Almost the Pope

February 26, 2019
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With a bit of luck and the application of the law, cardinal Pell will be in a cell tonight. There might be a God after all! One wonders how this will be faced by this man who for years denied justice to those child victims subjected to terrible abuse. I never like the man. Each time he was on TV I could not help but feel he was a man devoid of feeling. The Pope has now been given a list of 6000 paedophile priests. Those priests are still alive. The Pope in his celestial wisdom announced they were ‘The Tools of Satan’.  Even now, he is not willing to face the terrible truth that each of those abusers should have been dealt with by the law. The Catholic church still prefers to hide the fact that for decades the only thing the church was interested in was to hide the truth of rampant paedophilia. The victims were secondary in this whole debacle.

Cardinal Pell was the third highest in the hierarchy of the catholic Church. Almost a Pope. The Catholic church now has a crisis on its hands. It can no longer persists in one of its strongest dogmas of its insistence on celibacy. People have sex. The denial of that is just plain stupid. Of course, abuse of children is not just concentrated by the catholic church. It happens everywhere but, the catholic church is the one religion which stands out above all the others in its treatment of the victims.  The hiding and moving paedophile priests to other parishes was a matter of routine. It seems unbelievable that that was the norm. Pell seemed to blame the victims of abuse. A callous man devoid of compassion and empathy.

It is now seen as an institution run by feeble old men run for feeble old men. You look at those images of all those old purple clad men huddling together eager to kiss the withered hand of a shaky mitered Pope in Rome. Where are the women in all this? There needs to be a revolution by the catholic church.

In any case, Pell will be locked up tonight. One can only wonder what he will be thinking. Is there going to be a moment, just a split second, whereby he will acknowledge within his frosty heart, the terrible deeds he now has been found guilty of?

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Rather Cloudy and warm with a chance of Rain and Cyclone Oma.

February 22, 2019
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Cyclone ‘Oma.’

Australia must be desperate for news when half the TV News-time is taken up by dire warnings of a hurricane bearing down on the East Australian Coast. Nothing is sure yet. A man with a small face wearing glasses is brought to the camera to explain the latest about this hurricane that has now been ‘bearing’ down for at least a week. Warnings about giant waves are interspersed with footage of surfers happily riding those big waves. Drone shots are shown of Gold Coast skyscrapers perilously close to the breaking waves. The BOM ( Bureau of Metereology)  man on TV tries to spin it as long as possible and now shows maps of large circles and a red centre. It shows New Caledonia on its right and the Australian coast on the left. Cyclone Oma is still 1200 kilometres from Australia but large waves have already arrived.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-22/cyclone-oma-weakens-to-stay-off-queensland-coast/10834820

We normally pay the weather little attention and know it roughly behaves as it does. Why it is part of the News is a mystery. I remember that in the past, farmers used to study the sky and figure out what the weather was likely to do. Even so, we too take some notice of the weather that is yet to come. The map on TV shows the name of towns and have either a sun, cloud or rain droplets displayed above them. The weatherman rattles off the future chances of wind, sun, rain or even snow and does it with an air of someone announcing the upcoming marriage of the Pope. One ABC weatherman has a curious way of lifting his left foot up on its heel while pivoting around back to his map. When he is finished he is curtly thanked by the News reader and that’s that.

I suppose with the impending tornado, nature is forcing us to become more attentive. A flood, a tsunami, blizzards or any other localized  apocalypse, the forecasters do get our attention more than the average weather forecast or news of a baby that is held upside down by its feet for alternative spinal manipulation.. The trouble when a tornado goes on too long, it wears us out and we slip away again. It is when a Prime minister arrives on the screen, wearing rubber boots and a face mask that we get to sit upright again. The TV screen shows us the wrinkled face of a farmer, hoisting by the help of his tractor, a cow’s carcass out of the mud.  Our PM, Mr Morrison, all puckered by concern mumbles a few inanities feigning concern but fully concentrated on future votes. I fear, with the resignation of M/s Bishop, chances of the party holding on to power has now slipped away altogether. However, don’t underestimate the anti refugee mob! The pot of hatred is being stirred again.

The weather is so much kinder, isn’t?

Unwelcome News.

