outback to jungle

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

Thursday, August 31, 2006

there has been something wrong

with trying to web-log this week in particular but the problem started a couple weeks ago. I seem to have an opportunity at the moment so I will try to post quickly. Phones were out from Sunday until Wednesday - what the problem was I've got no idea. It just seems to be accepted just like the weather. Some days things work, some days they don't . Some days it rains, some days it doesn't. That's life.
I will post now in order to see if it gets through the system. I won't chance trying to get a photo to squeeze through the pipeline.

that one seemed to go through

so I'll try with another one. I have to go in manually to moderate comments - I'm not a censor but a clown a month ago clogged my e-mail and spammed my inbox so I check to let legitimate criticism and comment through - one comment told me I was stupid enough without needing Stupidity Powder - oe words to that effect and I published that so that's OK.
And that made me start to think about the boogie man again.
"Seek ye first the boogie man", raved the gutless old PM, urging his troops to fight where he and his children wouldn't.
"Seek ye first the boogie man. Four more years. We are all individuals," chanted back the aussies in response.
"Heh, heh, it's only three," chuckled the PM. "Look for the boogie man with your torches but do not stand in the light yourselves. Stay in the dark and keep ignorant. Always be ignorant. Surround yourselves with Tabloids and harken unto Alan Jones and the shock jocks and Fox News. Keep the Faith!"
"Stay in the dark and be forever ignorant" chanted back the aussies.
"The boogie man is coming to get you. Be afraid. Be very afraid. He's worse than Whitlam!" raved the lying old cheat.
"Ooohh, worse than Whitlam! Screech shriek. We must panic. Everybody panic. The boogie man is worse than Whitlam," screamed the terrified aussies.
"Good one John, the election is in the bag," beamed the salivating minder.

that one seemed to go through

so I'll try with another one. I have to go in manually to moderate comments - I'm not a censor but a clown a month ago clogged my e-mail and spammed my inbox so I check to let legitimate criticism and comment through - one comment told me I was stupid enough without needing Stupidity Powder - oe words to that effect and I published that so that's OK.
And that made me start to think about the boogie man again.
"Seek ye first the boogie man", raved the gutless old PM, urging his troops to fight where he and his children wouldn't.
"Seek ye first the boogie man. Four more years. We are all individuals," chanted back the aussies in response.
"Heh, heh, it's only three," chuckled the PM. "Look for the boogie man with your torches but do not stand in the light yourselves. Stay in the dark and keep ignorant. Always be ignorant. Surround yourselves with Tabloids and harken unto Alan Jones and the shock jocks and Fox News. Keep the Faith!"
"Stay in the dark and be forever ignorant" chanted back the aussies.
"The boogie man is coming to get you. Be afraid. Be very afraid. He's worse than Whitlam!" raved the lying old cheat.
"Ooohh, worse than Whitlam! Screech shriek. We must panic. Everybody panic. The boogie man is worse than Whitlam," screamed the terrified aussies.
"Good one John, the election is in the bag," beamed the salivating minder.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Matt loved this view

taken from the ovals on the way home to my place. In western NSW where Matt spent much of his growing up time - Wilcannia, Moulamein, Garah he didn't get to see hills and low slung clouds and jungle.

suppose you gain the whole Earth

but lose your soul while doing it? Pryrrhus king of Epirus defeated the Romans in 279BC but at great cost to his army. Jesus told the crowds "What does it profit a man should he gain his life but lose his soul?" Cathy told Nellie in Wuthering Heights "It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff. I only know that whatever souls are made of, his and mine are the same" and she went off to marry Linton and live unhappily.
What is becoming of us in the West as we become more insensitive to others and personally and culturally more stupid? We are losing the identitiy of what it once meant to be human and our enemies are laughing at us as we go scurrying around looking for boogie men.
Boogie men disappear as soon as one steps into the light oneself because one is no longer in the dark and so one's fear goes. So we lose our soul, we become stupid, we bomb ourselves with Fox news bigotry because they reinforce our fears. You blind fools. Like Dr Faustus you gratify your fears and prejudices and you lose your good sense.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

multiculturalism PNG context

Last night I went to the fundraiser for the Mt Hagen Secondary School at the Chinese Restaurant off Milfordhaven Rd. There were a hundred or so people there and a singsing group of six students performed several dances. The MC said that the school draws on a multicultural community of islanders, Morobeans, Highlanders and other coastees. I found it interesting to consider people from the same country as being "multicultural" but in context, in a geographical space which is made up of people from different language and cultural traditions, they all are of course multi-cultural. Europeans are different from each other in a multi-cultural context of course but in Australia we normally think of multi-cultural as encompassing a more global perspective - Middle Easter, East European, Mediterranean Europe, Sub Continent and East Asia. Tolai, Motu, Redmen, Blackmen, Highlander, Coastal there are so many different traditions. In Church we have services in English because most of the congregation is of Milne Bay and Popondeta origin. Other Churches with different cultural congregation have Tok Ples and Tok Pisin as the liturgical language.

