outback to jungle

Musings on experiences of volunteering in Papua New Guinea with some gratuitous domestic social and public comment

Friday, March 31, 2006

It concerns me that

what concerns me is more negative than my other bloggers. Nathan's blog is more positive and Robert's is personally emotive and empathic with a people whom he has made great effort to relate to and so I worry that I do a disservice to a country which I am supposed to be helping by capacity building. I think my role puts me nearer the policy situation without my being in a policy influence situation and this creates frustration as does anything to do with policy anywhere. R is consoled by his being able to help students and if he can make a difference there he is ecstatic that he has achieved. His story today about the death of the dog Sim consoled me because I too had noticed what he described and I can only agree that the mistreatment of animals wherever it occurs is a blight on humanity. I say the story consoled me because if something upsets R it is worth being upset about and so I was glad to see this story in print for its confirming what upsets me and for drawing attention to the problem. -see www.schilt.info/blog
This links to random nath in PNG I think it is. Patch shares masters but normally she belongs to Roger however she comes to me when R has a night at the yotti. Her tails wags so hopefully that means we are doing the right thing by her.

the point of the woad story

was to remind how civilisation and sophisication develop. As Joe the military attache said it took 800 years years for order to emerge after the barbarians, you cant expect PNG to do in 50 years what took you 800. Here are Major Sere (OBE), Chief Commissioner of Scouts in PNG and Salvo Officer, and Joseph at the Rotary meeting which was a mixture of expats and nationals, my supervisor and confidante John, national mate running two stores and a business in Sydney and Melbourne and about to set up another in Oxford Street, another national mate who had been at theological college with me - they're all successful in the hegemonic paradigmatic modernist way of progress. I don't know how a nation retains the traditions it holds dear in Melanesian society and adjusts to take advantage of the quality of life benefits through roads, communication, health, education, purpose, achievement. How does a national debate happen? Obviously the thieves wanted my mobile phone for the money it would bring in so they want this side of modernism but they would be the same people who would squat or claim land ownership not for the public good but for their own good. Of 800 wontoks, (Europe might have about 50), how do you get them to think nationally, let alone globally? What is more important - Melanesian tradition or Melanesian nation? Can there be both?

worshipping the trees

One of my favourite stories was told me by Fr Richard in a sermon at St Lukes Enmore (Sydney). He was in a red neck area of Sth Australia and he had a visiting Lebanese priest who preached. The red necks associated Lebanon with middle east and "therefore" Muslim (ie, 1+1 = 11). After the sermon he took questions: "And how long have you been a Christian?" to which he replied - Well you remember when your ancestors were painting their faces with woad and worshipping the trees? "Duh, yair". - Well my ancestors had been Christian for four hundred years before that.
So for capacity building here, I try to remind myself that St Augustine of Canterbury's famous retort on seeing the people of Britain - "Non anglesi sed angelis" - not Angles but Angels. It was his attitude that counted, for these were people who were a mixture of Celts, Romans, Anglo Saxons by this time (c600). The Romans' contribution to Britain was described by Tacitus in Roman terms as roads, civilisation, baths, hygiene, Roman sophistication. By his enemy whose name escapes me, (Vercingetorix? - no that's Gaul and Caesar?)the R's contribution was - they create a desert and call it prosperity; they bring war and call it peace.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

oats peas beans and barley grow

Perhaps not quite because the climate is not good fro grains except for rice. But soap, dtergent, matches, mattresses are made in PNG. Bread, eggs, mlik, meat, tinned fish, fresh fish, biscuits are made in PNG. Avocado, pawpaw, capsicum, vanilla, coffee, potatoes are grown in PNG. SP makes a very good beer in PNG. Gold and Copper are mined in PNG. So I keep coming back to the conundrum - how can a country with so much physical wealth and with people with superior intellects be in nned of capacity building to overcome the negative ubiquitous commentary about a regressive if not actual economy and state?
The Chinese, Japanese, EU, are all building things. TB and AIDS are serious health issues; the GG fears his female relatives might be raped; the Mt Hagen Hospital evicted 12 families who were squatting; two Japanese tourists were knifed and robbed in Rabaul; EU is to improve water supplies: - all stories in the Post Courier 27 March 2006. Why? There are PhDs here in nearly every academic discipline - most of them gained from overseas Universities.
But I, a Volunteer on nationals' wages, not ex-pats' wages employ a haus-meri to do my washing and cleaning: apparently it is expected that wait man will employ a national. I've never had house help before in a western country. Why?

I have smelt that smell

I remember now where I have smelt that smell - the smell of rotting buai husks and red spittle made sodden from heavy rain the last few nights. It is in dairies with cows standing around squashing manure and urine into the mud. But this smell was in top town Lae. It is why they mostly burn the filth.
I quote what is in the public domain in the Annual report 2002 on the U by the AG: "I was unable to satisfy myself as to the existence, location, identification, and authenticity of these assets carrying an amount of K61 903 791.00; I was unable to satisfy myself as to the accuracy of the bank reconciliation statements...which contain unreconciled differences of K120 929.05 and K471 111.48; The U did not comply with International Accounting Standards1: Presentation of Financial Statements; The U did not have a Financial Procedures Manual."
People raise the right issues but they just deflate like a week old celebratory balloon. The Post Courier Mon27 Mar carried the feature article "Who is to be accountable?" about the Public Accounts committee. "The PAC barely existed during the 1990s but has reinvigorated during the term of this Parliament" A group called Transparency International PNG is behind this accountability movement.

what do you value?

Ch9 tonight is to do an "expose" about doctors on wages of $4000 a day. Big deal. So where is the story in that? That's only $1.5m a year assuming they work Christmas Day, Good Friday , Anzac Day and every other day. Most Chief Executives are on more than this but I would not trust them to do a heart transplant on me. What do we value most - our shares or our life and health? So think about whether you have a story Ch9.
Having said that about my Australian values, PNG needs to think about its values. Simon who died asde used to get some sort of work off most of the wait men. They were his wontoks. I was fairly mean having bought the occasional few lemons from him and paid him to wash my louvres once only I think and a sandwich, packet of biscuits, cup of coffee. So PNG which holds up wontokism as the basis of its social security scheme and something to be proud of let Simon down. I didn't do much to help but in my five months here I gave him more than most of his countrymen.
No wonder there is frustration - "Our Telikom Internet Data line has been experiencing outages today. Our line is now down as off 2pm today and will be down indefinitely.This is a Telikom problem and this issue has been brought to the attention of Telikom. Apologies for any inconveniences caused". Not my words but from the ITS (Internet Services) at Unitech.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

simon the gardener

I got this on my email and if my worries about a stolen phone amount to anything they are put into negative perspective by this story. Last Sarere he called out to me, "Ullooo it's Simown" and I tersely turned him away telling him my phone had been stolen and I was in no mood to be bothered.
"Simon, the gardener with the peg leg, died last night. On Sunday he was sick with what looked like malaria, so my wife gave him some Chinese malaria medicine. On Monday morning he was sicker, so she took him to the Uni clinic. He was given an injection. On Tuesday (yesterday) he was sicker still, so she took him to the clinic again. The nurse decided he should be taken to Angau. They took him to the hospital by ambulance. This morning my wife called the hospital to see how he was doing and was told that he had died during the night. Does anyone know if he has wantoks in the area? We are going to pay the fee to put him in the morgue for a week, but if no wantoks are found in the area, we will have him buried at the end of week. We do not know where his home area is".

