Is Australia captive to inane trivia?

November 14, 2017

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There is a cake and pie shop in Bowral named ‘The Gumnut.’ On its front window it has a very impressive lists of ribbons of yearly ‘best pie or best cake’ of the year won at Sydney’s yearly agricultural show called ‘The Easter Show.’ We often in our daily walk stop to have a coffee and a pie. I still succumb to a ribbon or award winning meaty one but Helvi prefers the vegetable pie with roast pumpkin and sun-dried tomato. Each to their own.

Tomorrow at 10am all TV and radio Stations will broadcast the results of the $120,000,000,- postal vote on SSM. With all that is going, some Ministers and Parliamentarians will try and throw sand over the issue by putting up their own bills safe-guarding religious beliefs or matters of conscience. It is generally predicted through polls that the SSM will get a healthy 60% Yes vote and a 40% No vote outcome.

Many on the extreme right, will under the pretext of protecting religious or conscientious views try and make things more difficult than they are. Some politicians are using the example of cake makers forced to sell wedding-cakes to Gay or Lesbian couples against their conscience or religious beliefs. Can you believe it?  For some time now this cake selling has been popping up almost daily in adult right-wing Parliamentarians seriously rambling on about it on the TV.

One particular Minister gets red in the face about the prospect of SS couples being sold a same sex wedding cake. It gets worse. ‘What about those renting out wedding cars or those celebrants whose beliefs might run against SSM? And so it goes on.

And, while 15000 scientists are warning time is running out for the world to be spared the collapse of our ecology, Australia talks about wedding cakes to SS couples. Are shops at present sussing out homosexual couples and refusing to sell them vanilla slices? I don’t think so. I often see openly gay people munching away on cakes or sausage rolls. Who cares? Why would shops refuse to make a wedding cake just because it might get eaten by people born with a difference. What next. Stop selling cakes to people with beards or with blue eyes?

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-14/climate-scientists-issue-dire-environmental-warning/9147334

Yet, not much about the plight of hundreds of asylum seekers now after two weeks without urgent provisions of food, water and toilets on Manus island. Sometimes during my mind’s meanderings I wonder what my father would make of present day Australia. We used to be progressive and forward looking but now have sunk to inane and silliness. Who would have thought that wedding cakes would be discussed while at the same time being tolerant of untold cruelty to refugees?

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/thousands-rally-in-melbourne-in-support-of-manus-island-asylum-seekers-20171104-gzevx0.html

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Is the battery permanently flat?

November 10, 2017

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One of life’s more perplexing events took place last Wednesday. The day started positive. The toast was just perfect with no burnt edges but warm enough for the butter to melt within, allowing the cheese to nestle itself in all its hollows and grooves.

The previous couple of weeks, things were far from comfortable. I caught a nasty flu. If a good diet prevents getting colds or nasty flu, I am almost prepared to believe the contrary, eating fresh fruit and different vegetables daily might well be the reason for getting sick. I am just kidding, the reason probably is found in doctors’ waiting rooms often being warrens for the viruses. Helvi had a cataract removed and I had to renew my thyroid prescription. The multiple visits to waiting rooms was asking for trouble. I just knew it. Helvi just now is recovering as well.

Each Wednesday morning is one of my my  weekly bowling appointment. Perhaps the flu virus was caught there. You just don’t know through whose hands those bowls have travelled. Each Sunday evening is the other bowling event. Again, with both being played indoors at Returned Soldier’s Clubs. The flu viruses must be having a ball spreading havoc.

Last Wednesday I played well and on leaving the club was given a nice compliment by another player. I like compliments and somewhat jauntily jumped in the car ready to drive home and have lunch. But, as I turned the key, the engine remained eerily silent. It did not kick over. Modern cars have complicated electrical systems. I thought that perhaps I wasn’t following correct procedure. This car has a computer screen and usually gives written commands.  Nothing appeared on the screen.

I phoned up my National Road and Motor Association and within half an hour was helped out by a mechanic who told me that the battery was not only flat but finished and proceeded with giving me a print-out of the faulty battery’s output. He advised me to go to the nearest dealer and get a new battery. I did this and as the car is under warranty got a new battery for free. I got home at least two hours after my bowling event had finished and was ravenous for sustenance. I almost relented and succumbed to a Big Macdonald’s, but resisted heroically. Heaven only knows what germs thrive in those fast food establishments with snotty kids slobbering all over the joint.

