Posts Tagged ‘US’

Putin for President?

June 19, 2017

untitledPutin and Oliver Stone

Last night’s TV watching is what I could do with every night. Forget about all those Master Chefs or Building UK modern houses, or even those new  incomprehensible English crime shows, which are so lost in loud music and serious and significant sideway cast glances by  main actors, that any attention the viewer had intended to give, is soon surrendered over to despair. The Putin- Oliver Stone interview was rivetingly watchable. Not a stir-fry in sight nor a double glazed window. A different kettle of fish.

Of course, Oliver Stone is not known for loving the Republican side of US politics. His keen-eyed  movies and scripts never fail to impress those who are  inclined to be cynical about much of what the US is purporting to stand for. i.e. ” US style  Democracy.” A short version of which is, ‘if you are not with us you are against us,’ and we will hunt/bomb you down mercilessly, and find ways to fill up more of our privately run prisons. I suspect that Oliver Stone might well have been put under scrutiny in the US more than once.

There is a bit of a story attached to Oliver Stone. We actually met him many years ago. Our daughter was working for RoadShow which at the time of the mid eighties promoted and featured upcoming movies. Our daughter, Susanna, was charged with people associated with a particular upcoming movie, to be looked after. This often included booking accommodation for interstate or overseas people associated with a newly released movie. It was a demanding job but she was very good at it. During the mid eighties, one of those overseas guests was Oliver Stone who had just finished making ‘El Salvador.’

We had already seen  Midnight Express of which the script was written by Oliver Stone in the late seventies. At the time that movie was already controversial and even banned in Turkey. With the arrival of El Salvador in 1986, his skill as both scriptwriting and film producer were already well established. We we were not al all familiar with many films but we did go to movies occasionally. Our daughter managed to sometimes get free tickets and so it was with the  showing of El Salvador at a theatre in Paddington, of which I have forgotten it’s name. Perhaps it was called The Dandy, or some similar silly name. Both our daughter and us decided to see that movie on a weekday. A normal day.

As we queued up for the tickets, Susanna was poked in the ribs by someone behind her. When she turned around, her gaze was met by Oliver Stone whom she apparently had me at the Roadshow office several times already.  She laughed and after a bit of a talk with him, introduced us to  him. “These are my parents, Helvi and Gerard”, she must have said. The exact details of word order might well have been a bit different.  It could just as easily have been; “This is Oliver Stone, these are my parents.” It has been so many years ago! We shook hands, he had large hands.

Anyway, we sauntered in. ( ‘sauntering in,’ is what people do, slowly entering cinemas or church services but not train carriages. We ‘enter or push into’ rail carriages. The movie was very terrifying of how things can go so badly wrong from one moment to the other. We exited the cinema in a haze of incredulity. How could that have happened?  We did not see Oliver Stone ever again, except through his movies. He must have got out earlier. He perhaps wanted to find out how his movie was received in Australia with a different audience.

The interview with Putin is what really made me ponder the pity of it all. Why not have a Putin for US president? Such erudite reasoning. Oh, those direct answers. No aggrandisement nor pursing of lips. And above all, his understanding of the US. At one stage seemingly knowing more about US trade deficits than even Oliver Stone.

On the other hand, Oliver Stone does enjoy the freedom of critical  exposing the US in his movies. We know so little about Russia, much of it mangled by US propaganda. I was in Russia for a short period and loved it.

Even so,  a Putin for US president would be a way forward compared with the present one.

Our ‘own’ home.

May 26, 2017

When we say we own our own home it means just that. We own the title to our home. This means we can sell it, and profit/lose from it. We too bought our own home with our own earned money. Years ago, it used to mean that you had a roof over your head and ‘owning’ had a different meaning. Many people would probably add that owning own home is one of their best investments. I remember being swept up in Australia after our arrival, whereby ownership of home was seen as a main goal. A dream.  It is still looked upon as a major achievement in life. During the nineteen fifties till now,  urgings by many to strife for home ownership reached almost religious proportions. Half the newspapers used to consist of advertisements for buying and selling homes.