the first seminar

was held with the Language and Communication faculty asde avinun. The delivery was fine but mostly what they wanted to know was in the details of how it was going to work concerning money: would they be given paid time off classes to write; how much would they be paid to write the courses; who would own the copyright - if the University then would their extra duties having been performed be recognised in pay scales and seniority and promotion; if more students were to be entering the university albeit by distance mode, when would extra teachers be appointed to cover the increased class sizes; how much would fees cost?
For me it was the first time I had used a powerpoint presentation - just another instance of the wait mans being introduced to technology in a developing country ranked 133 out of 187 in the world. Such a land of contrasts in this way. I work alongside academic Doctors of Philosophy in Chemistry and Engineering and MBA graduates when my own academic credentials are more modest and so it is more than intriguing but I don't know how to describe the phenomenon of clever people being surrounded by countrymen who steal, who come around begging for menial chores, who tolerate substandard infrastructure and breakdowns and lawlessness and absence of planning.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

how bad is it?

An editorial in Post Courier10th Jan drew attention to Police at roadblocks who had been confiscating driving licences for offences such as having a bald tyre or an out of date roadworthiness sticker. It commented on the role of police in "patrolling busy shopping centres to get rid of pick pocketers, layabouts and stalkers who made shopping a fearful experience".
People have warned me about the raskols - these are serious weapons carrying criminals who were even on campus until KUIMA security began here two years ago. Atul has been held up on campus in broad daylight on campus and at a pedestrian crossing in town.
At Rotary last night, Joe who used to be Military Attache to Indonesia understood the phenomenon in perspective: It took the West 800 years to move from lawlessness after the barbarian invasions to the beginnings of rule of law and democracy and you expect there can be a cultural change overnight here? Why 800 years for you and you expect us to achieve it in 50? Cultural change is a lot different from progress on the basis of educational assistance. I'm not sure how the corollaries hold up - after all there was Joe and his compatriots in as sophisticated setting as any you would imagine in the west so if they can do it, why is crime and breakdown and subsistence living so common?

other PNG bloggers

Random Nath can be accessed by Robert's blog www.schilt.info/blog but I have not got the technical skills yet to put them on my site. Roberts got good pictures and his item today on the power cabling problem is illustrative of the problems we have. I'm trying more and more to see things from the capacity building perspective which is supposed to stop me from becoming frustrated but when you realise that a lot of the people responsible for decisions are equally as well if not better educated than I am with doctorates from Australian and other universities I wonder about the philosophy of capacity building. Mind you there are a lot of caring people in the make-a- -difference sections of the departments and they get frustrated too by the instutionalised indifference to the sorry stae of the infrastructure and the lawlessness - just like the other day when the women turned away at her lack of power to stop the bullying criminal thieves. Without them PNG would already be ungovernable. Nathan reminded me when I was complaining of the 36 hr blackout that he'd just come back from Popondetta Theological College where they have a generator for power between 7-10pm -tasol - three hours a day so that puts a 36 hour blackout into perspective.

sorry about blogger

I do not know why blogger is misbehaving. It is telling me my blog didn't publish owing to an unconnection so I republish and then I go in to the edit mode and I delete one of the posts but it stays on my blog. Perhaps it might correct itself tonight when the USA server is awake.
John and I have three seminars for Externalisation lined up now - with Language, Mech Eng and Mining Eng. I think the Pro VC has his hands on the wheel whereas before the model was not working - firstly the Dept of Distance Learning was given the job of overseeing Externalising but with its being hands removed from the teaching, it really had no authority for getting things done. Then a Committee of Distance Learning really only talked about issues and didn't make policy. Now one person has assumed responsibility and I think this model will work. The pride of the Univ is at stake because the UPNG in P Moresby and Divine Word at Madang are already out of the blocks.
I've had dozens if not hundreds of nice experiences - it's what you expect in life. So one bad experience can sour your total understanding - like 11th Sept 2001 in USA, Tsunami while on holiday, a cyclone and clumsy government response. Others live by the motto expect the worst and you wont be disappointed. I think this is too cynical even for me.

the bullying I hate

I was more upset with the bullying taunts than the criminal act. Last year at Bourke my CD player was stolen - the thieves broke in to the bedroom while I was elsewhere in the house but I was more tolerant of this loss. The thieves got away with it because they could but they didn't rub in the violation with provocative laughter and racist humiliating taunts "Hey waitman I'll ring you tonight" that these low life PNGn thieves carried on with. I am pessimistic about what education can do for criminals who are resentful and racist and bullying and who don't care if they give their country and countrymen a bad name. The number of people who have told me not to show my wallet or phone makes up for the loss of the material object but it does not make up for the bullying insult and taunt. I think that is the difference between the Bourke theft and this theft. Crime is crime but bullying is objectionable behaviour from an objectionable sub set of humanity. Bullies are bullies because they can get away with it and they are dragging the reputation of their country down. Treasurer Philemon ought to look at this as a reason for why tourists do not come to his country. Guess what I will be telling most of my friends when I get back home Mr Philemon? If the government does not take a lead then it should not blame Australians for not coming here to be ripped off with expensive tourism, thieves and bullies.

Monday, March 27, 2006

you trust people

I remember my first day in Moresby exactly five months ago now (24th Oct) - and I was carrying my mobile in a clip on pouch on the neck of my tee shirt and we went for lunch in Boroko when a kind lady excused herself and said put your phone in your pocket. Since then I have been too trusting. A tu pinga nearly got my wallet just before Christmas as I was getting the PMV at Unigate: I was holding the doors to get on and I felt the tug on my pocket and was quick enough to snap my hand back to protect my wallet. We might laugh at thieving magpies and monkeys but I'm a volunteer trying to do some good work in capacity building to help the country and its people and people are not monkeys or magpies. I know there are thieves back in Australia too but I had come to have a higher regard for the PNGns because generally they have been very kind and supportive to this stranger in their land but the breakdown in the trust by the thieves and their laughing about it like common bullies has soured me. I'd been singing about the country and its people and while there is still something to sing about it's no longer the joyous song of innocense and belief and trust. Thanks for nothing you thieving %$#@ low life. Son Matt told me asde about PNGn highland Prince at Southern Cross Univ on finding out about stolen phone. The Prince called over his mate Albert in the PNG army - "Don't worry tell your dad. I have killed 58 men with my bare hands. I will get it back." Oh dear.

