outback to jungle

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

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

watching the tv breakfast programmes

makes me react like R did about TV generally. However it is a reliable source of "news" as it can generally be expected to tell me if something major had happened overnight. My Radio Australia reception wants to close down frequencies and open up other ones just before the news hour so i am left to frantically find the 12khz or 16.5kz and unscramble radio Australia from the host of other South East Asian programmes. I get troubled by the people they get to "host" these Tv shows - they are a bit like the homecoming miss popularity queens and captain of the First XV who haven't yet realised they are not still a school prefect and captain of the hockey team and member of the debating team. They giggle and flirt most of the time being gooey and touchy feely and then they put on a sad story and they become empathic counsellor - "That must be so hard?" "You must find that very difficult?" trying to milk the misfortune for all it is worth. They don't seem to have these same types on the Fox or BBC or SBS as the CH 9. And then they let out these little squeaks at State of Origin time - "Oh goody, go the blues!" as if they knew what the blues were and as if they cared. I'm sure my mate is right but TV helps relax me by reminding me of something of the known.

I hope I didn't breach confidentiality

but I thought yesterday's message of what life is like for most PNGns is important. It contrasts for example with this other side of life which I heard from Rotarian M last night. He was returning from the airport about 1.30 in the afternoon - daylight - and about the 9 mile he was confronted by a gang of ten with AK47s or soem other such weapons. He decided to put his foot down and drove straight through. He thinks there weren't any shots fired at him - he suspected they might not have had the ammo. Further down the road towards town he saw a police car heading out. He tried to wave it down but it drove on. Returning to town he told his boss and together they went back to the spot where there was another car pulled up and they told them the police had already been and apprehended three of the criminals. They returned to the police station and identified the rascols.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What I thought I'd be doing

"Tonight all six of the computers in the computer lab are in use. Three nights a week I spend an hour to an hour and a half in the lab to help the students. At the beginning of the term I prepared a couple of classes to give them the basics and then they just need to practice and learn things as they go. Only about a third of the students are familiar with computers. Some had never seen a qwerty keyboard before and so are needing to learn how to type. I am not always there but most nights students are busy in the lab working on papers, sermons, letters or other projects. This week and next the students’ wives will be doing an HIV/AIDS counselling course. The wives have been busy getting ready for it and decorating their class room – even putting table cloths on the desks. Children’s education is different here. We have a 17 year old in the 5th grade - not because he is dumb, but he wasn’t able to start school until he was older. Some places don’t have schools available and sometimes parents can't afford the school fees (free education is not a right here). All of the students have learned things through informal education - like climbing a coconut tree, finding their way through the bush, and other practical things. Sometimes a "bush mechanic" can gerryrig a repair that would stump a trained mechanic. Two disciples were seen to be "mere uneducated laymen" but that did not stop them from preaching the good news".

writing twenty years ago

A philosophy of Education for PNG stated, "little effort has been made to help students achieve integral human development...If the leaders being produced by these institutions are not equipped with skills to help others achieve the goals of socialisation, participation, liberation, and equality, then such goals will remain paper goals or mauswara." We should reread the founding fathers of whatever institution we belong to. The Yanks treasure the wisdom of their Founding Fathers, the British treasure Magna Carta, the Christians treasure the New Testament. I said about Sir Paulius' not being too proud to remember his roots and take off his western man's suit and put on his tribal dress. In reflecting on Balladoran yesterday, I couldn't be any other than I am. My Dad often told the story about the wise old men of Balladoran listening to one of their graduate children talking of hybrid wheats which would enable wheat to be grown at Nyngan - 200 k west of the then wheat line. "Listen to the rubbish they fill these University students' heads with. Give 'em an education and they come home and talk nonsense." Today wheat is grown at Bourke - another 200 k further west of Nyngan. When I went to University my concern was that I was going to come home with my head filled with nonsense and that I would disappoint my Dad. The fact was that Dad saw wheat at Nyngan and he realised the "wise old men" were not so wise (in some things) after all.

what is important to me

today? In the blackout yesterday afternoon - only a short one for about an hour perhaps - I went to the library which must use a standby generator to enable lighting and air conditioner and computers. Grand Chief Sir Paulius Matane, Governor General is one of the heroes of this independent nation. I've read others of his books in the search for national literature for an external programme and yesterday I came across the statement of A Philosophy of Education for PNG which he authored as Chairman. It's an important read but I'm not sure that its importance is backed up with the financial resources it deserves. Several weeks ago I saw Sir Paulius in tribal dress and he struck me then as a man not too proud to remember his origins. If the GG is not too proud, what is wrong with the lesser mortals? The big news back home seems to be the idea of selling off the snowy Mountains scheme. I love anything that makes Alan Jones rant on about the voters that they will toss out any government that proposes such a thing. Bullshit Alan. Commonwealth Bank, Telstra you name it, the voters have already forgotten they owned them in the first place. They're "aussies" mate remember - a bit like gold fish - with a memory span of about a day and an enthusiasm quotient which doesn't extend much beyond having an idea that there could be an alternative government.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Vegemite and Tomato drought

hits the supermarkets of Lae. Who ever would've thought there could be such a thing. So it helps to have friends for when I mentioned this startling fact to N yesterday, as if by magic he produced a jar of Vegemite which was surplus to his current requirements. What is it about the stuff that is so distinctively Australian? I took some over to the USA about 10 years ago and gave it to several of the classes I was teaching but not one single one of them liked it. I think perhaps the colour might have put some off but they complained mostly that it was too salty. N told me the tomatoes are at the markets but they are not available yet in sufficient quantity for bulk supplies to the s'markets. R has just been in to follow up from the Balladoran story and told me he enjoyed more than his share at the Drover's Dog at Eumungerie. Wattle doesn't grow out at Bourke but it's alive around Bally and so when Dad came back from His parents 50 Wedding he brought me some wattle so I could take it to school for show and tell.

Balladoran in NSW

My site meter report said a web address from there, Balladoran had clicked on Outback to Jungle so I thought I'd tell about my Grandpa and Grandma, WH and VK Anderson who had the post office and store and petrol depot and silo agency for a long time and then of my Uncle George and Auntie Ollie who took over and of Auntie Jen and Uncle George and my Dad WT known as "Brother" because as children Auntie Jen was the older and she fondly called her little brother "Brother" which stuck. So much so that in the Eumungerie cricket score books of about the 1930s there was a very good bowler listed as B Anderson with figures of 8/13 in one match. I said to my Uncle George at the Eumungerie cricket club reunion about 1992 this B Anderson was good, and was he related and he said, no that's your Dad - sometimes the scorer as they do, yell out who's the bowler and the closest fieldsman call out "Brother Anderson" and so on that day that's how he was recorded instead of his more usual name Tim. Dad was WT and Grandpa was WH. Dad was named after his uncle Timothy who was killed in France in WW1, and the W for Walter after his father.

congratulations to the LAE Sroptomist

society for their Annual trivia night on Saturday. Over 200 people participated. It was the latest night I'd had for some time and I woke at 8am for Church - I need to be at the bus stop at 8.30 to start waiting for a bus and yesterday I was able to catch the first one without pushing and jumping the queue. I downloaded a picture yesterday after being warned that it's bit size would confuse my computer and would make it difficult for people to open up my site. So this morning I looked at yesterday's messages and sure enough the computer has jumbled some of the words and mispelled them. I should listen more often when N tells me something. Sorry about that. It will be interesting to see how today's messages turn out without a picture to confuse the written data I put into it.

