I am currently working on three plays: The Last Secret, the second in my Seatown trilogy; Séance, a play about a boy’s boarding school in the Sixties and A Matter of Freedom, a play set in New Delhi.
Madmen at the Wheel
On my Writer’s facebook page I have a lot of American friends so I have been deluged with commentary on the U.S. election campaign. The daily cavalcade of corruption allegations, conspiracy theories, morality posturing, Trump bigotry, Clinton obfuscation, and wiki fodder has been a bizarre spectacle.
My initial response is to ask how the World can continue to take the United Sates seriously. My considered response is less flippant.
While the charade proceeds and we all wonder why they don’t just let the admirable Obama continue to run the country, a darker scenario is unfolding. The Administration behind the figureheads and the Military powerbrokers are stoking the embers of the Cold War into a terrifying status quo that threatens all of us. To the nuclear scenarios that have horrified us in the past they have now added cyber war.
We may shake our heads and dismiss the American presidential campaign as a pantomime and thank our stars we aren’t part of the madness. But it is the magician’s sleight of hand at work. It’s what we don’t see that is important. The power of the military-industrial machine that drives the American economy enables the manipulation of media, politics and foreign policy in a deadly game in which the citizens of the globe are mere pawns.
As a fascist plotter once said, “Laugh and you won’t see us coming.” We are laughing and they have already arrived.
Seeing Red in the AFL
The red card rule could have one very specific application in the AFL. When a player is unable to continue because of illegal contact, his team loses one rotation. When that happens the offender from the opposition team should be removed to restore a fair balance for the remainder of the match.
Often when a player leaves the field permanently, the opposition gain momentum. Other teams will benefit from the suspension of the offender in subsequent matches but the team suffering the loss is disadvantaged. A red card rule would eliminate this.
No AFL supporter wants the code to align with Soccer or Rugby conventions but a limited application of the red card rule has a specific benefit that would make the game fairer on those few occasions when a mongrel act has the potential to change the outcome of the match.
Tell a Politician Who Cares
I have just been reminded why I consider politicians to be one of the lower forms on the social evolutionary scale. At a time when so many people are experiencing recession, cutbacks and redundancy, WA politicians are receiving a pay rise. Of course they will protest that it is out of their control, which really is salt to a suppurating wound.
Who are these faceless people who force politicians to take pay rises when everyone else has to fight for theirs? How many politicians try to change this?
With very few exceptions the political system favours the rich and the powerful. Politicians travel profitably in the wake of those they privilege.
Close Encounter of the Clinical Kind
I have been somewhat disillusioned by my recent experience with a Clinical Psychologist. I was referred to him by a GP at my own request and given a series of five bulk-billed sessions for mild depression.
Several years ago after some radical changes in my workplace I felt oppressed by negative feelings and went to a one off session with another Clinical Psychologist. He told me I had mild depression. I explained to him that I had experienced similar states of mind at least twice before and I had got myself through them with a combination of meditation, affirmation and physical exercise. He urged me to do the same again, which I did.
This year I found the negative state of mind returning to the point where others were recognizing that I was down. I decided to avail myself of the bulk-billed sessions.
I explained to this Psychologist that my present state arose from beginning to seriously consider retiring from my career as an English Teacher. I was also beginning to resent the pressure from the education system to modify my teaching style, which has been recognized as very effective over twenty five years and moving to the current vogue of data driven teaching strategies. I admitted that my meditation and exercise regime had lapsed again.
His “treatment” consisted firstly of urging me to redevelop my habits of regular meditation, Tai Chi and drawing and secondly a series of simple cognitive exercises to rationalize my negative thought patterns. These were basically just positive thinking exercises.
By the fifth week my state of mind was close to normal, apart from the stress of the existential issues I am facing at this point in my life. I was surprised when he gave me a sixth booking and informed me he was referring me back to my GP for a further five sessions.
He wrote a referral, sealed it in an envelope then very deliberately sealed it further with tape. I said nothing. I took the referral and left.
As far as I am concerned I am entitled to see anything written by any professional about me. Needless to say I opened the envelope and read the referral. I then contacted the Psychologist and informed him I did not require any more sessions.