laughing at their crime

What was most galling about the theft of my phone was the brazeness of the thieves who thought it a great joke they had stolen a phone off the wait man. There they were waving and shouting, "Hey there wait man bro I'll ring you tonight bro" as the bus was collecting the last of its passengers. So when I rang the next morning my own number about 11am and this sleepy voice says "ullo, yu tok" I told the thief I want my phone back you @#$% thieving &*%$ low life ^%*@. I don't normally swear and I'm not sufficiently generous of spirit to excuse their criminality on grounds of lack of education. That sort of laughing behaviour was typical of the bullying behaviour of school kids who would take off your hat and throw it around among themselves just to tease because they can tease and get away with it. As I said elsewhere I hope the $%&* get Aids and ear cancer. Being generous of spirit to criminals is beyond what thieves who are also bullies would understand. You could put people like this through Oxford and they'd still lack understanding of what humanity was about. Unfortunately this contrasts with most of the other PNGns who disown them and their behaviour but are too powerless to prevent them from asserting their criminal power.

laughing at their crime

What was most galling about the theft of my phone was the brazeness of the thieves who thought it a great joke they had stolen a phone off the wait man. There they were waving and shouting, "Hey there wait man bro I'll ring you tonight bro" as the bus was collecting the last of its passengers. So when I rang the next morning my own number about 11am and this sleepy voice says "ullo, yu tok" I told the thief I want my phone back you @#$% thieving &*%$ low life ^%*@. I don't normally swear and I'm not sufficiently generous of spirit to excuse their criminality on grounds of lack of education. That sort of laughing behaviour was typical of the bullying behaviour of school kids who would take off your hat and throw it around among themselves just to tease because they can tease and get away with it. As I said elsewhere I hope the $%&* get Aids and ear cancer. Being generous of spirit to criminals is beyond what thieves who are also bullies would understand. You could put people like this through Oxford and they'd still lack understanding of what humanity was about. Unfortunately this contrasts with most of the other PNGns who disown them and their behaviour but are too powerless to prevent them from asserting their criminal power.

dog in the church

Several times the dogs have come into the church and they come up the front and plop themselves down in the processional space so that the procession has to walk around them. Asde the dog during the last hymn closed his eyes and I imagined him thinking how kind these humans were to sing him to sleep. He looked to be one of the lucky ones - he had a fairly full coat of hair and he looked well fed. It's almost a different world in the church - the dignity and self respect of the worshippers - I always sit and have a cup of tea after church and a talk about things. Unfortunately there's not many wait manmeri but they are concerned that when waitmanmeri need spiritual help at times of brereavement and other difficult times in life that they can reach out and help where they can. Fr Stanley and the rest of the Parish council and lots of the parishioners would not want to be unable to help but they just need to know who in the expat community is unaware of the work of the church. They understand that the expat church is the Yacht Club and they don't resent that but they do recognise its limitations in Christian ministry which is why they want me to help All Souls reach out to the expats in need.
Sarere Robert and I went to Nadzab, the airport about 40 k from Lae to meet new AVI Anthony. He'll be working in Business studies in computer accountancy - I think. There's three of us AVIers on campus now and another two Jane with Seventh Day Adventist ADRA and Nathan with the National Office of the Anglican Church gives us 5 AVIers in Lae.

Friday, March 24, 2006

capacity building

PNG's finance Minister Philemon asde in the National spoke to the Press Club in Canberra about "the living conditions of many PNGns had not improved in 30 years" and about "the strangled economy and stagnant human development". As an AVIer I am here to try to help the human development aspect of the problems and I get frustrated particularly as I compared last time with people who have fewer physical resources. So many as I have said before like Fr Stanley and Peter and Betti and my wonwoks and many I see in Church abound in humanity and I can't understand why this is not spread further. It's a political problem of trying to raise the capacity of the people resource to match the capacity of the physical resources which abound. Most sports coaches and teachers get their charges to think positively: "You can do it" they are told. But Ron Barassi put one player in a losing team on the bench for getting drunk on the night before an important game. "But I was the best player on the side" he protested. "Yes but you didn't do your best which you could have done if you hadn't got drunk last night. Stay on the bench!" If I do my best, that might not translate into a team best. That's the frustration.

dictatorship of the criminals

The lady sitting behind me looked at me with sympathy and said "I'm sorry; Criminals." Well why didn't you say something? And she shrugged and looked away - in shame or embarrassment or fear - I don't know. But when a country's supposed democracy prevents people from signing their name to letters to the paper owing to fear of reprisal, when the papers report only what is in the courts and therefore public, the media in PNG does no investigative reporting - It might write an occasional editorial about wrong but it does not keep the public pressure up to rid the country of the criminals. How can 27000 rounds of ammo get stolen without its being an inside job? PNG's GNI per capita is $US 2100 compared with Somalia nil -surviving on aid, Ethiopia's $US 720 and Tanzania's $US 470 and its life expectancy is 10-15 years longer than the African countries'. I don't know if Ausaid is conditional on improving law and order which is holding back democratic development but with the gold and copper and primary products of PNG the Somalis and Tanzanians must wonder why we are giving aid to such a country when they are eating leaves and roots. You can only be babied for so long and then you have to take responsibility for yourself. If this was a political dictatorship there would be outrage. A dictatorship of the criminals who prevent democracy from happening has the same anti democratic anti government by law and order effect and yet it is condoned. PNG has so much it ought to be an aid giver.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

tourism to PNG

The National reported on p3 asde the speech of the PNG Treasurer to the Austln Press Club: "It concerns me that A's level of personal engagement and knowledge of PNG is diminishing ." 'He also raised concern at the lack of desire of A'ns to see and explore PNG's cultural diversity and beauty as major tourist destinations.'
I'm one of the A'ns who would not have come up here in normal circumstances. I haven't been to Perth or Darwin either. But the price for getting here and the prices for what you get when you get here are a deterrent compared with what you can get for going to Bali or SE Asia or Fiji (K3200 = $A1400 return Lae-Brisbane air only. Compare that with air-resort packages to other places ((Hong Kong 4 ns $A1214). Despite my mobile phone incident and the con man and a previous attempt by pick pockets, I am glad I am here. My wonwoks and Peter and Betti and Joseph and Fr Stanley as well as adventurous ex-pats from everywhere are teaching me more about myself and the meaning of life which would have been the shallower for not being here. There comes a time when PNG itself has to take a stand against corruption and the failing infrastructure and the prices of its monopolies Telekom, Electricty and Air Niu Guinea and the criminals. AusAid and the Japanese and European Union and China can't go propping it up forever. I see the productive capacity out around Ramu -sugar, beef and palm oil and realise the mineral capacity at OkTedi and Porgera and the fruits - and I see Somalia and Ethiopia. Why? A bar of gold in a barrel of oil surrounded by pinapple, banana and pawpaw compared with women and children eating leaves and roots of trees in East Africa. Why? What must the Somalis and Ethiopians think?

