Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Thanks Malcolm

NBN box thingy. They will do interior install in a week or two.

Two NBN hopey things happened this week.

First a gent with a clueboard turned up really really wanting my signature on the voluminous paperwork he was bearing.

A few days later, a couple of hi-vis wearing gents arrived and despite the swearing and abuse from the dogs installed the thing pictured above, and strung the wires leading to the cable on the phone/electricity poles to the house.

Apparently the two events were out of sequence, as the clueboard man looked a bit confused when he couldn't find the external box and wires.

It's all in the noble tradition of contractors. They don't talk to each other.

Anyway, we're signed up for the standard install, which means we bundle phone and internet together, and NBN provides us with a Telstra approved modem, which I have to set up myself.

We finish up with one phone station only, as against two under the old dispensation, but that's no problem in these days of wireless handsets (says he hopefully).

We were within a month of having the NBN installed when the Coalition came to power, and Malcolm's ordering that all contracts be cancelled and renegotiated is the reason for the delay.

On the upside, we get fibre to the house because the work in this neck of the woods had commenced on that plan, and it actually cost less to finish it than change it to the cheapskate model.

We also had to put up with intermittent internet during the six month period when the contractors were working on the network. Telstra got sick of me compalining so sent me a prepaid dongle as a back up.

I wonder will they want it back when the install is completed?

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Farewell Old Friend



On Sunday we farewelled an old friend.
It was our 18 foot* Canadian canoe that has been in our family since 1982.
If it could talk, it would have a few tales to tell.
It could talk about a three day trip down the Burdekin in 1982, when we camped on sand islands midstream, nearly got cleaned by trigger happy roo shooters, and shot rapids near Macrossan.
This was shortly after we had lost our first child, a daughter through stillbirth. The journey helped our grieving.
It could talk about fishing with my two sons on Lake Julius near Mt Isa in 1993. We car topped it in on my 1970 Peugeot 404, much to the surprise of a couple of four wheel drive owners who had believed that the track was inaccessible to conventional vehicles.
The Peugeot could never be described as "conventional". Large wheels, high ground clearance, and a traction hungry rear end meant it managed the rocky track OK. We did loose an exhaust, which meant a noisy trip home. I refitted it easily, with stronger clamps when we got back to the Isa.
We caught no fish, and got lost only once.
It could talk about an expedition to the beach, at Bluewater near Townsville, when our mad blue heeler was intent on "rescuing" anyone who she saw on board. The results were scratched skin, and a very agitated heeler.
She got the hang of it after a while, and understood that it was safe. She would then stand at the prow, wearing a grin nearly as broad as the canoe.
It could tell the story of a trip down the Black river, north of Townsville. This was not a success. There was barely enough water, so plenty of portage was necessary. In addition, there were sandflies. I had always suspected I was allergic to the saltwater sandflies, and this trip confirmed it. Over two hundred bites led to blood poisoning and a trip to the doc.
When we moved down South, the canoe came with us. It was always a bit of a problem for the removalists. Somehow it got lost, and came via Clermont, about a month after all our other goods and chattels.
In Toowoomba, I took it out on Cooby Dam in a fishing attempt. This was not successful if actually catching anything was the purpose. Canoes are not very good fishing platforms.
At about this time, with kids growing up, and canoes less interesting than lots of other things, it began to be an encumbrance. Stored in the garden shed, it barely left enough room for a vehicle. I tried suspending it from the ceiling, but only the MX5 was low enough to comfortably fit under.
By this time, we were trying to give it away. The school at Thargomindah would have taken it - they had an outdoor programme, and there are suitable waterways out there, but I couldn't find a way to take it the 875 kilometres. Fleet managers aren't keen on car topping canoes.
My brother-in-law is a Texas lad, and he does a fair bit of inland fishing in the Dumaresq and associated waterways, so it has found a home with him.
Looking back, it's sailed down rivers from the Flinders in North West, the Burdekin up North, coastal streams in Capricornia, and waterways in the Great Divide.
It seems only fitting that it now will be navigating the upper reaches of the Murray Darling system.
Good bye, old friend, and thanks for the memories.
* Canoes aren't metric.  

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Same Same But Different

The locals have had enough. (Pic courtesy CNN)

Last week a number of individuals were arrested in Oregon USA after an armed occupation of a federal government centre at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. In the course of these arrests, one of their number was shot and killed.

