Posts Tagged ‘The Guardian’

A normal day with a solid ‘like.’

May 9, 2017

nr two

Has anyone had a normal day lately? It seems to me that we are forever being whipped up by news. Yet, newspapers are going broke. When is the last time you bought a newspaper? I find it almost impossible to get to the news. My computer’s home page offers a constant stream of fake News. The latest ‘News’ offering was the promise of pictures of the Australian woman being held in Colombia’s Bogota jail accused of cocaine smuggling. It promised to be  pictures of her living in that jail. However, when I clicked on the item the only news-item shown were advertisements for shoes and perfume. You see,  the photo is just a lure to entice one buying things.  I suppose, if one persists the promised pictures might eventually appear. But by then I had lost interest.

We watch the National Broadcaster (ABC) for news. Even there, one has to trawl through a constant stream of advertisements before arriving at the news. The SBS channel is still watchable but only just and mainly because it does give you a wider range of international news and above all,  much less cricket and football. So, in summing up; with all the electronic instant-ness about everything, true news is lacking. Commerce has taken over news and perhaps it was always thus.

There is CNN, The Guardian and a few others where one can find some reliable news. It is getting harder though. There are wild allegations that Putin is throwing the spanner amongst countries’ elections for new heads of state. Hackers are stealing megabytes and distributing millions of e-mails everywhere. I too sometimes get mysterious e-mails that don’t make sense. Some that are putting ‘likes’ on my blog turn out to be selling something, or worse, allure to dalliances of which I am not keen. I have heard sad stories of  people getting involved in IT romantics that cost  them their live savings.  A while ago an experienced and savvy bank manager was interviewed on TV. A sad story unfolded whereby he got caught being fleeced by a Nigerian scam on the internet.  He thought it was true love. He told his story as a warning to others.

I very much doubt though that nerdy looking Russian hackers will ever feverishly go over my blog or trawl through my e-mails. No one seems to want to capitalise or exploit me. It makes one think of the insignificance of it all. I don’t even get the chance in saying; “I am deeply humbled by this occasion.” It seems to be the latest most popular answer from people in the lime-light or from those on a stage clutching a trophy or an award.

I was astonished to be offered a batch of three hundred ‘likes’ for a mere $490.-US. That’s right. One can buy blog ‘likes’ now the same as butter or a herring. A while ago, I read a post by someone I knew some years ago. He was always a bit Hollywood and very fond of driving around in expensive  cars with personalized car number plates. He planned a new job by charging people to help improve their ‘status.’  He set up a web-site and asked shamelessly for possible readers to put a ‘like’ on his web-site. He hoped this would help setting up the business.

I do appreciate likes on my own blog but I am pretty sure they are mainly genuine.  I would not remotely consider asking for a ‘like’. I know that people give ‘likes’ and hope for a return ‘like’ on own blogs. Perhaps, we should have a ‘dislike’ symbol as well. It is all so flimsy and silly. Even so, it would be less than honest to admit that I don’t enjoy getting a nice solid ‘like’.

It does perk one up during the day after all the fake ‘news.’

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The Spiritual Famine in Australia

March 31, 2017

It wasn’t always like that, but now it is, and so well entrenched too. One hardly dares to put on the TV. Night after night we get these terrible pictures and images of war. Anxious faces of children not even knowing if the person taking the footage is friend or foe. And yet, Australia imprisons those victims of terrible wars. I know of no better way to describe of what Australia has turned into than to quote a foreword by well-known Australian writer Christos Tsiolkas on a book, “They cannot take to the Sky.” It is written by several authors concerned how Australia is treating refugees

The foreword was published by The Guardian.

“In Australia in 2017, They Cannot Take the Sky is also necessary. For nearly two decades now, Australian politics has been corrupted by a toxic and destructive national debate about asylum seekers and refugees. Unfortunately, fought out as much across media – traditional and digital – as it has in our parliament, the issue of asylum has become inexorably entwined with our security and existential fears arising from the threats of international terrorism.

