A Grain Of Salt 2019

WildA Grain of Salt. 15th July. 2019

"Monday Monday, so good to me". At least it stopped raining, likely temporarily. Sunshine even, albeit 11 bloody degrees. A weekend locked in by constant rain, biting antarctic winds and an effective temperature around 6 degrees. Saved from total gloom by Collingwood's one point victory over West Coast Friday evening. Watched the replay 3 times. Jordan De Goey! Had to budget my cigarettes to wait for an opportunity to drive the long road (2 kilometres) to Woolworths. It gets harder after you pass 80. Everything takes longer. I once walked, now I shuffle, slowly. Various minor (hopefully) problems with the territory, likely more to come. There was a time when I could write 1200 words (a blog) in 2 hours. Now it can take 3 or more days. The thoughts remain but not so the effort. They're all crooks anyway. Well, almost all; politicians that is. A shower, shave and washing and other than lunch the day almost done. Time for a pot, or two? Watched almost all of the world cup cricket, why waste time sleeping? Strange rules. Both scored the same runs, England all out, New Zealand 8 wickets down, yet they lost? And so it goes. Complaining, no. Who would listen? Ever onwards yes, but ever slowly, very. I'd keep at it (now). I bought a pack of 50. Holiday gold @ $59.95. Hang the expense? Alas, time for my nap - and so on.. 

 

 

Reminded of Kathy Brier ('There'll be some changes Made')  from the outstanding television series Boardwalk Empire or Matt Berninger ('I'll see you in my Dreams') from the same show. We need something to happen. The Canberra crooks sat for a mere 4 days, now off again for a fortnight. Doing what? Watching the ABC's Insiders? Annabel Crabb? No. Pleasant enough, like a book club hostess, but a far cry from Barrie Cassidy. We are left with our very own Billy Graham, otherwise known as Scott Morrison, or as I like to call him SS, as in Seldom Seen, or is it the German SS? Sadly the Liberal Party now fully realise what I've been saying for years. The majority of voters are dickheads. Honest? Yes, up to a point, and well meaning, but dickheads nevertheless, and as a consequence - open slather. On Unions obviously, (The Integrity Bill to Parliament to toughen penalties against registered organisations and officials who regularly break the law, but also to signal a wider look at industrial law?), security half way to big brother status, relentless corruption (Murray-darling etc). in our faces the continuous stream of lies (Frydenburgh, Cormann, Dutton - neoliberalism personified), the small matter (?) of who will suffer because of the tax cuts. Answer: most of us. Time to listen to Kathy again, soothe the brain, but first, introducing Brad Chilcott.. 

 

The Guardian, Brad Chilcott: "The relentless attacks on human rights commissioners Gillian Triggs and Tim Soutphommasane for telling inconvenient truths; the introduction of laws to limit unions’ ability to advocate for better wages and more secure jobs; raids on journalists; cuts to environmental research funding; political pressure exerted on the ABC accompanied by debilitating cuts; attempts to destroy and demonise GetUp, the noisy Australians’ advocacy group of choice; attacking whistleblowers such as Save the Children; the consistent attempts to further pressure charities into political silence – none of these happen in isolation. The pattern is clear – no one in Australia should suggest that a better future is possible, and that it may be achieved through a democratic process informed by truth-telling and measurable facts. Our government do love quiet Australians – and they’ll go to any lengths to keep us that way." Good stuff. I do not intend to keep quiet, but in all honesty, nobody listens to people over 80. More to the point (I suppose) I'm more than willing to listen to the solid reasons those non rusted on voters went for the coalition because they didn't trust Billy Shorten?

 

The deeming (3.25%) rate does not apply to (ever so humble) moire, indeed to the vast majority of we pensioners; only applies to pensioners (single) with investments over $52,000, married $85,000, and only to those amounts over the $52,000 or $85,000. For amounts under those levels, 1.75%. As against, shopping around at (say) 2.4%. Small potatoes, no big deal. Cost them $600 million (peanuts?) and with it the grand generosity announcement via the commercial channels and Murdoch's newspaper prostitutes. Newstart? No chance, like the prisoners on Nauru, Manus, to be ignored. 

 

Why pick on the St Kilda coach? We all know they haven't got enough good players, no matter who coaches them. The Gold Coast Suns and to a lesser extent Greater Western  Sydney do not have the tradition, never will have until one of them wins a premiership. The idea of putting a team in la la land (the Gold Coast) was, still is, ridiculous. What supporter base? Liberal party voting retirees? Pumping either side up with draft picks etc does not make a soul. Had they included Tasmania 10 years ago they would have been a real team by now, soul included. Yes I know, it's all about money. Just saying. [The vagaries of AFL tipping. The previous 2 weeks against North and Hawthorn I tipped against Collingwood after every Age tipster went for Collingwood. This week they all tipped West Coast apart from Bob Murphy who tipped Collingwood by 1 point. I went with Bob.] Got 7 from 9. Now coming around the 2000th mark from some 6,500 others.

 

Trickle down economics began with Ronald Reagan (Kings Row). The rich hoarded and the promised trickle became a slight dribble. Never worked, never will, ditto the certainty of the coalition claims...Serena Williams abused an umpire. Ahh, but that's different?...Gerard Whateley and Kevin Bartlett? Never mind Kevvy, Gerard rules, but a great innings...Skyrail theft, Murray-Darling theft, not to worry, our PM is praying....A new book out "Turned On" about science sex and robots; it's all happening, never too late?...Barely a thousand words. Running out of puff. "Thou has laid his hand, Upon my heart, gently, not smiting it, But as a harper lays his open palm, Upon his harp, to deaden its vibrations" [ Longfellow]...Hooroo...www.ello8.com

 

 

 

