The Time Has Come (the Walrus said) Archives

Eureka Day

December 3 is Eureka Day.

A day when we should all stop for a moment and celebrate a sacrifice that is little known, and even less understood.

A day when many will fly the Eureka flag, as a sign of remembrance and respect. And as a sign to all levels of government in our country that they should not go too far in removing some pretty basic rights.

And a day when The City Of Tea Tree Gully WILL NOT be flying the Eureka flag, because the councillors voted down a proposal to do so. Council voted the flying down for two reasons:

- It does not meet the state government protocols for flag-flying; and

- The flying of the flag “may divide the community” because it has been used (hijacked) by a few extremist groups.

So, councillors of Tea Tree Gully, perhaps you need reminding of a little history.

Start here: The Eureka Centre in Ballarat has an excellent history, and I quote:

The uprising by the miners and the Government’s attack on their Stockade in December 1854 was Australia’s only armed civil uprising. It was a battle over democracy and fairness and contributed to the spirit of freedom that Australians have come to regard as their birthright.

That spirit of freedom has been eroded, gradually, by a series of governments – with the passing of anti-terror laws, and other laws allowing imprisonment without charge, and trial without access to the evidence.

Our governments, and the elected members need to remember who put them where they are, and what it took to get the society we have. Democracy in Australia was not something that came automatically from Britian. It was built with difficulty, blood, sweat and tears. An important part of the formation of our democratic government was the Ballarat miners rebellion of 1854.

For various reasons, the miners felt that they were being taxed and treated unjustly. They created the Ballarat Reform League, with (amongst other things) the following political aims:

(1) A full and fair representation. [i.e. in parliament]
(2) Manhood suffrage. [in other words - everyone can vote]
(3) No property qualification of Members for the Legislative Council.
(4) Payment of Members.
(5) Short duration of parliament.

The charter of the Ballarat Reform League begins:

That it is the inalienable right of every citizen to have a voice in making the laws that he is called on to obey – that taxation without representation is tyranny.

The members of the League burned their miners licenses in an act of defiance of the Government.

At the time, a license had to be provided on demand, something that was not always possible because they were often kept in the miners’ tent, away from the wet and dirty conditions. However any miner found not carrying the license was immediately arrested and fined.

The burning of the miners licenses led, in turn, to the massacre of miners at the Eureka Stockade in a surprise night raid by the Victoria police.

The resulting rampage by the police saw innocent bystanders shot, the wounded being bayoneted, and much needless destruction of miners property.

About 22 miners were either killed immediately or died soon after, and a further 12 were wounded and survived. Casualties on the Government side were 4 killed and 12 wounded.

This is one of only two acts of defiance by Australian people against their government, and is the incident that had the largest impact on shaping our democracy.

Whilst the rebellion was over in 15 minutes, it led DIRECTLY to fundamental changes in Government in the colony of Victoria, and had a significant influence on all Australian Governments.

Some of the things we take for granted came about from, or were hastened by, the efforts of the Ballarat Reform League, and their leader Peter Lalor:

. short terms of parliament
. nobody needs to carry or produce identification papers or other government documentation to police on demand (generally you have 24 hours)
. true representative democracy
. the right to trial, to see and hear your accusers
. limits on powers of police
. fairness in dealing with governments and employers

Peter Lalor, leader of the Ballarat Reform League later became Speaker of the Victorian Legislative Council [Upper House of Parliament].

Today, the Eureka flag has no official status but is still used, over 150 years later, as a symbol of rebellion against Government excesses in Australia. And this week, Ballarat celebrates its position in Australia’s history, on the 155th Anniversary of the uprising.

Shame on you Tea Tree Gully Councillors. Know your country. Know your history.

——————-

Full text of the charter of the Ballarat Reform League.

Shallow

Today’s crop of vanity plates displays just how shallow people are.

Exhibit 1.

Seen on a bog ordinary out-of-the-factory Holden Commodore:

ITS
MYNE

So, not only can the owner not spell, but they want to show to the world that they can’t spell, and that they can only show off a plain mass produced factory car. If something like that was on the back of an Aston Martin driven by a blonde bimbette, I could perhaps understand the desire to show off. But on a Commodore? Sorry.

Exhibit 2.

Seen on a plain old Mazda 3 or Toyota Corolla – another car sold by the squadrillion:

IOU-001

You owe who one, for what? What strange piece of logic, if any, entered the twisted and demented soul of a person who wants a number plate like that? On the getaway car of a bank robber or perhaps as the plates on one of the Bernie Madoff Rolls Royces, I could understand and even appreciate the irony. But on a rice burner in the morning rush-half-hour commute of a big country town? Sorry.

Exhibit 3.

Seen on another Holden Commodore:

MYVY-03

Yes, it WAS in the back of a VY Commodore. Gosh, what an imagination! Not everyone could think of a vanity plate that includes the car model. I think I’m going to have palpitations, I might need to sit down and get my breath back, the imagination shown here is just so stupendous in its breadth, depth, and creativity.

I’m left wondering. These people have such egos that they want these vanity plates in the first place, and this is the best they can come up with. (Follow the train of reasoning here), so how come if they are so dumb we let these people DRIVE? And VOTE?

It’s just NOT good enough!!!

Ha ha – the campaign has paid off. Maybe somebody on the council was paying attention to my weekly postings…

Nudes are back in the City of Tea Tree Gully annual art exhibition!

Zis iz not good enuf

Ello again, mah friendz, it iz zat tahm again when we muzt zelebrate ze naughty bitz zat are all around in ze Europe.

Ziz week we af ze palace of ze Versailles in France. Ze king ere was vey vey powerful and alzo vey vey rich. And ze oppulents iz vey fine to zee.

Ere we af ze zings in one of ze royal apartmennntz.

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Az you can ze, she az no cloze on ze top bitz. In France, iz no big zing. In Australie, in ze Adelaide, in ze Tea Tree Gully council, zis is not ze caze. Zadlie.

Royal nude statues. Good enough for France. Good enough for royalty. Good enugh for 25 million visiting tourists a year. Not good enough for Tea Tree Gully. How sad.

It’s Not Good Enough!!!

Today we have things that go BANG!

Yes, cannon. No – not church law (though you’d think so by the attitudes of the prudes) – that’s canon. But instead, ka-boom.

Yep – cannon-that-goes-bang needs handles-for-picking-up-with. And what better for keeping up the morale of the soldiers than adding a few naughty bits:

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Things that go bang with rude bits: Good enough for the French Army. Not good enough for Tea Tree Gully.

Not good enough

Oh yawn. That time again. Yep, it’s Wednesday, which means its not-enough-day. You get the drill by now. No? Well, go read the link then, and then wallow in 6 months worth of Wednesday displays of what’s allowed in other cities around the world, but is not acceptable in little prudish Adelaide. Well, specifically, Tea Tree Gully council.

So, today, right outside the local Catholic Church round the corner from where we stayed in Paris comes this:

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And what liddle Catholic Church might that have been, you might ask? Why, only this one:

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That’s right – just down from Sacré Coeur. And OK, it was not right next door, it was a couple of stops on the Metro.