Friday, August 25, 2006

forget the war on terrorism

The West needs to worry more about fighting a war on stupidity. My TV is back and so I watched an early morning breakfast programme on EMTV - a relay of the CH 9 Australia programme. There was nothing about the war in the Middle East or Australian soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan or David Hicks still behind bars. There was an interview with Defence Minister Nelson about his concern about our defence capability. Then there must have been an interview about a ten year old murder case in USA because when I came out of the kitchen they were asking a poll question - "Do you think x Carr killed John Bannay?" It's got nothing to do with Australia or Australians. Maybe the aussies know more about it. I assume Ch 9 Australia imagines a Lawyer in the USA arguing, "Your Honour, 75% of aussies think he done it". That I actually watched the trash makes me wonder whether I am becoming stupid like them as well. What if Osama has contaminated the water with Stupidity Powder or something?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

gambling in Australia

One of the things I loved about my ex-wife was her appreciation for the not so well off. I took her to watch the two-up on Anzac Day once and after a few minutes she earnestly insisted that we go and tears came into her eyes. "There are people in there throwing away two dollar notes whose children are walking around in threadbare clothes and holes in their shoes. It is wrong and it is too upsetting." She was right as she was right about a lot of things - except for me!
I am thankful my parents were never gamblers. My best mate's Father was a bookie and he knew he was on the right side of the gambling equation. He ended up on the Rails at Randwick and the other big courses so he was very successful. Even his wife used to place her bets as a "donation to the bookies".
When you see the casinos and pokies it is easy to work out who the winners and losers in gambling are. Why are the losers so stupid?

how do you ban gambling?

My TV came back yesterday after it blew a switch about six weeks ago. I didn't get it fixed the first week because the technician was away. The next week the whole Univ TV network was down and he had to work on that. The next week led up to Loloata and there were still more TV network problems. Then there was the electricty blackout. Then he gave me the switch and told me to get one from Tolec. Then I had to run around to organise tickets for Matthew. Then Matthew came and I spent spare time with him. So this week I was able to get the switch and that was a drama in itself but now my TV is back. In the meantime I had been using one borrowed from Atul and Shikha but the cable connection only picked up three channels. So last night before I went out to supervise an English test I heard an ad for gambling in PNG. Gambling ought to be banned in any country which relies on overseas aid for development - it ought to be a condition on aid's being given. If a country is too poor to support itself then it is too poor to gamble. Oh yair, but what about the rich people who can afford it? Their hearts ought to be looking out for their countrymen and not into personal affordable entertainment like gambling. A big call but how to you implement it?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Matts PMV ride last Wednesday

I showed Matt how to catch the Unigate-Kamkumung-Eriku and Town connections last Tuesday and he managed by himself last Wednesday.

PMV travel is what the people of the country do - if they can afford it, which is why many of them walk.

my foot - sea urchin damage

Loloata was a month ago now. This was taken after a week and just on Monday night I was able to prise out the last (I think) of the thorns - about 6mm long.

externalisation is happening at last

A forum to allow academics to present their comments on the externalisation policy was held yesterday. The Pro VC presented the case that ext was a whole Univ matter and that DODL was a teaching department (of pre Matriculation studies) which taught by dual mode and merely its acquaintance with dual mode was the reason for its involvement up until now. Well done everybody. Maybe by the end of the year courses will be written to enable a start for possibly second semester 2007.
Rewriting of the Matriculation is going well. We are trying to get these courses up to Y12 standard.
I'm doing 8 hours teaching plus the weekends for rewriting courses and the marking that goes with the courses plus I am doing my final course in French - I'm reading Les Liaisons dangereuses at the moment having just finished Les Mains sales by Sartre.
I'll publish now while blogger still has a connection.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Positive Morale Booster

The work that John and the department has been doing over the last two weekends to reinvigorate the pre tertiary entrance programmes has been recognised by the University. Teachers are giving up their weekends for this curriculum development activity and their dedication along with John's understanding of what is needed are nothing short of inspirational.
Therein is the frustration. These are skilful knowledgeable professionals and if other similar institutions are like them then you have to wonder in amazement why the roads and telecommunications industries and other infrastructure are like they are.
Corruption is the biggest factor which is condemning the citizens to a couldn't care less attitude by the authorities in government. The nobility of spirit of the people at the little end of town - the honest toilers and citizens - ought to shame the bikpelas but they have no sense of shame. Neither does my critic who gets a free kick in if I write something critical. There is no love in a relationship if one can't tell the honest truth as it is. If I see a pickpocket in action, if I see a pothole in a road, if I can't use a computer on account of a blackout, if I can't get an internet connection, then what am I supposed to do? Keep quiet and pretend that it is not happening? My critic, you are part of the problem. I'm here to help. What are you here for?

You want good news? This is good news

"Dear G
A very expensive mobile phone was found. Actually I found it and it is with me.

I know and believe that it belongs to unitech Staff.

Please could you advice All Department Secretaries to put up this Notice .


Lost and found mobile Phone

Mobile Phone Found at Kamkumung in a Pmv bus"

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Thank you for entertaining Matthew

When I was busy with work commitments this week my friends took Matt into town, over to west Taraka, the Market, into the Yacht Club and Lae Inter to watch the Rugby, out to the City Mission, Kick Boxing, in to Alex' while I went to Rotary, around the Madang compound and market, East Taraka market and nearly everywhere else there is to go in Lae. We had a couple of dinners with friends and so Matt has left without needing to worry too much about me. Saying "Thank you" seems too little to say to people who mean so much to me.

no this is not the picture

I wanted. I'm trying to find one of Matt at a party with friends here and this one was identified only as no34. It's that lovely butterfly again though. Ijust stoked, rapped, wrapped, excited about it anyway.