February 19, 2019
Why is it that we receive news that ought not to be read?
“Teenage girl wakes from a coma having given birth.
Newly wed man throws wife from 21st floor on the cold coast.
Footballer charged with rape smiles to victim in Court.
Anita Board died in Perth junior dragster crash two days after becoming old enough to compete.”
Headlines like that ought to avert our eyes. They are such invasions of private lives and grief.  Those death and traumas are too sad and too private to be so recklessly  consumed by everyone. Is our capacity for the sensational so whetted that we are drawn to the misery and plights of cases that don’t concern us at all? Or do we assuage ourselves into a false sense of caring?
We were told that our political parties are now being hacked by very sophisticated experts. The simulated hackers are shown in the dark punching into a keyboard, infiltrating and corrupting data and face-book accounts in Australia.
Not a sliver of real news is actually forthcoming. A large stomached PM Morrison is shown peering suitable outraged into the camera, whipping us into fearing the worst, yet no factual damage or stolen items are reported despite the earnest looking Newsreader. Even so, this story maintains our fear, and to be used as a tool to win elections.
The real news is of course the dreadful plight of the elderly in our nursing homes. The Royal Commission already gives frightening numbers. Over 6000 reported cased of abuse in elderly homes reported in just one year. Malnutrition is suffered by a reported 50% of the elderly. Understaffing, underfunding and badly training are given as reasons.
https://www.agedcareguide.com.au/talking-aged-care/elder-abuse
Another Royal Commission has been agreed for the Disabled people. Again, case after case of reported abuse and mismanagement. Harrowing stories are being told of impossible situations that some parents suffer through the lack of care for their disabled son and daughter. Thousands of parents are suffering situations that could so easily be solved by simple care and compassion. A company with a Kangaroo Island beach shack get $ 420.000.000,-!  We have allowed for over 1000 people, and their children, who did no wrong, to be incarcerated for over 5 years in order to stop boats.
How is it possible to have pride and celebrate living in ‘the best country’ knowing how our aged and disability care can be so lacking and has so for decades?
How come our news turns to the irrelevant and hyperbole instead of the above mentioned serious societal misdemeanours that we, as proud Australian allow to continue?
Why are we not rioting or do some yellow shirting?

The Neighbour’s cat.

February 14, 2019

001The cat

Neighbour’s cat

This is a picture of the cat that keeps the mice and rats on their qui vive at Harley’s property next door. Harley and his wife keep three chickens which he calls ‘his girls.’ I feed the chickens when they go away. In exchange, Harley, or his chickens really, allow us to keep the eggs.  We like a nice Pinot Grigio so a bottle from that grape variety gets thrown in with eggs. They are our best neighbours and gives a good break from the cyclamen thievery within our compound. It still riles us! Remember how for exchange in saving our Body-Corporate $10.000,- in obtaining a far more competitive quote for the exterior painting, we were hit by abuse and threats for us to move and sell-up, and the twice theft of our potted in beautiful ceramic containers, the oft mentioned and loved cyclamen!

But the cat is what I want to write about. Just forgive my regression on the cyclamen era. The neighbours next to us are not in the same group as the dusty frumpy relics of the past. She, a single mother, moved in a year ago or so. She has two teen-age sons, and two cats. One of the cats is the one in the above picture. It taught Milo, our Jack Russell a bitter lesson. When he saw the cat for the first time he went furious and tried to teach him a lesson amidst the summer daisies. The cat with one swipe did the job. Milo retreated with a yelp and one closed eye. He badly underestimated the stance of this mighty cat. The cat was not to be mangled with. From that moment Milo gave it due respect and no further issues arose. Milo often spends the nights outside and so do the cats. I suppose they met up again and made a truce, if not a good friendship as well. Our Milo was the best of friends with our cat on our farm before 2010.

It turned out that Milo almost lost an eyes with this single swipe from the cat. He still bears a mark on his bottom eye lid. It was that close. What astonished us is when the cat now takes naps on Milo’s outdoor sleeping blanket as shown in the picture. Milo knows and approves. All has been forgiven.

Isn’t that an example how nice it would be if people could behave like cats and dogs?

The Tent.

February 8, 2019
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In our efforts to become leaner and not willing to burden our family with the washed-up flotsam of our earthly but temporary stay, we undertook to try and ditch some possessions we no longer use. The clutter of our third bedroom, used as an office is where we started some time ago. All those papers stored, ‘just in case’ but never looked at again. Do we really want to look at old gas bills, or Water & Sewage rates and taxation notices? Out they went.

We had stacks of photo albums. Hundreds of camping trips when our children were small. Holidays on the South Coast dating back to the sixties and seventies. Many recorded by my Agfa Clack camera bought from my savings while delivering fruit and vegetables to embassies in The Hague just prior to my parents’ adventure migrating to Australia. That camera was indestructible. Colour films at that time were sent to Melbourne for developing and it wasn’t cheap. Later on a new camera was bought and recorded our overseas trips to France, Holland, South America and a still lovely Bali, with some of our best memories from Santiago de Chile post Pinochet, and Argentina. We kept the best of those photos now stored in a blue Dutch Verkade biscuit tin and chucked the  empty faded albums in the recycle bin.