But nevertheless, can you ever see this being allowed anywhere in Australia? Let alone Adelaide?!

Piddling Kiddies. Good enough for Paris. Not good enough for Tea Tree Gully.

Not good enuf

After a break of a couple of weeks, it’s time for the naughty bits to make a come-back. Pun! Geddit! Oops. Bad. Bad pun. Must not have fun about naughty bits in the not-good-enough segment.

So, why are we here? To recap: The prudes in the local council – The City of Tea Tree Gully, banned a couple of nudes from the 2008 council art exhibition. Can’t have Tits in Tea Tree Gully. Wonder about the little birdies. They’re called tits, aren’t they? Must be called something else hereabouts. Can’t use names that might incite the natives to naughtiness and depravity, can we?

So each Wednesday, we’ve had a photo of (shudder) Naughty Bits from somewhere in Europe, and today I’ve got back into the swing. Plenty more pics to come yet!

So, todays nasty, depraved, naughty picture comes from the seat of European deravity: Paris. Worse, worse!!! From a place visited by millions!!!

Horrors  - the Arc De Triomphe, slap bang in the middle of Paris – a grand monument, right at the end of the Champs-Élysées, contains pornography! On public display!! Oh shock. Cover your eyes!  How could they do this:

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Dangly bits. Good enough for Paris. Not good enough for Tea Tree Gully.

Scared, so scared….

Every damn time the news comes on (and the TV news is far, far worse than any other type), we have some new thing to make us scared.

Everything, everything seems to be pushed, written, slanted, spun, whatever, in a way to make us SCARED.

Swine flu – will KILL you.

And if that don’t get you, GLOBAL WARMING WILL KILL YOU. (And before that years ago it was the coming next ice age that would KILL US but you had to be living in the 1970’s to remember that one.)

A year or two ago it was BIRD FLU.

Every day, its the Global Recession, intermixed with TOXIC ASSETS. (Seems to me to be a bit of a mixup here – Assets are usually worth something, so isn’t a toxic asset a contradiction in terms?)

Eat too much fat, it will KILL YOU. Eat too little, that will KILL you as well. Eat too many red vegetables: dead. Too many purple vegetables: dead. And god help you for eating the green shite.

And lets not forget to be scared because the vegetables are not grown the way they used to – evil intensive agriculture means that they are all water (or some other crap) and have no nutrients. Result: DEAD!

Oh – but Chocolate is good for you, but only if its dark chocolate, otherwise (yes, you guess it) dead, dead, dead. Oh but don’t eat too much dark chocolate either, because (yes, you worked it out).

And tonight on the news – we are facing a TSUNAMI OF ALZHIEMERS. Oh please… no! Save me from the marauding hoards of the vague and forgetful, lest I be drowned!!

The news copy writers, and catastrophists are pissing me the heck off. They’ve run out of ways to tell the news, so everything has to be dressed up as some terrible and dire disaster that will cause the sun to fail to rise on the morrow. I’m reminded of a fire-and-brimstone preacher: There shall be no enjoyment! You will DIE for your sins unless you find a way to salvation. These days the way to salvation isn’t spiritual, it’s to be green, mean, debt free, organic, anti-oxidated, highly lubricated, blah blah blah.

Spare me. I’ve had enough of this crap. It’s time to stop watching and listening to the news. That’ll teach ‘em.

Not good enuf

To recall why this series is here, go to this original post. Or I”ll just summarise it yet again – The City of Tea Tree Gully banned a few naked images from their 2008 community art exhibition. One was a naked bust.

So, to show their petty narrow-mindedness, today we bring you images from the tomb of the great emperor Napolean, a big chap in France, did a bunch of very important things – like law, justice, and fighting a few wars.

And when you celebrate an emperor, what better way then in a huge big building, with a thumping great casket, and of course, naughty bits:

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This chap seems to be standing at the feet of the great emperor – but seriously, do we really need the willy? It seems it’s fine for the French. But this would NEVER be good enough for Tea Tree Gully.

Ziz iz not good enuff!

To recall vy zis zeries iz here, go to ziz original post. Or look at any of ze uzzerz in ziz zeriez – you find zem each Wednesday.

Today ve haf ze naughty Madonna – ze original, in ze stone, in ze Paris. Ziz naughty gel, she iz showing all zoze attributes! Zere iz nuzzing original in ze world, no?

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She iz zitting not var vrom ze Eiffel Tow-air, on ze full view of effrybody! Ziz is Ok on France, vere ve like zees zings, but ziz iz NOT OK IN ADELAIDE vere ze zity of Tea Tree Gully vould neffer tolerate zuch smut!

Thanks for the memories, Sol

Over the years, having sworn never to have mobile phones, we’ve ended up with three of them in the house. All started their lives with Telstra, and today, finally the last of them has been shifted to another carrier.

For a long time, Telstra made sense. The coverage was the best, the infrastrcuture the biggest, and in many cases the competitors just used their stuff anyhow. We don’t use mobiles much, so we tend to try and go on plans with really long pre-payment periods. A year in advance is good if you can get it. Telstra’s plans seemed to gouge $30 a month, or every couple of months. The credit would accumulate because we didn’t use it. But miss a payment and you forfeit the lot.

So we’ve moved, because the dollars add up.

A week ago, the time had come to move the last phone off Telstra. The Oldest Sons phone. To do that we had to unlock the handset, and this is where the tale of madness and ANGRY began.

To unlock the handset, the Lady Of The House had to log into the web site. Trouble is, we use the web site about once a year, and she’d forgotten the password. No problem you cry, just play the game of answer the Seven Silly Questions From Hell and you get a new password. But with questions like “What is your mothers maiden name”, she was then bamboozled. When the account was set up 2 or 3 years ago – were the answers from HER point of view, or from OLDEST SONS point of view?

After getting the answers to the Seven Silly Questions From Hell wrong, the web account was locked out.

Solution – call the enquiries number. This she duly did, and after much waiting and 17 transfers, she had a nice chat to somebody who ran through the Seven Silly Questions From Hell and pretty much read out the answers. So much for checking identity. But, the web account could not be unlocked by the operator.

“It will automatically unlock in 3-4 hours”, she was informed.

That evening, another try resulting in the account still being locked.

More calls to operators, more transfers, and another half hour on the phone led to illuminating help such as “Oh, I can see you have been trying to log in a lot”.

“Well, yes. Your colleague said it would unlock in 3-4 hours.”

“Oh no, that’s not right, the account will take 3-4 days before it unlocks”, came the reply.

“What? 3-4 days? You have to be joking, right?”

“No. 3-4 days.”

“Well, all I want is to unlock the handset so its not locked to the Telstra network any more, can you help me do that?”

“No. Wait till the web services are unlocked and you can log in again.”

Grrrr. Right. Seething anger and burning resentment lit the room. If we could have harnessed this, we could have sent power back into the grid.

I provided tea and sympathy. She Who Must Be Obeyed would not be comforted:  ”The stupid jerks”, she fumed, “I’ll log a complaint.”