breakfast in the dining room

at Loloata. These are some of the AVIs and AusAid workers. Note the Vegemite.

another bad news story

PNG failing on poverty targets. Mark Metherell. August 14, 2006. SMH.
PAPUA New Guinea, Australia's most pressing foreign aid priority, is the least likely of any country in the Asia-Pacific region to meet international goals to reduce its endemic poverty, disease and
illiteracy. A report published today by World Vision says PNG is unlikely to achieve any of eight targets set to halve extreme poverty in developing nations by 2015. On five of these goals - poverty reduction, primary education, reduced child mortality, reversing HIV/AIDS and other diseases and access to clean water and sanitation - PNG is "significantly off track", the analysis shows. In addition ABC's Four Corners will screen a program tonight that details how Papua New Guinea has one of the fastest-growing infection rates of AIDS/HIV but shows that vital drugs, bought by the World Health Organisation's Global Fund, are soon to expire and are sitting in a warehouse run by the Papua New Guinea Department of Health. World Vision, Australia's biggest non-government aid organisation, has assessed the performance of 22 regional countries against the Millennium Development Goals established six years ago. PNG has the highest percentage of 15 to 49-year-olds with HIV/AIDS and the lowest proportion of the population with access to clean water, 39 per cent. Unlike virtually every other country in the region, the rate of primary school completion has declined, and at under 60 per cent is the lowest. PNG, administered by Australia until 31 years ago, depends heavily for foreign aid on Australia, which gives about $350 million a year. That figure has remained largely unchanged in nominal terms since the late 1980s, meaning its real value has been heavily eroded by inflation.

blogger down since Wednesday

apparently? I hadn't been able to web my log since last Wednesday and even today Sunday seems to be playing up. I see Nomad Tales posted on 19th Aug so maybe its a PNG thing. Matt went back on the early flight this morning - eventful week for him and me. He and Eli were walking outside BSP on Friday afternoon and I was two paces behind when a furtive hand made a grab for the dummy phone in the phone slot of Matt's bag. I told him to p..off you f.. tu pingaed thief and Eli told him he had a beard so he should grow a garden and not be lazy - a real put down in PNG society. So I criticise pick pockets. Does that mean I should go home because I don't like them or their behaviour? If I can't stand the heat - ie, the pick pockets, does that mean I should get out of the kitchen - ie, PNG? My critic sees it as racist for an ex-pat to criticise and see problems. I work with honourable people who are trying to improve the lot of the people of this country. If my critic can't take being told the truth then that person is part of the problem and not of the solution. Go around with your head in the sand then and PNG will continue to slide past the least developed nation status. Have a look at the roads on campus and Independence drive and everywhere else and tell me there are no problems. You narrow pride minded selfish chauvinist. I write not to rubbish the country but to let others know the reality. See the SMH story. I've got friends here whom I would love to see good things happen to.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

the proof that I care is that I am here

so don't tell me to go back home if I don't like it you ungrateful ignorant. I was invited to come here by people who cared enough that they wanted to change things that would make a difference. I responded to their invitation and my credentials were accepted. They are the leaders who will make things happen not armchair whingers who see any negative as an uncalled for attack. I didn't write the preceding articles. I acknowledged their sources. I simply passed on primary source materials.
I write about things that I see. Let me tell you about the lady who invited Matt and myself to get on the PMV first. We had been waiting, like a lot of other people for PMVs as you do on a rainy day. About five or six had come and gone. "Be patient" she told the people who were trying to push their way in front. "You go on first" she told us. At Top Town I was pick pocketed again (7th time) and the people on the bus alerted everyone else to the low life. A fellow traveller escorted us to the Kamkumung bus connection at Eriku. He told a young lady to make sure we got the right connection to Unigate. Then there was Mark, a student friend who helped Matt find the highlands cap makers near the SVS. I have always acknowledged the helpful people. I feel sorry that people like them are let down by people trying to proclaim their "do-gooderness" by knocking anyone who talks about the problems. Tell the World Vision of 4 Corners or World Bank that they are wrong.

from Allan Patience, 1 June '06, SMH.

"There is incontrovertible evidence that the situation in PNG is is worsening by the day. The systematic corruption that poisons the political system form top to bottom is well known. Transparency International continues to downgrade PNG each year on its international corruption index. Late last year the PNG police force was strongly criticised by Human Rights Watch International for routinely imprisoning, bashing, torturing and raping children. Crimes of violence are escalating, including bashings, murder and rape of very young children, teenage girls and women. HIV\AIDS is out of control, as are malaria and tuberculosis. Health services are collapsing. The education system has all but disintegrated. Literacy rates are plummeting as schools close. Teachers are not being paid properly, or are not being paid at all. The higher education sector is fragmented and grotesquely under-resourced. It long ago ceased being the main builder of human capacity for PNG. Over the past two years the United Nations Development Program has placed PNG successively lower on its Human Development Index because essential services are failing and governance is stalling. Now the UN has warned that PNG may be downgraded from being a “developing state” to a “least developed state”, ranking it among the poorest nations in the world."

Is this life?

My inbox today had this concern of a colleague:
"We all know how dangerous the road to town has become after dark. It was confirmed again last night, when one of our Department staff members (Jeffrey Ambelye) and his family were stopped by 8-10 men, 3 guns, umpteen bushnives and rocks - just before 10pm. They were assulted by the thugs, who then stole essentially everything (all clothes included) bar their vehicle. This occured at the terrible piece of road near the Madang Compound exit. The irony was that they had driven all the way from Mt Hagen. It seems we have two really bad hot spots on Independence Parade. I know the easy answer to the current problem is to not drive to town after dark or in the middle of the day, but surely the University has enough political clout to get something done about the repair of the road. Rumour has it that LCA won't fix the road because it is designated as a "National" road. Is this the case?"

