Wednesday, 5 January 2011


My fellow blogger Cav posted this interesting piece from a Jarhead (ex-marine) yesterday.

I thought I might play with it a bit - no disrepect to the original author who should be recognised for his service to his country. We just don't see eye-to-eye on a few things - no doubt the freedom to debate political opinion was one of the things we were both fighting for all those years ago....

I’ll be 64 soon. Except for one year at full-time university on a rehabilitation scholarship post-discharge from service in Vietnam, and another year doing post-graduate work full time, in 1976 I’ve worked, hard, since I left school at 15. Despite some health challenges, I still put in 50-hour weeks, and haven’t ever called in sick in my current job. I make a good salary, but I didn’t inherit my job or my income, and I worked to get where I am. Given the economy, I need to keep working to preserve my hard-earned superannuation, placed in jeopardy by greedy and amoral bankers in Wall Street,

From time to time I get tired.

I’m tired of being ripped off by multinational corporations that have no regard for anything but their bottom line. I'm also tired of governments selling off public assets to balance their budgets. Once as an Australian taxpayer, I owned Telecom, the Commonwealth Bank and the company that sells me my electricity. Not any more. I'm tired of being told that this is rational and increases efficiency, when it's abundantly clear that privatisation simply creates more opportunities for corporate snouts in the trough and allows consumers to be exploited.

I'm happy to “spread the wealth around” to people who are in need, and I'm not conceited enough to believe that my work ethic is somehow exceptional. I’m prepared to contribute a proportion of my wealth to improve the quality of life of people who aren't as fortunate as I am, whether they have disabilities, are below the poverty line through circumstances beyond their control, or have been marginalised by racial prejudice.

I’m tired of being told that I have to pay more taxes to “keep the world save for democracy.” Sure, there have been terrorist attacks on the US mainland, but I am an Australian, not a Yank, and I believe our contribution to the "War on Terror" is at the cost of our national security.

I'm also tired of the bullshit that the GFC was caused by Fannie and Freddie, and not by the spivs who parcelled up toxic loans and sold them fraudulently. The Community Reinvestment Act did not create the bubble - a stupidly unregulated banking system did. My country (Australia) regulates the banks so that they do not become casinos.

I’m tired of being told how great America is by rightwing millionaires like Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and Steve King, and Hollywood entertainers who live in luxury because of the opportunities America offers. In thirty years, if these fundamentalists get their way, the United States will have the religious freedom and women’s rights of Saudi Arabia, the economy of Zimbabwe, the freedom of the press of China, the crime and violence of Mexico, the tolerance for Gay people of Iran, and the freedom of speech of Venezuela. Won’t conservatism be beautiful?

I’m tired of being told that Christianity is a “Religion of Peace,” when every day I read dozens of stories of gun violence and gang warfare on the streets of American cities and see fundamentalists referring to a "new crusade" in rants against Muslims.

I'm tired of seeing every Muslim branded a terrorist, and hearing about situations where Muslim women are spat on because they cover their hair. I'm tired of the characterisation of Muslims as evil barbaric people irrespective of how they live their lives and observe their religion without threatening in any way their non-Islamic brethren.

I believe “a man should be judged by the content of his character, not by the color of his skin.” I’m tired of rednecks using every possible smear (including false accusations that the President is not an American citizen) in efforts to make his race an issue. I strongly support affirmative action jobs, especially for people with disabilities, lower college admission and graduation standards for minorities and government contract set-asides. I applaud efforts to destroy the imbalance that breeds the ghetto culture of violence and fatherless children that hurts these minorities. Most of all, I reject the cowardly practice of blaming the victim, a practice which is becoming commonplace in those from the far right.

As reported, Bush’s fundraising and inaugural expenses were obscene, but not as obscene as his military adventurism which cost the lives of over 4287 young Americans. I reject the orchestrated smear that was used to discredit John Kerry whilst at the same time; Bush's less than stellar conduct during the war in Vietnam was glossed over.