I was listening to Alan Jones

the other morning complaining about hold ups to the dualisation of the road around Gundagai. He puts it down to Aboriginal landholders stubbornness in not agreeing to the route through tribal land. There is a similar problem up here to do with the rights of traditional landholders. So I wondered how long is tradition? Rousseau talked about the origin or man's woes as being with the first rogue to lay claim to private ownership saying this land is mine and other people's believing him. In soccer and rugby, the team with the ball has the right to the ball provided they do something with it. In a maul the team has to move forward with it other wise they scrum for it. In soccer they cannot just play defensively. They have to attack. But how would you get a society to agree to the concept of doing something with the land if people just wanted it for the future and some sort of rainy day? In Sydney there was this big hole in the ground for about 20 years which was undeveloped after the '87 stock crash. The City council should have confiscated it after 5 years and sold it off. Use it lose it. Land ought to be a public asset which is sold off to someone to do something with - either housing or commerce or farming , with some set aside for public recreation.

would the eye-gouger

be happy if he ended up with an eye in his hand? I was watching a footy game yesterday and one bloke is to be charged with eye gouging. The same with head high tacklers. Would they be happy if they broke a bloke's neck and either killed him or paralysed him? I spose the Barry Halls of footy would be happy if their elbow took out a bloke's front teeth? Yesterday in what was sposed to be a peaceful demo about something or other to do with gay rights in Moscow a policeman was severely injured after being punched in the head. I spose the rebels are happy they have killed nine policemen and burned down the houses of so many others in East Timor? I spose the cameraman is happy he caught on film the act of the arsonists burning down someone's house in East Timor? -What a scoop. Mate there I was, I sees these blokes go into this other blokes house and fair dinkum they sets fire to it right there in front of me eyes and I got the whole lot on me camera. I was there, right on the spot. OK, so you didn't think to suggest to them that it was not right to burn down some poor bastard's house? Oh no mate. This is a scoop. Live TV and I was there. Great journalism dontcha reckon?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

two of the girls

were harmonmising There is a green Hill far away during Fr Stanleys sermon. I'm sure the sermon was thoughtful but I found myself listening to the music. And ther is the other think about Church here - the number of children and teenagers compared with a typical service back home. They all come up for the blessing if they are not confirmed and they must make up at least a third of the congration. Which makes me wonder about the saints and sinners distinction which is how the historians see one way of viewing the convict/frr settler/soldier-guards population of early Sydney. So many good natured people at church and around campus and at the bus stop and everywhere else and yet the reputation of all is besmirched by the disproprtionate number of roques and villains and petty and major criminals. I always sit down for a chat and cupper adter church and today I met the policeman who is investigating the stabbing of a localk churchgoing businessman a couple weeks ago- described in the blog "random nath". Harold came over and told me he too was taught by Fr Ron, a mutual acquaintance who I know from my church at St Lukes Enmore.

AVIs get together at Melo

about a montheJ or so away - Jane, Robert, Tony with myself out of the picture. Very salubrious way of spending the Saturday Afternoon - Nathan was to heave been coming back from a Church function so couldn't join us. On an other matter - very uplifting at Church this morning - I sat in front rown and behind me was a row of 7-10 year old girls and their singing made me quiet so i could listen. Exquisite pitch rather than perfect picth was how I thought of it - one would change key and the others would harmonise in theoir own pitch - beautiful island harmony. As well this weekend the house behind me has been rehearsing for the oopening of the Campus Catholic Church and the voices with guitar with differnt beatrs and ryhthms gave me free concert quality entertainment. I hope they make a CD of theor music.

Friday, May 26, 2006

you gotter love the name

if nothing else. I was in the Mathieson Library on campus looking for suitable material for a Language course and I went from the 800s (litersature) into the 900s which i thought was history but anyway I camew across Ortega y Gasset. I hadn't struck that name since Politics 1 at uni 30 or so years ago. Ortega y Gasset, Franz Fanon, Paolo Freire, Noam Chomsky, Liberation Theology, Anarchism run together. I looked at Ortega's The Revolt of the Masses and reflected that this edition, 1930's was written with the background of impending Spanish Civil War and Anarchism and one paragraph stood out - "Society is always a dynamic unity of minorities and masses as component parts. The minoriites are individuals or groups which are specially qualified. The mass is an assemblage of persons not specially qualified. The 'mass' is the average man. In this way, what was QUANTITY is converted into a qualitative determination: it becomes the common social quality, man as undifferentiated from other men, but as repeating in himself a generic type. What have we gained from this conversion of quantity into quality? Simply this - by means of the latter we understand the genesis of the former." And so on he develops his reasoning.

dynamite on Butibum road

I was just recounting my story about feeling threatened at Eriku yesterday to P - and he is another who has helped me before to get out of Eriku - and he told me about yesterday on the Butibum road some raskols held up a car with dynamite. It didn't go off and the raskols ran off but the driver gave chase and caught one and took him to Kamkumung where he was beaten probably until near death and saved by the grace of someone who had rung the police. I told him about the kid about 12 years old with a bag of Cambridge cigarettes - looked to be about 40 packets, value say K200. He told me what they do is collect empty packets and the cellophane wrapping and stuff them with paper and reseal the celophane and then sell the finished product. I was concerned with the young kid's having a marketable product which anyone could have stolen from him. Now I am confused - were there cigarettes in those packets? Or was it a K200 con? They have all been saying today that it is best to avoid doing shopping on the Wed,Thurs and Friday of payweeks because that is when the thieves know there is money around to be stolen. Lesson understood.

what is ert ept and kempt?

Writing about the lifestyle of an unkempt drunk yesterday prompted me to think about a kempt drunk. If the drunk is kempt and ert and ept rather than unkempt, inert and inept, would this change his lifestyle? Other things I'd forgotten, Queen Victoria's birthday was on Wednesday. Does nayone care any more? So many things and places named after the dear lady. As to Eriku again. Even the flies don't go near the pile of filth under the stairs at Eriku. This is fourth world squalor at its worst. Well to my mind anyway - this is my first third world experience. Even a container of Playboy and whatever porno magaxine hasn't the same standard and quality of filth that this cubic metre of buai spittle has. I imagine the unimaginable - what if I fell into it? Malaria, typhoid, denge, plague, aids, pox, syphillis, diarrhoea, gonorraea, and whatever else. The back streets of Enmore were disgusting where all sorts of bodily fluids and solids and syringes lurked but this Eriku one looked positively fouler even than there.

the bamboo drummers

from Bougainville whom we met in PMoresby at the Comfort Inn. What a contract to the low lifes hanging around Eriku yesterday afternoon. One bloke had stuff pinched from his car and I was hanging on to my bag with strap around my neck and my fist wrapped tightly arond the handle. I wanted to wait for a direct bus to Unigate but a good man Enoch succoured me and we travelled home together via Kamkumung. He told me to get out of Eriku - its not worth waiting for a direct ride. I don't normally like going to Kamkumung as it seems out of the way but in comparison to Eriku it is a restful paradise. There was a fight going on just behind the bus stop area and low life thieves were trying to eye contect me to distract me while their unseen mate was ready to go for my pocket. There just seems to be a disproportionate number of low lifes because most of the people I meet are honourable as you would expect. This gives context to the slogan, "PNG, Land of the Unexpected."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Shock therapy

that's the term I was trying to think of yesterday. Cold turkey I think it is also called. Facing reality means the same thing. The reality you can't continue to be propped up by aid if you are not going to change your habits. If you want to have a car and mobile phone and a computer but you want to live like an unkempt drunk then the two lifestyles do not go together. There are some great things about tradition. I like a hot christmas lunch because we alawys did that at Bourke in the days of a wood cooking fire in the kitchen when it was 120 - how do you write degrees on this machine? But if you want progress - now theres a real debate - what is it, is it good for you, you're going to end up dead with or without progress so why bother and so on. But what would happen if the donor countries said that's it - reduction of aid in 20% increments over five years. Work it how you are going to survive. You want independence. You've got it. I can imagine the state of the forests and the fishing resources in the sixth year.
Should be a good soccer match tonight. How do you work out - if you're Australian with Greek parents - which team to support?