People gathered around the garlic- prawns getting grilled on wood- barbeques and spoke of magic real estate deals. Legendary tales were told by jolly men about unimaginable profits  made on selling properties that had sky-rocketed to much higher prices. Parties would rocket as well by  tales of real estate with empty two litre casks of Coolabah-chardonnay littering next morning  with redolent empty prawn shells. If you let it be known you were an ‘own homer’ your status gained enormous. Women would flock around, easy to date. They too were drawn to Homer.

My dad had much trouble understanding this. In Holland at that time ( 1956) owning own home was unheard of and totally unnecessary. Housing was supplied by Councils or Governments and generally leased for life. Even today home ownership in Holland is about 50% of the adult population. There was a period, compliments of WW2 and carpet-bombings, that an acute shortage existed of available housing. Thanks to the US generous Marshall Plan that Europe was given after the war the housing shortage was soon overcome.  Even so, tens of thousands were drawn to migrate to other shores, especially Canada and Australia. One of the attractions that were being dangled before future migrants’ eyes was the prospect of own home on own block with own bathroom in far away countries. Australia was magic. Colour footage was shown of ‘home owners standing on own lawn in front of own house.’ Those white picket fences, the gloriousness of it all.

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My parents with ‘own home.’

My mother was especially attracted to own bathroom. Back in Holland we had a galvanised tub with handles to bathe in. My mother would boil water on a gas stove. I was lucky  being the second eldest and by and large enjoyed a nice warm bath. However my brother Adrian who was nr 5 in the line of ascendency had tepid and scungy greasy well used water. That’s how it was.

Now the real estate has been so magically successful that hardly anyone can afford it. Many flock to the major cities. That’s why cities are formed. The majority like living in close proximity of each other. The prices are astronomical. A million dollars gets you a bare two bedroom un-renovated almost derelict cottage or a liveable home-unit. Most young couples have given up.

The dream is now a nightmare.

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A Euro party and a stolen car

May 16, 2017

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More people watched the Eurovision song contest than at the coronation of Donald Trump. What does that say about US politics? On top of it all, China overtook America as the biggest economy at about 12.33 am last Sunday. It was almost at the same time the Ransomware attack was being plotted.

The Eurovision champion Portugal won on keeping it simple without wind storms or thunderous noises.  No jigging about or manic acrobatics on stage, still as a thought. He just sang. As for China. Watch the Silk Road. They’ll have it built in less time it takes Trump to get impeached. Usually a drawn out affair taking years. It just can’t go on. A drunken sailor comes to mind, lashing out left right and centre but more to the right than left. How did it ever get to this in the US? Is democracy at fault?

In Australia we have a discussion about Sydney’s second airport every four years or so. I was told it has been brought up since the 1940’s at every election. Our government is twisting and turning to stay in power. It is running deficits, yet promises tax cuts. They too have their coterie of drunken sailors. The big-end of town are getting another tax cut costing 50 billion a few weeks ago but has now gone up to 64 billion Aus dollars. To pay for this, they are cutting pensions, and add more water to their soup allocations as dished out by the salvation army. The queues at soup kitchen are lengthening as I write.

The good news is that the stolen car belonging to my daughter has finally been sorted out. It took a year. The car was discovered soon enough and returned to my daughter by police. She drove happily around till she found out the registration could not be renewed cause it was transferred in the thief’s name. He had forged her signature. Can you believe it took another 7 months of Court appearances, jailing and subsequent appeal by the thief and final sentence before she could register her car again. Who was the victim here? I lent her our car in the meantime, but…how come all this misery?

Woe those that save and live frugally

March 6, 2017

images

There is always that pull to and fro of our past. Some say, don’t look back. But with age comes an oversupply of what has been and much less of what is yet to come. I am talking of time, not substance. It’s most unlikely that at the age of seventy-seven one contemplates joining the army or seek a career in investment banking. Sure, some go climb mount Everest or take up the piano, but most contemplate things and end up rummaging around in memories. I do.