I’m tired of Americans making judgements of people in other countries such as Saudi Arabia as to how they spend their oil revenue. Unfortnately, Americans continue to believe that they have a right to determine how every other nation in the world should conduct its affairs, whilst at the same time making a dog's breakfast of their own, expecially when it comes to their economy.

I’m tired of orchestrated denialism about global warming, fostered by vested interest and corporate power. As a Vietnam Veteran who lost a child through a congenital deformity as a result of my personal exposure to Agent Orange, I take a dim view of individuals and corporations that pollute and destroy the natural environment with no regard to the future. A quick examination of the incidence rate of congenital physical deformities in Vietnam ihows the grim legacy of this arrogance.

I strongly support harm minimisation policies in regards to drug addiction, but continue to be dismayed by the lack of regulatory action of alcohol - the drug that costs more in terms of death misery and dollars than all the combinations of illicit drugs put together. This industry is safe because there are many corporations making a great deal of money from it.

I’m tired of refugees being called "illegals" and their plight being used as a political dog whistle. I'm tired of xenophobia and ignorance being peddled by extremists on the right for political advantage in much the same way as anti-Jewish feelings were exploited by the Nazis in the 1930s.

I’m tired of right wing bloggers, who have never worn the uniform of the ADF themselves, or let their entitlement-handicapped kids near a recruiting station, trashing our government and military. They and their kids can sit at home, never having to make split-second decisions under life and death circumstances, and bad mouth better people than themselves. Do bad things happen in war? You bet. Do our troops sometimes misbehave? In the case of American soldiers based on what I observed forty years ago in Vietnam, definitely yes. The humiliation and abuse that was heaped on "terrorists" at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo, speaks for itself. It seems that little has been learned in 40 years.

I’m tired of people telling me that their party has a corner on virtue and the other party has a corner on corruption. Read the papers—crooks are bi-partisan. Also bi-partisan are politicians who are genuine, and who are attempting to improve the lot of the communities they represent. There are many in this country, but by the look of the deeply divided US congress, there are enough ratbags there to put politics above government.

I’m tired of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and politicians of both parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting caught. I’m tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor.

Speaking of poor, I’m tired of hearing people with air-conditioned homes, colour TVs and two cars called poor. The majority of Australians didn’t have that in 1970, but we didn’t know we were “poor.”

I’m tired of people who don’t take responsibility for their lives and actions. I’m tired of hearing them blame the government, or discrimination, or big-whatever for their problems.

Yes, I’m damn tired. But I’m also glad to be 64. Glad, because Iof what I've seen in those 64 years and what it has taught me about  Australia and Australians. 

I believe in my country and its future, and have seen enough of human courage and endurance in my lifetime to know that Australians can and will build a better future.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011


In about three weeks I'll be driving west again.

Given what the weather has delivered during the last fortnight that may be a challenge.

Most of the roads I use are closed. The Warrego is cut between Toowoomba and Dalby and also between Miles and Roma. Chinchilla is recovering from record breaking inundation as is Dalby. Condamine is totally evacuated. The Leichhardt is closed to the South of Wandoan, and Taroom, further to the North, is totally isolated.

St George is threatened with its worst flood on record, waiting for the water surrounding Surat to move down the Balonne. God knows what is happening West of Cunnamulla and Charleville. As far as the local media is concerned, Thargomindah and Quilpie may well have vanished from the map. I've read and heard nothing.

The Warrego Highway, which was a disaster through pummelling from grain and coal-carrying B doubles before the floods must be a mess now.

The pic shows the condition of one stretch of the Leichhardt Highway after the water receded. It would be safe to assume that there are kilometers of road in a similar state.

I can't begin to imagine what the families out there are going through. Many have had their properties flooded, and they have had to watch their crops rotting because they can't get machinery in.

Literally millions of dollars worth of cotton and grain is lost. Apart from the physical damage, the humidity, the mossies and sandflies, and the stink of mud make life very difficult.

Smells take you back. I was returning from Brisbane last week, and had to queue at a barricade because there was water over the road near the Glenore Grove turnoff. While I waited, the stink of the flooding was all pervasive, and instantly transported me back to St Lucia (Brisbane) in 1974.

