Are Human Rights abuses now not just the domain of China?

November 19, 2020

IMG_20150516_0006

Despite what is happening in the US regarding Trump and his reluctance to admit defeat, most Americans will defend their highly held and special form of ‘Democracy’ . It is the last resort of desperation by many to cling onto the wreckage of the former glory of the once Great America.  It was Trumps rally ‘to make America Great Again’ that gave him the presidency four years ago. And what a four years of Trump Democracy that turned out to be, Hallelujah. To reiterate, we have at least our Democracy, is now the refrain oft heard from the US. It is starting to sound so jaded and some people look askance when they say that.

When the rapid advance of China is mentioned with the staggering economic growth whereby millions of their citizens have been pulled out of poverty in just a few decades, one often hears, ‘yes but they don’t have a Democracy like we have’.  They, in China, jail hundreds of thousands of their own citizens, and what are they doing to their Uighurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz Muslims? Reportedly 80.000 are now ‘re-educated in forced labour camps. Yes, that might well be true but how free is the US of crimes against humanity?

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-19/afghanistan-war-crimes-report-igadf-paul-brereton-released/12896234

The US’ love of guns is killing 40 000 annually. And nothing gets done about that. It is part of this love of ‘freedom and Democracy’. Let’s not forget that America also has the highest rates of incarcerations (jailing people) in the world, well above that of China! And then the issue of ‘black lives matter’ an issue that has also been going for decades in Australia. And now an inquiry of possible war crimes committed by our Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. Our Prime Minister has offered an apology of the mere possibility of that to the Afghan Government.

In any case, I believe we should try and look into our own necks of the woods before blindly repeating that our ‘democracy’ somehow leaves us of the hook for committing human right abuses. It is not a cure or excuse.

Is US Democracy fake?

November 4, 2020

With the outcome of voting in the US  still to be decided, a good American born friend of mine remains baffled why at least half the US population defy all rationality in voting for Trump. I too cannot get my head around that either, and am almost inclined to search back the history on how a previous madman came to power in Germany. He too was very liked, admired and cheered on.

Trump has proven beyond all doubt he is mentally unstable and he too has little regard for human life totally ignoring and almost cheering on the thousands of USA citizens going to their graves, dying from the Covid pandemic.  Yet, the conundrum remains, that otherwise totally rational people still voted for him. I do not understand it and neither does my American friend.

Perhaps this comedy throws some light on it?

On a better note. On my walks around a magic lake not far from my home I have come across a family of turtles of which I managed to take some photos with my iPhone. I almost feel like getting a proper camera. Anyway here are some photos. What are turtles telling us?

There is a sort of wisdom bout them.

IMG_0874Bowral Ducks

IMG_1158 The turtle

 

IMG_1183 3 turtles

The Snake and Scarf

October 28, 2020

IMG_1142 snake

During my last week-end away in Manly, it became blatantly clear I am not very fit. The person I spend the week-end with was so much fitter. Admittingly a few years younger but even so, being a male I ought to be at least as fit. I suppose, too much time on the iPhone and computer and with my dog Milo not getting any younger, he too easily now will just sit down and refuses to walk any further.  Of course he doesn’t have the iPhone to blame.

Coming back from Manly I was limping from the walk that my friend took me on. It was between Manly and Shelley Beach. A lovely week-end interspersed with a ferry ride to Circular Quaye, Sydney and a look at the Archibald exhibition at the Gallery of NSW.

I decided to try and lift my walking to at least 5kms a day. There is no better place than the Alexandra Lake a mere minute from my place in Mittagong.

The lake is populated by a large variety of birds in all shapes and sizes. Right now the ducks have ducklings and one can observe proud Mother ducks walking around with their brood while Dads keep a lookout for dogs who must be on leads at all time. There is also a large friendly snake oblivious to all the going on by walkers. I have been told that that snake is always there and people feed it little snacks, perhaps small frogs or house-rats, baby mice, rabbits etc. The photo above is of this friendly snake.

In between walking I will continue my knitting. Again here is a photo of my latest efforts. I now even know how to ‘cast off’. How many of you know how to cast off from the knitting needle when the garment is finished? It takes a bit of skill and practice!

IMG_1055

IMG_1144 scarf

Tomorrow last year it was Helvi’s last day on earth. A year has gone, and I miss her daily but I am also happy to have found that nature, walking, knitting, friendships and so much more have given me the pleasure in making life so worthwhile and I feel happy.

All the best, my dear friends,

Gerard

The US voting system needs the democracy sausage.

October 19, 2020

It was staggering to read that only about 50% of Americans bother to vote. Trump is saying that the less people vote the better chance he has of winning the presidency. The Americans don’t like any compulsion. They don’t have what we have in Australia, compulsory voting by punishment. Of course what is missing in the American system to try and encourage people to vote is the Democracy Sausage that we all enjoy on voting day here in Australia.

It is the main reason why people vote in Australia, the lure of the barbecued  democracy sausage.

