I have had a little bit of a scary time with my website.
Once I decided I could not pay for its 'upkeep', I attempted to convert to a free version. The problem was that I had to change the domain name slightly to include the Weebly name, which I was content to do.
However, once I did that, my original website address disappeared . . . not only the domain address, but the whole website . . . erased from everywhere and everything. The whole site demolished! (sob).
Not a word could be accessed by anyone except me.
I panicked a bit (well, a LOT) and sought help from Weebly.
"Fat chance" I thought, knowing that Weebly had MILLIONS of 'customers' and that I, a 'little old lady' who just likes to write, would not even be considered as worthy of helping.
HOWEVER. . . a lovely helpful person by the name of Ira answered my panicky plea and carefully (via email) guided me though the tricky method of regaining my original domain site.
Sometimes a kind person comes along - and today I was the recipient.
It's Goodbye. (sad, but true)
I began posting on this blog in March of 2012.
I have written on very many different subjects. I have whinged about politicians and local, national, and international happenings and I have told simple little stories about my dog and visiting birds and wildlife.
I have tried to be light-hearted yet been angry and even controversial at times.
My latest whinge concerns how once simple websites for blogging have turned into money-making commercial ventures.
The Weebly site I have used for eleven years has been good for me as a way of reaching people and expressing my thoughts on a variety of subjects
I pay a small amount to maintain my domain name — every two years it’s $67.90.
But now I have been informed that I must pay Weebly at least $10 per month or my site will become inactive.
Well, that’s a shame.
In a vain attempt to continue my blog writing, I reinvigorated an old Word Press site I had started some years ago and tried to transfer my current domain name and contents to that site.
Just to be sure, I started another new one, also using Word Press, @disey42 on WordPress.org, and checked that my ‘old’ website at www.diannaedwardsandwriting.com popped up there okay.
Success! But, no, I was unable to add anything to either of them unless I paid.
Both web publishers claimed to offer a free service, but that didn’t seem to be the case once I tried to add to an almost bare site.
The crux of this blog is to say that along with so many, other once-easy-to-manage – and free - internet facilities, such as eBay (that’s now almost fully commercial) there is no longer room for ‘little old ladies’ such as me, to be able to simply share things for free online.
Sure, I can understand that businesses need income to survive — flourish even — but to have no space for the ‘little people’ seems to be the way now.
As a consequence, I will no longer be posting blogs.
How long my site will remain accessible is anyone’s guess. Perhaps it will stay here as an historic reminder of days gone by.
Farewell. It was good while it lasted.
WEATHER: To Bake or to Freeze?
Last Thursday we invited friends to join us at our place for morning tea. We assumed we would have a pleasant morning, sitting outside on the veranda, watching the birds and occasional water dragon enjoying our back yard and pool.
It was not to be, as by 10 am, the temperature had risen to 37 degrees Celsius and we sipped our tea and coffee inside, with the air-conditioner blasting away.
There are still more hot days to come but the heat of this Gold Coast summer will not last forever, and our familiar beautiful weather will eventually return.
Later this year will mark the 10-year anniversary of the day we moved from Victoria to live in Queensland.
We had lived in Victoria for all our lives, beginning in Melbourne. For the previous past thirty years we had enjoyed life in the small rural town of Briagolong in the foothills of Gippsland.
Apart from being separated from our (now well grown and settled elsewhere) kids, one of the drawbacks of living in Victoria, especially Gippsland, was wintertime.
July was brutal.
As minus degrees in temperatures registered day after day, and heaters and fire places battled to keep us warm, we finally took the plunge and moved 1,500 kms north, to be near our daughter and her family in Queensland.
Ten years later, I try to never complain about the hot and humid weather we are now experiencing. I have to just remember those minus 5 degrees days —with frost and ice and freezing toes and fingers — as I settle down with the air conditioner - or fan - blowing coolness in a super-hot day.
How big is a billion?
According to the Australian Financial Review, as of January 2023, there are
45 Australian billionaires.
FORTY-FIVE people who have billions of $$$$!
The top three:
Do ‘ordinary’ people, like you and me, understand the enormity of a BILLION?
Let’s think about it. Let’s pretend that you, or I, had a billion dollars.
If you had ONE billion dollars to spend in a year — just ONE billion — here’s some info:
A billion is classed as a thousand million. Historically, a billion used to be a MILLION X million, but times have changed and a million x million is now classed as a TRILLION. Phew! Imagine!
Now, getting back to your one billion . . .
One billion for a year would give you more than $83 MILLION per MONTH to spend.
As we all know, there are 365 days in a year. That means that, with your billion, you could spend $2,739,726 a day, before you had used up your billion dollars.
How would that be? You could spend well over TWO MILLION per day to get through your $ billion!
You could spend $114,155 every hour of each day (even when you sleep).
So, more than $114 thousand every hour means $ 1,902 dollars a minute.
Let that sink in – as Elon once said.
Or, if you prefer a weekly amount, there’s about $19,230,769 per week to get rid of.
$19 million a week sounds okay to me!
Now, we are talking about ONE BILLION dollars here. You can see that even if you tried, it would be difficult (ha!) to use up that amount in a year. Considering, of course that you (being a billionaire), would already own your own house and a car or two — maybe even a yacht as well.
Okay, so perhaps you had ten years to spend that billion . . .
That’s still a hundred million to spend every year.
Every day you would have only (only!) approx.$274,000 to spend.
Buy a new house every second day if you wished.
Here’s an idea: Why not help some homeless people?
(If you or I really had ‘our’ billion dollars, I hope that’s what we would do).
Yes, I know that these (40+) multi-billionaires do not have their billions of dollars stashed in cash in a tin under the bed. Much of their money is tied up in land, businesses, and such, BUT they do have access to this amount of money (eventually) at their disposal.
