems like a nice enough chap but hard to take. Too nice. Not especially funny; more wet. I try, but often, in desperation, switch (horror?) to 3AW...What happened to Labour Day, swamped by International Women's Day?... Payment Integrity Bill, otherwise known as cuts to pensioners who holiday overseas...Life has its way of maintaining a balance. People tell me I'm good with the online stuff. I reply, if I need a new light globe I ring the Shire Council..."That's a valiant flea that dares eat his breakfast on the lip of a lion" [Shakespeare]...Back in 8 days (?) - Hooroo...ello8.

 

 

 

A Grain of Salt. Sunday. 8th March, 2020.😎

International Women's Day today. OMG. How can I forget it; isn't enough enough, or is it me? No doubt Samuel Johnson will be there, somewhere, leading the throng. Nothing personal. I adore women, mostly. I listen to the ABC; 774 mornings, nightly on television with The Drum and ABC News. True, some men are low life, fortunately (mostly) easy to spot, a wide berth, and the obvious need to be called out, but a special female day? Move on, pull my head in? Think positive? Not easy, with politics as it stands. As for the toilet paper fiasco; as I've said many times, 60% of Australians are ding dongs - proof positive? On the other hand, imagine if those same ding dongs decided on a bank deposits run? Happy Women's Day. Lah de dah.   

 

 

Greta Thunberg and climate change. All for it, may it continue here in Australia, but also right now, better to continue the tune alongside the more urgent need to call for a general election. Our Prime Minister and our ("We intend to remain resilient") Treasurer) are not up to the job. Of all the PM's I've been here for, since Ben Chifley, none of them come close to the consistent lies we have seen from Scott Morrison the past year. As Gough would have said - It's time! Accountability, as in information? Leaving aside the fairness issue, the corruption of those sportsrorts, and our Prime Minister's love of promises promises, has any of the beneficiaries in fact received the promises? Imagine, house burnt down, homeless, eventually $1000, then nothing, for a month? [Presently 20% of grants applied for, 5% of loans applied for]. "Gunna" not Schomo the more accurate title? We await the bigger issues, coronavirus promises, casual workers, the possible recession, cash to splash, again? The key word - contempt. A tick to Leigh Sales - ABC, 7.30 for taking it to our PM last Tuesday. True, Scotty's contempt hidden up to a point, but clear enough as he talked 'down' to Leigh, who perhaps didn't win, but at least she had a red hot go. The fact he came on, fully prepared to repeat past lies (as his defence) tells as to the level of his contempt. How he gets away with straight out lies I do not know. He previously consistently dismissed questions on Brian Houston (Hillsong Church) as gossip (lies), eventually claiming to have answered it, "straight up"? The  other deflection (now consistent) being "You are making accusations like the Labor party does"? Memory Folder; 2022?: Hawaii; initially lied. Sports rorts; more lies and those 136 emails. The switcheroo: A royal commission into aged care after budget cuts in excess of $1 billion. NDIS. A Labor initiative. Any excuse to use these funds on other matters. Julian Assange; natural justice down the drain. Biloela family, obviously. Medevac. Nauru. NZ born Australian criminals. Climate change is indeed important, but the  lack of accountability, the shutting down of parliament when it suits him, the lies, the contempt, never forgetting his wish to close down our ABC, the embarrassment for we everyday Australians; all combined to see the backside of this man. Liberal or Labor irrelevant. Scotty must go. 

 

 

A pandemic? A recession? "We intend to stay ahead" Containment? Self isolation in my case no big problem. One Woolworths visit, beer, cigarettes, food, and close the door for a fortnight. So much can happen in one week, all bad, seemingly, worse if you've run out of lavatory paper, 1940's newspapers to the fore, an unexplained mystery? The Age letters: Can we have the federal election again? I feel cheated by a combination of deliberately deceptive campaign posters, ads from Clive Palmer, self-interested ministers, and the rorting of government grants programs. The so-called miracle is looking more like simple theft. [Michael Henry, Melbourne]. Apparently I'm "most at risk" with this coronavirus. Running up a huge water bill? Had a full health check Wednesday. Not sure exactly what this means but as it stands today I'm fine, and as 'tomorrow never comes' I'll set aside any stress issues and continue (in my merry way?) with two pots daily, the odd cigarette and maintain my dream; a Collingwood premiership (assuming there's any football 2020) and (yet again) the backside of this current (promises promises) government, or at least the leader. Moving on... 