A Grain of Salt. JULY. 2019

Getting more and more difficult to write a blog. Old age, numbskulls? Is there a point? Haha. Very funny. There's never a point, that's the point. All about keeping busy. I once spent time reading The Age. Alas, mostly lookalike Sir Rupert's lot. I listened to a Clinical psychologist and Mindfulness expert on the wireless, ABC 774. It occurred to me the general use of the word 'clinical' (in a tsunami of occupations) giving it a sense of oomph; the quality of being exciting, energetic, or sexually attractive. Why not simply psychologist? Too easy? As for 'Mindfulness expert' I give up. He said I need a context for myself? [The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood.] Maybe I'll get some cards printed? Cheap. $8. Still got about 100 from the last 200 I got 15 years ago where I had my name, address etc and the wording "Man about Town". Change to Cliff Ellen - "Mindfulness expert". Or Mindfulness Clinical Expert? Has a ring to it. If nothing else it gives me a sense of balance. In a world of nonsense coming our way via our Treasurer and religious Prime Minister we realise they are not alone. Numbskulls Clinically United? Then there's (yet again) the new proposed Rosebud Aquatic Centre, to include a Wellness Centre (or as I like to call it Gamblers' Anonymous) hopefully up and running before I reach the century. Not sure how long before I get the final call but hoping to see either the pool or those new submarines before departure?..Mindfulness, Clinical, Wellness, Collingwood. My head is spinning. Onwards?  

 

 

The glaring problem with these generous tax cuts, which Labor waved through, particularly stage 3 (if it ever comes to pass, 2024-25) is whether or not this silver lining affects the meat and vegetables of our day to day life, namely health, social welfare and education? According to the Grattan Institute cuts in the vicinity of $40 billion a year will be required to finance this 3rd stage necessity, or more simply the rich getting richer. 

 

 

During those weeks leading to election 2019 our PM and Peter Dutton harped on about the danger of Bill Shorten as Prime Minister. No mention of the real danger of these two loose with the truth types running the country, in the name of God almighty (hidden supposedly, but easily discernible if one looks closer). More grants to the commercial television channels more cuts to the ABC, Union bashing. Up against Anthony Albanese; Albo who? I was a Bill Shorten man. Not the perfect choice by any means but best of an ordinary lot from Labor and sensible policies (capital gains, negative gearing ) albeit too many others. I prefer (search for?) the individualist, along Whitlam, Hawke and Keating lines. Bunnies falling in line is not what inspires me, the new tax package a perfect example. Well and good to rule by compromise but always leading is the key to inspiration, and courage, sadly lacking to date. Lah de Dah.

 

 

Splitting stage 3 of the tax pack opens up 3 years of criticism from the coalition, blamed for preventing about 10 million workers receiving a tax offset as soon as possible, simply because it objected to one part rather than the entirety of the policy. Stage 3, a flat tax, represents economic vandalism, but we expect that from Morrison's lot, assuming we get to the stage in 2024-25, after the next election. Be nicer still if SchoMo told us where he would cut costs to finance it; no chance. Whatever, it has to be paid for, and at this stage a case of waiting and hoping we are not the bunnies, again. Inequality and financial instability are increasing every day, and likely to maintain this path for the next 3 years. Waleed Aly "Labor’s shortcoming has been one of narrative; of a clear summary of what its purpose is. It got somewhere in the last term with its emphasis on “fairness”, but the sheer preponderance of big-ticket items made this convoluted. Throughout the campaign Labor moved from topic to topic, rather than hammering a single message in the way Morrison did. If Labor’s suddenly for increasing the relative burden on the less wealthy (Stage 3 tax cuts) and relieving it on the top 20 per cent, exactly what story is it trying to tell us now?" Exactly. Waleed's a star. I saw Albo's vote for the complete tax package as gutless despite his seemingly sensible approach. Either way they attack. That's how they operate. Far better to maintain your principles, but that's just me. The Greens as expected voted against it. Well done. Albanese says John Setka must go. If he doesn't get his way they open up more criticism. Again, Morrison is taking it further, as a lever against all Unions. Far from a promising beginning for Albo as opposition leader. All very depressing at this early stage. Best to wait and see, a calmness approach, a hope for some blood in Labor's veins, before it's too late.

 

 

The Logies have been run and won. Fortunately I caught Kerry O'Brien's Hall of Fame speech (recorded; fast forward) which saved the day, or the long long night, adding a touch of real class against a list of other awards, most of which I'd never heard of. Tom Gleeson of course (Hard Quiz) and Micallef's Mad as Hell. Tom's acceptance speech for the gold a nice balance between honesty and appreciation, albeit a shade unpopular with the (yuk!) true believers; starlets, fame chasers? On a winner by appealing to all who cannot stand The Logies, myself included. The 'most popular' awards has had its day: Luke McGregor, Mystery Road, Gogglebox Australia, Have You Been Paying Attention??? The real awards, as always with a mysterious voting system. Acting Scott Ryan, Jenna Coleman; who? Till next year? As for Tom's new found fame. Where to from here?  

 

 

As I see it the answer is staring us in the face. Any football going through the goalposts by foot (as in kicking) is a goal, regardless of the football touching the goalpost, as in soccer. If the ball is touched off the boot and interpreted that way by either the field umpire or goal umpire it's a point. No reviews. If unsure, it's a goal. 