And, yes, I know that there is some charity work done every now and again (mostly by Mike Cannon-Brookes – thank you) but it is mostly ‘peanuts’.
A billion dollars is a HUGE amount.
Try to imagine (I certainly can’t) what over $30 billion would be like.
More to the point, imagine what one could DO with 30 BILLION DOLLARS!
What intrigues me is this: WHY don’t most billionaires give away stacks and stacks of money? They surely must see some great and obvious needs.
Is there a connection between being hugely wealthy and lacking in empathy and (dare I say?) COMPASSION?
Or are they too busy accumulating $$$$ to ever connect with ‘ordinary’ others in this world?
I don’t hate billionaires. I don’t even dislike them, nor am I envious of them (well, maybe a tiny bit).
But I wonder about their priorities.
Winston Churchill said: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give”.
I do wonder if “our” billionaires realise how GOOD it makes you feel when you GIVE?
Dogs are 'for life'
The statement, 'A dog is for life, not just for Christmas®' was created by former Dogs Trust (UK) CEO and Trustee, Clarissa Baldwin CBE in 1978.
It is such a meaningful statement. Sadly, I don’t think enough people take it seriously.
Many, many years ago, we gave our son a puppy for his 12th birthday. That little black kelpie pup lived until she was nearly 18 years old. By that time, our son was about to turn 30 and lived in the UK. He had named his dog ‘Olympus’, which we changed to just ‘Ollie’ and we loved her and cared for her even though she ‘belonged’ to our travelling son.
Years passed and when we were ready, we gained another puppy — for ourselves, this time. She was a cavoodle, named ‘Matilda’. When Matilda was a puppy, she wasn’t much bigger than our small grandson’s shoe. That grandson was 20 when Matilda died, in her 16th year.
On social media, families sometimes post cute videos of their kids being presented with a puppy, showing a delighted and delightful response. But we wonder if the young 6-year-olds receiving those gifts of a puppy will still be promising to feed, walk and love their dogs when they (the kids) are aged 12, or 16, or so? Will the parents willingly continue to care for the puppy, that is no longer a puppy?
Also on social media are sites showing pictures of dogs needing ‘foster care’ or a new home. There’s a noticeable similarity around the dogs in these ads. There’s a shared ‘look’ about them. They mostly resemble some sort of pit-bull cross, or ‘tough looking’, muscle-bound — dare I say, ‘mean-looking’ hound! Maybe a staffy (American Staffordshire Terrier) cross.
It's a generalisation, I admit, but some men (or families) have a need to own a powerful looking crossbred dog to give them a certain look to perhaps show they and their property are well protected. But do they know the ‘golden rule’ relating to, 'A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’? Do they lose interest when they find out how much it costs to feed their (no longer a) puppy. The obstacles in their way when they decide to have a holiday without the trouble of a doggy companion – and the care it involves? Or even to find a suitable home that would continue to cater for a biggish dog, that needs room to move?
And, for 12 – 17 years?
I’m writing this on January 3rd, 2023.
If my father was alive, he would have turned 110 years old today. He was a wise and loving father to his five children and a lovely and loving grandfather to his 12 grandchildren. I’m sure he would have also been a proud and gentle great-grandfather, if his chain- smoking habit had not ended his life at the age of 74.
Far too soon.
He had worked for a famous cigarette company for most of his life and was (almost) convinced by his ‘masters’ that statements warning that smoking was a killer were inaccurate.
But they were right; it was a killer in several ways — but he learned that too late.
Another ten or so years wld have been good.
New Year notes
New Year’s message — 2016 to 2022/23 — anything changed?
A reader recently commented on a New Year’s message I wrote, way back in 2016, six years ago.
I thought I’d see if my wishes for 2023 matched those I had for 2017.
Of course, in 2016, we had no idea of what was to come in the form of Covid-19 pandemic. How oblivious we were!
But I did wish for:
1. “A new generous and compassionate attitude to be spread around”.
2. “ALL politicians, to rethink past decisions and try again, with a redistribution of riches”.
3. “Curbing of consumerism, to stop rampant capitalism, putting a check on the greed factor”.
4. “For everyone who wants employment have it”.
*Still waiting…(maybe getting there?)
5. “To care for the environment in every way possible…
6. “To NOTICE the intense weather happenings — floods, fires, blizzards, rising sea levels — and do everything we can to halt global warming/climate change”
(This was originally written when Tony Abbott said that Climate Change was “crap”).
Thank goodness more people have woken up!)
7. “To consider the land that is Australia. A land that has been ravaged and pillaged by the white man for a couple of hundred years. We’ve dug up gold, coal, silver, iron ore, copper, zinc, lead and uranium (gulp!) to the point of wanton vandalism. There’ll soon be more holes than country. The destruction is massive & it’s time to stop.
And “get coal mines out of Queensland!” *
8. Build smaller homes.
9. “Stop random baby-making and ‘discarding’ of those you make, through lack of care. (You know what I mean).
* Still waiting
So, you see, we can wish for LOTS of GOOD things in the coming year —no harm in wishing, I suppose, but most of my hopes for 2017, quite frankly and disappointingly, have stayed unfulfilled.
However, we did get a new PM, here in Australia, which seems to be a GOOD thing. Fingers crossed.
For now, my biggest and most sincere wish is for everyone to be HAPPY. . . and Covid free.
Please wear a face mask. Believe me, it saves you from infection.
May 2023 be the year that war will cease and Covid be obliterated.
We shall see.
Best wishes to all for 2023.
AND WEAR A FACE MASK WHEN OUT AND ABOUT.
*Just had to add in 2022: (facts from three years ago but still relevant)
“of the top 100 companies that paid no tax, 22 were fossil fuel companies, meaning most coal and gas companies are not contributing a cent to the cost of the natural disasters their product is fuelling".