to be frustrated or happy

I am in two minds about how I feel about having my mobile phone pick pocketed asde avinun at the main bus stop long town. What was important to me was the response of my colleagues at wok when I got back - they rang my number and talked to the bastards and called B mobile for me to cancel the phone. I knew there were thieving fcs before I came here and we were warned about not letting down our security watchfulness so for the sake of K12 credit on my phone (about $A5) which has a screen which needs to be replaced and I have the recharger for a Sony Ericson which is not a regular brand here, I've escaped fairly lightly. Of course I'm angry at my carelessness and with the low lifes who give the regular PNGns a bad name. At the bus stop I was looking for the Eriku bus and as I was about to climb on one guy held my shoulder saying hey good to see you bro and the other guy took my phone. People saw it happen but are too frightened to say anything. The motto of the RSL is that for evil to win the good need only remain silent. A friend of a blogger and fellow AVI mate told him Geoff should get off his soap box. I appreciate his having read my blog. I generally read the letters pages of the paper before other sections because in a democracy there are opinions which make you frustrated or angry or supportive but while people have the courage to speak out evil in whatever form from the right or left or criminal knows it is not wanted. The Thais are speaking out against Thaksin and if the Iraqis had done so before Saddam they would not now be in this civil war (probably?). The poor bloody Palestinians - what else can they do against the Israelis? I would have thought that after the Jewish Israelis were persecuted by the Europeans and gassed by the Nazis that they of all people would treat others as human beings. Instead they are treating the P'stinians in the way leading up the final solution. When is the world going to speak out about what is starting to look like a re-run of the 1930s-40s? I know my blog isn't read by too many - it's a diary of my thoughts made public but if I want to do something I would need to get a more public soap box. It relieves my frustration but someone else might have to be the voice of public justice of what the right thinking man believes to be ethical.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

only eight hour blackout

It appears I exaggerated when I described the 36 hour blackout from early Saturday morning to late Sunday evening. The Post Courier, Monday p3 in a "briefly column" described the blackout in the following terms.
LAE city in the dark.
LAE city was hit by intermittent blackouts in some suburbs lasting eight hours over the weekend. The blackouts were due to the cleaning of the Ramu hydro turbines by PNG Power. A PNG Power official said said the work was to have ended at midnight last night. The blackouts have also affected several suburbs which were experiencing water problems. A city resident said, "Lae used to be a pot hole city. Now it is a blackout city too".
End of story - that's it. 12 and a half lines. No word about the lack of warning, advance notice, apology for not letting anyone know what was going on, inconvenience. Nothing. I must reinvent the word intermittent. When I can't cook toast at 8am in the morning and the water runs out and I eat by candle light at night and can't watch the Commonwealth games and scare myself by walking upstairs with a candle about midnight the same day, and there's no water the next day and my fan doesn't go on and I can't watch the commonwealth games again, by my calculation that is more than eight hours. Reporter, get your facts straight and be a bit more hard hitting to get some accountability from these people. Furthermore it was a national who told me PNG Power should be called PNG Powerless. Do you think he only had an eight hour blackout too?

two genes short

I used to think Naomi someone or other (I think on Ch 7 bad builders and dysfunctional families half hour) other wise known as A Current Affair was more inane than anyone but then Mel and Koshy joined the club and now this morning I channel surfed onto Ch 9 Today and I realise there must be a formal membership Inane Club that "aussies" secretly belong to. No wonder Howard is PM if he's getting his support from these types of people. There they were this morning with eyes set back back in their heads and tongue between the teeth ticking off on their fingers all the things that are problematic for Cyclone Larry victims: "Where do you start in getting it back together again," they tried to empathise. "Oh, the water (its just rained bucket loads) and and and Oh, and the baby formula, and and Oh and now we cross to a victim..."
Goodness gracious me. And these people and their viewers elect the leaders of my country? They say that noone ever lost money on underestimating the intelligence of the "aussie" - a couple of genes short of homo erectus, never mind home sapiens and not as innocent as the mountain silver back.

Australian bagging "aussies"

Why would you bag a countryman? Because from my ex-pat situation there are nicer people up here. Besides, I only bad-mouth the "aussies". The fair dinkum Australian who leaves the Christmas dinner table to check on the water for the stock is having his good name besmirched by loud mouthed louts who infest the cricket and other circuses and TV personalities.
Like this morning when news room people tell you that their thoughts and prayers are with you in your adversity (this time it was Cyclone Larry), I can understand the thoughts bit but what do they mean by their prayers? I didn't know that atheists prayed, so if they do pray, to whom do they pray? And what is an atheist prayer like? I used to see the Telegraph (Sydney) with a patriotic picture of a ship and sailors going off to Iraq with the banner headline "God Speed". The owner Kerry Packer had been to the other side and said there was no God but his paper seemed to be saying otherwise. Anyway, what does God Speed mean? Obviously there are missing words. "God is on Speed" doesn't make sense in the context. "May God speed you safely home" might make sense if there is a God. So does the collective paper believe in God but the owner doesn't?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

a virtue out of necessity?

If Australians really looked after one another as the media and politicians out-loud-mouth themselves to present their patriotism credentials there would be no need for St Vinnies or Salvos or Bill Crewes mission or Matthew Talbot hostel. Why don't the believers in the myth tell the poor bloke who died alone in a block of flats and was not noticed missing for four months that they really were looking out for him? Or why don't they tell the shy and lonely who have Christmas alone at home - the ones who are too proud and don't want to feel embarrassed by attending the Wesley Mission Christmas luncheon that us "Aussies" stick together? Where is the immediate neighbour to invite a person home? "Oh but dahling, we couldn't have a loser at home with us they might sully the couch. We can be just as good looking out for each other "Aussies" by giving $100 to the Salvos for other people to look out for the losers. Besides, our soocial set would not know how to talk to one of them. Vicarious looking out for each other "Aussies", that's what we do best. We pay for others to look after them. Just as we pay for those dahling nurses at the nursing home to look after mummy while we do our winter business trip to the Bahamas. What would we do without the nursing home that our Government so earnestly funds for us. And those dear nurses who wipe mummy's bottom whom we pay $15 an hour for the privilege. Aren't they such sweet angels. I get all goosey bumped when I hear how good we are at looking out for each other".

commonwealth games hyperbole

As another example of the Australians (they are no more the endeared Aussies of the Anzac and Flanders trenches legends but loud mouthed louts - how do you know an "Aussie" tourist is coming? You hear the plane before you see it. As for there being no red carpet for him, he politely thinks someone must have mixed up the date of his arrival) having to prove they are better than anyone else is the juvenile competition about the number of gold medals the country has won and about in adversity (the cyclone at Innesfail), "us Aussies pull together". Bullshit bullshit bullshit which if you say it often enough becomes the believed truth. Did they not see the Filipinos and the Pakistanis pulling their countrymen from under slabs of concrete and out of the mud? Or the Chinese and the poor bloody shat upon Iraqis? Or the Yanks for all their bumbling with their rescue efforts in their cyclone? If you believed an Australian, in all these other tragedies the neighbours go home and turn on the tele and have a cup of tea and scones. As for the medals, 11 Indian hockey players can only win won medal but a swimmer or a runner or cyclist can win up to about six medals so really the medal count is meaningless or else is skewed in favour of the Western Sports - all power to the individual. Forget this socialist working together thing - that's only for losers like the Filipinos and Pakistanis and Iraqis and Yanks who have natural disasters. And the "Aussies" when it suits them.