In the referral, he had told my doctor I had “major depressive disorder symptoms.” I think if I had major depression I would be aware of it, as would my family and friends. To me this was just a means of justifying further consultative work.
In the referral, he also said that my depression was maintained by my “inactive lifestyle.” No one who knows me would describe my lifestyle as inactive, in fact I am often urged to chill out and do less. I teach full time, I tutor part-time, I write for at least an hour a day, I socialise on a weekly basis and I take every opportunity to spend time with my family and recreate with my grandchildren. Over the past few years I have also had to do a lot of work as Power of Attorney for both my parents, particularly my father who had dementia and as Executor of his will when he passed away.
The description of “inactive lifestyle” seems to be predicated on the fact that I had stopped meditating and practising Tai Chi, something I have since remedied.
It is clear to me that my Psychologist had his own agenda. I was not prepared to surrender my autonomy to that agenda. I accept that some people may have depressive symptoms that require radical intervention and complete trust in the therapeutic process but on the continuum between normality (whatever that is) and psychosis, there has to be client-therapist agreement that leaves the client in control.
An analogy would be the question of surgery. I would never agree to surgery without a clear understanding of the need for it, the possible repercussions and an outline the alternatives. I would expect my surgeon to provide me with those. I would not accept some esoteric judgement on my behalf that I had to go under anaesthetic and allow him to do whatever he thought necessary. Similarly I do not accept that I have some condition of which I am not fully aware that requires someone else to make the judgement that I need therapy.
60 Minutes of Fame
The Beirut event is part of the Reality Television Syndrome, which has spread like a disease through the media. Human safety and dignity have become collateral in the relentless quest for ratings. The voyeuristic obsession of the viewing public has become a gold mine for an industry with no collective conscience.
I can understand how a mother would be desperate enough to attempt the abduction of her children. Channel Nine however should not have put its staff at such risk purely for the mercenary pursuit of sensationalised television footage.
I cannot understand why the mother of a three-month old child would agree to join such a project if indeed she was fully apprised of the possible consequences. I feel for the plight of all those involved but I condemn 60 Minutes Producers for the cavalier disregard they have shown toward the welfare of their staff.
That’s fine but first we need to acknowledge that the Man Shed arose because women made the home their personal domain. If women are ready to share the house equally (that includes the kitchen) and if there is already a well established Man Shed, then a She Shed is a great idea.
bali nine executions
Moral pontification is not leadership. Just like despots who wage war to distract oppressed subjects, our Politicians are trying to boost their personal popularity by supporting populist views on a controversial issue.
Australia is now engaged in a political slanging match with one of its most important neighbours. Valuable trade relationships are threatened because our Politicians are objecting to Indonesia’s sovereign right to enact its own Laws in executing convicted drug traffickers.
Ten years ago these drug traffickers were held in contempt by most Australians for attempting to import drugs into Australia and seeking to profit from the exploitation of Australian addicts. Now these men are social media heroes and our Politicians are using them as symbols of their moral outrage.
Some people see the ten-year delay in carrying out the executions as unhumane. Perhaps it was but it gave Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran the opportunity to live ten years trying to help others as some kind of redress to the suffering their drug trading might have caused.
Personally I have little sympathy for men who knowingly chose the risk of committing a crime in a country with death penalty laws. At a time when thousands of deaths in Nepal’s natural disaster failed to remain on our newspaper front pages for longer than two days and scant attention is given to the innocent civilians who are killed daily in Africa and the Middle East the intense media coverage of the Chan-Sukumaran case is obscene. The political furore is hypocritical and unproductive.
The problem with the Burqua in Western culture is not religious or cultural. It raises the issue of concealing identity. It is no different to the wearing of a balaclava or a dark visored motorcycle helmet.
To most Westerners Hajib is perfectly acceptable as an expression of a certain type of modesty or piety as long as there is no suggestion that Western dress is immoral or indecent. Women are as entitled to wear short skirts and bikinis as much as they are entitled to wear Hajib.
Personally I am not comfortable in the presence of someone who conceals their identity. It is not just cultural. In the modern world full of theft, violence and terrorism it is a legitimate cause for concern.
Muslims who wish to live within Western society must understand and accept the concerns Westerners have about the Burqua if they want other aspects of their faith to be understood and accepted.