my living room

This is recorded on a .3meg setting which makes it a file of 160kb. Now my problem is my batteries are flat so need to get them this weekend. My social calendar is full this weekend with the Trivia Night on Saturday to raise funds for the Soroptomist Society of which my friends belong and who had stuff stolen the other day. We wtached the State of Origin footy last night because everyone watches it appearently - my mate brought around pies and sausage rolls and we supported the maroons probably only because the house over the road was screaming for the blues.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"I call on other right thinking

Papua New Guineans to put your heads together and let's move this country before the next election and elect right-thinking Papua New Guineans." - Letters Post Courier 5 May. It is the great pity of the free press that the sentiments and enthusiansm of the letters writers and editorials does not motivate and inspire the people to do something. It's the same back home. If the letters writers had their way the country would not have killed tens of thousands of Iraqis in the hunt for the promised but never to be found weapons of mass destruction. Why if letters writers and editorials can see the truth is it so blind to politicians and those who elect them? On Monday the National described how there are more poor now than before Independence. Billions of dollars of aid money is not finding its way into the lives of the people. Stupidity and corruption must be measured in equal amounts. If you are stupid enough to vote for a corrupt person, I am corrupt enough to milk you for your stupidity. Thank you for your vote. If Australia and the EU are stupid enough to give me money they shouldn't expect accountabilty - that's racist and says they don't trust me.

the problem with editorials

in PNG is that whereas in any other country they would scare the living shitter out of the government, here they hardly matter because the people that matter - the voters - are persuaded more by their wontoks than the press for the elites. More is the pity because the sentiments in Monday's National tell it like it should be told. "...Thankful acceptance of aid, and recognition of the commitment of our friends, has led us to become careless. Too many believe that the aid givers of today will always be there, ready and able to pump more money into the seemingly bottomless pit of our nation’s needs and our own aspirations. Complacency has become the order of the day...Cynicism has become a national trait. We no longer believe in our politicians. We no longer believe in the efficiency of our public servants. We dismiss undertakings at election time as empty promises. We have wandered a very long way indeed from our determination at independence to build a better and more just PNG. If we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that today our nation is riddled with injustice, and with huge gulfs between many sectors of society." So who is going to take any notice? Why don't you tell someone who cares - because I couldn't give a shit about anyone else except me! I've already got power and money so why would I share it with you? "Poor fella my country" was a slogan about Aboriginal Australia. What about the people down the bottom of PNG? Tell someone who cares - but don't bother me. Top attitude that.

how charitable work is rewarded

I came here as a volunteer and I would not have expected that people would steal a mobile phone from someone who was trying to do good deeds. I found out last night about a good friend who organises the charity fund raising trivia quiz night whose bag with all the trivia admin work had been stolen yeasterday afternoon. What on earth are these people? You try to help and they don't care. An innocent 4 yr old boy is no more a concern of the criminals here than an aid worker or any other charity person. One government department cannot explain why 100 vehicles cannot be found. 100 vehicles written off the books just like that. Paid for by EU or AusAid money. 100 vehicles times 100 000kina and this country cannot even buy desks for pupils let alone decent public hospital facilities. Love must be tough. EU and AusAid have got to bite the bullet and say enough is enough. You have not been good stewards with what you have been given and your people are still suffering. Charity work is scoffed at no matter what the circumstance. Charity is a taken for granted and abused facility. Go anywhere in Australia and you will see slack parents drop their kids off at cricket to be baby sat for a couple hours while they go to play the pokies and have a beer. Even the great cricket loving PM never did charity work but expected other parents to look after his kids of a Saturday morning. Enough of charity. Love has got to get tougher.

love must be tough

I've tried again to publish a 500kb picture but it is too much for the system at this time of day. The other one published during off peak time so I'll try that later. Talking to a mate the oyher night we were saying about the business of tough love applied to developing countries. The EU has poured in about 3bn I think it was and what is there to show for it? At Rotary last night we were presented with the tragic case of a 4 yr old severely burned as the result of a mistaken revenge attack: the house was fire bombed with the 4 yr old inside and his 13 yr old could not get him out. Max found out the story after hearing screaming coming from the house: the mother was changing the childs dressings. Doctors are increasingly not prepared to come here owing to the perceived insecurity situation and the chance that Rotary is working on is trying to get the boy to Brisbane for burns treatment. His right eye area is badly scarred with muscle tissue destroyed and thus giving his face a lack of dignity; he is badly scarred on the back, stomache and limbs as well. 3bn from EU plus however much from Australia and how has it helped this 4 year old? Love must be tough as James Dobson, Christian American Evangelist says. You would not give money to a drunk so why is money being poured in here?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

water and road engineering

The New Berlin railway station is built on a water table smilar to that of Lae and the engineers have had to bolt the 1m thick concrete floor into rock about 30 metres down. My proposal for Lae road engineering is rock trenches about 1m down from the road surface, The trenches need only be half m. wide and 1m deep and placed at both edges and in the middle of the road. The rocks would be held in place by wire mesh on the sides of the trenches. Water looks for the weakest resistance and it would ooze itself out in the rock trenches instead of being compressed by the concrete which sooner or later will crack under the water pressure - which happens now with the Lae roads. Water ON the road is not the problem - it is the water UNDER the road which over time makes the road not a road. Problem solved. Applause, take a bow, throw money .

o rose, thou art sick

the invisible worm that flies in the night in the howling storm, seeks out thy bed of crimson joy and his dark secret love does thy life destroy. In thinking about contextualisation of the Language syllabus here, I wondered how this Donne poem compared with this local version: "Woman you starve me, woman you dream of me, woman you long for me, woman you sing my name, woman you want me. You undress - I nam happy, You show your life - I am happy, You dress again - I starve, You go to the bush - I go to the bush, You stay at home - I stay at home. Night comes - I am happy, Night comes and we talk, Night comes - you hold my penis, My friend stands - you satisfy it, An excellent food - delicious!"
Instructional designing is about paedagogy rather than subject content and therefore I need to work with people who know the context of their subject. I can't write the subject because my content knowledge is limited in terms of resources, environment and syllabus. It is important that students learn the idiom and vernacular of their language. Why should Donne's awareness of the same thing be the only one that is appreciable?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

continued from post courier

I quoted some of this letter "Let's plan ourselves not be puppets of Australia" the other day. Some of the rest of it said, "God blessed us with more than enough to become the most powerful nation in the world yet we do not realise that and we are selling our birthright and becoming refugees in our own land. The only remedy available to retrieve our birthright is by developing our human resources. That's the only option because we have failed to build out natural resources." OK so if you're not happy with Australia's involvement tell it to keep the $800 million it gives each year and redirect it to Somalia where the women with dry empty sagging teats eat roots and leaves. You saidit, do something about it.

my first picture blog

Hey this looks good - it is one of several singsing groups at the graduation held in early April. I hadn't been able to publish previously as the file had too many mpixels.

Went to Church this morning early service so I could get back for the funeral service for the Bursar who died suddenly and at early age of 41 on the golf course in Madang last week.

Friday, May 19, 2006

they get frustrated too

but they seem to be able to measure and balance things more appropriately than i can. They see the red betel nut spittle and the garbage and they smell the cow bail smell too. Yesterday I was clearly waiting to be served over the road and a bloke came in and put his order in just as if I weren't there. The owner who is one of the nicest and politest people told him he would serve him shortly but that I had priority. I get bothered equally by acts of kindness and graciousness and bullying and filth but my mates seem to be able to notice the bad but focus on the good. I see there is a symposium on Ethics at the Uni of NSW in the July break. I wonder who goes to ethics conferences - people who are already ehtical preaching to the converted or people who would like to give the impression that ethics matters - ie, those for whom it is important to be seen as being concerned about ethics but for whom ethics in practice doesn't matter. See that is cynical. My mates are not like that. They are more bothered about being the best person they can be and for whom everything else is a passing distraction. What would happen to me if I concentrated on being the best person I could be and forgot about everything else? There goes my security blanket.

so what is me?