He was carrying a Browning automatic pistol at the time, and had been apprehended trying to force a police roadblock. A few months ago in Sydney, a 15 year old boy got hold of a pistol, and shot a police civilian employee dead before he was shot and killed by security personnel.

 In the case of the incident in Oregon, the leader is a Mormon, and has declared that he is driven by God.

 In the Sydney incident, the perpetrator is reported to have believed that he was carrying out the will of Allah.

 These events are not related, but the different language used in the media to describe similar aspects of each is fascinating.

 In Oregon, those involved are called "activists" or "protestors". In Sydney, most media referred to the perpetrator and those arrested since as "terrorists".

Many of the individuals in Oregon have police records of violent crime. One, at least, is a military impostor. 

These facts seem largely ignored by the MSM.

Most of those arrested in Sydney have associated on-line with those involved in terrorist activity overseas. This has been given major coverage.

The American "activists" also associate with, or are paid up members of well know hate groups, but you don't hear much about that.

 This prompts a few questions.

 Why are those motivated by extreme religious ideals rationalising anti-social behaviour in the name of Islam called "Islamists" when those motivated by the same behaviour in the name of Christ are not called "Christianists"?

 Why are the Americans occupying the Montana outpost called "activists" and not "terrorists"?

 There is a double standard operating here when it comes to the language used.

 All violent extremism should be condemned, and the facts treated in a consistent manner in the MSM. That's not happening at the moment.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Australia Day post

This is a powerful speech, and I'm deliberately posting it just prior to Australia Day.

It is far more relevant than having an excuse to get drunk, flying Chinese made flags on your car, and spouting cliches about our great country.

I love my country. I will always resist seeing it shamed.
It has been deeply shamed by the racists who booed Adam Goodes and the shock jocks who egged them on.

 As Stan Grant says - we are better than this.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Of Gatekeeping and Other Things

Given that I've been working in the field of education of students with disabilities since 1971, I've put a fair bit of blood, sweat and tears into the activity.

The irony for me is that I fell into the field almost accidentally on return from Vietnam. In the space of a few months I went from involvement in an activity that was completely futile to something that had a positive result for me and those I was working with.

On the upside, I've found it immensely fulfilling and perhaps along the way my humble contribution has made a positive difference to the lives of many of these kids. The fact that I'm still doing the work and still enjoying most of it is testimony to the fact that on the whole, opportunities are improving for this vulnerable cohort of the population, but there is still a long way to go.

On the downside, families with children with disabilities still have a convoluted and difficult road to follow to gain access for their kids to the same privileges and opportunities taken for granted for the parents of kids who aren't diagnosed with a disability.

In forty plus years I've seen the opening up of schooling to all children, irrespective of disability. In 1971 there were still kids considered "ineducable" who were relegated to training centres. I've seen the move towards training of most teachers in support for kids with special needs. I was one of the first teachers to be taken off stream for a year's training in this in 1976. I've seen the opening up of regular classrooms to students with disabilities, and was one of the first Advisory visiting Teachers appointed in 1974.

Having seen all this positive activity, there are still many barriers presented to these kids and their families. As recently as 2004, as a special school principal in Toowoomba, a city replete in what are euphemistically called  "private" schools, I would attend meetings of principals from both the private and public sectors.

It was always interesting to ask the private school principals if they had enrolments of students with disabilities. The stock answer was always "No" usually with the clarification "We don't cater for them".

It always got interesting when my next question was "Why not?". I never got a straight answer, and that was usually the end of the conversation.

That particular barrier (the enrolment exclusion) still exists, as has been highlighted by the report of the Senate Committee -

Access to real learning: the impact of policy, funding and culture on students with disability.

This particular barrier is highlighted in the report -

1.14 The practice known as 'gatekeeping', whereby families of students with disability are informally and unofficially discouraged from enrolling their child at their school of choice is another major barrier. For many families, merely enrolling their child in a school was the first of many battles they have to fight in order to ensure their child receives anything like an adequate education.

Absolutely correct - and there is no situation which illustrates this more clearly than that operating in Toowoomba. I daresay, it's not much different anywhere else.

The "private*" schools are quite happy to accept taxpayers money, but aren't prepared to offer places to the sons and daughters of all taxpayers, about 7% of whom have children with disabilities. 

*(These schools should more accurately be called "subsidised" schools, because that is, in fact, what they are). They receive vast amounts of taxpayers' money.