 

 

The "Five Eyes" - an alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, bound by the multilateral UKUSA Agreement for joint cooperation in signals intelligence, military intelligence, and human intelligence. Is the CIA a party to all this? They've been spying since I was born? Peter ("lets be realistic") Dutton wants additional security on all of us - to protect the kiddies (criminals grooming kids)? Peter Hartcher says we live in fear of upsetting the Chinese, no mention of the USA? One assumes (in theory) the five eyes trust one another and share the spying information, a tall order at best. As I've said, no fan of international editor Peter Hartcher, The Age, now on Insiders and The Drum. Why? Peter Dutton re foreign agents of influence in Australia "‘Not just from China, they’re from Iran’’ and ‘‘from elsewhere.’’ Best we leave it to them, the obvious conclusion everybody spies on everybody, and hope they don't intrude on our private space, our living rooms, albeit a faint hope. Mister Dutton's aim of getting into all our rooms blocked for now, but with the consistent stuff-ups of our Prime Minister, Peter's reality, inches closer, and closer.

 

 

Murdoch's News Limited and Costello's Nine has folded the AAP. Apparently they did not want to subsidise their competitors? Meaning loss of jobs and importantly loss of information, less media diversity, upgrading (for we in search of truth?) the need for a healthy ABC/SBS. To hammer home the danger; we, as in Australia, are third in media ownership behind Egypt and China. Dark times. Paul Keating has slammed the government for encouraging the ABC to canvas a sale of its inner-city offices, saying it shows "ideological contempt" and is an attempt to "fracture" the public broadcaster. [Treating the ABC and SBS to an efficiency dividend is the only way to ensure taxpayer services are delivered efficiently says Finance Minister Mathias Cormann. Nonsense. All part of the anti-ABC push.] Did you like this one: Defence Minister Linda Reynolds "ABC funding was not cut, merely an indexation pause" The lady is surely a mouthpiece; a budget cut of $84 million? And if they get their dreams answered? No ABC and relying on Murdoch and Costello? [Stateless. ABC, "There’s no denying the issue of mandatory detention in Australia is hotly contested and painfully fraught. But within this toxic debate some things remain simple. There is no excuse for damaging people in our care and stealing 500 days – sometimes drastically more – of their lives. This is happening – in our country and in our name – today, right now. Next time you watch Stateless, spare a thought for the many men and women – and those small children – who remain behind the wire."] It's our ABC. Summing up, the AAP closure, by Isabelle Odenberg "If you care about your need to know what is going on around you in order to live as a fully engaged member of the Australian democracy, this announcement should come as a huge blow. It is a step toward a dystopian future with a hindered access to facts and information and a more opaque view of the world around us. Governments and their actions will be less visible, as will the legal system." Well put; agree.

 

 

An increase in the number of older people coming into the pension system surely calls for a re-think? Too late for Clifford, too old too tired, but thinking back to previous jobs requiring Centrelink appointments, profit and loss statements (or else no pension?). Why not allow entitled pensioners to earn whatever they can, with no infringement on the reporting need? Some lucky pensioner (say) gets a job at (say) $50,000 a year, and with the pension has earnings closer to $80,000. All above board, still must submit a tax return and pay his/her tax bill. Fair enough? Particularly actors. They improve (generally) with age, unless of course, like some actors, they're dead boring.     

 

 

It's one thing to talk of a budget surplus or deficit, a book figure only to we everyday people, and realistically (as I've often said) a nonsense. Does it make for a better government? Of course not. Not so the other thing, the automatic Reserve Bank rate cuts. Who for, easier credit? We pensioners don't benefit, we lose. And with it a deeming rate at 3%? Deemed to have earned? And a bank interest rate almost zero? If you have money in the bank it's value diminishes. Cut the deeming rates and up the ante on the dole; as per Kevvy Rudd's GFC. [Newstart and pensioners, cash to splash, not holding my breath?] 

 

 

Especially for those on a fortnight's enforced isolation. by Montaigne, edited "We have lived quite long enough for others: let us live at least this fortnight of life for ourselves. Let us bring our thoughts and reflections back to ourselves and to our own well-being. Let us disentangle ourselves from those traps which pledge us to other things and which distance us from ourselves. The greatest thing in the world is to know how to live to yourself." 

