A Grain of Salt 2020


Diary of an unenforced isolationist

Wednesday 30th December, 2020. Let's not get too serious. A quick one (Salt) to keep the home fires burning, as in my column/blog. Again we come to the 'lull' time, the gap week, reasonably quiet, Woolworths 6.30am, in and out, mask on, patiently awaiting 7am Friday when the ratbags are sleeping after another noisy New Years Eve. Serepax 15mg to the rescue. [Warning: If you've never used serepax do not start. Addictive.] A few walkers, mainly overweight females searching for mystical fitness, the odd male traipsing along behind. A peaceful cappuccino, a younger one in a very short skirt, pulling it down as she spotted my admiration, no doubt repeating this action whenever she spots other ancient lookers. Her shorts in the wash? PM Scotty, the ad man (How good is Australia?) is taking a well earned break, as indeed are we, from him. Watched 'Christmas in Connecticut' (1945) with Barbara Stanwyck. At that time Barbara was 38 years old, in fact my first screen love, secret obviously. Worth a try. Could the spark of an oversexed 9 year old be re-ignited? Not really, sadly, but worth watching, if only for the acting, particularly Sydney Greenstreet's opening scenes and some skilful actors generally, the antics of S Z Sakall? Whatever, better than Christmas Eve's Carols by Candlelight with Tony (right wing) Jones and Eddie (almost) Everywhere. Some of those singers were there when Brian Naylor compared? True, I only saw about 40 minutes, background noise, nearly enough to replace my serepax. Fortunately, caught a real celebrity; David Hobson's 'Holy City'. [I write this as my 'calm before the storm' thoughts, the lull, up until 8.30am. Alas, the storm (hordes, multicultural) have arrived in force, the eight months of wonderful isolation but a magical dream, despite my ultra clean hands. Tricked by a few days of coldish southerlies, to a sunny yesterday - and out they popped; cars, kids, pushers, ice cream, bikes, jet skis and noise. What COVID?  


When I was a kid we played this game we called 'Land'. We would mark out an area and throw a knife. Males only. The females played Jacks? If the knife stuck in we would draw a marker, being our territory. When the knife failed (to stick in) it moved the game onto the next player. Without going into the details of who won ( who cares?) it's interesting to marry this game up, noting the skill of the Chinese in playing this kids game on a grown-ups scale, by substituting the knife for real life islands, surrounding - the Philippines, the South China seas, Japan and lately New Guinea. The bigger problem is the motivation and as they see it; who wins? We wonder as to a master plan. Well, not me particularly, but certainly lots of other people. I can go back to the cold war and Doctor Evatt, communism, eventually the party split, 1955. Concern perhaps, in the non emotional vein. Expect our leader to up the ante soon enough, particularly connected with another leader on holiday; Daniel Andrews. Meantime I'll light up a cigarette, a pot of Carlton draught alongside, knowing it's all another world, the power world, all holidaying in (say) the Bahamas, The Ocean Club, at $4000 a day? Another question pops to mind. After eating saffron, or caviar or oysters or white truffle, are they happier sipping their Dom Perignon Rose Gold Methuselah than I am after my heinz beanz in ham sauce and downing my Carlton draught? ["Two senior federal government sources with knowledge of the review process for foreign agreements" [This was reported in The Age, also, perhaps, a high-falutin' explanation for a 'leak'?] - who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly, said the Victoria-Jiangsu Program for Technology and Innovation Research and Development was on a list of agreements the Department of Foreign Affairs had identified as potentially contrary to Australia’s national interest.] HMNN. Further - The WHO, World Health Organisation, has 194 member states. The report on the origins of Covid-19 due in May/June. China supported the inquiry motion drafted by the EU, and has made its displeasure with Australia’s involvement painfully clear, banning billions of dollars worth of exports to our biggest trading partner. China is also making it clear it does not want its early handling of the pandemic scrutinised at home, with a Chinese citizen journalist sentenced to four years’ jail for reporting her firsthand accounts of the coronavirus outbreak from Wuhan. Land, some game?


Our Jeffrey (Kennett) and Peter Beattie calling for a royal commission into Australia’s own Covid response. Inquiries have been held into Victoria’s hotel quarantine failings and NSW’s handling of the Ruby Princess outbreak, an overarching investigation of the whole crisis, from the cost of lockdowns and state border closures, to health outcomes, an “educative” inquiry “to learn and to look at the damage that’s been done”, while Beattie said it should not be a “blame game inquiry”. Former Victorian Labor premier Steve Bracks said an inquiry into Australia’s response was nonsensical. “You don’t have a royal commission in the middle of a bushfire, you wait until it’s over.” No problem in spotting Jeffrey's motivation, clearly a 'get Andrews' contributor.


The older I get the more I run across people with an authoritative air, meaning, able to be trusted as being accurate or true; reliable? Sadly, not necessarily? The common words during COVID 2020 were 'incredible' and/or 'unprecedented'. If I see another hardship year from a pandered school kid I'll go nuts. Other highlights? - “What crime have I committed” the chap (wanker?) refusing to wear a face mask? The nonsenses; review of Australia Post (watches) culture to be kept secret for the benefit of Communications Minister Paul Fletcher's incompetence? Scotty's (Trump’s) US Legion of Merit, for his call on the COVID investigation? Could Scotty follow in Tony Abbott's footsteps and give Donald a knighthood? Labor in Victoria & Queensland not qualified for ADF assistance? Radio and television throwing experts in our faces as contributing nonsenses for the year that was. Give us a break! The crisis national cabinet worked well for most of the time; a B+? On the other hand - Karen Middleton, The Saturday Paper: The Morrison government "A government bypassing the parliament to create laws that cannot be amended or overturned? It is a worrying trend, largely ignored elsewhere." All part of our brilliant nightly news?


Faulty Towers and Gone with the Wind victims of the culture gestapos; racism. Apparently we can still see them but they come with a warning, (see my Serepax warning). Who would have thought? Are the mad taking over? Reminds me of my youth. We went to a few pantomimes as kids. Jenny Howard and Jim Gerald come to mind. Always remember the evil Red Devil and the hero “Boy”. We were told to scream if the devil was around and scream we would, but when the Page (Boy) turned to look, the devil would hide? And lollies. They would throw them to the audience, but never my way. That's not fair! I loved the pantomimes, particularly the colours, the costumes, the magic and yes, the girls. A rare treat. Speaking of films, which I wasn’t, reminds me of the time “The Snakepit” starring Olivia De Havilland was on at the Westgarth theatre. Dad wouldn’t let me see it, the only time in memory he had said no to a film, or almost everything else while he (appeared) to be in recovery after some 4 years on the front line, WW2. The story of a woman who finds herself in an insane asylum and couldn’t remember how she got there. I disobeyed, sat through the film in guilt, so unable to enjoy or follow it; I can now. Dad knew when I got home, but never said a word. He took me to the pictures only the once to see ”Gone with the Wind” at the St James in Bourke Street. He thought I should see it. I never asked him why. He was right. 


Barry Jones, in his latest book, advises that political paralysis – on the issues of refugees, climate change, open democratic practices and many others – can only be overcome if ‘‘well-informed citizens ... engage, engage, engage’’. We must continue to maintain the rage until the government is shamed into action...Get it India? The Australian mens cricket team could perhaps entertain the idea of inviting a couple of Victorian cricketers into their fold? Will Will Pucovski get the 3rd test opening spot? Nah, he’s a Victorian. Peter Lalor, The Australian's chief cricket writer, apparently part of 7's cricket coverage; who listens, who reads him? Lastly Josh Hazelwood, bad loser...I find it amusing (if not stupid) we the public assume ADF personnel are better qualified to manage isolation issues rather than private security contractors. My personal (assumption) is that dickheads can be found among security contractors, ADF personnel and those in isolation. Add in political incompetence?...Christmas sadness. I miss eskimo pies, jam donuts, Raz raspberry ice blocks, theatre choc-tops, plum puddings and the threepences...An appropriate piece by Anson Cameron in last Saturday's Age on the futility of complaining to others about pain. No matter, we cannot help ourselves. It helps ourselves?..."Up to 80% off world famous brands" They lie...In politics, truth is the first casualty" (with apologies to Aeschylus)...Happy new year, hopefully. Be kind to waitresses/waiters. I seem to recall saying this a year ago. People my age are forgiven for repeating?... See you soon, 2021...www.ello8.com





Thursday 24th December, 2020. COVID continues, into 2021. For now, happy Christmas. The bushfires, sports rorts, robodebt. A PM leaving it to the Premiers. The pressure on Andrews. Do we miss Barrie Cassidy; yes. China all year, clearly to be continued, ditto climate change and a government who chooses to ignore? Comedy, or poison? 1/ From Christian Porter "The Morrison Government’s economic recovery is about more jobs, more hours in our hardest-hit industries, and more businesses surviving and thriving on the other side of the COVID-19 recession." 2/ Nine News, obviously, a business to feature any Andrews news in a bad light. "The economic recovery plan, our comeback." After the northern beaches breakout in Sydney (83 from 164 locations) Nine reported the borders chaos as an Andrews problem? Indeed Andrews, after 8 months of his fine efforts on our behalf, fronting up over 100 days to answer (mainly) loaded questions from agents for the usual suspects (Herald Sun, Sky, The Australian, Nine, 3AW and O'Brien) not to mention our Prime Minister and Treasurer throwing mud from the sidelines. One is reminded of the fight scene in From here to Eternity, Montgomery Clift against the bullies, the camp commandant looking on, in approval, with no responsibility. Best leave the other comments (state of play) to the experts...


The Saturday Paper: University of Canberra political historian and associate professor Dr Chris Wallace “I think Morrison’s had an armchair ride this year. He cleverly handballed responsibility for the pandemic to the premiers and he got the credit, pretty much. Albo’s resentful about that but he failed to hold the government to account.” Having decided that Albanese is unelectable, the prime minister and his colleagues have already begun aiming potshots at would-be replacements, including primarily shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers. The closest Morrison's agenda has come is introducing industrial relations legislation in the final parliamentary fortnight of the year before hastily withdrawing its most contentious element – the watering down of the better-off-overall test, which could have led to some workers being worse off. Its unexpected inclusion had given a drifting Labor opposition reason to fight, reintroducing the idea of “working families” – a vivid reminder of the WorkChoices overreach that became Howard’s fatal political mistake. Elsewhere there is little sign of structural reform from the government. Morrison is cutting taxes but has no visible agenda to address the changing economy, lift persistently low wages or transition the energy sector away from fossil fuels. In reality, the economic turmoil is nowhere near over. The real challenge begins in 2021. The new year is due to deliver a further reduction of the JobSeeker supplement. The moratorium on rental evictions is set to be lifted, along with extended loan deferrals. The JobKeeper wage subsidy is slated to end in March. And a trade war with China is accelerating at alarming speed.


Jon Faine, edited: Negative gearing is evil. It pitches Baby Boomers building a nest egg against their offspring’s generation trying to get their first home. No other country makes it easier for you to buy a second, third or umpteenth property than your first. Any politician who claims to care about housing affordability but leaves negative gearing untouched ought to be laughed off the podium. It distorts the residential market, leaves a gaping hole in the budget, offers a subsidy to precisely the wrong people and entrenches intergenerational inequality. It ought be the first and the only reform needed. Unless it is reined in, all other measures are futile. The Coalition is being urged to solve home-buying problems by changing superannuation so young people can withdraw their balance and use it as a housing deposit. Stupid ideas gain traction from time to time but this one takes the prize. The dirty secret is that industry superannuation funds – jointly run by employers and employees – have become investment giants. Collectively they own so much of the entire stock exchange that the business establishment are horrified. When industry super moves together, they shake the market. The Hayne royal commission scrutinised industry super and found next to nothing of concern. The scandals were 99 per cent in the ‘‘retail’’ funds owned by banks and insurers, which have bled customers ever since. The old directors’ club cannot abide the idea they have been outperformed by union-linked rivals.


Gadfly, The Saturday Paper, edited excerpts: Headmaster Morrison’s annual address: “Thank you, Reverend Pastor Houston, for those prayers and your message about rich men walking upright through the eye of a needle, with or without a camel. Boys, remember the pastor’s encouraging words about how religion and real estate can work together in the name of our Lord. Everyone should join with me in celebrating a wonderful year at St Brutes. We had challenges due to the spread of a virus throughout the school. We had to lock out our cohort of foreign students, teaching hours were longer, staff wages had to be cut, but fortunately we salvaged a little something by way of bonuses for our executive management. The drought meant we had to poison all the grass on the oval and sell off what little water we could find to investors in the Cayman Islands. I’m pleased to say that Mr Taylor, our electrician and gas fitter, has increased the temperature throughout the school to a cosy 45 degrees. This should help everyone get through Mr Colbeck’s aged-care and responsibility tutorials. (Only joking – sorry Becko.) “Nurse Hunt (that’s H-U-N-T with an H) has been overwhelmed with work in the sick bay and we congratulate him in keeping the foreign students well away from the rest of us. “There have been distressing rumours concerning after-hours community service work by housemasters Mr Tudge and Mr Porter. I’ve been assured that there is absolutely no truth in these stories, in any way, shape, form or fashion; and furthermore all the photographs have been deleted. I want to send a shout-out to our bursar, Mr Frydenberg. He found an old photocopier in the disused George Pell Sacristy and, with the ingenuity for which he is justly notorious, Josh immediately put it to use, printing reasonably accurate facsimiles of your $20 lobsters. Mr Murdoch, the school’s life governor and in-house philosopher, has generously donated television screens for each classroom, all tuned and dedicated to the Sky News channel. This saves on teaching time and expense, as students can watch and absorb lessons from Peta Credlin, Andreas de Blot and other scholars. It also means a considerable saving because we can now shut down the Gerard Henderson Memorial Library and devote those funds to more efficient causes. There will be a significant staff reshuffle for 2021, which you should hear about now. Major Dutton will be running the cadet corps. He takes over at a troubled time but we’re excited that he brings with him the learnings he acquired while master-in-charge of detentions and punishment. I’m happy to say that the security equipment he has installed in every classroom will be a lasting memorial to his vigilance and paranoia. For rifle practice, Major Dutton has commandeered the Bridget McKenzie Memorial Indoor Pigeon Shooting Pavilion until further notice. Ms Cash will move from careers adviser to a new department of elocution, deportment and grooming. Mr McCormack, the deputy head, keeps his role as gender counsellor, and picks up the task of bathroom patrol on level three. “How good is St Brutes! Now I come to the part of the day where we celebrate achievement – the school prizes. The John Winston Howard Cricket Prize for wicket-keeping: Gladys Berejiklian (11B). The Memorial Bronwyn Bishop Merit Certificate: Not awarded this year. The IPA Award for foreign studies: George Christensen (4A). The Rinohart Bursary: Little Matty Canavan (3B). The Gold St Brutes Statue for best all-rounder: Gratefully accepted by the headmaster on behalf of himself. So, there we are. Can I invite you to move into the Tsingtao Marquee for our end-of-year sausage sizzle? And to mingle, to network, to be proud of who we are and to watch some leaf-blower demonstrations from our opportunity student Barnaby Joyce.” 


Perspective? [December 2018: And Scotty? There he was, with our troops in Iraq, or was it Iran? Wherever. My goodness those boys look so very healthy. Great to see Scotty telling them how much we rely on them. Great to see Scotty. Well done Scotty. Safe journey home. The social researcher Hugh Mackay sees attitudes towards storage as “an unexpected social indicator that tells us a lot about our attitudes and values”. “We are more materialistic than ever. Consumerism is rife, supported by mass marketing that says ‘my possessions are the measure of my worth’. People cling to their stuff as a kind of reassurance and a symbol of permanence, a rock in a sea of transience.” Time passes, changes, a disastrous political year, but always looking ahead (2019) for solutions. Billy Shorten may well have a form of commitment but falls short on inspiration, courage. Immigration and climate change should be a primary focus, together with Newstart, not sitting back waiting for Scott Morrison (a Christian denying medical treatment to refugees?) and his back room controllers (born to rule white racists?) to self destruct, not meekly accepting the encryption bill (more power without good reason?) allowing Peter Dutton's fear/terrorist peril at the drop of a hat. We look ahead, months of promises, false news, viciousness, aided and abetted by News Corp and (likely) softened by The Age now in partnership with Channel 9, and an opposition with seemingly good intentions but sadly lacking the ability, the need, to inspire, despite some decent social policies. Such is life.] 


Perspective? [December 2019: $65 billion company tax cuts, $135 billion tax benefit for the rich, $50 million for some Captain Cook propaganda, $185 million for a Christmas Island fiasco, useless home loans at 5% deposit for the unwary, a religious discrimination bill, Medevac, the Tamil family, refugees Nauru, disappearing Arts policy, the ABC cuts and so on and so forth. Eyes wide shut? Thucydides on our Prime Minister? "When I have thrown him in wrestling, he persuades those who saw it happen that he did not fall, and he wins the prize."]


Profit before people, the running of the majority of private aged-care facilities, of the 801 deaths 655 were in private aged care homes...‘‘We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come’’. And if mistakes happen, the Premier's decide. Robo-debt, our treatment of refugees, the Biloela family. Authoritarian? A question of degree...I'm suspicious by nature so I'm keeping an eye out for any new boat arrivals...Finally, from our consistently shifty PM: “Well public health, we regulate aged care, but when there is a public health pandemic, then public health, which, whether it gets into aged care, shopping centres, schools or anywhere else, then they are things that are matters for Victoria.” As it was at the last election, standing for nothing is the Prime Minister’s greatest gift...Happy Christmas. It's over in a flash so eat up, keep yourselves nice, and enjoy. Also, keep the child in yourself alive. Without it you're a pain in the backside..."One man in his time plays many parts."...www.ello8.com







Thursday 17th December, 2020. Scott Morrison’s response to being locked out of a UN Climate Summit speaking spot: ‘‘The only approval I seek for the policies of my government is the Australian people. That’s it. The only people I answer to in this place is the Australian people.’’ Arguably the most dishonest statement since he came to power. Leaders from 70 countries, including Belize, Afghanistan and Rwanda, are speaking, but Australia has no seat at the table. All the international evidence shows that apart from being a climate challenge, the switch to green energy is the next industrial revolution, yet in Australia we are still stuck in a debate on coal jobs. That debate sadly extends to the Labor opposition. Presently, indeed for the past few months the states are, collectively, actually governing the nation. This frees up our PM to focus on spurious daily announcements that have only one intention – to ensure he maintains enough popularity to get re-elected. Can Australian voters be so gullible as to be so totally unaware of Morrison’s strategy to transform the government that he heads into his own personal marketing machine with unlimited resources at his disposal? Sadly yes, and judging by current numbers the sheep are in line to baa in Scotty's favour whenever he chooses; late 2021election? We (almost desperately?) need more of Penny Wong's input, also (on China) Kevin Rudd. On the other hand Christmas Day approaches, already the streets knee deep in cappuccino gluttons, oblivious, and thousands more (ditto oblivious) expected to arrive (here on the Mornington Peninsula) after or during Boxing Day. Time to batten down, guard your blue bins? If we all eat more lamb does this reduce the number of sheep? Peace on earth brothers and sisters, for now, keeping at least one ear/eye on our shonky government. [Note: Talking of sheep they come from all walks of life. $800,000 life savings gone. Two ladies, the ABC's 7.30 show, a self managed super fund, the manager from Sydney, disappeared.  An unregistered manager. Woe is they. There's up to a year of waiting to check in to a psychologist, even longer for a psychiatrist. Phone 13 11 14?]  


The Guardian. Katharine Murphy, winner of the 2020 press gallery journalist of the year award, on our Canary in a Coalmine: "We have a prime minister in Canberra trying to calculate, minutely, how far he can move without imperilling seats in Queensland. Increasingly, while Morrison is trying to determine whether he can creep slowly away from the Coalition’s election-winning formula of neutralising climate change in the cities while weaponising it against his opponents in marginal seats in the regions – a formula he deployed as recently as last year’s federal election – the practical transition is happening without him. The change is already on. Morrison professes frustration with an international climate bureaucracy that favours abstract expressions of ambition over a record of tangible achievement. There’s some truth to the critique and it would be an utterly reasonable point to make if the Coalition had delivered any real action. A transition is certainly underway in this country, and that transition is resulting in emissions reductions, but the transition is happening in spite of a government that repealed the carbon price, tried to gut the federal renewable energy target and abolish agencies like the Clean Energy Finance Corporation – not because of it. Morrison likes to get a leave pass. He’s a skilled political operator, so he often gets one. It’s really extraordinary how often he gets one. But as far as I’m concerned, this prime minister will get due acknowledgement when he earns it – when he does something substantial to change the Coalition’s rancid, partisan, post-truth brinkmanship on climate politics, not when he makes tentative noises about perhaps doing something." [Katharine is a star!].


Also Spot on, from Greg Jericho: Scotty and Josh. Suppress wage growth being pitched as good for workers, or a cashless debit card that clearly targets Indigenous people. The highest 20% of taxpayers are “projected to have a lower average tax rate in 2030-31 compared with 2017-18, while all other quintiles are projected to experience increasing average rates over that time”. The government wanted tax cuts for the wealthy, and that is what they have delivered. [Presently the government PR on overtime to convince us of their nonsense. Christian Porter, comedy of the year - "Our bargaining system is broken. The Morrison Government's improvements will make bargaining quicker and easier, and will encourage more agreements which mean higher wages for employees."????]


Craig McLachlan has been found not guilty of indecently assaulting and assaulting four women during a run of the Rocky Horror Show in Australia; defamation action pending against the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, the ABC and one of the women over news reports last year that alleged he engaged in sexual misconduct, harassment and indecent assault during the production. [Magistrate Belinda Wallington on McLachlan -  “egotistical, self-entitled sense of humour’’ but not guilty. Fair enough I suspect, from previous television interviews, not knowing the full story. The better news - The prevalence of biochemical testosterone deficiency increases with age?].


Always good value: Kurt Vonnegut tells his wife he's going out to buy an envelope: “Oh, she says, well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And see some great looking babies. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And I'll ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is - we're here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And it's like we're not supposed to dance at all anymore."


Eddie's going, McGuire, Collingwood, meaning Buckley's going, 2022. Not before time for mine. Eddie's been great for my Magpies, but always the danger of extending Nathan's contact beyond 2021, Eddie being the type hating to be proved wrong. No blame game; it was simply time. We wish them both well. And if Collingwood are premiers 2021? I'll eat my hat, being proved wrong again, for the umpteenth time. As Sinatra would say - C'est la vie. Go Pies.    


College votes, Biden. 306 - 232, hopefully a vote for democracy. OK, a form of democracy?....."The Secrets of our Cities, Fitzroy, SBS, hosted by Greig Pickhaver; embarrassingly inaccurate; couldn't even pronounce Fitzroy correctly?...Jesse Hogan ex Melbourne and Fremantle, now at GWS, believes his best footy is ahead of him. It certainly wasn't behind him...Orchids to Ita Buttrose for standing tall on behalf of our ABC. Should be more of it, particularly during funding discussions...Enough of politics. Coming to the big (Christmas) day. Still the embarrassment of that family on Christmas Island, recognition of aboriginal Australians, the Mantra hotel, China, climate change et al. Farewell to the master spy writer, indeed master writer, John le Carré, and George Smiley...Taking a break, harking back to last century as a fill in, wishing all a happy Christmas, and hope, for better results come 2021. "Hope deferred, maketh the heart sick; but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life." [Solomon].

Christmas. Meditation for old men. Theatreworks, 1986. Memories, from a non-practicing heterosexual. Names changed to protect the guilty. Living Rooms at Lindon, a mansion in Acland Street, St Kilda, written by Paul Davies, co-directed by Paul Davies, Caz (Caroline) Howard and Peter Sommerfeld featuring all three directors as performers, alongside Rosie, Kevin, Leonie and Cliffie. 58 full house performances. The setting was three rooms, an 1890's mansion, a room rental property and an art gallery, each scene some 30 minutes, all coming to a conclusion, a 4th finale scene, by Andrea Lemon. Physically demanding, unlike the other performers Cliffie was in every room requiring quick costume/character changes in that time when the audience made the room to room moves. Some may well say all Cliffie changed was his costumes? REHEARSAL NOTES: Gallery, Drawing Room & Flatette taped on floor, a noticeboard full of socialist bullshit, 4 cup coffee percolator, 2 clean coffee cups, 6 dirty broken cups. 


CAZ [TO PAUL] I told you darling it’s not working. Why wont you listen. You’ll have to come up with something funnier or they’ll go to sleep. PAUL. I can’t find my pad. Are we going to have Mao Tse Tung? CAZ. We can’t start without a warm-up darling. PAUL. I might think of something funny during the warm-up? CAZ. The drawing room scene needs work. PAUL. I can’t work without my pad. ENTER CLIFFIE, ROSIE, KEVIN... Kevin & Rosie have been arguing. Lots of kisses, cuddles, as if nobody has seen each other for 25 effing years. CAZ. Cliffie, can you and Rosie go for a walk & explore your relationship. Discover how you felt when you first asked Rosie to be your mistress. CLIFFIE. Good idea Caz. [She’s got to be kidding?] ROSIE. What a great idea Caz. That’s brilliant. [Sadly, Rosie means it] CLIFFIE (stalling) I'd rather run the play right now. Walk later today. [Caz might forget?]  CAZ. We will. After Mao Tse Tung. Explore the character Cliffie. Get to the base. CLIFFIE. Bloody Burke & Wills, what base? CAZ. Sorry? CLIFFIE. Sounds good to me Caz. MUSIC FOR MAO ON. PAINFUL. PREFER SINATRA. 

CLIFFIE (THINKING?): I’ll do the first 2 or 3 exercises, fake the old age gag & watch. Give myself time to think of something to say to Rosie. It will need to be believable as Rosie will be sure to report every word to Caz. KEVIN is now fully engrossed in voice warm-ups which were taught to him at the National Drama School? Little Pete (Aland, costumes) has silently entered the giant space, sifting his way through the costumes, saying nothing, missing nothing. Big Pete enters half way through Mao. The old fox pulls the crook back routine. I make a note of that excuse for next time, likely the dreaded volleyball. Towards the end of Mao Leonie enters with her customary “Sorry I’m late” piece and her ever present smile. She plunges into the last few exercises in a hopeless albeit enthusiastic fashion. Kevin & Rosie have forgotten their shitty mood with one another & are losing themselves in the ecstasy of Mao, or anything else that Caz is likely to suggest. What planet am I on? After the torture to the ears & body of Mao, Paul comes up with an interesting directorial point. We listen nicely, we discard - unless Caz agrees, in which case Kevin & Rosie will instantly see the light [Dark?]. Cliffie asks a question but only to stave off thoughts of an afternoon walk with Rosie. Cliffie may even go so far as to discuss his costume with Little Pete, but that may be stretching credibility. Kevin suddenly discovers a hidden meaning in one of his lines & he becomes wildly excited. Caz agrees with him, but she’s being nice, as in bullshitting. Cliffie tells Kevin he’s talking crap. Try acting? Kevin gets shitty but it's worth it to shut his bullshit up. No chance now as Rosie has also seen the light of Kevin’s amazing insight. Leonie comes up with something from her up market private school drama teaching experiences as a parallel. She temporarily stops smiling. Paul & Little are lost but say nothing. Paul again curses his stupidity at forgetting his pad. Pete then speaks in favour of Kevin but it’s clear he’s only practising his intellectuality. Cliffie excuses himself for an instant coffee and 2 smokes, vaguely wondering what health problems will inflict Rosie today. Cliffie greets the bugs at the bottom of his cup. Probably Rosie’s neck today - haven’t had that one for a while. AFTERNOON RUN THROUGH. 4PM already. Shit. Another 6pm finish. Rosie’s neck playing up. Caz sympathetic. Probably caused by the emotion of Cliffie telling Rosie (on the walk) that he wanted her from the very first moment he laid eyes on her - as the character - at the Gala Ball in East Melbourne. Upmarket acting? She fell for that one. What Gala bloody Ball? Mind you it may well have emanated from the bullshit she was giving me on our “walk”. Tempted to enthuse my false desire by touching her on her sizeable bum but not worth the risk. Leonie is worried about her motivation as the Maid. Little Pete has mysteriously disappeared; a sale on at the Op Shop? Big Pete is having trouble with lines, again. Try learning them, or is he timing it all for opening night, the old fox? Kevin is in a lather of sweat because he dropped a glass of water. He’s also worried about his stupid dog. He & Rosie console one another. Paul & Caz are arguing. Paul will lose as he has lots to learn about women. 10 minute break before running the second half, which gives Caz time to eat her 10th apple. Kevin finds his dog. Paul finds his pad. Leonie is smiling again. Caz thanks Cliffie for putting the effort into his walk with Rosie? No worries Caz...[These memories, long ago, likely far from the reality as remembered by others. If so, in advance, I stand corrected, yet again?] www.ello8.com







Saturday. 12th December, 2020. Somebody suggested meditation? Sooner or later, hopefully the latter you run out of options, the focus on knowing what day it is and (to a lesser extent) worry about repeating yourself. The weather, television news, food, a shower, shave and washing sums it up. Cricket's all about ball bashing and coloured pyjamas, football adds more and more rules to make it faster, quicker, maybe switch to breakdancing, sport climbing, synchronised swimming, equestrianism? I have my certificate for a second in the under 13 Crisscross at Fawkner Street central school? And movies aren't what they were, along business (selling) lines rather than creativity. Limited to past events. Such is life, mine obviously. They chat away,  enthusiastic, Christmas. I add a (seemingly) inclusive comment; reminded (a quick aside?) I'd told this before; hundreds of times? Better I shut up, nice to be noticed? A lull between COVID and vaccination. Schoolies departed. A cigarette, a beer. Something to be thankful for.      


