Archive for the ‘Social Commentary’ Category

Happy Birthday George Orwell

To celebrate the birthday of George Orwell (real name Eric Arthur Blair), two Dutch artists are putting party hats on CCTV cameras. I love it. It reminds us just how much of Orwell’s dystopian future described in ’1984′ has come to pass. The man was ahead of his time in more ways than just one novel, or even two if you throw in ‘Animal Farm’. Read his essays and think about what he is saying; it is so relevant to our society today.

Don’t Cry For Me, QANTAS Airlines

QANTAS is cutting 5,000 jobs from its 33,000 or so workforce and everyone is once again aghast. Our national carrier, the flying kangaroo! Oh dear, how can this happen? Well, part of the problem is the Irish Git, Alan Joyce. The $5 million plus a year hatchet man playing CEO. He was brought to Australia some years ago when that other airline, ANSETT, ended its days. He then took his golden parachute and baled out over Ireland, or wherever he went once the dirty work was done.

Then he is brought back to oversee the ripping apart of QANTAS. You see, he isn’t an Australian and while I am certain we could have found someone with sufficient talent and expertise to manage the company from our own ranks, he, or she, would then become something of a pariah in their own country. Far better to use a foreign mercenary, something the French have been doing since the 1860′s with the Legion Estrange. The airline has lost $252 million in the first half of the current financial year. So how are they still in business?

First of all it depends on how you do the accounting. Secondly, QANTAS is a very cash rich company as everybody pays in advance for their flights, while the company pays on 30 days or more. Well then it must be the competition? Virgin Australia are allowed lots of foreign ownership and so can tap them for cash whereas the QANTAS Sale Act means QANTAS must maintain a local majority shareholding and thus can’t attract the foreign investment. They have asked the federal government to either guarantee their debts (in other words the tax payer gives welfare to a huge corporation) or they change the Act and allow more foreign ownership.But to hold on to the landing rights in foreign countries at ‘national carrier’ rates, QANTAS must maintain majority Australian ownership, so how will they compete?

Like Virgin, they can form a domestic airline and an international one. Two separate companies, both using the same livery. Virgin Australia and Virgin Pacific did this. They could stop competing with themselves via their other company, JetStar but they have just sunk money into JetStar Asia and their grab for some of the lucrative business flying out of Singapore.

They are selling their lease of Brisbane airport and then renting back the facilities they need. This brings in cash and the rental is a huge 100% tax deduction. They might sell their frequent Flyer loyalty progam and make more than the company is valued at! This is only the second first half loss in the last 20 years, so they have plenty of money in the bank. Like I said, don’t cry for QANTAS. So what do they do? They slash jobs, 5,000 of them. It begs the question how will they operate? If they can operate with that many less staff, then surely they have been overloaded and have a lot of redundant roles. When Ansett went there was much gnashing of teeth and tears but all of those people found new jobs. The same will happen with QANTAS as will no doubt the assembly line workers at Ford, Holden and Toyota when they stop manufacturing here after the last few million of tax payer funded bailout money is paid to their executives and shareholders.

Don’t cry for QANTAS, they are a corporation. The employees have for decades enjoyed well above award wages thanks to their very powerful unions and of course, they have had the cheap flights perk they are always very quick to brag about when you meet one at a social function. The air traffic through our airports won;t decline, it is growing all the time. So the ground staff will still be needed, just wearing a different uniform. They will be taken up by contractors who will be paid in dollars QANTAS can write off as a legitimate cost of business, much cheaper than paying wages and superannuation and all the other benefits they currently cover.

If the airline can’t compete then it needs to shut down like any other insolvent business. There will be others to fill the vacancy, have no fear and no doubt they will scoop up the staff. As for Joyce, he will get his bonuses and his stock options and his golden parachute and move on to the next corporation someone wants to strip and sell off. Do I care? I haven’t flown with that airline for years and never will unless it is a code share and even then I doubt it.

 

International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation

February 6th is the International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation. I will be releasing a new edition of my short story, ‘The Cruellest Cut’ as part of a compilation of short stories in order to help raise awareness of this abhorrent practise.  It goes on not only in third world communities, but here in Australia, the UK, USA, Canada, you name it. I will be donating part of the royalties from sales of the book, soon to be available on Amazon.com to a worthy charity that not only addresses the problem, but doesn’t waste money paying huge salaries to CEOs. Kind of cuts out the Red Cross and any religious based group but I will find a worthy cause.