Our leaders, across the political spectrum, have failed in the democratic imperative to ensure a cogent and humane approach to the issue. In fanning the hysteria of partisanship they have betrayed our trust. That great leveller, history, will ultimately judge us on what kind of country we created for ourselves at the beginning of the 21st century. This isn’t the place for political analysis. All I want to suggest is that in all the screaming across the parliament floor or on social media, we forget that the asylum seeker and the refugee is a real person, with a real body and a real consciousness, that they are as human as we are.

We know that the detention centres we have built on our continent, on Nauru and on Manus Island, are not places we would ever countenance imprisoning Australians. We know what we have done. We don’t need history to instruct us on that.

The stories in this book – these accounts, these testaments – they are all a form of witnessing to what occurred during our watch over the last twenty years. There are moments of brutality and incomprehension; how can it be else? But there are also moments of great humour, of inspiration and of almost heartbreaking generosity. Time and time again, a voice will offer thanks to the individual kindness of an Australian that dared to visit a refugee in prison, that offered assistance as the newcomer tried to navigate their way in a foreign and perplexing country.

These stories also act to break down the cumulative and dangerous stereotyping of refugees as having always the identical and same experience. These storytellers are not only Muslim or Afghani or Tamil; they are also, and just as importantly, mothers or fathers, brothers or sisters, artists or students, workers or scientists, lovers both straight and gay. Some of them embody the rawness and fury of youth and some the wisdom and caution of age. The cumulative effect is one of a great and powerful chorus that sings the possibility of a hope that Australia has been denying itself, the enrichment that comes from openness and charity.

Hani writes, “I realised that freedom is not walking free. It means to be free mentally and physically.” Chained to policies that we all know in our hearts to be destructive and inhuman, can it be said that we Australians are truly free?

Many years ago now, I was having a drink with a cousin in Athens. We were talking and drinking late into the night and as it will always be with a Greek, we were furiously discussing politics and history. She was reflecting on the White Australia Policy and arguing that if we had not had such a racist attitude to the immigrant in the late 1930s, there would have been a generation of Jewish artists, scientists and intellectuals who might have made Australia their home. “Think of it,” she said, grabbing my hand and holding it tight, “Think of what your country could be if you had not had such stupid laws.”  

They Cannot Take the Sky is full of great writing. I hope that in the future that many of the narrators will be the writers of a great new wave of Australian literature. Their experiences as refugees cannot be forgotten, that will always inform the work that they do. But I can’t wait to hear their stories of Australia and their stories of the world. I wish my country were not beholden to stupid and wicked laws that gutless men and women created out of fear and ignorance; and yes, out of venality and the lust for power.”

 

The Sting is in the Tail.

November 12, 2016
Stingray

Stingray

The week was difficult enough without the US election. The only light was that the shivers down my spine proved right. Calamitous is a word that got much used. We decided to do a practise run and booked a cabin all secluded. We are fully expecting the possibilities, that once again, town-hall sirens will blare and warn the people of an impending disaster.
People will be urged to seek shelter and safety from the coming of carnage. Again the running and shouting of people on the streets. The thuds of boots finding home on falling bodies

It wasn’t just the Trump tragedy but also Leonard Cohen passing. To mention both in one breath is a bit of an insult to Cohen. Like comparing acrid acid with the tasting of the finest of first-press olive oil. But Cohen is at peace and we are still here!

The three lily- white blondie livery daughters of Trump are primed to fill important roles and he is backing down from undoing Obamacare. His mascara has come off and paleness replaced brashness and red-necked bully-boy. The markets are going wild and gyrating madly opposite of all expectations. The biggest rally for years. All topsy-turvy. Yet, Hillary Clinton all pale and sad. What has America done? Protests on the streets. Cars are burning. People shouting. Contorted faces. Rage is rising.