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Matthew arrived safely at Nadzab

yesterday afternoon about 5 pm. I spent most of the day fretting that everything would be alright. He has been around the world with me and over to Fiji with his friend Kristie but this was the first time he has travelled internationally by himself. I had visions of his not being able to pick up his eticket - it had been bought this end. Then what if he wasn't allowed to buy an "on arrival visa" and they put him in a detention centre? Then how would he make the link between the international and the domestic terminal at Jacksons in P Moresby? And when I saw the passengers alighting I could not see Matthew. Oh dear. Mate Atul tells me I have to realise he is grown up and capable and to not concern myself so much and I know he is right. I must inherit my worry from my Mother. I am sure Dad worried just as much about Paul my younger brother when he had to go to Vietnam but he had to be strong to support my mother and so his concern did not show through so much. The dread of families whose children go into the military to fight wars made by old men who get other people's children to do the fighting for them. You gutless reckless old cowards. Anyway, back to Matt. I finally spied him through a peep hole waiting in the baggage waiting room. Such relief!

just so there is no misunderstanding

about the situation of infrastructure:

PNG Power wishes to advise the General Public in Lae, Madang, Mt. Hagen, Goroka and Kundiawa that load shedding or power rationing is being carried out in these centres due to failure of three machines at the Ramu Hydro Power Station.
The Load Shedding will be carried out for an indefinite period. A load shedding schedule will be published in the daily newspaper tomorrow.
Electricity supply should return to normal as soon as the faults are fixed. Customers with standby generators are asked to use them during this period.
Load Shedding schedule can be found in today's Post Courier, 2nd page.

Monday, August 14, 2006

the Loloata delegates

paying attentive courtesy during the Friday morning session

why I am here

Not a philosophical question although maybe it should be. But we just had our first weekend of working with high school teachers who are going to rewrite Y11 and c12 courses for adult matriculation programmes. Academics had been critical of the courses and the teachers worked out that senior maths did not cover calculus, statistics and series and sequence among other assumed prerequisites. The language teachers also discovered glaring deficiencies.
These courses bring in about K2million per annum. So you would think its worth would be valued and that the university would do somersaults to ensure the integrity of the programme by looking after the people who are going to rewrite content and relevance deficient courses. Feeding them rice and red sausages on Saturday was an insult to them and an embarrassment to John who organised the weekend. Ferrying them home on the back of the red department ute was the ultimate in showing them what the university thought they were worth. I am disgusted. I am not withdrawing this one. I will be leaving at the end of the year. If AVI values its integrity it should look at what is happening in this institution. Meanwhile what happens to the poor citizens who are begging for education?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Hmm this didn't turn out

as I was hoping for. This is our after dinner guest speaker Dame Carol Kitto, a Minister in the government for community services - I think. I was hoping the paintings would have been a lot clearer.

Do impressions matter?

They do if one is trying to win the heart of a fair lady. Do impressions of a country matter? What if one is mistaken or one judges on irrelevant criteria? The Christian Bible teaches that it is the things of the heart which matter to God. What if I were to come to your house as an invited guest in a dishevelled state - how would that differ from my coming to your house in a dishevelled state owing to having just had an accident? What if I were uncouth? (what is it to be couth?). A country shows respect for visitors by cleaning up the streets and by putting up banners of welcome. I am treated most courteously by most of the people here. When I was invited as a guest into a West Taraka village the other day, I saw the things of the heart and I was impressed. I hope I didn't do or say the wrong thing - if so it was unintentional because my heart was trying to reciprocate their respect for me. It is why countries have protocol departments - to ensure that the things of the heart are not misinterpreted. So what is it that makes the things of the heart shine out and make irrelevant things diminish? Where are today's leaders of the heart - Mahatma Gandhi? Martin Luther King? Nelson Mandela? Vaclav Havel? Kemal Ataturk? Why has the world - particularly the Western world become so hung up on show ponies and celebrities?

Abdi, my mate for Afghanistan

Abdi, Andrew and I were to have been going as AVIs to Afg but the mission was aborted owing to the security situation in June last year. Abdi is now in Madang. He is originally from Somalia and he is shown here looking towards Loloata

How do I show respect?

What counts as respect? Respect assumes that there is "the other". Without the other, life is lonely for a species which is dependent on sociality. Sometimes I choose to limit my recognition of "the other" to a close circle of intimates and in doing so I limit my own capacity for growth in humanity. This is why multi-culturalism as in the Australian context is considered as important for the growth of Australians as people.
But on whose terms do multi-culturalism and respect apply? Whose values must multi-culturalism respect? Is M-C a solution for the Jews, Arabs Israelis and Moslems? Not all Israelis are Jews and not all Arabs are Moslems and not all Moslems are Arabs and not all Jews are Israelis. Not al Westerners are Christians and not all Christians are Westerners.
So what counts as respect for the other? Kantians count on the moral imperative "Act towards the other never as a means but as an end" and "Act as though you were to will your action were a universal law." Christians call this precept the "Do unto others as you would have them do to you" rule. As with so many things though, Beware the hypocrite.