Also worth considering are some of the recommendations of this bipartisan committee -

Recommendation 1
4.75 The committee recommends that the government contribute to schools on the basis of need, according to the Gonski Review.

4.76 The committee recommends that the government fund all students with disability on the basis of need by reversing its cuts to final two years of the Gonski Reforms.

Such recommendations are interesting in the light of recent announcements about Gonski.

Anyway, these issues remain close to my heart, and I intend to pursue them at every opportunity. 

These kids and their families could do with your help, gentle reader.


Sunday, 17 January 2016

My Country's Shame

Milad Jafari  - Pic Courtesy Catholic Leader

There's plenty happening around the asylum seeker situation at the moment to warrant a post on the subject.

As usual, most of it can only be categorised as shameful.

First, there's the revelation that Save the Children workers were booted from a detention centre on a lie. This, of course, is hardly surprising given the government's sensitivity to criticism, but it's worth examining the chain of events to fully understand the evil being done to both asylum seekers and the Australian taxpayer.

On October 3rd 2014, The then Immigration Minister Morrison claimed (and I quote) Save the Children staff were "coaching asylum seekers to manufacture situations where evidence could be obtained to pursue a political and ideological agenda in Australia". 

Ten of these staff were unceremoniously deported from Nauru.

Subsequently, two inquiries have been conducted into these allegations.

The Moss Review finding relevant to the conduct of Save the Children employees was -

The review obtained information from Wilson Security intelligence reports, interviews and other material. None of this information indicated conclusively to the Review that particular contract service provider staff members had engaged in these activities.  
(Review into recent allegations relating to conditions and circumstances at the Regional Processing in Nauru -   Executive Summary p 5/6)

A Senate Review which followed, found, inter alia -

conditions in the centre were "not adequate, appropriate or safe for the asylum seekers detained there".

So, in summary, people employed under contract to ensure the welfare of asylum seekers and their children have been unjustly turfed because of government paranoia about how the situation looks in the media, and the place isn't safe for its inmates. (And it looks like you and me, the taxpayers, will be asked to compensate them.) 

So forgetting, for a moment that those interned have no idea of release dates, no hope for the future, and absolutely no rights whatsoever, the camps are unsafe places.

This is being carried out, gentle reader, in your name.

Then, of course, there is the continuing obscenity that is the Mojgan Shamsalipoor case which has been dragging on for months.

Again, the separation of a married couple and the likelihood that the deportation of the wife may result in her being harmed, possibly killed, is being conducted in your name.

If "stopping the boats" was the goal of these policies, it has largely been achieved. Why then, are people continuing to be treated in much the same way as the Nazis treated Jews in World war two?

The most significant difference between these camps and the notorious camps of WW2, is the lack of gas chambers, although they are being called a "solution".

Interesting, isn't it, how that "solution" word has turned up in history in relation to the treatment of specific groups of people. The "Pacific Solution", I think, was the phrase John Howard was content to use.  

Let's not beat about the bush, these places (Nauru, Manus and Christmas Island), are quite simply, concentration camps.

I never thought I'd live to see my country running concentration camps.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

All Aboard

Poster's not all that clear - but intention is.

There's been a lot of ranting and raving about "political correctness" lately on some of the far Right media.

Much of it has been directed at the senior service, specifically towards a long serving strategic adviser Captain Mona Shindy, who just happens to belong to the Muslim faith.

The fact that a Muslim, especially a female Muslim, is a member of the ADF is obviously very hard for some to swallow, but when she shows that she has the audacity to hold opinions different from theirs, apoplexy sets in.

Those same members of the media Right have been very quiet about a scandal that has erupted around HMAS Perth, and a National party fundraiser.

Read all about it here. The poster above had been in circulation briefly before it all hit the fan. Apologies for the lack of definition in the pic, but it reads in part -

I invite you to a unique luncheon experience with Nationals WA leadership on board the Australian Navy vessel HMAS Perth which includes a tour of HMAS Stirling.... 

The choice of "unique" is a pretty fair descriptor. It's not every day that a very expensive  Australian military asset is used as a venue for a political fundraiser. We're talking $1000 per head - nothing but the best when it comes to the WA Nationals.

I fail to detect any wails of indignation from those who pilloried Captain Shindy for alleged political bias. You can't tell me that the skipper of the Perth had all this sprung on him without agreeing to host it.  

I wonder if he still has a twitter account?


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