One of the good things that was ingrained still occupies my train of thoughts. It was one my parents main input. ‘Live within your means. Save for what you want and don’t waste.’  This was also reinforced by the political system back in Holland. The era of consumerism never took The Netherlands in the same way it was embraced by Australia. Buying things on credit was unheard of. Today, this very different and the credit card is also embraced. Even so, some national habits are well ingrained. I believe even eating raw herrings is as much a pastime now as it was when I lived there. Saving is still held in high esteem.

This might well be the reason that of all the countries in the world, The Netherlands now hold the enviable record of 103 quarters of uninterrupted economic growth.  While much of that growth is contributed to cutting welfare and taxes and giving corporations greater freedom, Holland still enjoys a generous welfare system. Excluding costs of education, Holland spends 24.3 % of GDP (Gross Domestic Products) and comes in fairly high on the list of welfare spending. Australia spends 18% and  this is towards the lower end of world’s foremost economies. The US is the fourth lowest on welfare spending at 14.8%.

The Dutch pension gets paid irrespective of being poor or rich. Everyone who turns 65 gets it. It is a state insurance scheme whereby every one who works or has worked in the Netherlands gets a pension when turning 65. It is roughly 2% for every year that one has worked in Holland

http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Economy/Social-welfare-spending/%3E-%25-of-GDP/Excluding-education

This is all about our experience on how saving in Australia is being punished.  Since about two months ago the government changed tack on pensions. Those with savings above a certain limit would either get the old-age pension lowered or totally taken away. We lost our pension. It seems, that in Australia it is best to whoop it up and spend, spend. Burn your money, go gambling, load up your credit card, run up debts. You will ensure you get the pension.

https://www.svb.nl/int/en/aow/wat_is_de_aow/wie_krijgt_aow/

And by the way, the Dutch pension is about 70% 0f average wage instead of 40% in Australia. So, next time you hear Turnbull or Morrison going on how Australia is some kind of social paradise. It is NOT. We are pretty stingy when it comes to social welfare.

 

Take from the Poor and Give to the Rich.

January 10, 2017

imagesLoaves and fishes

The latest and most exciting new way of economics to hit Australia is the Government’s  novel way to re-vitalize the economy. Our PM  Mr. Malcolm Turnbull, a multimillionaire, had a flash of genius. Why not give the top-end of town much needed taxation relief with juicy superannuation concessions ?  The stroke of his insight did not stop there. He would also use the opportunity to pay for this by cutting back ‘entitlements’ to pensioners, the unemployed, the disabled and other unwanted flotsam washed on our shores of  previous care, consideration and communal empathy.

For some time now, any kind of ‘right’ has been transformed through careful manipulation by the media into an unnecessary ‘entitlement.’ Now there is the wonder of Western democracy, you can change almost anything. Rights now are unneeded ‘entitlements’ that we can’t claim to own anymore. The way to the future as determined by our Liberal National Government, in all its wisdom, is to demonise those that seek support from governments and with some deft manoeuvring, take away their previous rights and transform them into unneeded and bad entitlements.

The government has now taken away pensions  or reduced them away from the most needy. Unemployed are investigated and letters of demand send to return over-payments. There are no explanations of why our revered model of economics is constantly seeking ways to maximise profits by doing away with workers.  The way to profitable businesses is to employ less workers, preferably by paying them ever diminishing wages.  Combined with taxation cuts by successive governments given to the rich, the rows of those needing support is growing.

Increasingly, health and education are seen in the same light. We no longer can hope to see those as a ‘right’ of a country as a people that sees itself at the forefront of civilisation. Both Australia and the inventor of modern western democracy, the US, are falling behind in educating their young. Australia is way down the ladder in teaching language and math skills with the US  35th on the ladder. In Australia it is not much better.

So, where will we end up? Looking at Turnbull and Trump I am driven to despair. Once we are fattening the porkers and baconers of our societies and neglecting the vulnerable I suspect ‘Western Democracy’ is under threat.