Signs of frustration, sometimes referred to as "blowing in the wind". Chris Bowen, shadow federal health minister has used a new essay titled “Australia’s social democratic moment?” to argue Labor won’t win the next election unless it reconnects with voters who have historically looked to the ALP to improve their living standards but have been looking elsewhere in recent years. Labor in 2020 needs to define opportunity and aspiration more inclusively, finding better ways “to tell the story of our commitment to working people – and it can’t just be that we will make it easier for the children of the working class to get out of it”. Bowen highlights the obvious without a solution, a plan. The first plan is how to attack the problem, the problem of our Prime Minister, his clique, the obvious long list of misdemeanours. Governments lose elections, oppositions rarely win them. Next time Chris chooses to announce his thoughts, suggest more meat?


A $5.3 billion dollar announcement. The Andrews government has pledged to build 12,000 social housing homes over the next 4 years which will support some 10,000 jobs per year. Sounds good, as Victoria (Australia?) obviously needs it, but will the federal government come to the party? Then there's those 10,000 jobs, and with it bias, power, judgemental officials. Hey, a fine idea on paper, clearly needed. I worked in the public service for 20 long years. They build castles, promotion by agreement mostly; not unlike our so called (lately via Nine News) friendly police force, or our Peter Dutton border force army, permanently on the move to log into our home computers. Still, the good news is obviously, eventually, something good for our homeless thousands, despite the ins and outs of those 10,000 jobs per year. We shall maintain positivity? 


I did an acting stint for a few years, 40 in fact. I've never been one for film or television. I've done a few bits and pieces here and there, more because they pay well and nothing better to do at that time. Some beautiful people, but sadly somewhat overrun in numbers by the love of their own selves. The problem of having no particular say in your work (?) and having to pay attention to directors, occasionally skilful, more often than not technicians, and leading performers who rather consistently put their (often) not so wonderful performances ahead of the written word. Looking back, a lifetime of not listening to authority, it's fair to say I ran my own race, sadly, too late for psychoanalysis? My first choice was working to a live audience, low wages, but it was love, way before the money, and never work in the true sense. True, daggy directors (creative?) occasionally, and the odd brilliant one or two, but more say by the actor (as I saw it) over the finished product and the reality of a live audience. A word of mouth industry so careful not to be too truthful. Unable to see my back in the mirror so unaware of any wounds. One comes across some dandies. 1970's, La Mama. Cast of six. Opening night, some 30 minutes before the doors opened our director suggested an improvisation, on stage, now, playing our characters as young children. I said nothing but thought the idea was from Mars. What really surprised was the other 5 actors were enthused with the suggestion, off they toddled, stage downstairs, while I maintained, under pressure, my straight face. Why Cliff? [Got a bit of a headache darling, need some deep breathing]. This will help you Cliff. Join in? [No. Sorry darling. You go down. It's a fine idea. I'll just get some fresh air. Don't worry. I'll be ok.] Felt a tad guilty, the director concerned as to my heath? Fortunately La Mama had an outside landing, a small wooden balcony, where I had ample time for two cigarettes. What was that first line? The creative darlings returned 25 minutes later, enthused even more, refreshed (apparently) by the experience, ready to 'up and at 'em' on this particular opening night. [Almost all actors prior to a performance do either voice or physical exercises, some do both. No doubt a necessity for singers, maybe a security blanket for straight actors, or also a necessity for some? Whatever, not my scene.] 


Federal legislation allowing the Commonwealth to cancel agreements between states and foreign governments was passed in Canberra, Andrews calling for a ‘‘sophisticated, nuanced’’ (tread carefully?) approach to China. The legislation allows the federal government to cancel or block agreements reached by states, territories, local governments and universities with foreign governments if they are deemed to compromise Australia’s foreign interests or break from its foreign policy. Sounds good, but suspect the coalition has no idea of the meaning of "nuanced". We wait, far from hopeful? [Northern Territory government’s lease of the Port of Darwin to Chinese interests for 99 years?]


Why changes to the workplace laws? We all know the reason. Labor’s Tony Burke held up the industrial relations bill in the senate courtyard and said it was the government’s Christmas present “to workers who got us through the pandemic”. He said the government has taken the better-off-overall test and “turned it into a test where under an agreement, every single worker covered can be worse off”. “If businesses don’t exist,” the prime minister yelled in parliament, “then no one has a job.” This is an argument that presumes businesses have the right to exploit workers to ensure their own survival – if you don’t want to work for a pittance, get a better job somewhere else. This is the same flawed thinking that led former Liberal prime minister John Howard into the ravine of WorkChoices.


The Senate has passed a motion directing Bridget McKenzie to appear before a select committee investigating the sports grants imbroglio no later than 12 February to answer questions about her administration of the scheme. McKenzie had earlier declined to appear before the committee in response to a request that she make herself available in the first week of February. [We shall not hold our breath].


Memories, political: Barnaby Joyce ran up a bill of $675,000 in 9 months in his role as Special Drought Envoy. Joyce explained that he sent his "report" in the form of multiple text messages to Morrison...The Coalition granted $444 million to a little known organisation called the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, involving no public tender, no transparency...The Coalition granted $30 million to Foxtel to assist with "sports coverage" (whilst simultaneously slashing ABC funding)...The Coalition granted $200,000 to Foxtel station Sky News to fund a new show featuring future Liberal Candidate Warren Mundine. The funding was taken from money budgeted for "Indigenous Advancement"...Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert charged tax payers $2,000 a month for home internet, blaming "connectivity issues", later forced to repay $38,000 in inappropriately claimed expenses but was not further investigated...The Coalition award a Chinese company a 99 year lease on Darwin Port. A year later, Andrew Robb, the Trade Minister at the time of the deal, leaves the Government to assume an $880,000 a year job as a "Consultant" with the same Chinese company...In 2016, the Government set up an automated debt recovery mechanism to recover welfare overpayments. The calculations used by the system were deeply flawed and demanded repayments from thousands who hadn't been overpaid. The new process reversed the onus of proof on the recipient to prove they hadn't been overpaid...Mathias Cormann quits the Coalition with aspirations to become the OECD Secretary General. Tax payers fund his $4,300 per hour Private Jet to fly him to and around Europe as well as 8 full time Government employees. [Feel free to contradict?]


Castles? Welfare cards and cashed up retirees receiving franking credits. The difference?...Let’s hear it for those dogs experiencing anxiety and antisocial behaviour after COVID isolation?...Peter Dutton’s beachside mansion was passed in at $4.355 million...Dear Greg Hunt, organise the cashless welfare card on the Mornington Peninsula? Greg Hunt said the two travellers from Germany were detected due to a failsafe mechanism within the border force system. Truth bending?...The federal government has tasked states with the responsibility for quarantine arrangements for returning students, again Scotty slips the noose, and again, ADF not qualified for hotels quarantine isolation; all care, no responsibility...Funding Auditors-General, IBAC. Scotty's Chinese burn?...I'll go along with this one, from Jon Faine "The conservatives resent the very existence of a diminished Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, which is cash-starved, hamstrung and barely able to do its vital job or fulfil its potential. This proudly multicultural nation has no campaign promoting community harmony, no strategy for strengthening multiculturalism and next to no public initiatives challenging racism"...World Human Rights Day last Thursday, reaffirming our commitment (Marise Payne) to defending human rights, not including Julian Assange?..."The Australian Defence Force advised that they were not able to undertake any security-type work or perform floor-monitoring roles in the health hotels’’. And therein lies the real truth...“The world is little, people are little, human life is little. There is only one big thing — desire.” --Willa Cather....I always liked mirrors. Now the bastards frighten me...Farewell Mungo MacCallum... Hooroo...www.ello8.







Sunday. 6th December, 2020. According to a female researcher from a famous USA university smoking and loneliness is bad for your health. Fascinating. One wonders how much they pay these people. After just one week of the dreaded Schoolies monster (what rite of passage?) I dream of past pleasures, those 8 months in wonderful isolation. Already Point Nepean Road Rosebud to Rye is a carpark. Christmas looms, and Kris Kringle, the Christ Child gift giving system. My lot do it, minus me. I see no point in giving or receiving, but I'm a man. A beer, upmarket food, family, a temporary respite, looking forward to February, the invaders departed, to marvellous Melbourne? I've paid for this internet site for another year; waste not want not ingrained, despite logic/reality. Surely my final year...of SALT? Note to myself: check out Aged Care Homes. Apparently more females than males; a ghost of a chance, or dreaming? 


Prime Minister Scott Morrison: “The Australian people deserve a Government that will act with integrity and in the best interests of the people they serve.” He gets away with psychological murder this bloke, the ins and outs of a ducks breakfast, master of the blame game, our PM's art form, a means of ducking responsibility and accountability, where the federal government has sought to shift responsibility to the states in areas where it clearly carries that responsibility, such as quarantine and aged care. Then the Chinese twitter (a wolf warrior?) and our PM's deliberate over the top reply; the Chinese embassy accusing Morrison of attempting to “stoke domestic nationalism” with his enraged response. Scoring domestic political points against our largest international trading partner? The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade budget has been slashed this year, as has foreign aid. Meanwhile, Home Affairs and military spending has ballooned. Add in our Minister for distractions picture in shorts and thongs, accountability replaced by cover-ups and spin. Add in Marise Payne and his other mate Peter Dutton? Presently some 182 remain in detention in Australia after being transferred from Nauru and Papua New Guinea under the medevac legislation, passed against the federal government’s wishes in March  2019. Medical transfers before the medevac legislation was passed – and since it was repealed – are being released into community detention, those who were moved to Australia under the medevac law are not. What high moral ground? [The repeal of medevac was supported by Jacqui Lambie, who insists that in return she won a concession for asylum seekers and refugees. Still no word on the details of the concession?  $350,000 per person, per year?]


They're dreaming? Griffith University and Transparency International Australia’s report identifies the lack of a federal anti-corruption watchdog as “the biggest institutional gap in our system”. As well as recommending $100m per year in funding for a federal integrity commission, corruption prevention and whistleblower protection, the report calls for caps on campaign expenditure during election, limits on political donations, and an overhaul of the lobbying system. It also suggests new shield laws should be implemented for public interest journalism and disclosure. [More chance in powerball?].


Severe dreaming? Reconciliation Barometer 2020 found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s experiences of race-based prejudice had steadily worsened over the past six years. Some 60% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents and 43% of non-Indigenous respondents agreed that “Australia is a racist country”. Reconciliation Australia chief executive Karen Mundine said changing community attitudes provide “a basis for demanding more of our political leaders. I repeat - What high moral ground?


Suicide mission? "A special prosecutor will be appointed to investigate whether criminal charges should be brought against current and former members of Victoria Police over the Lawyer X scandal after a royal commission ruled that police had corrupted the criminal justice system." [The royal commission found that about 100 police knew Gobbo was an informer.] 


KIDS: In Summer if we weren’t playing cricket in the street we were at Northcote Baths, run by the inimitable Joey Fogg. He was a great character, rough as they come, but kindly into the bargain. He’d march around that pool, ever watchful, screaming at kids running, but missing many misdemeanours, aka underwater activities, nevertheless doing his best to protect the weak from the strong, and the pervs. I got my Herald swimming certificate there in 1946, later my Intermediate and Senior Certificates. I could beat almost everybody at swimming if I felt so inclined, which was rare, more interested in females, which led to spotting the Marauders, or more to the point dodging them. You think this was bad? Nothing to compare with the heated pool at Brunswick baths. A hotbed of sexual activities. Watch, but no eyeballing if you valued your health. Preferred the outdoor pool but every so often the indoor, the fascination of the activities of the tough cookies with tattoos. Perhaps jealousy? Mum came to watch in the Northcote High School sports, entered in the Under 16 freestyle, 100 yards, swimming for Merri house, the chance to represent the school in a premier event at the all high school sports. At the turn I was 5 yards clear, stopped, looked around (skiting to Mum) and got pipped at the post by Stephenson. Bloody Stephenson! In the relay we finished 3rd, Stephenson lost ground swimming last, after I had caught and passed the leader for him. Wanker! Likely a Liberal Party supporter?


The high and mighty Australia, principles, oozing out of our skin with every  breath. "Do more, talk less" says Kevvy (Rudd) when commenting on Australia's current relationship with the authoritarian Chinese government. Trouble is our Scotty, steaming ahead on a 60% popularity basis, can't help himself, playing to his audience, namely us, and with it upgrading the dangers of nationalism. Presently finalising an agreement (with Labor) on new laws giving Canberra the power to scrap agreements struck by states, local councils and universities with foreign governments; possibly (probably?) with Premier Daniel Andrews’ Belt and Road agreement with the Chinese government in mind? Wot, me worry?


I have no superannuation; opted out before Whitlam's fantastic scheme in favour of a lump sum, not the wisest choice economically. So be it. The Morrison government (Christian Porter) will unveil the industrial relations package this week in the hope of legislating it next year. Meaning workers being worse off, cuts to pay or the taking away of workers rights. Marry this with the super proposal to block the 9.5% to 12% and the coalition trickle down nonsense, or suggesting the money is better in the workers pay packets, which will never happen. It's true, many thousands on superannuation are more likely not to need the extra 2.5% on retirement, but also true if forgone, it's gone forever with this government. Suggestion? Agree with superannuation block, in return for dropping the IR package and a REAL increase in wages? [Obviously if truly worried about renting retirees, try a reform of the capital gains tax? No? Just asking.]


Posted on facebook. I read this years ago, a motivation for the years to follow, still is to a degree; Kurt Vonnegut. “When I was 15, I spent a month working on an archeological dig. I was talking  to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of “getting to know you” questions you ask young people: Do you play sports? What’s your favourite subject? And I told him, no I don’t play sports. I do theatre, I’m in a choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes. And he went WOW. That's amazing! And I said "Oh no, but I'm not any good at ANY of them." And he said something that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before. "I don't think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you've got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them." And that honestly changed my life. Because I went from failure, someone who hadn't been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them. I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could "Win" at them." [Good stuff].


The confusion on just where our Opposition leader (Anthony Albanese) stands on various issues continues. Lots of little agreements with the Coalition, the occasional outbursts. I'm not a Labor voter. My choice is always to vote against the Liberal Party, but lately, for whom? The Greens Adam Bandt is not my first choice, but agree with his latest "The Liberals blocked our move, and Labor split their vote – they supported the Climate Emergency declaration in the House of Reps, but inexplicably voted against in the Senate where our combined forces could have actually gotten it done." There's the real possibility this time next year we might be in election mode. Surely "it's time" in the words of Gough Whitlam, to take us into his thinking on his 2022 plans as an alternative to Morrison? True, Morrison sits back, letting the Premiers do all the hard stuff (COVID) while he takes credit (along with Frydenberg) and also (along with Dutton) plays out the nationalism card, but the longer it plays the more likely the sheep are brainwashed. We need you to put up Albo, not shut up, perhaps not right now, but certainly something with meat on it by March 2022?


A thousand outrageous tweets from Donald Trump conveniently ignored, one from an official Chinese nobody and we go bananas?...Good old Scotty, out of isolation and so happy to see the Christmas tree up at home; bonzer bloke...Locked in, street details, as per a notice in our wonderful Herald Sun newspaper, the Rye area surrounding designated a 'without warrant stop and search area for weapons' between 6pm and 3am, until December 13, 2020. Why, and why finishing 13/12?...1000 days since Nades, Priya and their two little girls were taken at 5am from their home in Biloela, Queensland. They have been detained ever since, and the children face yet another Christmas isolated from other children, and behind wire in the detention centre on Christmas Island...And on Julian Assange - What high moral ground?..."Or would you rather swing on a  star, carry moonbeams etc", sorry. I was dreaming of Penny Wong for Prime Minister...Hooroo...www.ello8.






Sunday. 29th November, 2020. The big day (Friday) finally arrived, 28 days with no COVID-19, despite our state opposition, the Prime Minister, federal Treasurer and federal Health Minister and, as always, the meatheads, but no cause for complacency. Spending like there's no tomorrow. Good news, the promises of no campers, no schoolies, withdrawn? Return of the do-gooders/Sarah White/Quit Director/shudder) with the proposal to ban smoking from the city of Melbourne. How about banning fat people?  Honking, is honking allowed? As a confirmed believer in the human nature principle; "the more they get the more they want" I wonder what is to follow? Christmas approaches, every year at this time zipping along and before you know it, the big day pops up. Right now we have the man who preferred Peter Dutton as out PM, Mathias Cormann, on 'our' super jet @ $4,300 an hour, alongside 8 foreign affairs staff, upping the ante on Bronwyn's helicopter, while some 35,000 Aussies are scrambling, in great financial difficulty, to come home, not to mention Mathias new salary, plus pension, plus whatever? And Scotty? Still head down but doubtful on bum up. He's spent most of this year dodging parliament and dodgy dealings so it follows he will remain lying low until well into 2021. All states are now welcoming us back. Be nice to close our borders to them. Not the people, the politicians. Sadly no, we need their spending. Hot weather returns, and no masks outside, not inside, a minor miracle. A quiet week by normal standards. Allow me to rave on...for a change?


ABC 7.30: The blame game, continued. Scores of people across the country, mainly retirees, are in a precarious position after putting their life savings into a failed housing scheme. Now they fear eviction and large financial losses, and they're accusing the corporate watchdog ASIC of failing to act quickly enough. $250,000 for a 40-year lease. The product, dubbed Sterling New Life, was marketed as a smart way to retire. "There are no weekly or ongoing fees, and no exit fees?" With former Aussie fast bowler Mitchell Johnson heading the advertising blitz, which would have personally put me off the scheme immediately, a managed investment scheme, with the money going into a trust, which was invested in property-related assets. Those assets were meant to generate profits to cover the tenant's rent. And of course SNL went into liquidation. Sorry, yes, but at the very least the investors should have included themselves in apportioning blame. 


More human nature aka the dirty look; conclusions. This type of thing stays in my memory  for too many years, wondering, but not seriously bothered by any supposed long term effects. The reader may say "You're writing about it so you must have been affected." Not so, an example of jumping to conclusions. If I see someone I know or (have known) within a reasonable distance (4 metres?) I can generally recall their names. "Cheers Billy." [And if in great difficulty still; "Hey, mate. Great to see you", whatever.] But, if he/she sneaks up on you, on the spot, I regularly cop a memory blank. I spent 40 years working at racetracks and 40 years in theatre so always a blank if spotting someone at one group while at another. Two examples; Geoffrey Rush and La Mama lady Liz Jones. At a memorial do for the late Monica Maughan Geoffrey popped out of nowhere with "G'day Cliff" I replied "G'day er ah um???" And spotted his dirty look as he departed, quickly? Possibly shocked he knew my name? Liz at the Arts Centre one evening, the same, with the same dirty look. Quick, but clear. I've not seen either of them since (years ago, why would I?) and one or two others. It happens, innocent, seemingly. Still, one can't help wondering as to the long term effect on these characters as to their opinions (if any) on my personality. As a smartarse? Should I have chased them up and explained? Am I explaining now? Possibly. No! Likely they would have brushed it off, no problem, but I wonder. Just saying...


Jon Faine, edited: Morrison refuses to hold anyone accountable for anything. Robo-debt, the Western Sydney Airport land scam, the aged care disasters, the forged documents about the Sydney lord mayor’s travel budget, water allocations and other accumulating scandals via Stuart Robert, Alan Tudge, Angus Taylor, Paul Fletcher, Michaelia Cash and Richard Colbeck, a government with so many walking wounded. Does Scott Morrison fear the backlash? The offences have been felonies, not misdemeanours. Or is he looking over his shoulder at Peter Dutton and his impatient rump of supporters? [Listed for recording, the 2022 election, my failing memory.] 


Another tidbit from my National Service days. On the rifle range, a serious business, no talking, with the screaming threat of 'yard-arm' for offenders. A huge rifle range, all lying down, rifles at our shoulders. Next to me somebody talked, followed by CPO Percy Perfect screaming threats, his eyes fixed on me. No way, the English chap next to me spoke, our Group Captain, appointed by CPO Perfect, both pommies and clearly Perfect's pet. All called out of the bunkers, marched double time with rifles twice around the rifle range. Bloody hell. Then Perfect  (plonker) calls us together, calls me out in front of the group, eyeball to eyeball, and puts the question: “Did you talk Ellen?” (No Chief) “Why don’t you be a man and own up?” (Wasn’t me Chief) “You’re a liar Ellen” (Yes Chief). Chief kindly advises our group we should give the culprit a hiding, eyes back and forth, the group and me. [There you go; the so-called respect and honesty rules did not cover ignorance and jumping to conclusions?] Result? The boys, my group mates, asked me the story afterwards; set them straight. "Definitely not me. No idea who." Thus, always having the pommy Class Captain as a loyal friend. [PS: I have another hundred or so theatre stories but sadly - or happily, depending on who they are, most of them are still breathing.]


There are 612 private and non-profit nursing homes in Victoria with more than 50,000 beds. Almost 2000 Covid-19 cases were recorded among residents in these homes during the second wave, and they accounted for 655 deaths. A further 1294 infections were acquired by aged-care workers in these facilities. By contrast, in Victoria’s 156 state-run residential aged-care homes, which have more than 5600 beds, there were only three residents who contracted coronavirus and zero deaths. Only Victoria’s state-run homes has legislated minimum staffing ratios that govern clinical care of residents. The Andrews government has set aside $40 million over four years to “support an increase in aged-care student placements for nurses and personal care workers” “subject to the Commonwealth accepting and funding recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety to introduce minimum mandated staffing ratios in private and not for profit residential aged care facilities”. In 2018-19, a total of 119 qualified nursing staff minutes were spent on each resident in each state-run facility every day. This is more than three times what’s spent in the private and non-profit sector, where the Commonwealth requires no minimum staff ratios. [Included for a balanced view?]


Maybe my old man wasn't so silly after all? In his late 70's he took a sea trip to New Guinea with Uncle Joe, came home with a woman, a big woman who moved in with him. He paid the bills, bought a small car for her to drive; put up with this arrangement until his 87th year. Far from perfect, never quite champagne and roses, a few blues, the impression the woman thought dad was a catch, initially. For dad, never the need to shop again, or cook, or clean. Far from a catch, but enough to get by. Cunning old bugger. Interesting how one can get a different slant on things when one gets to my age? 


By all means come in hard on China, but if you choose to without acknowledging Australia's incarceration of innocent people on Manus Island and Nauru without trial, in defiance of international law and our obligations under the Refugee Convention you are in fact lying to yourself? Peter Dutton started it all, taken up by our PM sucking up to Donald Trump, causing our chaotic exports situation, noting although Trump is fast and loose with China, in fact the USA and China have enormous import/ export trade deals? $20 billion worth of exports across half a dozen industries. The Morrison government’s anti-China rhetoric doesn't give a monkeys for the thousands of Australians with an 'asian looking' face; 1.3 million Australians of Chinese heritage. A culture of discrimination and intolerance?


Great to see the release of Kylie Gilbert-Moore from an Iranian jail after 804 days’ imprisonment. Scott Morrison’s public basking fair enough. Unfortunately other matters; any Iranians in our jails, the Sri Lankan family on Christmas Island for more than a year after they had successfully integrated into a Queensland regional community, and Julian Assange in an English prison?...Nigella Lawson says food (or was it cooking?) gives her emotional resonance. I looked it up - the emotional harmony and/or disjuncture between collective action frames and the emotional lives of potential recruits. Whatever, it obviously passed me by...Harvey Norman extended trading hours to 'shop and save'. Where does the 'save' come into the transaction?...The housing problem, from a simpleton? Abolish negative gearing and allow interest on the first home as a tax deduction for the first decade?...It's not so much whether or not anybody is listening to our PM's nonsense at the G20, more a case of nobody asking curly questions....The pursuit of excellence is a popular goal, but it is not the race itself?...I don't believe it. Thursday afternoon schoolies moved in alongside. Why me?...Hooroo...ello8.




Tuesday 24th November, 2020. Victoria closing in on the 28 days double doughnuts, the theory, I assume, to follow the rules to ward off the dangers of stage 3, until the vaccine arrives. What of the wash-up? Too early to say. It began with our Prime Minister as leader of the pack alongside our various Premiers. Scotty head of the table, surrounded by the Premiers, and Anthony Albanese ostracised. We're all in this together announced Scotty. Gradually, but surely, Scotty's leadership and bias was tested and replaced by real leadership from Daniel Andrews and Gladys Berejiklian. Indeed, Scotty reduced to announcements, some specific, some suspect, with his attack dog (Joss Frydenberg) chipping in for political reasons, aka 'Get Andrews'. Scotty scooted to Japan to take cover, now conveniently in isolation here, but thankfully the release of a nice picture of him in shorts and thongs. Annastacia Palaszczuk had her chance in the spotlight due to the AFL football season, nice, but no great leadership qualities to speak of. The less said of the two selfish premiers (Western Australia South Australia) the better. We sympathise with the pizza man, forced to earn something to survive, a circumstances lie, receiving nothing from our federal government. The borders between the big two are open again, hopefully forever. Both Premiers came at COVID from different circumstances but without going into the fine print both showing real leadership, sadly lacking in our Prime Minister. Andrews has been a star, despite the little house fly (Michael O'Brien) buzzing away. Tempted perhaps to get the fly spray, but more important things to attend to and knowing the fly will eventually buzz no more. Our Prime Minister will no doubt be planning for bigger things, but for now we wait, and wonder.  


David Speers said it shocked Australians; not I. The Brererton Report. Elitism, entitlement and racism. Special forces personnel in Afghanistan, top of the tree soldiers, firepower, and particularly racism. Unarmed civilians? Afghani refugees and people who have sought asylum here since 2001 should get residency. And David McBride, the army officer and lawyer who was the original whistleblower, should get a medal, the Victoria Cross? Not all rotten apples thankfully, a poisonous powerful few, a minority, 23 incidents involving 19 current or former ADF personnel. Obviously been known for years, and equally, by higher up officers who will, as always, escape blame? General Angus Campbell spoke well, until the mention of Australian values, best left alone with that nonsense, reference asylum seekers. Should we have gone to Afghanistan? Should we have gone to Iraq? Stone the crows, John Howard weighed in on this Afghani business. You wouldn't think he'd have the hide. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair and John Howard? Perhaps, but unlikely with this mob (and Labor) a recall on the Julian Assange embarrassment? Elite entitlement, as I see it clear as day, particularly the past decade. Not just the Special forces, can be extended to the Victoria Police, the Federal Police (journalists and whistle blowers?) Nicola Gobbo, Kathy Jackson. A disgusting can of worms, corruption incorporated, perhaps a good result, but overall, a small part of this cultural cancer. Let us hope they don't choke on their caviar. ["These crimes do not represent who Australia is" says our Anthony Albanese. Tell that to Julian, the Timorese, et al. A grain of salt indeed!] Let us not forget those beautiful shots of our Prime Ministers visiting our special forces in Afghanistan. Que sera, sera.              