So she found the Telstra web site again, and went to the complaints form. Typed up a detailed description of what had transpired, and asked for a simple statement. Yea, verily, a mere clarification. “How long does it take to unlock the web account so I can log in again?”.

Submitting The Question That Shall Not Be Mentioned, the web system promptly came back with an error. A Parse Error. Clearly, the web system is broken. But who knows – maybe The Question That Shall Not Be Mentioned was submitted anyway?

And thus came back the answer, an email from the gods of Telstra. An email full of waffle cut-n-pasted from the Handbook Of Corporate Waffle, providing Yet Another Phone Number To Call For Customer Service In The Bowels Of Telsra. But not answering the question.

And thus began the email exchange. A reply was duly dispatched, stating that the answer provided by Providence and the Bountiful Gods Of Telstra was somewhat inadequate, seeing as it had not answered the question.

The email ping-pong continued for some days, each time new phone numbers being provided, and at no time giving an answer, to a question which had now assumed proportions akin the search by the ancient alchemists for the turning of water into wine, or the ponderings of the meaning of life. Only a number – you might think – only a number! But no, in the annals of Telstra, the Account Lockout Period is a closely guarded secret – transferred from one CEO to another, but only behind locked doors and when there  is a full moon.

And thus, a calm came upon the land, and the Family Of The Dump were silent and mollified, having temporarily given up on trying to tame the Telstra Dragon. Defeated, but not yet deterred, we quitely bided our time. We waited the allotted 3 to 4 days, and then some. Which brings us to today.

Today – The Lady Of The House spent another 2 hours on the phone, trying to report that the web site is broken. On each attempted “I’ll just transfer you”, she would shriek “No… I’ll NOT BE TRANSFERRED. Take down my complaint, you stupid and compliant oaf.” They didn’t like that much.

But today also, Providence and The Gods Of Telstra had deemed that the internet account woudl unlock. Like opening the Great Doors Of The Temple Of Doom, it was now possible to access the holiest of holys, The Telstra Account Site.

And so it was done that the handset could be unlocked from the Network Of the Omnipotent One, for the payment of a small fee. Strangely enough, Yet Another Phone Number In The Maw Of The Telstra Monster had to be called! But at no time did it actually ask for the credit card number, to which The Fee would be charged.

And thus, it came to pass, that by this evening the phone was freed from its tyranny, and transferred to the land of Vodafone, where an accumulation of Free Vodafone Minutes will likely see its cost drop to $50 a year. And have as parent a web site that works. And operators who answer questions , and make things work. All on  single number. Finally. After two weeks of pain and suffering.

————

There’s a bitter lesson for the next Telstra CEO in all this. Mr Sol, the current and outgoing CEO, takes great pride in reducing the number Telstra information systems, from something like 250, to about 20.

Trouble is, Sol, you forgot a couple of really important things. The staff don’t have a clue what’s going on. You changed things so fast you left the people behind. And you have so many toll-free customer service numbers that nobody has a clue which to call, when, and for what.

Oh – and your web site is still stuffed for logging a complaint!

I’ll be selling my Telstra shares. It’s no longer getting with the strength, it’s getting with the organisation that’s been F@#$ed.

Newspeak and Waffle

Sounds like a slightly shonky Law or Accounting firm:  ”Newspeak and Waffle – Solicitors”. But no, I’m fired up after reading a self-congratulatory article in “The Adelaide Review”.

Back in the days when Christopher Pearson was speech writer for John Howard, and running  ”The Adelaide Review” between long lunch breaks, you would get a regular and balanced diet of long and thought-provoking articles. He’s moved on and “The Adelaide Review” has become a far more lightweight puff-piece. “The Adelaide Purview” might be more appropriate.

Anyhow, I’m just scanning and reading a few articles from editions back in late 2008. Two things struck me.

Firstly, the series of articles by the “Design” fraternity. This encompasses architecture, interior design, furniture design, and so on. This mob have hijacked and devalued the term “design”. Once a wide-ranging verb (design, a creative act, generally associated with engineering and building of structures, including creation, calculation, verification) the word has now become a noun when applied to the softer how-things-look disciplines. For example, you can design a bridge – which is more than drawing a picture, it requires material selection, and a lot of calculation of loads, stresses, and so on. You can design an electronic whatsit, which involves component selection, and a lot of calculation of currents, voltages, waveforms, timing analysis, and so on and on. But now we have “Design” as a collective which make interiors look nice, draw advertising brochures and so on. Yes they are related. No, “Design” is not ONLY limited to the disciplines who plug it so hard as being their profession. Is it any wonder English is so confusing?

Secondly, though, and worse, is an article about the update to the Adelaide Zoo. I had to read this drivel 3 times and interpret it before I could understand what it meant. It started quite well: the Zoo is getting some giant Pandas and doing an upgrade as well as building a suitable enclosure. Then the article descended into bureaucratic Newspeak, before finally coming back to sanity.

Here are a few of the bits in the middle,  some names are removed to protect the innocent.

Aligned with the South Australian Strategic Plan, Adelaide Zoo embraces cross-institutional and cultural fusion, engaging with the wider urban environment through its unique parkland setting and benefiting the community through significant education, research and conservation practices.

The strategic plan bit just sounds like waffle. Oh-oh, we have FUSION. One point earned in bullshit-bingo. Essentially I think this means: “The zoo tries to be inclusive. It’s in the parklands and we think that’s good. It helps with education, research and conservation.”

XXX has partnered with the Zoo to deliver the project , providing an unrivalled zoo experience through its unique design solutions and innovation. With only seven other zoos in the world accommodating giant Pandas, this is a unique opportunity for Adelaide to showcase the best in zoo design, within sustainable parameters.

Partnered? Really? So XXX is sharing the risks? I don’t think so, last I heard they are an firm of architects. You know, the folk you put on a contract. They take the money, deliver the building design and move on. They don’t take a share of the revenues or share in the losses of the enterprise. Not partners. Contractors. That’s two points in bullshit-bingo.

“Unrivalled zoo experience”. Er, what does this mean? And through unique design solutions and innovation? Pardon? Meaningless waffle. That’s three points in bullshit-bingo.

“within sustainable parameters”. What parameters? How is sustainable defined? Sustaining what? Perhaps the pillars have to sustain the roof? That’d work! That’s four points in bullshit-bingo.

… (more stuff) … The Zoo and XXX undertook a study tour to the United States in December 2007, visiting four giant panda exhibits with a focus on animal husbandry, behind the scenes holding facilities and exhibit design requirements. The tour identified that the unique breeding and behavioural habits of the pandas would require a compelling exhibit that would tell an active story. The Adelaide Zoo exhibit aims to deliver an emotional experience that encourages visitors to leave with conservation in mind and with the tools to participate in further conservation action.

Oh for crying out aloud, spare me. I want to poke my eye out with a fork, it’s more fun than reading this drivel.

So, the architect and zoo staff had a jolly, then waffled on about it. What on earth does a “compelling exhibit mean”? Does the compulsion mean that attendance will be mandatory – perhaps a prison sentence for non-attendance ? “Compelling.” That’s five points in bullshit-bingo. But it gets worse. “Tell an active story”. What? Pure padding. Words to fill the page. That’s six points in bullshit-bingo.

