outback to jungle

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

Monday, July 31, 2006

It wasn't all the fault

of the Whitlam government that we became more coarse and lost our social graces and turned to back yard barbies. The phenomenon had to do with the inflation and oil shock and the celebration of Australianism outdoors. But we became more stingy in the process. Government grants did away with the need for selling chook raffles and other fund raisers as government taxes bit into the charity giving dollar of the individual. Social conscience and society gave way and crumbled as submission writing for a government grant took over. No longer were we a society where things needed to be discussed and organised over a dinner party. Society became less formal as the size of a dinner party no longer became restricted by the size of the dining room table. It became too easy when we could tell associates, why not come over for a barby on Sunday? Just BYO and we'll sit and cook and etc. Black tie affairs waned. The formal dining room gathered dust. But it was also a lazy way of life. It was easy to be lazy and so the majority developed that way and left the minority behind. These days the majority has an invented life of its own; it doesn't have to think; it votes for relaxed and comfortable Howard style policies; the minority is left to listen. The wedding my Sister organised showed how much more style and class contributes to meaningful life as humans. Such is the life of the minority.

when can you shhh someone?

I shhhed a group during the conference when I was trying to hear what the guest speaker was saying. I was shhhed myself the following morning at 7am. I was all apologetic to the shhshhher who told me people were still trying to sleep. Given that the banana boat was coming to pick us up at 7.45am from Motopure to take us back to Loloata for breakfast, I was in half a mind to tell the shhshher that the sleepers had better not be late and keep us waiting for them on account she considered their sleep was more important than our getting to breakfast. On the other hand I am always amazed when people interrupt my listening to ask what the speaker had just said. "So let me try to understand what you want me to do. You did not hear the important point the speaker just made? Now you want ME to miss the next important point in order to tell YOU what the last important point was? Wouldn't it be better to listen to the next important point in order that (i) we both hear it, and (ii) we don't interrupt others trying to hear, and (iii) we are not rude to the speaker?" Then there are others who are just-plain-can't-say-it any-more-kindly RUDE. They have their private discussion while the rest of the group tries to get by by raising our voices to talk over the top of them.

teaching taught me

that every child/student/pupil is important. Adults react just the same. Were a teacher to enter a class and talk to the students at the front of the room or not make eye contact with the class then there would soon be students losing attention and not being taught. A good teacher moves around the room. They do not respond just to the attention seekers but they seek to prompt the others to participate. But I am fed up with being listening fodder. I've got my life to live and it involves MY plans, not listening to why the world is losing out on not selecting an attention seeker to show it the way. There were some really nice Youth Ambassadors but I found most to be carrying on as though they were still at high school in the popularity business. Mate Robert calmed me down and put their behaviour down to insecurity by needing to be the centres of attention. I was supposed to gape in awe and wonder at one fascinating Narcissa who worked in a Minister's Office and who was so important the Minister herself picked up and drove to work each morning. Wow! Kofi Annan, watch your back.

my sister arranged the wedding

of her daughter with style. After the service we went to the reception where we were served punch and cold water until the dinner was to be served. Only about two or three of the majority made it on to the guest list and so the gathering was a gathering of the minority. Didn't the two or three whinge when they had to wait for the free grog! And as for water and unalcoholic punch? What sort of wedding is this? And as for decanting the beer into a glass and sipping in a sophisticated manner? Maate gimme a keg and a sausage sandwich any day.
The minority can fight back. Democracy has done wonders for the majority but the tide must turn. The sad and unintended legacy of the Whitlam era was to turn us in to a nation of boors and unsophisticated spongers not only at government level but as a society. Before the Whitlam era we went to "dinner". We were invited as guests and we turned up. After 1973 we no longer invited people to "dinner". We began to provide a venue for a barbecue and people were invited on a bring your own basis. Really, how course is that? One of the cool things about PNG is that they still have a "guest" and "dinner" and "host" respect for tradition. Might PNG try to do some "capacity building" in Australia in the area of manners and style and etiquette?

I can't find two important documents

Normally I am very careful concerning financial papers but I don't know what has become of them. One was a credit card bill and the other was I think the financial year record of my real estate agent. Or did I just dream or imagine that I should write and ask him for a copy? I know I got the credit card one I think. Are you positive about that? Yes, I'm sure I think. Well that sounds a bit uncertain don't you think - how can you be sure if you need to qualify it with "I think"?
More on Loloata. I end up at these conferences full of spirits that this time there is going to be a meeting of like minds where we are going to do wonderful things together and make plans for the salvation of the world. Ho hum. The usual mob of the majority was there to impress the minority about their importance. Listening fodder, that's what the minority is invited for. Which makes me wonder why there is still no world peace, why there are environmental and conservation urgencies, why there is still poverty and disease. At one point in a "discussion" group (the majority discusses, the minority listens) I pointedly got up and walked off. Grumpy old man syndrome perhaps. But if the majority which makes the most noise still hasn't changed the world, isn't it time the minority was listened to?

approaching Loloata

you come to the wharf which is say 100 or so metres long over a sandbank which is not navigable in low tide. On the island on the right there is a set of steps up the hill. Stuart and I walked the length on our first morning. Lovely peaceful setting.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

return from Loloata

Loloata is an island about 20 minutes off the mainland and say 20 km from P Moresby. AusAid convened a meeting of all volunteers who serve under its development programme, the first of its kind I understand. This went from Wednesday last week and we got home yesterday Saturday. I'm off to church now - 800am as we have a combined Family Service this morning. It's very wet out side and I am limping on account I trod on a sea urchin but more about that later.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I question my own theology

as well as those of liturgies and hymns and if there are some that I am not comfortable with I leave them out. We sing a communion hymn, "Please take this bread and take this wine and give us back your life, O Lord." I am not sure of the theology here but rather than start my own Church, I think about it and don't participate in this very small part of the service. It's a big deal for me but not for anyone else. John Stott said much the same thing about an evangelical hymn, "He lives, my Saviour Lives, he lives within my heart." For him the theology is wrong.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Lambeth and the Anglican Communion

My Church, the Anglicans is undergoing a theological struggle. Conservative Evangelicalism versus Liberal Sacramentalism. Tearing them asunder is the question of homosexuality and women in leadership positions. What is in the heart is of more concern to God. How can I tell you what God thinks of matters that are almost 2000 years removed from the last written down text in the Bible? I know something of the mind of God through the Bible and the work of the Comforter, the one whom Jesus said he would send so we were not comfortless. If the Spirit is to count for anything, He must be part of the mind of God otherwise why would Jesus have bothered?
I sat in on a Sydney Synod as an observer a couple years ago and before one of the debates I prayed with a Synod rep from my Church that the Lord would calm him and use him to help the Synod to understand. This rep was a gay man. Synod heard him and even voted an extension of time for his speech. God will decide whether He likes gays or not, not a Synod. The way this rep spoke and the way he was received I am sure God answered our prayer together. If God had not approved of a gay in the Church, my thinking is that there would have been no extension of time by a person whose heart was touched to so move. This gay guy was just like anyone else who loved the Lord and wanted to worship Him. If he wanted to become a Priest, why should that bother me? It didn't seem to bother God when he spoke at the Synod. Or do we think God is a "hands off" God? If so, then why do we pray for peace and rain and safe travel?

PNG Remembrance Day

was commemorated yesterday. Hopefully I can find details of the main national Commemoration service from the papers. With the TV's having been broken I am unaware of how the day was observed. There was sporting activity on the University ovals that I am aware of but nothing else. Oh yes, our Church was to have held an observance at 8am yesterday but I did not go in for it.
The Post Courier reported: "LAE city residents celebrated the Remembrance Day with a small but solemn ceremony at the Engineer Battalion Igam Barracks. A commemoration service preceded the traditional rites of wreath laying, recital of the "Ode" and playing of the "Last Post". The SDA Combined Choir led the singing with hymns including "Blessed Assurance", "Abide with me" and "How great thou art". During the service the names of nine soldiers that were among those killed in the Bougainville conflict between 1989 and 1997 were read out. Students from the Igam Primary School joined the celebration, with two students laying a wreath to represent the young generation".

theology: a dialogue between people

about our understanding of God. We need to be sure we are talking about the same thing - ie, that we are both talking about God and that one of us is not talking about the deceiver Satan. To become schismatic and to break off dialogue seems to me to fall right into the trap that the deceiver rejoices in setting. I consider I have good relations with people on both sides of the Anglican communion as in the same way I have friends in the other denominations. There is no way that I could claim to know God so jealously correctly that I would refuse an invitation to participate in a worship service of another Christian. I have been allowed to participate in receiving Communion at the Mass in the Catholic rite. I 've got no idea if their theology is right or wrong. I'm sure it is not of the deceiver's doing though because it is scriptural - "Do this in remembrance of Me" "for as often as you drink the cup and eat the bread you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes again." "Whoever does so in an unworthy manner profanes the body of Our Lord." I thought it was rude of the hierarchy of my Church to not participate in the induction of Cardinal Pell several years ago on account that the Mass was going to be central to the service.

erratum: for "sausages" read "hostages"

So read "1066 and all that" a classic history spoof. I have my own errata in the blog about Church yesterday. I checked the keyboard and I can't even blame it for mispelling Wau, up near Bulolo about 93 miles across the Markham bridge and up into the northern end of the Owen stanley Range.