Back then, I was living in Brisbane and had volunteered to be part of a cleanup team that was working in a row of houses which had been completely inundated on Sir Fred Schonell Drive. The odour of the mud and the smell of decay already evident in furniture and linen will stay in my memory for a long time. Wooden houses don't cope well with being covered by water. Everything swells and most internal fittings have to be replaced.

I had cause to remember the situation for reasons other than the smell. After snagging my calf on a hidden rusty nail, I had to head off to casualty for a Tetanus injection. As it turned out, I didn't get Tetanus, but did end up with a nasty local infection. There's a variety of nasty bugs in floodwater.

If you'd like to help the bushies (and the townies) recovering from what has been the worst flood event in a century, log on to the website.

Donations are tax deductible.

Monday, 3 January 2011


Bolt is a raving hypocrite.

He posts about a couple of Brazilian twins. One was accepted at university based on a quota system, because he looked black - the other was rejected presumably because he didn't look black enough. Sure, this is a great example of institutional racism. It's simply wrong.

But Bolt has done exactly the same thing.

He seems totally unaware of his own deep hypocrisy in this reference to the case in Brasil after his own non-stop complaints about aboriginals whom he considered not "black" enough.

The courts, of course, will be dealing with him in due course. He has form dating back to 2002, when Magistrate Jelena Popovic was awarded $246,000 damages for defamation after suing Bolt and the publishers of the Herald Sun over a 13 December 2000 column.

This is excellent commentary. 

And this is relevant. Bolt treats anyone who disagrees with him with utter contempt. He also invents facts, as this wise old judge points out.

Blogging the Cricket

This is probably a complete waste of time, but it's a good method of learning to blog with the iPad.

I've taught myself how to do this using iCab as the browser, as theoretically it facilitates posting pictures, but image size is a problem. I haven't yet found an image that is small enough.

Phil Hughes has just gone for 31 and it's lunch.

He didn't need to spar at that ball. What a waste of an opportunity. It's a better start than Melbourne, but they could have gone to lunch without loss with a little more discipline.

It's 1 for 55.

Update -

They're back after lunch, and Khawaja has made a brisk start. First ball hit for 2, and his second a sweet boundary.

Watson's looking more positive. Perhaps he's taking a lead from the debutante.

1 for 79.

Update -

Even if Khawaja doesn't last long, his technique looks great. The only downside is spelling his name. He's edged one, but his "soft hands" saved his bacon according to the channel 9 commentary.

Jimmy Anderson has been officially warned for running on the pitch.

1 for 84.

It's getting dark, and apparently there's rain on the way.

Just looked at the Sydney weather radar - storms coming. Pity really, this is shaping up as a great contest.

The umpires are looking worried.

The ground lights are now on.

Now they're leaving the field - the players that is. The umpires are staying. It's murky.

1 for 92. Khawaja is 22.

Update - 

They're back on. Begs the question as to why they left the field in the first place. Perhaps they were waiting for the lights to warm up.

Watson's gone. Obviously his concentration is shot after the interruption to play. Clark gets a good reception from the crowd. 

Rain in ten minutes by the look of the radar - 2 for 108. 

Update - 

It's raining. They're off. 2 for 111.

Update - They're on the field again. Clark's looking confident.

Spoke too soon - Clark's caught cutting - ball went straight to Anderson.

3 for 114. Hussey's on, took the field very quickly. Good sign?
Beautiful boundary to Khawaja - stylish. He looks good even when he leaves the ball.

Khawaja hits Bresnan for a lofted boundary - almost 6.

3 for 123.

Loud appeal for caught behind for Hussey. He was nowhere near it - brushed his shirt. No review.

Swann's on. Spinners are always great to watch. The left-hander will be challenged by the offy. Khawaja's using his feet.

Khawaja's out sweeping. Not a bad first test innings.

4 for 134.

Here comes the rain again. 

Stumps. I won't be doing this again.....

Hugh White - Without America

Hugh White is always provocative, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising current defence policy. In 1995, he was appo...