Bring Back Hanging!

A Texas man has been arrested for failing to return a library book. Others have been jailed although a 4 year old was allowed to pay a fine and avoid incarceration. This is America, after all. It seems excessive at first glance, at least to those of us that live in a country that doesn’t have more people in gaol than any other in the world and a larger percentage of the population imprisoned than any other. But think about it.

If you borrow a library book and don’t return it, surely you have formed the intention to ‘permanently deprive the owner thereof’? That’s larceny.

“A person takes and carries away, any thing,  the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the owner thereof.”

Even if at the time of the taking and carrying away the intent wasn’t formed, surely when the due date fell and he still didn’t take it back he had decided to keep the goods. Three years later given he still lives in the same town one could be forgiven f0r thinking he wasn’t going to return the book (and complete his contract with the library) unless he was given some serious motivation. A night in the County Jail did the trick.

So was it excessive? Books cost a lot of money and not returning them on time deprives others from being able to read them. Crime is crime, is it not? Where does one draw a line? Read the article linked here and let me know your thoughts.

 

Senseless, Pointless, Pathetic

The random shooting murder of Australian Chris Lane, 22, in Oklahoma USA this week has stunned decent people in both countries and elsewhere. The three losers who did the murder are aged 15, 16 and 17. Fortunately there is a white one among the trio so we can rule out a racial motive. In fact, we can rule out every motive other than they want their fifteen minutes of fame, maybe less. They posted to Facebook they had killed one and were after another and if police hadn’t caught them so quickly they would no doubt have killed again, and again.

What is it with these people? They are bombarded with all kinds of media messages promoting murder from black gangsta rap ‘music’ to tv shows and FPSG (first person shooter games). While I doubt any single influence causes them to kill, the combination of all the messages bombarding them from birth plus what passes for parenting these days has to have some say in the matter. Even concerned parents are often impotent when the kids know society won’t punish them in any way and they can do as they please because they know their ‘rights’. Add to this the ease of availability of firearms and that American mindset regarding their 2nd Amendment rights and you have a society that kills, incarcerates or rips off its own when it isn’t out there invading and bombing everyone else. What happened America? What happened to the once greatest nation of the 20th Century? And you were, make no mistake.

You fear your government, hence the insistence on the right to bear arms etc. You fear the rest of the world and probably with good reason given the number of drones flying over sovereign territory as we speak. You fear your industry and commercial sector with good reason (think Monsanto, Wal-Mart, Wall Street et al) and you fear each other. People now fear the FEMA will seize their stock piled food sources in time of emergency and give them to the masses (saw the video just this morning!) or enter your homes and so on and on and on. No wonder so many are retiring overseas. Well, I have found Americans to be generous, brave and great people to have with you in a crises, at least the ones I have met over the decades and when you get them away from their society. So those of you who want to are welcome to come and live with us and bring all those great qualities of self reliance and ‘can-do’ that made your nation great. Just leave all the other rubbish, your guns and bibles, your attitudes to homosexuals and different races, your worship of capitalism and fear and loathing of democratic socialism back there. We have enough home grown bigotry, ignorance and stupidity here already.

You Have To Love This…

We all love to read about uppity young punks who get their come-uppance, ideally from a retired soldier or self defence expert. Well here the hero is both a former soldier and a one-time boxing champ. The young bloke broke into this man’s home, attacked him with a bladed weapon and was sorted out for his trouble. Not in any Hollywood fashion, all slick, choreographed action but a more realistic fight for his life kind of struggle.

Fortunately the 72 year old triumphed, the punk is off to make new friends in the local prison and all is once again well in the world. But what if the punk had scored with his slash? What if the old guy had a heart attack, even after the police dragged the dross down the driveway? Have no pity for the scumbag, drunk, drugged or whatever. Think beyond what happened and imagine how very easily it could have gone, and almost did go, horribly wrong. That’s when we read one of those tragic waste of life stories.

Not Welcome In Australia

This is absolutely beyond the pale. What is it with these people? Shooting two teenage girls because they were filmed dancing in the rain? With other children and wearing full traditional dress, yet according to the twisted, misogynistic madmen that masquerade as men in their community, they brought dishonour on the family and had to be killed. What a sad, tragic joke!