Living in rural Victoria, our choice of Christmas tree used to depend on which smallish pine tree growing randomly on the edge of a nearby pine plantation would be chosen to bring home and decorate.
But, ten years ago, after relocating to Queensland, there was no nearby pine plantation to plunder.
In the hassle of packing and moving, we bought a small artificial Christmas tree in a discount shop for the grand sum of $9.99.
That will have to do for now, we said. Later, we will buy a grander one.
Ten years have gone by and we have yet to but a ‘grander’ one.
Each December, we fetch the battered box from the roof space and unfold the $9.99 tree.
I used to say, ‘this is the last time’, and on several occasions we have gone Christmas tree shopping, each time returning with nothing, after being confused by the array of boxed apparitions. The silver shimmering light-adorned offerings seemed ostentatious and ‘not us’.
So, little cheap tree, I have hung the old ornaments upon you and stood back to see that you are our tree and we congratulate you on your staying power.
What Have We Done?
TWO NEWS ITEMS:
This world of ours has been supporting life for hundreds, and hundreds, of millions of years
and, guess what?
WE – the most recent generations - are the ones who are likely going to finish it off. We are killing our world.
The other recent News item:
Here are the comments on her arrest, made by State politicians: (Premier): “everyone has the right to protest, but do so in a way that doesn’t inconvenience people.”
(opposition leader):.. “you [might] inconvenience literally hundreds of thousands of people. . . . in consecutive days . . .”
NOW, Let’s hear what some REAL “inconvenience” might look like:
In 2021, Will Steffen*, climate scientist, stated, “Massive floods, fires and heatwaves are sending us a clear message. On our present trajectory, we risk heading into a collapse of our globalised civilisation and a precipitous drop in human population — put simply, hell on earth. But we can avoid
this disastrous future if we change the way we think, live our lives and interact with the rest of the living world.”
*Emeritus Professor, Fenner School of Environment & Society ANU
After the so called ‘deal’ reached at the Cop27 UN Climate summit climate, experts and campaigners warned that the biggest economies must make fresh commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
They said “The world still stands on the brink of climate catastrophe”
And that’s putting it mildly!
The story of a fossil find and the arrest of a young woman climate protester, might seem two different stories.
So, let’s re-cap:
This world we inhabit has evolved over many MILLIONS of years.
In these millions of years changes of all kinds have happened; some very slowly, others quickly. But now the rapid decline of the planet through global warming is likely leading to our planet’s end.
While many of us, in our own small way attempt to act wisely to cease further destruction, HUGE changes are necessary before the global catastrophe can be halted. (If possible).
I am appalled by the continuation of promoting coal production in Australia.
Of course I see the benefits, especially in dollar terms, but the consequences of ignoring fossil fuel damage are outrageously negative.
All we have left is protest, it seems.
Little voices, such as Sydney traffic stoppers might seem useless in such a catastrophe, but when the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of years of “our” planet’s life are being wrecked by our generations, we must use whatever we can.
The message sent by ‘our’ leaders, shown by their obsession with the possibility of people being “inconvenienced” by a protester, shows a lack of big picture acknowledgement and an extremely small-minded view.
Look at the picture of the gigantic fossil and remind yourselves what a magnificent and super-long-lived planet we are demolishing.
Talking about the plastic bag problem, weren’t we?
Here’s one idea: Stop buying (&selling!) those small plastic bags of kids’ snacks.
For heaven’s sake — surely it’s possible for parents, carers, or kids themselves, to put a banana or a couple of crackers & cheese or even a home baked cookie in a school lunch box?
(Home-baked cookie? What’s that?)
The amount of $$$ that manufacturers & supermarkets must be making from selling this stuff must be immense. (as for the $$$ spent by families!)
But the main problem as I see it, is the amount of plastic around this (mostly) rubbish food.
As an illustration, yesterday I walked along a path adjoining a fence of the local primary school and picked up what is shown in the accompanying photo. I could have gathered more.
The path that forms that part of my walk is no more than 500 metres. Over the (wire) school fence I could see even more of the same junk congregating along the fence line, where little piles of similar dropped plastic were fluttering along, aided by a breeze.
A small creek is near the path where I walked. This creek turns into a concrete drain for a while to enable it to flow under a main road not far away. Water from this creek/drain flows towards the sea, where it ultimately dumps not only water, but the remnants of all this discarded stuff.
I see at least two problems: One is the pollution of waterways and sea with plastic — and the other is pollution of land fill, wherever rubbish is dumped. Rubbish that is comprised of plastic in all its guises.
We can try to collect plastic bags to hopefully recycle. (That’s not working, apparently). We can limit bag distribution by retailers, but while nearly every little and big thing we buy comes encased in plastic, we are defeated, no matter what we do.
BUT please look at the photo and imagine almost every kid in every school in every state having a couple of these snacks in their lunch box. Some empty packs will find their way to the rubbish bin, others will accidentally flutter off to ‘nowhere land’ and end up in the sea.
The primary school near my home has over a thousand pupils. I wonder how many of them have a snack in a plastic bag each day.
Some Maths . . .a thousand kids, 200 school days per year, just one snack per kid each day . . . try 200,000 small plastic bags a year . . .every year . . . aarrgghh!
(and that’s not including the cling wrap around the sandwiches & other food . . . !)
Do we give up?
A distressed magpie lark arrived on our back veranda in March of this year (’22). She fluttered around for a while, stopping every so often to peck furiously at her right foot. Alarmingly, we saw that her foot was bound tightly in a tangle of fine nylon blue thread. The toes on that foot were useless for standing or perching.
She flew up close to us and we guessed she was looking for help.
But try as we did, time and time again, to catch her — sometimes attempting to throw a soft towel over her — she would not allow herself to be captured.