 

 

Mandates? Does this include actions in Iran on behalf of President Trump?...So many people I know use Uber, near enough to a fashion statement. Used them twice myself (when others paid) but somehow I don't trust them. If necessary, taxis for me, always..Mathias Cormann tells us religious freedom is 'a pressing issue' putting himself right up there on an equal footing with the other master of fairy tales in Canberra; Peter Dutton,  I've yet to meet anyone who takes Mathias Cormann at his word...I prefer watching a Nick Kyrgios match before an Ash Barty match, no offence intended....I was heavily criticised for questioning the transfer of Dayne Beams for two first round draft picks; all gone quiet now...To be sympathetic towards what we see happening to Palestinians by Israelis is not to be assumed as anti-semitic...Lots of reasons why Collingwood lost; no mention of Nathan being outcoached?...."Every breath you take, every move you make" The Police. Peter Dutton's theme song..."What millions died that Caesar might be great" [Campbell]...Hooroo...www.ello8.com

 

 

 

Broken heartA Grain of Salt. July 1st. 2019

 

Israel Folau, no doubt a champion sportsperson, one of many who make the connection as to their ability in one area giving them a right to let us know their thinking in an unconnected area. It rarely works, though on rare occasions it works for the odd football commentator. Good luck to the boy, but really, so what? "Hell and damnation for homosexuals, atheists, thieves and adulterers" suggesting heaven will in fact be a ghost (no pun intended) city? By what right does Israel think, as is implied, he is better than a practicing homosexual person? Heterosexual types by and large think this makes them better, superior even. Why? What's their secret? Yassmin Abdel-Magied - Eric Abetz, defending Israel Folau and demanding new religious protection laws, brought to mind another "free speech/employment contract" controversy in which Abetz played a leading role. When Yassmin posted on her personal facebook page the innocuous comment, "Lest We Forget the Refugees," it was Abetz who bayed the loudest for her to be sacked from the ABC, eventually hounded out of the country by a chorus of vented spleen from the right wing radio shock jocks and Murdoch Media spruikers, the same ones who are so ardently supporting Israel Folau. Hypocrites. On a personal basis Israel can let fly, just another case of a champion sportsperson assuming his status connects with the status of his brain. If there be such a place as hell and damnation say hello to me when you get there.

 

 

There's a house up the road, seemingly unoccupied for months, with two guard dogs in the backyard. Every time I walk by (well, shuffle really) they bark, in a ferocious manner, bashing the side gate, seemingly to attack, moire? One of a few other houses, also unoccupied, eventually remodelled into expensive affairs by private builders from Melbourne. Drug money, rich investors, who knows? As I shuffle by, and pray they don't escape, I can't help drawing the connection with these guard dogs and our friendly coalition government, the difference (obviously) is we, as in "us" opened our gate, in a sense the same gate, on the 18th of May, 2019, another three long years. [No need to name the human dogs. PS: It suddenly occurs to me; who feeds the dogs?].

 

 

AND SO ON...Mr Morrison will declare that Australia will not be a ‘‘passive bystander’’ if China and the US cannot resolve their dispute in peace. Mr Morrison has previously said renewed sanctions against Iran remain on the table if it continues to destabilise its region. Good man, but check with Donald Trump before doing anything drastic...Prince Peter Dutton ‘‘He offered me the deputy leader position. I said to him that this wasn’t credible. And it wasn’t his to gift, either.’’ Turnbull says there was no such offer. After the outright lies Peter Dutton expressed on the prostitutes etc (medevac) I know who I believe....."Scott Morrison has backed Donald Trump’s harder line against Iran in an escalating dispute over its nuclear program, and he did not rule out military assistance from Australia". In leaving aside his announced problems (via his best mate Peter Dutton) re: African gangs and medevac transfers, one  wonders, if a war escalates, does Scotty intend to send himself?

 

 

Letters, 24/6. "I am not the only person living in rural/regional Australia who depends on Foxtel to receive ABC and its quality news and entertainment. ‘‘Live’’, free-to-air TV on all channels is badly pixelated here. iView, and streaming on a seriously overloaded wireless NBN, is a joke." Cough up the $400 million ABC. We Foxtel oldies rely on it, particularly the remote control, to tape, and fast forward the chemist warehouse commercials. 

 

 

"I'm not going anywhere" said the  young lady (they're all young in my eyes) alongside me in the dedicated smoking area of the Rye RSL. "Yes, I feel the same" said her attractive  friend. Amazing. Two healthy young ladies, middle 30's 40's sitting there crying in their shiraz, the (apparent?) need to meet a nice man for dinner and a dance. I was tempted to comment "You won't find them here darlings" but I bit what's left of my shrivelled lips. 

 

 

The Age letters: "The plight of refugees on Manus Island and Nauru. They now feel completely without hope, with the cruelty of the Coalition government given full rein. They have suffered enough; rather, they have suffered far too much. We, Australians, have broken many of these refugees in the name of deterrence. They are our responsibility. We are condemned by UNHCR for our actions. Refugees must be given justice, received with compassion." Ditto.

 

 

Can you spot the difference between The Age newspaper since Channel 9 moved into the partnership? Should I bother here to explain the subtle moves to the right? No, waste of time. Brainwashed. "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."

 

 

"All alone am I ever since your goodbye. All alone with just a beat of my heart". How good is the fantasy life? No doubt connected with age (and realistically an impossibility) but it sneaks into my current lifestyle sometimes, particularly if watching a decent drama. Maybe I'm unhappy with the character's interpretation. I imagine how I'd play it. Maybe say the line out loud. Perhaps spend 10 minutes (or more?) imagining myself playing the character? Playing it better? I can always wind the show back to where I lost the thread. True, it's far from the real box and dice, but in my circumstances better than a rag doll. Almost (but not quite) a necessity to blot out the tragedy of another Collingwood bad year, evidenced by a thrashing, courtesy of the North Melbourne football team, and likely more to come. Maybe switch my allegiance to Geelong? Fantasy sex? No, certain things have their limits.  