But just when you though things could get no worse, we have “an emotional experience” that gives the visitors “tools”. Do they leave with a spanner? Or a screwdriver?

Where is that fork? My eyes are itching to feel it. That’s seven AND eight points in bullshit-bingo.

But wait, there’s more:

A key design principle has been to encourage an emotive connection between humans and animals…

There’s more, but I’m tired of this shit. I’ve now made nine points in bullshit bingo, and this in only a half-column of the article.

The only thing missing is that they didn’t deconstruct the zoo and rebuild it using a paradigm shift, inspired by right-sizing the nuances after getting in touch with their inner feelings.

AAARRRRGGGHHH.

Come on self-congratulators, you can do better than drivel like this. Oh, sorry. Come on “Designers” – you can do better. Can’t you?

Not good enough

To recall why this series is here, go to this original post.

It’s pretty tough being the ruler of a fine empire. So tough that the only way to handle it is to surround yourself with gold, fine gardens, mighty vistas, and of course a bunch of flunkies.

Such was the life of the rulers of old – who then further depraved themselves by decorating the wee iddle biddle tiny summer house and retreat with a few boobs, just to add to the excitement.

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Things like this really do LOWER the tone of the neighbourhood. Whatever would the newspapers say if such things were done today? The horrors! The shame of it!

We can’t have things like this. It must be time to bring back coverings for chair legs, in the City of Tea Tree Gully! Modesty is required, and most becoming it is too!

Gold and boobs. Good enough for Germany. Not good enough for Tea Tree Gully.

Not Good Enough

To recall why this series is here, go to this original post.

Today’s disgusting, deranged, and disturbingly immoral public art work comes to you courtesy of the Sanssouci Park, surrounding the Sanssouci Palace at Potsdam in Germany.

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Whilst under the care and protection of the East German Democratic Republic (cough, splutter), not many of the great unwashed could get in to be corrupted by the immoral and degrading statues and images on display. The City of Tea Tree Gully and the elected members would have been proud!

Perhaps they aspire to the Tea Tree Gully Democratic Republic. Will we soon have paid spies and informers? Perhaps dobbing in the neighbours for unseemly landscapes glimpsed hanging on lounge-room walls. And god forbid the consequences if you should have a still-life. Don’t even dream of the exile to the gulags if you have a clandestine nude.

Today anybody can go to Sanssouci and wander through the park (nearly) free of charge, to be corrupted by the evil works of art on display.

Today’s Strumpet With Trumpet – good enough for Germany – not good enough for Tea Tree Gully.

Not good enough

To recall why this series is here, go to this original post.

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Who says those Germans are a boring stodgy lot? Not I, when you can have a NAKED WOMAN EXPOSING HERSELF right next to the Emporers grave. Yep, that’s right next to Alexander The Great, and right on top of where his wife is buried. The fact that they didn’t get on is by the by.

Wicked, salacious stuff. Good enough for a German Emporer. Not good enough for Tea Tree Gully.

Not good enough

To recall why this series is here, go to this original post.

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Strewth! if last weeks smut was not bad enough, another evil smutty NAKED PERSON IN A FOUNTAIN. This one was also good enough for Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt. And today it’s good enough for paying guests in the hotel that is now in the Cecilienhof Palace. But not good enough for Tea Tree Gully.

Humourless

The Queensland government is most unimpressed because a fake Osama Bin Laden applied for their tourism job.

The full YouTube application can be found here.

Hasn’t it occurred to the Queensland tourism minister? Say nothing and it will go away. Say anything and you get two outcomes:

1. You look like a prat with no sense of humour.
2. You keep the story alive for longer.

Then again, maybe they wanted the publicity.

Not good enough

To recall why this series is here, go to this original post.

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Eaw, ergghhh! There’s a naked form in my fountain!

Good enough for the leaders of the World War 2 Allies at the Cecilienhof Palace, but best off protecting those innocent Australians from smut like this. Not Good Enough for Tea Tree Gully.

Not good enough

To recall why this series is here, go to this original post.

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Whoa! Male genitalia! Call Kevin Rudd and scream about this causing child abuse!

Oops. Good enough for Berlin. Not Good Enough for Tea Tree Gully.

Not good enough

To recall why this series is here, go to this original post.

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This is in the garden, inside the fence, around a large building occupied by a prominent German company.

Good enough for Berlin. Not good enough for Tea Tree Gully.

Not good enough…

Some of you may be aware (but I bet most of you are not) that in our local council district where I live there is an annual council-sponsored and run art exhibition.

During 2008, there were 2 works of art banned because they were deemed to be “too lewd”. That’s right folks, they showed a NAKED FEMALE BREAST.

Never mind that art and artists have been showing boobs for the last 2000 years, its not been good enough for the City of Tea Tree Gully.

So folks, while away in Europe during 2008, we found a few public works of art, or sculpture, or just plain ole stuff, that is NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR TEA TREE GULLY.

Here is episode 1, and I plan on a new photo each week, for quite a long time to come yet.

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Look carefully on the top right hand side. The Shipwrights Arms pub – near London Bridge.

Good Enough for London. Not Good Enough for Tea Tree Gully.

Grr B#$%&y introspective narrow minded F@#$ers

OK kiddies, settle yourselves down for a good old-fashioned rant.

Grab yourself a cuppa, this might take a while.

Greenhouse -> Climate Change + Drought = Proof !!

Have you noticied how we’ve all morphed from the geek-term “Greenhouse Effect” to slightly less geeky “Global Warming”, to the now politically correct, ungeeky “Climate Change”?

All this presupposes that the theories, and the data upon which they are based, are both accurate and correct.

STOP SCREAMING. Those who say “look at the current Australian drought” need to take a big dose of Mogodon and loosen up. The current Australian drought proves nothing, one way or the other. Australia has, according to the historical record, been through about a 50 year period of unusually HIGH rainfall, and now seems to be moving back to something more normal. Ask your parents or grandparents how much it used to rain in the 1930’s.

I’m pissed off that we have patronising people saying “look at what we are living through” as if this is proof. The proof will be found in another 50 to 100 years, not now. Get a grip. It’s a THEORY. According to the scientific method, you propose a theory, then you must find evidence both FOR and AGAINST. A Theory is rarely proved and easily disproved. Proof is not 1 or 2 years of lack rain. Proof is data over a long, long period. We have insufficient data to prove anything one way or the other.

Back in the 1950’s, every time there was a dry year, or a wet year, or the wind blew unusually strongly from the North-East, the blame was “the BOMB”. The A-bomb, that is. Young folks, go ask your parents. Say “The Bomb” and get them to tell you what it was all about.

We all love to blame something or someone for our ills. If a big nasty conspiracy is involved it’s even better. Time to take a reality check guys.

DON’T GET ME WRONG: This is not an excuse to buy V8 cars and leave all the lights on. Keep reading.

Local Government

We have the unedifying spectacle of various arms of government moving beyond hysterical hand-wringing about climate change, and now starting to impose charges and levies. Some local councils (not in Adelaide, yet, that I know of) are now imposing climate change charges.