Aren’t we fortunate though to replace the occasional battery? It is different in our Government. We seem to be in a permanent state of flat battery. Nothing gets done. The ennui of nothingness is paralysing Australia. The only thing happening is a permanent lurching from one crisis to another.  The refugees on Manus and the problem of their permanent detention seems unsolvable and intractable by this inert Government in finding a solution. And all those Parliamentarians popping up with dual Nationality? Each evening we watch the news to see who is next to having another nationality. Isn’t it a hoot?

Australia has a flat battery and that is not good.

My free templet to ward off unwanted phone-calls

November 3, 2017

 

 

new cover 1704 front big Book cover 18april

De Kleine Beer, by Else Holmelund-Minarik is the original most loved children’s story I have kept all those years from when our children were toddlers. It has rested peacefully on my bedside table all those decades. Somehow, I still peruse the wisdom and sheer folly of its story. It seems to suggest that folly and wisdom might well be related.

When I get cold callers from a countries with strong Hindi accents, I now, without further ado, start to recite a page taken at random from De Kleine Beer. Most times at the end of just a few lines read in Dutch, the phone line at the other end is blissfully mute and very silent. It works magically. The true wonder of  good literature.

Here is just a one page templet for your free usage for those that are game and brave enough to try it out. It does no harm and is devoid of malice, anger or retribution.

Zo gezegd, zo gedaan. (As said, as done)

Kleine Beer maakt een pan vol soup. ( Little bear makes a pan full of soup.)

De eerste gast is Kip. ( the first guest is a chicken)

‘Wel gefeliciteers, Kleine Beer.’ (‘Congratulation, Little Bear.’)

‘Dank je wel, Kip.’ (‘Thank you very much, Chicken.’)

Hm,wat ruikt het hier lekker.  ( Hm, it smells so nice here.)

This is usually enough for the caller to give up and discontinue the call. I hope it helps. Please, let me know.

As an aside; Lately we talk a lot about Australian values and how they relate and might even be similar in many other countries, or indeed how they might differ.

Australia has as many good ordinary people as any other country we have lived in., perhaps even more… but what was going on when we elected people such as Dutton into power? We put the most inhumane man in charge of asylum seekers.

We must not ask the possibility of Frydenberg’s dual nationality, yet at the same time allow Dutton the freedom to make 600 refugees on Manus stateless.

Please read this link; The world is watching.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-03/manus-island-un-calls-on-australia-to-end-centre-stand-off/9117996

 

 

A state of inertia.

October 31, 2017

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We are now entering the pre-Christmas period. Watch out! We still get almost daily calls on our land-line from people who say they are from Telstra. But the accent and associated hints of turmeric wafting through the line makes me think of call centres. Often there is a delay on answering back with a hum of others talking. I used to be polite and explain we are happy with our service. ‘No Sir,’ yesterday’s gentleman assured me, ‘you have very, very big problems with your internet. You have to let us fix it.

I just don’t have it in me anymore to remain considerate and without any further talk put the phone down. Does all this market calling brutalise the recipients? I mean, there is a real person there on the other side trying to make a living. But the frequency of those callers is increasing. I know there are help sides which can overcome most of those cold callers but new ones seem to pop up. Even on my IPhone I get oddly worded messages with codes and strange pass words or numbers and to deposit $100.- or so. I know the main thing is to never open any of unknown e-mails or attachments which I religiously follow. I just try and imagine what it must be for elderly folks totally innocent of all those crooks lying in wait to take advantage of this IT technology. Oh, hang on. I am one of those ‘elderly.’

I know with the recent ABC 4 corners program highlighting the failures of the NBN to deliver adequate speeds to the outlets must have called out whole nests of cold callers offering ‘help’ to the long suffering consumers of data down loads. In our case, apart from e-mails and the ABC news and blogs we don’t generally down load ‘data’, unlike our grandsons who download in one day what takes us more than a month.

I don’t really know what the etiquette of answering those nuisance calls is. I have no mercy with those that are out there to pillage my wallet but what about those calling for donations to help the 500 000 persecuted Muslim Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar? Or calls from Médecins Sans Frontières?  Then there are those looking after animals or depressed whales beaching themselves. There are so many good causes and all deserve help.

Going back to those ‘Telstra’ phone calls. They are all done by massive call centres in India. I watched a program and there they are all lining up calling the world to change ‘service providers’ or do something with their service, any thing really that earns them some money. They wear a nicely pressed ironed shirt and have to do an English test to get this much coveted job. They proudly wear their name- tags from a  chain or clipped on their trousers. The wives at home, stirring the curry and boiling the Basmati, waiting anxiously and ask  ‘did you get many responses today, dear?’  He might well say he had such a rude Australian who had put the phone down and that could have been me. I once just answered in Dutch and pretended not to understand English, just showing the level one can go down on avoiding the call. Just putting the phone down seems so callous. Yet, it seems I might already have reached that level of callousness.