Monday, March 20, 2006

resource rich PNG

PNG is one of the most resource rich of countries - a nugget of gold floating in a barrel of oil surrounded by coconut, pineapple and pawpaw. It is a picture of the garden of Eden - who could ask for anything more? What musical was that? The nationals themselves wonder how anyone could starve here. I've been to planti functions now where there is so much to eat you would burst if you tried to be polite and eat a little bit from each serving so as to not offend the hosts. So with wealth like this, why is it that the con man needs to be a con man? I asked at church asde - where he was again - and they did in fact confirm my suspicions telling me he just preys on unsuspecting people. I know Jesus would feel sorry for him but after having lied to me (the con man that is) I find it difficult just at this time. And why do people need to be corrupt when there is enough honest wealth for everyone?
At the bus stop asde morning I began to get frustrated as what I perceived as "my turn" was pushed aside by shovers and sidesqueezers and window jumpers who had come after the first four buses which I had been unable to get on. I consoled myself with the thought that the Lord knows my intentions and he wouldn't be happy if I had to mistreat people by pushing and shoving just to see him so I waited. And then the next bus came and I pushed the people in front of me so that the side squeeezers were unable to squeeze in. Order at a bus stop and manners and respect for mothers and their children - is that too much to ask or is it not important in a land of planti.

candle up the stairs

There is something eerie about walking up the stairs carrying a candle. I even frightened myself the other night in the blackout when I saw how smoothly my shadow moved up the wall caused by my havina to carry the candle steadily in order it not extinguish. The shadow gave the impression that it was being floated up the stairs and I thought of Jane Eyre's living silently beneath the mad Mrs Harcastle. Fortunately my shadow was not wearing one of those nightcaps and long nightdresses.
Peter and his little daughter Betty brought me around narapela pawpaw asde and I got some bananas so I will experiment to see if the pawpaw takes away as Charles Kinglsley in Westward Ho I think had it "this stinking body of mine". I suppose it is the relentless humidity but I had never noticed the body was all that foul before. I'm using one of the designer men's eau de toilette - Guy Larouche Black Bottle Drachor Noir so I don't offend too many people. Some would say too much information but having read John's story I think I must have adopted maximalism of personalism which I theorise is distinctive of Melanesian way of thinking. Maybe it was washing in the cistern water that did it - not the bowl water, the cistern water!

36 hour blackout

If ever I doubted I was living in a developing country, after 30 hours of without power and with its not to come on for another 6 hours and with nationals themselves cynically referring to PNG Power as PNG Powerless, my removing the lid of the cistern of the toilet to get about 6 or so jamtins full of water for a bath to cool me down after coming home from church was sufficient to make me aware. Without power there was no pump to get water otherwise. The knowing ones fill up reservoirs when a blackout happens but being relatively new my only reservoir that i could think of was the cistern. But even for the knowing ones 36 hours of blackout was a frustration - particularly when PNG Power did not advertise the problem if it was a scheduled interruption.
I had never thought of PNG as developing. As a neighbour to Australia I thought of it as much the same as what I had left at home - its not being a tourist destination like Bali or Fiji meant for me that it was much like Australia which explained (in my mind) why it wasn't a tourist destination. And living on campus at Uni which is comparatively sophisticated, I could be in Cairns or some other big country town oasis. But then another two blackouts this morning reinforced the idea of this being a developing country. For many too on account the kina has halved in value and with persistent problems of law and order and corruption, with monopolies like Telekom and Air Niu Guinea offering sub standard expensive service, with high tarriff rates, they worry that rather than being a developing country it is actually a regressing country.

Friday, March 17, 2006

the LAE market

I finally got to the LAE market today. I had been to Gordons in Waigani (Pt Moresby) and the 4 mile at Madang and the Sogiri and market out the back of the Univ but this was the first time in the big LAE market. Goods are mostly displayed on nylon bags on the ground and some of the market holders are under shelter, others are out in the sun and some put an umbrella up. They spray their produce to keep them fresk looking. I bought two sprays of sugar fruit (like passionfruit) ten olgeta for 2 kina, some carrots for 50 toya, a avocado for 40 toya and two cucumbers for 1 Kina. Sellers sit on the ground and a market unit consists of one nylon bag in area. I don't know what fees they pay to sell here. On the way out there was a pig carcass in various portions - I could discern a jaw and I am not sure what else. There was one other wait lady and I was the only wait man and there would have been at least 2thousand people - its sort of the shopping centre like Centrepoint arcade and that type of thing in the big provincial towns and cities in Australia.
Good news on the work side: Acting HOD and I meet with Pro VC again on Monday to discuss further my ideas and he has instructed the Teaching and Learning Unit to schedule me in for some presentations to the Academic departments and the Prof himself will take up the matter with his HODs and i think possibly senior management. My abstract has been accepted for the Pt Moresby UPNG distance learning seminar which I am pleased about so i now must start to refine my ideas and get them into presentation form.

joy,happiness or delight

This little about four year old girl walked past me this morning and her smile and eyes were those of delight. A smile tells of joy and happiness maybe in physiological pleasure but delight seems to be a deeper emotional response and I think it is told through the eyes. I remember Matthew's delight when I returned from an excursion when he was about five - his smile and eyes synchronised. As did Dad's when Bro Max returned to Bourke about 1969 or so.
The Post Courier letter asde quotes former SCR Pres, " The problem is because the Univ keeps on enrolling students than the no of bed spaces. When all the bed spaces on campus are taken up , student services rents out rooms at Telikom and Martin Luther...Over the years the outstanding rentals have accumulated into hundreds of thousands which the Univ has not settled."
As for anonymous letters, Trupela Man writes, "PNG is described as a sick society " and Concerned Mangi (youth) writes, "Vamone should stop daydreaming and think long and hard about how and why we wee granted independence without bloodshed. THe Aussies (sic) were fed up with looking after us. Tingim gut na tok tok."
Rice (US foreign Minister) said Iran had lied about its nuclear program for 18 years and therefore the world should condemn it. Hopefully too the world will condemn the US for lying about WMDs and Abu Grahib and Vietnam anD Central America and the assassination of the Chilean socialist preseident and Contras and everything else it has lied about.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

university and/or me

I have to expect there will be down times (mood that is) and that is why I love to be busy as it gives me a sense of achievement and therfore nothing to get bored about. But this is as much about what my University can to be doing as it is about me. I've got skills and we ought to be using them. John is very good value, is very understanding and a gentleman. He is one of these genuinely caring types of person, honest and concerned about the students. And about me. He keeps reminding me - while you are here, you are my concern.
Having arrived here, I just wonder whether the power brokers are reluctant to have their power and organisation scrutinised by using me in a management and advisory situation. They've got to do something though because the mission direction is all too obviously not obvious. Divine Word and UPNG are testimony to that. I want to help but I worry whether my offer of help might be insulting - as when help was offered to India after the tsunami - we are capable of helping ourselves, but thank you.
To cheer me up I recall how Crassus was wiped out by the Parthians.