Local government! These guys are supposed to collect your garbage!

What the heck are they doing imposing climate change charges? And what will they do with the money? Buy a bigger car for the Mayor?

These mad bastards should be taken out and shot. This is lunacy. The difference that local government can make is SOD ALL. See more below. The difference Australian can make is ZIP, and local government is ZIP SQUARED.

Again, get a bloody grip.

China

In Australia we have posturing and harping by our politicians, on the 2 major sides, and the usual bullshit from the minor parties and interest groups.

The Chinese are building 200 new airports. RIGHT NOW. That makes the airports, air traffic, and flights in Australia look like a minnow against a shark.

The Chinese bring on line new electricity generation equal to the ENTIRE Australian generation capacity, EVERY 9 months.

While we fiddle, Rome is burning, literally, but in China. The Chinese don’t give a flying F#$@ about any of our hand-wringing, they just get on with building stuff to make a better life for their people.

In the meantime, we argue, and waste hot-air on stupid things like whether the government car fleet should change from a Statesman to a Toyota Prius, or Hybrid Camry!

For crying out aloud, the change of government cars in the fleet won’t make a blind bit of difference in the long run to ANYTHING when there are other counties in the world adding emissions at the rate of THOUSANDS of Statesman cars per day!

Again, start looking past the end of your nose, Australia, what you do makes miniscule difference. It’s so small as to be insignificant. Making the guy in the street pay for a few rich people’s pious indulgence is patronising, rude, and totally worthless. We deserve better.

Australia cutting emissions in any form is roughly equivalent to zipping down to your local jetty and pissing off the end of it, then trying to measure the rise in sea level as a consequence. Australia cutting emissions by changing a few government cars to imported hybrids is equivalent to zipping down to that same jetty and tossing half a thimble-full of pee in the ocean, then measuring.

Petrol Prices

Oil prices rose. So petrol prices rose. Oil is a declining resource. Maybe we’ve hit “peak oil”, maybe not. Finding new oil is increasingly difficult and expensive, so the case for peak-oil is looking better with each passing day. In that case, it’s natural for the price to rise. This is basic, basic economics.

And rise the price damn well should. Oil has always been priced for the here-and-now, basically the cost of extraction + a profit margin.

Oil has never been priced as a one-off opportunity for the people of the planet, if it had, it would have been priced far higher from the very early days, on the grounds that it should last mankind forever. But that’s not how capitalism works. Dollars today and stuff the future!

Oil has so many benefits: in production of energy, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and fertiliser. It is completely undervalued and because of the low price we abuse it to create motor sport (!), and make stupid things like cheap kids toys (all crap, all break easily, all made in low cost countries) and plastic shopping bags! Madness!

In the face of rising oil prices, we have dickheads like Brendon Nelson, Leader of Her Majesties Opposition, finally finding a way of rattling the new government by promising to cut petrol taxes by $0.05 / litre. HE IS NOT EVEN IN GOVERNMENT. IT’S STUPID! When petrol prices are $1.60 / litre, that 5 cents means NOTHING. It’s maybe $1 in a $50 tankful, unless of course you are foolish enough to drive one of those 4WD monsters, in which case it might be $5. But tough – your lifestyle choice, don’t complain!

Brendon Nelson is twitching the hip-pocket nerve as hard as he can go, on something that is symbolic and meaningless, as well as foolish. Reducing petrol prices leads to increases in emissions and worsens climate change, something he now believes in after the demise of his former glorious leader! Mixed messages anybody?

Reducing taxes and thus prices encourages MORE consumption of a precious and declining resource. It also sends all the wrong signals about the level of control a government has about world prices for commodities. And it reduces government revenue, which just means that taxes elsewhere rise to compensate. Petrol tax is a GOOD TAX. It taxes consumption! Spend less, pay less tax! (Income taxes on the other hand, are EVIL TAXES).

Banning The Bulb

Next on the list for the feel-good wankers is the move to ban the incandescent light-bulb. We get non-technical conservationists say completely stupid things like “the technology is 100 years old, its time for it to go”.

Riiiiiiiiiiiiighhhhhht ?!

And replaced by what? The only currently viable replacement (barring going back to candles) is the Compact Fluorescent lamp.

We have a Federal Government department pushing down this road as hard as they can possibly go. There are no quality standards for CF lamps, so these guys have written one. It’s on path to becoming an international standard and might get there in about another 2 years. In the meantime, they will try and impose an interim standard which might get up about the time of ban-the-bulb if we get lucky. Can anybody else see cart before horse here?

And why the heck does the Australian Government have 4000 CF lamps on test IN BEIJING? Why can’t they test them in Australia? They were all bought in Australia. And why does the standard and test regime not take into account things like the switching cycles used in toilets, pantries, bathrooms and so on? One or two switching cycles per day is not the normal cycle for a dunny-lamp.

The CF lamp contains mercury. About 5 mg in each lamp. Mercury is a toxin. So we will have to put oodles of that in every household. Clever. The public servants claim that the mercury level is very low, and burning coal puts mercury into the atmosphere, using CF lamps results in a NET reduction. Maybe. But power stations are not in every home. The CF lamps will be. How many will get broken? And what about the concentration in the waste dumps?

CF lamps also screw up the mains supply, they have a couple of very undesirable properties: Bad Power Factor, and Harmonics. Only the folks in the power authorities understand the consequences, certainly not the simpletons in government or the conservation movement. Bad Power factor means the power utilities have the spend a pot of dough adding new equipment to the electricity systems to correct for it. Which WE pay for. And harmonics… well they just screw up the operation of other equipment and cause radiated electro-magnetic noise.

Some realities of the CF lamp:

  • To extract and recover the mercury safely you need a separate waste collection system. Putting dead CF lamps in general landfill waste is polluting. The cost of a separate waste collection system is huge. But it’s not part of the picture because A DIFFERENT GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT LOOKS AFTER THAT STUFF. And is a separate waste system was in place, how much would it be used? Don’t count the wealthy inner-city dwellers with a social conscience, include the single mums and deadbeats in the outer suburban fringes where the living is cheap. Where will the dead CF lamps go? Bleeding obvious, that one.
  • There are currently no standards for construction and performance of a CF lamp. These are supposed to be coming. But the standards don’t include catastrophic failure! Some fail in spectacular ways. I’ve had one explode with a huge flash, a loud bang and big puff of smoke. What’s in the smoke? Will it harm my health? NOBODY KNOWS. A colleague of mine has had one explode, where the explosion was severe enough to break the lamp, and the fitting, and leave a shower of broken glass all over the floor. AND THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE GOOD FOR US? A quick poll the other night at the presentation about this showed 6 other people have had them explode – in the last few months. Once upon a time this never happened. As the CF lamp has got cheaper, the explosions have become more frequent.
  • The touted lifetimes are generally bullshit. I’ve been using CF lamps for 15 years, and I write the installation date on the base each time I fit one. THEY STILL SAVE ME MONEY, but the 5000 to 8000 hour lifetime is optimistic at best and lies at worst. The standards MIGHT result in honesty of the claimed lifetimes. We’ll see.
  • CF lamps have a warm-up time, this is typically 1 to 5 minutes or thereabouts. When first turned on the light output is dramatically lower than a few minutes later.
  • CF lamp lifetime drops significantly with switching, so places where they are switched frequently like stairwells, bathrooms, toilets, pantries will see dramatically shorter life. That means the effective cost is higher. The damn lamps are already costing $7. In most houses about 1/3 of the places where lighting is used are switched frequently and are unsuitable for CF lamps.
  • You can’t use a CF lamp as the light in your fridge, oven or microwave.
  • Depending on who you talk to… when a total energy balance is done, including the energy and environmental costs used in manufacture, shipping, use, and disposal, the CF lamp actually comes in about equivalent to the supposedly evil and obsolete incandescent. The government people claim this is not that case. Who do we believe?