To continue from what I was saying before, if slacking it around in a tinny after work is not me, then what is me? I think I must get more emotionally uptight than my other AVI and other mates here. I don't know why. They seem to be able to focus on the other from its fascinating perspective but I see the corruption and red betel nut spittle and I smell the smell of the cow bail yards. I also see the Father Stanleys and hear the choir at church and I see the splendour of the humility and cleanness of the congregation and I enjoy the quietness of Peter and Joseph and I hear the early morning chattering of the birds but these marvels which should brighten my day seem to be pushed aside by the negatives. Cynicism and scepticism are destructive forces so what am I to think of this letter to the Editor from the Post C 16 May "We must focus on our education system and educate more people and equally create more employment opportunities so that we can have half the population healthy, educated and determined to rebuild the ruined island of gold floating on the sea of oil. If we don't, we are a failed state."

it is not easy

living in another culture. Migrants and refugees must find it so tough but they must think it is much more worth it than to stay in their own country. I miss the farming ads for Incitec and other fertilisers products and the heavy machinery ads they have in Western NSW for harvestors and tractors and cotton pickers. That's what i missed most about living at Mooney Mooney on the mangroved banks of the Hawkesbury River, oyster growing and processing capital of the Sydney basin. To think that was 10 years ago now. It was not for me. My school and residence next door backed down through the mangroves into the water. Had it been my nature, I could have gone out each afternoon in a tinny with a 6 pack, spent 2 or so hours trying to fish and that could have been very pleasant even had I not caught a fish. But it just wasn't me.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

just for the record

AVI was here Sunday night and I spent the best part of the lunch hour on Monday trying to work with them to understand exactly what I can do. They met with the VC in the afternoon and with the other two AVIs here and in the evening they met with the town AVIs. Tuesday we had a staff meeting which was all sweetness and light and after which I wrote my memo which I handed and discussed with the boss in the afternoon. On the Wednesday I arrived at work to find the boss' reply memo in my pigeon hole and we both spent up until about 11 with the Pro VC helping us to work through our problems. He, the Pro VC is one of the nicest men, like Father Stanley. The past is finite he said, the future is infinite. You can choose the future, the past is gone and determined.
Today Thursday is the first day of the rainy season apparently although the sky has cleared relatively now at 4pm after rain started about 9pmlast night. I'm looking forward to a beer and Inspector Rex on the SBS tonight. I rang Mum Tuesday night - Jennifer was to leave yesterday. I worry that if my work is not appreciated here then I might as well not waste my time.

I've just come back

from a seminar with the Architecture and Building dept. I did a powerpoint presentation of what is involved in writing for distance learning students - the need to think in terms of the student rather than the subject which is common in education now anyway and to write in such a way that the student studying in isolation is not hindered in any way from not being in face to face contact with the teacher and other class members. I still do not read any great enthusiasm with lecturers to externalise their courses and this is very frustrating. So if we get the Adult Matriculation courses rewritten now that the boss says we can get typists and teachers to help well that might be all that i can achieve up here. I'm starting to wonder whether this organisation really does appreciate the personal costs of someone prepared to give up Australia, friends and family to help out. We were warned it would be a challenge and over the last week I am realising what a challenge. Yesterday the Pro VC held a conciliation meeting between my boss and myself after we had both said some pretty ordinary things. I gave a good serve and I think he shot back a pretty reasonable forehand volley. Probably call it even but he had the home ground advantage so I didn't want to push my luck.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

will things be any different?

Drained isn't the feeling, it's more like despondency - sadness without hope that things are going to get better even after the huge input of yesterday. I've just been in a meeting to discuss what am I going to do and there seems to be still no resolution and nor any enthusiasm for resolution. Maybe it's all too hard and he's hoping I'll leave and not give him any more problems. At least I've got my paper Restructuriung to Synchronise on the agenda and I've already developed the powerpoint presentation but this meeting is not until next Tuesday. It's the problem of being a little cog in a big wheel which is just parked at the rubbish dump waiting for things to happen to it. It's a passive existence. I think I'll send off to my mate about the jobs with the church he was talking about. I'd love to see courses externalised but if this is not going to happen well it's better I should realise this. I also need to think about another job with Save the Children which a mate emailed me. It's based in Afgh where I was to have been going originally: "ALLIANCE GLOBAL CHALLENGE PLAN MANAGER - AFGHANISTAN. Guide and support the implementation of Afghanistan's Global Challenge (GC) Country Plan using a rights-based approach in all programming and policy advocacy work. Meet with Alliance country/program directors at least monthly to apprise them of specific GC activity/initiatives progress, to seek their advice/counsel and to discuss pertinent budgetary matters, particularly with regard to funding for jointly-implemented GC activities/initiatives such as advocacy with the Ministry of Education and collaboration/work with other organizations. Be the key communicator and representative of the Afghanistan GCWG to the Alliance Secretariat (London) and to Afghanistan's Ministry of Education and other relevant ministries. Support Alliance members' project staff to ensure effective development and management of individual GC initiatives, with special focus on programming to enhance child participation as well as child protection. Lead GCWG efforts to communicate with other organizations (government, UN agencies, NGOs) to build strong and effective information exchange networks for child protection and safe, child-friendly education."

Monday, May 15, 2006

is it such a terrible thing

to be as intemperate and impatient as I am? I never use crude language and when I do it lets off steam. The sentiments remain the same only I moderate them when I have cooled down. I still don't know what is to be happening to me but I cannot take this uncertainty much longer. My boss doesn't care because if he did he would be where his priority should be. A programme on SBS last night talked about psychopathism manifested itself in criminals as well as bosses: symptoms were those such as bullying, extreme self centredness, lying, pursuit of personal ends no matter what, hypocricy. My boss has all of these tendencies so I don't see how I can possibly reestablish a working relationship with him. When he came in to aplogise the other day I said to myself he would have to do better than that, but the other manner of the psychopath is slipperiness which makes you feel as though this time he is genuine. He would not know what genuine was but he has developed such a complex that he can make you think he deserves one more chance. He can't help himself but to be psychopathic. I'm trying to work out the origins - psycho for soul, pathos for pity but how do these come together?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

who'd a thought

there was a Bourbon living in modern day PNG? I told my boss the other day, "You make excuses about why you have been away. 7 Habits teaches about priority. You knew you were taking three months leave so you should not have gone to India to present a paper. Your job is here - not presenting papers overseas or a 7Habits programme." So what do you think the Bourbon who has learnt nothing from history is doing tomorrow? Right. He is not going to be at work until 3pm. His priority tomorrow is to speak to the Chamber of Commerce in Mt Hagen! My people are here up from Australia supposedly to speak with him to get my job description sorted out. I have done NOT ONE DAY of Instructional Designing since I have been here. My organisation has recruited me at expense to itself and the goodness of my desires to help this Bourbon's people and country out and where is he going to be tomorrow? Not where he should be.

poor people but not a poor country

If you have a mentality for exploitation then it makes sense to exploit or rip off from the biggest resource you can. People rob banks rather than individuals because there is a bigger resource pool in the bank. So if you build up the base from which you are going to exploit and rip off, it makes sense that you are going to have a bigger rip off pool. If as most people here are poor, then your pickings are going to be poor. You might rip off a bag of kaukau or buai. But if you built up their skills through education which is what I want to do, then a country full of skilled people is going to provide your selfish greedy mentality with more. That's what makes my country better than yours and that's why you are envious of my country - the people are educated. People like my boss need to get their minds above the lustful experience of the short term orgasm and start wining and dining the people because it is the only infinite resource. My boss is a wanker because he wants immediate relief for himself and bugger the more pleasurable experience of prolonged foreplay which brings pleasure to the uneducated people too.