ways I can help

I've suggested ways I can help but the acting HOD and I have to wait until the HOD returns from 2 months leave. I've put together a 20 page booklet of how my experience needs to be used to develop a different model for implementing externalising of courses. The problem about registration last week and the way students from the provinces are accommodated when the residential is full (described by letter from ex student Netherlands in post Courier asde) are just other instances of how my ideas and skills for developing programme budgeting, management and budget plans, coordinating a directionless mission can be used. So I was saying previously about depression and feeling sorry for myself when Joseph the night security guard calls out at the door - he'd brought back the plate on which I'd earlier taken him some tea. As he pushed foward the plate he said thank you and smiled and said "Wara(water)". Another human in need took my mind off my problems and made me realise the little things we can do for each other - instead of bombing the shitter out of people which is the Yanks answer to everything. I'm lucky to have Peter and Joseph as guards because one of them is always around - and Peter brought me another kulau this morning. They keep me sane I think when i am in a miss the family mood and when I worry I am achieving too little.

renogotiating job description

With the Yanks beating the war drums about Iran and with my, along with everyone else' being powerless to stop it, my frustration turns to depression as I fail to understand why rational people allow the irrational to rule and make us all participants in stupidity. My feelings today are exacerbated by my having run out of things - at least constructive things which are in keeping with the skills I brought to this position and the University as a whole and not just DODL - to do to keep me busy. One of the elements of my job description is "other duties as directed" and as such I've done sweeping the floor, student registrations, filing, and car pool driver. I have designed and written an inservice course to help lecturers understand how they can write a university course for independent learning, developed assessment, quality assurance and evaluation methods. But now I cannot do any more until University policy is decided and implemented. I get bored very easily and I hate wasting time. I even worried at home last night that I was getting depressed - I can work out the smptons now - I'd been eating lots of bananas which an email told me contained tryptophan, a protein convertible in to seratonin which were keeping me steady in lieu Zoloft. But then I saw an item on Dateline, SBS about a little polio boy in Indonesai Bali and I wondered why the Uni here is nort using me more productively. If it can't I would be better off helping someone like the polio boy.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

improvised explosive devices

I can just see it coming. Reading in the Post Courier today p20 Pres Bush alleged, "Coalition forces have seized IEDs and components that were clearly produced in Iran." How many days will we wait for the next step: "Therefore we must stop at source weapons that are intended to harm American troops." How many days then until we hear "USA issues an ultimatum that Iran has 24 hours to give up its supplies of IEDs." Then how many hours till the bombs start to kill Iranian civilians? Then how many days till we find out there were no IEDs there anyway?
What a pity that yesterday's romantic has become today's cynic. How ugly the ugly side of human nature is that it can turn the noble savage into the most depraved of beasts. Stand in the corner and hide your heads in shame Bush and Blair and Howard you repulsive deviants of humanity. You are the depraved ones. Tell us some more lies. Produce the evidence - "Oh, we've got labels that say this IED was made in Iran. And we've got invoices with Saddam and Osama and that dead guy in the Hague that noone likes ordering the IEDs and satellite pictures of empty trucks. Unlike last time, this time its really true. Fair dinkum. We gotter start bombin now before the terrorists get 'em. We got elections comin up, there's no time to lose."

twice in the last week

I have been woken up about 5am with the sound of a mozzie in my ear. I haven't been eating as much pawpaw lately so maybe I've lost the pawpaw smell out of my system. At least so they tell me eating pawpaw keeps malaria away. Work is getting to crunch time as I have run out of things to do as scheduled in my contract. University has not made enabling policy to allow me to develop enrichment courses and undergraduate courses so I am left with nothing to do now except try to redevelop the Adult Matriculation Course for English. We are working with a photocopier that might have been good a couple years ago and for which we paid K35000 lease fees last year and another major problem is not having a typist and graphic designer to present the courses in attractive form. We have examples of what Divine Word and UPNG have done and it ought to make this University respond which is why my title page showed an empty set of what Unitech had develop in comparison with UPNG and Divine Word. I worry about Depression if my Uni can't get its problems sorted out because I can be doing something constructive elsewhere if I can't be used properly here. As if everyone has time to waste while the politics is played out. Patience, patience patience -it's never been my virtue. I thought using big words and complicated jargon that was confined to the school system in NSW. Twelve years it has been trying and still there is no course at undergraduate level for study by distance means. Being an expat and a volunteer one at that I can't make mozzie noises so I just have to buzz my frustrations here. What was that word again?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tree felling

Tree felling the Melanesian Way. I've just seen this bloke 30 metres up a tree and ten metres out on a branch about a metre thick swinging away with a tommy hawk - not an axe or a chain saw but a tommy hawk - at a branch about as big as my tummy. He was lying along the support branch with his legs, as much as they could with its being so big itself, trying to hold him on. With no safety harness or anything like that. A matter of persistence and cutting a little bit at a time.
Australians once upon a time were persistent - not like this but in their own way. Now the advertisers, image makers, and louts who are no more endearing than a used condom have hijacked the endearing Australian of Lawson, Patterson and CJ Dennis and attribute to themselves the qualities of the fighting soldiers in the trenches and jungles, the swaggie looking after his dog and the folkloric tradition of carrying your heart in your swag. As endearing as a used condom, you'd pick up the modern "aussie" only with a stick. No loyalty, no persistence, joy for the moment, big-noting, brash, ugly. As different from the tree feller in PNG as he is different from the image of the myth he would like to be.

roads and taxes and anonymity

The Post Courier asde had several items about the condition of the raods whose sorry state is second only to the sorry state of the dogs. As with politics everywhere it is a matter of directing blame. The Governor blamed the demography and the geography. The Minister for Finance blamed the Governor. Well it is good that other people too have noticed that the roads are bad. Asde I was the driver and had to take course materials down to the wharf and the roads in the wharf area were very good. The matter of taxation in a country where there is a big informal sector as it is known (cash sales in the markets for produce and second hand clothes and goods, for buai and cigarette and boiled eggs and peanut sprays and tourist items made of woven grass and coke bottles of petrol) must be a problem. Apparently income tax has a very small base compared with the number of people who have to make a living. The GST collected K137m over 5 years and of course the big informal sector avoids paying this. I am told that anything sold in the markets has no overheads such as market fees or taxes. So revenur raising for public services such as hospitals and education and law and order is done from out of a very small percentage od the population. However the Governor did exoplain that "Lae is sitting on water and roads are damaged by rain." Many letters of a critical nature are published anonymously. Apparently the fear of reprisal and retribution is a concern to public spirited people and so they cannot be known to have these public views recognised. That's the Melanesian Way dictated by corruption and raskol criminals.

