Saturday, 27 April 2013
My bride found this, and posted it on Facebook.
Like me, she's a teacher.
It's another picture that says a thousand words - in this case about the politicisation of education.
It's worth noting that no research has ever shown a link between teacher bonuses and student outcomes.
Those advocating this as a solution to all our schooling problems are as ignorant of the motivations of the bulk of teachers as the voucherists are.
Friday, 26 April 2013
Thursday, 25 April 2013
|Coxy, Greenie & the sign|
My Anzac Day post this year originally appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser in 2009.
It was written by Graham Cornes, who, like me, was a member of 5 Platoon B Company, 7RAR in 1970, when the battalion was on its second tour of South Vietnam.
Whilst I didn't really know Graham (the time when we were both in 5 platoon was brief), his recollections and reactions are very similar to mine.
It's also a very well written piece.
GRAHAM Cornes was 21 when he landed in Vietnam in early 1970, a conscript with the 7th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment. Last month, he went back.
ABOUT a dozen of us from 5 Platoon, B Company, 7RAR, were assigned to set an ambush at the junction of two tracks just north of the Horseshoe. It was an unusual size for a squad because we normally operated as a platoon - three sections, or about 30 men. But the sections of a rifle company in Vietnam were always under-strength because illness, casualties or leave reduced their numbers, so the squad was very probably two undersized sections, commanded by our platoon sergeant. As we laid out the pits, set the machine gun positions, established lines of fire and placed the Claymore mines, we noticed the unmistakeable stench of rotting flesh.
The mortar fire controller, another sergeant on his second tour, after warning us, started to reconnoitre outside our position. Within minutes he and two scouts had located the source: a dead Viet Cong soldier in an advanced stage of decomposition. He was the unluckiest soldier of all as he was obviously the victim of a random artillery or mortar shell. It's unlikely he knew what hit him as he lay sleeping in a makeshift bed between two trees.
We hurriedly scraped a shallow grave in the nearby crater and gingerly lowered him into it. However, before the corpse could be covered, the sergeant leapt into the pit and, with his bayonet, prised a gold filling from the lifeless skull. "He won't be needing it," he said, as if to justify his actions. So inured were we to such barbarity, that no one thought twice. Someone even laughed.
The tracks are long gone, reclaimed by the jungle, but the question always nags me: "Is that shallow, despicable grave still there, concealing some mother's son?" It's not funny now.
There was more to the story, because all captured enemy equipment, papers and money were required to be handed to the battalion's intelligence officer. However, about an hour later, the patrol commander came to each man and handed him the equivalent of $70 Australian in piastre. Who knows how much the two sergeants kept. Given that our weekly salary in 1970 was $55, including combat allowance, nobody handed it back. Blood money!
I always knew I would go back. Even when I was weary to the point of collapse; hungry to the point of emaciation; dehydrated, filthy and angry.
Even when I was terrified - I knew I would go back.
Vietnam is a spectacularly beautiful country, and old soldiers inexplicably seek to return to their old battlefields. In the opening scenes of Spielberg's blockbuster Saving Private Ryan, the most realistic war movie ever made, the American veteran stumbles tearfully to the grave of the fallen hero who had saved his life 50 years before. We all want to go back.
However, if it was closure or absolution that I was seeking, I didn't find it.
They said we were the best-prepared and best -equipped soldiers to leave Australia. Our Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ron Grey wrote: "No unit to leave Australia had the opportunities for preparation that we had in 7RAR - and we had not wasted them. I knew that we were ready."
It didn't feel like that. For the first month we floundered around, sometimes with no idea what we were doing or where we were. One of our first casualties died, not of battle wounds, but of heat stroke because of the ridiculous, ill-conceived expectations of our commander.
Nothing prepares you for jungle warfare. Our equipment was appalling. The jungle-green uniforms were always heavy and wet. You threw your socks and jocks away after three days on operation because they fell apart anyway; our leather GP (general purpose) boots became waterlogged - a sodden, pulpy mass; the Armalite rifle, with its floating firing pin, jammed repeatedly; the barrel of the M60 machine gun, the most important weapon in the section, overheated, wouldn't eject the empty cartridges and often jammed. Our rations packs were shocking and failed to provide basic sustenance. In the dry season, water supply sometimes depended on which puddle in a dry creekbed you could find.
But we had been brainwashed, and so imbued were we with the spirit of ANZAC, of mateship, and of defending this oppressed country, that we didn't know any better.
Our most reliable companion was the 7.62mm SLR (self-loading rifle). It never let us down, although even that was cumbersome in close quarters.