We have as a matter of getting away from inside our house also made attempts at cleaning up our garden shed. It seems that order of things don’t last even without actually using tools from within the shed. Sooner or later things become disorderly again out of their own volution. We discovered a rather large and bulky bag that looked almost as if it held an assortment of cricket gear. Most unlikely. We are to cricket what a herring is to a seagull.

It was a tent!

The tent was used a lot on our previous life on the farm. We can still hear the echoes of laughter from our grandchildren who, with their mothers, slept in the tent on many occasions. They would take books and read with light from candles. Did we not all do that when young? We did. I had rigged up a battery with a small globe and read Jules Verne’s adventures under the blankets during winter’s nights with the windows all iced up with frost designed flowering shaped greetings in the morning. Dutch winters were still cold.

With our grandkids now almost young adults and us on life lengthening medications we are most unlikely to go camping again. How would we get up from the ground? I suppose by the help of a tent pole. Over the last few weeks we did leave useful items on the ‘nature strip’ at the front of our housing complex. The nature strip is a green grassy area reserved for Australian suburbs. It also sums up to me a kind of terrible dullness. The noise of the petrol lawnmower doesn’t liven it up either.  Anyway, it held our small enamelled barbeque and several still working electric fans. They were all soon taken. However, I did not want to abuse this nature strip too often, and decided on a different method for ditching the tent.

Last Wednesday morning I went to the Moss-Vale Returned Soldiers Club for my weekly indoor bowling event. I thought that leaving the tent in the parking area, no doubt someone will get the benefit of this still in very good condition tent. The tent is one of those spring loaded pole affairs and easily put up. It was also large, for six people and a shade sheet for over the top with a floor sown onto the sides. Years of designing this tent went into its production.

After arrival at 10am, I parked the car out of sight from other cars. I opened the door and gently lowered the tent on the bitumen next to our Peugeot. No one had seen me doing it. But…just before the start of bowling who would walk in with a large bag? It was Peter.

‘Guess what I found next to my car, Peter said’?  It was my tent. He had parked next to my car after arrival. Other bowling mates advised Peter to unzip the bag to see what it was. I acted just as surprised and even said; ‘perhaps it is a gun’! After unzipping, it was found to be a tent. I wasn’t surprised. He decided to hand it in to the office near the entrance where members are always asked to show their identification before being allowed in. When I left after the bowling was over, I noticed the bag with the tent at the back of the office counter.

It had found a good home.

The Rat.

February 6, 2019

Image-1White cockatoo

A few months ago we started to feed birds. Our area is populated by large flocks of native Australian birds, especially the white cockatoo. Their loud screeches wake us up very early despite the double glazing. They can graze a fully foliaged tree bare within hours and don’t mind stripping timber windows from their sills. I have been told they, like rats, have to keep chewing on things to prevent their beaks or teeth from growing outlandishly large.

After establishing our elevated dish of special parrot mix on top of the Mexican Chimenea, lots of different birds soon became used to our generosity and became more and more demanding. They would start to queue up before we were ready and while still in our pyjamas, looked in through the windows urging us to hurry up. Even Milo became irritated. It got to a stage whereby when spending time in the garden they would swoop over our heads. After reading something about birds getting spoilt by well meaning bird lovers we thought of stopping the procedure. What really gave our decision to stop and gave us some teeth, was when rats appeared to want to get fed as well.   There were suspicious droppings around our barbeque. One day I spotted a rat looking at me before scurrying away. It had a nasty glint in its left eye. We stopped the bird feeding!

While, after a while the birds stopped coming, not so the rats. We had to take action and went to the local pet shop in search of a good rat trap. We have a large pet shop near us. They are the Costco of pet needs and there is an enormous variety of pet articles, a vast display of aquariums with lots of fish and fishes,  dog and cat medications, shelves full of flea powders, puppy nappies, talcum powders, dog poo scoops and soft bottom wipes. We looked around and I watched a glass cage with motionless pet pythons, all sound asleep, softly snoring. It had a notice taped on the glass cage not to wake up the sleeping snakes. Helvi prefers not to look at snakes, let alone pet them.

We could not find their rat trap division. I asked one of the many shop girls to direct us to rat traps. She said; ” we are a ‘pro-life’ pet shop and only sell humane rat cages.” She demonstrated a small metal wire cage with a trap door that would catch the rat alive without killing it. A normal rat trap breaks the rat’s neck when sampling a bit of cheese with some peanut butter spread over it. It is a spring loaded affair which is set-up with some care! We often used them on the farm with good effect. They work better than lazy cats.