Another blast from my past; National Service 1955. A few hard facts redacted to protect the innocent, who may (though unlikely) be still breathing, also the possibility of ASIO reading this, or worse, five eyes: We entered Sydney Harbour, at attention, on deck, all the way to Garden Island, searing heat. Transferred (walk) to our allotted ships with our hammocks on our shoulders, HMAS Voyager, a Destroyer, inspected as we boarded. Alas! My hammock sagging at both ends, down to my waist. Apparently the hammock should be tied up in such a way that they float for days. Why wasn’t I told? Extra duties, everyone else’s perfect, sucks? The next 4-6 weeks doing naval exercises in and around Jervis Bay. The intake before went to Japan, the intake after to New Zealand; typical. Voyager was much smaller than an aircraft carrier so mixed in with regular sailors body to body. They clearly resented us (smartarse nashos). Most of the intake, unlike the Army, were pretty intelligent; some, like me, cunning, but they put up with us. Slept in a passageway near the gangplank up onto the deck. One night (around midnight) they called “action stations”, big hooters sounding off - asleep, with all these conscientious buggers bumping my hammock as they charge up on deck. Shoved a cravat on to cover no shirt. Just got there on time, into longboats (Jervis Bay? Sharks? 10 foot waves?) and into the water for 15 minutes. Why, you idiots!!! Back to Sydney and every second night off (4PM-7AM) to paint the town, some sightseeing with their cameras, most looking for love, or sex, ALL successfully if you were silly enough to believe them, and me, with a couple of mates, to the Metropole Hotel for serious drinking. Book in at “Johnnies” the naval establishment in the heart of the city. Off to The Metropole, then  to Kings Cross to eat and observe, then back to Johnnies, more grog. Weekends in particular were noisy affairs at Johnnies. Many a brawl, where the provosts would get you if they felt so inclined. A need to tread very carefully. The provosts were professional bastards, and particularly keen to dine on “nashos”. The final weeks at Flinders Naval Depot were pretty good, the big countdown, weekend leave, drills as ever but by now we knew every trick there was to know. We even had our own starting price bookie in Billy Todd, an eight round prizefighter at Festival Hall. Tough cookie, keep sweet. One of our favourite escapades (happened twice) was to quietly watch the new regular Navy 6 year recruits come into the depot every 2 weeks. Scared stiff, poor fellows, not very bright we thought, signing on for 6 years as an alternative to unemployment. They would go through the same entry procedures, and of course we knew how lonely they would feel on the first night. So that evening, around midnight, we would don dark clothes and blacken our faces, then let out Indian whoops, charging through their dormitories, some with a hose and water, frightening the life out of them, and disappear into the night. After the second raid we were all called out and given very severe extra bullring duties, with rifles. We stopped. Towards the finish we forgot all the hardships, sort of realised National Service was more of a political football, and so the last 2 weeks took on an atmosphere of glamour. We had long evenings of talking, laughing, singing, all good mates. Five months training did very little by way of preparing us as soldiers of War, but it had been a rare experience, never forgotten, and the thought of going back to civilian life was heaven on a stick, cashed up, the first time ever, the wages I received from my public service job was more than I had spent.


The Saturday Paper, edited. Diversions, continued: The prime minister returned from Japan and began a 14-day quarantine at The Lodge in Canberra. This week question time via a video link. Neither he nor his ministers can be quarantined from the fallout of the Robo-debt scheme they pursued, despite numerous warnings it was illegal. Don’t imagine the architect of the scheme, the prime minister himself, doesn’t realise how big a disaster this is. Scott Morrison went to great lengths to create a diversion, knowing the robo-debt story would break. As treasurer he forecast $2.1 billion would be recovered in the robo-debt crackdown, a sum that would help him restoring the federal budget to surplus. It also played politically into the “welfare cheat” stereotype. As the letters went out in their thousands, complaints began to mount that people were being asked to pay debts they didn’t owe. By then, Christian Porter was Social Services minister "The 169,000 robo-debt letters sent out in just six months in 2016 were “review letters, not letters of demand" saying on RN Breakfast that the “high-volume system” was “working incredibly well”. Alan Tudge, the Human Services minister at the time, went on A Current Affair to threaten jail for people who owed Centrelink money. “We’ll find you, we’ll track you down and you will have to repay those debts and you may end up in prison,” he said. [There is no doubt it played politically into the “welfare cheat” stereotype. Victims of the robo-debt scheme never got their day in court. Much of the battle had already been won by Victoria Legal Aid before Gordon Legal announced the $1.23 billion settlement affecting some 400,000 people – on the same day the trial was due to begin in Melbourne. After this settlement, the entire scheme will have cost the Commonwealth about $2 billion. There were never any savings made. These details do not include the obvious stress levels, post-traumatic stress disorder, accorded to thousands of innocent Australians, included some who suicided.]


The fanciful idea of not passing the superannuation increase (forced savings) presently at 9.5% (to 10%, eventually 12%) and so to flow on to the worker's kick, is just that; fanciful. The idea of a block on the super increase resulting in more money in the pockets of the  workers is a lie, as it has been for the past decade. What it has done, the reality, is more profits to the big business gorilla. And our politicians, with no complaints on their superannuation, presently at 15.4%?


Joss Frydenburg at his twisted best in claiming success in the drop in unemployment, after his consistent brutal criticism of Andrews. The result of Victorians going back to work surely?...Checked out the new books; Paul Hogan, Malcolm Turnbull, Shane Warne, Bob Hawke, natural remedies and two wellbeing books. Apparently people buy them?...Crown Casino licence ‘‘There is a sacred trust when it comes to these licences and they need to be complied with.’’ Daniel Andrews?..."Meatheads" spot on, used by the St Kilda Mayor in reference to the beach revellers ignoring the Covid rules. We get them here at Rye, hot evenings, weekends...Had Adam Treloar picked Richmond he would have been a dual premiership player, moreso, had Buckley stuck with Brisbane he'd have 3 premiership medals. Such is life......Not that there's any chance of lessening the arrogance of the NSW rugby state of origin team but a great pleasure to see Queensland sticking it up them....Logies, academy awards, brownlow medals etc. My top three 2020; political cartoonist Cathy Wilcox, Collingwood's defeat of the West Coast Eagles and a century by Glenn Maxwell (108 off 90 balls) in a 212-run stand with Alex Carey in the series deciding one-day international against England...As alway: Hope deferred, maketh the heart sink; but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. [Solomon]...Finally, from our specialist 'limelight' dweller Gregory Hunt "Our finest year as a nation since the second world war."...Breathe carefully, from the diaphragm, better still, stop reading the Herald Sun...Hooroo...ello8.




Wednesday 18th November, 2020.  Read it and weep: "Scott Morrison’s approval rating in the latest Guardian Essential poll is back to 66%, and he remains ahead of Anthony Albanese as preferred prime minister 53% to 24%." Enough to give a man writers' block. Our Prime Minister and Master of Diversions (particularly indigenous affairs, climate change and those in detention on zero charges) Scott Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt - taking credit where arguably credit is not necessarily due? Is bonking between senior ministers and female staff in the public interest? Indubitably. We thrive on the hypocrisy, the reality of workplace behaviour and our need for gossip, infidelity, kinkiness, fetishes, stalking and harassment, all a question of degree and the joy of newspaper fodder. The previous two Q&A's, ABC, Marvellous Malcolm Turnbull and Blithering Barnaby Joyce, unconvincing as to their points of view via bonking. Scotty's in hiding presently, leaving the hotel quarantining ex Australians returning from overseas in the hands of the States, in Japan, enjoying sushi, and an escape from sticky questions, too many to list. After last Sunday in downtown Rye (thousands flocked, many unmasked, rules thrown aside, sirens, helicopters) I may remain in lockdown and await the impending? vaccine. Meantime, being a hot day and not in the mood for venturing out with a mask on, better I write something to pass the time. Six months in space for those astronauts? I should complain? Moving on... 


Past, present, future. At my age the future shrivels to 'one day at a time' so we look to what's happening now, around us, and consistently stopped in our tracks (compliments of a fairly good memory) by the happenings in our past. Now it's all about elephants. A kindly friend gifted me four small metal elephants for my fridge, said they were lucky? Questioned this, but no response worth printing. Magnets yes, lucky never. Maybe my friend should pay an expensive fee to see a psychologist? I never cease to be fascinated as to why seemingly sensible people trot along to be told bugger all. Wellness is big at the moment. Woody Allen saw his psychiatrist for umpteen years? Every second person I come across in conversation mentions  the magic words - "My accountant". [Is my life vacant without these experts?]


The 1940's again. An interesting re-assessment. Grade 3 Miss Stewart (head teacher, big lady, ferocious) gave me a few whacks on my thighs, bare legs, short pants. Grade 4 Mr Blackie smacked me hard on my face. Saw stars. Both teachers brought back due to the war, the better teachers in uniform, so the story goes? My sister told Mum and in both cases Mum charged to the school and sorted those teachers out, forever. I gave myself marks for not dobbing, but from a distance the reality was much more likely I was too embarrassed, in fact blamed myself?....Into the 1950's: Winter. 17 years. Order of importance the races at number 1 followed by the VFL football, females a long last, unless a chance popped up,  the reality an impossibility, immediately moved to number 1, on a temporary (HOPE?) basis. Congregate, 10am Saturdays, standing at the Bar, the Peacock Hotel, High Street Northcote. A 2 hour discussion on which horse would win each race followed all afternoon by placing our bets up the lane with our SP bookie. Lost again. My friends often won because they knew never to back anything I backed. A quick meal (hamburger) and to a dance, hope again, rarely satisfied, almost never. “In each instant of their lives men die to that instant. It is not time that passes away from them, but they who recede from the constancy, the immutability of time, so that when afterwards they look back upon themselves it is not themselves they see, but strange ghosts in their image, with whom they have no communication” [Charles Morgan]. Spot on...1960's: 37 years working at racetracks and a nasty habit of picking a number and announcing it as a certainty. My personal human nature study, fascination. Someone always available to follow my expert advice, a second time, a 5th time? Working at Echuca Trots New Years Eve, announced they would not bring a particular horse from NSW for nothing. Sure enough one chap plonked on my information and lost, NSW a mere one kilometre away. Around that time I was watching World of Sport every Sunday with a neighbour, a police sergeant, nice bloke, self opinionated like me. One night I came across him while working at Sandown Greyhounds; told him number 4 was home & hosed. He listened, which intrigued me. A police sergeant listening to me, suspicious? A month later he was arrested, went to jail. Stealing police fund monies. Sometimes it pays to shut up. 


What motivates us? Big question, many answers. I’ll name six but there’s many more: Power obviously, the desire for approval, (Relevance deprivation syndrome - Kevin Rudd, Malcolm Turnbull, Barnaby), vengeance, idealism, food and pleasure. Oscar Wilde put it all down to pleasure. A survey between men & women taken at a college campus in the USA (where else) notes the difference in the pursuit of perceived pleasure. Women approached by men accepted a date 50% of the time, but if asked to come back to their flat only 6% agreed. None agreed to have sex. They reversed the test, as in women asking men, and 69% of men agreed to go back to their flat and 75% agreed to sex. PS: Nobody approached me.


Truth: Government Services Minister Stuart Robert says income averaging has been a ‘‘standard practice of debt collection going back to Hawke and Keating’’. Nonsense, referring to a previous desperation (debts owing) move. Began with our old mate Tony Abbott, 2015, issuing some 20,000 debt notices a week, the onus of proof on welfare recipients to prove their innocence [Calls for a royal commission into robodebt scheme; they're dreaming?].....Joel Fitzgibbon and the ALP's climate change policies as a primary reason for the election loss, another nonsense. Primarily franking credits, also changes to negative gearing, capital gains tax, a vague climate policy to be sure, and particularly Bill Shorten’s unpopularity.


The Collingwood Football Club has humiliated we supporters by treating their players with contempt. I’d have kept Adam Treloar, Jaidyn Stephenson and Tom Phillips, and traded (so to speak) Nathan Buckley? Treloar said Buckley told him "the players didn't want him"? What players, and did this include Nathan? Buckley denies this, as expected. This goes back a long way, to Heath Shaw, played out of position for 2 weeks due to injuries, made a couple of jarring mistakes, blamed (no surprise) by Nathan and shown the door, along with others. Buckley, a changed man for the one season, 2018, which I put down to some degree the input of now Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir. I'm biassed, but what's done is done. After the Geelong debacle there was a need for a cleanup, but surely with some class at the administration level; list manager, football manager, chief executive? I (indeed we?) pray to God, or whoever, to stop Eddie McGuire (who positively hates being proved wrong) from extending Nathan's contract beyond 2021. Come 2022, a new coach please.


Joe Biden declared that ‘‘this is the time to heal in America’’ on climate change, global trade, immigration and other issues. He has pledged that leadership will come ‘‘not only by the example of our power but by the power of our example’’. I’ll believe anything on a good day. As I’ve said many times I try (almost) desperately to ignore USA politics. True, I returned briefly for Nine News and the nightly Donald Trump crap. Back to World News and our ABC. Phew.  


A public awareness campaign launched by ASIO. Ensure your Facebook friends are true blue, not international spies?...Comedy: A booze ban in Bali?...The unsolved mystery: Why, come a hot day, they all flock to downtown Rye?...Dear Danny Andrews. Daylight saving starts too early and finishes too late...Comedy 2: JobSeekers and our (dreaming?) Social Services Minister Anne Ruston, encouraging Australians to ‘‘put their toe in the water and test their opportunity in the jobs market’’....Either - Waltzing Matilda or I Still Call Australia Home. One and Free?....Repeating: Victorian Supreme Court judge Stephen Charles: “This is not a corruption commission, it is designed to protect parliamentarians and senior public servants from investigation.”...Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant in The Undoing or Julia Stiles in series 3 of Riviera. Both with stunning scenery, rich people, dreadful dialogue, simplistic storyline and a fair share of bad acting; making 1997's Midsomer Murders look like classics?...The Four Corners program on our Attorney-General and Alan Tudge had nothing to do with bias. Those who think otherwise are in fact themselves biassed...Many of the contestants on the USA's Family Feud television show are so fat; cokes and hamburgers or the American way?...I always tape in advance to fast forward the commercials, this one sneaked in - Always Discreet, for sensitive bladders; noted, not quite, yet?...Smile. You might not be on Candid Camera, but positivity, throughout all these doughnuts, is reason enough...Hooroo...ello8.






Thursday 12th November, 2020. 8 months in isolation, physically, probably better than most my age, but mentally? I see the same person in the mirror, almost. The mind much as always, despite the odd memory lapses, helped and hindered by Google, enough evidence to suggest likely to worsen than maintain. Gardening a no go; can get down, getting up the problem. A slow walk with rest stops. The RSL (across the road) once a daily outing, one or two pots and company. Still not open, what's left? Need a reason, a raison d'être? Or simply a hangover after those 8 long months, who can tell? On balance, my balance, likely not a stress matter, more in line with running short of options, something I've always had 'on demand' the past 80 odd years. I'm told we all have to face the truth, sooner or later. Maybe so, but I find it hard to conclude that this truth includes - even me? Besides, I remain curious, a necessity. Such is life. [Stop press: Noise. After a few days out of isolation, the realisation of missing the serenity of isolation?]  


People are the problem, not spiders, snakes, floods, bushfires, good or bad luck. Systematic exploitation, clear as the nose on your face, practiced since time began, every country, every race, every religion. Who doesn't know best? Last Sunday was election day in Myanmar, the first since 2015 which resulted in a landslide victory for the National League for Democracy (NLD), and the second contested election since 1990, when the military annulled the NLD’s overwhelming victory. Electoral problems include discriminatory citizenship and other laws that bar most Rohingya Muslim voters and candidates; reservation of 25 percent of parliamentary seats for the military; criminal prosecutions of government critics; unequal party access to government media; and the lack of an independent election commission and complaints resolution mechanism. Not quite the USA, apparently proud patriotic Americans, half proud one way half the other? We wish, without much hope, the voters of Myanmar well. True, had they (we?) copped Donald Trump for another 4 years it would not be another Myanmar, but it was on that path. True, the republicans control the Senate so likely health care et al restrictions as they did with Barack Obama, in spite of a few credits to Barack. Now with Joe Biden the Americans get another 4 years to make amends, climate change in particular, add in China. Biden big on saving America, but (like Australia) not Julian Assange? Will Morrison change his tune after blindly following Trump? Joe Hockey, Murdoch's prostitutes, 3AW, Nine News, Greg Sheridan, Alexander Downer? I'm not holding my breath. Murdoch may well be an evil bastard but give him credit; he knows how to round up the sheep and sell newspapers. A look at the daily 'Your Say' double pages in his Herald Sun newspaper to see the evidence. Also true, a long bow between Myanmar and the US of A, true again not a great deal of difference between the democrats and the republicans, but there is a difference, for the better hopefully in this ongoing battle against authoritarianism. The blame Game, once a USA invention, is now ensconced in the Australian way. Churchill: "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”. The bottom line is unchanged; to put a spike in the wheel of the increase in authoritarianism, via a quaint form of nationalism, and now with the departure of Trump, and hopefully with it our Prime Minister's fault lines presenting a picture of real truth, we have some hope. Still, his 'leak' line direct to 3AW and Sky News and the Herald Sun remains. The bathwater to be emptied? A PM who cancels parliament when it suits him, sports rorts, the ABC, CSIRO, Auditor-General, all decreases in funding, university fees. A long list. Not forgetting a prime ministerial response on climate change, or to continue to bow in favour of his far right wing fellow coalition politicians? Ever onwards, or dreaming?


Rose coloured glasses, 1940's: We were overrun with Uncles and Aunties, ditto cousins. The social life of the northern suburbs coupled with the treat of a double decker bus (upstairs obviously) to the city, collar and tie, pie and sauce, Coles cafeteria. Toorak? Never knew it existed. The odd Sunday visits travelling by train, Merri to Preston, 4pm. Auntie Edna's or Auntie Elsie's, another in Thornbury.  A fantastic meal, later to a game of cards and catching the 10pm train home. The Aunties would talk unceasingly, football, harness racing (Gordon Rothacker), shopping specials, politics (Chifley), family gossip; the Uncles rarely. Uncle Tom slept till dinner time and back to bed after eating; in retrospect cunning? One Auntie was a runner in her youth, so they said. Difficult to believe, my Auntie, any of my Aunties as a runner? Aunties by today's standards overweight, despite being busy morning to night. Uncles drove trucks or Utes, even an upmarket one, said to have a holiday house in Rosebud. Others camping at Rosebud, tents, fishing, beers. Lovely people, barring cousins, practicing class distinction depending on their family's income, generally, a mix of the good and the smart-arses. The local sports scene (almost always a street full of kids, fake footballs, electricity poles as the wicket for tennis ball cricket. A local park for semi organised cricket matches. One girl ("pick up sides" cricket matches) was Marlene, built like a man. Two captains, elected, a choice of players for their team. Sadly, Marlene was picked ahead of me. Often, if uneven, they tossed up for me, causing a severe fracturing of my self worth and a decision to give Marlene a wide berth, naturally her social togetherness was with the better players. Hey, I was the best swimmer, but up against cricket and football nobody noticed? My first girlfriend went her way after I arrived at her birthday party without a necktie on, her father, a Collingwood trainer, noticeably disgusted. Second girlfriend, a gorgeous South Caulfield girl, whose parent's also disapproved; north of the Yarra? Arrived carrying the sporting globe, while waiting asked the father "Did you back a  winner?" Finito. Moving on...   


Newspapers: Scott Morrison, a master of diversion, asked directly whether Trump’s lies undermined democracy: “I work with the president of the United States as the Prime Minister of Australia – and I’ve enjoyed a very productive working relationship with the president.” Joe Hockey, now working as a lobbyist in Trump’s half-drained swamp, raised unfounded doubts about the count. The margin in the District of Columbia was “hard to believe”? George Christensen posted graphs depicting what he called a “Democrat vote fraud” claiming “dodgy extra votes - just like the President said!” Democracy is fragile, just as truth is. Donald Trump has no respect for either. Morrison surely must value at least the former, although he utterly failed to defend it this week. If Josh Frydenberg and Michael O’Brien had their way, Victoria would instead be in a vastly bigger mess than it began with – certainly not recording nil Covid-19 numbers. Their urgings for early re-openings were alarming, the consequences of which would be clearly catastrophic, as the US response illustrates. Meanwhile illogical bleatings, grandstanding for all the wrong reasons. Labor has demanded Prime Minister Scott Morrison bring government MPs spreading disinformation on the US election into line, saying they are undermining democracy. Anthony Albanese wants Mr Morrison to leverage his strong relationship with Donald Trump to tell him to respect the democratic processes after the President stepped up his unproven claims of voter fraud and threats of legal action. [Me? Still saddened by the loss of Billy Shorten, still waiting for Albanese to provide a clear alternative. Reduced to the stupid phrase - "It is what it is"?] 


Four Corners ABC took me back to the 1960's early 1970's in the Commonwealth public service, sexual relationships, gossip, inappropriate behaviour on tap, men AND women. The beauty of a typing pool, a gestapo head typist, the gorgeous stenographers. A dozen letters an hour stretched to 3 hours? We can concede the low life stuff in the Canberra situation, more high level, including the moving on of the female participant to protect the male in a position of power, otherwise, as common as night and day; all about propinquity, many workplaces. As for our highest lawyer in the land, a constant low dose of testosterone-lowering medicine perhaps? Orchids however to our ABC, the courage to show their teeth, weakened slightly by listing the A-G's shenanigans as a young tosser? The A-G threatens legal action; interesting?


From Letters: Had a president of a Third World country claimed on election night the result was ‘‘fraudulent and corrupt’’ it would have risked being invaded by the US to restore democracy…Martin Pakula announces handouts for children’s sports clubs. What about those involved in the arts? Choirs, orchestras, dance schools, drama, visual arts and crafts programs and the like? [Gabriel Byrne, actor: “Since 1945, the US has embarked on 75 different military interventions toppling legitimate regimes. And yet the big thing is that Russia interfered in the American election? The Americans have interfered in every election around the world.”]


Famous old hangouts, Westgarth, St Kilda, Carlton. Once familiarity, now separateness...We scream for our PM to go with Biden on climate change, but if he did might not we risk the re-emergence of Peter Dutton?...Great Barrier Reef. Surely time for Minister Sussan Ley to overturned the approvals made by Greg Hunt in his former Environment portfolio. The reef has little to no time left...What's the real story; Collingwood open to trading Adam Treloar, a 30 possessions a game player? Somebody knows, nobody talking?...Greta Thunberg "Chill Donald. Chill."...Sophia Loren: "The body changes, the mind does not."....“If you’re an actor, even a successful one, you’re still waiting for the phone to ring.” [Kevin Bacon]...Offer of a trip Rutherglen way, the Mighty Murray, beer, steaks, tents. A shag on a rock? Gave it a big miss; serenity...Keep yourselves nice...Hooroo...ello8.




Friday 6th November, 2020. Bloody Yanks. Good people once upon a time, particularly during WW2 and 25 years thereafter, safety under big brother's arms. God knows now. The  threat of another 4 years with this potentially dangerous man who does not believe in democracy? Previously not big on USA elections. Weird comes to mind. The lead up bad enough, so much front and centre on Donald Trump, vague stuff on Joe Biden, perhaps the Murdoch influence? When we did spot Joe he failed to inspire. He may well be a good man, but for personality, 'bland' springs to mind, his speech patterns often vague, the opposite of Trump, who hammers home his points, albeit sprinkled with fake news, and intimidating voters using fear tactics, turning voter against voter in the physical sense. The conclusion the voting is not so much for Biden, all about Trump, for or against? Election day itself, covered by our ABC, was painful, Stan Grant commenting, chipping in when others we're trying to have their say. A pain in the backside is Stan, tempered to some extent with Ellen Fanning co-hosting, when able to get a word in. Never a fan of Grant despite his intellectual quality, after he displaced my favourite newsreader, Mary Kostakidis. Peter Hartcher, The Age, a rare example of a piece other than his anti-China rhetoric: "In an election where the rest of the country was conducting itself with credit, the President himself betrayed the democratic principle, cried foul and attempted a preemptive power grab. He claimed he was winning the election. If he really believed so, he would have allowed the process to play itself out. Instead, he took to the podium mid-count to declare ‘‘this is a major fraud’’ and ‘‘frankly we did win this election’’, and announce his intention to contest the result in the Supreme Court. This is the behaviour of a tinpot Third World dictator in a First World country. It is the denial of a fair count, which is the denial of the people’s right to choose their leaders. It is a travesty of democracy." [Donald Trump has Fox News platforms, the full bench strength of the United States Department of Justice, unlimited lawyers, and a conservative Supreme Court to fall back on. Trump voters consistently sprout "He's done all he promised to do." No mention of economic downturn, racial crisis, global warming and COVID? It would appear Trump's consistent wail for 'A Biden Recession' was believed by 70 million, despite the evidence. Still, Trump's speech, particularly Today's, hammering again on corruption, irregularities, openness, transparency, fraud, was impressive to say the least. Legal and illegal votes nonsense perhaps, but quite the performance, sincerity on demand, accompanied with a tsunami of mistruths. The key question here, perhaps, hopefully not: Are we any different? And in the midst of this election paranoia a call from our "What about me" PM Scotty, sort of feeling left out, his announcement of two more COVID-19 vaccines, 50 million to stage 3 have been secured? Until the vaccine arrives, if ever, WE are the vaccine.]


Paul Keating, a month or so back, but don't expect our government to give him credit - slamming the Reserve Bank for “indolence”, accusing it of failing to do enough to support employment in Australia and calling on it to provide “mountainous sums” of money needed to finance government economic stimulus. He suggested the RBA could break with economic orthodoxy by directly buying government bonds from Treasury to fund spending needed to dig the country out of the current coronavirus-induced recession. Directly financing government spending in this way had been ruled out by the RBA governor, Philip Lowe, who said in July it was “not an option under consideration in Australia”. Keating said the bank’s governing legislation gave it two objectives, price stability and full employment, and the first had been achieved because “one would need a microscope to find any serious impetus to inflation”. Tuesday's rate cut (01%) - The central bank confirmed it would buy $100 billion worth of Australian Government bonds over the next six months, likely more if required, to lift inflation and encourage lending and investment — a measure known as quantitative easing. The bond purchases will be bought on the secondary market and split, with 80 per cent to be federal government bonds and 20 per cent state government bonds. Thanks for that Pauly, but don't hold your breath for compliments. [Quantitive easing means printing more money, which, by extension, reduces the value of our Australian dollar. At 01% a $1000 investment gets you $1 a year, theoretically.] Self funded retirees might have to spend a little, or for some apply for the pension, or, for others, spend a dollar or two? Cutting interest rates to apparently stimulate the economy, other than bumping up the housing market, has been unsuccessful for years now. A wing and a prayer?]


The Guardian poll, 81% in favour of a federal ICAC? An old public service trick; a problem file marked re-submit for (say) 3 months. Forgotten, returned as marked. If no screams re-submit again? The Commonwealth anti-corruption Commission, promised at the last election, a pseudo put up, to be rejected, eventually, to be promised again, after the 2022 election? [To quote retired Victorian Supreme Court judge Stephen Charles: “This is not a corruption commission, it is designed to protect parliamentarians and senior public servants from investigation.” To quote, barrister Geoffrey Watson: “This is a sham - it is designed to cover up corruption, not expose it” “The absence of retrospectivity means Australians will never find out what really happened with the Great Barrier Reef fund, with the so-called sports-rorts program, or with the Murray-Darling water buybacks.”]


Japan, China and South Korea, countries who consume 90 per cent of our natural gas exports and 70 per cent of our thermal coal, have issued stronger climate change pledges than we have. A Biden victory in America would really up the ante. It’s impossible to reconcile a ‘‘gas-fired recovery’’ with the commission’s statement that ‘‘extreme weather has already become more frequent and intense because of climate change’’.