I am anti burka but that doesn’t make me anti Islam. The burka is a garment designed for Arab men riding camels through hot desert terrain and sandstorms. It has been subverted to suppress the freedom and self-expression of women. It has no place in our streets and malls. In our culture we value openness and communication.
I don’t support terrorism but that does not make me anti Islam. I oppose anyone who resorts to terrorism. I don’t believe Mohammad intended his followers to practice violence and hatred. I don’t believe the majority of Muslims support terrorism.
I oppose leadership by hateful, ignorant men and fundamentalists of every persuasion. That doesn’t mean I am anti religion. I value spiritual and moral leadership by the truly righteous. I reject bigotry, ignorance and hatred.
There are some strange and random protocols in the subjective world of facebook. Liking something can mean you don’t like it. Punctuation has some bizarre applications that don’t apply anywhere else – for example the exclamation mark has lost its value and is often repeated multiple times for effect – some users interpret upper case as shouting or screaming – sometimes punctuation is omitted as if there were a character limit similar to twitter. A friend can be a total stranger who may well live metaphorically on another planet and you hope they stay there. Of course, what they had for dinner or the blister on their thumb is of vital interest. On facebook, the profound and the trivial get equal billing. To share, more often means to inflict, especially in the case of what you had for dinner and the blister on your thumb. Facebook is more about getting attention than communicating. Communication value is much higher on blogs. Blogs are ideal for those who have something to say. Facebook is more suited to the needy.
Many people believe that a wandering rabbi with radical views and a following of less than a hundred people who was unjustly tortured and executed 2000 years ago is hanging somewhere in the ether and is going intercede with an old man called God on behalf of a mere few thousand of the millions of souls born on this planet to secure them eternal life in a place called Heaven.
I believe in something just as fantastical. I believe that all souls born on this planet are evolving through a cycle of birth, death and rebirth through which they learn from experience including the law of cause and effect which dictates that all their suffering is a natural outcome of their own actions and that each time they die they are given an opportunity to begin anew and that heaven is not a place but a state of existence where a soul has learned its lessons and is able to enter a state of union with the infinite wisdom of the universe.
It has been observed by many commentators that the AFL is not a fair competition. The main focus of management is marketing and profit.
Former AFL coach Ron Alexander said recently that if the competition was fair then every team would play every other team an equal number of times over two seasons. Travel distance would also be shared more equitably rather than the two West Australian teams travelling more the others.
It is interesting to note that many Victorian AFL fans regard other states as less significant than the original VFL. In relation to this it must be said that not all VFL teams survived the AFL. Some are still struggling for survival. The share of premierships in the AFL era show that in fact non-Victorian teams are superior. Brisbane Lions and West Coast Eagles have three premierships. Only Geelong (a non-Melbourne team) and Hawthorn have an equal or greater number. Only Brisbane Lions have three in a row. Adelaide and Sydney have two and Port Adelaide one. Victorians may control the AFL but they do not dominate the competition, despite the fact it is weighted in their favour. The most travelled club West Coast Eagles is the second most financially successful club, behind Collingwood, the least travelled.
Victorians (particularly Collingwood supporters) often say, “If you don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Well, look who does the greater share of the cooking.
The current dispute between the Department of Education and its staff has a strong sense of deja vu. In a dispute during the term of the previous government we saw an arrogant Premier, Alan Carpenter and a biddable Education Minister McGowan refusing to listen to teacher’s concerns. Now we have an equally arrogant Premier Barnett and an equally biddable Education Minister Collier refusing to listen. The dynamics are the same.
Mr McGowan, now the Leader of the Opposition attended a recent rally to support education staff. He must also have had a sense of deja vu. The last time he spoke to teachers his own intransigence was the object of their anger.
Obviously nothing changes in politics except the names and faces. It doesn’t even seem to matter which political party is in power.
Perhaps the politicians are irrelevant and it is actually the bureaucrats behind them who are driving the agenda.
Essendon’s James Hird
James Hird was and remains a football champion. Even champions make mistakes. Should anyone be surprised that he is less than perfect? Once he has paid the penalty for his errors of judgement, he has every right to return to the game he loves and the chance to rebuild his career as a coach.
Sexuality is just a part of you. It should not define who you are. What you do with your life and how you relate to others is what really counts.