if I were brought here

as a brain surgeon and were given nurses aide duties to do I would be pretty pissed off. Doesn't this clown realise there are other people in the world hanging out for someone with my skills to help them? There's people in his own country who want me to have my skills used but the big-noter is not motivated beyong his own selfish interests. If he lacks the skills and authority and drive to plan how to use me then he ought to give the job over to someone who knows how to use me. Fat chance. He's not going to give up the prestige - some prestige working for this place where there is no direction and the leadership just uses it as a private bank for their own purposes. They can't find money to pay for basic utilities but there's always money for overseas trips and living away from home allowances.

now do you see why

I'm so frustrated? This was in my email today: "In the morning I will be participating in a Chamber of Commerce organized Careers & Guidance show in Mt. Hagen and fly back to Lae at 1235 midday flight arriving at my office sometime after 2:30 pm. We can meet at 3:00 pm at our office with Geoffrey Anderson." The meeting between my intermediaries who arranged this volunteer position has been expected for months and the intermediary has been trying its butt off its a wonder there's any toilet paper left. So what has my boss decided is his priority for the day? It tells you what he thinks of AVI and of my contribution. Should we continue to make allowances for these people on the basis that they are "only a developing country"? Developing country my arse. They are laughing all the way to their individual bank accounts.

Friday, May 12, 2006

so what are you going to spend it on?

The Least Developed country goes to the IMF or Australia or any other benefactor and asks for $800. So what do you want the money for? Oh the usual, roads, hospitals, schools and law and order. Uh huh, well OK, that sounds good. Here you are - $800 million. Next year the LDC visits the benefactor again and asks for $800 million. And what do you want the money for this time? Oh the usual - roads, hospitals, schools and law and order. Uh huh, that sounds good. Would you like some for economic development too, say another $200 million? Uh huh, that sounds good. Next year the LDC visits the benefactor and asks for $1000 million. And what do you want the money for this time? Oh the usual - roads, schools, hospitals, law and order, and economic development. Uh huh that sounds good. Would you like some for environmental research, say $200 million? When is this joke going to end with a demand for accountability and transparency?

roads now hospitals in a LDC.

Post Courier 9May. "Sir Peter (Health Minister), while on the tour of ANGAU Hospital in Lae, expressed concern over the run down state of wards, medical equipment and other facilities. He was dismayed that a large batch of medicines for children was being dumped because they were “off”. Sir Peter said he was also disturbed that patients had to sleep on the floor due to shortage of beds. Officer-in-charge at the hospital pharmacy Jane Kane told Sir Peter and his team the hospital was getting drugs and other supplies from chemists as well as other hospitals in the region. Sir Peter was also shown the hospital’s broken down air conditioning system, which has affected the operations of the operating theatre for a long time. The X-ray department also faced major problems with one of two machines broken down. The department did not also have a radiologist. The only ultra-sound scanner was also out of service. He did not make any commitment on the course of action he would take.” After the previous blog on the roads which followed the blog about the LDC, the way this country is being managed is a bloody joke. I don't know what is worse - a country like Australia being run by an image conscious liar or this one by comedians.

where the f*** does the money go?

Post Courier 9 May. "Poor roads disincentive for investors
The President of the Lae Chamber of Commerce and Industry Alan McLay said while crime was one of the major impediments of doing business in Lae and Morobe, so was the poor state of infrastructure, particularly the city’s roads. If the roads and other infrastructure are falling apart you will have business asking why they should invest in the city,” Mr McLay said. He said Morobe Governor Luther Wenge should concentrate on fixing the roads in order to allow businesses to expand and in turn create job opportunities. Mr McLay said the new tact taken by the provincial government to allocate K6 million towards the cementing of the city’s roads was not the solution. “The solution is to fix and maintain. “An annual maintenance program is vital at the moment there is nothing in place.”
$800 million from Australian Government, plus the Japanese, European Union, Chinese and Taiwanese are all spending but this place looks crap. The people milking all this money from these donors and more besides such as from International Aid and Church groups it pains me to say ought to be ashamed that they have let their country and look like it does. Why would you pour more money into this place when you see nothing for it?

Am i sure i'm a leftie?

What if I'm not a leftie or even a bleeding heart? What if I'm a radical neo-con? Oh please, what is happening to me? I'm going through this crisis of conscience where stuff happens. Like I was thinking about the Least Developed Status and I thought, "Ok, so you want to live tribal and own the land I drive my car on (hypothetically as I don't have a car) and not alienate the land to the State for the common good and charge me for driving over your land, well OK you do that. In return I'll charge you delivery price without economies of scale for your car and TV and phone and electricity and bottled beer and medical treatment and the air you breathe for not dying at age 38 as your tibal system allows you to do. A country has to decide what it wants to be - a group of traditional societies living traditionally or a State embracing modernity. If it doesn't want modernity then it can do without my stolen mobile phone, my haus meri can do without my employment and she can eat kaukau and pigs jowls, it can do without vegemite and toilet paper and aeroplane trips to visit wontoks and it can do without condoms and AIDS treatments. Furthermore it can do without the tax money that Australians DONATE - $800 million each year. Perhaps some hacker has got into my blog to write this. I'm sure these aren't my thoughts.

least developed country status

From Post Courier 9 May. "A United Nations committee has recommended Papua New Guinea lower its status as a developing country to that of a “least developed country’’. The report said PNG met the three criteria used to judge countries for inclusion in LDC. An explanation of the criteria used by the UN committee is:GNI - The total value of goods and services produced within the country; HAI - The health of the nation’s population taking into consideration child mortality, secondary school enrolment, adult literacy and its cholesterol intake; andEVI - The underlying economic and environment fragility of the country. Thresholds for inclusion in the list of LDCs are: per capital GNI of less than $US750 (K2396), HAI of less than 55 and EVI greater than 37.It was also revealed that PNG has undergone stagnation for many years and suffered a decline in per capita Gross National Income. Its human asset and economic vulnerability indices have suffered severe structural handicaps.The recommendations, subject to approvals by the PNG Government, will be sent to the UN Economic and Social Council for a final decision when it meets towards the middle of the year.One economic commentator said the report was based on the fact that since 1995, PNG had experienced more negative growth than positive grow."
What the f*** is going on when a country with more bananas, pawpaws, gold, oil, coffee, tourism potential, you name it, is a LDC? It's time AusAid looked at how much bang it is getting for its buck and started to screw some balls to get accountability. Donor countries are being played for suckers while corruption pockets millions.

about a week ago

I was writing about the man who does not trust does not deserve to be trusted. PM Howard, that man of Destiny, born to greatness and with greatness thrust upon him by a floundering Liberal party about fifteen years ago, I said has never trusted the voters. Like all politicians he enthuses about their respect for "the common good sense and decency" of the Australian voters but notice they always say this from a position of power after they have won an election. I know I will never hear Fatso say it because he has disappointed every person who has despaired of Australia under Howard. So how good it was today to hear the rescued miners paying tribute to their Union for its role in getting them out of the mine. About twenty years ago a gas explosing in a mine in Queensland trapped I think it was a dozen or so miners underground so the Mining Company filled the mine in to suffocate the fire. It still does not know to this day if those miners escaped the explosion and if they buried their workers alive. Without Unionism, who is going to care about the workers? Certainly not Howard. He could not trust them to vote for him on his own merits and image so he invented the lie about himself that he was the friend of the worker - Howard's battlers he called them; he invented the lie about himself that he was a yobbo cricket lover; he invented the lie about himself that he was more compassionate that former Governor General Bill Deane by turning up like a drunk uncle at any photo op his minders could line up; he invented the lie that he was a good Church man by using a photo up to show him kneeling with clasped hands. The man is a worse bullshitartist than the Man from Ironbark.