Loloatu off P Moresby

Ausaid is coordinating a gathering of volunteer agencies off P Moresby for the next three days of this week so I will be going down on the early flight tomorrow and will return on Saturday. I have been in PNG 9 months this past weekend and next Monday I will have done nine months in my job. Another three months and my term will be half completed. I have been looking forward to the Loloatu meeting for a break and to discuss assignment issues with our Leader of Mission.
Today I start work in the Language and Communication Faculty. I have 8 classes of what is essentially teaching higher order grammar and language skills to students for whom English is their second language.
Last night I enjoyed dining at mate Rob and Eli's place. Live conversation with real people is more rewarding than cyber communication by means of radio or TV. As it happens I think the TV has broken down again anyway.

Monday, July 24, 2006

rules of the market - 4 mile Madang

In the section "tambu tru long" = forbidden to:
spit buai; thow rubbish; fight; toilet in the bush; be drunk (spark man = drunk)

a friend was being cheeky

over breakfast the other day when he asked me about the Isaiah passage I think it was in which the birth of Jesus to a virgin was prophesied and it said "and you shall call him Emmanuel." So why did Mary call him "Jesus"? I checked the Lukan reference in my little carry around Gideons and it says "and you are to give him the name Jesus." The Matthean reference is "The virgin will be with child ...and they will call him Immanuel."
It seems that Joseph was the one who called the Messiah "Jesus".
I wonder about the message in Jn6:39 "You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you you possess eternal life...I know you. You do not have the love of God in your hearts." That is the worrying thing for Christians. God looks at my heart. Warmongering, gays in the Church, women priests and bishops. If what we find important causes division and the division brings dishonour to God then maybe we need to look at the division. Is the subject that is causing the division all that important? I'm not an expert. Is the one who is divisive an expert? The heart or the scriptures. What does God look at? For Mary's having called her son Jesus, would God on Judgement Day be looking at her heart or her lack of reference to the scriptures?

at Church yesterday

there were about say 200 people at the second service - the one I usually go to and there were probably 100 or so at the 7.45 service. Just around the corner at the Lutherans it was packed and at Eriku at the AoG it was packed and you hear the singing as the PMV approaches. It was a relatively new PMV I got on yesterday and I felt embarrassed and ashamed to be walking dirt and mud from the rain into it. The radio was working and playing a sermon from an AoG preacher in Tok Pisin, the door closed and the seats were still the original vinyl and the fold down seats were supported of their own accord - ie, without a battery to prop them up. Anyway, back to the service: there were nearly a dozen babies, children and teenagers baptised; after Communion about forty Sunday school children came in for the blessing. Those sort of numbers don't seem to happen in most of the churches I have been to back home.
After Church, Frank invited me and Nathan to lunch at the Lae inter. I had the curry pie of the day and they had the roast bif steak. Later Frank took me to see his two shops and then he drove me back to the Uni. He's been here fifty years altogether. He came from Lau about 100 mile away where John Laws of radio fame parent's had the Collins and Laws stoa (store).

Is blasphemy OK with you?

As for people who think it is OK to have a free kick at my God by blaspheming. I was at the Uni open day in Sydney a few years ago and this punk being MC was blaspheming the God of the Christians with some descriptive "f" adjectives thrown in as well. Why do people think it is alright to blaspheme Jesus Christ? No-one would blaspheme Allah or Yahweh or Buddha or the Rainbow Serpent or Krishna and get away with it without a discrimination charge on the grounds of an offensive abuse of a person's religion being brought against them so why do they do it to a Christian? I was talking about this issue to a Muslim friend and he said he too gets offended by it because Jesus is one of his religion's prophets and therefore it should not happen. I told the MC punk that what he was saying was offensive and he just looked at me as if I was a weirdo out of King St. People like him rule the social world as much as the John Boltons rule the international political world. There is no other word for it than bullying - "I can because you're not going to stop me."
People in PNG are much more respectful of the name of Jesus Christ as too are they much more respectful of the ears of the audience in matters of profane and indecent language. Another of the joys of being here is the absence of angry vulgar uncouth language.

What in Heaven must the God

of Jews, Christians and Moslems be thinking as He sees what is going on in the middle East right now? Whatever has happened to the Conservative Fundamentalist Christian doctrine of obeying the precepts of the Bible and taking note of, "Whatsoever you do to the littlest of these you do to Me?" The consideration applies equally to all warmongers - the littlest people in every war, the unarmed civilian populations in Iraq, Lebanon, West Bank, Gaza, Israel, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan wherever they are are the littlest people. God has given you warmongers a brain to sort things out. And don't blame the other side all the time either. From my Christian perspective, Jesus told the cleverdicks of his time - "Why do you see the speck in my eye when you've got a whopping dirty big lump of fourbetwo in your own eye?"
With clever dicks like John Bolton and Secretary Rice running the world, I suppose we should be thankful the job is not left to fools like Alexander Downer to do the job.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

a wet day in Lae

We went out to the Yacht Club last night. Nathan was back from Aus and he brought his cousins around. I had the pork and sukiaki sauce with chips. Alex told me he got four durrians from Larry, wrapped them in paper and four plastic bags, buble wrapped them and then shrinked wrapped the freight carton and by the time he'd got them to the cargo office he could smell them in his car. I am intrigued by this fruit. I must smell it and then I wonder whether I would taste?
I bought some bacon at the deli yesterday at Eriku and I cooked up with eggs and baked beans and coffee this morning. The bacon was about K28 a kilo but I only got about K8 worth. It tasted delicious and as bacon should taste. It was worth it.
The TV is going now. I look forward to the All Blacks and Springboks tonight.

stuff happens

I get offended about what seems to be the casual/off hand response to human suffering as in the comments such as "stuff happens" and "get over it". Stuff doesn't just happen in Iraq or the Middle East elsewhere and anywhere else for that matter. I imagine Hitler and Goring and Stalin probably thought like that. I imagine Hitler's response to the holocaust would have been "stuff happens." I imagine the attitude of most of the brutes would have been "get over it and get a life". That is what I was trying to say in the other blog about "get a life - what does that mean." What it means is that such an attitude is gung ho - except when the author of the attitude is involved. Then it is a different matter. Tell a rape victim "get over it - stuff happens". Tell a family of a hit and run "get over it - stuff happens." Tell that to the victims of any of the shonks on the current affairs programmes exposees. Tell that to the war and invasion victims who end up with dead family and bombed out houses. No, stuff doesn't just happen. No, people don't just get over it and get a life. I hope no-one ever has to tell the commenter that "stuff happens - get a life - get over it."

Friday, July 21, 2006

did the Apostles really understand Jesus?

Too big a topic to be handled in a 200 word blog I know but I was intrigued when during the discussion session of one of the thesis proposals a questioner made the point that PNGns of her generation had had no experience of leadership because the missionaries came in to the villages and determined the spiritual leadership for the villagers on the missionaries terms and not on the traditional terms of the villagers. Thus what was recognised as leadership by the villagers was replaced by a new paradigm and model by the missionaries: for the missionaries, their leader was the one who would grow the Church. This seemed to be a different model to the one that Augustine of Canterbury took to the Anglo-Saxons in Kent. It seems to be more like the one that Paul took to Asia (Ephesus etc) and Greece. Jesus' overturning the tables of the moneychangers is oft quoted as the standard for Church's behaviour for reluctant and recalcitrant converts but he did this in his own Jewish culture. He behaved much more circumspectly with Samaritans and people outside his culture. Maybe Missionaries and Christians could take some pointers from this?

an avi and friends party

earlier in the year. AVI and Friends is sort of our family while we are here. There are five AVIs in Lae but in some parts of PNG there is only the one AVI. We don't live in each others' pockets but we share common volunteer experience. I've got a life but that doesn't stop me from having an occasional rant.

which makes Justin's thesis

proposal highly relevant. He will be considering the ideas of "peace, harmony and goodwill" with specific reference to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. The South Africans I think must have developed some of these notions in the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. The soccer hooligans even as recently as the World Cup just could not contain themseves. Last week in the story of where has the liberalism of the small l liberals gone that they hate so much was another reminder that though there is "peace" there is certainly no "goodwill."
So is the breakdown of goodwill the first step towards the new dark age? When did the breakdown start? I assume it will be a cumulative phenomenon: goodwill might return for ten years to be replaced by a further cumulative twenty years of breakdown followed by another seven years of goodwill and so on. The periods might be longer and measurable in terms of centuries rather than decades but it is the pattern of history which Hegel recognised. This time the breakdown might be civilisational more broadly than cultural or societal.

get a life - what does that mean?

