Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

A surrender to the Meat pie.

March 25, 2019
Image result for meat pie

 

The walk with our Jack Russell dog ‘Milo’ is during the week-ends taken along a small river that flows through our small town. This routine was established because of the town itself being inundated with motor bikes and their riders during week-ends. Milo has a ‘thing’ about motor bikes which through the years we haven’t been able to solve, no matter how many dog psychology books we have read, or trained him to accept motor bikes. He just goes ballistic. Most of the motor bikes are being driven by pre-coronary failure bearded middle-aged men on their last hurrah before the motor bike gets replaced by the mobility walker.

We broke with this river walk tradition, and took Milo to town last week-end. The weather was pleasant with the sun demurely casting a nice glow amongst the oaks and birches planted in the town square. The town square is surrounded by enough shops and cafeteria to give it an almost European feel of a community at ease enjoying a Sunday without guilt.

As we started to get a bit hungry I suggested we might get something to eat. We sometimes go the whole hog and order ‘lunch’, mainly at Thai restaurants of which Bowral sports a couple.  Depending on the level of hunger, we also, at times, just grab a sandwich or share a plate of fish and chips. This time however, like a bolt out of the sky, Helvi said; ‘I might get a meat pie’. One has to understand that Helvi in all her past septuagenarian years never ever had a meat pie. She took one look at a meat-pie back in 1965 after our arrival in Australia as a married couple, and almost fainted. ‘How could you have shown me that’, she asked? I explained to her that my first experience of Australia was the meat pie. Years before our marriage and as a young 16-year-old newly arrived from Holland, I worked in factories sweeping and cleaning but also ordering lunches for the workers. The main lunch orders were meat pies and bottles of Fanta soft drinks. I was amazed at the conspicuous wealth shown of Australia already then. At times, half eaten pies were thrown out, just like that! Can you imagine? To be able to afford throwing out food surely was the epitome of a belching opulence and wealth. I might have had trouble then in accepting this new cultural discovery but put it down as proof of Australia being everything that we had been told. Not exactly streets paved with gold, but at least with a thick runny brown gravy bravely encased in a brown baked crust.

After Helvi’s declaration and intention to eat a meat pie, I could hardly contain myself. For the first time too, ever! I asked her what changed her mind. She said; The shop advertises that their meat-pies have won many ribbons at the yearly Sydney’s Easter Show. This show is Australia largest agricultural event. A competition of all agricultural products imaginable, even those that are unimaginable. A rich yearly kind of carnival where kids pester their parents to visit, mainly to get their hands on ‘show bags’. Show bags are made to corrupt kids into eating sugar and contain amongst other, Coca-Cola, Mars Bars, Violant crumble, sickening lollies, fizzy powders and much more. After a day of murderous mayhem, the exhausted mothers and kids used to be able to get relief at Bex , Vincent APC and other nauseous and headache relieving medication bars near the exit. I kid you not. They were called BARS!

Anyway, the pie shop is called ‘The Gumnut’ and the windows are full of Easter show ribbons and awards proving their meat-pies ‘year in year out’, are indeed the best in Australia. The meat-pie judging is done by seven pie experts on a podium in clear sight of judges, all in white garb and donning white caps. Gloved fingers prod the pies for buoyancy, firmness, springiness, before actual sampling. It is an exhausting all day affair. The public, including nervous nail-biting pie enthusiasts are seated in the special arena where the judging takes place. We know how involved this all can be because we used to show our finest alpacas at the Easter-show. (Sadly, we never won a ribbon.) It turns out, according to the ribbons shown in this Bowral pie shop, that their pies are the best.

And this, dear readers was the reason that Helvi for the first time ever had a meat-pie. She loved it. ‘Real beef, she exclaimed’!

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The illogical and immoral Male.

March 12, 2019

 

Image result for Morrison and Dutton
Mr S. Morrison and Mr P. Dutton (reflecting on refugees)

 

Not even a Kafka or an Edgar Allan Poe could have thought up the idea of locking up thousands of innocent people in order to stop drownings of people desperate to escape murder and mayhem from their home country.  It just doesn’t make sense. No one wants people to drown, and the suggestion by Australia’s Prime Minister, Mr Scott Morrison, that those opposed to locking up refugees, now in their sixth year, will be responsible for new cases of drownings, is just too silly for words. It begs the question; are we still living in a world of science and rational thought? Or could it be that this is how the male mind works? I say this, as it seems to be the domain of mainly males that are attracted to illogical thoughts.  Things have gone haywire with Morrison, Dutton & Co.

It is perplexing how a country’s leader could ever have reached such an abominable stage whose thought processes must border on the mentally unstable. Some argue that, this Government’s action on the indefinite locking up of refugees on Manus and Nauru is particularly bad considering that our PM, Mr Morrison, proclaims to be a devout Christian. He belongs to a  Pentacostal church whose parishioners sometimes break out in a religeous fervor, and start speaking in tongues.