These people, from the Government, sent to help us, say that the early problems with CF lamps in particular the warm-up time and lifetime are solved problems – not an issue. I REALLY DO NOT LIKE BEING LIED TO. The CF lamps I bought 2 weeks ago still take 2 minutes to reach full light output.

These same folks from the government showed the components of domestic energy consumption. Lighting shows a growth of about 25% over about the 40 years beginning 1980. On the other hand, the REALLY BIG consumers are Televisions (growth of about 400%) and Swimming Pools (about 300%). Tackling the backyard pool and the plasma TV will deliver huge bang for buck. Instead, a vast effort is going into something with only a small impact.

Banning of the bulb will make a few pollies and greenies feel better but actually make little difference to anything. Any effect will be small, and the pollution of waste sites by mercury may actually cause serious long term problems that will only be found in the next one or two hundred years.

There is hope on the horizon: the white LED is currently frightfully expensive, but does promise higher efficiency of conversion of electricity to light, and a lifetime about 10x that of the CF lamp. This is a technology in its infancy, which still has many problems to solve. But in the long run, the CF lamp is a lame duck.

If our government was serious, it would not even try to ban the incandescent lamp. It would instead apply a tax to make incandescent lamps cost about $4 to $5 each, comparable to a CF. Then, you would use whatever was most suited to the application: incandescent for frequent switching and instant-on. CF’s for places that are turned on and left on. The market would sort it out.

BUT FOLKS IF YOU ABSOLUTELY CANNOT USE A CF IN SOME APPLICATIONS THEN GO BUY A STACK OF EVIL INCANDESCENT LAMPS NOW, cos soon you won’t be able to get them at all. I’ve got a cupboard full, and I’m buying more every chance I get.

Weaning Ourselves Off Oil and Changing The Character Of Our Cities

This one really gets on my nerves. It’s been brought about by the high price of oil, so more people are using public transport (fine, good thing).

We have pronouncements now from patronising twerps in the conservation movement saying stupid things like “we must wean ourselves off oil” (ok, fair enough, to a point. Kill the Hummers through high fuel prices and I’m won over), and “We must redesign our cities for public transport”.

Well…. On this point… How? And who pays?

This kind of pronouncement is stupid in the extreme. How are we to re-design the cities AND SUBURBS in which millions of people live? The houses are there, the roads are there, the services are buried under the ground. How are we to make these places more suited to walking, public transport, and less use of the car?

Have any of the people who say this crap looked around the outer suburbs? Have they ever been to Golden Grove (in Adelaide), or Melton or Thomastown (in Melbourne), or Seven Hills or the Western Suburbs of Sydney? These places are so far out in the sticks its not funny. And the masters of the universe who plan these places don’t believe in streets that make walking easy. Instead we have the maze of twisty passages. But it looks nice.

The only way to really REDESIGN our cities for public transport is to use an atomic bomb to wipe the slate clean and start again.

These conservationists must have come from the same primeval swamp as a well-known Adelaide property developer and home builder, who believes that all development and planning controls should be scrapped to allow unfettered house building where he and his cronies see fit. Except in the hills, where he lives. Cos that’s special.

Means testing the solar energy rebate

I’ve ranted about this before. Solar energy is expensive. Very expensive. If the government seriously wants to have renewable energy being used it has to be produced.

In the absence of simply making everybody pay more for power via a tax or a ban on the burning of coal, the only other way to influence a market economy is by subsidy or rebate. The solar cell rebate did not ever cover the total cost of installation, so the only people who were installing solar power were the rich people with a social conscience. Using the rich people, plus a government subsidy has the effect of transferring the wealth of the rich to everybody else!

So what does this dumb-arse government do? They slap a means test on the rebate so now the only people who will get help with installing solar power are those who cannot afford to do so. There is something bizarrely Pythonesque about this.

Strangely enough, the forward order books for solar power have dropped 90%!

And the idiots in this government argue that the means test will result in an INCREASE in the installations of solar power! I’m sure they will next argue that black is white! MORONS!

So what REALLY gets my goat then?

It should be obvious… Dumb crap from by people who don’t THINK.

For the benefit of future generations we should consume less. Less oil. Less food. Less electricity. Within reason. Whether or not this has an affect on the climate will be proven sometime in the next 50 to 100 years. In the meantime we don’t need to be greedy.

Prices for things like oil should rise to reflect their long-term worth. In the meantime is we want to use renewable energy we need to pay for it. Using the rich and the government is as good a way as any. Using the poor is implausible and foolish.

In the future, some of our cities will seriously suck, having been built around the car. Adding or improving public transport will be difficult or frightfully expensive. Idiots telling us to redesign our cities don’t help because they are not proposing a solution, just spouting ignorant motherhood.

Stupid moves to save by tokenism – like hybrid cars and banning the bulb – will have no effect at all on the planet or the climate. Serious saving, well-considered, for good, well-thought-out reasons is fine, but tokenistic dictates from some idiot in Canberra (previously a Merchant Wanker, and now a former rock singer) are paternalistic, demeaning, transparent political games which have great cost and no appreciable effect.

AAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

No, no, no, Mr Jones (warning: Spoilers)

Went with a small group from SWMBO’s work the other day to see the latest Indiana Jones movie.

Aside from the usual thrills, spills, and adventure, this one was silly.

Here’s a list of the really apparent sillinesses, in a very rough order of silliness, except when the orders not in order cos it gets in the way of a good rant:

  1. Mr Jones DID NOT need to meet ET. That was SILLY.
  2. And If Mr Jones DID meet ET, Mr ET DID NOT need to have a bloody great big flying SAUCER ! That was SILLY.
  3. Mr Jones was finding ET brains in a giant US military warehouse full of valuable stuff, in the desert, near where an atomic bomb is being let off. It’s so dangerous that the area is closed off (fair enough) BUT WHY HAVE A WAREHOUSE THERE FULL OF VALUABLE STUFF ?? A WAREHOUSE OF VALUABLE STUFF IN THE FALL-OUT ZONE OF AN A-BOMB IS SILLY.
  4. Mr Jones FALLs through a whole bunch of stuff and lands on a rocket motor sitting on a test track. When fired, the rocket test rig runs on rails out of the building and roars off outside. WHY would anybody do an indoor start and an outdoor finish for a rocket motor test? SILLY. Rocket motors are tested TETHERED to the group with huge great hooks.
  5. But equally, how could he fall from ground level, down, into stuff, and still end up at ground level? That was SILLY.
  6. Then the control panels for the rocket motor test had big countdown timers made from red LEDs. The film was set in 1957. The LED had not been invented. They should have used Nixie Tubes. Using LEDs was SILLY and OFFENSIVE because it was simply historically inaccurate.
  7. The lead lined refrigerator was SILLY.
  8. The flight in the lead line refrigerator was REALLY SILLY though we could all see that one coming.
  9. Falling down the waterfalls and surviving the fall… that was SILLY.
  10. The monster ants picking the evil dude up and carrying him away, that was so SILLY I was laughing out loud at it.