An Actor Prepares? Amazing how the memory can play tricks. It must be 30, 40 years or more since this one popped in recently, including both names, which I doubt I'd recall if offered a Powerball first prize. Falconer Street central school, North Fitzroy years 7 and 8, 1948/49. School Balls, where we were allotted a female partner and practiced our dance for some months. 1948 partnered with Lorraine Degenhardt, mysterious, generally thought of at number 10 on a 1-10 scale where 10 is perfection and I rated at the lower level of 1 above zero on a good day. Weeks of practice and for the whole episode including the big night I did not offer one word, nor did Lorraine. I'll never know, but naturally assumed it was below her to speak to me. What's certain, if this loveliness of vision had have spoken to me, I would more likely have had a nervous breakdown. Come 1949, saved by the bell, partnered with Geraldine McEwan, a feisty, slightly overweight, personable, seemingly normal lady who talked till the cows came home. I returned the favour, albeit mainly as a listener with guarded answers, concentrating not only on my pathetic dancing technique but also not wanting to interrupt her stories. Females, girls, who were they? [One wonders what other memories are hidden so deep. Better not to know?] [Lorraine eventually married a foreign chap, Italian, unheard of back then, causing quite a stir, and thus (potentially?) breaking my heart. I decided the foreign chap must have cast a Svengali spell on her?]


Joe Hockey, electoral fraud, brown nosing to Donald. So much for his idea of democracy, not that we were unaware...Our Prime Minister ("I have great confidence in democracy in the United States") up and about on open borders for Queensland's Annastacia Palaszczuk but not a word about Gladys Berejiklian's NSW border closures with Victoria?...To Manly, after 23rd November?...The jury is out on the world's number 1 nutcase. Some say Donald Trump, others China's Xi Jinping, Russia's Vladimir Putin, North Korea's Kim Jong-un. I tend towards Rupert Murdoch...Collingwood coach 2022? I’m for Ross Lyon, may the Magpies ever flourish...A big fan of Patricia Karvelas, a star...Barnaby Joyce, Bridget McKenzie, Matt Canavan, Michael McCormack and David Littleproud, caring for communities, or themselves?...Health Minister Greg Hunt ‘‘We’re on track to reach the Prime Minister’s goal’’ of having open internal borders in the country before Christmas." He's a wag, a dangerous wag...I wonder what those tennis players and horse racing owners do with their cups. A trophy room? I received a stylish dish once, my name on it, similar to a beer jug. I ditched it, no trophy room?...Jet skis are back, that melodious humming sound, all day long, Cup Day; bastards...Based on no evidence, other than instinct and general gossip within the industry, I'm thinking actor Craig McLachlan, despite previously a dose of narcissism, has fallen fowl of the feminist mafia...“True happiness consists not in a multitude of friends, But in their worth and choice. [Ben Johnson.] ...Hooroo...ello8.



The Age cartoon by Cathy Wilcox, Melbourne Cup day. The nail on the head, our Scotty saying “Look team; we’ve paid 10 times too much for land, bought water from friends for double the cost, done huge favours for fossil fuel donors, ruined lives with bogus debts, bribed electorates with sports grants, fabricated documents to smear opponents, fair enough, BUT…buying expensive watches for employees is where I draw the line.”


Sunday, 1st November, 2020. Comforting, the fact that Andrews and the health team managed this COVID despite deliberate undermining from the federal government and mainstream media. Obviously we still have the non compliant, the ratbags and the Murdoch clan, thus a rocky road in coming months and the real threat of another wave. Then the tongue in cheek Prime Minister, Schomo, congratulating Victorians (but not the Premier) for their strength, resilience and sacrifice, for the greater good. Hypocrisy reigns. Reprint, from May 2020: If you believe in the science of climate change why vote Liberal? If you believe in the arts 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 believe in the future of our ABC, and previous funding cuts, ditto the CSIRO, vote Liberal. If you believe in Centrelink offices cutbacks (and Robodebt, including suicides) vote Liberal. As for the plight of the refugees, 7 years now, on Manus, Nauru and that Preston hotel (confiscating mobile phones?) I'll leave this to your conscience. [Add in The Uluru Statement (from the heart) a rallying call for Australians to come together. Learn why a Voice to Parliament is a fair and practical reform. From a Liberal government, never? This present government has no respect for non Liberal voters. Show them the exit door, meantime, patience.] [Good old Scotty, predictable as ever, his outrage at Christine Holgate’s Cartier watches episode, yet another perfect example. Forget Bridget McKenzie’s sports rorts, Angus Taylor’s attack on Clover Moore and consistent bias in favour of Coalition seats?]


Corruption, money and power. 1/ Always with us, a question of degree. You wonder why people on big big salaries want more, the latest V/Line chief executive James Pinder pocketing monthly payments from cleaning company Transclean, along with $320,000 in funds he spent on his $2.5 million home. Metro Trains operational fleet manager Peter Bollas. A plan to be paid $50,000 in bonuses by Transclean, in addition to payments of between $8000 and $10,000 they received from Transclean over 3-4 years. Thousands in unemployment, and these bunnies decide they want more? Swanning it up, at the races, the Formula One races and the casino. 2/ Jon Faine: "If a lawyer was making sly payments to a witness to ‘‘assist’’ them in the giving of evidence, they would be struck off. If a police officer provides ‘‘comfort payments’’, they get a promotion. When exposed, it is dismissed as ‘‘police methodology’’. Laughable. In the same way that protecting democracy demands a properly resourced truly independent and unfettered national anti-corruption body, it is unarguable we need a comprehensive overhaul of police culture in Victoria. While police themselves remain the gatekeepers of their own accountability, it is never going to be fixed. Who will police the police?" [Political and social equality? Hah. More comedy.]


Asking the people in the streets may well fill in space (television and radio) but sadly it fails to inspire. On the Donald Trump issue we’re left with confusion as to the intelligence of the American man/woman in those streets. Comparing these with Australians in similar streets, the Queensland state election, there’s the conclusion, sadly, of equally the same number of bunnies? No doubt the newsmakers pick and choose, but if you're thinking those yanks are thick in the head, unlike we Aussies, I suggest you think again? 


Diversions: Recently on the lookout for something to spark up the COVID loneliness. No, not Beyond Blue, not yet anyway. Mostly YouTube and if severely desperate Family Feud. A walk takes 15 minutes to prepare, 15 to recover, a good sleep 6 hours, leaving 17 hours of free time. Ever the search for originality. Actors can be boring farts at the best of times, no disrespect to their acting. A thousand styles, variations, on YouTube. I looked at Margaret Pomerantz interviewing Nicole Kidman, a promo for her next outing; her special relationship with directors; yawn. Caught Jack Thompson, interviewed by David Wenham. Slightly better at 45 minutes with pieces from the classic 1975 movie 'Sunday too far Away'. One insight via Jack via Donald Pleasance (Feed the camera), whatever that means? Wenham himself on acting - behaving truthfully in an imaginary situation? They do like to get away with themselves. On stage you play another character. On film and television you play yourself. Pulled out my Casablanca tape, Humphrey playing Humphrey; much better. [On the other hand they've had it tough, and still a long way to recovery, so we understand.] 


Dr Sarah Marzouk: In Victoria, the State Government funds 178 public residential aged care services, mostly in rural and regional Victoria, to allow older Victorians to receive care in their local communities. These state-run Aged Care facilities operate under Victoria’s Safe Patient Care Act 2015, which enshrines in law a minimum numbers of nurses and midwives to care for patients. In Victoria, the Commonwealth funds and regulates 623 residential aged care services in the state, which are outsourced to private profit and not-for-profit agencies. These Commonwealth-run Aged Care facilities do not have any such quotas regarding patient to nursing ratios, and are often understaffed with low paid and poorly trained workers. In Commonwealth-run Victorian Aged Care facilities, there were 653 tragic deaths from COVID-19. In State-run Victorian Aged Care facilities, there have been no deaths from COVID-19. A special report into Aged Care and COVID-19 response, released this month, noted the Federal Department of Health announced that Aged Care staff would be required to wear surgical masks five weeks AFTER the WHO had advised that all health care workers should wear masks, and four weeks AFTER community transmission numbers in Victoria had begun to rise. It was due to the ongoing incompetent response to COVID in these private facilities, as the second wave developed, that the Victorian Government instructed State Health Services to assume operation of the worst affected of them. [Federal Department of Health information shows 2865 aged-care providers asked for personal protective equipment from the National Medical Stockpile, but just 1324 of those requests were approved. Health Services Union president Gerard Hayes said the number of rejected requests showed a government that only acted when problems ‘‘become acute’’. ‘‘The government has approached this challenge in a terribly reactive manner,’’ he said.]


Why I write; Georgie Orwell: “I do not think one can assess a writer's motives without knowing something of his early development. His subject matter will be determined by the age he lives in... but before he ever begins to write he will have acquired an emotional attitude from which he will never completely escape. It is his job, no doubt, to discipline his temperament and avoid getting stuck at some immature stage, in some perverse mood; but if he escapes from his early influences altogether, he will have killed his impulse to write.” [Ditto].


Peta Credlin, Skye News, makes Michaelia Cash look almost angelic...Hoping those abandoned workers on temporary visas have their heads above water...The Djab Wurrung people have made clear they do not object to the road the Victorian government says necessitates the destruction of hundreds of sacred trees. They ask for a genuine consultation and respect for Country. Leave this one to the said consultation with Victoria’s Cultural Heritage Management Plan, likely, sadly, to the 'too hard basket'?...Queensland's Annastacia Palaszczuk voted in with an increased majority, Princess Pauline's lot taking a dive. Annastacia may well have helped us with the AFL season, but nothing else. Still, congrats...Looking forward to 2054 and the arrival of our French-designed submarines...Implying without evidence? One wonders if those into the mystery of the inquiry into hotel quarantine believe all would have been solved with the use of ADF personnel?...A turbulent year, re teachers and school kids, poor darlings...Hillsong channel 183 foxtel, no thanks...What with the politicising by the terrible three, Joss, Gregory and Scotty we give a big (though rare) tick to Anthony Albanese for staying clear of the biassed nonsense...Republicans, the sensible ones - get rid of Trump, put up with Biden for 4 years but maintain control of the  Senate, as they did with Obama?...Outsourcing can only succeed if there’s enough in-house expertise supported by administrative authority to set up and manage the external contracts?..."I have seen corruption boil and bubble, Till it o'verrun the stew" [Shakespeare]...Number 4 for the Melbourne Cup, Master of Reality, keeping in mind my last winner Evening Peal, 1956...Mickey Mantle once said, “If I knew I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself.”...Bond. James Bond, hooroo...ello8.




Monday, 26th October 2020. A shade over cautious was our Danny (Andrews), Sunday's outbreak in Melbourne’s north. True, 2 more days no big deal after all these months, but again opening himself up to the wolves, money money, and our loveably triptych in Scotty, Joss and the ambitious Gregory Hunt. Time to play 5 star stud poker, "all in" - tomorrow. This type of localised outbreak is to be expected, a certainty to happen again, despite today's zero cases. Nevertheless, the troops and the greedy are getting ultra anxious, will no doubt blame Danny anyway, albeit our biggest danger has come (and will continue to come) compliments of Murdoch's prostitutes and Costello's 9 News group. It's one thing to be a faithful follower of the Liberal Party principles (I'm alright Jack?) but another altogether in agreeing to the current elected crop being pima facie followers (aka brown noses) of Rupert Murdoch's rum lot and by extension the Donald Trump lolly lickers. One wonders how the honest followers justify this, the alternative being my own naivety? Katharine Murphy The Guardian "A quick hint for the prime minister: ensuring our institutions work in the interests of voters, ensuring public servants actually serve the public, ensuring there are consequences when powerful people abuse their power and cross lines that should not be crossed, is not a fringe issue. "It is one of the most important issues there is. And I reckon voters know it.” [Not sure they do? My dream? An anti-corruption body with teeth?]


The Chaser Weakly: Seriously, I want to just say that I am shocked, dismayed, that our casinos appear to have been used for money laundering. If it had even occurred to me for one instant that the organised crime bosses from China who we’d organised to come to our casinos were not just there for the free drink vouchers, but instead were using us to launder the proceeds of crime, we would have paid closer attention to the anti-money laundering laws that we didn’t follow. When did that become a thing? Anyway, we commit to looking contrite. And rest assured, as soon as I get the exact wording from our largest shareholder, (on his boat?) I’ll be issuing a longer statement - he has nothing to do with our operations? 


Council elections and the influx of the so-called ‘community minded’ people. Seven to choose from here in downtown Rye, political connections and independents. The incumbent recalled from 4 years ago, his name that is. The odd yelp from one or two others; letter box. It’s not St Kilda down here. The incumbent at 7, wax the rest after discarding political connections, unless I hear more. Posted. Sorry.


The Centre for Public Integrity released an analysis of the funding of 11 crucial government bodies, including the Australian National Audit Office, the office of the Australian information commissioner, the Australian Human Rights Commission, the commonwealth ombudsman, the CSIRO and the ABC. Anti-corruption campaigner and Centre for Public Integrity director, Geoffrey Watson SC, said there was a clear intent behind the cuts: punishing agencies that cause trouble or discomfort for government. “Unfortunately, the pattern is clear. They’re attacking those who have been holding the government to account. I’ve never seen any government that is so eager to conceal its activities or at least to keep them from scrutiny." [You'd better believe it.]


From The Aim Network: Re: Danny Andrews. "Those of you who have chooks will be familiar with the ‘pecked chook’ syndrome, where one chook is set upon by the others, who will peck it to death unless it is separated from them. They attack the head of the hapless chook until it bleeds. The blood evokes more frenzied pecking, and on it goes until the poor animal is dead. The lynch mob display such behaviour." [Add in 'our' ABC?]


From my vault, 1946: 1/ There was a strong rumour going about (apparently this same rumour cropped up every couple of years?) - Harold Matthews the chemist was paying sixpence per leech, supposedly good for sucking poisoned blood from an infected area of the skin. Merri Creek was not short of leeches. Caught a couple of them at times, difficult to pull off the leg. Always talking of catching dozens; make a fortune? 2/ Saturday nights were the best when Collingwood won. The Northcote Bowling Club was packed, everyone happy, all wanting the herald and the sporting globe at tuppence a piece, almost all of them giving up sixpence; “keep the change boy.” Tuppence per person, thank you kindly. Made a fortune, almost. If Collingwood lost, meagre sales, herald only. 3/ Fame? Alfred Crescent state school North Fitzroy, a huge craze for cherry bobs. Some 20 holes dug, the owners of the holes would call out (bookmaker fashion) “Who’ll come in my lucky barney hole, 4 and the old girl back.” You throw your cherry bob (from about 10 yards) into the hole you’d get 5 in return - lose if you missed. I owned a hole, slightly smaller, better odds, 5 back, resulting in a horde of cherry bobs. Bookie Bob? The craze died come Winter, ditched them. A return to a state of nothingness.


Senate estimates Wednesday, Sarah Hanson-Young. More than 80% of the $250m promised by the Morrison government in June to the Covid-hit arts and culture sector has not yet been handed out? Most of us who follow politics, particularly the arts and the tortuous Chinese Burn being forced on our ABC, know what's to follow here. Sometimes those with a bigger name ram up the point. From Wesley Enoch, The Saturday Paper: "Back in April, more than $340 million worth of work had dried up in the music industry alone, and more than 50 per cent of arts organisations were not operating, with many facing the threat of permanent closure and insolvency. And yet, due to the casualised nature of contract-to-contract working patterns, so many artists and arts workers found it difficult to access JobKeeper. The federal government launched its long-overdue Covid-19 package in June, announcing a series of loans and grants that would be rolled out over the next 12 months – “$250 million JobMaker plan to restart Australia’s creative economy”. The package was met with relief and gratitude. Today, we are still waiting to see the money. Months on from the announcement, only a fifth of the funding has been handed out by the government. All of this has gone to film and TV production; nothing has been given to live performance". “Our JobMaker plan is getting their show back on the road, to get their workers back in jobs,” said PM Scotty. “We’re delivering the capital these businesses need so they can start working again. These measures will support a broad range of jobs from performers, artists and roadies, to front of house staff and many who work behind the scenes, while assisting related parts of the broader economy, such as tourism and hospitality. Many in the sector will find a new way to operate while the current social distancing measures remain in place and while that won’t be easy, I know there’s a strong desire among all Australians to see the return of gigs, performances and events.” I fear a future of conservative programming and decision-making, where the number of artists being employed shrinks – live music being replaced by DJs or playlists, theatre companies scheduling fewer shows with large casts, dance companies reducing ensembles and contract lengths. I also predict the shows and publications that do get selected will be well-worn hits, rather than new works or commissions, works developed by reliable names and brands rather than new talents. Notions of celebrity or internationally credentialed offerings will be put before local talents. [Sad stuff indeed]. From Tony Wright, The Age: "Long ago, I graduated from hitchhiking to footy grounds, discovering that art extended beyond footy and that a life lived without exposure to theatre and music and dance was barely a life at all. Great performances went beyond entertainment and offered revelation. Comedy? Literature? Stage productions? Film? Music? Dance? And yes, tennis, football of all permutations, Grand Prix racing, horse racing carnivals, food from every culture. On and on, this great city delivered. The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance has totted up figures showing that in purely economic terms, the performing arts, music, film, TV, literature and the visual arts together contributed $42.7 billion a year to the Australian economy, or 2.4 per cent of gross domestic product. Yet from February 1 this year, the Morrison government chose to abolish the Department of Communications and the Arts, merging its functions into a new Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications. The word ‘‘arts’’ was tossed to the wind. This weekend, we may be thankful there is a game to watch, even if it is on TV, and even if there is no ground in the entire state where we could attend. But in the broader business of cheering up and inspiring and revealing truth, we await the return of the real healers – the artists, too many of them abandoned to starve in their garrets, metaphorically or otherwise. [There's no quick fix, and as you can see from Scotty's waffle, we do not hold our breath.]


Danny Boy - From glen to glen, and down the mountain side...The cartier watches outrage (appalled?) by our PM; a diversion, scapegoat from ICAC...Watching Riviera season 3 on demand. It gives me dreams of how to spend my $20 million if I win Powerball. “You plan, right at the brink of doom, On carving marbles, heedless of your tomb, You play at building houses” [Horace]...Last Thursday] 1.13 million deaths from COVID-19 while here in Victoria  business leaders demanded workplaces be opened up so they can get back to making money?...One Margaret McKenna, commenting on the hotel quarantine inquiry, opines that ‘‘no doubt the Australian Defence Force would have done a better job’’ Some people seem to enjoy talking through their backsides?...“Never separate the working man from his beer and cigarettes” said the great Ben Chifley. Kevvy Rudd changed that, and with it my vote for Labor...Laura Tingle: “And we grieve the loss of so many of our colleagues to ideological bastardry. Hope you are feeling smug @ScottMorrisonMP.”..Everyone's going forward, apart from those going backwards?...Black & white and red allover: Bushfires are increasing, the fire season is getting longer and climate change is contributing....OMG. Employment Minister Michaelia Cash has the gall (bold and impudent behaviour) to criticise Dan Andrews. Now I've heard everything...I'll continue to mention - the bushfires and global warming..."Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country," [Mayor Marion Barry, Washington, DC]...Only in Dublin? Chap picked up a can of fly killer, asking the shopkeeper "Is this any good for wasps?" "No" he said "it kills them."... Hooroo...ello8.







Tuesday, 20th October 2020. Watching episode 1 of Riviera, Julia Stiles, set in Venice this episode, super rich crooks from Argentina, No Roxane Duran sadly. A visual stunner, beautiful people. Why go to Venice, all here in front of me, compliments of my cataract surgery? Checked out Venice for COVID-19; 10,925 cases as against our 2, October 17th. Safe in my bubble, with a haircut, thanks Danny. Why are they all into Danny Andrews? I trust him way way more than I trust any Murdoch (and The Age) interpretations. Recall last June at 723 cases (UK then at 763). Saturday here 1 case, today 1 case, UK 15,650, France 25,000? Add in Chris Ullmann, a Channel 9 stooge, The Age, Sky News. Ullmann followed up with ‘‘The Morrison government has had a, mostly good, pandemic’’ and yet, nothing on what has occurred in aged care, particularly Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck, and his appearance before the royal commission? Or the bushfires? Further, Ullmann followed up on 9 News telling us if Scotty called an election now he would bolt in. Yeah, so call it? Would they have preferred Michael O’Brien, Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, or Scotty's snake oil salesman seldom seen efforts? It doesn't end there; some of my friends are now sadly anti-Andrews, personal (selfish?) bias on show. Faults obviously, accepted previously, moving on. The Liberal Party has tried to undermine public trust. Morrison, likely calling the shots, along with Victorians Josh Frydenberg and Greg Hunt, cynically politicalising the public health strategy (destabilising) for dealing with COVID at Andrews’ expense. So much for the welfare of Victorians. And if Dan had accepted their nonsense, opened up earlier, another outbreak, who would have been blamed? Alan Tudge, previously Robodebt, and Josh Frydenberg have taken to Twitter, to express their concern over the mental health of Victorians? Then this - Alan Tudge has blamed the Victorian government for not restricting interstate travel, thereby allowing a group of international travellers to breach the established “travel bubble”. Premier Daniel Andrews hit back that he never agreed to the bubble. Political low life! [The difference with a haircut; eureka! While waiting I read the Herald Sun, first time since last June. Ratbags United?] Moving on... 


True to form; consistency? The federal government has spent less than half what it planned to help older Australians into work and more than 40% of those receiving wage subsidies were out of a job within three months. Only $254m has been spent to help 51,190 mature-age people into work, despite the Coalition promising in 2014 to spend $520m to help up to 32,000 older Australians find a job every year. Of the 51,190 people helped by the Restart wage subsidy, just 30,379 remained in employment for 13 weeks or more, with less than half (21,966) lasting more than six months. The figures, provided by the employment department, cast new light on the effectiveness of the program cited by the Morrison government as evidence it is already helping older workers. Promises promises.


NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian agreed to meet two publicans with criminal histories at the behest of her secret partner Daryl Maguire after her own racing and gaming ministers allegedly refused. Propinquity, always so tempting between boys and girls, all ages, and Premiers? ‘We’re all human,’’ said Scott Morrison in defence of Gladys. Barnaby Joyce would approve? [ICAC: “Investigating allegations that, from 2012 to August 2018, Maguire engaged in conduct that involved a breach of public trust by using his public office, involving his duties as a member of the NSW Parliament, and the use of parliamentary resources, to improperly gain a benefit for himself and/or entities close to him.” These entities include a company, G8way International, which ICAC says Maguire “effectively controlled”. Under questioning  Maguire admitted he had indeed used parliamentary staff and resources to pursue his private business interests, effectively turning his Parliament House office into an office for G8way International.] For information only, no disrespect intended for Gladys. We shudder to think if our Premier had a like involvement?


POLITICS? Parliamentary hearings examining the proposed scheme allowing the foreign affairs minister to review and potentially cancel a range of international agreements reached by state and territory governments, councils and public universities. The government says the new review power is needed to ensure arrangements entered into with foreign governments “do not adversely affect Australia’s foreign relations and are not inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy”. Peter Dutton is in there somewhere. Oh so vague?


The Chaser Weakly, edited: "Kevin Rudd has been stirring up trouble and drumming up support for a Royal Commission into Murdoch-owned media in Australia. Unfortunately, it turns out that Kevin's private life is even more boring than the videos he makes for Twitter pretending he's still relevant. Now I know what you're thinking: people will see right through it. Everyone knows that we're simply a well-funded propaganda operation masquerading as a news organisation. We'll just point out that it's the thin end of the wedge. If you attack a small, independent media organisation like News Corp, which only owns 70% of the nation's press, then no media is safe. Next they'll start attacking other minnows, like Alan Jones and Peta Credlin. Who knows, Rohan Dean might end up without a job. How would Australia cope without Rohan Dean's contribution to the political debate? So instead, we're going to set up a counter-petition where we ask the Government to get Kevin Rudd a social life, so that he stops his campaign against us. His attack on us is an attack on the very foundations on the freedom of bigotry, which is the cornerstone of the Australian way of life. It must be stopped." [Enough said].


Since last month more than 500 men, women and children have been placed onto final departure bridging E visas and told to leave Australia. When Covid-19 restrictions ease in Victoria some 160 more people will be added to the list. They would be given work rights for the first time, but beyond that would lose all government support. They would be evicted from their housing and their income supplements ended. They will, however, gain access to Medicare. At the same time, this group loses specific funding for complex health needs and the income support – 60 per cent of the relevant Centrelink payment – that would allow them to more readily access appointments. Since August, Home Affairs has been quietly terminating lease agreements with private landlords. If refugees wish to remain in their houses, they must pay the rent themselves and have the landlord accept their tenancy. Final departure arrangements do not apply to the 250 people brought to Australia under the now repealed medevac law: they are being held in hotels in Brisbane and Melbourne.


From Letters, The Saturday Paper: “The ongoing and unnecessary torture of refugees claiming asylum by the Morrison government is an obscenity in any democracy and a stain on the human decency of Australia. The government claims it is seeking solutions to provide farmers with labour to pick crops in regional Australia. There are thousands of people in Australia on temporary visas who have been recognised as genuine refugees who would gladly work in open fields. It has been eight years since the Australian government condemned these people to endless prison sentences. Covid-19 is your excuse, Minister Dutton – set them free!”


Peta Credlin has been on a crusade to bring Daniel Andrews undone. Her questions and statements at the daily press conferences full of innuendo and supposition, very accusatory towards him to the point of absolute rudeness. She implies non belief in his answers to her well-resourced and detailed suppositions which she presents as questions. One wonders why the lady doesn't get stuck into Peter Dutton, the Berejiklian crowd, Ruby Princess, Sportsrort, on their phone records? Also Scotty's phone records? 


Dreaming? A federal ICAC with teeth, real-time donations reform and fixed election dates. Do we need a national integrity commission? [The federal government is preparing to unveil legislation for a federal ICAC with design features that guarantees it will be rejected by Labor and the cross bench - as toothless]...The Australian National Audit Office has put the government under pressure this year, with damning findings about the “sports rorts” program and on the purchase of hugely overpriced land around the new Western Sydney airport. Reply? The  budget slashed Audit Office funding by $14 million?...Greg Hunt is not a qualified epidemiologist, but like this and almost every other area, he's a genius?...5 kilometres to 25; should be 125, within metropolitan Melbourne?...PITA Peter Hartcher tells us to take a bow for democracy, sighting compulsory voting as a big plus? Voluntary better for mine...Is it the AFL footballers who are attracted to blondes or vice versa?...Let's hear it for that fantastic COVID safe phone ap...Wow, at last, a rare tick to David Speers, Insiders ABC, allowing Tanya Plibersek's answers (almost) without interrupting....Macca ABC Sunday mornings: "I read The Australian, where you get all points of view, ALL points of view" [What?]...Will the English judge rule for Julian Assange; yes, and Collingwood will win the 2021-23 premierships...Jobs, housing, education, health, services and social security. Always worthy of a mention...The Darwin Award winner 2020: "When his 38 calibre revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, California would-be robber James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder. He peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked."... Keep yourselves nice...Hooroo...ello8.






Wednesday, 14th October 2020. A Prime Minister's Grain of Salt? ‘‘There will be voices that will try and set young people against older people, women against men, jobs in one sector versus jobs in another sector. They are the voices of division that will undermine the future economic prosperity of all Australians.’’ Credit where it's due, in a nice (maudlin?) way our Scotty tells us those who disagree (with him) are a risk to our country. I'm surprised he said anything. Funnier still came from our Social Services Minister Anne Ruston: ‘‘Every single measure in the budget is available for women. I mean, you know, women take advantage of the subsidies for young people. You know, women can take advantage of the extra university places, young people can take, you know, advantage – sorry, women can take advantage of, you know, driving on the new infrastructure and roads. So to suggest the budget doesn’t focus on women, I think, is wrong.’’ Not to be left out, Josh Frydenburg: "Governments, as Sir Robert Menzies would say, do not have any money of their own: it’s the people’s money." The key, Josh mate, is the difference between the people as a whole and the people as entitled? Albanese? Sidelined the past six months through Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s elevation to effective crisis manager-in-chief and by the public prominence given to Labor Premiers through the new national cabinet. Scotty's attitude, on mention of Albo's name, verging on the personal, increasing in the coming months? And last, a voice from the wilderness, Albo's reply: ‘‘Labor created Medicare – universal health care. We created the NDIS – universal support for people with disability. We created superannuation – universal retirement savings for workers. And – if I’m prime minister – I will make quality, affordable childcare universal.’’ [Never mind the past mate, now is the hour, or next year.] Ken Henry on Albo's budget reply: ‘‘I think it’s perfectly sensible, politically and economically. Because the government can’t come back and say, ‘That’s an outrageous cost to the budget.’ With debt and deficit gone [as a Coalition criticism], what’s the argument against better childcare? Albo again - ‘‘The fact is, if we’re going to have sustainable, higher rates of workforce participation, especially for families with children, the government is going to have to step in with more childcare.’’ More importantly, much more (are you listening Albo?) the obvious idealogical decisions by the budget on zilch funding to universities, the arts, the audit office, Indigenous health, the ABC and women’s programs.