To lure her closer, we presented some bird seed (Wild Bird Mix), which she ate quickly, although always wary of our too-close approach.
Days went by and Birdie (as I had started to call her) spent a lot of time on our veranda, still pecking vainly at the thread around the, by now, useless foot. It was a mystery as to how her foot had become so entangled in such a way.
She started anticipating the small pile of seeds we offered each day and would often be waiting at the glass back door when we came out at breakfast time.
As Birdie picked and picked at her mangled right foot, little by little — over months — some of the crippling thread came off. But it was too late. By now, one toe had withered and shrunk, the others bent and useless.
We became used to Birdie’s company when we sat out on the veranda. Through all seasons she would join us, perched one-legged on the back of a chair. We continued to leave small amounts of seed and, if we ever left any crumbs on the table after a meal, she would fly in and finish them off, always waiting for us to leave first.
She eventually started adjusting to her crippled foot and occasionally hopped using both feet, albeit with her right one a backwards facing stump.
For eight months or so we have had Birdie as our veranda companion and lately, guess what – she has brought along a boyfriend!
They are obviously a pair, and he often shares the seed we put out — sometimes being over-bossy and pushing Birdie out of the way, so that he can eat first. (!).
Now we are waiting to see if Birdie and her mate have a secret nest somewhere nearby and wonder if any offspring might make our back veranda a visiting place.
I feel sure that our Birdie story gives yet another indication of intelligence present in other creatures.
Eye lashes of a child
“The long eye lashes of a child” *. . .
Words about a dying child.
A big child,
A brown child,
A boy child. . .
A dying child.
Should we have told a child
where ‘the wrong place’ might be?
Should we have told a child
when ‘the wrong time’ would be?
How could he know
the murderous intent,
and the spite
of the white man in the car,
just looking for a black kid --
with weapons at the ready.
Was, ‘there he is’
Or, ‘there’s one’
the call of mindless hate?
What motivates the dull minds
of that white man
and his mates?
Did they say, ‘Let’s get him?’
Did they mean to kill and maim,
as they came towards the boy?
“With eye lashes of a child”.
*Quote, from Editorial, The Saturday Paper, 29.10.2022,
“DON’T LOOK AWAY’
Ibis, now 'Bin Chicken'
It’s about 32 years ago and we are travelling through Queensland, on a holiday from Victoria.
At a picnic spot by the Mary River at Maryborough, we are sitting in the car drinking coffee, because it’s raining. As we gaze around at the scenery, an ibis walks along the grass, near our car.
It is an unusual sight, and we guess that maybe the bird is searching for food dropped by picnickers.
“What a strange sight,” we laugh, “A bit like the seagulls at Melbourne bay-side beaches.”
We watch the lone ibis and wonder what has led it to become a scavenger.
In 2022 ibis are now commonly referred to as ‘bin chickens’ and seen in many—if not most—areas in Australia. They are no longer only visible in rural settings, by waterways. They are in parks, gardens, and roadsides, attracted by humans and the bits and pieces of garbage food left behind.
Ibis are no strangers to kids of today, but I don’t think I had even seen one before I was an adult. (Yes, I’m that old).
Now, it’s not uncommon for me to step out of my home and see an ibis on the front lawn.
P.S. Ibis in the picture was at outdoor dining area at QPAC, Brisbane.
September 23rd, 2022
Oh, dear…so much going on since Queen Elizabeth died.
A weird sort of reverse snobbery appeared on some social media, with people boasting, “well I am not going to watch even a minute of the funeral” sort of comment.
That’s okay, no one HAD to watch. A shame really as it was an historical occasion, never to be seen again. Whether or not you ‘fancy’ the royal family, the pageantry on show, after a 70-year reign by a British monarch, was amazing.
The sight of a gun carriage, adorned coffin atop, pulled by 142 young Royal Navy sailors had to be seen to be believed.
The funeral service in Westminster Abbey was almost low-key, with hymns and bible readings familiar to any ‘ordinary’ folk who have ever visited a mainstream church service in the past couple of decades. (Apart, of course from the choral anthems, which soared into the cathedral rafters!)
The procession that followed was more than two times longer than the service and was perhaps the more spectacular.
Afterwards came complaints concerning the cost of such a day. A cost that many Brits thought was excessive and wasteful, considering the state of the country’s finances.
Agreeing with this, I thought that the royal family could have dipped into their billions and paid for the whole thing – even if only to help their image.
The week-long ‘mourning’ stirred up many an anti-monarchy protest, exacerbated here, in Australia, by the ‘day of mourning’ holiday on Thursday.
Protests emanating from First Nations people are understandable and may open up a more general appreciation of the coming referendum to enshrine an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice in the Australian Constitution.
So that’s a plus, I suppose.
Although I watched and enjoyed the Queen’s funeral out of interest and a sort of respect for ‘our’ very old and seemingly dedicated monarch, I do have some misgivings about the monarchy.
Having lived through the 1975 debacle, where an Australian PM was sacked, I hold extreme negative feelings towards actions taken by the Queen and Prince (now King) Charles, with their unnecessary involvement with the execrable John Kerr. A blot on our history, as seen in the recently exposed ‘Palace Letters’.
The other very negative view of the monarchy is the appalling deception and subsequent treatment of the young Diana Spencer. What a cruel act used to secure an ‘appropriate’ partner for a philandering and selfish future king.
And now, here we are: the Queen has gone and we are left with a royal family of fractured and, at times, quite nasty (witness treatment of Meghan Markle) group of people who own a £16.5 billion portfolio of real estate.
Do we really need them?
Immersing in Nature
It has been said that “Nature offers one of the most reliable boosts to our mental and physical wellbeing.”