Yair, good onyer Mother Theresa

Go you good thing, yair you go girl, show us how this "things of the heart" stuff is done. Oh, but you want some help? Yair sure, I've got some loose change here. No worries, you have a good one. See you round. Nah, my shout mate. Coupl'er schooners pal thanks. Fair dinkum it's good to see them charity dudes around and all that. I don't mind helping them out and all that like it's for a good cause y'know. It's not as though it's for beggars on the street or anything. I don't give them nothing - the beggars I mean. But for proper charities, well you don't mind giving them a dollar or so cause they hand it on to the proper needy ones. Well put it this way - it's better to give to the Salvos cause they work for nothing. I mean if the government put up our taxes for this "things of the heart" business, well we'd end up paying for people to sit behind desks. This way it doesn't cost any overheads for fat cats to sit around. Know what I mean?
Well who pays the Salvos or the Vinnies or the Mother Theresas?
They're mostly retired old dudes with nothing to do. They're better off doing this charity business than sitting around in a nursing home waiting to die. Me, I'll be fishin' and playin' golf when I retire.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

four times pick pocketed

tells me I the victim am doing something wrong. It's a ridiculous proposition that the victim could be to blame but that is the world we live in. The victim of rape is sometimes blamed for wearing provocative clothes - the "She asked for it" excuse. The little old lady is blamed because "She left her back door unlocked while she was watching TV". The shark is hunted and killed because it ate food that was swimming in its territory.
When I first arrived in P Moresby, I wore my mobile clipped on to my shirt collar and a lady approached me saying "Excuse me sir, put your phone in your pocket." John, Paul and Robert have all told me "Put your wallet away."
AVI gave us security briefings and we were reminded of these at our Loloata conference. I have to be more alert. 58 years of being casual is hard to shake off. Learning new skills of watchfulness and preparedness requires for me constant reminders to myself. I catch myself with my hand away from my pocket and I have to almost frown like a gorilla and bite my tongue as though I am trying to solve the riddle of how to get the peanut out of the bottle without letting go of the peanut.

Why I like teaching

The students are too polite not to laugh at my jokes. I went in to the travel agent the other day and two boys of say 14 years were sitting at a side desk doing their homework - obviously waiting for their Mum to finish work. I had been in to the office several times before so I knew the layout and the personnel. So on seeing the boys with books in front of them I went up to them and said I'd like to book a flight to London please. How much is that? Make it a return trip. I love to see their smiles and nervous looks around for help from this guy who surely must know we are too young to be travel agents. It's just a little joke which hopefully makes them feel good about themselves. I hope it is not a form of bullying - you know, taking advantage of little kids as victims of a quirky sense of humour. I didn't consider them as victims. I thought they were good sports. Occasionally I get a student who plays along with my silly routine and that brings me back to Earth.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

"nogat wok"

is a sign which is hung on a lot of gates - it means go away, there is no work here. In this land where gardening and self sufficiency come natural to what it means to be a PNGn, PNGns need PAID work - not for survival because they are naturally self sufficient - but to participate in the trappings of urban living: clothes, cigarettes, fast food, videos, tinned food, beer, PMV travel, rent, kerosene.
Village life has everything a PNGn or any other person needs to physically and emotionally survive. But urban life is attractive because there is more and varied society. Unfortunately it is also more expensive in CASH terms. Thus people need readily exchangeable cash procured mainly by means of paid employment or private enterprise such as selling buai or cigarettes or bottles of oil or bleach, or pens or bandaids.
For people who WANT to work as a matter of PRIDE to show off their VALUES, a sign such as "nogat wok" reads as a punch in the belly. Urban living was brought to PNG. Is there not some responsibility to make it function by removing "nogat wok" signs and developing an employment strategy?

the travellers at the bus stop

chased the thief away and Bus-crew was going to ask another passenger to give up his place on the PMV to get me away from the Top Town depot but I said maski or no ken wori or liklik samting and I got on the PMV behind where the people too had seen the thief in action and they were relieved that he had got nothing. They feel badly about themselves when their countrymen give them a poor reputation.
To make up for their feeling badly, I was embarrassed to hear about the "interesting" range of pay scales for haus meris. I am a volunteer so my wage is more "modest" in comparison with most ex-pat contractors in the private sector. I pay K20 per day - say K4 per hour? which is not much but it is still higher than "average", and for the sake of offering a job (which is sort of the way I look at it - at least when I go back home I can hold my head up high and say I helped buy groceries for a PNGn's table) a wage at K2 per hour strikes me as "unusual" or "interesting". I don't think I'm complaining. I am simply writing about the "interesting" or "unusual" object side of life which I experience in PNG. For an egalitarian such as most Australians are, the concept of a haus meri resonates awkwardly on account of a previous association with "servant". Most haus meris take pride in their work because their work says a lot about their values which they like to demonstrate and pay is a reward for having values. If you know what I mean? I think?