Peter Dutton? Defence Legislation Amendment (Enhancement of Defence Force Response to Emergencies) Bill – allowing the minister for Defence to call up military reservists for “emergencies” with no cabinet consultation required? Reserves can be called out now, as with the bushfires and Covid-19 management; however, the new legislation to remove cabinet and parliamentary oversight and normalises the role of the military in civilian life Also delivers immunity from civil and criminal liability for military acts done in “good faith”; authorisation of the use of foreign military and police forces, again with legal immunities; a vague definition of the term “emergency”; no time limit on the deployment of forces, whether domestic or foreign; and nothing to prevent the use of military force in the conduct of disaster relief. [This one didn't get through, but enough to know how their minds work. Vigilance Scotty Morrison, watch this bloke?]


Went to the newsagents this morning, bought my 10 weekly powerball. The proof is in the pudding; gambling is a mugs game. Indeed, they bet to lose, not to win. Nine of every ten punters who experience the big win try for more? I rest my case. [Based on some 20 years in my teens, twenties arriving home Saturday evenings with empty kicks]. On a decidedly smaller scale a side issue did not occur to me until it occurred, which is  right now. Powerball. The question of - why? My 10 weekly powerball at $75 usually results in a small dividend of under $20 so approximately $6 a week to maintain the dream? No matter the first prize at $4 million or $40 million; set up for life. True, money was never an issue personally, more letting the dream run its course. Also true, odds of a first prize around once in every 100 thousand years, but whose to say it's not my turn during my current time on planet Earth; even sillier? This once carried a stupid assumption along the lines of a 6 star in London or Paris, attended by Japanese handlers? Thus the thought, too late mate; you're eighty bloody four? I have until December 24th to come to a clinical decision? Mind you, I'm half way balmy now so I may not last that long. [Respite? - Tinder Discreet. Take my mind off politics? "Must we not pay a debt to pleasure too?" Wilmot.]


From The Chaser Weakly: Tax cuts - a permanent, lasting, structural change to Australia's revenue base that will unleash the entreprenurial spirit in Australia's working class, especially those earning over $180k per year. Tax cuts (rich) - giving money to people earning over $180k per year incentivises them to work harder. JobSeeker cuts (poor) - giving money to people earning under $48k per year incentivises them to work less. Universities - it is important to create workers who are workforce-ready. Universities incentivise critical thinking which is the last thing you want in a workplace. Funding must therefore, unfortunately, be slashed. The ABC - see Universities. Fully funded chaplaincy program - fully costed, responsible politically-savvy targeted program by the Liberal Party to appeal to its base. Fully funded childcare - uncosted, reckless politically-driven targeted stunt by the Labor Party to appeal to its base.


Intermingling; the conscious, subconscious: 1/ Last year, almost half of all people receiving unemployment payments were over 45, with the two largest single groups being women over 60 and women aged 45 to 49. They are also among the fastest-growing groups in the homeless population. 2/ Fruit pickers? $17.4 million starting from this financial year to pay “relocation assistance” to all job seekers in employment services “and to those who temporarily relocate to take up agriculture work”. Welfare payments are suspended or terminated for people who refuse a reasonable job offer. If farmers use the wage subsidy program to even marginally boost pay and conditions, in tandem with new assistance encouraging young people to move for work, job network providers and the government will be more easily able to remove people from welfare. 3/ Beyond aged care, there is little in the budget directed towards supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, migrants and refugees. In this year, almost as much money – $15.5 million – was put in the budget to support “delivery of Covid-19 safe Australia Day 2021 events” as was provided for Indigenous-specific health programs, $16.7 million. 4/ Only one state-run nursing home in the country received explicit funding in the budget: Strathalbyn and District Aged Care Facility in South Australia, which received $700,000 this financial year to expand the number of aged-care places. The facility is in the electorate of Mayo, held by MP Rebekha Sharkie of Centre Alliance, the party whose vote secured the passage of the government’s controversial higher education reforms. [The budget allocates scarcely more than $200 million to nursing homes, although much of this money is administrative. It will be drip-fed over three years, with no increase in subsidies for elderly residents. There is nothing for worker conditions or pay in an industry that’s one of the most dangerously low paid and insecure. Not even funding to increase the number of staff in homes.] 5/ Acting Immigration minister Alan Tudge wants to attract “super-talented” people to immigrate. Being rich they will also make good political donations to the party that allowed them to circumvent the restrictions that keep 27,000 Australians stuck in foreign lands. 6/ Finally, on climate policy. The evidence is clear: ambition isn’t dictated by size, density, population or wealth. It comes down to one factor – how willing a government is to accept the rapid action needed to avert catastrophic climate change. For nearly a decade, Australia’s government has been allergic to this fact. The 2020 budget proves that not even our own Black Summer could shake loose the calcified denial.


France, 20,000 cases in 24 hours. Get a grip Melbourne. Appreciate...Other than the Murdoch mafia, Costello and O'brien, does anyone really give a monkeys who decided on security guards?...Alan Fletcher, Doctor Karl, Neighbours, has been recruited by the National Health Service (UK) to help spruik its new coronavirus app. As if our app was/is of any use?...Little things? National Gallery a 12% funding cut, National Museum 9% cut, Australian National Audit Office which investigated the sports rorts, 12% cut...After Collingwood were thrashed by Melbourne August 15 (100-44) I said they'd never recover, which sadly proved correct, save for their fantastic effort (blip?) against West Coast October 3rd. No excuses for Collingwood, an embarrassment, and a worry going forward into 2021. A clean out required, wishing coach (Nathan Buckley) best wishes for his future come 2022. Staying  with Geelong for the big one...2024 is when the stage 3 tax breaks (for the entitled) locks in, or struck out in favour of the un-entitled?...Peta Credlin, representing Sky-TV News, yet again failed to stick it up Dan Andrews. Why does the lady bother, with 9 News leading with an Andrews attack almost nightly, ditto The Age newspaper...With interest rates at an all time low we can borrow, and borrow, trillions in fact, the same in every country, seemingly, and if 0.1% own 20% of the world, who are the lenders?... Research tells me the only place in the whole world where a man cannot get a haircut is metropolitan Melbourne?...Stay safe...Hooroo...ello8.


Empty, nameless regions vast,

Where utter nothing dwells, unformed and void.

That neither eye, nor ear, nor any sense

Of being most acute, finds object; there

For aught external still you search in vain.

Try touch, or sight, or smell; try what you  will,

You strangely find nought, but your self alone. 







Thursday 8th October 2020. October, the merry go round, the mulberry bush, the thrill of being allowed to see the sea and time outside, with two friends from the same household (but I live alone?) masked and distanced, holding out for other freedoms come October 19. Woolworths is within the 5k limit, walk around (slowly) for an hour, desperate to stop  and chat, with anybody, combining a social thrill and exercising. Try a conversation along the lines of bureaucracies, outsourcing, profiteering, Morrison's aged care sector neglect? No response. Mainly Liberals on the Mornington Peninsula. Maybe they have buddies to chat with outside, maybe from entitled Blairgowrie; one chap spoke well of Michael O'Brian? Another on the election, Trump (is he faking?) or Biden, both capitalists, religious nuts? I gave up, home, stocked up (food, cigarettes, ice cream) and snuck back into my hole. Half a bloody year now! [I exaggerate. Daily calls from Amazon, Telstra, charities and mysterious types who hang up as soon as I answer?] Are we on track to freedom? No idea. I listen (radio) to professors? on aged care, businesses, public health. They speak encouragingly; to achieve zero numbers? We need to keep together, going forward? Last I heard some 30 deaths per 1 million of our population. Hope, sustainability. I feel like a footballer listening to my coach, motivating? My focus is a haircut, a cleaner, a gardener and a beer from  the tap at the RSL across the road. A national anthem re-named, Advance Australia Fair to Whinge United Fair; golfers, small business owners. Written in concrete - the more they get the more they want? Where do they find them, 'on call' for sympathy, Nightly News? Our hospital system not up to scratch; what is scratch? Can’t beat Andrews popularity rating so into him (The Age) on the China Belt and Road Initiative, a security risk according to the USA, themselves also a security risk? The blame game continues, indeed, more saddening than the COVID-19 itself. Whatever, I want a haircut. Oh, and the sensational news. Collingwood won. [By one hot joint. How sweet it was. Short lived perhaps, but we will take it.] I really should add a picture here relative to those hot pies, but I hate skites. Considered a $1000 plunge at $16. Lose the $1000 or the possibility of laying it off week after week, estimated profit $6000 GF victory or break even if Geelong or Lions the week after beat them? Chickened out. 


The Guardian, Richard Denniss, edited: Back in March, as Australia grappled with the first lockdown, there was a strong sense that we “are all in this together”. But from the moment Covid-19 began to spread in a Victorian meatworks, and then from a poorly conceived hotel quarantine system, the partisan and personal attacks on the Victorian premier have been savage and sustained, and inconsistent and illogical. While nothing can be certain, it’s likely that – absent another Ruby Princess or quarantine hotel debacle – Australia will experience a relatively normal, if socially distant, Christmas this year while North America and most of Europe prepare for the human and economic costs of ongoing deaths and disruption. Since July, the United States has averaged around 50,000 new cases per day and, since opening up their interlinked economies too early, countries such as the UK, France and Italy are all now experiencing thousands of new cases per day as their second wave of infections roll across the continent. [Included for perspective. From Letters: "Each passing day brings an ever increasing amount of anecdotal evidence that we, the human species, are not as intelligent as we think we are." Hopeful the Andrews haters will see the point, but I'm not willing to bet on it?] [Politics? The Victorian Liberal opposition has asked the state’s corruption watchdog and the Auditor-General to investigate the $2.3 billion contract to deliver Melbourne’s new train fleet owing to probity concerns? and lengthy delays; the possibility of intellectual property theft and potential national security implications? With tongue firmly in cheek?]


Michael McCormack tells young Australians: ‘‘The farmers of Australia need you right now, so please apply, go, have a great time, earn some money. You may find the love of your life.’’ Interesting, in the light of current examples at less than $20 an hour to a more realistic figure of less than $10 after accommodation and other costs? Exploitation of cheap, transient labour, for decades. Farmers, golden halos, not always?  


Marvellous Malcolm Turnbull. Every so often popping into our world since his departure telling us how it should have been done, including his book and a series of excuses re climate change and lately the NBN. You’ve got to admire the way he interprets all things to his advantage. As prime minister, dare I say it, he did bugger all.


From classy Aussie actor Kevin Harrington "Scomo will be happy when Tim Winton is stacking shelves at Coles and Cate Blanchett is digging roads. When all the musicians are on the altar at Hillsong and the artists painting houses. When the country is a conformist xenophobic suburbarbarian Mediocracy in his image. Then And only then will this deeply fearful and unfulfilled philistine plodder be happy." [Happier still if he can get rid of 'our' ABC?].


Reverie, at my age almost daily. National Service, after checking out my two medals for service to my country, and the Chief Petty Officer calling me out from the group after another had spoken on the rifle range resulting in all of us being double marched, full pack, twice around the range, suggesting, without directly accusing, me, as the guilty party, and gutless for not owning up. Further, suggesting the group should physically give the guilty party a thrashing. That was also the time when he said to me "You have set your expectations very low in life Ellen, very low indeed. Sadly son, you have fallen way below those expectations”. Was it me, did they thrash me? No and no. Same happened in arithmetic exam grade 4, cheating, alongside the class swot. Him, not me. Why is it so Professor Miller? 


Stating the obvious: The idea of ‘‘adequate’’ levels of care in nursing homes is a furphy. Mandatory, defined levels of qualified nursing staff to patient ratios and external reviews a must. To include in Scotty’s famous road map? When shareholders are the primary motivation in a system that can be manipulated and the tax liabilities minimised, it enables the wealthy to exploit the community. It has become a system devoid of morality and driven by greed. [Another Johnny Howard milestone.] 


With all those mortgage payments set aside for a few months and now becoming due, the possibility of banking woes arise if the mortgage holders cannot pay, and likely in their hundreds, thousands. Westpac agreed to pay a record $1.3 billion fine to settle a lawsuit accusing it of enabling millions of payments to people exploiting children. The next day their shares went up some 6%. Ducks and Drakes. Best we keep our eyes on the big banks. Either that or if you have a dollar to spare (like my $1000) stuff under the mattress? 


Budget: Tuesday’s money (monkey business?) budget? Comparatively we are in a better position than all other countries, measured by debt relative to GDP. On that same comparative basis we're leading the field. What field? Big on assumptions, road safety, temporary jobs, overseas comparisons, plumbers, instant asset write offs. Not so big - on permanent jobs, tertiary education, unemployment, public sector housing, Newstart, older workers over 35, the arts, temporary visa holders, international students, migrant workers and self-funded retirees. The vaccine budget? If not, an election come 2022, or 2021 if the vaccine arrives? We await the Anthony Albanese response?


Lack of material? "Mad as Hell" season final underdone, a product of too much Danny Andrews and PM Morrison (the Scarlet Pimpernel) in hiding...A triptych; Kathy Jackson, Crown Casino Sydney and Josh Frydenburg...True Blue Liberals; Migration. Different rules, deciding in favour of the rich...Jim Chalmers, shadow treasurer, brilliant, despite David Speers questioning on the ABC's Insiders last Sunday...RioTinto has been sticking it up us, as they have done in other countries, for years now. Mining companies the word over; plunderers, any of them Chinese?...A 70 cm carp in Gardiners Creek Glen Iris, not during my 30 years. A dead body, yes...Truth be told, I reckon I've run my race. Swimming pools restrictions; recalling one Winter doing laps Mondays to Fridays 6-7am Harold Holt pool before going to work, public service. Now marking up and down 'on the spot'? Two choices, keep on writing or sit on my backside; no choice...No, not depressed, nor waiting for Godot, merely (temporarily) bored. Anyone know the home address of Jeff the barber?...Hooroo...www.ello8.com







Thursday 1st October 2020. Pliny’s Naturalis Historia, 77 A.D.: “After the defeat of that mighty monarch Mithridates, Gnaeus Pompeius found in his private cabinet a recipe for an antidote in his own handwriting: Take two dried walnuts, two figs, and twenty leaves of rue; pound them all together, with the addition of a grain of salt; if a person takes this mixture fasting, he will be proof against all poisons for that day”. To take a statement with “a grain of salt” means to accept it but to maintain a degree of skepticism about its truth. 


1/ Hotel Quarantine Inquiry aka the Mafia v Danny Andrews: "I had no expectation at all that we (Victoria) would receive this type of help (ADF)". Andrews detractors: "It's very important that accurate information is provided to determine how this came about? Accurate information? Imagine (if you will) getting accurate information from Scott Morrison, or Treasurer Josh? Human nature tells us (as surely as day follows night) the decision as to who decided to use security guards was discussed at length in the relevant state department, assuming we have one, 'relevant' being the key word. Not forgetting our protected police force, who likely refused to protect the hotels arrivals from overseas, leading to the security guards. The police, in Victoria at least, rule the roost. Nobody's nose Knows is bullshit. 


2/ Questions, questions. DHHS, Health & Human Services. Who was the donkey who changed the old Personnel to Human Services? Five ministers heading ten policy areas. Outsourcing, aka sneaky privatisation, or more commonly a simplification of departmental structures dating back to our Jeffrey Kennett, effective liaison between ministers and departmental heads, with clear-cut lines of accountability and accurate record keeping, or passing the buck, reminding the casual observer of the maze gardens on the Mornington Peninsula. Who was responsible, Charlie on the trams, or more to the point - who cares? The police say 'no dice' and automatically passed on to private contractors, sometimes called security guards. That's the public service way since Jeffrey, federal (and state) supposedly (never proven) to save money. Blame them? Blame the entitled isolated hotel patrons ex overseas? Finally, the so called offer by our PM of ADF personnel (soldiers) came 'after' the security guards were given the job, not before. Whatever, a  long road to the next state election, Andrews brushing off the increasing number of blowflies. Is he up to it, will he run for a third term? Doubt if he knows himself yet. Economics to play a big role. Moving on...


Liberal US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement, via Donald Trump: From Richard Ackland, Gadfly, The Saturday Paper: Amy Coney Barrett lives in South Bend, Indiana, where, according to The New York Times, she belonged to a Catholic charismatic renewal organisation named People of Praise. Those who join the close-knit group are assigned a personal adviser to assist them in making important life decisions. The male advisers are called “heads”, while the female counterparts are called “women leaders”, although previously they were called “handmaids”? [Elisabeth Moss; shudder].


"It's a moral responsibility" says Headmaster Scotty, on sharing the vaccine, a call to all nations. As is climate change, refugees, homelessness, poverty, domestic violence and racism? Adding in other moral responsibilities, Victoria Police covering up over Nicola Gobbo, massive cost blowouts on tunnels, airport land deals, water buybacks, Robodebt, aged care deaths, illegal detention of asylum seekers and Julian Assange? "Whoever discovers the vaccine must share it." Fair enough. What if it’s China?


From letters: Allowing the elderly to be cared for by people whose main aim is profit is neither ethical nor humane. Without standards in numbers or qualifications for staff, without constant unexpected surveillance of nursing care, provision of adequate nourishing food and qualified staff distributing medication, what hope does an 80-year-old have? Governments’ removal of strict standards and transfer of funds to enable commercial enterprises to milk the system for profit is criminal. Only non-profit organisations should run aged care, under strict supervision. [Time for Morrison/Andrews to fix all this. After all, I could be there any day now? I include Andrews because I could never afford the 'for profit' ones.]


Our old mate, honest Malcolm Turnbull’s fibre to the node plan, under Sir Tony Abbott, which used fibre-optic cable to junction boxes in suburbs and then reverted to century-old copper-wire technology to deliver signal to premises, and proved unfit for purpose. Its limitations, always known, have been exposed as millions work from home during the Covid-19 pandemic. Incumbent Communications minister Paul Fletcher hid behind the virus this week when announcing a $4.5 billion spend over the next couple of years to give about 10 million households and businesses the option of ultra-high-speed fibre connections. The government is reverting to the Rudd government plan of running high-speed fibre cables down streets to connect free of charge to homes that want it. Fletcher blamed the significant “demand for high-speed broadband” amid the pandemic for the urgency, and the price tag? [We knew all this years ago]. 


Treasurer Joss easing credit restrictions. Recall the GFC and the banking royal commission? And for his next master stroke - middle and upper class tax breaks trickling on down, down, down? Strange times, each with our private dreams, nightmares, stress levels, our future. Protective quarantine lockdown, aged care, seems like forever. The hotel quarantine in Victoria, a managerial failure, apparently sparking the second wave. But what of the pluses we take from this, and after that, the possibility, likelihood, of a third wave? And Josh "The 20/21 budget will deal with the recession like no other in budget history." True enough, but surely not with easier credit restrictions and trusting our banks? The budget, massive debt and the emphasis on job creation. What sort of jobs? How to create them? Recall the famous 'back in the black' budget May last year? The (same) old story, expect nothing regret nothing.


I have always accepted my appearance as an affirmation of self, but honestly, I need a haircut, for my mental/wellbeing health, now Mister Andrews...Interesting observation from last Tuesday's regular Premier appearance, constantly questioned by a Skye News reporter, again on the Jenny Mikakos resignation and the security guards. Credit to Andrews for keeping his cool, 'bristled' as the 9 News reported it. 9, as expected, featured it for 10 minutes front and centre of their nightly (Costello) news. Watched again on the ABC News, fairly reported. The following night with a COVID count at 13, 9 headlined "Covid numbers stall." Brainwashing by 9, nightly? 


Changes to university funding; targeted towards the rich kids, no surprise...Inordinately frustrating? The 5 kms rule, fair enough Camberwell but the Mornington Peninsula? The economic cost, the social cost, how about the failure to take in mental health cost?...AFL 2020 all Australian team; nonsense. Merely opinions...Danny's blue suit; time for a new one?...‘‘What’s wrong with the Pies’’ Age reader 1: ‘‘Try Nathan Buckley’’  Reader 2: ‘‘Try Eddie McGuire, who has failed to recognise a use-by-date for at least 10 years."...A transitory depravation of stimulus becomes a way of life, but for 6 months?...The better class of ratbags are clearly in evidence at football matches, particularly in Perth. That’s why I watch football on television. I’m the only ratbag in the room. Imagine, beating West Coast in Perth, to Adelaide to beat Port Adelaide, to Brisbane to beat Brisbane Lions, to the big one, Richmond, grand final day. "When I Grow too old to Dream" comes to mind? Absolutely!...Carlton and Liberal supporter, Victorian and Australian batsman, Dean Jones, sadly missed, not forgetting the wonderful Helen Reddy and Labor's first female cabinet minister Susan Ryan ....Hooroo...www.ello8.com






Thursday 24th September 2020. Every so often one stops to examine one's priorities. Seventy years following politics changes nothing. Highs, lows, crooks and the occasional honest joker. All right wing governments are only interested in four things: your vote, your spending, your taxes and their place in history; possibly a fifth - their bank balances? The Labor Party, slightly in our favour, has much the same interests. Today it's COVID-19. Nobody really knows what's ahead in 2021. Add in climate change (vital, particularly if you envisage sticking around till 2050, with Scott Morrison into his usual ducking and weaving alongside the prevaricating Anthony Albanese), Donald Trump (COVID-19. “It affects virtually nobody”) and his influence the world over, totally supported by the Murdoch media, and democracy itself, in America, England and here, a psychological nightmare for the future, where already some 0.1% own 20% of the world. Strangely (to me) others say it's all about the dangers of China? True for Tibetans no doubt, but not necessarily for Australia ahead of the other dangers. Add in our treatment of our own Julian Assange in England, comically, sadly, a supposed Court of Law? The  English justice system, held up as a sign of true democracy, yet historically in favour of those in favour. I'm too old to get to an emotional point of view. Prefer to call it as I see it, and if others disagree, noted. Here endeth the serious side of my politics. For now? "Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river." [Nikita Khrushchev]. Moving on...


Early Years; merely a snippet, 1950's: If you’re everywhere you’re nowhere, as somebody once said. You have no idea where it will all end when you begin. You’re not quite sure how you will manage not to become self obsessed, diverted, lost, and with a number of necessary stop starts, try to evade the real problem of ending up - nowhere? In years gone by referring to my youth as tough times, coming from a working class background and (actually?) believing it. They were far from tough. No car, no locks on the doors, very few clothes (a highlight when Mum bought us new pyjamas), Harrisons lemonade, Peters ice cream on birthdays, bread and tomato sauce, bread and dripping, no underpants? Nobody was any better off as far as we knew, or if they were, awarded only a passing thought. No television obviously, no Tattslotto to live in hope. I began with an unintended philosophy (unchanged to this day) - 'something will turn up'. My everyday question: "What's the good word?" We were told vague stories of the most severe hardship, making us by comparison very well off. A lot of tough kids roaming the streets of Westgarth, Northcote, North Fitzroy and Collingwood. Fist fights a dime a dozen. Watch, from a safe spot. Smith street Collingwood today’s chadstone. Flash Gordon starring. A backyard neighbourhood barrel (later called a keg) at a mate's place, sneaking a glass of beer, a cigarette under the peppercorn trees alongside Rushall railway station above Merri creek. Sneaking a peek at older couples (under those trees), screaming Johnny Weissmuller's famous Tarzan chant just before either possible orgasm? and retreating to the hiding spots, the safety of Merri creek. My left wing Labour background? I rather liked saying it without giving it a lot of thought. Closer examination can reveal that people with intelligence, and others who make their decisions by way of instinct, prejudice, or whatever happens to be on the front or back pages of the newspaper can be found in all classes. What is it that makes people conclude intelligence is a true measure of worth, or money for that matter? Former Prime Minister John Howard referred to us, including himself, as “ordinary Australians”? Howard the joker, a dark record longer than your right arm, including the the first spark of aged care mismanagement? 


Red light? Hotel quarantine scheme. "Departments had very little knowledge or experience." State's top public servants unprepared for the emergency? Daniel Andrews has his critics, but Jeff Kennett? As a measuring stick I'd suggest (perspective?) watching the SBS world news. With a near 66% approval rating the boy is doing well, which is a good thing as it presently stands, but hidden somewhere in the fading depths of my mind is my opinion of the efficiency of our state public service during my 20 years in the Commonwealth public service, and it was not good. By and large, disregarding health issues, amateurs. Somehow or other they got by. Be that as it may there remains this nagging doubt, as in giving this mob extended powers? [Human rights? The Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill, which increases the power of Health Department appointed authorised officers to detain anyone officers ‘‘reasonably believe’’ may behave negligently and spread the virus?] We surely all know the trap of anyone, Labor, Liberal or the man/woman in the street - having too much power? We (should?) all know the plan, the roadmap, which although harsh, we stick to, trust, but any sign of altering this roadmap, without ironclad reasoning, is our signal to spring to attention, demanding answers. Most of us are close to sick and tired of it, but we manage day by day, the magic light at the end of the tunnel, for the good of all of us, including the childish everyday comments by Liberal opposition leader Michael O'Brien, the barbs from our Prime Minister Scott Morrison, strengthened by Danny's leadership, but, (there's always a but) we expect our trust to be returned, in spades. A rocky road to October 26th or whenever? Most of us are in this together, for now?


SALT 2008: 1/ Life can be frustrating, however free one is from drama. We tend to get ourselves into a position, however innocent, to be to others what we perceive as required behaviour. It can follow if there are too many who expect this required behaviour (and seemingly approve) it can be a burden, causing a feeling that one wants to break the mould, the masquerade. A hankering for the real truth, the real you, and so to the decision: to continue on as before and everyone is happy, or break out into your very own truth? Or is it merely hope? Almost always, the masquerade has gone on for so long that it has become the truth, and so your interpretation of the real you - is but a fantasy. 2/ People appear to get away with themselves more and more these days, as in an unfounded belief in their own infallibility. Recall the global financial disaster. Who was to blame? The infallible few of course, financial experts? What does it all mean, to us? We are flooded with more infallible experts in opposite directions, social media fraudsters, differences between an ABC News and the Herald-Sun, Sky News interpretation of facts, gossip (those who know someone who knows the true situation?) with confusion the main conclusion. Will my bank pay me my money on demand, and will Centrelink pay my pension? Will my pension be indexed? Yes? Good. Am I sure? No. Thus, generally, after due diligence, as in listening, and coming to the latest fashionable conclusion - "It is what it is" - I ignore them. No choice. 