Monday, March 13, 2006

turtle for the pot

This was the heading for the story on the front page of the Post Courier, 8th March. It was being sold at the Boroko shopping centre for K30. It is a protected specimum. What is the grammar - third declension neuter noun? Or fifth declension? I've forgotten. Doesn' matter, the plight of the turtle is more important and the writer hopes that "someone" bought the animal and released it back to sea. It's funny how the environmental and species sensitivities of the West (now that it has successfully itself wiped out more species than any other socio-political grouping and created global greenhouse conditions which effect detrimentally the health and lives of everyone) become shocked by turtle hunting, elephant tusk hunting, bear bile cruelty and sodium cyannide stunning of fish to devastate the fish stocks. The West didn't think it was doing anything wrong when it was wiping out species of plants and animals and butterflies. Now the West decides issues of protection. I hate to see cruelty too and the devastation of species but as with nearly everything the West is not wise until after the fact and then it wants to stop the game for everyone else too. "OK guys, we've had enough fun, therefore you can stop playing too. No, it doesn' matter whether you still want to have fun killing turtles and bears and tigers and elephants and whales. We have had enough fun so you too must stop having fun. Because WE said so!". Would that the day might come quickly when the West becomes wise before the event - such as its hypocritical position on Iran.

Melanesian thinking and singing

The acapella choir is a highlight of our Sunday service and it is another reason that makes me think there must be a Melanesian way of seeing the world which needs to be if not discovered then at least advertised to the world because for all the wonders of the Indo-European and Asian/Eastern ways of thinking, humanity's missing link is world peace. What if the missing link is found in the Melanesian way of thinking? They communicate Melanesianally, they developed Tok Pisin as a common language which is practicable in a way that Esperanto is not. They organise Melanesianally.
University has finally started for this semester. There has been a lot of frustration owing to lots of things going wrong - huge queues for registration and enrolment last week, problems in accommodation, staff frustrations and embarrassment that their students see the pitiful organisation and they have to live with trying to justify that and at the same time be proud that they are part of the University that visits this inefficiency upon fellow human beings.
I got to be the driver today as my department needed to course books on to the Morobe Queen going to Rabaul - a two night trip by sea.

my weekend

This doesn't sound like a very exciting blog but having been away from home for the previous two sareres and with this sarere having been wet, I had a lovely time at home and just being with friends. My friends Atul and Sikha took me in to town to do shopping on sarere and I was able to do a big shop which is otherwise difficult on account of having to squeeze onto the PMV with my groceries as well. They took me to a Pay less stoa in Eriku where I bought the biggest tea cup with very colourful Ken Done like coloration. I've been drinking tea out of it nearly all weekend. I also got a different shampoo which seems better, an apple scented one. The humidity here makes my hair go greasy I think so two in ones make my hair feel too uncomfortable. I also got three loaves of bread which I was able to get home in an unsquashed condition and planti of tins of baked beans/spaghetti/sweet corn which normally make my grocery shopping too heavy. After shopping Sikha made us deli sandwiches - I hadn't eaten them since early in my stay here when I must have brought some out of date salami give me a bad belly ache so I feel confident in buying deli products again. I'd bought some cheese on spesol some weeks ago and when I got home Sikha na Atul pointed out the use by date had been passed - no wonder it had gone mildewed which I hadn't notivced at the time. Spent the rest of the day rereading Camus' L'etranger. I have to consider whether Meursault is "un charactere vraisemblable". I think he is but I wonder about those around him. His mother (ma mere) I've forgotten how to do the accents on the computer represents his biological birth and he always addresses her as maman (mummy) and so he is not the heartless charcter that the prosecution wants us to believe.
I went to lotu (church) long town asde. The con man was there again and he caught the same bus home as far as Eriku. I hope he's not stalking me. Oh dear, am I getting paranoid or what? Take time to smell the roses and look at the beautifully loved bibles of the congregation - so tatty and dog eared, palm sweat-greased but so lovingly read to know the mind of God and the responses of other people to him. I felt sorry at communion for this poor little 5 year girl who went up for the blessing and other people out of kindness left space around her for her family but they had gone to another part of the communion and so she was embarrassingly left with space around her as though she had a disease. Her mother told me what had happened after church.

Friday, March 10, 2006


My family read my blog asde and said I should correct the impression it gave that the Cabinet and PM knew anything about the "waved to" programme. The Public Service is responsible for this programme apparently and not the government. The government knows nothing about it.
I did hear myself though that the government is to begin an enquiry about whether Australian troops are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The PM didn't know anything about it. "I mean," he chuckled, "I get hundreds of cables a day across my desk. Our troops might be there, but do you really expect me to know where our Generals station all their troops? Be realistic."
At the same press conference he was asked about his trip to India whereupon he denied knowing anything about it. "India? Why on earth would I have been in India? There's no cricket on. We're playing in South Africa. Don't know anything about that one," he said.
"Well could you ask around or do an enquiry to find out?" he was asked.
"Enquiry? We're always doing enquiries. Our pollsters will enquire and if public opinion is happy that I was in India, then I 'll be happy to tell them I was in India. It's part of my ongoing dialogue with the Australia people. Thank you."

the "waved to" crowd

Talking to family in Yarralumla, ACT asde night, they tell me their suburb is first on the roster to provide to provide the "waved to" crowd for the PM as he steps out of his jet on his return to Canberra. They must present a rates notice identifying them as living in the rostered suburb and in return the suburb will be entitled to a $1000 grant from the Govt funded Building Communities Programme. Previously the money had gone to Liberal Party branches but in a gesture of goodwill prompted by the Cole Enquiry, the PM wants to spread the largesse more widely. In addition to the suburban grant, the "waved to" crowd will receive a free pass to inspect the Prime Ministerial jet at the conclusion of the photo ops.
Cabinet had been concerned about the dwindling number of welcomers but it remains pleased with the high numbers of well wishers who attend farewell photo ops. It is confident this initiative will redress the tested and testy morale of the citizens of the National Capital.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Melanesian parody

I love the sense of humour of the security guards. On the way in on the Balus Bus narapela night the Security guard goosestepped in to the centre of the road, snapped to attention, right turned, snapped again, directed us through with a forceful arm motion ordering "Pass Tru", right turned, snapped again, goosestepped back to the post, snapped to attention, about turned and stood at ease. Then they all had a good laugh about it. Mostly security is fairly casual and to see it done with the mock officiousness like that was a great send up. It would make Peter Sellers laugh. Thinking too about John\s books on aids, I was thinking about the Tok Pisin for condom = karamup which possibly might derive froim "cover 'im up".
Concerning too the organisation of Teachingand Learning, the greats of Education Philosophy would be unamused that it has become so mechanical and industrialised: I don't like the aims/objectives/outcomes models. They belong to what I call the Accountability model which works on the opposite principles of Liberal Education model in which motivation is intrinsic. The Accountability model has come about on account of students who don't want to be in the class causing teachers who don't want to be there either. I think you don't find accountability models in after hours tutoring or dance or music or drama classes. Those teachers in those situations are self motivated as are their students and teachers and students at University on account of their knowledge of structure of their subjects. Ferdy de Saussure thought around structuralism rather than independence which I think develops out of the mechanistic model but I need to think about relationalism which applies in both instances. Perhaps the mechanistic model needs an unmoved mover to get it going in which case independence is a false understanding of human behaviour and as a value in the West can be shown to built on shifting sands. So this ought to lead into the way I want to approach the nature of the Melanesian way of thinking. They see things relationallly (I think - I'd have to ask them!) in terms of wontoks and and tradition but educationally their theorists have led them down the Accountability model way. I think that model is neither necessary nor appropriate here but it would be arrogant and neo colonial of me to presume.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