Yesterday a pick pocket

tried to take advantage of me but he didn't get away with anything. I trust people and I hate being so defensive about possessions. What a contrast to the family of Eli who welcomed me in to their village in West Taraka last Saturday. Joe, Eli's father and all of his village people from Chimbu live together and they have a community elementary school for their own children as well as those from neighbouring communities. West Taraka is only about half an hour's walk from Unigate on the western side of the Bumbu river but it is in an area that has an unfortunate reputation, deserved or otherwise. We had a casual afternoon lunch and talk and it was a very pleasant way to share humanity. I am very appreciative that Joe and Eli and the whole family reached out to me in this way. I did not go for any anthropological study or awareness but Robert and Eli had heard me express a wish to be able to enter the private way of life of the owners of this country and that Joe's family enabled me to do that has a special significance and meaning for me.
On top of that, I went to catch a PMV truck to Lotu on Sunday morning. As I was about to get up on the back of the truck, the driver came and asked me to join him in the front. Normally I would feel as though I was being given special treatment but the PNG people like to feel they are treating a guest courteously. So I sat in the front. Most people are kind like that.

letter to Post Courier

My ice cream had begun to soften by 9pm Monday so Roger, Joseph and I had to eat it with banana and pawpaw. I was not alone in having thawing problems as this letter explains.
"PNG Power not reliable
What is up with the main hydro scheme up at Yonki? I just heard news that PNG Power has shut down the turbines at Yonki because of landowner threats. PNG Power should have sent out notices last week so that people in Lae, Madang, Goroka and other Highlands provinces are prepared for the power interruption. It’s close to 24 hours now since power went off yesterday and all my meat in the fridge is going to go bad. I didn’t plan to eat them all but now I have no choice. Now what about the critically ill patients in hospital and big stores without back up generator. I just wish there is an act that I can sue PNG Power for such inconvenience. It’s not the first time this sole electricity company has shut down power without giving out notices. What is the PNG Power public relations officials doing? They should be informing people and organisations on these matters. Maisan Pahun victimised"

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

34 hours without power

This item from the Post Courier Tues 8th August explains events which started about 4am Monday and seem to have been resolved about 2pm today Tuesday:
"DISGRUNTLED Arona Valley landowners at 4am yesterday occupied the Yonki Hydro Power station and shut off power supply to Lae, Madang, Mount Hagen and Goroka. The landowners said they would not allow power to flow until the their claims for compensation and benefits from the hydro power station were resolved by the National Government and PNG Power Ltd. But in Port Moresby yesterday afternoon, Minister for State and Enterprise Arthur Somare said in a press conference any dialogue with the legitimate landowners would cease until those occupying the power stations left the premises. He said the landowner issues would not be attended to until they allowed the asset to go back to PNG Power. Only then will the government re-enter into dialogue with them, he said. “Their actions by moving onto the site, taking possession of the site and protesting over the site is illegal,” Mr Somare said. Reports said the landowners had entered the PNG Power premises and threatened employees to stop work and forced them to shut down the main power supply."

Sunday, August 06, 2006

ah, my bird picture at last

The blog has been having trouble squeezing this one through the cyber pipe. This turkey/bush fowl/lyrebird/peacock type of bird is nesting about 3 m high in a tree. They walk around Loloata in the manner of traditional owners. They, along with wallabies are free but I deliberately took no photos of the caged up tree kangaroo or the beautiful caged parrots. When I hear the free gay chirping of birds each sunny morning I feel sad that some animals are caged.

when i drove rear dumps for

Chrysotile Asbestos, the FED&FA (Federated Engine Drivers and Firemans Ass'n) wanted us all to put in $50 for a fighting fund to support the Blackwater miners whose mining company's subsidised housing was going to be taxed by then Treasurer Howard. I was living in a caravan at the time and my wife was expecting our first baby Matthew. Wally Andrewski was Shop Steward and I told him I wasn't putting in $50 but I put in $50 to an alternative, Legacy. He was a brute and a thug with the muscles to intimidate anyone who didn't believe him. I don't know if he was a wife basher but that was the story. His character fitted that mould anyway.
I was scabbed from working overtime shifts. Wally was able to carry two shifts in the scab vote on me but my shift supported me. The money wasn't the issue. I gave mine to Legacy. The principle mattered to me because my parents did it as tough as anyone without subsidised housing and it seemed fair. Why was I, living in a caravan, going to protest against a tax policy which benefited someone living in a house? If you lived in a dog kennel, and I asked you to subsidise my living in a palace, how would you respond?

my fellow Australians

I am seeking your endorsement for a record fifth term of government. My government has successfully turned back the clock fifty years and in the next three years I am going to take this country back almost to the glorious days of Federation. Thank you, thank you for that generous endorsement. My goals to achieve that aim are 1. To redevelop the deforestation projects of the early C20th by removing the GST on chainsaws and bulldozers. Yes, thank you, thank you. Ha ha.
Secondly, To return to the romantic and inefficient days of steam trains. This will compensate for the high price of petrol and will teach the oil producers in the Moslem Middle East that they can't hold us to ransom. Thank you, thank you. Yes ha ha I know its a good policy but thank you yes, I've got more. Thirdly. To reintroduce the glorious days of the 5pm-6pm swill. Too many young people are being unAustralian by drinking breezers and nightclubbing until after 8pm and this policy will remind them of their great great grandparents. Thank you. Thank you.
My fellow Australians, if we can implement these, then I have further plans to take us back a further one hundred years. Thank you. You're too generous. I plan to reintroduce squatters and swaggies which are so much part of our heritage. Thank you. And if this is successful, then I will reintroduce the cat o' nine tails and return the touristy convict gaols back to proper working gaols. Thank you, thank you my fellow Australians all.