All in all, I spose it was OK, but this time, Mr Lucas and Mr Speilberg really have excelled themselves in silliness. All the other Indiana Jones films have been implausible, but this one takes the cake for totally reckless silly implausibility.

RATINGS

For SILLINESS: 9 / 10 (on a scale of higher = more silly)

For an Adventure Ripping Yarn: 7 / 10 (on a scale of higher = a better yarn)

Some other others were better.

Budget Rant

The new government has announced a series of small changes to taxes & charges in the recent Budget.

For the most part, I can’t really grizzle too much. Though they could have gone further in some areas.

So just for the heck of it, here’s a bit of an opinionated budget-rant.

The Laptop Computer Scam

How this has lasted as long as it did is beyond me. The arrangement used to be that you could salary sacrifice to buy a laptop PC using pre-tax income. This gave an effective discount on the sticker price of 30% to 40% depending on income.

Then, you could claim depreciation each year on the cost of the machine – but the depreciation was claimed on the amount paid, even though paid with pre-tax income. Effectively, you were claiming depreciation on the cost, not the amount paid in after-tax dollars. The long term effect was that when written off completely over a period of 5 or so years, the laptop PC would have cost LESS than nothing. In other words, us other taxpayers were paying a subsidy to those who bought the laptop and then claimed depreciation.

The changes mean that laptops need to be substantiated and used for work purposes, it seems the ability to depreciate will be removed, though that’s not completely clear.

Removal of a a double-benefit like this is No Bad Thing.

Means-testing of benefits

The baby bonus (also know as the plasma-TV bonus) will be means-tested and paid in forthnightly installments instead of a lump sum.

The means-test is probably no bad thing, though with all the other zillions of family benefits, assistances, and so on that are available, I don’t really see why we need a specific baby bonus anyhow. It was just pork-barrelling by the previous government.

As for payment in 13 easy instalments… I wonder how long it will be before the big electrical retailers are offering big-ticket items that can be paid in EXACTLY 13 easy instalments?

Similarly, the previous Family Tax Benefit B will be means-tested. Probably no bad thing, after all, why should my taxes be used to subsidise the private school fees and fashionable clothing for the already well-off?

No doubt a stack of public servants will need to be employed to check and police all this stuff. I’ve never understood Family Tax Benefit B, and have never claimed it. I suspect I should amend a few years of past income tax returns, but I just can’t be bothered trying to find what it’s about. Besides, I don’t want the government to know any more about me than they already do, so keeping out of the evil clutches of the social security dept and tax office is a Good Thing.

Means Testing the Photo-Voltaic Rebate

Now (tah-dah) CONTENTIOUS TIME. This one I do have a problem with.

In short, households with an income of over $100K won’t get the rebate if they install a solar photo-voltaic system. The PV rebate is worth a LOT of money – something like $8K, or similar.

The logic here is, again, something along the lines of: Why provide middle-class welfare?

And that’s fine and dandy on the face of it, but it’s a bit more subtle in this case.

The new government are green-house believers, Kyoto-protocol-signers, who want to see Australia cut its emissions of CO2.

If they are serious, they need to look at the cost of energy from many sources. Markets are normally driven by prices, and energy from coal and gas is CHEAP. To move away from these energy sources to something more expensive is not going to happen unless there is a good short-term incentive. (A few rare people will shell out their hard-earned for a long term payback, but this is the exception, not the rule.)

Solar power is not cheap, its very expensive, mainly because of the up-front purchase price of the panels. But Australia is blessed with a lot of sunshine, and the amount of power from the sun amounts to about 1 kW per square metre. The efficiency of conversion means it’s very difficult to extract more than about 25% of that, but we do have a lot of roof area in the nation! If you had to choose a country to roll out a lot of solar power, Australia ranks up in the top few.

Fundamentally, the government message is “we are terribly worried about greenhouse”. They go off hand-wringing, and then offer an incentive only to the working poor to do anything about it. Even after the PV rebate, the cost of installing solar panels is thousands of dollars. Few people with a household income below $100K can afford an up-front hit of $2K to $5K (with the rebate picking up the balance). On the other hand, those who are deemed to be well-off CAN afford to spend some of their own money, and usually have both the social conscience and income to want to do something.

So by putting this means-test in place, the government show themselves to be massive hypocrites. The take-up of solar power will plummet because the well-off who would have paid a few thousand will now be expect to pay about 3 to 5 times as much, and the not-so-well-off won’t be able to afford the smaller amount they would need to pay anyhow. CLEVER MOVE, NOT.

Be Scared, be very very scared

Today’s scare:

“If you vote for Mr Rudd the inflationary consequences will be so severe that a recession is inevitable”

Thus speaketh Mr Liddle John & Mr Costello.

Hmmm.

There are 4 weeks of the election campaign left. What can they use next week?

“If you vote for Mr Rudd he will come and eat your children.”

And the week after? Perhaps Mr Rudd will take away all your women? And after that? Who knows… Perhaps he’s so evil he can single-handedly change the direction of rivers, cause storms, steal all our money, or something similar!

Oh dear.

Resources

Pet hate.

Hate hate hate.

“Resources”: used in companies to refer to their staff.

I really dislike this, though it’s all-pervasive: we don’t have Personnel Departments any more, we have Human Resources. It might sound more high-falutin, but it’s wank-factor 10 (on a scale from 0 to 10), and a move in the wrong direction.

Referring to people as resources is dehumanising. It comes with a connotation that people are interchangeable cogs, you buy them in boxes down at some store.

In a (heated) conversation about this at a previous employer, a project manager told me to pull my head in, with the explanation:

When we refer to resources to get a project done, we mean everything. We mean the people, the computers, the desks, chairs, software tools, and so on. It’s the whole lot.

This, frankly, is bullshit.

Computers, desks, chairs, and so on – tangible assets, can be obtained quickly and relatively easily. You can get all that stuff in a week, or less if you try hard.

Getting the right people to do the right job, at the right time is where creative and project work (and much other work) always suffers. Getting the right people can take weeks at best, months or even years at worst. And getting them interested and motivated to do what’s needed! Harrumph!

We all know, usually from bitter experience, that employing the wrong people usually produces a worse outcome than employing nobody.

We know the importance of having the right people.

So why the pretence?