We saw a lot of Vietnam from the air in 1970. Dense tropical jungle, stands of that horrible, spiky bamboo, mountain ranges, oceans of rice paddies, and row after row of ordered rubber plantations, a legacy of the hated, brutal French who started the whole mess. At least they left their rubber - and their bread. Vietnam has magnificent bread.
There were obvious signs of war where the landscape was pock-marked with bomb craters. Then there were the effects of defoliation; grotesque brown tracts of dead forest where Agent Orange had been sprayed. Imagine taking a knife and carving a gash across the face of a beautiful, flawless woman. It was as stark as that.
Read the rest.
Lest we forget.
Wednesday, 24 April 2013
The police were unable to prosecute this ratbag because they didn't have sufficient evidence. Hence when I read a review of one of these gadgets, I followed up.
The end result was a purchase, and I've been using the thing for a while now.
Once I'd figured out how to set it up, I've found it useful and reliable.
The video posted shows the quality.
The owner's manual is useless and reads like it was poorly translated from Urdu, but I persisted until I got it right. The biggest problem was setting the date and time imprint.
This feature is important, as it renders any video collected useful from an evidence gathering point of view.
The thing sits on the inside of the windscreen and if you mount it carefully in front of the rear vision mirror it is almost invisible and has no impact on forward vision.
|It's upside down in this pic.|
There are two lenses, one shoots forward, the other to the rear. In a ute, this rear vision feature works well. In a sedan, it would be compromised by the rear seat passengers, if there were any.
So you can shoot footage of tail-gaters if necessary.
It starts up and shuts down automatically if you have the power cable in the outlet, and it records in 5 minute grabs which remain stored until overwritten, in the same fashion as a black box recorder in an aircraft. It has plenty of storage. A recent trip of 150kms did not exceed storage capacity.
If something is recorded that you want to keep, you can press a button to lock it in.
They retail for $150, but I bought it for the on-line price ($25 less) at Harvey Norman's. Most big retailers will negotiate around the on-line price.
By the way, despite what the review says, there is no "delete" button.
Tuesday, 23 April 2013
|Pic courtesy Courier Mail|
The level of paranoia being displayed by the LNP government in Queensland has to be seen to be believed.
Paul Syvret's column covers it pretty well.
An extract -
Gatherings of more than three persons during working hours on government premises can henceforth be defined as unauthorised stop-work meetings and, as such, are prohibited under Queensland's new Workplace (Improvements of) Relations Act.
Most of Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie's instructions to public servants about what not to say on a "publicly owned telephony device" and what not to display on staff room notice boards will serve to only harden resistance to his government's obsession to destroy any form of organisation in the workplace.
That's when they're not laughing at him.
Monday, 22 April 2013
If you read enough shock jock blogs and opinion pieces, you’ll become familiar with the incessant whinging that the ABC exhibits bias in its reporting.
I decided to try a basic and simple fact checking approach to see where the truth lies.
(I hope you noticed that clever juxtaposition of words and meaning – truth lies…..
You didn’t – never mind).
The Australian comes to me daily on-line. I haven’t actually shelled out any money on this version, and never would, but it’s interesting to get Rupert’s daily spin.
The ABC, of course, is always available on line.
What could be simpler then comparing daily news stories for a week against a simple measure of bias? To do this, I took a screen shot of the leading stories and classified them as positive to the existing government, neutral, and hostile.
On this post you’ll see the daily stories and my judgement. See what you think….
The Oz – Positive – 0; Neutral – 2; Negative – 2
The ABC – Positive – 0; Neutral – 7; Negative – 0.
The Oz – Positive – 0; Neutral – 2; Negative – 2.
The ABC – Positive – 1; Neutral – 5; Negative – 1.
The Oz – Positive – 2; Neutral – 2; Negative – 0.
The ABC – Positive – 0; Neutral – 5; Negative – 1.
The Oz – Positive – 0; Neutral – 2; Negative – 2.
The ABC – Positive – 0; Neutral – 6; Negative – 0.
That’s not a whole week, but it’s sufficient to be indicative.
The Oz – Positive – 2; Neutral – 6; Negative – 6.
The ABC – Positive – 1; Neutral – 23; Negative – 2.
The baseline numbers of stories differ, so I’ll convert these scores to percentages rounded to whole numbers -
The Oz –
Positive = 14%
Neutral = 42%
Negative = 42%
The ABC –
Positive = 4%
Neutral = 88%
Negative = 8%
These figures speak for themselves. You can check my classification of stories – that’s why I’ve posted the screen shot.
The reality – The ABC is generally fair. The Oz is biased against the current government. Don't believe it? Review the screen grabs.
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