 

 

Meghan Markle is an actress and wants to pursue her career. What's wrong with that?...So many good reviews for Stateless, ABC. Not for me, prefer the realism of Gogglebox...The cut to legal aid funding, $130,000. Chicken feed, bad decision...On the matter of Sports Rort reporting, a fascinating difference between Costello's 9 News coverage (soft) and the ABC News...Heard this on a television show "I don't have the strength to deal with your reactions." Love it. Will use it as necessary...Josh Frydenburg is way above his station in life..."It's easy to donate" they told us, still do, did you? The various bushfire funds? Where's the money?...I missed out on the toilet rolls rush so snaffled two copies of the March issue of The Senior for emergencies. Softer...Shame and jealousy; coercive control - family violence. Bit of a problem this one. No experience of it personally. I always found it easier for my late wife to handle the coercive control aspect...March 29, Neighbours Day. Not this year?...James Renwick "Open justice is a generally desirable matter."...Again I mention a real need from Canberra, a bill of rights and a federal ICAC...Victoria v Allstars AFL. Bit of  fun, once a year. Serious? Never...Self isolation? Life's tough, at the bottom. Tougher still without toilet paper. Why? Perhaps Primo Levi can explain? ”Anyone who has obeyed nature by transmitting a piece of gossip experiences the explosive relief that accompanies the satisfying of a primary need”..."Something is desperately wrong in the Australian economy; it has been fraying for a long time. And when it finally gives, of course, no one will have seen it coming." [The Saturday Paper]...Hooroo...ello8.

 

 

 

A Grain of Salt. Sunday. 1st March, 2020.

"Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go." After the ravages of Summer, not quite. Empty; like an actor without a part, as always however, the key word; hope. Treasure our advantages? One wonders why all the fuss in Canberra. Guilt? Net zero emissions by 2050 is agreed on by both major parties, Labor by way of (yet to be explained) procedures and Liberals by way of (hopefully) new technology, phantom stuff. In the meantime same old, as in nothing happens. Scotty going off half cocked for no reason other than the sound of his own voice, hoping to reprise the 'Get Bill Shorten' era for Albanese, continuing on with his 'do nothing' policy. Yawn. Go back to Hawaii? People forget he got in by a whisker, thanks mainly to the big bloke spending $80 million to tell us not to vote Labor and Billy's hiccups on the Adani mine situation, not to mention the $100 million sport funding program after documents revealed his staff exchanged 136 emails with colleagues about where the money was spent, resulting in (sadly) the loss of negative gearing and capital gains policies, resulting in the rich getting richer, tax advantages, ditto superannuation. Nothing changes? Not quite. The bushfires, the floods and now the fear of the coronavirus, "the only fear is fear itself?" (and stockpiling as insurance) bringing on the possibility (likelihood?) of a recession, hopefully not, emphasised obviously by heading all the television and print media of the dangers, and importantly giving our Scotty another chance to blot out the pretender aspect of his leadership. "You can still go to the football, you can still go to the cricket" says our mate, the PM, but can I go to the Rye RSL? Scotty in control (politically?) to blot out the sportsrort (?) A stockpiling of bad news, including my cynicism as to Scotty's humanity motivations. I'm off to Woolworths, buy up on cigarettes, beer and tinned everything. Famous last words? "We brought the budget back to surplus next year." This is, of course, next year. The good thing, if any, we cannot blame arsonists on the coronavirus? 

 

 

Almost a side issue, ASIO is investigating twice as many terrorism threats than this time last year, Mike Burgess, the boss, also raised concern about the growing threat of right-wing extremism, saying small cells were regularly meeting in suburbs across Australia to salute Nazi flags, inspect weapons and train in combat. [Terrorism is right wing Mr Dutton, not left. You're confusing it with your built-in hatred of anything left.] Also on our Prince Peter - 1600 Australian criminals deported to NZ because of their place of birth, harking back to shades of how some of our ancestors got here in the first place, in both cases a travesty of justice. Almost lost, in the coronavirus fear campaign. Peter was on the ABC's Insiders (first time ever?), a show once relied on for political reality. Now with David Speers, still to be convinced?     

 

 

Julian Assange: True, we would not have known about the video of a US Apache helicopter gunship slaughtering a dozen unarmed civilians in Baghdad or how US led forces killed hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan, but we surely would have suspected it; free Julian. Strange; the Americans did the killing, as likely we did, and now those Americans want to kill Julian? The current trial in Britain (extradition to the USA) makes for tragic reading, particularly the attitude of the English judge; a Kangaroo Court, supported by our government, both sides. Another travesty of justice, worse still, no surprise. The old saying "They're all crooks" beats one very loud drum. Something to keep in mind next time we get too emotional on either side of politics, not forgetting the doubtful precept of the wisdom of judges?  