Why do managers insist on the illusion that people are just interchangeable lumps, to be shuffled around as conditions permit? Why are people called resources?

People are people, they have talents – or lack thereof. The have strengths and weaknesses – and part of management is to use their strengths and make allowance for, or steer around, the weaknesses. They have a life outside work, they have families, they have feelings.

Treating people as numbers is not good for the people, and it’s not good for the managers of those people.

I’ve been preaching this at work (current work – not old work referred to above), the message is gradually sinking in, but getting old habits broken is difficult.

If we are to take this seriously, though, there are only two approaches possible:

1) Be specific. If you need desks and chairs, say so. If you need people, say so. And say what sort of person you want: What you want them to do. What sort of personality you want. What sort of experience you need. Don’t treat them as numbers.

- OR -

2) Drop the bullshit, don’t call people people, don’t call them resources either. Be completely up front about your purpose and intent. Refer to them as Carbon-Based Work Units.

You’ll find a low acceptance in the workplace for calling your staff CBWUs.

Try this at your workplace some time – next time some twit refers to Resources (meaning people), correct them: “sorry, not resources, CBWU’s”. Then explain. 1 in 10 will understand what you are getting at.

Help spread the word!

Together we can destroy the scourge of referring to people as resources!

Howards (History) Way

His Royal Highness, Prince Howard of Canberra wants all schools to teach Australian History, with an officially sanctioned curriculum.

I’ll bet this bit won’t be taught.

1931 / 1932 – The Great Depression.

Have a guess, readers, which countries had the highest unemployment during the Great Depression?

HANDS UP all those who guessed Germany (highest) and Australia (second highest)?

And which country had armed militias prepared to overthrow their elected governments during this period?

Yep – Australia again.

One of the more interesting – and lesser known – parts of Australia’s history is that during the 1914-1918 First World War, Australia agreed to help out the British Empire by supplying troops for use as English canon fodder.

However, Australia may have supplied the troops, but it was also required to pay them (their wages), pay for uniforms, pay for ammunition, pay for transport, pay for billeting, and on and on.

The money for all this was not available to the young Australian nation, so it was BORROWED – from English bankers. At the end of the war, Australia owed £350 million.

By about 1931, during the depression, the Australian war debt was £90 million (about $6.3 billion in todays terms). At the same time that the British had persuaded the USA to grant interest rate concessions on their war debts, they refused any such concessions for Australia.

The interest being paid by Australia was an unbelievable £36 million ($2.5 billion) per year!!

At that time the Federal Government had very limited revenue raising ability, this money was paid by the states.

The amount of interest being paid on war debts was crippling to Australia and led to massive political ramifications, including all state government policies being dictated by the British banker Sir Otto Niemeyer. This policy was for severe austerity measures, which in turn exacerbated the already large unemployment.

Consequences of the austerity measures included riots in Adelaide (the Beef Riot), Perth (Treasury Building Riot), Cairns (Bloody Sunday riots), and Sydney (Glebe and Newtown riots).

Only one politician was prepared to challenge the financial measures being imposed by the British – Jack Lang, Premier of New South Wales. Whilst he was denouncing the measures, and threatening (and later carrying through with the threat) to refuse to meet the interest payment, there was a young, aspiring Victorian politician who felt differently:

“If Australia is to surmount her troubles by the abandonment of traditional standards of honesty, justice and fair play, it would be far better for Australia that every citizen within her boundaries should die of starvation during the next few months.”

This address by Robert Gordon Menzies was greeted by rousing applause – such were the polarised times!

While political feelings were heated, shadowy groups were preparing to overthrow the governments of New South Wales and Victoria. In New South Wales, the New Guard was led by Eric Campbell, and at one time boasted over 100,000 members – prepared to remove the Labor government of the day. A similar group in Victoria was much less well known, and called the White Army. The best, most publicly known of the exploits of the New Guard was the slashing of the ribbon by Francis de Groot at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Such were the times of the Great Depression: Riots, 700,000 unemployed (and adding at the the rate of 5000 per week), massive political unrest, private armies, and a politician who would rather see the people starved than fight payment of usurious interest to Britain.

Will this be taught in the Australian history curriculum?

—————————–

References and further reading:

“1932″, Gerald Stone, Pan Macmillan Australia, 2006. (A cracking good read).

“Working for dole – Commonwealth relief during the Great Depression”, Don Fraser (National Archives)

“Riot acts – The history of Australian Rioting”, David Lowe, 1993, pp 16-18.

Australias WW1 debt to Britain, in 1931, in answer to a question in the Senate was £79,724,220 (National Archives).

The Australian newspaper, Peter Lalor Blog (Sword Point article, comments): “Feel free to call me Peter, Pete, or even mate. Feel free to explain to me why the UK never fully repaid its war debt to the USA but Britain demanded Australia pay it back. Also explain to me why it took the same country 60 years to pay off its WWII debt but never gave Australia such latitude.”

“The Centenary of Treasury 1901-2001, An Informal History”, Highlights (Part 3), Commonwealth of Australia, 2001: “Significant economic instability followed the end of the war. Australia emerged from the war weakened by the loss of the maimed and dead and by the monstrous burden of a £350,000,000 war debt…”

Three main points of the Lang Plan (from: http://www.alor.org/Library/Commonwealthbank.htm):
1. That until Great Britain agreed to fund Australia’s overseas debt in the same manner as America funded that of Great Britain, no further interest upon her overseas debt should be paid by Australia.
2. That the interest rate on this debt should be reduced to 3%, and that all interest rates on private finance should be correspondingly reduced.
3. That the existing system of currency be altered from a nominal gold standard to one more suited to modern conditions, preferably the goods standard.

This policy was greeted with a howl of mingled rage and fear from private banks, the insurance companies and the bond­holders in general. The press denounced Lang in the most unbridled terms, as a swindler and a thief, whose proper place was gaol. It published ‘scare headings’ such as ‘Lang will confiscate Savings Bank deposits’, ‘Lang will smash your bank and seize your savings’, while politicians vied with each other in prophesying the bank’s ruin in every newspaper – one Federal Member publicly stated that he gave the bank four days to run (Hansard, Vol. 128. P. 1087/8, 1181).

Quote of the week

Thank you, Aurelius, for this.

Interest Rates up, dissembling up as well

Interest rates went up.

Speakest the Howard: It’s all the fault of the EVIL state Labor governments, who, incidentally are borrowing money to pay for infrastructure upgrades. You know, building roads, bridges, hospitals, that kind of thing. The kind of thing that Honest John and Bumbling Pete have been getting stuck into the states for NOT doing.

Clager-lang-er-lang. Oops, sorry, that’s the hypocrisy detector sounding.

See when you are Prime Monster, you truly can have your cake and eat it too.

Mr 101 uses has it spot on.

Bring on the election!

Ha ha caught out!

Brendan Nelson has been furiously backpedalling, after admitting publicly that Australia is in Iraq to secure the supply of oil !!!

Oops, bet he’ll be in trouble with the headmaster now!!

*** EDIT – 7-Jul: Anonymous Lefty is amused.

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