Finally, here is one person’s view on the future of the US and I suspect this applies to Australia as well.

“Johan Galtung, a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated sociologist who predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union, warned that US global power will collapse under the Donald Trump administration.”

“The Norwegian professor at the University of Hawaii and Transcend Peace University is recognized as the ‘founding father’ of peace and conflict studies as a scientific discipline. He has made numerous accurate predictions of major world events, most notably the collapse of the Soviet Empire.”

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/us-power-will-decline-under-trump-says-futurist-who-predicted-soviet-collapse

Almost There

 

 

 

 

 

Be quick now. Buy a book! A Happy Christmas to all.

December 19, 2016

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We all know a book’s best friend is someone who buys it.
In the US, it is cold, freezing and some are snow-bound in their vehicles waiting to be rescued.

What better than to be inside, near a log fire, slippers on with a Shiraz or Pinot on the little table. The joy of reading a book makes the picture perfect.

You won’t be disappointed. Laughter and tears are guaranteed, or your money back.

They will be delivered in the US within three days.

Go on, spread the cheer and please go and buy a book. A perfect present too!

May I humbly suggest you buy these books. You have a choice of two, but one will be nice too.

https://www.amazon.com/Almost-There-Fragments-Restless-Life/dp/0994581033/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481670598&sr=1-9&keywords=almost+there

https://www.amazon.com/Oosterman-Treats-Philosophical-Musings-vasectomy/dp/099458105X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481670670&sr=1-1&keywords=oosterman+treats

Thank you,
Merci,
Dank je
Kiitos
Vielen Dank
Terima Kasih
Gracias

Gerard Oosterman (Author)

AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE CHILDREN IN NAURU:

December 6, 2016

Nauru , Human Dumping Ground for Asylum Seekers

I HAVE JUST RECEIVED AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE CHILDREN IN NAURU:“We are 53 underage kids in detention and feeling we have been forgotten in Nauru so we decided to take some photo of ourselves. We are between 16 and youngest is 3 and there is 5 baby that they was born in Nauru. pls if you could, spread them . Thanks”

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The shivers down my spine.

November 7, 2016
Milo with Angels

Milo with Angels

Rain is forecast for today. This prediction might well be the cause of feelings of impending disaster. Just talking about the US election. When I hear intelligent normal people talking how they will vote for Trump one wonders if it is not time to regress a little historically and invoke Godwin’s Law factor. It is assumed that in any conversation, the longer it goes on the more likely the name of Hitler will pop up. The law of averages has proven that.

Prediction are that Clinton will win. She has a waver-thin lead over Trump, but the pull of the dissatisfied in today’s US seems eerily similar to the mood in pre-war Germany which led to the choice ‘by the people’ of a madman. Trump is mad, there can’t be any doubt. Yet, perfectly normal people are now considering throwing rational choice overboard and go for change, any change. They want so desperately to assuage their feelings and suspicions that the greatest nation of their beloved US is in a terminal decline. ‘We will make America great again’ is easier said than done. Yet, that is what Trump has used very effectively to attract the dissatisfied.

Remember the UK’s Brexit? The polls had Cameron clearly ahead. And look at the UK today. All the euphoria of the mad Right evaporated. Things are worse now. At least in the UK they don’t have a madman leading the country. But, there is time yet.

The waning of the might of the US and the waxing of China as the new top nation is what is happening. They forgot the ‘social’ aspect of humanity. Every dog for himself, with the rest of the world seen as a frontier to seduce and overcome.

Australia is also faced with an inability to Govern. It is all about staying in power. How could it have come to this? The children and adult refugees On Nauru and Manus are on the cusp of being re-settled somewhere else. A condition of resettling them elsewhere ( most have been given refugee status) will be that they will NEVER be allowed to enter or visit Australia. It has even been suggested they will be micro-chipped in order to ensure they will be detected at Australian airports.

I hope that the Bernie factor in the US will be a win for Hillary Clinton but I wish I was feeling more optimistic. We will know within a couple of days.

What was that again about Hitler?