In Australia, sausages are a symbol of election day. Here's why - CNN
In Australia we vote because we get a sausage on sliced white bread, often with choices of sauces to add to the democracy of it all. It can be tomato, barbeque, hot mustard sauce. In some up-beat areas there is a choice of hot English or French mustard.
Some smart voters suffering from acute hunger go from booth to booth to collect their sausages.
While the Americans will never go to compulsory voting they could do no worse than to copy the Australian manner of voting and introduce the humble barbequed sausage. It is not just the sausage but the whole atmosphere it creates around the hot plate of sizzling sausages, It brings people together. A good bonhomie and cheerfulness. People hugging and laughing, mouths dripping with the goodness of it all.

Nine perfect dishes.

October 12, 2020

There are no reasons why one cannot publish a series on ‘Nine Perfect Dishes’ the same as a well known writer has published a book named ‘ Nine Perfect Strangers.’ There are rumours abound that Nicole Kidman has been seen in town, the town of Mittagong no less, and that’s where I live and work. The book of Nine Perfect Strangers is of course by Leane Moriarty, she with Nicole Kidman has the film rights. The book will be made into a TV series, but Covid has thrown a spanner in the works and at the moment the work has stopped. Anyway, Covid is not stopping people from cooking delicious meals and what better way than to look at Gerard’s pictures and feel the inspiration welling up!

IMG_1003 meat balls

Dish 1, Meatballs with vegies and pair of spectacles.

IMG_1001basa fillet

Dish 2, a piece of fish with mushrooms and basil.

IMG_0363 lamb curry

Dish 3, A golden oldie, lamb curry.

IMG_0832

Dish 4, the humble spam sandwich making a great comeback.

IMG_1048

Dish 5, Garlic prawns with fresh mango, spinach and rocket salad.

IMG_1051

Dish 6, perhaps to sample in between cooking? Greek yoghurt with REAL maple syrup.

For the next three dishes, keep your eyes glued to the Oosterman Treat website and I promise you they will appear soon. Happy cooking and as for recipes, just look at the pictures and follow your cooking instincts. Use good ingredients and olive oil, sesame oil and salt& pepper or spices you think might add flavour.

The bee and the Fuchsia.

October 4, 2020

With all that’s going on in the world it might serve us well to re-visit what life might be really about.

I say might, because people have priorities that differ from mine. I just read that the Government is getting concerned about the economic stimulus packages that were meant to keep people from starving. It now turns out, the money is being used by many feeding poker machines instead. Can you believe how far some have moved away from what life is about?
It has always been a puzzle that the clubs, especially returned soldiers clubs (RSL) use the revenue raised by gamblers to provide aid and support to the soldiers or their families, victims of wars. However, I believe that the victims of addicted gamblers might well outnumber victims of wars.
Here is the solution to both the troubled world and the gambling.

IMG_1037

The picture shows the humble bee at work collecting sweet nectar to take back to his hive. The Mexican Fuchsia is now so laden with flowers that I had no option then to put both of them outside. While inside and during the night, they would be so busy cross-pollinating that my spotted-gum wooden floor would be covered with the result of their cavorting. In any case, the bee and this lovely plant is so in contrast to people shuffling off to the clubs feeding money into machines. The bee feeds honey into the hive and then they have a queen bee as well they can shower with even more attention.

If the bee is one attraction what about the next one? For a few months now I have been following the growth of some daffodil bulbs that I planted. I thought they were a bit slow in flowering when all around me the gardens were yellow with them. It turned out my daffodils were blue instead. My neighbour pointed out they were irises instead.

IMG_1006


Those modest meals for less than $2.-

September 29, 2020

With the Biden-Trump debate an hour away I thought I would try and divert attention away from the political stage and instead offer something a lot more valuable; good decent food for little money.

The first one is a combination of a piece of fish, a Basa fillet with chargrilled capsicum and a few basil leaves. It was done in ten minutes; here a photo.

IMG_1001basa fillet

Some people recoil in horror at the mention of Basa fish when it was given a wide berth as a result of bad publicity often accompanied by videos showing a dreadful polluted Mekong with the Basa feeding on everything  from soiled nappies to dead bodies and buckets. As it turned out with some sleuthing by experts including scientists the truth was that competitors being alarmed by the success of the Vietnamese export had made some rather over the top criticism and videos.   Most of it was without factual proof. Vietnam now supplies 80% of the world’s demand for this cheap and nutritious fish. At a blind tasting in the US, the Vietnamese imported Basa won over the local produced variety.  At Aldi I bought 3 fillets for $4.- and in the above meal used just one. This meal included half a yellow capsicum and the basil is home grown.

And now we arrive at the second meal. Again here is a photo;

IMG_1003 meat balls

This delicious and cheap  meal together with the Basa fish meal are ideal for those locked down in the Covid stage of  lonely self isolation. You can sit on the edge of your bed and with plate on knees and napkin over shoulder nibble away at these meals and feel safe that your body is getting the necessary nutrition. The above meal contains pork-beef meat balls, again from Aldi. In this recipe I used 5 meat balls out of the 18 in the packet for $5.99. It includes 1 small sliced potato and just 1 medium sized carrot, again with some basil, pepper and salt.