Get over it - we've won, you've lost, get over it. Top attitude that. So what? We killed 6 million Jews. Get over it. We knocked down two of your buildings. Get over it. We bombed Bali, Madrid, Jakarta, London. Get over it. I'm white, you're black. Get over it. I'm straight, you're gay. Get over it. I'm bigger than you. Get over it. We've got nukes, you haven't and we won't let you have them. Get over it. I'm David Hicks and you allege I fought with the Taliban. So what? Get over it. We poisoned your flour and settled sheep on your land and genocided the Tasmanians. Get over it. It doesn't matter any more. Today is the start of the future. Join us or wallow in the past. Get over it and get a life.
Top attitude that.
People do not just get over it. Bali was four years ago. The Holocaust was 60 years ago. New York was five years ago. My commenter tells me to get over it. Does my commenter tell these victims the same thing?

I've just returned from a seminar

in which were presented the following thesis proposals.
PhD proposal: " Interpreting Peace, Translating Harmony and Communicating Goodwill in Nation Building".
MPhil proposal: "A Need for Emotional Intelligence on Reduction of Poverty: A Case study of Urban Villages in Papua New Guinea".
MPhil proposal: "Sustainability of Donor Funded Non-Government Organization Projects in Papua New Guinea: Development of a Partnership Paradigm Policy Framework for the Government of PNG and Church Agencies".

the audience was small - about a baker's dozen of us and so that made it even more of an honour to say that I was there to here the arguments which the presentations gave rise to.
I went to the Agriculture one about a month or so ago at which 4th year students presented their proposals and they were an enlightenment too. I think I might have said something about them before.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

It has taken a long time

but I worked out how to reduce this 2.3mp to 238kb by emailing it to myself. This is at the Madang 10 mile I think it was market with John in March. The notice behind in crimson and white tells the rules of the market and some of the produce available. Our car is the red one.

confusion of subject and object

When I was at school, a subject was a thing that was studied like Science or History. Sometimes I might have been the subject of a conversation. Then at University I was told my writing was too subjective. Academic writing is removed from the subject and it is a discussion of independent objective facts. In Philosophy subjectivism is a theory about knowledge's being in the mind of the beholder. If I objectify a person, I treat them not as a subject with feelings but as an object incapable of humanity. So why is a subject that has independent existence such as History not called an object? Why am I not the object of a discussion? The philosophers and linguists need to sort that out. As for me, I am the subject and what I see around me is the object. If you are around me, are you a subject? Not from my perspective. But that does not mean I am acting on you as an object without personal values and feelings. Does it?
Anyway, for my purposes I am the philosophical and linguistic subject whom I want to know better as a result of this experience. In that last sentence just to add to the confusion, the word "subject" is the object to which the objective relative pronoun "whom" refers. I might just stick with reading "Noddy".

Top secret 2

Private and Confidential: For Your Majesty's Eyes Only.
I write concerning the ambitions of Your Majesty's Chancellor of the Exchequer known as the Treasurer in your Realm of Australia.
It may have escaped Your Majesty's notice but Your Majesty's Treasurer wants the job of your Majesty's Prime Minister in Australia (down near Antartica? New Zealand? Tasmania? Heard Island?). I refer Your Majesty to the Precedent when Your Majesty's Viceroy terminated Your Majesty's poor choice for Prime Minister Whitlam 30 years ago. Might Your Majesty humbly allow Your Majesty's Prime Minister to advise you to terminate the commission of Your Majesty's Treasurer? Perhaps Treason, lese maieste, disloyalty to Your Majesty's Prime Minister may be reason enough in your letter of dismissal?
I would sack him myself but I have my own honour and dignity to think about. I have told the media that Peter is a splendid chap, wonderfully loyal, etc, etc, and I would not want them to think I was a liar or anything like that if you know what I mean. Felicitations from the ex-colony Your Majesty.

from the perspective of the other

I've been doing some referencing today for the purposes of peeling off the layers of onion that make up this subject - what can the other teach me about me? I found this in a regularly read blog www.schilt.info/ of my mate Robert. "What does it mean to be a man? The status and the influence a male within a westernised society has could perhaps be measured by things such as money, physical looks and his ability to coerce fellow humans. Sad but true. You need only observe the actions and focus of our current world leaders to realize this. War, violence, disease and poverty are the legacy of the men of the so called “west”. Within a tribal society the yardstick of maleness does its measuring slightly different. Personal attributes such as integrity, compassion and character are highly regarded. The strong man within the clan is a warrior and a gardener, he listens and he cares, he leads, he loves. His decisions are based on what is best for the group and not on what he might stand to gain." For a blog that goes into both the object (PNG and its people) and the subject (the blogger) you come away with the feeling of having experienced both.

learning from other blogs

I stumbled across this blog which is linked (I think) to one of my links but which one I forget, and I thought, yair, this is good - this is how I would like to be able to blog. It is getting into the subject in a way that my subject is afraid to delve. "I blame him 95%. Well, that's what I said in the moment. I am to blame, too. For flip-flopping. For trying too hard. For not giving up when the signs were there. This is all part of the process, but it doesn't mean that I have to like it. For now. I will be back. I just have to wait for that constriction in my chest to go away. If feelings could all just be in my head, I think life would be easier. But I hate that feelings manifest themselves in physical symptoms. Butterflies in the stomach that make you feel giddy. A tightness in the chest that feels like your heart constricting around an empty space. That same constriction welling up in the back of your throat to make you feel like you want to vomit. Oh, feelings are so pleasant. Yeah, sometimes I do wish I were dead inside. [End wallowing.]" ref: http://aspiringexpat.blogspot.com
How can I explain? Subject centred v object-experiential centred? But who wants to read my subject? On the other hand, what is an object for you I do not see at all.

today: the first day of the rest of your life

My thanks to this correspondent - as to all correspondents - for your feedback and your information about kava. "Nice to hear from PNG again! I lived in Port Moresby from 88-90. PNG kava (waeld koniak) is reputed to be the strongest kava-type in the world. Kava works on the GABA receptors in the brain - it's effect is similar to valium. Good luck in Lae!"
I must say it is good to hear from people who have a previous association with PNG. Although mature in years I am as a babe for my experience in the country and the people. People like Larry have been here for thirty years I think he said it was and they talk about pre-independence times. Others tell me that before the war there were people in the highlands who had not seen wait men. This puts into perspective what Joe told me at Rotary: "You wait fullas took 800 years to become civilised again after the Barbarian Invasions and you expect us black fullas to do it in fifty!" I am not sure that this way of looking at things fully takes into account the ability of the homo sapiens to adjust and adapt? There are PNGns all over the world as there are so many other nationalities. We have choices to make as circumstances change. Attitude not aptitude. Have I got the attitude? I need to explore the subject a little bit more.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

a feed for the gecko

I bought 400g of topside mince yesterday and I cooked it up when I got home before going to Rotary. I fried up some onions and two tomatoes (I had bought some that were about to go squishy for K1.20 - cheap!) and the smell delighted the blow flies and brought about a dozen inside. I wouldn't mind them if they would sit quietly like the gecko but they are such attention seekers. Anyway they moved over to the fly screen and of course they couldn't get out that way: why don't they remember to go out the same way they came in - through the broken gauze in the doors? So I closed the louvres to trap them so I could cook in peace. Then I saw an anxious gecko lurking on the kitchen side of the louvres. Aha - why not let the gecko in for a feast? I couldn't see the flies this morning - nor the gecko for that matter. Maybe he was camouflaged against the glass?
I am not sure where my conscience stands on this matter, or the one at the museum in Port Moresby (designed by Martin, ex-architect and neighbour here). There was a contented snake curled up in a corner and two three week old chicks. Should chicks be exposed to worry? No animal was going anywhere - they were in a glass cage.

maate,maate, it's easy

After talking about the blogs I read yesterday mate Atul showed me how to become a computer linguist and to write computer speak. Thus I managed to move my blogsites to the links section. I talked before about getting to know the subject as well as the object and so I am learning to know me, the subject, a bit better as I read other blogs and other comments on my blogs.
I really did get myself tangled last week when I wrote something which offended a reader. Two ways of looking at it. You can't please everybody. If you try to, you'll end up pleasing no-one. Act on your own conscience. I did that. I removed the offensive material and apologised and invited an active response to dialogue. If all blogs were the same I'd end up reading only my own. Thus I learn more about the object, or the other, as viewed from the perspective of other people. Robert wrote of mercenaries, missionaries and misfits. I think I know how I would classify myself but I'll keep that a secret until I have learnt about the subject a bit more.

at the Lae City Mission

with Rotary on Saturday. A benefactor bought these premises and 150 ac? or ha? plantation.