Whether you are gay, bi-sexual or heterosexual, if your sexuality is the main focus of your identity you are still trying to resolve your sexuality, rather than accepting it and just living your life.
Gay rights, is about everyone just accepting the fact and moving on; judging everyone on their merits, rather than their sexuality.
Bob Brown is probably one of Australia’s best-known gay males. His public life has not been about his sexual preference. It has been about his dedication to conservation and his work in politics. I admire what he has achieved. The fact that he is gay is irrelevant.
The born again Christian who thanks God for getting him a parking spot near the supermarket on Saturday morning doesn’t stop to wonder what kind of God would do that when there are millions of people suffering and dying over the world who are much more deserving of His attention.
Saving the Planet
Conservationists alone will not save the planet. It will take their effort combined with every conceivable kind of innovator and a majority of the world’s citizens to make a difference.
A god who creates an infinite universe with billions of souls then chooses a few thousand to live forever and condemns the rest to eternal damnation must be a moron. What rational person could believe in such a god?
Cardinal Pell believes the confidentiality of the Catholic confessional in Vatican Law is above the Australian legal system. Does he also believe Sharia law is above Australian Law?
Lloyd Rayney trial
The West Australian FREE TO PARTY headline for Rayney acquittal. Sour grapes journalism from a newspaper that judged him guilty from the start.
The bias in the West Australian’s coverage of the Lloyd Rayney trial is becoming extreme. The prosecution story dominated the paper for a week. The opening of the defence case was relegated to page 51 with a recount of some of the prosecution argument. Now, the prosecution is back on the front page.
Perhaps the West Australian should look at the archives and remember the way Lindy Chamberlain was once convicted by the media.
The West Australian continues to present a biased coverage of the Lloyd Rayney trial. The Rayney case for the prosecution story dominated for a week. Now the defence case begins it is relegated to page 51 with a recount of some of the prosecution argument.
The tone of The West Australian is increasingly tabloid. On Wednesday 1st August they ran a front page banner and an article at the top of page three about a teacher recently convicted of lying and perverting the course of justice over a speeding fine.
Wasn’t the fact – reported in the article – that she was suffering from stress enough reason to minimise exposure of her plight?
Perhaps they could have balanced the report by questioning why something so minor would attract a sentence of approximately two years when serious crimes such as king hit assaults are being dealt with so leniently.
The West Australian seems to have forgotten that justice is based on the premise of innocence until proven guilty. I have not seen a more biased presentation of a criminal case since the Azaria Chamberlain inquest. Rayney is fortunate that he is not being tried by a jury.
Unlike most people I speak to, I have not decided whether he is guilty or not. I remember the way Michael Chamberlain stood by Lindy and I am cautioned by the way Rayney’s daughters seem to believe in their father’s innocence.
There have already been too many wrongful convictions in Australia. The archives are full of evidence that the media played a part in those miscarriages of justice.
We know that Corrine Rayney was brutally murdered and everyone wants justice for her but we should let the Court decide if the prime suspect is guilty or whether the murderer is still at large.
The recent incident in which Yumi Stynes and George Negus lampooned Victoria Cross winner Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith, highlights the nature of the ubiquitous panel shows on Australian television.
On these panels, so-called celebrities sit around having the same kinds of conversations that everyone else has at the morning tea table or the barbecue – the only difference being they are televised nationally. Like their breakfast radio counterparts they are simply full of themselves and think they can say anything they like.
After saying something offensive they try to excuse themselves by claiming that it wasn’t intended to offend. Hello? When is offensive not intended to offend?
My suggestion for a response to their insensitivity is: Don’t watch them. Slash their ratings. Show them how irrelevant they are. 29.2.12
The education system should be constructed like a maze so that only those who develop an acceptable level of critical thinking can exit.
Critical thinking is essential at every level of education and training. A carpenter once installed a sliding window for me and cut the sliding groove in the sill opposite the fixed part of the window.
If an Australian woman wants to live in a strict Muslim country she has to conform to the dress code of that country. There are no concessions for her own cultural sensibilities. When a strict Muslim woman chooses to live in Australia she must understand that the dominant cultural attitude toward people who conceal their faces, whether by niquab, balaclava or hoody is one of suspicion. We value open expression and distrust those who conceal their identity. When it comes to our law, we are entitled to demand individuals to be accountable. Anonymity enables individuals to stand beyond the law.