There is no excuse for going to BigMac or that overblown KFC merchant, just stick to basic ingredients and you will be healthy and ready to spend another day in self-isolation and lockdown. Some people have been fined for sneaking out to get take away meals. There is no need, just try and get the above Gerard meals to inspire you.

Enjoy!

Those very PRIVATE schools and The Netherlands

September 23, 2020

Sydney’s Shore School threatens to expel students over ‘appalling’ muck-up day scavenger hunt – ABC News

Backs of school students in uniform

A while ago when visiting some friends, someone asked me what I knew about the political system in The Netherlands including their judicial system. The question threw me as I know very little about most things and even less about specifics. I mumbled something, in an attempt to answer, that I thought the Dutch did not have the  English Westminster system.  I also know that the English system is based on being adversarial and outright cranky.

It has always been a bee in my bonnet that my parents decided to migrate to a country whose legal system and form of Government is based to a large degree on causing conflict and antagonism. Yet, many of my local friends who grew up with this system will defend it to the hilt. They say it is good to question and oppose things, just in case it will all go wrong! Fair enough. Who am I to interfere as a stranger. ‘Go back where you come from’, at times was suggested to me. However, with age I have considerably softened and mellowed.

Even so, sometimes my doubts about the British Westminster system flares up again, and no more so when it involves Australian Education. Decade after decade we fall further behind. My solution is to take a middle path, a softer approach than totally ditching the much hallowed Westminster caboodle.  

Just have a gander at this. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-23/sydney-shore-school-threatens-expulsion-for-muck-up-challenges/12691756

Spitting on the homeless and defecating in public a form of fun and achievement?

Of course, it is a bit of a leap to join the Westminster System with Australian education, but very much part of this is that education is bitterly divided between Private and Public education. There again, a division, a conflict, a form of antagonism. The solution to improve Australian sub-standard education has been to have the one single system funded by the government, the same as most other countries have. Many experts have suggested just that. But again, it all becomes an area of conflict and opposition. If there is one other thing that really annoys too, is the silly adherence to School identifiable uniforms. Why on earth do we insist on uniformity at all when surely part of education is to foster the unfolding of all student to their own individuality in harmony within our community and society we live in. Let them dress they feel they want to.  

Any way, here a bit about the Dutch form of Government and judiciary.

The politics of the Netherlands take place within the framework of a parliamentary representative democracy, a constitutional monarchy, and a decentralised unitary state.[1] The Netherlands is described as a consociational state.[2] Dutch politics and governance are characterised by a common striving for broad consensus on important issues, within both of the political community and society as a whole.[1]

The Koala.

September 19, 2020

In Australia there is no better example of a much revered native animal than the koala. It seems the world too has become its friend as well. No sooner do tourists arrive and within a day or so, they are seen holding up cameras on the end of an extendable stick at koala parks. The koala isn’t shy of tourists and generally behave well. They don’t bite or scratch even though they have sharp claws made to good use when climbing trees. I am always amazed but secretly wished that a native animal would finally defecate on a politician when they try and curry favors with the electorate by holding a Joey kangaroo or koala. 

There is indeed no cuddlier animal ( apart from my Jack Russell, Milo) than the koala. The National Party of Australia is trying to fight new legislation to strengthen protection of native animals making it harder for farmers to clear land, and reduce the habitat of the koala. The Koala is already under threat of extinction because of deforestation. The Honest Government  Ads company has put hard hitting ads on the media. They are filmed in Melbourne and specialise in contemporary political and social satire. They are also known for internet Ads series under The Juice Media. I do hope the ad will make life for the koala more certain.

eb347-aussiemap

The sowing of Dichondra

September 16, 2020

The day arrived whereby I could finally sow my dichondra seeds. The seed packets showed to wait for warm weather and to first rake and work the soil to a fine tilth. Spring has arrived with unusual warm weather and the local garden centers are now filled with red-faced people pushing large trolleys full of topsoil, potting mixes, mulches, composts, chicken, cow and even turkey manure.

Australia has a very large hardware and garden center called ‘Bunnings’. Fortunately and much to the credit of the Australian government, Bunnings was allowed to stay open even during the tightest of Covid lockdowns. Pubs, cafes and hairdressers were closed or severely limited but no Government Minister irrespective of any party keen on staying employed, would dare close the Mecca for domestic peace and serenity; Bunnings.

Of course, the lockdown and its resulting isolation did not just drive residents into cryptic crosswords, watch repeats on TV or engage in domestic squabbling but the more innovative went to look at improving homes and hearths. Bunnings was chock-a-block each time I was there. There were people who had taken stacking chairs and started picnicking at the large parking areas, taking sandwiches, soft drinks with some even uncapping thermoses. Such is the popularity of this large hardware and garden center. Here is a very amusing bit of Australia folk poetry based on the ‘Stacking chair’.

Of course, after a rather long and dry winter with this sudden warmth and spring rain the morning’s petrichor emanating from fresh soils made the entire nation wake up and do the garden. I will now look at my garden each day in anticipation of the seeds germinating. Of course, it is not really a true grass, more of a small ground cover but I am hopeful it will thrive soon and make my garden even more beautiful