I feel guilty that my photo perspective seems to be of the ex-pat culture. However Rotary is made of of Nationals, Filipinos and other other expats.

when TV breaks down

it becomes a problem for isolationist cultures. Community cultures are not so much bothered by it because their real live people community continues with or without TV and electricity. Thus for the last 12 hours or so and whenever we have a blackout, it is a bother for isolationist culture because our pseudo-people-contact leaves us feeling as if we are in fact isolated - if you know what I mean. The accompanying message explains what the problem was.
"Hi All
Our campus cable tv system was out as of late yesterday afternoon. The air condition unit for the room broke down. We were not able to have it fixed in time. The breakdown of the air condition caused a failure in one of the power supply for the line amplifier on site. A decoder is also faulty and being attended to. We could not let the system run without the air condition because we might cause more damage. We had to shut down.

We sincerely appologies for the outage.
We hope to fix problem today."

the confidence to live outside

one's comfort zone. I am very timid and shy when it comes to living and behaving in another culture and I feel embarrassed that my tok pisin is not as developed as I would like it to be. Two other AVIs and probably a lot more that I am not aware of go out of their way to demonstrate an anthropological and cultural sensitivity at the interractive level. The closest I get to living out of my comfort zone is on the PMVs. I am comfortable doing that because it is a necessity for me to get around. I would like to go into a village - I went into Tumua - and stay with the people not as a curiosity but as people reaching out to each other. The links I have put up on my blog show some of the other ways that others have reached out. I do worry that I could be seen as arrogant when my behaviour is more a response from shyness. Further, what I write is meant to be a sympathy for the plight of the people who are dependent on the bona fides of their leaders but as you understand it was interpreted as being offensive. If I don't judge, why am I judged? Because I appear to be judging? This is why dialogue needs to occur - in order that we can unravel our misunderstandings. I am a guest in your country. I cannot do host type things.

the tragedy of tragedy Post Courier 19 July

"SEVERAL prostitutes in Mount Hagen, mostly teenagers, are planning to protest and petition the Mount Hagen City Authority and police if nothing is done to relocate them or find other alternatives for them. The women claimed they have “suffered terribly” since a brothel, which used to be their only lifeline, was closed four months ago. The brothel, commonly known in the city as the “DVD room’’, was opened as a video shop by an Asian, but later used by prostitutes - in the pretext of movie-watching – to trade sex, taking advantage of the building’s cubicle-type rooms. Clients or “partners” were charged K8.50 a visit by the Asian until closed by authorities who saw it as a hotspot for HIV/AIDS. A 15-year-old girl (named) of Togoba outside Mount Hagen, who spoke on behalf of the affected women, said they had nowhere to go since the DVD room was forced to close, as their clients (men) saw hotels and guesthouses as too expensive. The girl, who has earned a living in the area since she was 11, said she did not care if people called her names or mistreated her, as “nobody would come and put rice and tinned fish on my plate everyday”. “We are trying to make ends meet. Every time the media gives prominence to politicians and bureaucrats and forget about us. Do we have a government that will care for us, or just because we are prostitutes they will dump us like this,” she said."

yesterday's chores

Chore: a task that you do regularly. On Friday I had easi-pay electricity meter installed at my house. It put 20 units on to get me going and by yesterday, Tuesday afternoon, there were 6.5 units remaining. I went in at lunchtime to pay my previous bills for May and June - a total of K121.14 and to buy K50 worth of prepaid electricity so that topped up my account to 116.9 units. I had to go to the bank (ANZ) first where I withdrew K300: K170 all up for electricity; K20 for a Raid prepaid phone card; K50 for Rotary last night; the balance for groceries. For a treat to spoil myself for having accomplished my chores I bought two finger bun doughnuts filled with cream and topped with jam. One was for my lunch, I gave the other to two workmates.
Atul picked me up for Rotary last night. Nice meal of steak, chips and salad. For general business I raised the matter of the cost of the Changeover Dinner. We were told K35 but on the night it was K60. I had to pay K10 last night because I did not have sufficient with me last week. As it turned out, a few others were financially embarrassed too: people carry around a minimum of cash.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

the blogs I have found

and read but which I have not been able to work out how to make links on my site to. This is a very tortured sentence but you know what I mean sort of. Nathan has links on his so on his return I'll get him to show me how he does his blogspot liks. Juggernaut's Journal seems to have dropped off to be replaced - I think - by http://jazzyjay.livejournal.com
My other blogsites are:

I'd better check traceelements. I don't know why it is showing blue.

Astrolabe Bay

- the view from the park outside the Coastwatchers Hotel in Madang. They are nearby islands across the water

the axis of evil

I am pleased that Australians are being evacuated from Lebanon. However I am concerned that they are being taken to the axis of evil country Syria. What if they come back with horns on their head carrying pitchforks? Or perhaps Syria is not so evil after all? Or perhaps Syria is evil when we want it to be evil and at other times we use it at our convenience. We throw it away like a paper nappy when we have used its good graces.
Thank you SYRIA for helping Australians and many other nationalities for providing humanitarian aid. I hope the President Bush of the USA understands that evil is contrary to helping people. Maybe he might even say he is SORRY?

well duh!

Who ever would have thought it? The latest poll shows aussies prefer a liar as their PM. Where is the news in that?

Monday, July 17, 2006

spare a thought for the cleaner

is the message of this tok save (notice) to smokers and buai spitters. I saw a guy in Newtown grind out his butt on the step before entering a shop and I asked whom he wanted to pick up his butt for him. I am learning my lesson about choice language and so I will not repeat what he said.

the cobalt blue

butterfly nearly eluded my picture as he tries to exit stage left.
The other beautiful one up there was two tone green - emerald green and slime geen if you can imagine those colourings together.

if I did not care for the people and the country

I would save myself the rancour that comes with social and political commentary. The accompanying entry is of two articles which express kindly what I so rudely wrote and since deleted from my blog. As you can tell from my photos, I have an appreciation for the people and the country - at least I hope you can.
I would be happy to work with my correspondent who pointed out that "I've heard ignorant and offensive comments like yours many times before." With another two writers today addressing similar concerns to mine, I just wonder why we are not working together so that next week there are no more negative perceptions being expressed.
I certainly did not mean to offend and I have already apologised. But if we can move forward together, I would be very happy to help. If I can. It is what I am here for.

not my words - Post Courier 17 July

"PNG has avoided the man-made catastrophes prevalent in many developing countries. Yet the state seriously underperforms, with reforms usually too little and late. It’s not a poor country in terms of human and natural resources, but is in terms of household income, employment, social indicators and services. Many public servants are striving with great dedication though few resources. These are the ones who merit society’s recognition, including honours and awards, rather than those in plush offices, earning lucrative incomes or providing party favours! Regardless of the effort of many dedicated individuals, the reality is that PNG’s Public Sector as a whole is failing to deliver. While NCD has fine roads and offices, services and public infrastructure, especially in rural areas, have gone backwards over the years and in many areas are non-existent. Whole villages, which hitherto had access to health services and markets, are now isolated, without road, airstrip or shipping service. They’ve effectively been forgotten by the State, (except at election time). In some cases outside contact may continue through missions or NGOs, generally more attuned to community concerns than government.
– PAUL BARKER is the director of the Institute of National Affairs"
"WHAT is happening to this country? Men, women and children may be thinking that everything is okay, but I know it is not. Our political leaders are supposed to be managing the country’s affairs. They do not own the country, they are just supposed to be managing your money, your forests, your gold, your oil and your fisheries industries and not putting the money in their pockets. The country belongs to the people of Papua New Guinea who own PNG. Our current leaders are pathetic, and I am disgusted at some of these Members of Parliament. There are countless issues that have to be investigated and explanations made. The owners of Papua New Guinea are the five million people who deserve to know the truth and we demand to know the truth. People of PNG wake up to this, the Prime Minister does not own this country, You and I do. There has to be a revolution to totally eradicate the current political foundation of greed and corruption and build a righteous, honest leadership. Our political management has to change and the coming 2007 general elections is the perfect time to do this. Richard POM"

the boys getting ready

for the next day's Church service. The Church which is part of the Mission faces onto the Markham (Airport) Road at the 11 mile.