After studying the humane rat cage trap we were told it was $19.90. We then asked what would happen to the rat after it gets caught. Would they take the rat and sell it as a pet to children? I know that we had white mice as pets and we loved them and nurtured them. The shop-girl said, “you are very welcome to give us the rat, and we will care for them”. I asked; ” is there a market for wild rats?”  She answered, “no, but if we can’t dispose of them we feed them to the pet pythons!

What? Feed  live rats to snakes? We shook out heads. What about, we are ‘pro-life’ pet shop with humane cages! We went to Bunnings and bought a wooden old fashioned rat trap that so far has been avoided by a very cunning rat. We check each morning, but no rat so far.

We are not surprised those pythons in the shop looked so happy, snoring away, digesting the latest rat. They are not so worried about the ‘pro-life’ stance of the shop.

Iceland fixed the banking crisis by letting them fail.

February 4, 2019
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The idea that in Australia the banks will get punished for their appalling behaviour will not eventuate. It will be business as usual. It might be worth looking how Iceland got out of a similar crisis.

“The 2008 global financial crisis hit Iceland hard. The currency crashed, unemployment soared and the stock market was more or less wiped out.

But unlike other Western economies, the Icelandic government let its three major banks – Kaupthing, Glitnir and Landsbankinn – fail and went after reckless bankers. Many senior executives have been jailed and the country’s ex-prime minister Geir Haarde was also put on trial, becoming the first world leader to face criminal prosecution arising from the turmoil. although he was subsequently cleared of negligence.

So what can – or should – other countries learn from how Iceland responded?”

Seeing that the LNP refused a royal commission 26 times in Parliament, the question arises if our present, Scott Morrison and the former PM Malcolm Turnbull, should also be put under scrutiny and prosecuted if shown to have failed in their duty to protect the citizens from the banking rorts. Dead people were sold insurances and financial packages! It has been a national ‘free for all’ rip off. An orgy of terminal capitalism.

The rich getting richer, the poor poorer.

Have a look at how things can be turned around. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-35485876

 

A Dutchman’s riot at Davos.

February 1, 2019
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Rutger Bregman.

 

In Australia the worst thing one can do is to talk about paying taxes. Both major parties make people feel like pariahs whenever a policy is contemplated that might involve paying taxation. Sugar tax is one of those. Taxation raising is a mortal sin and confession to it is not likely to bring you any salvation. You will burn in an eternal hell.  But, the rich get richer and the poor poorer.

One keeps reading that 28 people own as much as half the world’s population. In the US, the richest country in the world,  workers in chicken factories  have to wear diapers because they are not allowed to have the time to go to the toilets. The chicken carcasses are strung on a moving belt so, a toilet break can’t be factored in! Profit at all cost.

It is clear that continuing giving tax breaks is aiding those 28 billionaires but not the workers, and so it goes. Its logical conclusion by governments to keep giving even more tax breaks will result in finally no taxation being paid. Back in Eisenhower’s day the taxation rate stood at 90%. That’s when the US was great, but look at it now! I have never been to the US. But… people who have been there recently are horrified of what they saw. Did anyone watch Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9? The horror of a freedom that allowed the poisoning of 100.000 people in Flint city! And that is just the beginning. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flint_water_crisis

There was quite a stir at this year’s 2018 economic forum at Switzerland Davos when a young Dutchman got up and spoke a truth that resonated around the world.  The taxation rate for those 28 billionaires stands at zero. He claims that the inequality in the world is taxation avoidance by the super rich. It is not rocket science!

I urge you to see this video of the Dutchman at Davos.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/01/rutger-bregman-world-economic-forum-davos-speech-tax-billionaires-capitalism

The more I hear about western democracy the more I admire my hydrangeas.

 

The Bento Special ‘take away.’

January 31, 2019
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With the heat wave of the last few weeks and being holed up in our air-conditioned home, we do try and go out each day. The usual procedure is to take a break and drive to the shopping mall close by. Both of us were born in cold countries. Finland has each year a winter that is now being experienced in the US.  Holland is mainly a rainy and wet place with gale force westerlies buffeting the flat landscape. Near the coast the trees lean permanently towards the east as a result of those winds.  The heatwaves in Australia make the birds listless and the dogs depressed. We don’t like this heat!