How do people deal with those calls?

Love is love; Vote YES.

October 24, 2017

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Another few days and the postal vote on SSM will close. While everyone is entitled to vote how they see fit, the reasons for a NO vote is getting more difficult to sustain. It simply lacks logic. By law, equality for both hetero and same sex couples has already been established. In a divorce or splitting up, laws about property and custody of children is equally applied to same sex couples as to hetero couples.

Children are already being brought up by same sex couples and have been for decades the same as children from hetero couples. About 10% of people are gay or lesbian. No law or marriage will change that. The law to allow marriage between lesbians or gays is not making marriage mandatory. The only change will be that SS couples are given the same equal rights as the hetero couples to get married.

The shrillness of the ‘NO’ vote proponents is not being helped when they start saying that children can only be given love by two parents of opposite sex.  Studies around the world have shown that that is not the case.  Love is what children need.

Here is a video that has to be seen to be believed. It shows children brought up by loving people of same sex.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/video/2017/oct/16/gayby-baby-vote-for-love-video

Vote YES for love’s sake.

This jungle our garden. هذه الغابة لدينا حديقة.

October 20, 2017

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As a concession to our need to be more inclusive and in the spirit of multiculturalism I will put the next few articles  translated in some of the main languages spoken and written in this wonderful world. We will start of in Arabic using the Google translation method. To our Arabic speaking friends I hope the translation comes across as reasonable!

I am more than pleased that the attempt by our minister for Immigration and (the much feared) Border Protection, Mr Peter Dutton, to make it harder for migrants to become permanent residents by setting university level English language skills has resoundedly failed to get through Parliament.

” it is clear that applicants sitting the new English language test in order to obtain Australian citizenship would need to meet a standard equivalent to that expected of university entrants.”

My parents and I would not have passed that test and more importantly how many of Australian born permanent residents would pass the English test today?  Note that this English language test would not be required by people from the UK, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and the US.

Indeed, would Mr Dutton himself pass? It is clear that his notorious contempt for foreigners shines through,  when within cooee of migrants. However, Mr Dutton’s face lights up and really shines when refugees are included in the mix. His contempt knows no boundaries as shown by his treatment of the refugees banned to the hell-holes of Manus and Nauru, now in their forth year of detention. No charges have been laid.

Their hope lies in being accepted by the US, but with Mr D. Trump’s notoriety dealing with foreigners we will see if that will eventuate. In the meantime Dutton keeps on promising the refugees will never set foot on Australian soil even though the majority have gone through the process and been accepted as genuine refugees.

But, going back to the Dutton English language test, some compared it to the “White Australian Policy” from a few decades ago when coloured people were excluded from citizenship.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-19/citizenship-test-english-language-test-criticised-by-labor/9066530

After all this you might be happy to look at the violas again; or are they violets?

It is never too late!

الثقافية سوف أضع المقالات القليلة القادمة تترجم في بعض من اللغات الرئيسية المنطوقة والمكتوبة في هذا العالم الرائع. سنبدأ باللغة العربية باستخدام طريقة الترجمة من غوغل. لأصدقائنا الناطقين باللغة العربية آمل أن تأتي الترجمة عبر معقولة!

أنا أكثر من سعداء أن محاولة السيدنا للهجرة و (المخاوف كثيرا) حماية الحدود، السيد بيتر دوتون، لجعل صعوبة في أن يصبح المهاجرين المقيمين الدائمين من خلال وضع مهارات اللغة الإنجليزية على مستوى الجامعة فشلت بصدور من خلال الحصول على البرلمان .

“من الواضح أن المتقدمين الذين يجلسون اختبار اللغة الإنجليزية الجديد من أجل الحصول على الجنسية الأسترالية سوف تحتاج إلى تلبية معيار يعادل ما هو متوقع من الوافدين إلى الجامعة”.

والدي وأنا لم يكن قد اجتاز هذا الاختبار، والأهم من ذلك كيف العديد من المقيمين الأستراليين المولودين الدائمين اجتياز اختبار اللغة الإنجليزية اليوم؟ لاحظ أن اختبار اللغة الإنجليزية هذا لن يكون مطلوبا من قبل أشخاص من المملكة المتحدة وأيرلندا وكندا ونيوزيلندا والولايات المتحدة.