logical or impetuous

I think I am a reasonably logical person so I find myself confused when first of all Pres Bush and then PM Howard go to India, a non signatory to nookula proliferation, and fly kites about selling uranium to India while at the same time they are skuffing sticks across the Iran ant nest and its nookula intentions. I say I think I am logical but I know I am impetuous and that my heart often rules my head and then I suffer emotional turmoil for a few days while the actions of my heart get balanced by my head again. But having made this point, an honest man should be able to say what is on his mind without needing to be careful not to offend a dishonest man. The way of the world. Just like I w'nder what h's h'ppened to the missing vowels of the cool and chic? As in Pres B'sh is not a g'd c'k but l'k what his wife Lora can c'k. B'sh should read a b'k on c'king
Playing chicken on the roads with dodging all the pot holes is now sort of a way of life again. My bus narapela day was driving on the wrong side of the road to dodge the pot holes on his side and this other PMV was heading straight for us. Just at the last minute my PMV swerved but this sort of driving is common as drivers develop their rally skills. And this is on roads and main streets around the city, the second biggest city in the country.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

confusion on distance learning

One of my jobs is to help lecturers write courses that can be taught by distance mode and for lecturers who have a mindset that University education is done in a lecture theatre or laboratory by full time students, this is a barrier I have to overcome. The other problem is that they think my department will run their programs so I have to explain that distance learning is a university programme and student registration, enrolment, course records will be handled by the University registry. Confusion has arisen because my department registers and runs distance learning for Adult Matriculation. The University has been seen to hand over the implementation of distance learning to the COMMITTEE of Distance Learning which just happens to have DEPARTMENT of Distance Learning officers on the Committee along with Academics and so the two roles are not distinguished. I try to explain that all the Department is is a post office or freight section which delivers course materials to the students. I am an Instructional Designer with expertise in writing for Distance Learning and Independent Learning and I think lecturers suspect that this makes the Department contoller of the lecturers' courses. I am merely there to help written materials be written for independent learning. I try to explain that if a lecturer's course load is 50 students, that this load might be made up of say 40 campus students and 10 distance learners. The people in the villages want their young people to have access to tertiary study and distance learning would be a gift from heaven for their young and for the survival of their village.

Monday, March 06, 2006

the orchid

Returning from talking to pren bilong mi I smelt this clear crisp flower with a spicy-cinnamon? flavour about 15cms across,6 crimson petals and a venus fly trap type of seed pod - yellow tips on crimson fronds at the end of a folded juicy lily covering the pollen. I'm not much of a biologist so i don't know the technical names for these parts of a plower (p in lieu f in Tok Pisin). This takes away the pain? worry? I have of things that I can do nothing about. Things of beauty in the natural world are like that. As is the thing of beauty in earnest longing and hopeful students wanting to be given a chance through self education.
I continue to work on my inservice course on Transforming Lecture Material into Text for Independent Learning and I was able to get a lot of helpful information from UPNG in Pt Moresby which confirmed and consolidated my own ideas about Instructional Design up here. John and I will work together on the report of our visits to Divine Word and UPNG to present to the VC and Pro VC so that the Univ will show leadership in getting distance learning accepted as standard here.

moral uncomfortability

I was warned about being confronted by distressing situations that reacted against our cultural sensitivities and up until now I thought the sorry plight of the dogs was the only ugly thing (morally) that I needed to be concerned about. I spoke with several moral wontoks this morning and asde and I will try to talk with AVI on a secure line tonight.
I feel guilty and powerless to act and as a concerned wontok said to me, "You do your job, talk to me and the others whom you trust in order to get it off your chest but as for changing anything, the change has got to come from the nationals."
Here was me trying to be the Che Guevara of PNG. He's right of course. My job is important in the long run because hopefully it will put in place the circumstances that will educate more PNG nationals to tertiary level. Nevertheless, I am still trying to explore the philosophical problem of whether there is a Melanesian model of intelligence that can be known only through thinking Melanesianally and if so would better bring about the change that is needed. The clever ones among the nationals have brought the western model of intelligence and systematised it to their advantage but I am trying to think about a model of intelligence that the moral nationals can become aware of so that they can effect change in a distinctively Melanesian way.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

telling the truth

If a pig wanted to have all the noble qualities and prestige of a Bengal Tiger (my favourite animal), he would still be a pig because that is his nature. Likewise, dishonest people would like have qualities that attach to honest people - respect, integrity, prestige, but their behaviour gives them away in the same way that lying down in the mud gives the pig away so that you do not mistake him for a Bengal Tiger. The con man was hanging around Church again today but as I wrote elsewhere, there are other sophisticated conmen closer to home. Telling the truth and calling a pig a pig and a dishonest man a dishonest man should not be a problem. I was angry that such blatant disrespect for honesty and integrity would be condoned and expected to be accepted as standard behaviour. What is more ugly? I was standing waiting for an hour for buses this morning amidst squashed litter, red buai spittle, one huge greeny, trampled buai shells and the crush of people waiting to get on a bus. At the same time, going around in my head was the idea that I should not say anything about the corruption and ignore the facts of dishonesty. Physical ugliness is easier to accept than moral ugliness - I can turn a blind eye to moral ugliness but I get guilty that I am a moral coward for saying nothing.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

taking away the plate

I am yet to discover the reason for the haste in removing a plate when you have just eaten the second last morsel. We ate out several times last week in Madang and also when I have occasionally been to the hotels here in Lae it almost seems that waiting staff are ready to pounce on your plate as soon as you are about to put down your fork when the plate looks nearly empty. To put down one's fork and reach for one's serviette seems to be a signal to remove the plate with all haste. I think I must like to contemplate what was on the plate for a while before it is removed and therefore to have it removed, as seems to be the Melanesian Way leaves me feeling as though I have too readily farewelled a dear friend. Can you not spare one short moment to contemplate what could have been, I hear myself saying to the departing plate?
John corrected me about my Melanesian-Polynesian distinction the other day. He said the distinction was based on traditional trade routes and that Fiji was in fact Melanesian and the Micronesians went as far as Hawaii.
We are goint to UPNG in Pt Moresby today for a similar venture - to see the way it goes about writing courses for correspondence studies. We go by balus so it is unlikely we will see any pythons: returning from Madang we came across what looked like a speed bump in the road with an eagle antap. As we slowed down we could see it was a dead four metre long python about as thick as one's leg. What a beautiful creature that it should end its long life that way as road kill.