 

 

John Setka was fined $1000 and must attend a behavioural change course. Better to have doubled the fine @ $2000 and forget the behavioural change comedy course nonsense...Take your pick? If they don't lock them up they all scream 'fowl'. If they do, they worry about the increased numbers in the corrections system?...Apparently thousands of people love The Logies. Strange indeed. For the past umpteen years I've regarded them as rubbish; IE embarrassing...Why the Unions (thugs?) and not the banks?...Should I set up a GoFundMe page to finance my cigarettes addiction?...If I repeat this life, as suggested by Nietzsche, here's hoping I stock up on cigarettes before Kevin Rudd is elected...If you're interested in my opinions on the next British Prime Minister, or royalty in general, or the truth of announcements by Donald Trump, or basketball, or woman rights, do not bother me. I have none...Bomber Thompson, great coach, so insightful, so very sad..."He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. One by one, they all left the temple"... Another year of football misery. Epiphany! World Cup cricket?...Hooroo...www.ello8.com

 

WildA Grain of Salt. LATE JUNE. 2019

The Liberal party fascination with the so called left wing ideology? The liberals sprout this nonsenses as a reason, paper thin logic hiding their dream of abolishing our ABC, or at the very least transforming it into 'their' ABC. The nightmare of the ABC as a Sky News offset, allowing for the expectation of our Prime Minister's attack on the IR reform (Unions), a further three years of the slow death of our refugees, and our Home Affairs minister's never-ending headbutt with lies presented as truths. Intriguing. I don’t see (hear, this ideology?) on 774, or the ABC’s The Drum, Q&A, 7.30 or Insiders. I see straight down the line fairness by commentators and a balance of guests between both sides (and sometimes left field others) of the political spectrum. When I read The Australian or the Herald-Sun, or listen to 3AW, or watch Sky News I see and hear a right wing ideology, often far right, often off the planet ratbag rights, so indoctrinated by the constance of their right wing views, anything delivered with a sense of balance is seen, wrongly I respectively submit, as the mirage of this left wing ideology bias. They hear footsteps. Why? God knows, they've got all our money, and more ABC cuts via Morrison, also the dickhead voter content who believe an apple is an orange, unless it's to do with some sort of power play to clear the decks forever, in their favour, albeit against the wishes of we the unwashed? I'm buggered if I know. They rave on about a mandate, knowing almost half of the voting public voted against them, and half of the other half don't have a clue what 'mandate' means, more likely voting against Shorten as a primary reason. I wonder if they read? Kurt Vonnegut? The old philosophy at play; the more you get the more you want? I have never run across them in real life. Well, I have, up to a point, but other than shoving the usual brainwashed points of view in my face (including how they clever they have risen to a sense of importance in their eyes) they rarely give me a chance to present an alternative. True, I give it a go, but the bottom line seems to rear its ugly head. A brick wall is a brick wall? Such is life?

 

Queensland voters present another fascination. A majority of dickheads, or easily led, dating back to Joh Bjelke Peterson? Maybe the weather, not unlike similar voters in the Northern Territory. Then again WA voters? We were lucky here in Victoria, consistently cleansed of many of our dickhead content. When they get into their 60’s they traipse off to Queensland to retire among like minded types, or retire to their holiday houses on the Mornington  Peninsula, occasionally haunting me at the Rye RSL. According to (my) research Qld at 66%, NT at 65%, WA at 60%, Adelaide around 50% and NSW, who knows? Maybe Albanese will make a difference, maybe not. Vic at 45%, often down to as low as 40% during Winter, compliments of the Bali exodus.

 

Perhaps the mind becomes separated from their bodies. One vote, allowing them to think these thoughts, without the reality of said thoughts, without the  truth, without what's behind their thoughts? They don't believe in climate change, and they go along with lower (effective) wages? Mind you it's only a vote. One vote. Also a conscience cleansing exercise for most Labor voters. If disgusted with our treatment of refugees subjected to mental torture (rotting in hell, a form of slow death) on Manus and Nauru, a vote for Labor and you've done your bit, right? What good can I (one person) do here, along with many thousands of others? In fact we've done nothing. Don't get me wrong. I'm not big on 'causes' preferring to ignore everything (and there's lots of them via Facebook) but I have the right to choose. In the meantime, what? Let others decide? Post a message, an angry emoji on yet another 'loose with the truth' announcement from Peter Dutton? Sadly, likely one in every thousand doing something positive, the remainder do the same, the same meaning bugger all. Sincere apologies if I'm depressing you, the reader, hopefully. 

 

"Nothing matters"? At best, wise words on your deathbed. Everything matters. Triptych, from the Greek adjective three-fold, in my case pain and suffering over two days, albeit in the scheme of things, insignificant. Where to advertise one's angst, to cry pain, than in the letters pages of our healthy local newspaper? Collingwood's Jaidyn Stephenson's unfair suspension via the AFL's (Fort Knox?) anti-gambling hypocrites; our Home Affairs minster suggesting women using rape and abortion as a ploy to get to Australia; the current suggestion to watch AFL football (or any football apparently) with buttoned-up lips. There, and I haven't even mentioned Adam Goodes, Rosie Batty or John Setka. I feel better now. [There are pluses along the road to old age. True, one loses the bum, and the lips slowly (almost) disappear, but in its place we gain a larger tummy and a form of male bigger breasts. As a philosophical answer one eventually gets to the refrain of "nothing matters" but then one moves to the conclusion, if nothing matters, what is left?]. The boredom of living alone, on a pension, can become obscure, some form of variety is needed, almost daily. Positivity and try (must?) become the two key words. A Collingwood victory helps, for a day or two.  

 

“Some people are trying it on,” said Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton. “Let’s be serious about this. There are people who have claimed that they’ve been raped and came to Australia to seek an abortion because they couldn’t get an abortion on Nauru. They arrived in Australia and then decided they were not going to have an abortion. They have the baby here and the moment they step off the plane their lawyers lodge papers in the federal court, which injuncts us from sending them back.” [The medivac legislation and our coalition being bad losers. Didn't our Pete say it would open the floodgates? And they call John Setka a 'thug'?]

 

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union Victorian branch declared it “strongly condemns any external interference in union matters. Unions are for members, by members, and are not to be used as pawns for political clout. "John Setka should remain in his position until such a time as the members of the CFMMEU decide otherwise.” I'll go along with that.