Do i have any choice

but to live in an uncertain world? Yesterday it was not even certain that my font selection was determined. I have some work I can do today: I need to pay to have my gas bottle refilled; I need to write up my policy part of the Externalisation policy document which is being discussed at the Externalisation policy meeting next Tuesday; I need to get my agenda item over to the secretary of this meeting and hope that it is not too late for its inclusion. So this part of the day is planned. I will watch the CountryvCity match at Dubbo tonight. But as for the rest of the day maybe I just have to let it unfold. Predictability is good - but predictablity about uncertainty or uncertainty? I would like to know that if the unexpected doesn't happen then that I have something else constructive to do. But this business of turning up to work each day and wondering if anything I do has any meaning in this organisation I work for, then that is very wearing. What choices do I have? How can I determine my day in a productive way if what I came here for is no longer purposeful? How can I do something purposeful if I have no guidelines for what would be purposeful for this organisation? I am not the ultimate boss of my endeavours so I do not want to waste time on unmeaningful endeavours.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I had about fifty emails

in my microsft outlook intray about half of which were - why is this font stuck on courier - I like Ariel - anyway half of which were viruses ah there goes I've got Ariel back. I'm not sure what ariel says about my personality - a sans serif font. I wonder if it means I'm like Meursault? Anyway after leaving the m'soft outlook open all day it downloaded about a week's worth of emails. The viruses were strangling the emails trying to get through. A bit like Norm Russell an electrician mate who told the little old lady with a power problem that there was a stuck electron. I've had a successful resolution to my relationship problem. I was going to start off a memo, "Management by writing memos and leaving in pigeon holes is considered the least effective management tool. It sends the message that the manager is weak and not sufficiently mature for leadership and is frightened to confront a problem." I showed my intentions to a mate and I took his advice that it was too confrontational and shortly after I hand delivered the memo I got a positive outcome. My job description has still not been satisfactorily determined but following an all day meeting of senior management I think I am reasonably confident we can get something organised for the better education of the people of this country. It's great to have people to help you along. If I'd chosen my way I'd have been too confrontational and without meaning to be too immodest, the people who matter would be no nearer getting the education they need.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I am at a loss.

I was supposed to be having a meeting this morning to go through a conciliation process. I was snubbed by the Head the other day at which I took offence and wrote to the VC mainly for the purposes of trying to get certainty and clarification of my role. I have literally done nothing for the third day that remotely resembles anything in my job description. So my immediate supervisor and I turned up at the Pro VC's office because he had been asked by the VC to handle the issue. He asked where the Head was and told his secretary to ring and the Head told her to tell the Pro VC to ring him. Apparently the Head thought there was a conspiracy going on and he refused to come to conciliation. So the meeting was cancelled. There is more going on than I am in a positipon to know but I think he has lost his marbles. He's writing these bizarre memos and putting them in pigeon holes rather than approaching people and telling them he had a problem. This is the same bloke that talks about the 7 HAbits of effective people - think win-win, think proactively, own yoiur mistakes, communicate with people, don't blame circumstances or other people. He is the authority figure and I don't consider it to be my role to approach him again as he made sure my approach to him was not welcome the other day. This is all very unpleasant. I'm lucky to have some good colleagues to talk things over.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

why should I care when I

have right on my side? Meursault addresses this problem and he comes to the realisation about his mother in relation to his own life - "Si pres de la mort, maman devait s'y sentir liberee et prete a tout - sorry about accents this machine doesn't want to recognise them - revivre. Personne, personne n'avait le droit de pleurer sur elle. Et moi aussi.." It is not arrogant to realise one is right and another is wrong in a matter of common courtesy so why should I care to tell the truth. This is what Meursault wrestled with. If this makes him un personnage peu vraisemblable then it does not say much about the rest of us. And so for me, wrestling with my work situation. I want to stay. There is work to be done that needs to be done. There are little people relying on someone to get university courses to them. This really does sound arrogant of me but I've always hated bullies who use others as means to their ends. So if I am right and the other is wrong and I have to compromise then I am out of here faster than Dave if that is possible.

the professor and I

met this morning in response to my letter yesterday to the VC. The VC asked the prof to handle the matter on his behalf so he heard me out, just getting more facts that I had not detailed in the letter. I value highly the prof as he has always made himself available to me - unlike the scammer who walked away from me yesterday. I told him I was here to do a job to get university level courses out to the people who can help the development of this country and its people and that is what I want to do. If the university doesn't want me to do this job any more then it can pay out my contract and I will go over to Darfur. I told him that the problem wasn't interested in my work otherwise he would have done something and would not have let this issue reach this head. I told him that if the scammer offered me his hand in apology I would refuse to take it and I would tell him he's got a lot more work to do than that to restore the lost respect I have for him. I told him that the problem's mind is not on the job, that he was a big noter who fancied himself being in politics or else in the VC's chair and that his mind was on the 7Habits programme and politics and the election next year and it was not on the job that he was being paid by this university to do. I pointed to the confidential memo and told the professor that leaders do not make excuses for their inaction and inability. If the problem can't do the job then he ought to be sacked. If his mind is not on the job he ought to be told to get his mind on the job for which he is being paid or get out. We will have a summit meeting tomorrow to try to resolve the issue. The scammer knows this has been going on since January yet he has ignored it. First things first was a 7Habits motto and running scams was more important than looking after the staff who had come here to help his people. That is why he pissed me off. He didn't even practice the rules that his scam taught.

my soulmate and I at the Melo

The Melanesian is the nicer of the two resort type hotels in LAE and it is a lot cheaper than the LAE INTER. So my mate picked me up - when I say picked me up I mean he walked over to get me and we PMVd into town - a rare sight tupela waitmen on the bus - where we paid some bills, got some new phone cards and did a bit of shopping and went to the Melo for lunch. Bugger it I thought, I've told George I've got nothing to do and he didn't seem interested so why waste my time in the office when I can be doing something more interesting. We had a club sandwich and a couple orchies and coffee. All in all a pleasant three hour long lunch. We probably didn't solve the problems of the world but at least a problem shared is a problem halved or something like that. Listening and caring about someone else is all the more important when you are away from home and I really can't share the job problems with my wok colleagues as I don't want them involved and having to take sides if it were to come to that as I still have to work here and so I am really very lucky to have another shoulder to unburden myself to. What's more he came to me. That sort of thing is mateship whether you're alone down a mine or alone spiritually or mentally or physically removed by whatever form and someone recognises that this bloke needs a mate.

I went to bed last night

and was very troubled about the rescue operation to get the Tasmanian miners out of their tomb 1000 m underground at Beaconfield. So I prayed. I always pray particularly when I can't get to sleep and the Lord seems to be the only awake at that time of night whom I can talk to. He listens and tells me she'll be alright Geoff not get to sleep and let me get on with strengthening the resolve of the rescuers and miners and families. And then I thought about my day. The man is a big noting little shit who would be if he could be. I don't know how many other scams he is in. He's the type of bloke who greases up to people of influence but I don't know how or why they let themselves be sucked in by the little turd. A good mate of mine back in Sydney is mates with one of the suckers whom I like and I thought he would have his head screwed on. What am I missing here - there's a conundrum I can think about tonight but I need more information. Who would have it and who would tell me? I'll just keep coming to work even though I've got no work to do and I'll fiddle around. It's his problem now. I'll wait out my time until AVI tries to help me sort it out but he dammed himself in two confidential memos which expose him for the greaser he is. Hopefully next week I'll know the full extent of the damage.

the difference between

being effective and being underestimated. CVs are all about blowing your own trumpet to make a person who does not know you sit up and take notice. Bullshit artists and con men are practiced in the art but I find it difficult - to blow my own trumpet that is. Effective people generally have a slave to blow their trumpet for them so if you've got to do it yourself, you are not worthy of the rank you esteem to. If my deeds don't stand out on their own merit then writing about them seems a way of pandering to an inefficient and image is all that counts meritocracy. So when someone tells me excuses for why they have not done something, when they have to justify their actions and when they are in a leadership position, they strike me as false big noters or rogues and in a worst case situation possibly as a crook. Someone like this has a lot of ground to make up for me to ever respect him. Particularly if they have gone around selling and promoting expensive Business Management and Self Improvement products which are all style and simplistic slogans. The product is a scam and the promoters are scammers. Current Affairs programmes are full of shonks and shonky practices and people are taken in by these villains every day. But generally the villains don't go to church - unless it's to develop an image to boost clientele.