durriam - sorry don't know how to spell it -

is a fruit about the size of a coconut. Its casing has sharp spines and the smell of the fruit is apparently foul - rotten onions I think it was described to me the other day? It is so distinctive people can smell it on you if you have even walked under the tree. One of the Rotary guys on Saturday bought two of the fruits - about K10 each - and it is a delicacy in the Indonesian, Thai and Filipino - I think - cultures. Amin had to scrub his hands thoroughly to get the smell out.
Larry got his boys to break open a cocoa fruit - about the size and shape of a mango. The cocoa seeds - about 20 of them the size of peanuts - are surrounded by pulp which has a pleasant tart taste and it is the seeds which are roasted for cocoa. How do you get the idea that a seed surrounded by tart pulp has a chocolate (anything but tart) taste if you roast it?
They were exporting kava on Friday. The Fijians use it for cultural drink but this export -the mature roots of the kava bush - was going to Hawaii for a natural medicine with similar properties to prozac I think it was.
Mangastine was another new fruit - passionfruit coloured but with a lychee pod inside. I think?

guarding all ye who enter

the Business Studies and Architecture and Building departments is this enormous 2.5mx1.5m sculpture in iron gate.

Lae City Mission

Executive Director Larry accepts cheque from Rotary President Chris. Some of the 50 or so boys who were street kids and even rascols work the plantation of kava, cocoa and every other imaginable fruit of exotic kind. The Mission raises funds to be self supporting through selling and exporting produce but it still needs assistance in its establishment phase.

the butterfly bottom centre

this cobalt blue and copper sulphate blue

butterfly was photod at the Lae City Mission plantation where Rotary went on Saturday to present the proceeds on the Rotary Ball. A cheque for K8000 was donated to help the running costs of this charity.

at the Lae Golf Club

after coming back from Lae City Mission. This was only my second time in the club. For Rotary meetings we go to the Lae International. But many of the Rotarians are golfers and this was a convenient meeting place as it is on the way to the 11 mile where the Lae City Mission plantation is.
The plantation is the former Jacobson of Morobe biscuits plantation. In this group I am at the back in the blue shirt and Joe and Buddy are at front.

Larry and Bonny invited

Robert and myself to the Mission on Friday. We caught a PMV to Eriku, then to Market then to 11mile. On the way home we got off the 11 mile PMV and walked through Eriku to the PMV stop then to Kamkumung then to Unigate.
I had never been in that part of Eriku and as it turned out I discovered one of the exclusive parts of Lae - large two story homes surrounded by razor wire. Robert impressed the locals in the back streets by buying buai through the fence and chewing it as they do.
At the Mission, Robert mainly addressed the boys. He has an interest in sponsoring street kids in kick boxing and he was interested in meeting the boys whom Larry supervises. I showed the boys my repaired thongs: the toe hold had broken and I repaired it with a plastic bag. PNGns are excellent improvisors and to see a wait man able to do such improvisation clearly impressed them. Mostly I suppose we throw things away when they break but I learnt from my father the attitude of fixing what can be fixed.

Atul and Joe

survey across the plantation to the Markham plain. The mauve plant to the right is a Bougainvilea.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

the rain started at 11 last night

and by this morning it was falling heavily. I got up at 7.10 am and made a cup of tea and took out a cup of coffee - white, two sugars - and a piece of toast - with Fruits of the Forest jam - to the compound night security guard Joseph.
Yesterday I paid my haus meri K40 for her two days work this week. I am no longer allowed to invite the guards inside so last night I turned on the TV and faced it to the window and opened the curtains so the guard could see the St George and Canterbury match on EMTV .
So what is going to happen to Keela my haus meri when her other wait man employer and I leave? Why should it concern me? There has always been work for her? If it were that easy, why would she be asking me if I might know if the next person and if he would be employing a haus meri? She is clearly anxious.
As a volunteer I am not paid ex-pat wages but I am still better off than many nationals. I have wontoks back in Australia but I chose to forsake helping them in order to come here to try to help someone else. My wontoks are self-sufficient and are not dependent on me except for sharing wontok love and affection.

together what can we do

to change perceptions and correct confusion? I see razor wire around many homes. I see security guards around my haus. I see economic anxiety in my haus meri. I see heavy duty steel bars through the windows. I see heavy duty grills on the windows of one of the airport buses. I see cardboard boxes and plastic bottles and red buai spittle piled up. I see the minimum wage is K38 per week.
I see smiles and joy on the faces of people around me. I hear the choir singing in church. I see people helping me on the PMVs. I see people queuing up to enrol in education courses. I see students in uniform. I see children each afternoon greet me "Avinun Mr Geoff," I see Fr Stanley and John and Peter and Jacob and Harold and Eunice and Maria and Demaris and Samson and David and Enoch and Tobias smiling and talking to me.
I am confused by the two worlds I see.

my 83 year old mother was beside herself

with consternation when my first assignment was to have been Afghanistan in June last year. Lae in PNG is not so far away and I think she can handle the proximity. I have been back twice in my 8 months here. But I chose to forsake her and my son Matthew to try to do some good for someone else. I chose to forsake being away at the time of the anniversary of my daughter's birth. I chose to accept the kindness of a mate Barry who took flowers out to her grave.
If I do nothing else other than employ a haus meri and give her a sense of security for my time here I assume that counts for something? If I do nothing else other than treat the compound security guards with as much dignity and respect as the rules will allow me, then I assume that counts for something?
So how do I express my confusion? Am I not allowed to be confused and do I have to keep it to myself? I am not a PNG national. I am a guest in this country. I read and hear about things in the paper every day. If my correspondent often hears the offensive things I wrote, what has my correspondent done to allay my seeing and hearing things? I have already apologised, in Christianity I believe I am already forgiven because I am sincere. But now in looking to the future, I wonder what my correspondent and I can do together to ensure no-one else has cause to see and hear things, the writing about which gives offence?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

my tv broke last Thursday

and they are fixing here on campus. Meanwhile I've been using a spare belonging to Atul and Shikha. I managed to get the EMTV signal last night and coul;d watch the morning news. We think we worked out why the Radio National changes frequency according to morning, afternoon and night: the satellites' signals might have something to do with it - just a guess.
The tele is good for company but on Saturday and last night I got real company - I went to the movies. On Sat they were Eddie Murphy in The Exclusive Gentleman or something like that and Demi More in The Juror. Last night it was Bandanistas and King Kong. I didn't like The Juror or King Kong. I like Eddy Murphy but more subtly funny was Richard Prior who died recently som I am told.

more on where I get my info.

We have not been able to telecommunicate with phones since Tuesday afternoon - either landlines or mobiles. Apparently the internet is working fine though. This explains the problem.