 

"Bet responsibly" they tell us, while bombarding us with the betting odds, betting sponsorship around the clock, and come in hard on a 20 year old kid who wagered $36; fined $20,000 and a 10 week suspension. Who can claim to common sense as a 20 year old?...Tax cuts at $100 billion, (for working middle class Australians?) no special deals, no horse trading? What cuts do the government make to finance them - foreign aid, legal aid, pensions?...June is busting out allover? A song wasn't it, Carousel? Not in Rye buddy. If I survive till 2020 I might give June a miss. It's too cold; stating the bloody obvious...I am retired. I am to be met with in trim gardens. I am already come to be known by my vacant face and careless gesture, perambulating at no fixed pace nor with any settled purpose. I walk about, not to and from. [Charles Lamb, Last Essay of Elia]....Movie man Bill Collins has gone to God at 84. At 83, I'm getting nervous. Well done Bill...Hooroo...www.ello8.com

 

 

CoolA Grain of Salt. EARLY JUNE. 2019

When we are gifted with a beautiful sunny June day here on the Mornington Peninsula, 18 degrees, no wind, 4 lazy hours, one can almost forget the presence of our Prime Minister. Not the honourable Peter Dutton sadly, but as I live by Little fish are sweet we count our blessings, and as always, the more you get the more you want, meaning we dream of a 2019 Collingwood premiership as a blanket, covering our political pain. Alternatively we watch Killing Eve on our underfunded ABC for masochism, or play the movie Get Shorty with John Travolta for escapism.

  

Three years is not a lifetime, unless of course you cark it. If you break it down to months it's a mere 36. Already one month has slipped on by. It's going to be interesting. I've been on Shorten's side the past 6 years, despite his benevolence in promises during the lead-up to the  election. Now we have Anthony Albanese, clearly not my first choice. Indeed, not second or third. The best I can muster is he's marginally better than Morrison. Two of my billy lids went to a Greek Island for a spell. Good thinking if time and money don't intrude, leaving moire to face another Winter (and the evil Liberal party) all alone. Yes, I have the time, but not for some 22 hours in (and on) an aeroplane. And the loss of soaking up a Collingwood victory, or two. Presently, Australia is a haunted house, clearly, specifically, designed to intimidate, and the name of the ghost is Security! To say we need a Bill of Rights is the understatement of the past 6 years. Well, since John Howard's Tampa in fact. Theoretically a chance for our Prime Minister to go down in history. Terrorists behind every corner, albeit we have more murders in a month in Melbourne, more than terrorist activities the past 5 years in the whole country? Intended to scare whistleblowers and obviously to keep the work of the AFP and other security agencies secret, including where any referrals come from; unless it's the coalition government? Power exploited, plain and simple. And worse, the changes to the criminal code, cleared by Labor for fear of political implications/backlashes, (cast as opposition to national security?) biting all of us on the bum. Politicians are whistleblowers, but in their cases it's termed leaks? Why do I bother? I don't really, not for self. At 83 it's too late for me to worry. I'm more into hallucinations than reality; friends long gone. Writing fills in the time. I suppose I could exercise, as advised by my doctor. Alas I hear the words of G.K.Chesterton "The trouble about always trying to preserve the health of the body is that it is so difficult to do without destroying the health of the mind". 

 

The bigger picture? Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, a former whistleblower, urged the Coalition to “back off” and let the press do its job, calling for a full investigation into the police raids on the ABC and News Corp Australia journalist Annika Smethurst as well as a warning to 2GB radio host Ben Fordham, also criticising Labor for agreeing to laws that silence the media.  [NOTE: Martin Niemoller’s observation about trying to live in 1930s Germany: ‘‘First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist. ‘‘Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist. ‘‘Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. ‘‘Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”] 

 

Courtesy of edited copies from The Saturday Paper June 15-21, 2019. SECURITY 1: Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo “It would be mortally dangerous to our system of government for the public service to come to possess an aggrandised conception of its role in the proper processes of government – as the ultimate guardian of ‘the public interest’, located outside of the political process. There is no legitimate basis for contending that unelected officials have any purportedly ‘supranational’ responsibility as custodians of the ‘public interest’, somehow separately identified from the domain that is termed too often to be that of ‘politics’.” A public servant, in response “All things being equal, he’s right. Public servants shouldn’t think that they’re players. We shouldn’t be crusading. That’s really fundamental stuff. We’re not elected. Public servants aren’t elected. We can’t be agitating in the public service as some kind of shadow opposition if we don’t like the government. “But all things aren’t equal. The government leaks when it suits them. It distorts intelligence briefings when it suits them, knowing it’s unlikely the [intelligence] community will publicly correct them. Department advice is weaker and weaker in terms of frank and fearless advice. The whole work of departments can be distorted by political schemes, rather than problem-solving. So, I agree that public servants shouldn’t be above the social contract. We’re servants, and maybe a part of that is putting up with the bullshit of our political masters. If you can’t hack it, leave. Fair enough. But don’t give me this high-minded bullshit when we know the score.” Andrew Wilke, independent member for Clark “Our whistleblower laws are not sufficient. The centrepiece is the Public Interest Disclosure Act, and while it was good that we finally got that legislation, what we did get was quite deficient. The obvious gap in it is that it simply doesn’t apply to security officials [it does, but minimally]. There’s no whistleblower protection for intelligence insiders. As far as I understand it, it wouldn’t apply to Defence personnel. Interestingly, it doesn’t apply to members of parliament’s staff. Now, when this gets to parliament, the opposition wave it through. If it’s the Coalition, well, they’re hawkish on security reforms, while Labor are scared stiff of being seen to be weak on national security. So, it sails through parliament, barely contested. In December last year, when the federal parliament passed controversial encryption laws that require tech companies to grant intelligence agencies and law enforcement access to encrypted communications, Labor was publicly critical of the bill and drafted amendments that the party said would improve it. But on the year’s last parliamentary sitting day, then opposition leader Bill Shorten surprised some in his own party by dropping the amendments. The law passed, unchanged and lightly examined."