For 30 years I lived in country Victoria where, after taking a short (200 m) walk, I was in the midst of a red gum forest. I walked in the forest almost every day and it gave me a sense of peace.
Earlier in my life, there were two years when an old farmhouse on the edge of a river was my home. At the time I had a stressful teaching position and, on returning from a day at school, I would often stroll down to the river, slowly breathe in the air and look at what nature provided. Once back at the house, I would feel rejuvenated and many of the day’s troubles would have been mentally solved or simply melted away.
There is a word: ‘Biophilia’, which Harvard naturalist Dr. Edward O. Wilson sees as “humanity's innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes, and to be drawn toward nature”.
I tend to agree. We NEED nature and being immersed in nature brings rewards.
There is much research on subjects about benefits of spending time with nature—or surrounding yourself within a nature-based experience.
“A growing body of research points to the beneficial effects that exposure to the natural world has on health, reducing stress and promoting healing” (from Yale School of the Environment, 2020).
During my lifetime—whenever and wherever—I have tried to often be “immersed in nature” and I truly believe in the benefits to health and ‘well-being’…both mentally and physically.
The realisation that there are so very many people—especially kids—who are unable to have this experience is a sobering thought.
I wonder how many city kids have never been in a forest. How many people have never experienced walking along a beach?
How many city dwellers have never seen an eagle in flight?
I am quite familiar with the sight of wedge tailed eagles, having lived in Gippsland for many years. But, about 20 years ago, when travelling between Bowen and Townsville, the sight of numerous eagles and hawks soaring in a glorious blue sky was amazing. These magnificent birds, possibly scanning newly harvested sugar cane fields, looking for tasty morsels of small edible creatures provided a sense of awe. Another way of ‘drawing towards nature’, another different ‘Biophilia’ experience, with accompanying benefits.
Recent articles have appeared about an experience called “Forest bathing”, which is a Japanese practice inducing relaxation. It’s a simple method of being calm and quiet amongst the trees. (There is no bath involved!). Participants claim that by observing and being in nature, especially within forest surroundings—while breathing deeply— can help de-stress and boost health and well-being in a natural way.
Too much to ask, but…all cities should endeavour to make available exposure to trees, gardens and native wild birds at least.
There is a current trend to use a form of biophilia in office buildings and homes to help create that elusive notion of “well-being”. It seems mainly to do with including indoor plants. I wonder if it works.
Look up “biophilia” and “forest bathing” and give it a try!
Spending Gina's Money
Of all the billionaires in Australia I am choosing Gina Rinehart — to pretend to have access to her money.
The latest estimation of Gina’s wealth accumulation (I hesitate to use the term ‘worth’) is around $29.6 (U.S.) billion.
Now, a BILLION of anything is almost impossible to comprehend, but, if Gina wished to spend all her $$billions on herself, some have estimated it would take her about a hundred lifetimes to do so.
So, I have devised a few ways to help her spend:
Just pondering about a couple of items in the News lately.
Firstly, the shocking revelations about the mistreatment of young people in youth detention facilities; the harm dished out — physical and mental — resulting in them being traumatised and, ultimately, worse offenders.
Here’s what I would do:
Instead of concrete and steel cells, armed guards and 23 hour a day lock-up, I would spend squillions on making accommodation for young offenders into comfortable housing; a bedroom, with ensuite for each kid. Make sure the bed is comfortable, with the occupier’s choice of quilt or blankets. Provide top quality everything, including toiletries.
Crazy? Maybe, but worth a try. And, let’s face it—anything is better than what is.
Until (hopefully) the resident is able and willing to look after his own room, have it cleaned and tidied professionally daily. Fresh sheets and towels a must.
Then, create daytime to evening activities to interest and involve the youngsters. Make physical activities fun. Have woodwork, mechanics, creative art and craft of all sorts available.
NO locking up. (Apart from the periphery fence, of course).
Create meals that are tasty and nourishing. Show by example how to eat good meals. No lecturing.
Sure, there will be miscreants who will muck up and wreck things but remember that these kids mostly had horrific starts to their lives.
Ensure superabundant helpful, compassionate and caring staff are present 24 hours of the day.
Of course, all of this will need absolute buckets of money to do…but, guess what? This GR spend will hardly make a dent. It may use up one of the billions, but, hey? That’s okay.
Secondly, my next big spend of GR money would be to set up a car manufacturing plant (maybe in South Australia?) to produce electric vehicles.
Imagine an Australian EV. How good that would be.
And the best part is that, after ten or twenty years, this manufacturing company could be making a handy profit.
This is just me, using GR money.
There are always more billions to be fantasised about.
Try some of real estate dealer Harry Triguboff’s. (Currently ‘worth’ $21.5 U.S. billion).
Or the lesser James Packer at only $3.8B, or Clive palmer’s $2B.
Of course, don’t forget Andrew Forrest, at $17.8B - even as he makes out to be a sweet and generous philanthropist.
Mike Cannon-Brookes has piles of billions – it’s a movable feast as he actually does occasionally use some $$$ for good.
BUT, oh, what we, the impoverished, could do with these billions!
When I was a small child and my English great-grandmother died, my grandfather (her son, here in Australia) needed to talk with his English family. It was an onerous task. He had to book a phone call to UK, wait some hours to be notified that a connection was possible and finally, as his Australian family sat around, he spoke, long distance—using a heavy, black Bakelite phone—to England.
It was not until 1963 that, what were called ‘trunk calls’, made it easier to speak by telephone to family or friends overseas; a sometime tricky thing to undertake—and the sound wasn’t great.
(I read that, “In the UK and the Commonwealth countries, a trunk call was the term for long-distance calling which traversed one or more trunk lines and involved more than one telephone exchange”, but still don’t know what the word ‘trunk’ implies in this context).
As time went by people accepted that phoning overseas was achievable, despite the cost.