"This is an update on problem that I circulated early yesterday. TelikomPNG Ltd advises that the Taraka Exchange has been shut by the Property owner. Technician having no entry excess to maintenance system faults. The problem is affecting voice and mobile services as well. The matter has also gone before the courts. This would mean indefinite delay in restoring services back to normal. "

lopping the trees

This has been going on for the last couple days. These guys are walking around bare feet in the canopy about twenty or so metres above the ground and working away patiently at the lopping with tommyhawks. They are removing the branches from overhanging the Duncanson Hall.

guard haus at the back of the compound

I have been trying to upload this image - at least I think it is this one. I hope I haven't duplicated it. The two guards are both Peters and the little daughter is Betty. Peter has three daughters - the other are Cynthia and Delilah. He pays school fees for each of them. Behind the haus is the guard's vegetable plantation.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

a smile to share humanity

Lawyers should never ask a Southern Grandma a question if they aren't prepared for the answer. In a trial, a Southern small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman to the stand. He approached her and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know me?" She responded, "Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a young boy, and frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you." The lawyer was stunned! Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?" She again replied, "Why, yes, I do. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him." The defense attorney almost died. The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, "If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I'll send you to the electric chair."

where I get my info

"Question is not the Security Committee but does adequate reporting of all these security incidents gets tabled in the Council Room? Committees as we know are almost disfunctional if not already and a lot of decisions are no longer made by committees. e.g, Housing Committee and allocations of houses which are supposed to be the function of this committee. When did the last housing Committee meet? Remember the old days when vacant houses used to be advertised and applications called for? Nowadays we even have free housing allegedly allocated to outsiders while the housing wait-list bulges. But that is beside the point. It appears the uni has a new policy of keeping employees in the dark thus resulting in misunderstandings (if it is), anger and low morale. Morale of the workers is the biggest problem in organisation and communication is the strongest tool for avoiding low staff morale. Communication between the employer and the employee is the most fundamental asset of leadership that you get to learn in basic leadership courses - forget the costly 7 Habits franchise, we have not got the basics right yet. Like Bara pointed out, there is a positive side to the current security contractor. However, if what we hear are true, such as the farm incident, the rape and petty crimes, we need the University to address this or inform us if it is doing anything at all about them. From the security incident, we are slogging in the dark, putting forward guesses, and airing frustrations. The University may have done its job in addressing past incidents, and addressing current/future ones. The university may have a marvelous strategic plan addressing all our woes; it is just that we do not know. The correct management strategy is that the employer who is affected in an environment of apprehension and anxiety has got to be updated and informed of measures to address the couses of anxiety and apprehension. Those of you who were my work mates in my former employment (here I go again), you will recall that the Managing Director of the company used to hold a monthly "MD Briefings" sessions with senior staff of the company in the cinema after work. You will recall that those briefing sessions by the MD once a month used to work wonders for staff morale. Also one of the objective was that the executive managers and the MD are not seen to be isolated from the workforce and are part of them in decision sharing. After the briefings, a 30 minute to 1 hour session followed by a socialising session where the top managers intermingled with the staff members including getting to meet/know each other."

I feel terrible that I offended a reader

so how did that happen? The comments were not meant to be offensive and what I was trying to do was to point out the dire circumstances that most of the innocent people have to live in. I do not retract my apology. That stands unreservedly. But how could I have said what I wanted to say without being offensive? The minimum wage is K38 per week but rents for housing are about K500 per week. The gap is huge. This is what I wanted to say but what I wrote was too graphic. As for being ignorant, I get my information from public sources. I get embarrassed whenever I hear people - both nationals and ex-pats talk of their countrymen as being "A simple people - not simple minded but a simple people." They are homo sapiens - they feel hurt and pride and rejection. They are complex: they are only simple in the minds of those who do not want to see their complexity. I have never sold a national short by regarding them as simple. That is what I wanted to say - the people are complex and they should not be regarded as people for whom second best is good enough. Second best is never good enough for homo sapiens and yet that is what I was seeing and hearing. If first best is the goal, how can that become policy?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Have you ever taken the time

to talk about it? At least a dozen times in letters to the editor and elsewhere have I come across the expression "ignorant and offensive" with regard to attitudes about PNG. I got one myself yesterday and I am very sorry that I wrote ignorant and offensive comments. I should not do that. Obviously a correspondent was offended and for that I am sorry. Was it ignorant? Dialogue helps to break down the barriers. You cannot understand my perspective if you do not talk to me. I began the dialogue with the blog and the correspondent elected to participate in the dialogue with a comment. But where can we go from here?
I thought I was understanding. I hear things in my office and through emails and through people who should not talk to me because I am only a messenger. I get ideas through Nationals and obviously there is more than one national voice just as there is more than one national voice back home. I feel very sorry. My haus meri told me this morning that the other wait man for whom she works three days a week is going back to Australia and if she cannot get work with a wait man replacement then she is going to be in difficulty. This is wrong that she would be in difficulty. That is what I was trying to say. Without reservation though, I am sorry to have been offensive.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I wear my heart on my sleeve

and this gets me into trouble. I know it does and I continue to make the same mistake. Recidivism is what they call it as repeat offenders in the criminal domain. I don't know what they call it when you just try to make things work in the social and humanitarian domain. Four million nine hundred and fifty thousand Papua New Guineans are the ones I want to help but I am not doing anything and I am getting frustrated. It is not my country so I have to take orders but I am not being given orders. A correspondent wrote saying I was ignorant and offensive and I apologise because I certainly did not mean to offend. I see these nearly five million people whom I came up here to work with and the people in the church and in my office and on the buses and walking to and fro Uni and at the movies the other night and on the klostu sporting fields and my haus meri and my guards and the technicians fixing my TV and the people at Tumua village. My frustration is not directed at you.
Thank you to my correspondent for pointing my ignorant and offensive attitude. However as another letter said, if you have heard it before, then has nothing changed? What can you do to help to ensure no-one else has these offensive and ignorant attitudes?

the logistics of distance learning

This is the sorting and distribution room at Tusbab where students come to collect their learning materials. About 8000 students try to improve their y12 results by studying distance mode. Then they will try to gain entrance to University.
About 20 study centres like this operate around PNG just for this University. We have a printer and warehouse manager, registry, curriculum and personnel supervisors and student data entra officers. It is a complex operation to get learning materials sent by road, air and sea.

my greatest pleasure in PNG

is talking with the security guards at our flats. Peter and Joseph work very long hours. Unfortunately I am not allowed to invite them in any more - while they are in my haus they are not checking on the security around them so I have been told it is not appropriate. They like to watch the footy so I turn it on and they can watch from outside but I get embarrassed that this does not seem hospitable. The residents take tea, coffee, cold water and something to eat to the guards. I feel particularly sorry on the nights when it is raining. Peter and Joseph and my work colleagues, particularly my supervisor John, and the members of my congregation, Fr Stanley, Harold, Justus, Garfield, the choir, the many Sunday School children, these give meaning to my stay in PNG. The PMV travellers and the kind people who watch out for my safety around Eriku.

why would anyone be scared of a rat?

You wouldn't ask that question if you had ever been confronted by a rat. Snakes I don't like but I don't like to kill them. Spiders I like and I try to encourage them to take up residence. Geckos are nice little lizards and I try to encourage them to clean up the mosquitoes. But mice and rats, they are scary animals. This one the other day had a body about 15cm long and a tail just as long. 30 cms of pure scary rat!
It is now dead. It must have gone outside and was about to come in to terrorise me for the evening when Patch the dog barked and I looked around and there was Patch standing over the body of the still twitching rat. Peter the security guard removed it the following morning (Sunday). He told me that no sooner had he thrown it into the long grass than a pidgeon flew down and scooped it away.

Questions to the leader

Darren. How exactly are you going to shoot people? Isn't that illegal?
Leader. No Darren, it would not be illegal if the PM adopted MY policy. My policy. You see, he is not being tough enough on illegal immigrants and terrorists.
Darren. Well, would you shoot anyone?
Leader. Look Darren, let's stick to the point. I am going to get rid of terrorists in this country and if we have to shoot them then we will.
Darren. But you said you would shoot anyone. Would you shoot me?
Leader. Just keep asking questions and you'll find out.
Penny. Why would you shoot people? Why not hang them?
Leader. There are too many terrorists here. It is a matter of convenience.
Penny. If there are so many terrorists, why haven't they done any terrorist acts?
Leader. We lodged a Freedom of Information request to find that out.
Penny. Why would people vote for you if you are going to shoot them?
Leader. I am putting forward strong policies. Strong policies in the interest of good government. I make no apology where policy requires people to be shot. If people need to be shot, we will shoot them. No apology. We will shoot them on the beaches. We will shoot them at the footy. We will shoot them anywhere. We will never surrender.

Opposition Leader's Press Conference

This weak and miserable piece of legislation does not go far enough. Does not go far enough. My party is proposing that Citizenship and Travel documents be carried by all citizens at all times. We support entirely the Oath of Allegiance to the PM but it does not go far enough. If it is good enough to swear an oath of allegiance to the PM then it should be accompanied by an oath of Allegiance to the Democratically elected President of the USA. Terrorists and watchers of Big Brother and Rugby League fans - not just those who were at the match - but anyone who had their TV on that night will need to show cause why they should not be shot. Shot.
And let me say this to the PM. My party will shoot anybody. Anybody. The question you need to wonder is will he have the guts to adopt my policy and show the politcal backbone I have got?
Unlike the PM I will take questions.