 

SECURITY 2: 1980, High Court Justice Anthony Mason wrote: “It can scarcely be a relevant detriment to the government that publication of material concerning its actions will merely expose it to public discussion and criticism. It is unacceptable in our democratic society that there should be a restraint on the publication of information relating to government when the only vice of that information is that it enables the public to discuss, review and criticise government action.”

 

SECURITY 3: Maxine Beneba Clarke. The Saturday Paper’s poet laureate...

 

first, the Ministry of Truth doctored language

 

their words weaponry, loaded and aimed:

 

asylum seekers became illegals

 

they said detention centres, not jails 

 

then the Ministry of Peace

 

          tweaked the laws from the nuremberg trials:

 

said the free in free speech meant hate

 

they tabled fascist slogans in the parliament;

 

and burnt the universal declaration

 

it turned out their robust economy

 

was just smoke and mirrors for the election win:

 

that the Ministry of Plenty’d worked overtime

 

          to spin doubleplus fake-news

 

they brought in the Ministry of Home Affairs

 

(calling it border control laid their brute-force too bare)

 

          the people baulked,

 

but six months down the track

 

word-nationalism became normal

 

meanwhile, in perth,

 

          orwellian telescreens

 

scanned every passing face

 

and they said there’s nothing to fear

 

if you’ve nothing to hide

 

     (from the thought-crime database)

 

the people, terrified, whispered

 

it’s just like that book – like 1984

 

room 101 was guantánamo

 

and false weapons

 

                     caused decade-long wars

 

last, they sent men in dark tailored suits,

 

          with signed warrants,

 

to the homes of the tellers of truth:

 

day raids, brazen

 

          like we’d never seen

 

when the Ministry of Truth doctored language,

 

          in the year 2019.

 

One wonders as to the old football supporters refrain "Have a go ya mug" or plain simple mongrel!? Apparently some supporters, particularly the AFL and some umpires, may take offence; result, thrown out of the ground? I'm  advised, after checking with  senior members of the Cotton Wool Society something to the order of "Fair go umpire" passes muster, by a whisker. Hard to believe such nonsense exists. PC gone wild. 

 

Joke of the month, or the year? Morrison: "I expect the ABC board to do better, and if they don't, they can expect a bit more attention from me."...Fremantle/Port Adelaide free kicks 32/15. Strange, those two Perth clubs, complaining about the hard ground surface, never mention the free kicks?...Lifelong sports follower; cricket, football women's tennis, but never ever, basketball...John Setka, a hatchet job, no thanks to Albanese. Can we count on Albo for Julian Assange, Nauru/Manus prisoners, or simply a desire for admiration, attention, status, and hopefully fame?...The Bob Hawke memorial, Bob and his granddaughter 1989, the catastrophe of climate change...Peter Reith, Member of the Order of Australia. Queens birthday 2019?... A good double, Adam Goodes and Rosie Batty...The Age newspaper, Murdoch undercover?...Yesterday was nice, the good bits anyway, if you were lucky, but really, what really counts, no matter what happened yesterday, is today, and tomorrow..."A mountain range of rubbish, like an old volcano, and its geological foundation was dust. Coal dust, vegetable dust, bone dust, crockery dust, rough dust, and sifted dust - all manner of Dust in the accumulated Rubbish." [Dickens, Our Mutual Friend)...Hooroo...www.ello8.com

 

 

WildToday we mourn the passing of Common Sense, who will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, life isn't always fair and maybe it was my fault. Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge). His/her health began to deteriorate rapidly when overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate, teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student only worsened his/her condition. Common Sense lost more ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion. Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault. Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realise a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement for damages. Common Sense was preceded in death, by his/her parents, Truth and Trust, by his/her wife/husband. Discretion, by his/her daughter, Responsibility, by his/her son, and Reason. He/she is survived by his/her 4 stepbrothers; namely I Know My Rights, I Want It Now, Someone Else Is To Blame and I'm A Victim. 

 

 

A Grain of Salt. JUNE. 2019

 

I had every intention to set aside this writing caper, enforced after the long winded election lead-up and confirmed as we waved goodbye to a 'please everybody' Billy Shorten. [Poor Billy. Those 'please everybody' policy extras added on to appease some of his fellow opposition cabinet members, thus, he underlined his need for popularity ahead of direction, decisiveness, lack of leadership. A good man, but no leader. Will Anthony Albanese make a difference? If he doesn't the Labor party in muchos trouble. Bugger it. Up to a point most of them (in Canberra) featherbed their own nests, degrees of crookedness. Let it ride, no one is completely innocent, hope for the best, in the form of a leader with a vision, inspirational?] Alas. The cold mornings, awake at 6am, and staying in the cot, warm, engulfing, until 8am, sometimes 9am, trying to give myself a good reason to get out of bed to face the day. Politics was enjoying a quiet time, Morrison in the Solomon islands, a $250 million grant (ex the foreign aid budget) and onwards to Queen Elizabeth. For a month or so, June at least, smell the roses, the orchids. Keep warm. True, I expected fireworks, eventually, particularly from Home Affairs via minister Peter Dutton, but not so early! Silly me. Disinformation specialist Peter doesn't have any roses to smell. Hope, a necessity or an incurable disease?