 

 

Many changes the past 50 years but not to compare with the influence of females in our day to day life. The vocal influential in radio, newspapers, television. They come in hard, ably assisted by 5% of little lambs, sometimes called men. One horrible pathetic male hits the news (correctly) and the majority of the rest of we men take cover, the possibility of a rational conversation a no no unless you're a punishment glutton. Apparently it’s OK to now include all of us, but God help men who do respond, however seemingly sensible, unless of course you're a member of the 5%. How to solve these damaged men? Counselling, anger management? Lucky to get any of them to agree. "I disagree with you but respect your right to say it"? Bettina Arndt: I don't get it. First Victorian Attorney General Jill Hennessy, then Anthony Albanese and Labor’s Penny Wong and Kristina Keneally. No better or worse than half a dozen awards every Australia day, which most of us write off as stuff and nonsense. Sure, we had the thought police voicing it on The Drum, 24/2, but we expect that; Stan Grant, Rosie Batty, even Samuel Johnson given half a chance. I'm no Bettina fan. Like many of them she talks her share of nonsense, but why this Labor urge of self righteousness? Why these political leaders in search of political correctness? Smells of politicians searching for unearned love. Also, no mention or opposition to all those virtually unknowns who have done nothing more than their day to day jobs? And if Bettina is stripped, so what? Do you/they feel better now? Politicians, joining in the chorus? [PS: Our esteemed PM is open to "new ideas" in reducing family violence. Joining the righteous?]

 

 

Have I been sexually harassed? Indubitably, particularly after reaching age 12 and with it the discovery of an alternative sex, dresses? Sexual harassment, one in four men? True. Still, one female dying a week because of family violence is a damning statistic. Most definitely a cause for concern demanding a positive response from our rulers, but hopefully offset a hatred of all men. Reminds me of the time when my gorgeous wife said she was too tired, not tonight Josephine. Again, 2 nights later, so I adopted the 'fear of refusal' plan for about a month, eventually being accused of not loving madam gorgeous Josephine. Where's the justice? Maybe I was lucky. Darling was tougher than me. No disrespect intended to the wife and children of that monster a fortnight ago. I've been living alone for 5,700 nights; excessive anxiety, causing a degree of rattiness. Even worse, I'm afraid of the dark.

 

 

Obsessive–compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). I had a form of this as a teenager. I would kick the fences as I walked along the street. Worried me. Eventually (psychologist) told 'why stop if it makes you feel better?' Didn't stop, but I stopped worrying. Well, I did stop, a year or two later, but replaced by other insecurity devices. Years later as a stage actor I had to put my finger on a sharpish object immediately before entering the stage. While other actors would do their voice or physical pre-show warm ups I would ignore these things in favour of ensuring a sharp area backstage, no disrespect to performers who choose otherwise. Thus rarely, if ever, pre-show nerves, although obviously I was always well prepared by way of hard work, script-wise. This remained, all those 40 odd years. Fascinating in retrospect, to me anyway. Have I still got them, yes, in a form. I touch a sharp object at night, before lights out; to sleep? Thank you Lord? Lah de dah. 

 

 

The art of true conversation is not so much lost, more a case of meeting someone (almost everyone) who is constantly beeped, or is beeping, or is waiting, expecting, hoping. The constance of 'one liner' opinions (almost always) researched by a headline. One moves with the times, the reality, some good, some a waste of time. Not pining for the old days, merely an observation. A much more serious problem is the younger people, super slick with their phones, apps, et al. A new found superiority over older people, seemingly more intelligent? Good luck to them, but as it stands now, particularly, an attitude of laxity and insularity, or as psychologists tell us 'the hedonic treadmill'. I worry for their new found superiority.   

 

 

Malcolm Turnbull of late the wise elder; have we forgotten his NBN connection?...The ABC will not appeal against the doctored (?) federal court decision, but as we guessed, they couldn't afford the costs anyway...The holocaust lessons to year 9 and 10 students; a good thing if it includes fascism, maybe add in Myanmar...I’d sell my shares - if I had any…Retailers are having tough times, going back months, lots of reasons, but no mention of cigarette prices?...Assuming Nicola Gobbo gets another big payout suggest the lady invests in an airtight home security system...A pie and sauce without meat; bugger off...The Mack Horton Pool? "To do the right thing regardless of the cost" [St Kevins]. Arrogance before sportsmanship? Next; push for the gold?...Projected sea level rises of 0.4 to 0.6 metres; my unit (a beach box?) not far off?...Far more relaxing after not reading Andrew Bolt or Peter Hartcher the past few weeks...The Religious Discrimination bill is basically a nonsense for the benefit of wanky homophones, Christian Porter and the like...We miss Barrie Cassidy, still...What does it all come down to? Easy - To love, and be loved?...May they shoot politicians and crooked police, but please, not ducks...Google  trends (USA) on Trump's visit to India - "Where is India?" "What is India?" Nothing on "Get it India?"..."There are no innocents. There are, however, different degrees of responsibility"...Mardi Gras yesterday, inclusivity; comsi comsa?...A long cold Winter, bloody awful humid Summer. And Autumn, today; gorgeous, so far. Wash your hands...Keep yourselves nice...Hooroo...ello8.

 

 

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.πŸ™‚πŸ˜Ž

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.πŸ™‚

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