Travel exemptions to Victorian relatives of Port Adelaide players. To undergo two weeks of hotel quarantine at their own expense, why not?...Greed is not necessarily good: Ben Brown’s manager Adam Ramanauskas, offered a three-year contract at the start of 2020, upwards of $750,000 per season, refused, held out for 4 years....The Chinese burn: 1/ JobKeeper reduction, assets test added 2/ JobSeeker reduction, must apply for 8 jobs a month - both changes announced with a straight face?...The only difference between Kim Beazley and Anthony Albanese is that Kim was more intelligent...Bill Shorten on Sky News, the NDIS, a breath of fresh air, albeit a sad reminder of the ignorance of the voting public...Come October 26, if no RSL, a need to bring back the backyard barrels, or 'keg' as it was later called?...ASIO reveals extreme right wing groups. Does this include certain politicians?...The Morrison government’s rejection of a net zero emissions target for 2050 is at odds with the Paris agreement and more than 100 countries that have backed the goal, according to some of Australia’s most experienced climate experts. Bowing, yet again, to the far right, and Donald?...Heard this one a thousand times - “Bush people are resilient Macca” Yeah, I hear you. So are city people...Richmond's Richardson, commentating on Carlton's loss; wise words? "It's just the lapses in games that has cost them dearly."...Flinders MP Greg Hunt in the Herald Sun: "Why Mornington Peninsula should be freed from lockdown." True obviously, primarily an anti-Andrews comment...Nicola Gobbo, first class honours, law student, in her final law subject - "legal ethics and professional conduct"?... We all live in hope, money, job, career, a thousand alternatives. 2022? - a new government, a new Collingwood coach...“My role in society, or any artist's or poet's role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all” [John Lennon]...Keep yourselves nice. Hooroo...www.ello8.com




Saturday 19th September, 2020. A Seinfeld column, a show about nothing or the Tommy Trinder theme  song - "All over the Place?" What to write when there's bugger all worth writing about? If you're reading this, save time, stop reading now. Somehow, we must fill in the days. Some sort of buddy system, a conscience system for old duffers living alone. Should I wing my way to Chelsea to visit my blister. Nah. Wait until after my boys win the grand final. Surely by then we can celebrate with a slap up lunch of fish and chips washed down with a Carlton draught from the tap at the Chelsea RSL? Who would have thought such an idea could derive the ultimate pleasure? "We have to continue to move forward." If you're one to listen to morning radio (as I am) I hear those words on a daily basis, wondering where else can we move? Almost always connected to vested interests. Veiled threats. In a single pensioner’s life the daily question is “What are you up to today? But who is listening? Herewith lies the answer: Nothing! As Maxwell Smart would say “And loving it.” A morning walk (stagger), a conversation with myself - I’m a good listener. As wonder woman has departed it’s to Woolworths once a week, a highlight, a daily 90 minutes nap, big highlight. Check out what to do (Greek island?) if I win Powerball, one stubby, evening meal, television (with banana, cream, ice cream) nightly news, wash the dishes followed by Foxtel repeats of Poirot, green tea and a biscuit or two, reading (Le Carre, Colin Dexter), bed. Other highlights include a check of my bank balance on pension day and the shower, shave and washing routine every second day. My only cause for anxiety is with any slight physical pain, which I immediately diagnose as life threatening. [The alternative, a partner? On marriage, by Samuel Johnson “A man is in general better pleased when he has a good dinner upon his table than when his wife talks Greek.”] It's becoming clear (or at least suspicious) our mate Danny Andrews (of the level crossings) is into his swan song, as in bowing out before the 2022 election. Who can blame him? On the other hand who stands in his place, currently, the Liberals, with Michael O'Brien as leader, his deputy, unknown Cindy Mcleish? Whoever replaces Danny will start favourite. Lack of a credible opposition. The federal situation not a lot different with Morrison subject to snowball soft outbursts from Anthony Albanese.  


I'll believe anything? The freedom of citizens to cross state borders to attend funerals. PM Scotty Morrison and the compassionate Peter Dutton criticising Labor's Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for a lack of compassion over borders; aka hypocrisy at its highest level. In popped another, the warm hearted Mathias Cormann announcing Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk as “so cold-hearted and so harsh and so nasty”. Not to be left out, caring Peta Credlin, wanting to know: Is Australia in danger of losing its humanity?


When in doubt, talk television? Too much television. I'd be lost without my fast forward button. It's not just the stupid car races in those action films or the long fight sequences. I watched the whole of Game of Thrones without Jon Snow until the final episode; quite liked the two blonde ladies, and the dragons. Take James Nesbitt, always a favourite, in Series 1 of 'The Missing' with a permanent 'stress' look, every bloody scene. It got so I simply fast forwarded his scenes to get through. Whatever the story/plot it's about seeing how it all turns out? Lately Rebecca Gibney's 'sour' look in the first 3 episodes of Halifax:Retribution before I called it quits. Wentworth Season 8; loved Kate Box, not so Zoe Terakes, fast forwarded her scenes. Give me strength. And kids generally, of course spoilt kids. You watch those murder mysteries, almost always including one or two idiots, and you shake your head, unrealistic? Ahh, but a look at the News and spot these conspiracy protesters COVID-19 and yes, indeed, they do in fact exist. One wonders who they vote for, assuming they know how to vote? On murders generally, Midsomer Murders in particular, the number of people who see suspicious happenings outside their windows? Never have I seen anything out of my windows? I should talk - I'm told there are people out there who watch Sky News? Line of Duty was a favourite series until the second last episode of series 4, when Stephen Graham (together with Douglas Henshall) a favourite male actor, was killed, lost me, including series 5. They almost did the same in series 2 and 3 by killing off the brilliant Keeley Hawes. Just as well I'm not a critic.


Personal income tax cuts a key feature of Josh Frydenberg’s recession-busting? Federal budget. "Tax cuts would be one of government’s policy responses to the economy along with reducing red tape, reforming the industrial relations system? and boosting expenditure on infrastructure. Our PM's gas reboot, a gas-led recovery of the nation's economy; the only way to defeat marketing BS is with more marketing BS? Our Scotty, a master of announcements, rarely, if ever, following up. And of the obvious issue, climate change; we get...zilch. Frauds. 


And AFL football season 2020. The influence of sport can be a blessing in these trying times. Great to see Australia winning against England in the third ODI, at Old Trafford, particularly Glenn Maxwell's 108 in 70 balls. A welcome change, but I shake my head in wonder at the AFL season, particularly the shortened quarters, the confusing umpiring decisions (holding the ball?) the 'luck' content and the 6-6-6 rule solving nothing. The North Melbourne West Coast game won by West Coast earlier in the week a perfect example. West Coast, miles above North Melbourne in talent, took all of the slog to get there by a mere 17 points, a shadow of their true ability. Likens going to sleep and dreaming of football prior to season 2020. A wet dream. We're told 2021 will return to normal. Having said this I reserve my right to change my thinking if Collingwood wins. I'm tipping Geelong.  


From my diary, 2001: It was the day after my 65th birthday. I was having coffee in a little Cafe looking out over Port Phillip Bay, across the road from Nepean Highway, thinking back to when I was a lad of 33, an Accountant in the Public Service. Back then they had a tea room where we would all congregate twice daily (later they introduced a tea lady in the name of efficiency, thus a drop in morale; idiots) and all they talked about was superannuation units, reserve units, how much they would be worth when they reached retirement at 65. Bored the pants off me. The average age for dying was 67, a lousy two years to whoop it up. 2001 was light years away so it seemed. I looked up at the street sign, Ozone Street, Rye, on the Mornington Peninsula. God’s waiting room, as the locals call it. The big Safeway Supermarket looking out to the Bay between Ozone Street and Hygeia Street (both named after the ferries running from Port Melbourne to Sorrento between 1886 and 1910). I ordered a second hot strong cappuccino from the pretty young waitress as I pondered not too fleetingly on her shapely legs. A minor advantage of invisibility. [I left the public service after 'serving' out my 20 years. Never a thought of regret.]


Opting out? Jacqui Lambie and her call to give an opinion [yes/no] on the Mobile Phone Ban bill in immigration detention centres, followed by a call for donations?...Politicians pay rises, cuts to penalty rates. Pensioners, the birthday cake @ $1500, the pension freeze payback?...The Chaser Weakly has announced the limited edition of a beach towel as a Christmas gift; The "Greetings from Hawaii" Scott Morrison Beach Towel...Helping Auzzies get home? The national borders are the national responsibility of our federal government, as they have told us for the past decade; not including Julian Assange sadly...Let's hear it for the invisible one, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, looking after our farmers and our country waterways?...PM Scotty and our own Greg Hunt taking credit for Victoria's new COVID-19 numbers?...Shadow treasurer (not mincing her words?) on Andrews - vote of no confidence; "A monumental failure of public health"?....Historic pact between Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, to change the course of history? How about Palestine?...Back in 2009 Our Federal Government appointed jesuit priest Frank Brennan to examine our need for a Bill of Rights. What happened to Frank? And our Bill of Rights?...Socrates was told that some man had not been improved by travel. “I am sure he was not” he said, “He went with himself!”...“One of the great delights of writing itself is that it can give you a sense of freedom.” [Donald Horne]..."Let's be careful out there"...Hooroo...www.ello8.com




Saturday 12th September, 2020. Time to give your brain a workout. Alternatively try to read mine, be my guest. No critics please. "Time is the only critic without ambition. Give a critic an inch, he’ll write a play." [Steinbeck]. Points to our PM for cunning, some say, not I. Sensing the mood against Daniel Andrews after last Sunday’s restrictions (or, depending on your p/o/v - his road to recovery?) Scotty came down hard on our Danny including another load of tosh on a vaccine, more as a reason to shove it up Danny, aided and abetted with two Victorians? Treasurer Josh Frydenburg and Health minister Greg Hunt complete with halo. PM Scotty: ‘‘Hard and crushing news for the people of Victoria, a Victorian government plan.’’ Scotty, aka Felix the cat, or, the three stooges? OR, what better time to really up the pressure on our Premier, offset the upcoming budget blues? Murdoch's The Australian, the Herald-Sun - salivating? 


Nevertheless, the “new normal” is indefinite uncertainty, a loss in a way of life, friends, family, perhaps even of trust in our government? The freedom to move about in our daily life as we used to. Chelsea, Melbourne, anywhere more than 10 kilometres away, unless medical. Conspiracy theories a natural consequence, increasing the stress levels; disappointment, anger, grief, sadness, exhaustion, fear and anxiety. A need to remain rational, to face your reality. It's not exactly the Democratic Republic of the Congo. To examine what will make you feel good under this restrictive situation. To lighten the load - access to a barber/hairdresser and allow a cleaning lady to clean, on request? Sadly a no go, but we can hopefully manage. Once 'our' Danny, has put himself as a cat among the pigeons, for the Liberal locked in voters and many undefined numbers of sheep. The road map, as they call it, seemed to ignore the fact that large parts of the state are coronavirus-free. The editorial on mobile surveillance units in parks and public spaces (human rights?) add to the anxiety, remotely monitoring citizens? Closed-circuit cameras between several Melbourne councils, police and the federal government; more than 60 CCTV cameras in Melbourne’s CBD alone, initially to help reduce crime? Heady stuff. Peter Dutton is licking his lips, assuming he has lips. 


Despite the constant Herald-Sun, The Australian attack on Premier Andrews (primarily representing privileged, self-interested whingers, heavily into, amongst other things, franking credits, capital gains discounts, negative gearing, superannuation tax breaks and corporate tax loopholes?) the Roy Morgan poll last Thursday found 70 per cent of Victorians approve of Premier Andrews and the way he is handling his job? Malcolm Turnbull: Question, to Scott Morrison "What would you suggest Andrews should do differently right now?” John Hewson: "If Morrison doesn’t like/accept Andrew’s pathway let him detail his alternative for which he can then be held fully accountable – be sure to focus on aged care his clear responsibility.” [Note; more than 500 coronavirus deaths in aged-care homes funded and regulated by the Commonwealth.] 


Jon Faine: Edited. "No one can excuse the errors made on hotel quarantine. No one can ignore the decision to bow to the wishes of police that private security be allowed to manage hotel quarantine. No one can turn a blind eye to the failings of contact tracing. BUT - Will Scott Morrison accept responsibility for a Europe-style third wave if it eventuates? Or would the PM accept as much responsibility for that as he has for the disaster of aged care? Or the rorting of JobKeeper? Or the failure of the water buyback scheme? Or the attacks on industry super that jeopardise their participation in the recovery? Or the disclosures in this newspaper that Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar was using taxpayer-funded electoral staff to wage internal Liberal Party wars?" [Not forgetting the underfunded public health response?]


China’s crackdown on press freedom after two Australian journalists were forced to leave Beijing. The Saturday Paper: The Australian government (ASIO) raided the homes of Chinese journalists last June, and sought to cancel the visas of two prominent Chinese scholars, Li Jianjun, a visiting fellow at the Australian National University, and Chen Hong, an academic who served as Bob Hawke’s translator when the former prime minister visited China in 1994. No details have been given as to why their visas were cancelled. If Australia wants to exert its moral authority when it comes to issues of press freedom, it must take seriously the criticisms levelled about its treatment of journalists. The threat of prosecution that still hangs over ABC reporter Dan Oakes for his investigation into alleged war crimes perpetrated by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan, the AFP raids on the ABC and News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst – this behaviour undermines the Morrison government’s ability to criticise other country’s actions, particularly China’s, which will seize upon any hint of hypocrisy. The absence of support for Julian Assange, as he faces extradition from Britain for his role in publishing vital details of American misconduct, is another failure. [Both sides against Assange. English justice Julian; a misuse of the word 'justice'. ]


The Chaser Weakly: Edited. "If Facebook bans the sharing of Australian news on its platform, The Chaser will be (bizarrely) included in the ban. That's why we've set up a Chaser Daily email list, so that you can receive all the latest Chaser news headlines from the past 24 hours, direct to your inbox, without going via Facebook. The email is automatically generated and sent out at 4pm (Melbourne time) each day. Sign on?" [Treasurer Josh: Re challenging Facebook and Google, to create a level playing field, a fair go for Australian news media businesses? His motivation? An agent for Newscorp, The Age, Channel 9? I pay for mine, The Age, The Guardian. Again, I think of the television show, Utopia.]  


Guesswork? After the bushfires fiasco, ignoring climate change, the Sports grants fiasco. A slippery slope. Epidemiology accepted (“I don’t hold the hose mate”?)…to a form of trusting our PM via the coronavirus monster and the various state ministers. Almost 2 months of “getting action to face the menace’ as a whole…to  the eventual political bias, and his slick oil salesman personality in and out on show, aged care, searching (but unconvincing) for the common sense bloke, but never (almost) displaying an ideal road. His football, his rugby cap, his Aussie-ness, his unusual religious strength. His same faith towards Donald Trump, slippery slope again, never outspoken, never on show, ditto his hidden authoritarianism. Ditto Thatcher, Ronald Reagan. Perhaps keeping his options close to his chest in the light of the current happenings in the US of A.  


News Channel 9: Making a bed can boost your mental health. Not mine, but certainly some of the contestants on Eddie's Millionaire Hot Seat. One codger passed on spelling aitch, another had no idea of The Man in the Iron Mask, and so on. Suggestion, from Salt 2017: Improving the quality of your life. Not quite mine, I've passed the point of no return so this is for "other" people, including females, politicians, psychologists as always and AFL football commentators. Fun is the keyword. What is fun? No definition, but you will know it when it's happening. I'm told its important to move your body in a joyful way, joyful being another word for fun. Dancing around the house is recommended, as is whatever you can think of which can form part of increasing your likelihood of getting fit and strong. Push ups, running, walking? Stretching, particularly when watching television? Already you're on the path to something called 'feeling stoked'. Self compassion obviously. I'm overloaded with self compassion, so much so there's no need to put those shoes on and get out the door; morning instant coffee, afternoon's my hour walk before the nap. The way I see it if I'm willing to criticise all those do-gooders on dieting the least I can do is come up with a sensible alternative. No dieting, no gym fees? Voilà! [And obviously a Collingwood victory]


Currently the COVID-19 numbers are down, as are the deaths, which are highlighted by the media seemingly from a News p/o/v. I'm intrigued by this. Surely now, after the past 6 months, someone can add up the deaths in this 6 months period, plus deaths from other causes, and compare this figure with (say) the number of deaths from this same 6 months over the past 5 years (divided by 5 to catch the possible variations) and note the difference, if any? Even 10 years? Maybe, specifically for those over 65 years of age? I'm not suggesting anything. Comparisons are not always odious? According to my information (unconfirmed) the numbers across the board would be lower? Thus, why the highlighting?


Prince Henry's hospital (demolished 1994) had live-in nurses, subjected to a lockdown. Never bothered them, thankfully...From a letter writer: "If Labor has lost me, I suspect it has lost a lot of informed, sensible people." Thanks for that?...From Salt 9th August - Sorry Danny mate, great job, the bottom line - you’re gone...The international borders are closed. Victoria is locked out of N.S.W. There's a family locked in a room on Christmas Island. A hundred people locked in a hotel in Kangaroo Point indefinitely...Harold Holt, Vietnam, John Howard. Iraq - for our own good. And China? Beware of governments, particularly on the side of righteousness? Human nature and increased power, often leading to a marked personality change; rarely for the better?...Day after day, business people on radio, television, surviving on Jobkeeper or ultimate collapse. Nothing on the many thousands of people not getting a cracker?...The COVIDsafe app; like NSW contact tracing, the gold standard?...Did you read all this melodrama? Not to worry. I'm alright Jack? I've had a self contained curfew 7pm-7am the past decade..."All power, even the most despotic, rests ultimately on opinion" [Hume]...Hooroo...www.ello8.com




Sunday 6th September, 2020. Fathers Day - "Expect nothing regret nothing?" Spring! I get the feeling I'm wasting time, which in my case is all I've got left. Doing nothing, harking back to my youth, teens, early 20's, where I made a profession of it, for seemingly good reason, something called fun? Does hope spring eternal? The case for re-opening Victoria's roadmap come next Sunday looking doubtful at today's figure of 63. All eyes on Danny Andrews. To other matters - I look at Donald Trump's mess in the USA (authoritarianism, racism, fascism), the oligarchy in Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and others and put them in the too hard basket, harking back to my 20 years as a public servant; the too hard basket a solution when cornered, motivated by Scarlett O'Hara. I press on, Australia only. Somebody must pay for this recession, and sure as hell it will not be big business (lower taxes in the next budget?). The obvious choice is lower pay rates (and working conditions called industrial relations reforms?) for millions of mostly low-paid entrenched? poverty workers. Add in the long-term economic effects of the deteriorating relationship with China; thanks to Scott Morrison and Marise Payne riding on the back of Donald Trump’s attack on China; hypocrisy gone wild. Now it's politics to fill the gap, influenced by this interminable shutdown. What we want to see is a roadmap out of these COVID restrictions, says Treasurer Josh, translated to a criticism of Victoria's Premier. Deflecting blame, upcoming budget, not to mention branch stacking and aged care failures, as in our Treasurer joining forces with our Prime Minister. What's your beef Josh? Are you a Victorian or simply a mouthpiece for Scotty? "Victorians need hope" says Josh, tongue firmly implanted in those chubby cheeks. How would you have the slightest idea (no offence) on the needs of Victorians? It might work if you gave us your thoughts on what a roadmap should look like? Better for Danny Andrews to lay it all out so you and your mate Scotty can take aim? At the least check out Danny's support base Josh before offering your poisoned arrows? I've seen some vague Treasurers in my time, this bloke standing alongside Joe Hockey. The original slogan "All in this together" was (arguably, to be kind?) the biggest lie of year 2020. Another comes close - PM: Morrison ‘‘The way we remain a humble but in-touch and focused government is by keeping in touch with respect for each other.’’ Humble? I shouldn't complain, comedy being good for the soul, assuming we have a soul. As is plain to see from a re-read I'm going crackers. Weeks of solitude can play games. I sing The Seekers song The Carnival is Over (YouTube) for voice exercises. [Ross Gittens: When you take a closer look, what you see is inequality and injustice – on many dimensions. Some of these have been created by the way our governments have decided who gets help to cope with the pandemic and who doesn’t. But others are the consequence of our politicians for years pushing problems under the carpet because fixing them would be just too expensive for taxpayers.] Andrews, stop press: 13 September extended to 28th September and subject to reducing the numbers. Could go to 23rd November, the last step. Safe, steady and sustainable steps subject to the public health team review? I'm inclined towards less control, more opportunities for workers to get back to work, albeit under strict conditions. Time (again) for patience and trust, no option anyway? Gestapoland? On a lighter note...     


From the daily zen series “To assert a concept like “positivity” is a starkly anti-zen notion. Positivity is a dualistic notion that relies on its opposite, negativity. There’s no light without darkness, no sun without rain, no happy without sad. If you want to experience a high, you must also expose yourself to the lows. If you strive to be happy, expect sadness. If you strive for success, expect failure. If you pretend “everything is positive”, you’re rendering your world effectively meaningless. Buddhists call it “the middle way”. You embrace balance and remain calm and centred as the world thrusts you through its uncontrollable ebbs and flows. Instead of seeking positivity, seek balance. Meditation cultivates this attitude” [I include this as a service to believers. On this reading I'll expose myself to a low.] 


From Salt, 2016: The nursing home sector may well have bugger all government scrutiny for staffing levels (unlike childcare staff ratios) but the good news is the increased profits for those brave investors? taking the time to care for our elderly. The real danger for the residents is when a new manager is appointed, almost always with the idea of an improving reputation by way of cost cutting and increased profits, thus more stress on the nurses (or nurse singular) and less care for the inmates. Any of us who has checked out these options is well aware of the pitfalls. No-one wants to see our kids go broke as a matter of conscience. [I've told my lot if I lose my marbles they have two choices; cyanide (in a Carlton draught pot) or a beauty rest Extra Firm Pillow during a coughing fit.] [I love this one: The $20 billion aged care sector, which includes religious, not-for-profit and private operators, has banded together to devise a massive PR campaign to ‘‘change the conversation’’ about aged care and ‘‘win the hearts and minds of middle Australia’’. This will cost money. Perhaps this is why business leaders are calling for tax cuts?]


The Victorian government’s Belt and Road Initiative agreement with China initially got the seal of approval by our PM. Why the change now? The comedy (hypocrisy?) of Scotty's values-based foreign policy. Should I mention Pine Gap, basing troops in the Northern Territory, dictating our defence policy, influencing our foreign policy and our voting in the UN on issues such as Palestine/Israel, Iran and China? Trump campaigns on Law and Order? I can understand the concern with China's actions in the South China sea and Hong Kong but why no concern with what's going on in the USA under Donald Trump? No Clifford. It's a Grain of Bloody Salt blog. Let it be, as The Beatles advise.


This week, breach of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules) which stress the need for people in detention to be able to communicate with family and friends, stay connected with their community and access legal representation. The government attempting to amend the Migration Act to allow detainees to be searched without a warrant and to give security officers the power to take away the only means of contact with the outside world: their phones. Asylum seekers locked away in various detention centres, particularly those held under guard at the Mantra Hotel, Preston, and in Brisbane. Seven years now, an amendment to the Migration Act to take away their mobile phones? Sadly Peter (sharing and caring) Dutton is still with us. 


We miss you Kerry (O'Brien) ”We're now a polarising society, our politics are polarised. The real fundamental failure in this country is a failure to provide continuous quality leadership. I feel very strongly about it. Our two-party system is letting us down. Both sides have to step up and face the responsibility for that." [Always comforting to know Kerry is still in there punching. Talking of punching, where is Albo?].


A grand final at The Gabba? 30,000 maximum. Fair enough. Adelaide and Perth clearly shoved COVID-19 up our backsides so a good decision. On the other hand those influential Victorians underline the point; getting into Queensland a case of who you know? Yes, the need for a negative COVID and the usual self isolation on entry, but still, not a good look. Eddie McGuire says the night grand final is here to stay. "As simple as that" said Eddie. Bugger Eddie's opinion. It should not be all about money. Put the  question to all of us - a grand final, day or night? For mine it's a daytime event. [Nathan Buckley, in response to the Brisbane loss “The players can only blame themselves” If nothing else he’s consistent. He'd make a good politician.]


The Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants has identified 124 criminal convictions tainted by Ms Gobbo’s double life that may be set aside, including drug trafficker Tony Mokbel. Victoria Police admitted it was ‘‘profoundly wrong’’ in permitting lawyer Nicola Gobbo to inform on her own clients, and apologised to the courts, promising the force had ‘‘taken steps to make sure that what happened with Ms Gobbo can never happen again.’’ [Police - entitled? Is Shane Patton, Police Commissioner, a new broom? Is the Pope a catholic?]


The word of the week is 'devastating.' Me? I’m surprised someone hasn’t applied for mining rights on the Great Barrier Reef?...Draft legislation to compel Google and Facebook to negotiate with Australian media companies. The hoo-ha. Sending some of their massive profits our way is just that - hoo-ha...As at yesterday 2060 active cases, 650 lives lost and significantly? 16,625 recovered. COVID deaths are up, influenza deaths at record low, no surprise. Interestingly, prostate cancer is, as usual, around 3,500 deaths a year...Zoe Buhler was held to account for breaking the law; social media posts. Fair enough. Sadly, Zoe is not alone...Prime ministers? England's in appointing Tony Abbott and Morrison's Australia in appointing Scott Cam as “Australia’s national careers ambassador”?...Best I give our PM one big tick, his efforts to open those ridiculous border closures, not that this absolves him from short-changing the arts and no JobKeeper payment to universities...No, the State of Emergency by six months does not mean extending our current level of restrictions. The emergency powers are available to respond quickly, if needed....A fascinating side issue at the coronavirus testing stations; the appeal for us to get tested, but no go without a good reason?...More comedy: Government suggesting an increase in superannuation will slow down wages growth. What wages growth? - June quarter; profits up 15% wages down 3.5%...Investment tip: Gold at $1982 per ounce. [1931, $7. 1937, $12]...From The Irish Times "Through history, there has been many emotions expressed about America, but never before, pity."...A positive? Schoolies cancelled 2020; heaven on a stick?...Double Dutch? - Soul and philosophy, the immaterial aspect or essence of a human being, that which confers individuality and humanity, often considered to be synonymous with the mind or the self?...My philosophy: "The only things that stops you enjoying sex at an older age are the same things that stop you riding a bicycle - bad health, thinking it's silly, and no bicycle" [Alex Comfort]...It's now 13 years since I began this nonsense. At dire risk, as you've no doubt noticed, of repeating myself. Running out of puff?..Hooroo...www.ello8.com 




Sunday 30th August, 2020.  Still here, in survival mode, Carlton draught stubbies, holiday  gold cigarettes, vita brits, 900 steps daily walk and Google's memory. Ever alert? I've stopped reading the Herald Sun but The Age remains a worry. Murdoch's News haunts foxtel and podcasts now infectious on any given subject. Attempted suicide no, self harm not yet, stir crazy dangerously close. Mind games, perhaps waiting for the mythical Godot. A taste of real solitary confinement not to my liking. Checked the drawers, cupboards, every nook and cranny; what is a cranny? Memorabilia examined. Books, clothes likewise. Run out of options. What is happening here? Watched Alan Ladd and Robert Preston, a 1948 western film in technicolor, "Whispering Smith", anticipated almost every line, and enjoyed it? Back to the past? The more frustrated the more likely, we turn, target Daniel Andrews. Talk of extending beyond September 13th. An adrenaline surge? Bugger off Danny, the pipes are NOT calling. Come ye back when summer's in the meadow? Stage 4 to stage 3? The good news; no increase in the number of suicides. The nightmare - a Collingwood loss to Carlton later today? Leave me alone in my misery. On a brighter note I have Audie Murphy's "The Duel at Silver Creek" on standby.


In they come like personality disordered blowflies, including a smaller number of bloodthirsty march flies, sights set for Premier Andrews, a target, to vent on, lead by our PM, who (apparently) is responsible for nothing. The suggestion of a further 12 months to wear facemasks and isolate if tested positive until the vaccine arrives, (eventually) followed by a backdown, as in prepared to negotiate. The state of emergency does not equal lockdown, it allows for health directions by the Chief Health Officer to be enforced to protect public health – measures such as ensuring those with the virus are staying at home. The consensus to iron out past overreach, mistakes, the need for protection from ourselves? A proflective calm required, selfishness to the backline, particularly hysterical alarmism. Andrews timing was a mistake, similar to Morrison's timing on the coronavirus investigation before the WHO suggested it. Morrison had a reason, showing Trump what a good boy he was? Far too early. Goodness knows Danny's reason; getting ahead of himself? [We strive to understand the world around us, and in doing so, gain a greater degree of power, which may allow us to be more active than passive. A sense in which this is a kind of freedom?]


Truth or reality? More difficult than picking the winner of a Melbourne Cup? The question of aged care deaths, greater in number (and percentages) in the for profit homes, where the ratio of nurses to patients has been disgracefully profit motivated for decades, but does this constitute a higher reason for deaths? Then obviously the health care workers infected, and with it the question as to why ours as against much better figures overseas; Singapore, Hong Kong? Was it the masks, if so has this been solved? We hope so, but still no definitive answer? I was gifted five facemarks at my local chemist, are they safe? "Safer care Victoria" the slogan? Mandatory fit testing of these masks? Confusing, I'll say? Early on many new Australians wore these masks without direction, followed by the ABC telling us no need to wear them, followed by vigorously taking up the cause. Raison d'être for the small outbreaks of confusion? Will a Royal Commission sort it out? Historically yes, but almost always the recommendations ignored.    