Monday, May 08, 2006

what if you don't rock the boat

The SMH reported on the front page last week about Joanne Hoffmann, the Accountant General in the Solomons. "She has been abused for not approving the disbursement of funds and for insisting on proper accountability for spending. This has included angry responses to her refusal of funds for some overseas travel, not least one episode which infuriated the Parliamentary Speaker, Sir Peter Kenilorea."
If something is wrong then who makes the judgement that it is wrong? US President Lincoln said "if slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong." What about the death penalty? Joseph Clark the 1021st person to be executed in USA since 1976 sat up after "they", the executioners had been pumping lethal drugs into his arm and said, "It's not working". "The execution was delayed for 90 minutes because technicians had trouble finding a site in Clark's arm for the intravenous line carrying the chemicals. ...The method involves three separate drugs - the first renders the victim unconscious, the second stops all muscle movement and the third stops the heart causing death." After Clark had sat up the curtains "were closed to block witnesses view until technicians found a vein in his other arm. They were then parted to reveal him dying winesses said." This is wrong. As for being called a "technician", a participant to State murder is an executioner. A hangman is an executioner. A beheader is an executioner. An electrocuter is an executioner. A lethal injector is an executioner. No fancy word like "technician" should disguise the fact that the perpetrator is an executioner and they should write that on their CV.

am I such a prickly character

This is my diary entry for today. "Time of writing, 8.23am. I arrived at work just after 8, went to my office, turned on my computer, read the confidential letter from HOD and went to see the HOD whom I met at the pigeon holes. I said we needed to to discuss my job description because I had done as much as I could within the current policy constraints. He said we would discuss it later and I said I had given him 9 days to think about it and he said he couldn't do it right now because he had to go and off he went with his digital camera in hand. I went back to my office to stew and thought no, this man can't just walk off when there is a pressing staff matter so I followed him out to the car and I told him George, you don't seem interested in what I am here to do and he just kept walking to his car and drove off. I then went over to see the VC and make an appointment. On the way back I called to see a colleague. I have finished writing this at 8.30 am."

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Honest John

got his nickname in 1978 when he had to put on a tax surcharge to pay for the fistful of tax dollars his PM Fraser had promised in the election six months before. "Fair dinkum, honest, this time it's really really true, the tax surcharge is only a little surcharge and it's only for six months. Fair dinkum, that's all, not even a year." Anyway, at the end of six months, the government was still in debt so guess what. "Honest, fair dinkum, I'm not lying to you, 'pon me farver's grave, bless his soul, and Winston Churchill's too -'ees me namesake you know, destiny an' all that like - would I lie to you, I just need to extend the tax surcharge, just a little bit more, I just need a bit more time. That's all, fair dinkum, You know me, I trust you like. Just another six months." Like all con men, he knows how to get to you. He wouldn't know a cricket ball from a cricket bat but he knows cricket's a good image. He never set up the stumps or umpired his children's cricket or scored. He left that for other parents to do while he built his political career. His Church tradition is the sitting and standing one of Methodism. Catholics and High Anglicans are the kneelers and hand claspers but Howard is cunning enough to know that kneeling and hand clasping is the image the mainly atheist Australian voter associate with Christian so that's the image he shows whenever the TV cameras are on him. This way he distinguishes himself from the secular humanists (like Hawke and Hayden) who attend Church for ceremonials like funerals.

"a man who does not trust

does not deserve to be trusted". I forget the author of this aphorism but it sounds like something former Lord Chancellor Denning I think it was along with another aphorism "Justice is what the right thinking man believes to be fair" or something like it anyway. There is a lot of scope for wondering such as what is a right thinking man, what is fair anyway. As for trust, PM Howard has never trusted the Australian people. They are the same ones who voted for Whitlam and Hawke and Keating so why would you trust them is his mentality. They kept him in the wilderness for thirteen years when with a second name like Winston and with imagines like his father and grandfather who had been in wars, with an imaginis of his kneeling with clasped hands at a funeral in contradistinction to the seated unclasped hands Hawke, with an imaginis of his sitting in the Members stand at the New Years Test, with imagines of his walking tall with the gold medalists at the Sydney Olympics he was the archetypal Man of Destiny. It's just that the people were too stupid to see it. He couldn't trust them so he lied. Nope, never ever cross me heart ever a GST; nope, I believe in the sovereignty of nations so no chance of regime change as an excuse to invade Iraq; nope, those kiddies were definitely upom me muvver's grave bless her soul thrown overboard; nope, interest rates'll always by jove be lower so long as you gimme another go at bein' PM; I love this job meetin' all the kool people like me mate George. I trust yez, yez all know me, yez like me, Little Johnny, you remember. I could never lie to you.

we had to spend Thursday

getting our cars fixed up. Matt's had a front end prang and my wheel alignment was gone so I did not get around to doing all the last minute things like getting some tools for Peter and books and pencils for Betty, Delilah and Vivienne and some shoes for Paul and some milo for me. To offset this worry it is a delight to read and watch the handwringers as interest rates went up by a quarter percent. The Daily Telegraph growled how terrible it was - as if PM Howard is going to be bothered. He knows that anyone who reads the Telegraph is too stupid to remember the grumbling come voting time and that the Tele is just trying to buy some favour with the dumb punters who buy the dreadful rag and the rantings of Piers Akerman. Piers! No wonder the poor bastard is so screwed up. With a name like that his parents ought to be in Guantamo Gaol either as "detainees" for the crime of calling a poor little kid Piers or as torturers for being able to inflict misery on even little babies without so much as a wince. I loved the letter in the SMH, "I suppose we will now have to put up with a cacophony of bleating from all those hoodwinked Howard's Battlers who have overextended themselves with huge mortgages to satisfy their gluttonous consumerism. Don't hold out much hope of your situation being rectified as it is quite possible that the duplicitous little twerp will find a way to delude you and deceive you into voting for him again next year. Stop your whinging and live with it; you made your bed so lie in it." Good stuff. Likewise I've got no sympathy for the victims of the new workplace reforms. Suffer, you fools! You voted for him,

Phil Carter and myself and Matt

were talking the other day about the way Rugby is buying League players and about how this was unfair on blokes who had devoted themselves to Rugby - blokes who had sold chook raffles and barbecues to keep their club going - in the hope that someday they would play for Australia. Now here again after Sailor and Rogers who had not sold even one sausage sandwich for Rugby we have more stories of Gasnier and others being paid to go and play Rugby. This is not fair and it doesn't matter how good the player is. My ex-Uncle in law Barry who was secretary of Barraba League told the club he was not going to leave his wife and children alone to themselves every Friday night just to go down to the pub to sell chooks to help pay players in a game which should be played for fun and not money. I understand the complication that TV buys programming rights and that if a player is helping to fill a programming slot where TV would otherwise be paying royalty rights for a rerun of Top Gun, then the player gets "performance money" and that Sailor, Rogers and Gasnier might be good Tom Cruise substitutes. But that does not mean it is fair. What is the solution? Like the Dafur women and babies, just accept that some things in human life are not fair?