Press Conference (PM)

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have called you together to inform you of changes to the Anti-terrorism legislation. These changes were found to be necessary following the disgraceful and unseemly reception given to the Democratically elected PM of this country at the third State of Origin match on Wednesday.
Terroirists had infiltrated the crowd and whipped them into a frenzy of booing against me. Therefore it will no longer be sufficient to swear an oath of allegiance to Australia. From today, all immigrants will be required to swear an oath of allegiance to the democratically elected PM. Furthermore, Special Allegiance Units will be authorised to enter any Mosque and to require the Oath of Allegiance to the PM be taken by any worshipper. Furthermore, beginning as soon as practicable, all Australians over the age of 12 regardless of their nationality, citizenship or birthright will be required to take the oath of allegiance to the PM. In recognition of this imposition on the 52% aussies, a new public holiday is to be gazetted to be known as The Democratically Elected Prime Minister's Birthday Holiday. There will be no questions. Thank you.

Serfs and Peasants Reinstitution Act 2006.

Speaker. The Honourable the Treasurer.
Treasurer. Mr Speaker. The government, in recognising that some people are finding it difficult to make ends meet is reinstituting Serfdom. This Act will place responsibility on Serfs' Owners to house them adequately and to supply or cause to be supplied their daily needs. This move will take 100 000 people off the Social Security system in the first year, a saving of $5 billion to the budget. In return for forfeiting their right to vote, legal redress in common law and their freedom, Serfs will gain economic and employment protection through their owner. Serfs may buy back their independence and freedom at any time on payment of an indemnity to the owner and a commission to the government. I commend the bill to the House.

Private and Confidential

Top Secret. Your Majesty's Eyes Only.
Your Majesty,
It is with deep affection and inestimable regard for propriety that I write. I draw Your Majesty's attention to the following.
Australia no longer has the British system of Styles, Titles and Insignia.
I have been a staunch Monarchist and I have striven valiantly to keep Republicanism out of Australia.
I will get the AC when I retire.
Under the Australian system, Jeanette and I will remain title-less.
Your Majesty will recall the great honour you bestowed on Australia 40 years ago when you appointed Sir Robert Menzies Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. Perhaps Your Majesty may consider Australia would be honoured were it to be so honoured once again. It would help my retirement plans were Your Majesty to give this matter due consideration. There is nothing in the Constitution that would prevent you personally conferring a Knighthood on me for services to Your Government in Australia.

Friday, July 07, 2006

How close is my Use-By date?

Is this what is making liberals anxious? Teddy Kennedy must be getting close. I can't think off hand of any great liberals who are still involved in Australian parliamentary politics. They are coming to the end of their careers in the law and journalism - Jim Spiegelman, Phillip Adams, Michael Kirby. Come to think of it, whom would you call a liberal in Australian Politics now? We don't seem to have any liberal elder Statesmen - at least not like the USA does. I don't include Gough Whitlam because he towers even above any secular labels.

Everything is just so much business oriented towards the bottom line.

Maybe India and China might bring a fresh way of thinking about the distribution of the resources and wealth of the world. Might? It is still the survivors of the Enlightenment who live out their existence in World Vision, Medicin sans Frontieres, Red Cross, whom I can see as being flag bearers for liberalism. Maybe politics has no place for liberals after all. As an idea, liberalism cannot be imposed through political and legislative means. It is about a lived life.

If Camelot is dead, was it ever alive?

Or was it a dream that we thought was real? I think it never was. It lived as ideas. Beatles in their Sergeant Pepper, Bob Dylan, War is Over, Give Peace a Chance. They competed with the realities of living with the first petrol shock in 1972, inflation, new technology, baby boomers with family responsibilities.
Our parents who had lived through two world wars had great dreams for us. Their generation couldn't do it, but mine was to be the generation that was going to change the world. Then there was Korea, the invasion of Hungary, Vietnam, Domino theory, Malaysia. We didn't yet understand. We were still being taught about Hitler and trying to understand him.
Surely their children's generation would not have to go what they went through? Every Parent wants a better deal for their children than what they had.
That is why liberals are angry and hate. Our parents wanted so much for us and the neo cons and new right and Christian Fundamentalists would seek to deny our parents. Our hate is as much for grief for our Parents' unfulfilled expectations as it is of sadness that we let them down.

My Friends, where has your liberalism gone?

was a piece that was sent over by a mate this morning.
"My New England church-going friends aside, the majority of liberals are decidedly secular in their beliefs - agnosticism being the most popular (atheism requires too much commitment). However, the values they profess seem to be those taught by Christianity and, stated in other ways, by many of the world’s great religions. Such precepts as “Judge not, lest you be also judged” “Turn the other cheek,” “Do unto others as you would have them…” “Cast not the first stone…” “Forgive us as we forgive…” etc. Are these not the basic human attitudes that shape liberalism? They may have figured in a definition of liberalism decade ago, but now, I fear, the twenty first century definition would go something like: “A political school of thought based on the common hatred of George W. Bush, all conservatives – especially members of the Christian Right - and anyone who would give them credence.'"
We thought we were going to change the world after Vietnam. As we near the end of our political lives, we realise it is not going to happen. The best we can do is despair forlornly. Grief expresses itself in anger. We are living through the death of an ideal. Vale Camelot. The one brief shining moment that was known as Cam-e-lot.

I got an email from Jeremy

this morning in which he recounted his Bulgarian and Sophia adventures with mate Luke whom he joined up with for this part of his visit. Luke he said was riding a bike from Thailand to London.
I am not finding PNG that type of adventursome place. I know - well I don't really, but I am probably sure - that PNG can be adventursome and certainly Jeremy found its to be so. But tropicalism and junglism do not have the romantic exploratory flair as I imagine for Bulgaria. The idea of being close to Transylvania and fog enshrouded mountains and cold wetness and bogs and fireplaces and Brigadoon chance meetings of strangers. That appeals to me.

I caught the rat

but he wasn't wearing my undies - maybe he'd just had a shower? My TV broke last night so I was sitting in silence reading a book on the 1812 war between Napoleon and Alexander when this rat appears on top of my bookcase and scampers down the edge and takes refuge behind it. I was too scared to move for a while but after I got up some courage I found some devices for blocking up either end of the bookcase. So he is trapped. I can hear him trying to get up.
While trying to go to sleep I became guilty. That is one of my worst fears - being trapped like those two miners at Beaconsfield or the guy in the Thredbo landslide.
So this morning I opened up the doors and released the rat from his claustrophobic trap. But he didn't run outside. He ran into the laundry. So I still have the rat and my undies are still missing. Why would anyone steal undies? Mobile phone yes; what looks to be a mobile phone yes; but undies? And as for thinking a rat would drag them into a secret cache? Well I did read Charlotte's Web to my classes and Templeton would steal and carry away just about anything. Geoff, that's only fiction, it's not for real. A thief took your undies, get used to it. Be proud. Who else can boast that their undies are worth taking?

tell that to the little boy

eating crumbs on the footpath. Tell that to the mother nursing what looks to be her lifeless son. Tell that to the boy crawling after the man walking away. "I choose not to help you."

things I call reckless selfishness

This is one of them.

Who is in need of help?

This is not a PNG photo

Why are my AusAid dollars going to a government and not to people who need them?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

someone ought to be ashamed

I wonder why the vast wealth and resources are not used to alleviate poverty and starvation in the part of the world represented by this boy?

beautiful rain isn't it

I said to the people in the hotel at Finschhafen last year. They looked at me and I could see their thinking - it's just rain; if anything, it's a nuisance! But out west in NSW, steady soaking rain is known as beautiful. I think in the last week we have had more than what would be the annual rainfall for places like Bourke and possibly even Moree. 300mm is Bourke's average annual rainfall. The raingauge is an essential farming tool but it makes no sense to measure rain here. What would you do with the knowledge that you had 40 mm last night and 70 the night before? In some areas it might be used to predict flood heights I suppose.

the filth I was talking about

I got this from Robert's blog this morning - www.schilt.info/blog

What else can I say?

He has an interesting story on Community Court Justice too.