The Chaser Weakly Edited: "Let's face it, the world is run by terrible people who are willing to immiserate millions of people, just so they can earn more money than they'll ever be able to spend anyway. In the year 2020, as you look around and observe the world and the humans running it, are you really going to bet on the willingness of humans to act with integrity and selfless devotion to a greater moral cause? We need to be more realistic, which is why I've decided to make a new documentary to balance out idealism. It's called "Let's All Give Up and Go to Planet B". Helpful tips about how to expand your carbon footprint and exploit your fellow human beings so that you end up with enough money to get the hell out of here. Episode one is about where to invest your multi-million dollar inheritance, episode two looks at how to avoid paying your fair share of tax and episode three takes a deep dive into offshoring your company assets to avoid environmental regulation laws." [On the trillion to one chance of winning powerball, buy a yacht and get approval to sail away to an island off the coast of Queensland? Bugger; Queensland woke up, changed its mind. Isolating, but the question remains, where to after they complete the required isolation?]


Conspiracy theory? Google, Facebook, twitter, yahoo, tic tok, boo hoo. Sophisticated sweep tools. Decoding the data formats used by global internet providers. Analyse the content, including emails, addresses (of the sender and receiver), videos, audios, photos. What do they do with it? A knock on the door, two shady types, official badges, shown. Allowed 5 minutes to change underwear, off we toddle, to places unknown, your right to life, liberty, happiness, officially kapoot. A secret trial, of sorts. You think I'm joking? I wish I was.


I find it difficult to have sympathy for the oldish lady (ABC News) who lost $900,000 from her self managed superannuation fund by trusting her financial adviser, who went bust. Time and again these stories. What are they thinking? She's sitting there, almost a million in her kick, clearly enough to see her out (and leave an inheritance) and yet the lady believes some shyster can make her richer. Greed or stupidity, beyond words. 


From The Saturday Paper by Rick Morton: When Employment Minister Michaelia Cash approved an advance payment worth more than $100 million for private job agencies to cover administration fees early in the coronavirus outbreak, it would mark only the beginning of a lucrative payday for the sector during the pandemic. As the rest of the country descended into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the government made it easier for these agencies, known as Jobactive providers, to claim bonus “outcome” payments, fees and other rewards for the work of “servicing” the unemployed. Requirements for pay slips to verify job payments were removed, and providers were paid bonuses even if work was interrupted by periods of self-isolation or complications from the health crisis. The influx of funds, however, did not stop there. Conservative estimates drawn from the government’s own data and payment schedules suggest private job agencies have been handed at least $500 million to date during the pandemic. [I'm getting too old to delve into the finer details on this one so I'm just letting it sit there. "For 'tis in vain to think or guess, at women by appearances" - Samuel Butler.] 


Reminding me of another 'given' - as in shysters? Branch stacking; like staging in AFL football, here, there everywhere. In Labor's case Adem Sonyurek resigned before Danny Andrews could sack him. Commented Scotty "Anthony Albanese has been totally burned by this scandal. We’re fighting for jobs, they’re fighting each other. Anthony Albanese is leading a party in absolute chaos and disarray." The current Liberal party stacking, Scotty comments "It is an organisational matter for the Victorian wing of the party, nothing to do with me." Staging for free kicks and branch stacking, here forever and a day. Get over it.


Shifting sands, the blame game, Scotty's magic wand. The Belt and Road agreement and Marise Payne - Scotty's journey into his first love, authoritarianism, symbolism, also known as political targeting, at our Danny, drowning out Victorian liberal branch stacking and the for profit aged care situation. How come nothing on the Port of Darwin and majority ownership of pastoral properties? [Aged care failures: Morrison: ‘‘On those days when our efforts fall short, none are more sorry than I as Prime Minister.’’] ["No human action happens by pure chance unconnected with other happenings." - Inspector Morse].


Comedy: Pauline Hanson on facebook refusing to take the coronavirus vaccine which doesn't exist? Mark Latham as the state leader of One Nation in the NSW parliament?...Collingwood have a 60% off clearance sale, clothing or players?...Ivanka Trump's republican convention speech almost convinced me - almost. I got the feeling the Ku Klux Klan were there in disguise?...I made the wrong choice as a lad. Should have studied psychology. I could have been at Surfers Paradise right now, strolling along the beach, calming the stress of those AFL footballers, poor darlings, trapped in their respective bubbles?...Josh Frydenberg, federal Treasurer, mystery man. Who is he, what does he stand for? - other than entitled?...Tony Abbott's exemption from the Australian government’s international travel ban to fly to London where he has accepted a job spruiking British trade after Brexit; enjoy Tony mate. Don't hurry back...Jeff  Horn, a sad case for 2, 3 years now. Surely it’s not the money?...ABC: Womens Health Week series part 1 (the mental load) with Libbi Gorr. Sorry Libbi, one early Saturday morning with you, 774, is enough for the year...David ("Sorry to jump in") Speers, ABC Insiders. Please, please David, stop jumping in!...More than 100 ancient Aboriginal sites in Western Australia – some of which date before the last ice age – could be destroyed by mining companies which have already obtained legal permission to do so?..."Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble" [Job]...Keep yourselves nice. Hooroo xx...www.ello8.com





Sunday 23rd August, 2020: Post traumatic stress, or simply mild anxiety? No work no pay a shocker for those without funds. Never give up hope, or, realistically, believe in yourself, for inspiration? See - Johannes Vermeer, Johann Sebastian Bach, Henry Thoreau, Herman Melville, Gregor Mendel, Emily Dickinson, Vincent van Gogh, Franz Kafka, fame after death. Australians by and large will follow the rules, authoritarian or otherwise. The border closures (a good example of abolishing the states?) ridiculous political nonsense, easily followed by the majority sheep inhabitants from the relevant closed states, feeling more secure? Surely relax this stupid rule for those living 5 MILES either side of the borders, even 10; a big country? Since March some 90,000 have applied to travel overseas, 22,640 approved. I search for a reason, any reason, why we Australians are banned from travelling overseas by air, particularly when willing to self isolate on return and obviously pay for their self isolation? Scotty's suggestion? of mandatory vaccinations, later withdrawn obviously, but the plant, the threat, remains. Let us hope (pray, or as our coalition friends refers to us - prey?) those face masks work; it's becoming the be all end all. Particles in the air, droplets, sneaking in? The superannuation withdrawals save the government money. The  super increase suggestion, a set off for a wage increase, costs the government nothing. The alternative, no super increase, but does this guarantee a wage increase - not on your Nelly, they play ducks and drakes? Note the high super rate doesn't have any affect on politician's wage increases? Extensions of coalition policies, opposition to superannuation, the ABC? True to form. [ABC page: Any comments that are racist, derogatory, abusive, defamatory, spam or spread misinformation will be deleted and users may be banned from the page.] Misinformation; does this include the coalition?


Entitlement? What next horror awaits? When things go south for a few weeks, then suddenly the sun shines, you eventually ponder on what's next to befall an 84 year old. A day at a time? We await for September 13, unless you’re part of the special people. Clive Palmer, Richmond's Tom Lynch, Portsea's trucking magnate, millionaire's generally ignoring the closed borders? A hard lockdown depending who you are? And we? No problem being a sheep, pondering the rules, according to a bank balance and celebrity status. Brisbane's Mitch Robinson heavily criticised for referring to Tom Lynch as a 'wanker'. Shock horror? Political correctness sheep? The pandemic cluster/outbreak at Frankston hospital, getting closer to home; Rye, Vic. 3941. The ignominy of Michael O'Brien? Some explain it as holding the government to account? Yeah? Remember Matthew Guy? We marvel at how Danny Andrews can maintain a respectful approach to some of the stupid questions (and follow up questions though clearly answered) at those midday announcements. Weather the storm (or as the News Limited group call it - the tornado) Danny boy, keep your eye out for a replacement, and retire gracefully 6 months out from the next election. A lifestyle awaits you. As an entitled maybe a break in Cairns?


For the record: The Future Fund is an independently managed sovereign wealth fund established in 2006 to strengthen the Australian Government's long-term financial position. At 31 December 2019, it was valued at A$168 billion.


I gave away the cigarettes once, years ago, four long months. Painful, played lots of squash. Along came a part in Division 4 or the like, Crawford production, can't recall. An older chap romancing a young lady. God knows who the female was. The reality (as I saw it) - not if I was on Robinson Crusoe's island would I choose her. Worse still, she fancied herself as an actress? Made an excuse, quick break, 5 minutes, to the local shop, Richmond somewhere? a pack of Marlboro, a smoke. Back in - relaxed, did the painful scene. End of my 4 months of fitness hell. Relating to the business of television I notice the return of Halifax (Retribution). Once a hugely popular show with Rebecca Gibney, now with Anthony LaPaglia. I was not a follower of the first series, despite a line-up of top actors. Ditto this current series, clearly not a LaPaglia fan, no disrespect intended for his work as an actor. Still, good luck, actors in work is a good thing, albeit an entitled industry.


Lying, as in my form of reasoning, albeit likely a form of simplicity. A friend, long gone to God, in telling me of another who called her a liar, put to me - “I’m not a liar, am I?” Angry, in need of support? How would I know? I lied, readily agreed, colluding for the sake of peace, perhaps with a desire to help, or plain bored, surely a silly question? She added “I’m a spiritual person - as you know?” I know no such thing. Females often appear to be at one with the spiritual. I again agreed, having not the slightest idea what a spiritual person was, or is. They come in so many shades of grey, including the insecure shorn sheep males. The gamblers are the worst liars, and almost always pray to God. Spiritual? They win more than they actually win or they break even? They lie, a form of necessity coupled with a false feeling of self respect. The storytellers, the embellishers, more exciting at each telling, or funnier depending on the feedback laughter, often hilarious despite the exaggeration level. The worst are perhaps those ending a friendship, holier than thou, on a lie? often jealous types strangely, the most poisonous emotion? Who doesn't lie? A constant in movies, marriage break-ups. We all create myths. [I told her I believe in God. Friends for (her shortened) life? Sometimes it's not so much what you say but what you do not say? I don't believe in most things written in the various bibles, despite the classy writing, philosophical skills; old men creating power cliques centuries ago. Not so much a God male or female, but a creator, yes, I can live with this one. Who is to know?] 


AFL. Sir Doug Nicholls round this week. Always worth a look. The indigenous contribution is an invaluable plus to the amazing skill of these footballers. I can still remember Dougie Nicholls words to me (and two mates) as caretaker of the Northcote Football Ground; caught playing kick to kick on his precious turf. “Get out of here you little buggers”. He chased us off! More than once. Doug Nicholls, 1940’s. [The AFL has named its annual indigenous round after Sir Douglas Ralph "Doug" Nicholls, KCVO, OBE; its only player to have been knighted and serve as a state governor] Dougie, a great footballer, for Northcote and Fitzroy. No surprise the ratings are up with this AFL lollipop football competition. What choice with Foxtel's other (repeats) served up, no better than free to air and equally as many commercials.


Bits and Bobs: Who would have imagined -  a sit down meal of fish and chips and a pot of Carlton draught from the tap, as a luxury?…We can only marvel at the difference between what we see and hear on the ABC (Senate select committee on COVID-19) and how it is reported later, the Channels 7 and 9 News...Age pension indexed September increase frozen until (possibly?) next March, the first since 1997, from a PM on $3000 a day. Does this apply to cigarettes?...Sadly, Ross Lyon should be snapped up as Collingwood coach season 2021, but equally as sadly, Eddie cannot see what's staring him in the face. Sidebottom leaving the Queensland hub (after North Melbourne loss?) the arrival of his partner’s child. Who can blame him?..One million temporary visaholders across Australia not covered by the country's social safety net?...Qantas boss Alan Joyce, on voice alone (had he chose a career as an actor?) would have been a frightening success, as a murderer...No more the traditional television interviews with Johnny Howard, his privatising of the aged care industry?...Prime Minister Scotty "Dealing with the pandemic is up to the states. I'm just focussed on the Australian people" More accurately his re-election late 2021 or 2022?...Katharine Murphy "Is the prime minister focussed, as he should be exclusively, on managing the crisis at hand – or is he preoccupied with managing the blame game?"...Authoritarianism in Gestapo land, specifically for the poorer people? Federal Education Minister, Dan Tehan, announces students can lose their access to the HELP/HECS Scheme if they don't perform in their studies?...Port Phillip council using drones as a spying techniques. “Why not?” says 3AW’s Neil Mitchell, as expected...All Australians will receive the vaccine free, (a useful distraction from everything else swirling around his head, minus Guy Sebastian? A balanced approach, I think not.) if the Oxford trials are successful? TV's Utopia?...Kit and caboodle: Seven years of federal budget cuts to 'our' ABC now stands at $783 million....Anthony Albanese said Labor "evolved with the times." Up to what point Albo? How about supporting refugees and asylum seekers, not to mention Julian Assange?...Let's hear it for the wowsers; the evils of smoking, gambling, alcohol. Apparently sex is allowed?..."There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man (or woman) by which so much happiness is produced as by a good RSL." [With apologies to Samuel Johnson, 1776]...Vale - the CSIRO...hooroo...www.ello8.com





Sunday 16th August, 2020: I'm not big on border closures. We are a country, Australia, not Victoria, and certainly not a bloody postcode or a style of soviet block. Yes, I follow the rules and yes, I'm with Danny Andrews, but never this "all the way" stuff. Banning B&B's a big tick, too many ratbags, not to mention 6 units next door, but not banning the use of holiday houses. Enjoy; I'll take the odds on owners. Advance Australia Where? Now it's the night manager? and not the security guards, highlighting the stupidity of the blame game, more to the point the consistent idiocy of significant numbers of the general public responding to rumours and fear, sliced with political bias, underlining the majority of these sad conclusions. There was little Danny Andrews could have done to stop the problems occurring in quarantine, an amazing work ethic fronting up to press briefings every day, detailed answers (one assumes, I rarely got more than halfway) to a range of questions. And not just the general public, politicians to the fore, equally idiotic, scoring political points, encouraging their sheep, disregarding the sadness of our present situation in favour of personal ambitions. These blame game arguments, state and federal responsibilities, add distress rather than clarity, as if we (particularly those living alone) don't have enough on our present plates. To suggest the Premier is responsible for the enormous damage done to this state and hundreds of families is pathetic. The same could be said for the federal government for aged care deaths, equally pathetic conclusions? The media comes at it from both sides, the personal attacks on Andrews, coupled with good news stories to balance the gloom. People are dying and we attribute all the blame to our politicians. Health Minister Jenny Mikakos offered the people of Victoria what appeared to be a heart-felt apology for being unable to stop the state’s second wave of COVID-19? Danny: "Whatever the [Vic Lib] opposition call for is not relevant to me. I've got a job to do. Their politics have got nothing to do with this pandemic. I would have thought it was pretty obvious who is focused on the politics and who is focused on the global pandemic." Not exactly one espousing homoerotic charm is our Danny, but by and large, I'm with him. [Katherine Murphy, The Guardian: "People don’t need passive aggressive chest bumping from politicians in the middle of a crisis. People’s needs are much simpler. They don’t need an Aesop’s fable about the Victorian premier’s deficiencies dressed up as an apologia; a masked blame game, which is what they got from Canberra on Friday."] Glory be, moving on...  


Real politics? Josh Frydenburg, our federal treasurer, under instructions from Scotty on high, rewarding News Ltd, punishing the ABC, universities and the arts sector. Middle-class welfare for home renovations, bugger all for public housing for the homeless, ditto for closing off JobKeeper for the struggling millions including international students. Never forgetting the coalition’s policy on profit sharing owners of aged care facilities and the continuous drop in foreign aid delivering poorer Pacific nations into the arms of China.


Vale Hong Kong? Police in Hong Kong arrested billionaire media tycoon Jimmy Lai on national security charges (colluding with foreign forces? which punishes dissent with sentences of up to life in prison) and raided his Apple Daily newspaper headquarters, the second most widely read newspaper in Hong Kong and editorialises in favour of the pro-democracy movement. Once upon a time the place to go. No more.


Leunig’s “Take one evil death cult, blend with insecurity cult, add xenophobia cult, stir in one compliant media cult, beat mixture with Prime Minister until it becomes frothy, serve with smoke and mirrors then garnish with new laws and penalties” - add in the team at the ABC’s “Mad as Hell” headed by Shaun Micallef, to assist us in maintaining a decorum of perspective, sanity, with a few belly laughs, in our present political circus. 


The Chaser Weakly: Edited: "Retraction. Our newspapers and cable television news network have spent the last six weeks blaming Daniel Andrews. But you've got to blame someone, don't you? It was hotel staff - which come under the responsibility of the Federal authorities - that first contracted the virus from quarantined travellers. And it looks like they didn't even have sex with anyone. Now that we've realised it was the Federal government's responsibility, I think we can all agree that there's no reason to apportion blame. In these tough times, we need to recognise that nobody was acting with ill-intentions. Nobody was trying to cause a second outbreak. Let's not play the blame game. It doesn't get us anywhere. Everyone's trying their best. And anyway, how good are the Sharks?" [Anyway, Scotty was sorry, so say no more?]


Minister for the Environment; Sussan Ley? Emphasis on the environment, giving special heritage status to the Parkes radio telescope? And yet, rejected an application to give heritage protection to an area of land near Mount Ararat, including six trees that are of particular significance to the Djab Wurrung people (in the way of a road expansion Melbourne to Adelaide, making the journey 2 minutes faster?). The trees are known as delgug – “tall person”. In their application to the Commonwealth, the Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy said the trees are living beings of immeasurable value. “These trees are our ancestors and we must protect them to the best of our ability. Destroying them is severely upsetting, and brings bad fortune.” 


Actors, spies, left out in the cold; Jobkeeper a dream? Truly, Scotty's lot have next to no appreciation of the value of the arts to the general community, whereas we recall the last time Labor had the opportunity - Julia Gillard's wonderful idea of a Prime Minister’s Cup, for the winner of the Western Bulldogs and Greater Western Sydney AFL match? Created (cut) from the same cloth, apart from Pauly Keating and Johnny Gorton? [Blue Heelers John (Sergeant Tom Croydon) Wood has written a book "How I Clawed my way to the Middle". Also a promo piece in The Age, Spectrum by Kylie Northover, where the words self deprecating and inferiority complex were spotted. Really? You live and learn. On the other hand John barracks for Hawthorn, so take it with a GOS?]


National Service 1955. Day 2: Like last night, a ton of food. Breakfast foods, toast, sausages, bacon, eggs, beans, you name it. Regular navy looking at us as if we came out of the woodwork; a virus? 8AM and bullring time, pure torture. An officer, similar in build and uniform to a senior Gestapo, pranced up and down like a rooster on heat telling us none of our mothers were married and how we were the scum of the earth. He was going to turn us into men. Good for you, you mongrel! He even looked like bloody Adolph. My god, but it was hard work that first week - so bloody cold, mid July, so much marching, for what? Why am I here? Why are they doing this? Why do they despise us? Stuff me, I thought. Another 22 bloody weeks. Was this how it felt in Pentridge? As with life generally to this stage (and forever?) - finding the angles? [2020: From Gaga-land. Frankly Clifford, born 1936, it's past time to call it time. The angles fast disappearing. The fat lady sings? I'll think about this - tomorrow?]


Word of wisdom? - Nathan Buckley “We were off tonight, that’s as disconnected as we’ve been.” I'm for the grand final to be played at the MCG, but if it's between West Coast and Geelong play it in Darwin, and if Melbourne is in it; Beijing? Collingwood, thrashed by Melbourne, and Carlton won, all within 6 hours, yesterday. Living in this age of boredom we look to little pleasures for a temporary respite. Not forthcoming your worship. The intense pain, temporarily. Fortunately, an AFL comedy series, forgotten the next morning.


Scotty's Homebuilder project; hot air?...Before the superannuation cash grab (2019) there was more self-funded retirees in the 60-64 age group than there were pensioners. Now some 600,000 people with no superannuation?...One can't help wondering if Sophie Mirabella and Michaelia Cash were school bullies at primary school?...The government is considering bringing forward the tax cuts as part of a multibillion-dollar plan to bolster the economy but there are concerns they will largely benefit middle and higher income earners. Concerns? I'll second that!..."For the next 5 to 10 years going forward" said whoever, and others. How would they know? Nonsense...Not in a hurry to receive my electricity bill, albeit electricity wholesale prices at a 5 year low......For many in the process of home buying and a mortgage, the real fear of negative equity looms...Good to see our mate Billy Shorten firing on Insiders this morning. At the same time the sadness of who got elected instead, in 2019..."As it is the chief concern of the wise to retrench the evils of life by reasonings of philosophy, it is the employment of fools to multiply them by the sentiment of superstitions." [Addison]...hooroo...www.ello8.com





Sunday 9th August, 2020: Brenda Lee comes to mind, 1963, her song "All alone am I ever since your goodbye, just the lonely beating of my heart" “We’re all in this together” my backside. See a mate cop a hiding and you slink off? So much for the closed borders states. On the condition you do not live in South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania and most of New South Wales, we're all in this together? Sadly true. Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz: "I don’t expect people to stop blaming each other, we’re all human after all. In the face of an uncertain future, we want (or maybe even need) something to get angry about. We might be unsure of what’s going to happen next – and as an epidemiologist, I can tell you it is incredibly hard to predict – but in spite of that it’s worth remembering most people really are trying their best." Moving on...


Again sadly, though not everybody, Danny Andrews in their sights. Julia (The Drum) Baird on his case. Josh Frydenburg. Blame, blame and more. Sorry Danny mate, great job, the bottom line - you’re gone. True, Michael O’Brien a pain, but ever so sadly, looking to win come 2022. Can you imagine? I can't; just as well I'm a cigarette smoker; it's moments like these etc, bugger the bloody Minties - it's a lolly spell check - bugger off. The psychologists overrun with non smoking customers, told to stop smoking immediately, ignoring the arguable fact most suicide victims are non smokers? Suburban takeover? The sadness of so many Fitzroy North people anti Danny Andrews. Never in my day, in North Fitzroy. We accept South Yarra, Malvern, Mount Eliza, but Fitzroy North? Angry, no. Merely pondering, as always. Hoping for no panic buying/cigarettes? 


David Crowe: “Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is accountable for the blunders in hotel quarantine and the subsequent spread of infection but the fault lines in aged care run all the way to Canberra. The system was especially vulnerable after years of missed opportunities to mend its weaknesses.” Fair enough. Our Treasurer (and David Speers Insider) also honing in on the hotel blunder, the louder to offset the aged care blunder. The blame game, to be continued, ad infinitum.


The sadness of those who voted 'against' Billy Shorten, rather than voting 'for' any other political party. Moreso, blissfully unaware of their particular form of ignorance. Herewith, an overview of Billy's replacement...  


Where is Ken Wyatt? Kevin Rudd’s apology to Indigenous people in 2008 and still nothing happened. Pat Turner, convener of the Indigenous organisations, said, “The national agreement represents a turning point in our country’s efforts to close these gaps.” Scott Morrison - no new money, his government rejecting a change to laws that would stop 10-year-olds being locked up. [Rio Tinto decided to legally destroy two 46,000-year-old Aboriginal rock shelters to access $135 million worth of iron ore that would not have been available under alternative mining plans avoiding the culturally significant site. The nation’s second-largest miner has faced condemnation after legally destroying the ancient site in Western Australia’s Juukan Gorge, against the will of the land’s traditional owners, just before National Reconciliation Week.] 


The Saturday Paper, edited: In Victoria, a police force with an expanded punitive approach to public health, increasing fines for those who breach public health orders and giving them the power to enter homes without a warrant. Protective services officers – armed officials with just three months of training, who normally patrol train stations – have been given the same powers as police to stop, question and fine individuals. The actual impact on reducing the spread of the virus is unclear. The media laps this up, because it generates outrage, creates controversy and audience engagement, a perception the public is dangerously flouting the laws by partying, when in reality most Victorians are obeying health orders and we actually don’t even know the details of most of those who are being fined. Journalists kick off press conferences asking about whether fines should be increased, given how many people are breaking the rules. The government acquiesces and the cycle continues. No? Watch 9's A Current Affair, or read The Australian, the Herald  Sun, and now 9's The Age. 


Again, The Saturday Paper, edited: Superannuation: The government has portrayed the scheme as allowing people access to “their” money to help them through a time of financial hardship, a limited truth. The greater truth, as former prime minister Paul Keating noted, is the other way around: early access to super savings is less about the government helping people through a time of hardship than about those people helping the government through a time of hardship, by shifting much of the cost of economic stimulus to a subset of the population. “Of the income support in Australia to date, in this Covid emergency, $32 billion has been found and paid for by the most vulnerable, lowest-paid people in the country – that’s the people who’ve taken the $20,000 out – and $30 billion has been provided by the Commonwealth under JobSeeker and JobKeeper,” Keating: “The main burden of income support is people ratting their own savings to the tune of where now 600,000 young people, broadly young people, under 35, have no superannuation accounts at all now. “They lose all the compounding – the $20,000 would have multiplied itself by five-and-a-half or six times over their lifetime – so it’s been a very poor choice for them.” Many used the money to increase their spending on non-essential consumption.


The Chaser Weakly: Publicly funded broadcasters have been under threat in Australia for some time. Luckily, there is one publicly-funded broadcaster that continues to receive generous support from the government, even though its audience-base is narrowing, and it is becoming more and more of an opinion mouthpiece for a small group of radical misfits. It's called News Corp, and over the past decade, it has received hand-outs of about $1.1 billion from the Federal government. Just last week, it received an extra $10 million to prop up its sports programming on Fox Sports. This was on top of $30 million in 2017. There were no enforceable guidelines over how this money was to be used. I know what you're probably thinking - it's the same thing that News Corp columnists have argued for years: Publicly funded media is a waste of taxpayer's money. [Jane Hume Assistant minister for Immigration on our Pauly: “It’s extraordinary that a man in a Zegna suit on a generous parliamentary pension can sneer at the decisions made by ordinary Australians who are facing some of the most challenging economic circumstances we’ve ever seen.”] [Cliffie: Another indirect result of a set against Billy Shorten].


The tunnel-vision fanatics, often Christians? within the margins of fixed opinions, politically, indeed if extended, to any given topic, almost always predictable before opening their gobs. Conservative, the meaning a mystery, looking on democratic socialism as a new form of fascism. Many extended to approving Morrison's belief in 'all the way with Donald' and never considering (or recognising) the USA Donald trend of institutional racism? Better still, in the light of people on visas, the unemployed, the homeless, would Jesus approve of negative gearing?


Jonathan Horn, The Guardian: You look back on all the things you used to gripe about – the officiating, the rolling mauls, the moronic commentary. They are still genuine grounds for grievance, mind you. But they seem so quaint right now. So much wasted energy, so much hot air. Remember the way tribunal hearings would turn into two and three day morality trials? The way Kane Cornes would find 25 things to object to by lunchtime? The way, on AFL 360, Mark Robinson would react to a two-goal loss like someone had just set fire to his house? [AFL (last man standing) football, featuring clones, tattoos and peroxide tips, now umpired by the crowd at The Gabba. Accept it, remain calm.]


Variety and flexibility, a necessity in living a life? Knowing how to adapt our living patterns to society’s customs and not being bound up with these necessities in favour of your own aims (if any, other than survival?) can result in a marked improvement to your sense of living, albeit current adjustments. It gets harder with age, particularly when taking Francis Bacon’s words as gospel “I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am”. Perhaps interpreted as simply always having my own way? Friendship is vital in the sense of a loving friendship, living gold, your wife if you’re very lucky, and one or two close friends; a balancing act. Again Mr Bacon “Imagination is given to man to compensate for what he is not; a sense of humour to console him for what he is”. See? I’m meditating; must be getting ancient, or desperate? Stay safe? 


And other positives, other than a Collingwood victory? Mathias Cormann leaves us at the end of the year, or so he said on Sky News. But can they be trusted - Mathias and Sky? Melbourne (secret lover) Peter Dutton presently wearing a mirage mask. Well, other than his dream of the $1.67 billion cybersecurity strategy to enter into the dark web. A trifle weird, surely he has his own private dark web? “I’m not going to have them (his beloved Border Force) besmirched on a regular basis by anybody,” Mr Dutton said at a press conference when questioned on his possible involvement in the Ruby Princess debacle. 