Some are claiming the opposite. It’s precisely the result of those adhering to the non-questioning and under the suppressive and superstitious shadows of religion and the subsequent irrationality of demons and retributive spirits, that causes those male politicians to behave in such an appalling way. In any case, the refugees are still going mad and as the years go by, the toll will rise, and even, when finally taken in by some other country, their trauma  will last.

Australia will stand condemned forever.

 

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door—
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
“‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
This it is and nothing more.”( Edgar Allan Poe)

The flamboyancy of Women.

March 8, 2019
Image result for A women in sexual joy

 

Today is International Women’s Day. There will be all sorts of commentary and publicity on this day of celebrating being a woman. It can’t be easy at times and with this special day comes the painful truth that being a woman can be very dangerous. It can be outright precarious during relationships with man.  In Australia some 350 or 450 cases of domestic violence is reported to the police daily. At least once a week a woman gets murdered with the ex or present partner in most cases responsible. Emotional abuse is also very common. Most women go through life having experienced some type of abuse which is mainly perpetrated by the male.

The way forward seems to lay in educating the young to have respect for each other and that boys and girls be allowed to grow up as children before reaching their teens and adulthood. Some experts believe that co-educational education is a good start. I personally feel separating the sexes at school age is silly. Girls, by and large outperform boys, yet, when growing into adults for one reason or the other the jobs get taken over by men when it comes to employment. So much for equal opportunity!

We all know or should know that women rank 9 out of 10 in many areas with most men a mere 6 or7 out of 10. One wonders why that is so. We know that at times,  and honest men looking inside themselves might agree, one can get a bit intimidated by strong women. Somehow there is this confusion that strength is the sole domain of men. None is better demonstrated more than on the sexual side of things. Men might well grow up believing that their prowess in bed is somehow Tarzan-like and that women are the submitters to their often 5 minute skill of up and down male love mastery. Of course in many cases that is not so.

The flamboyancy of the female in full flight during an episode of considerate sex is something to behold. I would not be surprised that many a man feels a bit intimidated by the force and honesty of this female sexual prowess. Compared with the male it is the climbing of Mount Everest while with man it is a kind of topping a wombat’s burrow.

So, with the International Day of Women let’s be mindful that women are terrific lovers, friends and companions.

“International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 every year. It is a focal point in the movement for women’s rights. After the Socialist Party of America organized a Women’s Day on February 28, 1909 in New York, the 1910 International Socialist Woman’s Conference suggested a Women’s Day be held annually.” Wikipedia

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 Tent.

February 8, 2019
Image result for Tents

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.

Iceland fixed the banking crisis by letting them fail.

February 4, 2019
Image result for Iceland banking crisis

 

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
Image result for rutger bregman
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.

 

A sad state of affairs on looming Australia Day.

January 19, 2019
Image result for Aussi aussi oi oi oi

Australia 2019

With an overall very low performance, Australia ranks 55th in this year’s CCPI. The country continues to receive very low ratings in the categories GHG Emissions, Energy Use and Climate Policy. The country ranks at the bottom of low performers in the Renewable Energy category with national experts criticising the government for not putting forward any plans for renewable energy beyond 2020. Experts argue that national climate policy has continued to worsen – the government has no comprehensive emission reduction policy, no regulation of transport emissions and no plans to phase out coal. Experts observe that the government has become an increasingly regressive force in international negotiations, attempting to weaken climate finance obligations and dismissing the IPCC 1.5°C report.

Holland ranks 28th while Finland has a ranking of  9th

https://www.climate-change-performance-index.org/country/australia-2019

I am desperate and keen to have a positive something to say about Australia, the country my parents chose to migrate to back in 1956. With Australia day coming up on the 26th of January, can some of you please, guide me to a distinctly positive item that Australia excels in. Lately we have been inundated with bad things. We have a Royal Commission on aged care. Last week we watched how elderly are being strapped down in a chair for up to 14 hours and no toilet breaks. A man suffering from dementia was seen reduced to a vegetable, all bent double over, strapped on his chair. This was hard on the heels of video footage by combat troops with assault weapons at the ready, trained on children at a juvenile detention centre.

It just doesn’t seem to stop. The best thing that Australia almost achieved, but not quite, was allowing a Saudi girl in Australia. Sadly this did not happen either.

We will now see how all those dead fish in our largest river will survive. I don’t like their chances either.

I suppose a good thing that has happened is that the weather is now a lot cooler. For the moment we can turn off our air-conditioning. So…Aussi, aussi…oi oi oi.

A peculiar Country and the holy water.

January 15, 2019

Image result for holy water stoups with flaming hearts

The hope of getting some good news in the New Year is diminishing as the days roll by. Just now, a newsflash that the skyscraper in Sydney named ‘Opal Tower’ needs significant structural repairs done. One can’t imagine the trouble this causes to those people who are renting or bought an apartment affected by the ‘cracking’. The usual noises are made about how Australia has stringent building regulations with strict compliance to proven engineering methods at ever level of construction.  Yet those that give the compliance certificates are private contractors themselves working to maximise profits. Which construction company will seek compliance approvals from those that are strict and known for refusing to give those certificates to building works that don’t comply?