في الواقع، هل السيد دوتون نفسه يمر؟ ومن الواضح أن ازدراءه السيء السمعة للأجانب يضيء، عندما يكون داخل كوي المهاجرين. ومع ذلك، يضيء وجه السيد دوتون ويضيء حقا عندما يتم تضمين اللاجئين في هذا المزيج. إن ازدراءه لا يعرف حدودا كما هو مبين في معاملته للاجئين المحظورين في جحيم مانوس وناورو، وهي الآن في السنة الأولى من احتجازهم. ولم توجه اتهامات.

أملهم يكمن في قبولها من قبل الولايات المتحدة، ولكن مع السيد D. ترامب سمعة سيئة التعامل مع الأجانب سنرى ما إذا كان ذلك سوف يبرز. وفي الوقت نفسه، تواصل دوتون الوعد بأن اللاجئين لن يضعوا أقدامهم على الأرض الأسترالية على الرغم من أن الأغلبية قد مرت بهذه العملية وتم قبولها كالجئين حقيقيين.

ولكن، بعد العودة إلى اختبار اللغة الإنجليزية في “دتون”، قارن البعض منها ب “السياسة الأسترالية البيضاء” منذ بضعة عقود عندما تم استبعاد الأشخاص الملونين من الجنسية.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-19/citizenship-test-english-language-test-criticised-by-labor/9066530

بعد كل هذا قد تكون سعيدا للنظر في الكمان مرة أخرى. أو أنها البنفسج؟

أبدا لم يتأخر

This journey of Violets continues with shy Clivias.

October 16, 2017

IMG_1163Violets etc

Creating secret areas in a small garden is very possible. Just allow growing things to go their own way. We rarely take plants out, instead provide freedom for whatever might want to grow.  The background of the bay trees against the paling fence at the back of our garden is being utilised to provide shelter and shade to many plants, especially many Clivias that are now flowering so generously.

The bay trees have just finished flowering and we continue to sweep up the debris. It is odd, but I can’t remember actually using the plethora of bay leaves in any of our cooking nor putting them in my sock drawer. Heaven knows my socks can do with bay-leaves.

In my mother’s cooking, bay leaves were often the main course, or at least I seem to still recall the taste and smell of them, especially in her roasts. She might well have over-used bay leaves in her cooking. It’s odd how even smells from decades ago, one can still recall. I don’t think bay leaves were used to ward of moths in the wardrobes of my childhood. I think she used those white moth balls.  I discovered rummaging through those mothball laden wardrobes a secret hoard of coins in a wooden box. The coins were all in separate divisions with the names of my brothers all neatly written on them.

My dad did not like eating shoulder of sheep/lamb and it could well be that the excess use of the bay leaves were cunningly used to hide my mother’s ploy to dish up sheep disguised as roast beef. My mother was very thrifty and sheep was cheaper. In any case, rummaging through those wardrobes and finding the coins I used to pilfer my brothers’ hoard of coins  to occasionally buy an ice-cream. Oh, how they tasted so wonderful and without guilt. The benefits of a still uncorrupted childhood.

Kalanchoe

Here is a rather haughty Kalanchoe. It had to be elevated so it is perched on top of the Mexican Chimeney in which we sometimes light a fire during a chilly winter’s afternoon. Isn’t it beautiful?

Both the light ceramic blue and white pot in the first picture and the dish below the Kalanchoe are from the same before mentioned pottery friend. The little white flowering bush on the left side is a Hebe.

The violets have it.

October 15, 2017

IMG_20171013_172328~2 The pansies.jpg

We might have to leave  Weinstein to his sex rehabilitation clinic and move back to the world of contemplating worthier subjects. How does one rehabilitate sex addicts-fiends? Do they get told to think of Ireland at the feet of Mother England, or stare for days on end at cabbages?

I know the above picture is out of focus, but no wonder, Violets do get frightened and sometimes shrink, as we are so often told.  Even so, it is a rare but at times quite a perfect world, if only we get to take the time and look around.

The basket in which those violets are at present living was getting past their ability to carry fruit with the plaited rattan fraying at the edges. Helvi who is a master in rescuing things  before the final day of castaway arrives, felt she could eek some more time out of it by planting those violas in them. The Irish forget-me-nots came up as an extra reward from nowhere for her gallant efforts.

The azure-blue pot with the cyclamen was made by a potter friend whom we knew from the days our children were still in prams and nappies. As far as we know she might still do pottery. She had a rather unique way of throwing her pots, with dabbing the different colours around in a kind of haphazard way which makes her pottery so outstanding. We have many of her works and going back in the photo gallery much of our containers, vases, dishes bearing fruit, pencils and keys, or other odds and ends are her art works.