Our cabin was just a short down-hill clamber from a rocky yet sandy beach, waiting for the tumult of hordes of Christmas crowds to arrive. I decided to check up on an aboriginal midden that I knew existed when Helvi and I used to visit this same spot with our young children so many memorable years ago. It amazed me already then that this sacred site hadn’t been protected. People walked over it, unaware it was a midden and sacred site
https://www.google.com.au/#q=Aboriginal+middens+at+Bendalong

As I was walking along the beach I noticed a dark shape in the water. Getting closer I was amazed to see a large stingray. Steve Irwin, the Australian naturalist was killed by a stingray while swimming above one. The barbed tail whipped up, went through his wet-suit and penetrated his heart. He died almost instantly.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2006/sep/04/broadcasting.travelnews

I had boots on and did not want to get into the water to get a closer look. I did not have to. He came to me. It swam in very shallow water and was just a couple of metres away from the sandy beach on this expanse of the Tasman sea. Its bulbous watery eyes was looking at me as if expecting something. Its eyes seemed sad and carried a reproach. I was astounded. What had I done to receive his attention? Apart from a small packet of peanuts I had nothing to give him. I spoke some kind words but wasn’t sure it could hear under the water. Did he expect me to have a herring on me? I never carry fish on me as I never feed fish in oceans. I felt guilty for not ever having fed fish. Instead, I often I eat them. ( I did not tell the stingray that.)

It was a somewhat helpless situation but I took some more pictures with my IPhone. What else would anyone do? But what followed was remarkable. As I continued my walk, the stingray followed me for some twenty metres or so along the edge of the sea. Had I been accepted as his friend? I again took some pictures.
He then had enough and swam away.

img_0995stingray

The aboriginal midden was still there and in good condition. I suppose all the seashells and cockles are just not worth digging up or scooping away as most people might not even be aware of its significance and aboriginal heritage. For thousands of years this was the site were the original owners of this land would congregate look out over the sea and consume their catch of sea-food.

Sacred aboriginal sites are to be respected and not to be photographed.

The long lost Leek. (for Seniors)

August 16, 2016
The long lost Leek for potato-bake

The long lost Leek for potato-bake

There comes a time that a lost leek is the only way out for seeking relief from life’s unrelenting savagery. I mean our Minister for Immigration has stated that, “some refugees have resorted to self-immolation in order to get a foothold in Australia.” http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/asylum-seekers-have-selfimmolated-to-get-to-australia-peter-dutton-20160811-gqq48f.html

The release by The Guardian newspaper of several thousands of complaints about the conditions of refugees on Manus and Nauru seems to have caught the attention overseas but hardly made the media here in Australia. Children are right now being sexually assaulted, as are the adults.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/series/nauru-files

What a fate. My parents came here for the children’s future. I can still hear my dad saying that to his own family of brothers and sisters before our departure from Holland. He might have had some trepidation. His own family thought it a somewhat dangerous and foolish choice. Has it turned out to be a mistake? I am ashamed of my adopted country now. I even took on the Australian Nationality. I remember the ceremony at Sydney’s town-hall with getting a cup-o-tea and an Arnott’s biscuit from the Salvos, together with my Australian Nationality Certificate.

Australia has stopped dog racing as being cruel but seems unwilling to give the same consideration to refugees warehoused on Nauru and Manus.

The potato bake is one way of coping. I rummaged around the bottom of the fridge and found a long-lost leek and some lonely and somewhat wrinkled carrots. A potato-bake sprung to mind. I sautéed some onions and mixed that with fried bacon after which I mixed in about 250grams of frozen spinach. Get real spinach NOT silver-beet. In an olive-oiled baking dish I put layers of thinly sliced potato interspersed with the sliced long lost leek and cut thinly the lonely carrots. Spoon over this some of the bacon-spinach-onion mixture followed by grated Parmesan cheese. Of course, oregano is obligatory as well.

The leek had actually started to grow inside the fridge with the inner rings bravely sprouting forward bypassing the outer rings. I used four freshly bought potatoes. This whole lot is now given a baptism of three cupful of milk and sour cream. with the leek, spinach, onion and carrots layered with a final dosage of cheese on top is put in a pre-heated oven at about 200c for fifteen minutes. This gives it an irresistible crust. Turn oven down to 150C for about one hour.

One can forgive or at least momentarily forget all the problems by eating this lovely but modest dish. I do hope some of you will get respite. (Try and not think of our Migration Minister, Dutton, when slicing the leek)

https://www.amazon.com/Oosterman-Treats-Philosophical-Musings-vasectomy/dp/099458105X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1471308264&sr=1-1&keywords=oosterman+treats