 

 

"Alleged unauthorised disclosure of national security?" Australian Federal Police officers raided the home of a News Corp journalist, Annika Smethurst, (authority to access her home, computer and mobile phone) in what the media company has called a ‘‘dangerous act of intimidation’’ after she reported on a secret government proposal to give Australia’s cyber spies unprecedented powers. The actions are in connection to a story published in April last year revealing internal government discussions about introducing new powers for electronic intelligence agency the Australian Signals Directorate. News Corp’s report included details from a secret internal document proposing new abilities to ‘‘proactively disrupt and covertly remove’’ onshore threats by ‘‘hacking into critical infrastructure’’. Undermining Australia’s national security? More accurately allowing the ASD to target Australians, as opposed to enemies on foreign soil. Under the banner of national security; in plain lingo, upping the fear game. Not enough? Add in the ABC and David McBride facing lengthy jail time for providing documents to the public broadcaster on the conduct of special forces in Afghanistan, which prompted the Wednesday (5th June) raids. Our PM (and Home Affairs minister) tell us they were unaware of the raids. Fair enough. Next question: What action are they going to take to ensure the Australian Signals Directorate are taken to task, and ensure no more repeats? Sorry. I was dreaming.

 

 

The documentary on Adam Goodes (The Final Quarter) highlights (again) the 13 year old Collingwood girl Goodes called out during a game and of course Eddie McGuire's Aussie crack (joke) gone wrong. Sam Newman at the time, on the now axed The Footy Show "They're booing you because you acted like a jerk. You take yourself too seriously." Fast forward to the documentary and they are all queueing up to praise Goodes and heap scorn on anyone who dares to disagree. Should we have a treaty? By all means. Now a suggested change in our national anthem. "For we are young and free" to "For we are strong and free"  No problem, just the one request. May all who sing this song pronounce 'advance' correctly?

 

 

Mark Twain, I think? "When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if I could do it myself." Ditto.

 

 

"Many a tear has to fall, but it's all, in the game." Politicians, elite thinkers? Possibly, but we can never tell, as both sides sprout their policies notwithstanding? Are they, as over 5750 informal Flinders voters inferred, "all crooks"? We are told of “elite” sportspeople. Yet sadly, in most cases this apparent eliteness does not necessarily marry up with an elite brain. The more money these elites attract the more we are drawn to their (less than) elite opinions. In the world of AFL football the (mostly) former elites, now known as commentators, sprouting fairness but fooling few (like politicians), more often disclose the area of the former elite brain has yet to show growth. Are Morrison and/or Albanese elite, or simply cunning? We live in hope. At this time in Australian politics anything serves as a relief, as in a Collingwood victory. "All in that wonderful game, that we know, so well...".

 

 

"Man was not born criminal but fell into error through unfortunate circumstances or the influence of negative elements. All crimes great and small could be traced to post capitalist avarice, egoism, sloth, parasitism, drunkenness, religious prejudices or inherited depravity." [Martin Cruz Smith; Gorky Park]

 

 

At the RSL, a lady, jocular conversation, asking what I first looked at in a female. The inference, as I saw it, being men looked at the female body first and foremost; legs, bums and boobs sort of thing. 'The eyes' I responded, looking her straight between her eyes. I took the quick easy way out, all alone in the dedicated smoking area, knowing, while it's nice to be spoken too, equally nice to be pleasant in response, the reality at my age is invisibility. More likely the lady was between spins on her (poker) machine, having a quick cigarette game break as respite, maybe a memory hangover from her home life, maybe not. I don't deny it's a good question. Unusual of course, why me? Something to mull over after her evacuation, based on my thinking in years gone by. True, we all judge. Instinctively I always checked the eyes. A lot of truth there. Equally I ignored the tall traditionally attractive ladies. No point going where you don't belong, not being a footballer or famous in any way. I was never one for backsides, though I've known a few females who expressed an interest in this area with footballers. Never any interest in the size of boobs. Nowadays men (and particularly women) go to great lengths to make themselves (seemingly) more attractive; cosmetic surgery. Apart from spending to fix obvious faults one wonders why? Isn't it all about personality, a form of agreeable charm? Who's to know. Proust said you could seduce any woman if you were willing to sit and let her complain until 4 in the morning. I've never tried it, but then I've never been one to chase after a female. Still, in the interests of honesty I'll admit, the sighting of a stocking top, brown or black (not white) induced an unforced higher blood pressure, occasionally. 

 

 

ATO deputy commissioner Deborah Jenkins "The new hotline would roll out from July 1 and would let the public report any activity from businesses that could indicate they could be dodging their responsibilities – including offering discounts for cash. We want people to contact us and tell us about instances where people might not be doing the right thing,’’ Hypocrisy? Whistleblower Richard Boyle and look what is happening to him; the offer of a settlement refused. Why? He believed doing so would help afford him protection under Australia’s whistleblower regime. The ATO was up to these tactics 45 years ago when I worked in Bankruptcy. Low life tactics (garnishees), sometimes caught, but unstoppable.

 

Military lawyer David McBride "“I think it says everything about the problem today that if you describe my situation without saying my nationality, you would think we were talking about China or Russia,”...The Age editorial "There is no doubt the police do a sterling job in protecting the community". True enough, but the primary job is to protect the rich?.....Hooroo...www.ello8.com

 

Saturday June 1st.

I liken the election to the Corangamite result, where the Liberal Party showered it with goodies which failed to change the Labor result, more or less similar with a bonanza of Labor promises to no avail, albeit a narrow loss. Add in Shorten's lack of popularity. I see the need in any election is to win, thus honing in (opposing) the other Party's faults. Morrison did just that with Labor, settling on Shorten himself being the main fault, ramming it home day after day, admittedly assisted by the Murdoch machine and the lies being force fed to the clueless, and Shorten's lot adding in too many unnecessary goodies. Six years of the Liberals surely provided a number of targets to attack, assisted by a small number of changes. The be all has to focus on winning, the ideals coming, arguing for, later, in government?

 

 

CryingA Grain of Salt. The wash-up. Finale. May, 2019.