as a volunteer I come

with a sense of adventure as well as a willingness and desire and hope to do some good. I went away for a break to rekindle my ideals and after seeing the emptiness of the streets and yards which are metaphors for the inanity and emptiness of the lives of the people in Australia and probably the west generally, may the manmeri of PNG be spared developing the way of the western world. But having come here as a volunteer, having renounced for a short time only admittedly the indulgent lifestyle of the west, having accepted a position working at national's level wages, it is galling to understand the mentality behind applying for a volunteer. Sure the experience is worth every bit of forsaking cappucino and KFC and MacDonalds and Big Brother uncut and morning TV giggling blondes and shock jock talk back and PM Howard and the fat bloke who thinks slimming down will make him a leader. So I say it is galling from the aspect of why is a volunteer needed here rather than Dafur when clearly the University has a stack of money to spend on a rort at a resort in Madang? Why can it not afford to buy in labour at international contract rates and free up the volunteers to work in places like Dafur which have a much more urgent need? I am glad I am here but I do not reconcile the justice of the matter and this is "mein Kampf".

the second thing I noticed

or rather was told on my return, was of the latest rort that is, if not enraging, then causing more resentment, was the "seminar" or "workshop" in Madang for thirty of the University's high fliers. I have not worked out who the high fliers are but at K3500 per head, they were put up at the luxurious Madang Resort for a week to "workshop" themselves about something or other. "This is the very same University", they tell me, "that did not have money to pay the residential caterer last year thus causing the University to postpone the academic year for two weeks, this is the same University that has not passed on its tax remittances for five years, this is the same University that does not have enough money to pay its telephone bill. But it can find K105000 for a luxury week for high fliers!" Yesterday's SMH reported on the Solomon Island's talking tough about the way Australian Aid is tied to certain projects and it editorialised about the state of dread in Dafur. I am not sure if I am bemused or bewildered about the juxtaposition of the stories about the high fliers and the Solomons and Dafur but I am sure the empty teeted women and their forlornly sucking baby in Dafur would be bewildered.

what struck me most

on my return to Australia for a brief 10 days was the emptiness and silence of the streets and homes and yards. There was no-one there. Not in Grafton nor Armidale nor Lismore nor Coutts Crossing nor Ballina nor Lennox Heads. Matt, Mum and I went down for a drink at the South Grafton Services club about 5pm and there was no-one there either. So what a contrast to return to Port Moresby and walk through milling throngs on the walk between the International and the Domestic terminals. Then to get back to LAE and drive past the markets all along the airport road and see yard games of volleyball and basketball going on and people washing clothes in the stream and people just walking. What on earth is happening to western civilisation? I think it was Aelius Aristides writing in about the fouth century of his trip between Pharsalis and Tours bemoaning the neglect of the pagan temples and the deserted roads and towns. What is different? And yet the resident galahs of history repeat the mantra "those who forget history are doomed to repeat it."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

David Hicks - well who'd a thought that?

SMH reports, "Colonel Bumgarner told ABC Radio, 'He's not overly co-operative with guards. He's a bit arrogant in hisd demeanour with us'". No way. You're josh'n us aren't ya? Not David - you mean the guy the Yanks locked up in Gauntamo Gaol for 2 1/2 years before they charged him with anything and then his trial has still not been held and by now he has been at Guantamo Gaol for 4 1/2 years and he's unco-operative? Ungrateful bugger. He doesn't know how well off he is. He could have been in Abu Graib. What's he got to complain about? 4 1/2 years in the Caribbean. Think of the exotic tales he's going to tell his grandchildren if he ever gets out.
Of course the whole experience is a disgrace and the Australian govt with the complicity and urging of 52% aussie voters is basking in the glory of having one of our own being made expendable in order to keep the US alliance alive. "There you go George, you can even have one of our own to lock up to prove what a tough guy I am." "hey wow thanks little buddy, you Man of Steel you."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

paul sheehan SMH wrote

"Australia's military deployment in Iraq is one of PM Howard's cosmetic wars - large on symbolism and short on warfare. 2400 young Americans and tens of thousands of Iraquis - compared with two Australians have died so far because of the orders of a profoundly insular commander in chief - a leader who when his own generation was called to war preferred to let other young men do the fighting." When political leaders of another time in Ancient Rome paraded their political pedigree by means of slaves carrying images of their senatorial and consular forebears , Marius stood on the rostrum and tore open the front of his tunic and proclaimed "These are my imaginores!" - revealing the scars from the battle wounds. "I have no other imaginores!" and he turned around to reveal his back which was free from the blemish of scars, this symbolism proving his wounds were received while facing an enemy at his front of his body, not on his back as they would be if he had run away. His imaginores were in his living flesh, not in the cold carved marble of previous generations. PM Howard drags out his imaginores in photos of his father and grandfather in battle attire but he has no imaginores of his own. Korea and Vietnam seem to have passed him by. Marius used to see plenty like him.

Monday, May 01, 2006

What is double speak

if this isn't? "Guns have a very high lethality index (or as it is sometimes indelicately put, a high completion rate) in both homocide and suicide." I wonder if this means the same thing as Guns kill people deader than most other weapons? SMH Sat 29 Apr.
As for the death of Australian Soldier Kovco in Iraq last week the outrage about his treatment by the govt is told in Alan Ramsey's column. "Nelson says it was circumstances beyond our control. Bullshit. If you've got a dead Australian soldier, you bring him home in dignity, wrapped in the flag, escorted all the way. You don't privatise him. You don't treat our dead like baggage that goes in the hold. Bloody unbelievable." The column started, "A friend emailed yesterday. 'We talk about the values debate in Australia? F*** me dead! A billionaire media mogul like Kerry Packer who celebtrated his tax minimisation , gets a publicly funded state memorial service and Private Kovco who offered his life for his country and paid the ultimate price gets treated like a piece of meat."


What a morbid thought! I assume it is a good thing that I have never seen such an ad, but after thinking at the abuse of the English language last week with the Yanks arguing that 11Sept Bomber Moussawi had "qualified" for execution, I wondered what sort of deviant would qualify to be an executioner? Boy Scout training at tying knots? Heroine addict at finding veins for lethal injections? Sadist and bondage expert? Sensitive new age guy telling the condamne to put on a pair of plastic underpants so he didn't make a mess at the end of the rope? As for the sickos who line up to get a seat at the execution, it ought to be compulsory for the judge and jury and the legislators to watch this gruesome barbarity. As if the world is not sick enough with weirdos, why does the State itself have to be weird as well?
10 years on from the Port Arthur massacre and tragedy, the media now talks about it in superlative terms as "the worst massacre by a single gunman." At the time the media was talking about the worst massacre in Australia's history. I rang Channel 10 and told them to get their facts straight because more Aborigines were massacred out at Myall Creek between Inverell and Bingara - by WHITE settlers. Later, the news changed its story to "Worst massacre in recent history". Apparently the sub -eds have to get a superlative in there for news to count as news.

backtracking on the past

This time last year I was feeling as though my destiny was to be encountered after years of dreaming. I was to be going to Afghanistan with AVI (Australian Volunteers International) to assist with curriculum development. I had put my house on the market and given notice to leave my job. I had even had to confront my Mum for the first time ever. She had lost one son four years previous and she said "oh well, I'll just have to book myself into a retirement home". I erupted at this. "Alright then, I'll stay and I'll die a miserable unfulfilled old man if that's what you want." So here I am back in Grafton on leave from PNG for a week. But it has bad associations too because after the Afg project was aborted, with my house' having been sold, being without a job and having forsaken my priestly vocation I dropped into seemingly bottomless despair and the worst bout of depression. I would wake at 3am with nothing to look forward to the next day. Like Wilbur the pig in Charlotte's Web. I remember our dog Andy out at Garah when he was terrified at having been growled at by a big dog ran onto the road and into the wheels of a ute. I thought he was going to die but he recovered. Thereafter when Matt and I walked past that spot, Andy always crossed over the road fifty metres before, walked along the railway line and rejoined us up ahead. He had bad associations with that spot just as I am having bad associations and am anxious to get back to PNG where hopefully we can rewrite a meaningful job description.