Geoff Nathan Stuart Troy

We did the same AVI orientation and arrived together in PNG. Here we catch up again at Loloata. Nathan and I are in Lae, Stu is in Madang and Troy at Kokopo (Rabaul)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

I think it would be a rare sight

back home. At 8.30 on a Saturday morning I was walking up to work and over in the Women's dorm area, there were young ladies say 19 -20 out with bush knives and digging forks doing gardening.
A story in The Recorder, the Univ paper earlier this week was about the young men having set up a garden in their dorm area as a reminder of their village traditions and of home and as an activity.
Some of the younger volunteers even do gardening as an activity and iy was the first thing Jeremy looked at when he returned for a visit in early June - to see how his garden was going. I'm not a gardener. My Father and two brothers in law are gardeners but the last gardening I did was about 30 years ago when I planted forty tomatoes out.

apologies to Keats yesterday

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard Are sweeter;
therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees,
thou canst not leaveThy song,
nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal -- yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
Stanza 2, Grecian Urn

Friday, August 04, 2006

Land,surveying and valuation research paper

was presented in the RKH last Wednesday afternoon. These research seminars along with the final year thesis presentations are informative for an understanding of the academic and educational interests specific to PNG. Last Wednesday's was particularly pertinent as the presenter dispelled the common misunderstanding that PNG is a homogeneous "nation". With 800 languages and 21 or so provincial governments, a better analogy for understanding PNG is Europe. Only in the last 20 years has there come into being the European Union which still has 30 or so languages. Land use in PNG is a difficult issue because 97% of it is customarily owned. By itself this should not be insurmountable: The Duchy of Cornwall of which Prince Charles is owner is customary land for example but the State is able to tax it because the State is recognised. This is not to say that PNG as an entity is not recognised but it does explain some of the difficulties. The Duchy of Cornwall and the State recognise mutual obligations and benefits in a relational way which is not quite so obvious in the PNG situation.

blogging problem

seems to be a problem not only with me. I just read Robert's blog - first time I have been able to connect this week I think. I have been trying to download the pictures of the PNG turkeys which I note Robert has been able to do but my photos just don't seem to want to grab. It's been explained like trying to squeeze a 2cm marble through a 1cm hole. 2 into 1 doesn't go. One would have thought that computers had heard of rational numbers and decimals etc - cut the photo in two, poke one bit throught the cyber cable, poke the other bit through and sticky tape it on the other side. Why didn't Bill Gates think of that? I will try to get some photos posted over the weekend - as Robert says, before 7am might be the go.
We had a blackout last night just as I was about to watch the enjoyable Daniel Deronda on ABC Asia Pacific. I too taught a full load this week: four classes at two hours each plus attendance at the lecture. My subject is English as a Second Language for Academic Discourse.
Externalisation is finally going places. The policy is in the hands of Senior Executive Management. As for upgrading the Adult Matriculation Course - we will start to do that next weekend with teachers from the secondary schools around Lae.

if only we would learn from history

1812 by Adam Zamoyski describes how the Continental Blockade worked. "Britain responded to Napoleon's decree of 1806 banning her ships from all ports under his control by declaring that any ship trading with a port from which British ships were excluded was fair game for confiscation by the Royal Navy. French, Spanish, Dutch and German traders tried to get around this by using neutral American vessels to carry goods. Britain decreed that no ship could be considered neutral if it were carrying goods between hostile ports. In order to get around this, American ships would pick up their cargoes, take them to an American port, unload them, reload them and take them to a European port. Britain refused to accept this as legal."
The games we play. Iranian weapons ending up with Hezbollah via Syria. Who invented the strategy? How many more innocent people have to die so the power makers can play their game? You hypocrites!!! You hypocrites! I hope there is a special place in Hell reserved for you. You hypocrites!!!

collins world encyclopaedia

In the article on Iran I was interested to read "1941: Pahlavi Shah was forced to abdicate during WW2 by Allied Occupation Forces and was succeeded by his son Muhammed Riga Pahlavi who continued the modernisation programme. 1946: Britain, US and Soviet occupation forces left."
We are still living throught the legacy of post-colonialism and it seems to me that the colonial powers would be better trying to repair the damage of their colonialism on the mentalities of the previously colonised people and governments rather than intimidate them back into submission again. After all, when was the last time Iran colonised Britain or US? Does Britain or US remember how it felt? It's a pity they did not have the respect for the values of democracy and freedom as they now seem to be trumpeting in brass-band-competition oads.

to prove I am more enlightened

than you I must be noisier than you on enlightenment issues. Reformed non-smokers detest smoking and smokers more than never-smokers. Converted Christians are noisier than inherited Christians. Church-goers (not necessarily Christians, but Church goers who attend for appearances sake on account of their social standing) are noisier than Christians on moral issues.
The problem is that the unenlightened people present an image problem for the enlightened. I am a 58 year old man, divorced, and I would not like to have Philippines or Thailand stamped on my passport because in the minds of society, a 58 year old guy has been there only for one reason. In order to counter the prejudice in this matter, I have to be stridently vocal out of proportion in order to convince people I am not a deviant or pervert. Not that I am stridently vocal - I just don't visit those countries. My first boss at Brewarrina told us as young teachers: "Don't leave sticks lying around - then there is nothing anyone can hit you with!" Or don't make a fire - that way there is no smoke. Or don't make mud pies - people have none to throw at you.
I attempt to counter prejudice by pre-empting that there is prejudice. Maybe I think prejudicially myself and attribute unfairly to others that they are prejudiced?