The second book for Seniors has arrived.

July 22, 2016

41yjSAQeq1L__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ oosterman treats

https://www.amazon.com/Oosterman-Treats-Philosophical-Musings-vasectomy/dp/099458105X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1469075634&sr=1-1&keywords=oosterman+treats

The second book has arrived and is now ready, able and willing to be read. ( and bought) It has come with less trouble than the first one. Some of the pictures had to be reduced. I kept getting messages that the images had to have a minimum of dots or digits. A mysterious image of a shifter-spanner also kept appearing in the returned proofs from Createspace. Apparently something to do with Microsoft Word and unprintable Headings and Footnotes. How people know those things is something that will always delude me. The title ‘Oosterman Treats’ is the only title in the whole arsenal of Amazon. At least that is unique!

The next phase will be to market it. Again I’ll try and go around the local bookshops after enough courage has been gleaned and stored. I notice that some people go and do Toastmasters’ course in public speaking. I am practising my approach to the shop manager in front of a mirror. ‘Hello, howz ye going? I am a local author and wonder if you could put up my title(s)in your shop?’

This is followed up by trying to stay as straight and upright as possible. An image of confidence has to now take over as I wait for a reply, unwavering and with enough fortitude not to crumble or show some dejection. Things haven’t been easy when it comes to present my author’s mien.

A confessed love for roof cavity inspections, no worries. A perusing of dogs and ducks, easy peasy. A raconteur with the Aldi’s cashier girls, brilliant verbal skirmishes. A critic of everything political, even people. Australia, Holland, The UK, the US, and everybody all come under his fire. He is verbosely loose, and banned from blogs, but awesomely inspiring.

The idea of self promoting my book has gained though. I now have two on offer. If a refuse comes with showing the first, I can, with a sweeping and magnificent flourish, whip out my latest, ‘Oosterman Treats.’ from my book satchel strapped on my back. The blurb ‘post my vasectomy’ should get some attention.

We shall wait and see. ( get your copy now, available Amazon paperback and kindle).

The definitive ‘Almost There.’

May 11, 2016
Almost There

Almost There

The book has now been uploaded in a few different versions which I prefer to name ‘editions.’ The nervousness of trying to work out the self-publishing trail on CreateSpace is almost palpable. Even so, one learns from mistakes a lot more than from perfection. So, please, if looking at the different versions, the book with the least formatting and/or spelling mistakes has the cover as shown above. It is now the definitive version of ‘Almost There.’

You might well notice a version (edition) of the book whereby even the name of the author is missing. I did not intentionally choose to be that modest. It might well show up the Author to be really ‘Not there at All.’

The Kindle version has done well and the paper back book is yet to be distributed and shown on all the Amazon outlets. I have ordered a box full (40) of the paperbacks for selling in Australia. The postage from the US does almost double the price of the book. Even so, it is still priced very competitively.

In the meantime, we are hardening ourselves for the onslaught of our grandsons to come over this Friday to ‘share’ the Eurovision music festival on our TV ( with the Philips sound-bar and large woofer.) They are coming by train which both the mother and Helvi are somewhat nervous about. I reckon it will do them good. The protection of children is ridiculous. Surely, train travel is normal and not as dangerous as is made out. Of course, the world-wide beaming of the attack on a train in Germany by a German National is not helpful. Again spouted as an act of terrorism doesn’t do much in bedding down the excessive fears of travel and nourishes fear the world over of stranger danger and terrorism.

We all know that the real terrorism is flourishing within family life. In Australia, two wives/partners a week get murdered by either the husband or partner. Domestic abuse is rife and far greater that those very isolated attacks by a deranged person shouting Allah is Great, before shooting or knifing someone.

I am surprised relationships are not banned or at least looked at by consumer protection bodies such as ‘Choice’, or ICAC. If fridges had failure ratings as much as relationships they would be banned. Domestic violence ‘incidents’ as notified to the police number several hundred EACH DAY.

Next time someone whispers, ‘I love you’, go and run for your life.

Instead, read a good book.