At around 1976 to 1978, Australian STD (subscriber trunk dialling) was introduced. STD let telephone users make national and international calls without going through an operator.
Now, in 2022, once or twice a week, my son calls from the UK where he lives. My iPad plays a little jingle, I pick it up and ‘swipe’ the green button and there is my son, my daughter-in-law and my granddaughter.
Not only within clear hearing range but live, in full ‘technicolour’.
My granddaughter tells us about her latest school successes, and perhaps shows us something she has made. As we chat, my son takes his device outside to show us the latest progress in their UK back garden. Through this ‘facetime’ call we are able to be with family with ease.
This is telecommunication in the 21st century.
It is almost scary to imagine what the future in communication might eventually be like.
What are wars for?
This year, 2022, marks 80 years since Japanese bombing raids began on Darwin in WW2.
The air attack on Darwin continued for nearly two years; the city was bombed 64 times.
Australian troops, numbering approximately 250,000 were stationed in the Northern Territory at some stage during those war years. Lives were lost; young men were permanently scarred.
History recalls that the government of the day fudged the numbers of casualties so that people wouldn’t 'be alarmed'.
But conservative estimates of war deaths in NT at the time, puts the servicemen tally at 432 and the number of civilian deaths at 63. That’s almost 500 people. (At least).
What was that all about?
To end that conflict, even worse had to occur, as the US obliterating of Nagasaki and Hiroshima were to prove.
So, what was all that about?
Today, Japan is considered one of Australia’s Best Friends.
And yet, for a decade or so after WW2, Australians refused to buy anything stamped “MADE IN JAPAN”.
Years later, when Japan proved its skills in manufacturing electronic goods and cars, all was ‘forgiven’ and the horror of war time was put in the past.
So, what did that war achieve?
Will we ever learn that all wars are futile?
What is the point, right now, of Putin bombing Ukraine into rubble – killing soldiers and civilians by the hundreds and wrecking any civilisation in his path?
Why do humans keep making wars?
Here are some interesting facts:
The Australian Defence force costs over $48 BILLION p.a., to maintain.
ALSO, did you know?
Australia is one of the top ten weapons exporting countries in the world, selling in excess of $5 BILLION worth of arms and equipment annually.
Imagine, for a minute, if all the money spent on arms and military might was spent, instead, on mitigating the (equally) deadly effect of Climate Change.
Imagine if all the military personnel from every nation rallied to save the planet, instead of bombing it.
Eighty years ago, Japan was dropping bombs on Australia.
Today Japan is one of Australia’s Best Friends.
Please tell me WHY we keep having wars.
WEAR A FACE MASK!
Let’s talk about COVID. (Moan, not again!)
And, let’s talk about masks. (oh, nooo!)
Last night, on ABC tv, ‘The Drum’, CSIRO scientist, Lisa Gershwin, smilingly, yet forcefully, asserted that “This microbe wants to take us down”. (Yikes!)
It is obvious to most people that vaccinations and mask wearing are now necessary to protect us from the dreaded COVID virus.
There has been a lot of arguing over the need for mask wearing to be mandated. Politicians are being criticised for not being firm on this matter.
I do have a little sympathy for the politicians, and maybe understand a reason for their reluctance to mandate—other than the idea that it is businesses who do not want the populace kept away from commerce.
Think about it: IF mask wearing is mandated, it will be well-nigh impossible to police the mandate and you can ‘bet your bottom dollar’ that, as soon as people start being told they MUST don a mask, there will be protests. Once again, the morons in our midst will make their banners, with “my body, my choice”, “masks = Govt control” and so on, and take to the city streets, spreading the virus between them.
I am determined not to subject myself to this latest COVID virus strain of BA.4 and BA.5. I wear a face mask whenever I am out and about, such as a visit to a supermarket. Although I avoid gatherings of most sorts, I sometimes attend a meeting of a writers’ group, where there is a small number of attendees. Strangely, at the previous two meetings, I have been one of only two members wearing a mask. This I cannot understand. But, maybe folk are waiting to be TOLD.
After recommending that vaccinations and mask-wearing are essential tools for keeping us safe, the smiling scientist, Lisa Gershwin, added the much-quoted and true advice, “If you dislike wearing a mask, you’re really gonna HATE a ventilator!”
Think about it!
Protesting then and now
I’m old enough to have marched in a (Melbourne) Moratorium against the Vietnam War, in 1970.
Some years later, although I did not travel to Tasmania, I did what I could to support those protesting against the damming of the Franklin River.
The Vietnam protests, against an unwinnable war—and a huge revolt against conscription— eventually led to Australian troops being withdrawn and welcomed in a new PM in Gough Whitlam.
Success of the Franklin River protests in 1982—to save a wilderness area—coincided with the arrival of a new PM, in Bob Hawke.
In the meantime, I added my (small) voice to a successful protest against sand mining and logging on Fraser Island; an activity that ultimately ceased in 1976.
I have seen and supported many a protest. Protests for important and crucial matters.
Recent protests have been different.
I supported (from afar) the women’s “March for Justice” in 2020, which was magnificent but gained little political response, apart from participants being told they were lucky not to be met with bullets (paraphrasing here).
The school kids’ 2022 protest “Strike for Climate” was also a magnificent happening, but the only political comment gained seemed to be “they should have been in school”. A little later, the (then) Fed minister for the environment, Sussan Ley, obtained a court ruling saying that she does “not have a duty of care to protect young people from climate change when assessing fossil fuel projects”. (!!)
And, so, protests continue…BUT…they have been of more dubious nature and magnitude over the past two years. On our TV screens we witnessed marching and yelling protests that gained far-too-much attention. These protests were different and not aimed at bettering our country or bettering our environment.