The special arts grant, come November?...Hitting the jobless? JobSeeker. The Liquid Assets Waiting Test to be reintroduced after September. Unemployed mature age to wait some 13 weeks, cutting in at $5,500.....Our thoughts go out to the over million+ temporary migrants, mostly on work visas stuck here without income support...Quick and slick, from Chemists Warehouse. Facemarks on sale - wearing a mask can protect you from COVID by two thirds?...Calling for the Swedish model; 5000+ deaths and less than half our population?...The attempt to humiliate Health Minister Jenny Mikakos rather than proposing any constructive plans to further fight the pandemic?...Eddie's Millionaire fortune seekers, regularly: "It’s not my strong suit" [What is?] My gut instinct is telling me" [Wrong again?]...Politicians: Patriotism, religion and self-deprecation. Who are they kidding?... Future generations paying off our national debt; hogwash, ever thus...Finally, a big shout out for Papua New Guinea and their $60,000 donation to Merimbula...hooroo…www.ello8.com




Sunday 2nd August, 2020: Staying local, as always, hoping Russia, China and the USA can somehow cancel themselves out? Besides, we have enough on our plate; 723, 627, 397, 671 including (all up) 760 mystery cases. Merry Go Round or Ghost Train? Wondering how I would have coped had it arrived in the 1980's. No pension entitlement, working actor, casual employee, 3 kids, no Jobkeeper qualification. At today's figures Jobseeker, $1,100 a fortnight. Can't help feeling for them. A new illness: Seclusion. Deadly for an actor. Better at least, than attitude sickness, positivity a necessity, the day at a time principle, dodging the dickheads, mask on, eyes front. The advantage of spending 5 long months as a Nasho 1955 and somehow, patiently, quietly, surviving the horror of being ordered around by strange zombie like muscled men with stripes on their shirts. I read where our defence services are receiving lots more applicants; the devil and the deep blue sea? Lots of luck kids. It can always be worse, say I, tongue in cheek, albeit no teeth. We could be living in Florida, or Zimbabwe...or Sydney? No? Once Marvellous Melbourne? 

[Stop press: From 6pm tonight, Victoria will enter a State of Disaster. Melbourne will also move to Stage 4 restrictions with stronger rules to limit the movement of people. That includes an 8pm-5am curfew – beginning tonight. The only reasons to leave home during these hours will be work, medical care and caregiving. Group size will be limited to a maximum of two – you and one other person – whether you live with them or not. Shopping limited to one person per household per day within 5kms of your home.]


Language matters Prime Minister Morrison, careful on the aged care responsibility. The Andrews government has asked for our help he tells us? For profit, a Commonwealth creation, John Howard, years ago, privatisation the bugbear? Has any journalist reminded Scott Morrison he ripped out $1.2 billion from the age care sector in 2017? Beware the blame game, also known as buck passing. Pay pandemic scheme? Sounds good, many potholes. Can we manage the increased debt level? Indubitably, no choice anyway. We thank Keating for his superannuation scheme, despite the young dipping in. Scotty's words - listening to indigenous australians? Didn’t our Kevvy do this and was ignored by the Libs? An independent (of the USA) foreign policy on China? I’ll believe anything. One question: Does this policy include Facebook and google?


Privatisation: Telstra, Qantas, Commonwealth Bank, Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, Medibank, the electricity industry, the water industry, For-profit businesses to childcare and aged care, never ending rich shareholders bleeding the rest of us dry, approved by our bloodsucking governments. Global warming: Certain to affect all life on planet Earth; water levels, arctic melting, extreme weather. Political, premature: The Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association has called for a royal commission into Victoria’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Fair enough, but credit to Dan Andrews.


Ross Gittins: People ask me where will all the money the government’s spending come from? Mainly from other Australians, who have money they’ve saved and want to lend. Others ask, who buys all those government bonds? There’s no shortage of financial institutions keen to buy, starting with your superannuation fund and other fund managers. So much so that recent offerings have been way oversubscribed, allowing the government to borrow for five years at a yield (interest rate) of just 0.4 per cent, and for 10 years at just 0.9 per cent. With the inflation rate at 1.7 per cent, this means it’s costing us nothing to borrow. The alternative to using government spending to support the economy until the crisis finally passes is to let it continue shrinking, with more and more people being thrown out of work and businesses failing. But this wouldn’t get the budget back to balance, it would cut tax collections even further and increase government spending on unemployment benefits, thus worsening the deficit and adding further to the debt. Why would that be a good deal?


Woody Allen: In October 2017, actor Griffin Newman, who has a small role in one of Woody's films, announced he would donate his fee to an organisation that works against sexual violence and assault, because he believed Dylan. In January 2018, actress Rebecca Hall followed suit, donating her fee to Time’s Up, which campaigns against sexual harassment and abuse. A few days later Chalamet did likewise. Selena Gomez also made a donation that reportedly ‘‘far exceeded’’ her fee for the film to the organisation. Only Cherry Jones, who plays Chalamet’s mother in Rainy Day, took a different line. ‘‘There are those who are comfortable in their certainty. I am not,’’ she told The New York Times. ‘‘I don’t know the truth.’’ A year later she went further, telling The Guardian: ‘‘I did my homework. I went back and studied every scrap of information I could get about that period. And in my heart of hearts, I do not believe he was guilty as charged.’’ Woody: ‘‘It doesn’t matter to me for a second. They were nice kids, I thought they were great in the movie. If it’s fashionable to say they don’t want to work for me, that’s fine.’’ [I'm with Woody, his art].


Our Morrison government: Apparently? the intent to wind up JobKeeper and slash JobSeeker payments despite a severe recession, rising unemployment, and rampant underemployment. About 3.5 million Australians currently rely on the former payment; 1.6 million subsist on the latter. Skilfully deflecting blame for serious policy shortcomings onto state governments, notably Victoria’s much maligned quarantine of returned travellers and potentially catastrophic surge of aged care infections, as well as the NSW government’s bungling of the Ruby Princess cruise ship. The Commonwealth has ultimate responsibility for Australia’s border security. According to the Refugee Council of Australia keeping asylum seekers offshore has cost more than a billion dollars a year. In the 2018-19 financial year, the cost to hold someone in detention in Australia was more than $350,000 a year. Can we hope to see the system of incarceration begin to fray further, with pressure mounting on the Morrison government to take up New Zealand’s offer to resettle ‘‘our’’ asylum seekers?


The vault, 2016: The law of Compensation: As a teenager I was big on number 9; my lucky number. At racetracks if number 9 had a name which related to something, anything, I declared it, and plonked. I felt lucky on the 9th of the month, or September, and Tuesdays. A public service sickie was invariably on a Tuesday. After many years involving heavy losses I switched to number 8, reducing my losses by a rough estimate of 50%. Later, in my 60's, I decided this was superstitious nonsense (apart from Tuesdays) so number 8 went the way of 9 and I welcomed an enlightened approach with my current number, 4. As I’ve now given away most gambling to finance my smoking it simply remains as a Powerball number. None of this has caused any consternation as I've rarely had any interest in accumulating money. Gambling was for fun, mateship. Indeed I'm fascinated by so many people spending most of their lives trying to "get ahead" and rarely if ever asking themselves why? A decade ago after reaching 70 I figured my old number 8 might well come to the party (every minus equals a plus?) giving me every chance to reach the big eight 0. It did, brain almost intact. Having now arrived (80) I’m wondering if my first number (9) might likewise come to the party and recoup all those heavy early years of losses by taking me to nine 0, again with brain intact. Surely positive instructions to my brain (and my soul) will have the desired  effect? Is this thinking (desired effect) a reality, a positive? Well yes, it does in other areas so I see not why. I still have wanton thoughts (thankfully), but unlike youth my brain, my soul, keep these ideas at a controllable level. I become sedate, mature; temperance reigns. I stay well clear of nightclubs, Federation Square, R rated movies and the ever increasing ratbags via social media, the idea of fear and disorder anathema to my soul. Patience and penitence as against sensual pleasure. The face of janus, usually depicted as having two faces, since it (he?) looks to the future and to the past. Let childhood look ahead, old age backwards. If youth has done a bunk or warns me about control I at least want to retain a part of it as a memory; the good bits anyway. Is there pleasure in this situation? Up to a point yes; age being granted a licence to play the fool whereas youth must build a reputation. Possibly the one side issue; I’ve always been sensitive and susceptible to pain so obviously I’m more exposed, much more now with constant reminders from do-gooders in all forms of the media reminding me of what (may) lie ahead, bless them. Some dare to suggest we hand in our driving licences citing suspect research? Then there's this strange new phenomenon called political correctness. If I look at a female in a restaurant for longer than 4 seconds I’m in grave danger, stalking? The better news is at this stage they cannot take away my mind, so it follows I’ve given my mind strong instructions to flourish, unseen. [As for those self righteous types who refuse the face mask. who do not isolate before the COVID-19 test results, and after if positive, my mind slips back to my backyard in Westgarth 1948, when Dad and neighbour Dick Rainsford cut the heads off two chooks, two Christmas dinners, the headless chooks, streaking around, unaware of their headless state.]


Collingwood, can anyone survive an 11 goal thrashing? Next 4 - Fremantle, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne. Win 3 and back in business, anything less and we look forward to 2021?...Yesterday, 62 years ago, a very fortunate 17 year old Mary McCalman was escorted to the State theatre Flinders Street by a strikingly handsome (her words) 22 year old male...Zorro would have been fined $200. Obviously if I venture out I'll wear one of my 4 masks. Not convinced as to the effectiveness of wearing, still pondering why WHO said no to masks, then changed to yes? What would I know?...Been going on for the past 40 years, ‘‘the lucrative aged care industry’’. The regulatory domain of the Commonwealth? Profiteering, and greedy shareholders, at the expense of the the health and safety of the elderly, nurses and nursing aides. Crooks..."Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other." [Oscar Ameringer]....Re-watching Casablanca, Leon, the Professional for calm; Wentworth series 8 for horror, despite the re entry of Pamela Rabe. Bugger the nightly news..."Adversity borrows its sharpest sting from impatience" [Bishop Horne]...hooroo…www.ello8.com




SUNDAY 26TH July, 2020. 459. OMG. Okey dokey. The second eye (cataract surgery) and another week of those first 10 days of possible infection. Stress levels, trauma, loss, grief, the COVID-19 figures obviously, bloody masks, the ever constant blamers, (dickheads?) bring to the fore a necessity for a focus, as I see it. If one fears fear, one has no hope. Importantly, maintained by a refuge from intellectual incursions. I'm thinking London 3 nights, Athens 2, Greek island 21, all up 1 month, early May or early September 2021. With a laptop in case of the impossible dream, Collingwood coming good. Thinking back to my old blind poker playing days - "Whinge and you'll win". Whatever. Focus Clifford. Set aside the wankers. Think - positive, think future? Moving on...


$10million to Fox Sports to broadcast women’s and niche sport, taking the total amount of corporate welfare under this program to Murdoch to $40 million. The Morrison Government is handing out millions of dollars of taxpayer money to a private, corporate broadcaster while slashing funding at the public broadcaster. Any support for the broadcast of women’s sport should be going to the ABC and SBS which fans can watch for no further cost. [Noted, come the 2022 election, assuming survival. The noted file is overflowing.]


Any type of debt is terrible, until now. True, we need to go into debt, but the scale of it, the necessary scale (indeed it should be more) at current interest rates, less than 1%, is a given. What it shows up is the glaring (dazzling?) hypocrisy of the coalition government rubbishing Labor's debt history dating back to Wayne Swan’s necessary survival mode action in response to the GFC. Even more interesting, as in something to look forward to, is all those Liberal voting letter writers who came in strong about Labor’s spending compliments of agreeing with anything and everything their political masters decree? Hot, hot air, surely, and comedy. Reforms? - no chance the GST increase and surely, despite promises, no tax cuts for upper and middle class earners. Add this to the wowsers coming in strong on gambling and alcohol, the stress levels, trauma, loss, grief, COVID-19 figures, masks, the ever constant blamers and a lollipop AFL football competition, if nothing else, it makes our isolation bearable and interesting. 


From The Chaser Weakly, edited: There have been some murmurings among our non-executive level staff in recent weeks that the wages we pay you aren't enough to live on anymore. The first sign of this was when I bumped into our Senior Editor at Coles last Friday night. She seemed to think it was awkward, but I thought what she was doing was great. Those shelves don't stack themselves, do they? Nonetheless, I feel I owe you some sort of explanation for why your wages among our millennial staff members haven't gone up since 1879. At the end of last year, when I was setting the pay rates, I was looking at purchasing a yacht for my daughter. Docking fees for yachts are just ridiculous nowadays. Some of you have probably noticed your wages have gone down since the beginning of July thanks to the lower penalty rates that the government brought in. A lot of you are getting very hungry, and that's leading to a loss of staff morale. When I get hungry, I get grumpy, so I totally understand where you're coming from. Just the other day, I was finishing up the back nine at the Royal Sydney and I realised I hadn't had anything to eat since morning tea. I had to get the caddy to go and get me some pre-lunch canapes from the club house. I totally empathise with your situation. As a result, I'm pleased to announce that from today onwards, we will be offering hugs to all millennial staff members to address their woeful underpayment and appalling conditions. Obviously, due to Covid-19 restrictions, we won't be able to hand out hugs at this point, but just know that we would give you some hugs if we could. And it's the thought that counts….Hope that helps.


As for this 'so called' AFL competition, the lollipop AFL, bash and crash, the occasional whistles from rattled umpires, the pretended enthusiasm from football commentators, all for the benefit of Fox Footy, Murdoch's mob. Kelly Underwood, Jonathan Brown, surely related to his consistent use following another of his multiple opinions with "it's that simple" or "there's no doubt about it" a la Lady Jacqui Louise Lambie. Mental health of the players, single men in a hub? Kelly feels for them? Patrick Dangerfield decries the free kicks awarded to Collingwood against Geelong and is listened to? Imagine had a Collingwood player done likewise; better chance of winning powerball? All in all a fraudulent competition, subject to an opinion change, unlikely, if Collingwood comes good.


The Saturday Paper; the environment: The McGowan government in Western Australia allowed Rio Tinto to blast 46,000-year-old rock shelters sacred to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama people in the Pilbara. The Berejiklian government in New South Wales, in March gave approval to Peabody Energy to mine for coal under one of Sydney’s water reservoirs. Some 10,000 people signed a petition opposing the approval, but the NSW parliament did not sit to hear it. In Victoria, under Daniel Andrews’ watch, VicForests – a timber company owned by the state government – was found to have violated federal law by logging the habitat of endangered species. [Professor Graeme Samuel: "Environment laws not fit for purpose"?]


From my vault, 2015: From Seneca, Roman philosopher: We are like dogs leashed to the back of a moving chariot. Our leashes are long enough to give us some freedom and maneuverability, but not long enough to allow us to move wherever we want. We are still on a leash and anchored to the chariot of life. Far better to follow along in a direction that you don’t want to go rather than to kick against something that you cannot change. Being able to identify what we can and cannot change is a really important ability that can be a key to our freedom and happiness. Beware, prosperous people are more prone to anger on the presupposition that wealthier people tend to have more expectations. Rich people tend to believe their money will insulate them from disappointments which is simply untrue. Poorer people have a certain advantage in avoiding anger due to a tendency to expect less out of the world. A practical approach that Seneca gave to avoiding anger was to prepare yourself mentally for disappointment. He believed advice like, “don’t worry, it will be fine,” was cruel because it leaves people unprepared if things turn out not to be okay. He recommended a daily meditation on all of the things that might go wrong. It might seem like preposterous advice, but imagine how much more enjoyable life might be for all of us if we left our house in the morning not really expecting too much. It leaves us in a position to be pleasantly surprised and grateful when things do go smoothly. Seneca is not saying to never expect things to go well, but rather just to be psychologically prepared for a day when they don’t. [Like now?].


National debt 800+ billion. Recovery, stimulate? Industrial relations reform, government, businesses and unions. Love to sit in in this one, particularly during the 2 hour lunch breaks...875,000 paid more under Jobkeeper than their original wages. The party is about to be over, correctly. Alternatively, another 200,000 on the unemployment list, money and social housing distress...Josh: "The largest single economic measure that any Australian government has ever undertaken" Unprecedented. I should bloody hope so...The Greens (Adam) on the job "Women losing out twice as much on Jobkeeper". Poor darlings?...COVID-19. 300 one day, 357 the next, bringing to mind the Jiving contest I entered years ago. In the city, surrounded by a mix of shady characters and enthusiastic innocents. A big prize and a slinky lowlife character judging, watching, purving, every so often tapping a couple on the back; OUT! A shiver down my spine as the mongrel passed...Letters: "If the private sector will not provide enough – or any – jobs, there is only one choice: state and federal governments and shire councils must provide paid work for those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own during a deep recession that could well morph into a depression" Sounds good to me?....Danny Andrews rubbished for not telling those with symptoms to self isolate, early on? A temporarily lull, an error nevertheless, forgetting those with uncommon sense?…The wowsers are in clover, alcohol, including Shaun Micallef’s link with breast cancer?…"The gaudy, blabbing, and remorseful day, Is crept into the bosom of the sea" [WS[....hooroo…www.ello8.com




Pliny’s Naturalis Historia, 77 A.D.: “After the defeat of that mighty monarch Mithridates, Gnaeus Pompeius found in his private cabinet a recipe for an antidote in his own handwriting: Take two dried walnuts, two figs, and twenty leaves of rue; pound them all together, with the addition of a grain of salt; if a person takes this mixture fasting, he will be proof against all poisons for that day”. To take a statement with “a grain of salt” means to accept it but to maintain a degree of skepticism about its truth. A quick one this week. Not allowed cigarettes ALL DAY tomorrow. The stress in simply thinking about it? Meantime, stay safe?


Woe is me? The search for a mask and no, I have no scarf. Doubtful I’ll be posting a SALT for the next fortnight. Second eye surgery Thursday with a week of misery to follow and a further few weeks until a return to this current world/word called normalcy. If all goes to plan (who knows?) I'm locking in SPRING. September 1st, as a new 84 year old lease of life, albeit maintaining a secondary form of misery. New rules meant a second COVID-19 test within 5 days of surgery, awaiting results, confident of negative. The eyes are emotional bastards at my age, no thanks to my Daikin heating system. Perhaps also cigarettes? Coronavirus Australian statistics appear to stack up well when related to other countries. Perhaps not so well if we include cases to population?


Still the disgraceful actions of our government with the Christmas Island Tamil family and the refugees in that Preston motel. Ditto the $400 million government package to attract overseas movie makers, better spent on Australian movie makers? The Goodies? Negative gearing and franking credits cost the taxpayer more than $23 billion in 2017-18 and sure to continue on unhindered. And they scream at the cost of our ABC?


How to pass the time during shutdown? A good book? a Collingwood win? Blue Heelers lifer John Wood has written a book, out August 4th. I recall his superannuation commercials but little else including 5 plays alongside him; should be interesting. Apparently Treasurer Josh is bringing down an important budget this week, also known as mythological optimism, almost always promising the road to a better world, basically reading from notes provided by his current public service experts. Not to be taken seriously. Words; prefer actions. No more nightly ABC news or 7.30, same old same old, now with the SBS news? Being in my 80's I get a mention every day in the deaths? At long last, the joy, a celebrity?


The Kerr Queen letters. Surely edited before release? Or some missing? Herd immunity is not an option, suppression surely the choice. Morrison and Albanese attended their football matches, fair enough, though how Sydney could allow Star Casino to remain operating is a mystery. Certain decisions, those on and not on JobKeeper, the housing commission towers decision against like richer areas, refugees obviously. Then we have the Murdoch apoplectic Herald Sun bullies centering in on political rather than saving lives. 


We brought in mandatory quarantining in hotels because we couldn’t trust people to stay home after returning from overseas. We brought in security guards, because we couldn’t trust people to stay in those hotels, then the ADF, because we couldn’t trust the security guards, also the police to check up on people, because we couldn't trust those who were meant to be self-isolating to self-isolate. Now to use masks, because we cannot trust people to social distance when they are in public. Supermarkets have had to introduce shopping restrictions because we couldn’t trust people to take more than what they needed. Selfishness and lack of empathy. Australians, all in it together. Reason as logic or reason as motive? Always a tricky one. 


From the vault; 2016: People of my vintage may choose to retire gracefully, as in "Different men, different tastes, not are all things fit for all ages" [Maximianus]. If we must study let us study something suitable to our condition "to depart a better person and more content". Not sure about the "content" factor but surely the option of sitting on your backside feeling sorry for yourself only speeds up the meeting at the pearly gates. "No-one listens anyway" some say; not true. You're listening (to yourself) and that matters. Assuming reasonable health I'm into a form of savouring old age, allowing for 37 zaps of radio therapy. Many choose the cruise ship option, why I do not know. Sitting at dinner each night listening to people telling each other how important they are, (not unlike actors) overeating, over drinking, searching for confirmation of each other's lifestyle, pokies, entertainment, getting richer; never quite experiencing or being interested in arts and culture nor realising it's the real connection to wellbeing and purpose. To each his own obviously, but for added benefits, maybe cruising the Rhine or try the Seine, a mix of water and culture. Just a thought. 


Take your pick? A Seniors accommodation fund to target an economic stimulus for older Aussies OR $25,000 grants for a refurbished bathroom for the rich?...Hong Kong’s vague new security laws, the South China Sea and military actions escalation upgrades. Australia to sit it out?...Pronunciation: Absurd or abzurd?...Brainwashed yet? Hang about, not long now. The brave new world (Dobber's Delight) continues, radio 3AW leading the charge - "Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead" [Benjamin Franklin]....Michaela Cash as Employment Minister, that’s comedy?...Who is paying for all those Harvey Norman ads?...The too hard basket; which is worse: Hardline right wing nationalism (Murdoch's media) or Covid-19?...The Queen was unaware of GG Sir John Kerr’s intentions, and I’m a monkey’s uncle. As for the letters, certainly not ALL of them. Yes, I'm guessing, but I like the odds. Then of course, way back then, we had the CIA influence?...A Victorian was the source of the NSW outbreak; nice to know (again?) we’re all in this together?...Special Forces war crimes investigation; expecting a total truth result here before my 90th birthday...."An artist is a bloke who can hold two fundamentally opposing views and still function." [Fitzgerald].

We wish Danny Andrews good health, albeit a Geelong supporter.

World with end, Amen?...hooroo...www.ello8.com




"Life is a progress from want to want, not from enjoyment to enjoyment." 

[Samuel Johnson]

Confusion reigns. Now it's masks. They have a plan, a strategy. They are also dangerously close to knowing everything we do, when we breaths so to speak, security measures tightening throughout the world, and experts, assumptions to the fore, on all and sundry matters. A Peter Dutton heaven on earth? Confusion, an understatement? We assume  they are doing their best, we are all in this together, apart from the over 70 year olds in some countries? Globalisation, nationalism, leading to what? Complacency not allowed. Never forgetting tax cuts, doing bugger all for the poorest and narrowing the revenue base. Work that one out? Breathe deeply, from the diaphragm? What bloody choice? Our Prime Minister makes a jolly speech, backing Andrews, and comfortably lets the blame game run its race, a long race ever onwards, Andrews bullseye, dead centre. Alongside all this, we are gifted with this social wellbeing caper, yet again getting a good run on radio, honing in on going for a walk, having a conversation with someone. For the love of God, for the love of me, give your mouths a rest.


The campaign to get our Danny, a Victorian Liberal government the dream. Greedy buggers. They have the herald sun, The Australian, the television stations 7, 9 and 10, a pseudo Age newspaper, a federal Liberal government and a heightened security system in their favour. Fortunately, being a lifelong Collingwood supporter I've suffered a lifelong media and umpire bias against our boys, so it's nothing new to me, not to mention surviving 40 years as an actor amidst a minefield of class distinction and mirage directors; elephant's skin a necessity. I've even survived Henry Bolte and Robert Menzies. Wot, me worry? Not bloody likely.  


From The Chaser Weakly, edited: The climate is only getting warmer, the virus is raging out of control across the globe and there has been a sharp rise in authoritarian "strong-man" politics. The UN is reporting hundreds of millions people have been plunged into poverty as a result of the pandemic and the slow descent into global economic depression means it will be decades before that trend is reversed. So it's great to be able to bring you some good news at last. It's such a welcome relief to have something positive and hopeful to share with you all. To be honest, I don't know what it is at the moment, but rest assured, there is some good news somewhere in the world. I personally can't think of anything. But, statistically speaking, it must be true that someone, somewhere in the world is having a great time. I'll let you know if I find out any more details about it. 


GST increase? So the poorer pay? There's a surprise. Many without employment, students without a casual job, many superannuants suffering a cutback in retirement income, the JobSeeker allowance and JobKeeper facing termination, massive queues at Centrelink, costs increasing, the homeless still with no home, hundreds of refugees awaiting citizenship, stranded overseas workers with no work and pensioners struggling. OK. OK. Not all pensioners.


Two million temporary visa holders with work rights and another 2 million or more unemployed looking for jobs and yet Australia can justify making special arrangements for relatively well-off people losing their liberties; humanitarian? Hong Kong, over and above the millions of refugees already driven from their homelands by war or other trauma worldwide? Gestapo Land; China's new security laws. Vague stuff. Welcome to Aussieland, if you're rich and/or a student with rich parents. Vale Honkers?


From Paul Keating, also edited: The Superannuation Guarantee in 1992, raising it at the rate of 1% of wages for each year until 2001, there was a cacophony of business voices and critics arguing that Australia, emerging from a recession, simply could not afford it. That the advent of the Superannuation Guarantee would lift costs and slow job growth. In fact, none of these things happened.The profit share in GDP increased markedly over the period 1992-2001 driven by the reforms of the 1980s and 1990s as at the same time we saw linear growth in employment and strong real wage growth. The very same arguments are being put today by the same kind of critics. What is new is the notion that because the current recession is induced by the Covid-19 virus, the Australian economy has lost the capacity to recover and grow. If we keep our nerve and play to our strengths, which include an expanding and dynamic pool of superannuation assets, the Australian growth engine will fire again. As it always has. It is no accident that stock markets around the world have already priced recovery into current market valuations.The paucity of imagination runs rife and yet when someone puts their hands up for ordinary working people, who have nothing to trade but their time, to give them a lift in later life, the self-appointed capital police, is relentless. The whole campaign against the firmly legislated modest increase in the Superannuation Guarantee has been orchestrated by the Australian Financial Review and the wilful Grattan Institute.The key message is this: in a period of flat to negative real wage growth, the only likely avenue to any real, though modest, increase in compensation is via the prospective increase in the Superannuation Guarantee Charge. No ducking or weaving or high jinks by the Financial Review or any of its accomplices will change this salient economic fact. If business, or the government, opts to rob ordinary Australians of the sliver of labour productivity they have well-earned and which, by legislation, is theirs, it will descend to a brutal fight over income shares of the kind we last saw in the 1970s.


Big Brother pops his head up? The Administrative Appeals Tribunal would establish a new arm called the Investigatory Powers Division, which would be headed by a retired judge and include other lawyers and technical experts. Under the Morrison government’s laws, security agencies can order a ‘‘technical capability notice’’ (TCN) requiring service providers to build new capabilities to gain access to encrypted messages, which only needs the authorisation of the Attorney-General. They can also order a ‘‘technical assistance notice’’ (TAN), which compels companies to decrypt information when they have the existing means to do so.


Mathias Cormann, seven years of stagnant wage growth, underinvestment and a failure to develop an economy that addresses climate change. Not to mention a double crosser...Can we blame Andrews for the joys of this COVIDSafe app?...Morrison's early push for the WHO enquiry into the causes of coronavirus was too early, as previously stated. Paying the price? Where is he lately? I liken it to the schoolyard troublemaker, starts the argument, slinks off leaving the others to sort it out?....AFL footballers, trained to perfection, yet mostly dunderheads when kicking for goal. Why?...The medevac bill, the perfect example of our government ignoring parliament?...Beware? The apparent calm, quiet from Peter Dutton?...So Mister Andrews, when do we get a train line to Rye, being now supposedly a suburb of Melbourne?...Nice speech in support of Victoria's shut down - self quarantined? by our (currently) esteemed Prime Minister...Is David Spears Liberal or Labor, previous Sky News appearances notwithstanding? He's no Barrie Cassidy but doing a good job on Insiders; for now, a pass mark...Leave our Eddie McGuire alone. Try Jeff privatisation Kennett?...Footballers, 5 weeks hub and they cry, never take up the acting caper fellas?...The ABC's Doctor Norman Swan has become a pain in my backside...."It's what people know about themselves, inside, which makes them afraid." [Clint Eastwood. High Plains Drifter. 1973]...The blame game continues, unabated...hooroo...www.ello8.com



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





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. 




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. 




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. 




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. 





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. 






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. 





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. 




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. 




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. 





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. 




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. 




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. 




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