The plate on which the cyclamen pot resides is from the Finnish ‘Arabia’ collection. Many of the Arabia ceramic plates survive. They are more than just beautiful but also because fired to a high temperature making them very durable. In a second hand or junk shop one sometimes sees them displayed for a price that it is obvious the owners are not aware of their beauty let alone of their value.  One has to be generous though, it could also be a case whereby they come to rest in a junk shop because of a ‘Deceased Estate.’

I just thought to let you share  in this rather lovely floral scene. The glass of wine is almost an obligatory part of many afternoons when we sit outside and feel a real and better world.  Just sitting there it seemed the violets were looking at me directly. Perhaps they wanted to be noticed and that’s (perhaps) why this picture was taken.

Is the world becoming irrational or is it us?

October 11, 2017

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It just doesn’t let up. As each day passes the madness grows. A perfectly normal day brings news that would normally be seen as grotesquely unbelievable if not untrue as well.  The latest is that in order for Australia to pass the expected summer heatwave the Australian Government urges us we should think of saving energy by switching off our air-conditioning cooling systems or anything else that might save electricity. The Government will subsidise the customers by paying those willing to save energy handsomely with $ 250.-, and could even include tickets to the cinema or visits to Dreamworld with free water- slides as an extra bonus.

With Australia having the world’s largest reserves of gas, coal  solar, wind and everything else to produce energy, it has all been sold overseas and we are now  running short of electricity. That is the sort of ‘freedom’ the market gives when given unfettered reign. We can buy back our exported energy cheaper overseas than locally! The Government is in a blind and groping around like an amok running Weinstein in a hotel corridor.

Pensioners who want to stay cool could do so by gathering in the coolness of air-conditioned shopping-centres. Others are provided with handy hints on how to stay cool. Included in the list is using wet sheets before retiring to bed. It is suggested in real scout-master science that with the open windows, an air flow over the wet sheets might blissfully give some cool relief to the hot, bothered, and profusely perspiring resident.

It looks totally mad to me but then so much is madness. We have a ‘normal’ man going through a terrible killing spree for which a motive has yet to be found.  Apparently gambling on a daily basis is seen as ‘normal’ now. A President who is  unpredictable, irrational and impulsive and like madman throws tweets about, risking fire storms and annihilation in order to appease his own monstrous need for grandiosity. Not a day goes by without another show of madness on the news.

A film producer who made brilliant movies, has five children, and has now locked himself up in a sanatorium for sex-addicts. As if it wasn’t his doing, raping and groping around the corridors of power!  Mr Harvey Weinstein promises to come good and repair the damage after being healed of his addiction. A true to form trick of wanton Psychiatry giving an escape from taking responsibility by blaming a ‘condition’ over which they have no control.  The poor man!~

We have almost reached the stage of watching re-runs of Seargent  Bilko or Steptoe and Son, The Flintstones.  At least it was a real world.

Is US democracy disabled?

October 5, 2017

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The appalling killing of so many in Las Vegas still shocks even to those that are hard-core believers in owning killer guns. At least 10000 American citizens are killed by guns yearly. Another 59 victims hardly makes a difference to the yearly statistics. What baffles many who stand away from this strange behaviour, is a law (constitution) actually allowing this murderous killing to continue with nauseating regularity. They all know the mass killing will continue and in fact condone it by not altering this silly law of everyone allowed to own and carry guns.

The answer seems to be that the action of a lone madman should not hinder owning guns. It seems that the gun lobby, the NRA overrules the majority of US citizens who do want to limit and change the constitution. They, the NRA, are so powerful and continue to cower behind this constitution rule as if set in concrete. Is America so powerless that changing a bad law can’t be achieved?

The Second Amendment declares:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”.[5][6]” 1689

The assertion that those mass killing are done by madmen seems to have struck a barrier. So far the killer seems to not conform to ‘madman’ diagnoses. His girlfriend and family members describe the man as a ‘normal caring guy’. He did love gambling, but in the US gambling is almost seen as a sport practiced by many  virtuous  people, the same like going to a church.

The only facts that have been established is his sanity. Throughout his life Stephan Paddock collected guns but that is a practise that millions of people do. This is normal. Everyone has the freedom to do that with little restrictions. In some states kids can buy guns. Mums take children to shooting ranges, teaching the little ones to shoot.

The only certainty we have is that the killer had total freedom to do what he did.

The guns gave him that freedom.

The abnormality and madness is within a society whereby a minority, albeit powerful can dictate , not allowing changing the constitution by a majority of law abiding citizens, for those dreadful bump-stock  improved machine guns and rifles to be taken out of society.

It is killing US society, and it is NOT normal.