Next on the list is that children in detention were threatened by troops all dressed in combatant gear pointing assault weapons at unarmed children. Yet those that are charged with running this detention centre are fully supportive of this blatent abuse of force and totally behind it. What sort of behaviour is that? And we point the finger at North Korea or some crackpot regime in Africa.

Have a look at this video; https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-14/don-dale-youth-detention-cctv-police-weapons-detainees-nt/10712664

We are having a bad heatwave but the good news on TV this morning was that everyone should try, and look after those that are vulnerable to heat exhaustion, especially the elderly. Neighbours ought to inquire about each other on how they are feeling. Many escape to air-con shopping malls or at least stay indoors. I get the shivers when I see all those thousands on a scourging hot sun baked beach. And then they lie in the sun!

Image result for Heatwave beach conditions

The vacuuming was done this morning in our household. I wondered why it wasn’t working as it should. I decided to investigate and discovered the foot or the suction end of our lithium powered vacuum cleaner ( Hoover-Freedom) was blocked by bits of paper and cherry stalks.  I must say that the stone fruit this year has been excellent. Those white peaches…mmm! Yesterday my brother and I spent half a day assembling a new barbeque. The old one just did not give enough heat for fast grilling a nice piece of meat or chargrill a rib of pork.

We plan to carry the old one to the street as a freebee. It has a regulator and a lid and very clean. People often put usable items on the ‘nature strip’, and this gives new meaning to re-cycling. The charity shops are now complaining that too much is being donated, and it is claimed that donating to charity is often used as getting rid of total rubbish. I suppose, consuming too much is the real reason.

This reminds me of when we were young, and a still devoutly catholic family living in Holland. From my youngest memory we had at the entrance to our bedroom a holy water stoup decorated by a sacred flaming heart screwed to the door-frame. We were supposed to dip a finger in it, cross ourselves and then go to bed with a clear conscience. I remember being a bit suspicious of it, and whether some benign Beneficiary spirit would forever guide us for a good life, provided we would dip our fingers. My earliest memories of bombed out buildings and screaming hunger did not make for nurturing a strong belief in a good and just deity that would reward the ‘true’ believers.

It was after we moved from Rotterdam to The Hague that some deviousness crept stealthely but assuredly in my being. Again, dad screwed on the holy water stoups with the flaming sacred hearts. I was really starting to question that this water was somehow different from tap water, and decided to test it. I drained the holy water and filled it up with just tap water. I was awake all night fearing punishment but nothing happened. I knew my mother had a special container of holy water which she kept under the sink. This was specially blessed holy water sanctified by the priest of our local church. I think it was a yearly event when this blessing took place inside the church to which our parents took us. I still then tried to look a bit religious but from what I had done to the holy water recently, it might now well be seen as acting very sanctimoniously.

I had started to lose my belief in a deity that would reward the unquestioning pious. I think today the science might well be behind this.

In the meantime the heat is merciless as well.

Solving homelessness the Finnish way.

December 30, 2018

photohomeless-man-at-byron-bay.jpg

With the value of housing now plummeting with probably a long way down to go yet, no better an opportunity than to get away from housing mainly seen as an investment rather than a human right. A roof above our head wasn’t always seen as having to own it. It came about when the granting of ‘titles’ was invented. From then on it a became a thing of monetary value rather than a necessity for humans to have shelter away from the elements.   So, it was and the world of ‘real estate’ was born.  The last few years the whole of the Australian home ownership went on a bender with exploiting, speculations  and an explosion of the cost of real estate. I am just writing this when coming across an article about the growing problem of homelessness and how it is being solved in Finland.

“The Finns have turned the traditional approach to homelessness on its head.

There can be a number of reasons as to why someone ends up homeless, including sudden job loss or family breakdown, severe substance abuse or mental health problems. But most homelessness policies work on the premise that the homeless person has to sort those problems out first before they can get permanent accommodation.

Finland does the opposite – it gives them a home first.

The scheme, introduced in 2007, is called Housing First. It is built on the principle that having a permanent home can make solving health and social problems much easier.

The homeless are given permanent housing on a normal lease. That can range from a self-contained apartment to a housing block with round-the-clock support. Tenants pay rent and are entitled to receive housing benefits. Depending on their income, they may contribute to the cost of the support services they receive. The rest is covered by local government.”

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/02/how-finland-solved-homelessness/

Australia now has a golden opportunity to get back to social housing and solve the thousands of those that miss out on a roof above their head. It has been clear that most couples now find it impossible to get into the housing ‘market.’ The Government can try and get people to move to smaller and cheaper towns but the past has shown that sooner or later most are drawn to the large cities. Australia is one of the world’s most urbanised countries. Housing is a social right for a civilised country. It is shameful that now more and more people end up sleeping on the streets or in their cars. The answer seems so simple.

Provide decent shelter. The alternative is much more expensive.!