Some huge protests erupted, peopled by those who think it is a terrible impingement on their rights to ask them to wear a face mask during a deadly pandemic.
Added to these pathetic selfish protests have been the mindless mobs screaming objection to receiving a vaccination; an injection to prevent serious illness!
Insistent that they will experience devastating (many weird and imagined) consequences from a vaccination, they ignore any devastating consequences of contracting the virus. WTF?
To quote Bob Dylan: “A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.”
Inequality and bananas
Animal behaviour experts observed that a particular monkey was hoarding bananas—far more than it could ever eat—and decided that such aberrant behaviour was something worth studying. Scientists needed to decipher the psychology that led to this action. Basically, that monkey was put in “the naughty corner” while experts tried to discover what was causing such ‘unreasonable’, even for a monkey, behaviour.
Meanwhile, humans hoarding more money that they could ever use are praised and lauded.
The disparity between these two observations is difficult to understand.
In 2012, Australian politician, author, lawyer and former professor of economics, Dr Andrew Leigh wrote about a wealth “ladder”.
“Imagine a ladder, in which each rung represents a million dollars of wealth. Imagine the Australian population spread out along this ladder, with their distance from the ground reflecting their household wealth.
On this ladder, half of all households are closer to the ground than they are to the first rung.
The typical Australian household is halfway to the first rung.
Someone in the top 10 percent is at least 1½ rungs up.
A household in the top 1 percent is at least 5 rungs up.
Gina Rinehart is 5½ kilometres off the ground” *.
(* in 2022, 10 years later, it is estimated to be more like 10 kms from the ground).
Now, that’s a great illustration of inequality in Australia.
It would be naïve to think that we might ever be totally rid of inequality —and perhaps that is as it should be—but must life and circumstances be so dramatically unequal? I mean, is it right and ethical that some people ‘earn’ (and I use that term loosely) as much in a week as someone else takes more than a year to accumulate?
A 2017 quote from ‘The New Internationalist’ magazine:
“The evidence is mounting that greater economic equality benefits all people in all societies, whether you are rich, poor or in-between. Once this is widely understood, politicians and policymakers will be forced to take note…”
(and Later..) “The equality effect can appear magical. In more equal countries, human beings are generally happier and healthier; there is less crime, more creativity, more productivity, and – overall – higher real educational attainment. The evidence for the benefits of living more economically equitable lives is now so overwhelming …….”
Of course, I am only talking of inequality here as a money ‘thing’. There are many more ways of being inequal, especially regarding opportunity, but it’s the $$$ inequality that affects us so much.
In yesterday’s newspaper, (24/5/22) the wise and talented Thomas Keneally mentions the great unfortunate truth that,
“Trickle down has always gushed up”.
I will forever rant on about inequality and its sad consequences.
Oh, that equality of sorts was attainable here in Australia!
It would be nice, wouldn’t it?
Maybe those monkeys who didn’t hoard bananas could teach us something?
that it will soon start to change politics and societies all over the world.
2013 Book: Battlers & Billionaires: The Story of Inequality in Australia
Who is 'Blessed'?
Perhaps attitudes haven’t changed.
Many decades ago, my parents were told by an Anglican priest that they had probably been ‘chosen by God’ to be the special people to have a disabled child; a child to be used (by God, presumably) to help others show their kindness and charity.
That child is no longer with us, but he was my brother for 63 years.
Sure, it was sometimes hard (bloody hard!) for us to cope with a family member with Cerebral Palsy and other disabilities. But our family was resilient. Our family was full of love and understanding —not only for my brother, but for anyone and everyone.
Were we blessed? Were we not blessed?
Who knows what ‘blessed’ means?
When I was involved as a teacher in ‘Special Ed’ for many years, I spent my days with children of many differing abilities —and their parents and families.
Was I blessed then - or not blessed?
Although I do not truly understand the meaning of ‘blessed’, I was appalled by the words of our Prime Minister, who claimed to ‘be blessed’ to not have a disabled child.
Well, Mr Prime Minister, I know who seems more ‘blessed’ to me — and that is the crowd of people who have had the joys and heartaches of being involved in the lives of people who may be different from the ones you admire.
I, and those who have had the privilege to be close to such a variety of ‘disabled’ people, and the disabled people themselves, are the ones who have empathy, who have resilience, who have understanding and a real appreciation of what it’s like to be truly alive and aware.
You’d be a better man, Mr Prime Minister, if you ever emerged from your pristine, self-worshipping space.
So, this is war?
In all the horror of this Russian war on Ukraine, I keep remembering how a Russian (now Australian) lady told me some years ago about Putin undergoing regular cosmetic surgery – face lifts, in other words. The thought if it greatly annoyed and disturbed her. She listed it among other negative aspects of the Russian leader’s approach to life.
He is obviously a narcissist.
Which brings me to the awful topic of WHY? WHY? WHY?
and WHAT FOR?
Why? and what for? has this man decided it is his right to take control of another country and, in so doing, have his (‘his’!) soldiers kill (murder, really) thousands of innocent people?
I cannot begin to fathom the abomination of what Putin is doing.
As the murders and the wreckage continues, Putin seemingly remains untouchable.
At the (reported) age of 69, Putin has lately done much to unsettle the world order and produce global instability — and yet he is a man who is so vain and insecure that he needs to embrace cosmetic surgery in an attempt to look younger.
Dear Mr Putin,
You may have had your face lifted and there are no wrinkles on your brow, but I have glimpsed your hands (on tv) and they look like the hands of an old man.
All the other old man’s hands I know belong to men full of empathy and love of – and for - their fellow man.
Why are you so different?
And, why are you obsessed with domination?
You have your Russia, you have your mistress installed in a safe country, you have your $700 million yacht waiting for you, berthed in an Italian harbour and you have your smooth and wrinkle-free forehead.
You “have it all” as they say.