Kristy Anne Fraser-Kirk sues Mark McInnes for $37m
What relationship do lawyer’s fees and ambit claims have to the real value of human behaviour?
I have as much respect for Islam as I do for Christianity. I consider them both to be deeply flawed institutions, which have produced despicable, admirable and transcendent human behaviour.
New Delhi Commonwealth Games
India is India, whatever Games may come. Good luck and best wishes to everyone in New Delhi. The focus on negative stories by some sections of the press in the lead up to the Games has been a display of cultural ignorance and western prejudice. This is an Indian Commonwealth Games. Let’s celebrate India herself as we participate in this event. India will always defy expectations but it will never disappoint the sincere seeker.
When you don’t make decisions, you live by the decisions of others.
In the recent national disaster known as the Ashes, no one lost their life, their home, or their livelihood. Phew! I guess it’s not so bad after all. Let’s help flood ravaged Queensland and Carnarvon rebuild while our cricketers sort themselves out.
Sharia Law in Australia
In Australia we have religious freedom, we don’t need Sharia Law.
For many years the Australian media headlined concerns over the budget deficits of the Gillard Government. Tony Abbott’s criticisms were regularly aired. It seems now under the Liberal Government, national debt is no longer a concern.The Abbott Government is proposing legislation to raise the debt ceiling by $200 billion. The Labor Opposition rejects this as unjustified and unexplained. The West Australian reported the matter today in a small article on page 19.
The arrival of asylum seekers by boat was also constantly in the headlines during the Labor government years, especially near election time when Tony Abbott pledged to stop them. Today the arrival of two more boats was reported on page 12 of the West Australian.
Is this simply the honeymoon period of a new government or is it a symptom of a deep-seated political party bias in the Australian media? It seems now to be the responsibility of the Social Media to safeguard democracy in Australia.
The Rudd PNG Solution is all about keeping Tony Abbott from becoming Prime Minister of this county and that is not a bad thing. In the short term, turning back the boats is inhumane but perhaps in the long term it will break the back of the people smuggling trade and end the tragic boat sinkings.
Obstructionist Republicans need to acknowledge Obama inherited eight years of Republican administration.
The West Australian 28th July 2010 “Women and Rudd in Julia’s Way”
Graham Kierath has taken political commentary to a new low. Does he really believe anyone cares what his daughter thinks of the way Julia Gillard walks?
(I Disagree West Australian 30th July)
An email now circulating, is cleverly written in the style of Nostradamus and purports to be his prophecy about Julia Gillard (the Cunning Lady) reducing Australian to poverty. Is this creative Liberal campaigning? The sad thing is that some otherwise intelligent people believe it is genuine.
Politics is not about substance, it’s about rhetoric. Successful politicians inspire others to do good work.
Business people in WA who want daylight saving can just set their alarms and get up early like farmers who have to milk the cows.
Drawn netball finals are played on, until one side is two goals ahead. The AFL should try this.
Congratulations New Delhi. The opening ceremony of the Commonwealth games was magnificent. Now it is time for the rest of the world to understand India.
On Radio National yesterday, the Boss of Rio Tinto said “If you can’t trust the government, who can you trust?” What a master of irony.
Let’s be honest about speed cameras. The safest speed is with the flow of traffic.
Walking on an image of itself
as silent as the river,
a sleek heron
with its sharp beak and thin mind
probes the silver shallows for food.
Once like the heron,
I have become fat in my mind.
No longer solitary or lean,
I have become a creature of
comfort rather than necessity.
I no longer stalk the shallows
of clean rivers where I saw
pure reflections of myself
and meditated on survival.
The crescent moon floats
on red wine
in my upturned glass.
I drink to the universe.
Poems are gifts
from the universe
that I gift to you.
shot from the cannon
of a crescent moon.
Love can be like that.
A swathe of stars
dives toward the crescent moon,
trailing galaxies beyond measure.
The thin lipped moon smiles.
the space between
an encumberance of stones
filled by the stillness of water
stillness, appearing empty
WELL OF SILENCE
In the well of silence
momentarily at peace
with some small part of
my deep self.