Last Saturday, again a scorcher, with the temperature gauge on my iPhone rapidly rising from 21C to 36C within an hour. We drove again to this shopping mall. We don’t do shopping there but this time we combined getting a new disposal bin for the kitchen. What we really go there for, is the Japanese Bento Special. It has been our daily lunch. While the relentless heat lasts we will continue to repeat this nice procedure.

Before we left we had a good fight about the necessity to buy this kitchen bin. The old one, a white plastic one with a swing lid was good enough for me. I am in charge of disposing kitchen waste that cannot be recycled, so felt it was fair for me to keep to the status quo regarding the bin. Helvi said that she can smell this bin and as she is a strong woman, felt we should buy another stainless steel bin. ‘I want a pedal one’, she said with determination. No matter what bin, it does need a plastic liner. Again, it has come about through marital habit, that I take out this plastic liner when full. I tie it up, go outside to the garbage bin and chuck it in. This, in the heat, is where I get hit with the bad stench. Helvi never does that.

We drove to the shopping centre in silence. I noticed a strange vibration on my steering wheel together with an unusual, and repetitive sound. I stopped the car and looked at the tyres and the rest of the car. It all seemed alright. No flat tyres. The car has an amazing array of warning signals. In the handbook between page 27 and 34 it explains all the different lights that can indicate a problem. A light came on which signals that I should ‘initialise’ tyre pressure. The car did have a problem. I explained to Helvi that the noise of the car was not very nice and worrisome. However, she was still showing signs of mulling about the bin. (I had already agreed and capitulated to go for the stainless-steel bin) I know her well and she knows me. In time it would come good. For the moment she wasn’t talking and could not care less about the car’s tyre situation. I hoped her mood would swing back to her usual good cheer.

It did, but only after we had eaten the Bento-special.  It is a lovely combination of raw fish salmon with some rice and various bits of health, wrapped in sea-weed. Of course, in the mall itself, and the ‘food-court’  many people were seen grazing out of those beakers and polystyrene containers full of KFC’s abominable chicken nuggets while drinking Coke or slurping smoothies.You could tell the ones on KFC and the healthier Japanese-Korean take away, just by their body sizes.

When we got home I discovered a huge bolt complete with washer embedded in the middle of my front tyre. I did not take it out and waited for the NRMA to change the tyre. The kitchen is now adorned with a new gleaming stainless-steel bin. It is a 25 litre one and pedal operated.

All is good and peaceful again.

Sugar Tax? Yes, please.

January 28, 2019

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Even though Australia is one of the fattest countries in the world, it still obstinately refuses to seriously consider a tax on sugar including sugary drinks and sugary foods. Twenty eight countries so far have put a tax on sugar. Mexico, another country with enormously large people, introduced it in 2014. Seven US cities and several US states also introduced some form of penalty on sugar.

Anyone who has ever visited Australian shopping malls could not but have noticed the rapid increase in morbidly obese people. They also are getting younger. It is now not uncommon to see large swollen babies in prams being pushed by very obese parents. While there might be other contributing factors for this obesity epidemic, sugar certainly is one of them. Lack of exercise another one!

It is estimated the obesity problem is costing Australia 5.3 billion a year. Even a modest increase in the cost of sugar would return $ 500 million annually.

I could not have been prouder as a Dutch-born Australian than when Australia tackled and won a battle against the giants of the Cigarette and Tobacco industry. Australia was now leading the world. They gave us us a well deserved standing ovation. It was Julia Gillard and her minister, Nicola Roxon, who decided to  stand up for the health of its voters and won. It cost the Gillard Government almost 40 million to fight Phillip Morris.

Gillard and Roxon surely would have to be best politicians of all time. How many lives have they saved from the dreaded lung cancer? Why is this government so loath to follow suit? Thousands of people are getting diabetes of their addiction to sugar. The law to package cigarettes in Logo free and drab brown coloured packaging is helping to prevent and reduce smoking. Many countries including the European Union have followed Australia’s lead in controlling tobacco sales.

The same could be done with sugary drinks. Have them logo free and the liquid drab brown coloured. Put a tax on them equal to cigarettes and watch the shopping malls return to having a more svelte looking shopping crowd…

Of course there will always be large people around, and genetics, as with so much else, has a lot to do with that. This article is to do with the morbidly obese. People who are still walking around but are dying of obesity. Surely, a responsible government could follow so many countries that are now reaping the benefits of sugar tax and have a healthier population?

Sadly , our opposition, the Labor Party is opposed to a sugar tax and feel that personal choices should be made. But walking around, it is obvious that people’s healthy choices against the might of the sugar industry’s advertising might, fails miserably.

https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-07/calls-for-a-sugar-tax-are-back-so-it-is-going-to-happen/9309386