"I am amazed at what seems to be hypocrisy"

a correspondent told me, referring to the dualism of going to Church and using profane language and seemingly blaspheming about Jesus' being crucified. I get concerned when to make a point I feel I need to express myself in the vernacular. It is almost a case of giving in to the aussies and speaking their dumbed down language and profaning in the way they profane. Wait a minute, how can this be? These very same aussies, the Howard's battlers surely cannot be profaners? They are shown pictures of this Holy, Righteous, Religious and Devout man of God, Christian, KNEELING - let me say it again KNEELING - in Church in contradistinction to his own worshipping tradition in order to contradistinguish himself against the less showy and less pretentious other political leaders. Who is the hypocrite here? These aussies looking at pictures of a hypocrite in Church and admiring him for his Devotion? Or the hypocrite himself in PR worshipful mode? Or myself who rants and raves at the same hypocrisy and social injustice and ignorance that Jesus himself raved about? Like the Jews of Moses', Jeremiah's and Jesus' time, the aussies are one gene short of homo sapiens and the only language and imagery they understand sounds crude even to my ear.

the scar on my right leg

It is plain for all to see as I talk to Ellie and Jane with the dog Patch listening in and waiting for crumbs to fall from the master's table. Surely you can see it - about 15 cms below my knee. I am so embarrassed by it I dare not show my face!

its good to get a letter from home

Dear Geoff,
Come home, all is forgiven. You need to get out of there while you are still reasonably sane. I've been reading your blog and you are deteriorating rapidly. Think about that rat for example. What on earth would he want with a pair of your undies - they are size 97. They would be much too big for him - assuming it is a him-rat. But you said six pairs were missing? Even if a rat were to wear undies, I am sure it would not have needed six pairs. There has to be another logical explanation. And that grocery store where you said you buy sugar cane and cabbages. There seemed to be no baked beans or coffee or tissues. You cannot live like that. And those dreadful things you are saying about our PM. I hope you are not telling that to the local people. I am worried that ASIO or ASIS might get you as you come through immigration. There has been a strange black car with darkened windows parked across the road over the last week. It just comes and they stay for a couple hours and do not get out. Then they go only to return later. I rang the Police and got a funny buzzing on the line and your voice sounds kind of echoey on the phone. I know you said it is only for a little while longer. Do take care.

the market antap the mountain

Shikha in the white t shirt standing behind the cabbages klostu lady in pink top. the roof is made of sago leaves. The lady at the end has a bilum on her left shoulder. The long thin product is sugar cane. This is the Coles or Woolies of PNG.

what a beautiful noise

The sound of the booing and jeering as the PM was introduced to the Melbourne crowd at the third State of Origin match last night. When the PM heard the booing he leaned over to his minder and asked, "Did they introduce me as Paul Keating or Gough Whitlam?"
"No, Sir," said the startled minder.
"Then why do they sound as though they are not rejoicing? Am I not John the Loveable, Friend of battlers, Tyrant of the unemployed, disabled, single mothers, loners, losers, weirdos and freaks? Am I not Man of Steel, Champion of All America, Scourge of Asylum Seekers, Sports Fanatic, Holy, Religious and Devout? Am I not all these things and more?
"Yea Sire, indeed you are all these things."
"Then why do they not appreciate me more?"
"I think it is but an ironic cheer your Majesty - I mean Sir. They are Victorians and they prefer their champion Peter Costello. They mean you no ill Sire. 'Tis but an mock-pseudo-ironic expression of their admiration and affection."
"I thought as much myself. Well done. Carry on!"

I talked to AVI yesterday

and the arrangement we made is that I will serve up until the end of the academic year - provided I get work in the Language and Communications faculty. I will have done a bit over a year by that time and I will have proved something to myself.
But this has been a challenging assignment. Two sores on the backs of my legs, a stolen mobile, a rat in the house, missing undies, and unproductive work. It takes a particular kind of mettle to survive these trying issues but I have another five months of these challenges I have to overcome first. I am going to do my best. The will to win. I know I can do it. There's got to be a mini-series in there somewhere.

Lleyton Hewitt is out of Wimbledon

The one blessing is that we won't have the PM's Press Secretary ringing the Press Gallery to invite them around to The Lodge on Sunday night to get pictures of the leaping toad proving once again that he is the great all rounder sportsman. But come to think of it, was the Press Gallery invited around to watch the PM watch Australian Quarter Finalist? That's a pretty good achievement - q.finals of Wimbledon isn't it? Or is the PM only a fair weather sportsman - he only watches the big time events. There he was last night at the State of Origin attempting to hug Darren Lockyer who was backing away as if confronted by a four metre crocadile.

six pairs of undies

have gone missing. I asked my haus meri this morning and she said they could have been left out under cover and stolen after the washing on Tuesday. Why would anyone steal undies of all things? Then I started thinking. I came down this morning and checked my pantry and was excited that the rat which has been living with me since the rain started a week ago had not disturbed anything and I rejoiced that maybe at last he had chosen to eat the rat bait. Then lo, I glanced over at the empty dog food bowl where I had left a bone and meat scraps for the dog Patch but she elected not to eat them last night and went next door to Roger her master. I'm sure I didn't see her come in again. So my rejoicing turned to dismay that the culprit must have been the rat. Then I began to wonder. Yesterday when I got up and couldn't see the undies on the shelf, I began to do a count of the undies on the floor and I could not account for the ones I had worn to Rotary the previous night. I had woken up the previous night to the sounds of rat's feet and had shone the light and the noise stopped. I haven't seen as many geckos either. This rat has one big rat trap coming to him. No nice guy poisoning him to death any more.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

television aids and abets stupidity

Previously I wrote about the press gallery's being "invited" to The Lodge to get footage of the PM's watching the Soccer. Yair so a picture speaks a thousand words. Someone should have told that to James Joyce or Marcel Proust - they could jointly have saved a large bit of the Amazon's forests.

But it really does point out how stupid the populace is. I can read and listen but apparently I need a picture that has something to do with the story. Are we getting more stupid or more lazy? Are we living through a culture shift where the stupid are taking over the earth? Is this a natural phenomenon or is it being directed by the TV and the tabloids? It is still a motto of the RSL that "for evil to triumph, the good have only to do nothing." We may need to reassign terms so that it reads, "for stupidity to triumph, the intelligent have only to do nothing."

There was a similar phenomenon in King David's time that led to the need for regularising the proverbs. Had David sucked his people in so much that their stupidity had become a threat to their national survival? Had the Germans become so stupid that the phenomenon arose there in the 1930s? Are we in danger of stupidity overload? Is the phenomenon already present? How can we break the cycle - or have TV and guiley politicians too much black-holed us?

have you ever wondered

how it happens that the PM gets his picture in the paper about a sporting story? Veteran journalist Alan Ramsey tells it like it is - "JOHN HOWARD'S office phoned the Canberra press gallery two nights ago. Photographers and TV crews were told to be at The Lodge at 5.30 next morning if they wanted World Cup footage of the Prime Minister in front of his television set.
They arrived just in time to catch Howard whooping it up as the Socceroos scored the penalty that evened the half-time score against Croatia half a world away. They were gone, bundled back outside, by 5.45. Thank you, Prime Minister.
The leaping toad."

I don't know who is more stupid - the voters in PNG described by the woman on the PMV the other day, or the voters in Australia who think the PM loves sport and ergo "must be one of us".

if the government has no money

then who does have it? Certainly not the workers who get paid K38 for a 44 hour week. So who pays these prices - 4x2 br units pool, water, power, K3.5 million; 7 br hostel, K700 000; 8x2br units, water, K1.3 million; 4x3br units K700 000; 27.8ha land K15 million?
Then who pays these rental prices - 4br house, views, 24hr security, K4000 per week; 3br house, pool, water, power, 24hr security, K3000pw; 3br unit, power, water, pool, K850pw?
Where does government money go that it cannot pay for free compulsory education, for solid roads in the major cities, and for reliable telecommunications and electricity infrastructure?
This University had its Mathematics building burnt down in 1999. The Chinese government is going to build another one for it. The EU and the Japanese are building Information Technology and Post Graduate Accommodation facilities. A 550 student school out near Ramu was destroyed by fire some years ago so the students do lessons under trees which were planted specifically. The Library - a converted contained - was placed on site by Rotary in 1987 functions now as a storeroom. To repeat the question - where does government money go? Where does AusAid (MY tax money) go?

blackouts and road repairs

I got the following email about the power blackouts which occurred for maybe 6 or so hours yesterday and Tuesday.
PNG Power has advised us that the recent Power Blackouts are due to three generators presently being out of order at Ramu Station. As well another stand-by generator in Lae Sub-Station is experiencing problems. Members are advised to have their localised generators maintained while these intermittent blackouts are occurring. PNG Power hopes this situation will be rectified by late this afternoon.
Regards, Lae Chamber of Commerce Inc."

Last Saturday the Kamkumung road was refilled with gravel to smooth out the moonscape. It was reasonable when I came in to Church on Sunday. Last night when I came in for Rotary the road was almost back to pre gravel condition. This is the third lot of gravel in 8 months since I have been here. I suppose the government is waiting for my taxes through AusAid to fix up the road?