You face is unblemished.
How about your soul?
How deprived have we been?
I overheard a comment the other day about all the ‘deprivation’ that is currently in our lives. I guess they were referring to the restrictions placed on us (for our own good, by the way) due to the Covid-19 virus.
The amount of people protesting about wanting “FREEDOM” is astounding, even though it’s not completely clear what they need freedom from – or for.
I guess we’ve all been upset at times about Covid restrictions.
BUT…As much as the past two years have been tedious and worrying, we haven’t been without too much. Not too much ‘deprivation’.
Deprivation – for our own good, as I keep saying – is altogether not too bad.
(Back when Australia’s population was only about 7 million -– in the time of WW ll)
“Rationing regulations for food and clothing were gazetted (14 May 1942). Rationing was introduced to manage shortages and control civilian consumption. It aimed to curb inflation, reduce total consumer spending, and limit impending shortages of essential goods.” (ref: published by the Australian War Memorial)
Now that’s more akin to ‘deprivation’.
“Rationing was enforced by the use of coupons and was limited to clothing, tea, sugar, butter, and meat. From time to time, eggs and milk were also rationed under a system of priority for vulnerable groups during periods of shortage.”
(Reminder: some of us have recently been worried about enough toilet paper).
Later. How about this for deprivation:
“By the 1950s most Indigenous Australians had lost their lands and lived in poverty on the fringes of non-Indigenous society. Many were not eligible for the dole or other state or federal benefits which non-Indigenous people received. State laws controlled where many Indigenous people could live, where they could or couldn’t move and whom they could marry.
Many Indigenous Australians were not legal guardians of their own children and were not permitted to manage their own earnings. (ref: National Museum Aus)
By the 1960s, with population a little over 10 million, we forgot deprivation for a while…
With 1960s television now the main family entertainment, relaxing was good.
But, hang on, in 1965, all boys (yes, they were only boys, even though officials called them ‘males’ or ‘young men’) who turned 20 between Jan 1 and June 30, had to register for National Service.
Then, in that same year, troops were sent off to Vietnam.
Try to imagine what would be said about that nowadays!
To 1970s, 80s and beyond, if you ask older people, you’ll hear lots of tales of (what could now be referred to as) deprivation or hardship, including high interest rates, war protests, land rights, Aboriginal rights, overflowing school class sizes, unemployment and more…
Yes, the restrictions around Covid-19 have been a trial at times, with two years of deprivation.
But, here, in February 2022, we have a little easing of restrictions.
We’re not back to normal, yet, but, as someone said last week,
“Privation is (now) a late Amazon delivery”.
Food for thought? Privation indeed!
A while ago I decided not to write on any subject matter to do with politics. BUT I am so appalled at the government’s attitude towards - and dealing (or not dealing) with - the current crisis in aged care that I just had to add my voice.
The aged care sector has been sadly neglected for many years and has been in strife throughout the three years of Covid19.
Since the Omicron virus arrived in Australia in November, nearly 600 aged care residents have died with it - or from it. This latest ‘version’ of the pandemic is spreading like wildfire throughout aged care accommodation and yet dozens of these places are still waiting for the necessary booster shots for residents and staff.
Wasn’t the need for these vaccinations foreseen and wasn’t the administration of these jabs promised some time ago?
Staff – what’s left of them – are exhausted after working horrendous hours trying to care for those in their ‘care’.
There are THOUSANDS of vulnerable residents in lockdown. They feel as though they are in prison as rules of isolation and segregation are enforced (to little effect, it seems).
Meanwhile we hear how ‘our’ Aged Care minister has spent three days at the cricket, ignoring the need to attend the Senate hearing dealing with aged care. (He has been absent from more meetings on the subject than those he has attended).
And now, as the crisis begins to make headlines, the government announces it will form a “Task Force” to study the issues - and collect data concerning deaths. (You could not make this up – as the saying goes!).
A TASK FORCE. to COLLECT DATA!
In 2018 a Royal Commission into Aged Care was set up. The resulting report was issued in March of 2021, with the main distressing finding being headed “Neglect”.
And what has been done since? Bugger all!
Sure, no one knew the extent of the pandemic – although careful observation of what was happening overseas should have given Australia a ‘heads up’ on what was to be expected.
But little notice was taken of the Royal Commission’s reports.
All hopeless, all distressing, all upsetting, all frustrating and all simply horrifying.
One of my main current concerns is this awful attitude of politicians – and sometimes the general population – of mentioning the fact that some of these poor, precious people who have died, were “already palliative” – indicating that they ‘were going to die anyway’.
How disgusting. How disrespectful and how heartless.
AND…if these people were ‘going to die anyway’, WHY were they denied the chance to have a loved one by their side as they died? WHY, if their son, daughter, brother, sister, spouse, whoever, was masked up and wanted to be present, WHY did these elderly and vulnerable people have to die ALONE?
Am I missing something?
Aged Care residents are being neglected at a far worse rate than stated in the original report. Many are alone, uncared for, unbathed, untreated, unfed (in some cases) and left to die alone – while the virus spreads seemingly unrestricted.
I feel helpless and frustrated. But most of all I feel disgusted with the people who are supposed to be supportive, both in a $$$ way and in a decent way, of their citizens.
By the way…75% of aged care providers are assessed as ‘profitable’.
The aged care sector generates about $26 BILLION a year in revenue, with providers making over $2 billion in profits. 35% of 'homes' are run by ‘for profit’ companies.
Only about 9% are government run aged care ‘homes’.
In many cases, residents themselves contribute billions of $$$ for their accommodation. The $$ from “refundable accommodation deposits” contributed by each resident, ranging from hundreds of thousands $$ to millions $$, are used by providers.
It’s a tricky deal to understand. Not sure how ethical it is.
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.