I don’t care what the limp wristed types will say, there is no excuse for this in any society in this day and age. It is not right and never has been and trying to excuse it as a cultural anomaly is insulting. I hope our immigration people take note and refuse entry to any from these communities. interrogate them and discern if they hold such  a medieval mindset and if so, refuse them entry on any grounds. Even if the rest of their family are here, don’t let them in.

We have seen these so called ‘honour killings’ in the UK among some communities. Mostly Middle Eastern, Pakistani and Indian but not limited to these nationalities. Girls brought up in a western culture savaged by the beliefs and practices of a foreign culture that has no place among western communities. We can’t go there and behave in our ways, they would kill us. So why do we let them come to our society and bring their evil mindsets with them?

Of course not every Pakistani, Yemeni or Muslim holds these views or condones such behaviour. I would be certain of saying most would condemn these murders. I am not talking about denying them entry; just the other kind. Too many are already here as asylum seekers or with legitimate visas and some have committed crimes against women such as the rape at Macquarie University by a Sri Lankan asylum seeker housed in student accommodation recently and other attacks. It is not Islam or Muslis (in the Macquarie case I doubt the Sri Lankan was a Muslim; most likely Tamil) but the individuals and the specific cultures they come from within larger ethnic or religious societies that simply do not get it. They do not share our views on women and their place in our society.

Sadly, many of our older generation, politicians and even younger people from some demographics are still behind the times. But they are our own, home-grown problem. Let us not add to the issue by importing more of their ilk and worse. If this post makes me a racist, then so be it. Call me what you like but don;t call on me and cry when it is your daughter, sister, wife or mother that has been brutally introduced to what ‘real men’ in some parts of the world believe is how to treat other human beings, albeit the female variety.

Let us be very clear on this; it has NOTHING to do with religion and everything to do with ego, pride and men being evil. Religion is often quoted as the rationale, the authority for such crimes but no religion in the world condones this. As the BBC write on their web site:

‘Tradition, not religion’

None of the world’s major religions condone honour-related crimes.

But perpetrators have sometimes tried to justify their actions on religious grounds.

“Honour crime happens across the board in the Asian community,” says Ram Gidoomal of the South Asian Development Partnership.

“People try to blame Muslims, Hindus or Sikhs but it tends to happen in families where there are the strongest ties and expectations. It’s a very strong cultural issue.”

Leaders of the world’s faiths have also strongly denounced a connection between religion and honour killings.

Why Am I Not Surprised?

A Christian minister finds a valuable bracelet in a carpark. Hands it in to the Police and after two months it becomes his property as the owner was never found. I doubt the police bothered to look because the minister had no trouble doing so. In fact it was the jeweller he took it to for valuation who found an engraved code and tracked down the owner. Now the Rev wants the owner to make an insurance claim and give him half the payout and he is happy to return it to her. How very generous and perfectly legal. The Reverend was a lawyer (why does this not surprise me?) and is within his rights. Forget doing the decent thing, he wants the money.

Why do we hold religious officers up to a higher standard of moral behaviour? The church (name one, they are all the same in every religion)are business entities. They make vast amounts of money and always have. One way to be rich and powerful is to rule and be stronger than anyone else by force of arms; the other is to control the masses through superstition and myth, in other words create a religion and get people to believe their lives depend on doing as they are told. To achieve this it helps if you set your officers on pedestals. Why do the words pederast and pedestal sound so similar, I wonder?

Make no mistake religions are big money. L. Ron Hubbard said if you want tog et rich quick, start your own religion and he started the wack job known as the Church of Scientology… or rather his fans did as he always denied starting it. Hahaha. The Catholic CHurch Inc is huge in insurance, mostly re-insuring the big insurers. Given their exemption from ‘Acts of God’ it is a joke, don’t you think? Why do religious businesses get tax free status? We lose billions because of this and it doesn’t reflect what is put back into the community.

Make no mistake, there are many genuine, wonderful people who believe in the tenets of their faith and live their lives accordingly. There are, however, far too many who are just nasty, greedy little shits hiding behind pious BS. People like the piece of work in the news story are, in my opinion… nah, better not. I’m sure the pricks would sue.