I'll fade into the distance, slowly, hopefully, retaining a thinking function and warding off the possibility of a rest home. Dying is no big deal but the brain and eyesight can be concerns. I began my nonsense (Salt) back in 2007. This is the finale. True, one needs to keep busy, but even at 83 one also needs change, of sorts. I've been into change for as long back as I can remember. Twenty years a public servant, a lifetime in itself. Keating was spot on, "The nutters are in charge" rusted on during the last few years of those twenty. Forty as an actor, 37 as a part time casual at racecourses and these final 12 years. During all those 67 years my mind has been constantly full of ideas, still is, almost all never acted upon. No big deal. A bit like when I went overseas with darling Mary, 1996 (first time, her 4th, as my offer of compliance?). Darling was off out daily, double decker buses et al while I settled for coffees, on footpaths, smelling the roses and more ideas, including counting the days to return home. Maybe podcasts is the new go? I don't watch television until 7pm and sit there for five hours (all recorded, to fast forward perceived rubbish) and often drift off during a show into yet another brilliant idea, drift back, rewind to where I lost the thread, etc. Maybe settle for the odd opinion on my Facebook page, read a good book, walk more. Or, as Maria Ressa (Rappler co-founder and the political situation in the Philippines ahead of the country’s May 13 midterm elections, the first test of Morrison lookalike Rodrigo Duterte’s continuing hold on popularity) says “There are four noble truths, and the first noble truth is that all life is suffering. And if you accept that all life is suffering, then everything is good. I am not kidding. It really works!” By and large everything has indeed been good for me, albeit almost always the early realisation of a show run by (and servicing, in the main) dickheads. Once realised, one steers a path to suit oneself. A strange world when you think about it. True, I've almost always done it Frank Sinatra's way, and made enemies, but in fact made many more friends, admittedly mostly dead. It's very possible to be nice (to waitresses) and still decide against the restaurant specials, and come out smiling. Particularly tricky as an actor to be sure, near impossible in the public service (building castles) but nevertheless achievable, as I see it, or saw it. I wrote this column in a local paper for 7 years, until a dickhead popped his head up requiring an exit.  The culture of our country is central to its heart and health. Without it we  risk a race of philistines, crude and aimless pleasure seekers. Can't recall who wrote this, but spot on. Cheers to all. It's been fun. 

 

I wrote to the great Gough Whitlam in the 70‘s asking why he supported Indonesia's takeover of East Timor. Days later Gough telephoned, carefully explaining his reasoning. True. He caught me off guard, unprepared, my letter on file. Short term, and in that moment, I agreed to disagree, overcome (for once?) in Gough being on the other end of my telephone line. We who lived through those years were so very lucky. Gough stood head and shoulders (literally and spiritually) above everyone. He was our star, our inspiration, our hope, by a mile. “Optimism, enthusiasm and confidence against fear, prejudice and conformity”. At Gough’s memorial service Graham Freudenberg said “never more than now”. Eventually another arrived, in the form of Bob Hawke. 

 

Saturday 18th May, 2019. Election Day: Fortunately Collingwood defeated St Kilda during my "nap" time thus providing a back-up in the event of the previously unthinkable disaster, in plain language putting up with "the mouth" of Scotty Morrison for another three years. What can't be cured must be endured, or Labor's too much too soon? Coming to terms with the result, indicating thousands upon thousands of everyday Australians voted in favour of a man who has the interests of the rich becoming richer? Depressing, but sadly no surprise. Not that you would know it around 9pm. The warning signs, the heart pouring out the blood, a likely panic attack. A victory for Scott Morrison on a platform of doing bugger all (as in the rich getting richer) coupled with the weeks of personal attacks by Scotty (and the Murdoch press) on the so called evils of voting for Bill Shorten. Respect the wishes of the Australian voters? I think not. Sad for the way so many Australian voters are lead by the nose, indubitably. The passing of the great Bob Hawke only emphasised the difference rather than help Bill Shorten. Bob walked, talked, danced, pranced like a true blue Aussie. Not so Billy, try as he might, emphasised, again, by his prancing, dancing. Bowman Hall, Blacktown. Where 47 years ago, Gough Whitlam delivered his landmark “It’s Time” speech; Keating’s contribution. All seemingly well and good but on second thoughts, no offence to Billy, emphasising the difference. An old song in and out of my emotional mind - ”It’s not the same anymore, it’s not the same when (they) walked right out that door”. An urgent need for a valium, 2 ml only, to see out the next two hours. "Calm down" I tell myself. I survived Henry Bolte when he hung Ronald Ryan. Bastards. Selfish stupid bastards. Getting too old for these crooks. Switched to a replay of the football; didn't work. Watch it Sunday. Come 11pm the valium does the job. Shorten walks of course, as he had to. The scare campaign, One Nation, Palmer’s United Australia Party, Queensland dickheads, all contributed, but the bottom line was Shorten’s unpopularity. A mystery, albeit a fact. Way back, when Bill was elected leader, most of us thought it a gamble, his connection with the Rudd departure and later the Rudd return ex Gillard, added with his restricted ability to communicate. No blame on Bill, he worked hard at it, but it proved to be the wrong choice. Lacking in adrenaline, a necessary need to communicate, before a big audience. Personalities prevail. I have little (if any) time for Morrison, but in the two horse race against Billy, he won, notwithstanding Shorten’s great back-up team. I liked, believed in his policies, negative gearing, capital gains tax, weekend loadings, wage increases, health and climate change. Not so the additional “bits and pieces” - the electric cars, dividend imputations (justified, but too much too soon?) agreeing to the 5% home ownership deposit, the dental care, the roads in Victoria, too much to bite off, and nothing positive on Adani, despite his common sense - though vague - reply. We await the future (fate?) of "our" ABC, the refugees on Manus and Nauru, obviously climate change, and additional tax benefits to the big earners. It all added up to scaring the voters. It's like a game of table tennis, forget the point you just lost, focus on winning the next, albeit a 3 year wait. That's what I tell myself anyway, despite a lack of conviction. It could have been worse. Yeah? It could have been grand final night after another Collingwood defeat, by 5 points! Can I last another three years? God only knows, and I'm not so sure about him either. Breathe deeply, from the diaphragm.