UPDATE: 1 July 2013 After the media splashed this around the Reverend’s church had graffiti daubed on its walls and a brick through a window. The clergyman has returned the bracelet and now seeks forgiveness for his ‘wrong-thinking’. The more cynical among us might feel this wouldn’t have been the outcome had the matter not become public knowledge and that, like those who ‘get religion’ in prison just before they are up for parole, this is a convenient coincidence. As his apologetic relative says, he made a mistake, one mistake. Well, he made one we all know of, now. If you want to hold yourself up as being a leader of the community, someone who says their beliefs are the truth and so forth then you need to not make such mistakes. I’m glad the matter was resolved and the bracelet returned.

Reverse Racism – No Such Thing!

If there is one thing that I can not stand it is racism. Having said that, I confess I have my personal preferences on various races when it comes to interaction, for various reasons but none of them because this person is white, black, from here or there. Caution when it comes to strangers is a human survival trait and being able to detect strangers due to their looking differently or speaking a different language is part of what has kept our genes moving along the line. But this does not condone hating people because they are a different race or nationality. It does not mean you discriminate on the grounds of racial differences, but of course when making choices you differnetiate on some grounds or another. But because their government is disputing a bunch of rocks in the middle of the South China Sea?

A Beijing restaurant has refused service to those tourists from countries involved in maritime disputes with China; Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines. The dog reference is a play on a mythical sign alleged to have been posted at a Shanghai park during the 1930s refusing entry to Chinese and dogs and the inference that obviously makes. That argument aside, this reminds me of the most offensive term in the lexicon when it comes to discussing racism. Reverse racism.

Racism is racism, pure and simple. To apply such a term, always when a person of colour (black, brown, Negro, Asian whatever but not white, Anglo or European) is racist towards a white person, is grammatically incorrect if nothing else. I can’t say ‘against a caucasian’ because if we boil things down to the three basic racial types: caucasian, negroid and mongloid (Asiatic), Indians and Sri Lankans (very dark skin tones) are caucasians. Australian Aborigines are also caucasian. Neither are negroid or mongloid. So when someone with darker skin, darker hair and usually brown eyes is racist towards someone with fair skin, fair hair and lighter coloured eyes, then this is reverse racism? As if racism can only go one way! From white to brown/black/whatever. How ridiculous!

No race has a monopoly on racism, it is a human trait. No race is racism free either, because it is a human fault. Here we have a Chinese restaurant owner discriminating on racial lines against other Asians. That is his prerogative and while I vehemently disagree with his action, I support his right to choose who he wants to take money from. Believe me, I have seen some of the worst examples of racism from ‘them’ to ‘us’, reverse racism as the PC crowd would so infuriatingly label it.

When will we ever learn? Personally, if I saw that sign, even if it didn’t refer to me (which it doesn’t) I would not eat there on principle. On Malapascua Island in the Philippines there was a restaurant that refused to serve the local island inhabitants,  only tourists, although they could be Filipino tourists. I never once ate there and it was considered by many the best on the island. Many tourist attractions in the Philippines have higher prices for tourists (eg. Oslob Whale Shark watching) and I always make a point of protesting this. It is not the few extra dollars but the principle. If we tried that in Australia the hue and cry would be considerable and so it should be.

As a pure Anglo-Saxon, I am proud of my Indo-Malay wife and our mixed race children. All are wonderful human beings and each one of them is a proud Australian with a very Australian face. You see, the ‘Face of Australia’ hasn’t been an Anglo-Saxon one like mine for decades, even a couple of generations. The sooner we accept that, embrace it, then move on… the better. Bottom line, we are all humans, Earthlings. We don’t have to love everybody or even like each other but a modicum of respect and common courtesy would make this a better place for all.

No Risk, No Reward

If you play with fire you are bound to be burned sooner or later. These three teenagers performing a stunt where they ride their bikes through burning cardboard were doing this for the first time. The organisers have set this stunt up many times before without incident, apparently; but this time it went ‘horribly wrong’. Given the ingredients of fire and teenage kids, how else could it go if it goes wrong other than ‘horribly’?

Should we now call to ban all such events? Stop teenagers doing anything remotely risky? Or perhaps ensure those responsible for the safety and setting up of these things double and triple check them first? Even then, f there is no risk of it all going ‘horribly wrong’, where is the thrill? The danger? The reason for doing it in the first place?

Life is not risk free, even today. Humans have only ever moved forward after taking risks, daring mightily and pushing the envelope. Along the way there are casualties but so long as we learn from our mistakes and keep trying to do better, then their sacrifice was never in vein. If we aren’t prepared to take risks then we can’t expect anything to happen… good or bad and that can’t be good for mankind.

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