bad mouthing Mel Gibson

I didn't hear what Mel Gibson said but I have heard a lot of bad mouthing of him on account he had said something racist. Why is he not prosecuted under anti-vilification laws if the protesters are so serious in their condemnation? I thought racism was a crime. Why has the State not prosecuted him?
That is the problem. In order to prove you are not a racist or a bigot or child molester or wife basher or any other of these crimes of the heart, you have to be noisy whenever it happens. Which makes it a pity that the noisy people were not around to receive the refugees on the Voyage of the Damned in 1939. How many of these Hollywood types accepted an asylum seeker then? How many did the USA accept then?
As the poet (Keats - Grecian Urn?) said - "Heard words are sweet; those unheard are sweeter." The corollary equally applies - "Heard words are unkind; those unheard are unkinder."
I learnt at school that empty vessels make the most noise. You have to look to the heart and not just to the words because the heart can hide many evil thoughts from other people.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

trying to educate myself

"He was also involved in occasional violent resistance during the short period of time his organization cooperated with Menachem Begin's Irgun, though he refused to be involved in terrorism of any kind, and insisted that violence only be used against military targets. Ben-Gurion initially agreed to Begin's plan to carry out the King David Hotel bombing, with the intent of humiliating (rather than killing) the British military stationed there. However, when the risks of mass killing became apparent, Ben-Gurion told Begin to call the operation off; Begin refused.[1]" - I googled zionism ben gurion for this information.
Like most people I am trying to understand why Israel/Palestine cannot be resolved. I am sure that chest beating by those of us removed from the situation can't help. Nor can I see that taking sides is helping in trying to resolve the matter. That just means we bring our own prejudices. From what I read of Ben Gurion he seemed to be a moderate but the web site had different perspectives. Judge not lest ye yourself be judged. I was born in 1948 the year of the UN determination of the independent State of Israel. And still I wait for peace. The majority, you have had long enough to solve it. Let the minority have a turn.

by way of explanation

There seems to be something wrong with trying to get this blog to work properly over the last few days. My photos do not want to load and the published status is coming up such that I end up publishing twice. I am not sure what the problem is.
Concerning the war that is going on in the Middle East. Given the history of these two peoples, can there ever be peace? What does God want for his people? What concerns me is that when countries choose to go to war they make a choice to possibly kill innocent people. That is the fact of war. Women, children, elderly, sick people, nurses, aid workers, get killed in war. When you choose to get into a car when you are drunk, you choose to possibly kill someone innocent.
I regret that my first choice of career in the Navy did not happen. Blowing up ships generally happened far enough away that innocent people were spared. Except that some poor wife or mother and father or children and siblings had to endure the grief of the loss of a naval officer.
But maate, your analogy breaks down. One of the warring parties is not a nation. It is a civilian group hiding within another state. Don't you dare have the hide to compare their terrorism with the right of a people to defend itself. What do you mean Don't you dare? Am I not entitled to an opinion? An opinion yes. But not an ignorant opinion. So what counts as an ignorant opinion? What was Zionism before 1948? Ah yes but that is not the same as Hezbollah. Enlighten me.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I am trying to differentiate

between the Australian Aborigines situation and the Israeli land situation. The Jews had been displaced of a homeland for centuries until finally in 1948 the UN mandated the homeland state of Israel.
The Aboriginal people of Australia were displaced during the nineteenth century and they are still having to prove their cases for land rights by right of "continuous settlement" in Australia's civil courts.
Ben Gurion said (Dowty, 2005, p77) "We and they want the same thing. We both want Palestine."
The British Peel Commission (1937) prompted a response (Dowty p79): "Palestinian Arabs resisted partition or even autonomy for the Jewish minority. Palestine had been Arab and Muslim for centuries; was one to reward trespassers by surrendering even a part of what they illegitimately laid claim to? If your home is invaded and the invaders agree to occupy only the ground floor, is this truly a fair and just 'compromise'?"
The minority-majority dualism and dilemma. Robert mailed me in response that "democracy can be defined as the tyranny of the majority."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Motopure Island

where some of us billeted overnight before returning to Loloata, a 10 min banana boat ride away. Across the water is the mainland. This is getting towards low tide. At high tide the boat could come in up to the steps.

maate, maate, listen to yourself

Maate, would you sit next to you with an attitude like yours? Life is too short to begin analysing your personality at your age. You've missed the boat so relax and enjoy yourself and you might end up making somene else happy. Forget about saving the world. It's not going to happen. Stop taking yourself too seriously. Get a life. Get over it.
No, you listen to yourself. How come my views don't count? Why do I always have to be the listener for other people's views? Why is what I think or say not important?
Maate, you are the minority. Minorities don't matter. Join the majority. It's the way of the future.

how embarrassing to realise

that all along I have no personality! I have to teach debating later on this semester and reading through a text I came across "without this (personality) the effort of speaking is largely wasted for no-one will be interested in listening." Personality is about making oneself recognisable as uniquely oneself and not someone else: one needs a reasonable knowledge of what one is talking about, a dash of self confidence, a sprinkling of personal charm, a generous portion of sincerity, and a large determination to make others understand his point of view!
In one of the sessions at Loloata I deliberately sat in the middle row and wondered who might come and sit next to me. The ends on either side filled up. Then an arm reached over and picked up the chair immediately on my left and the person moved it elsewhere! With body language as demonstrative as that I realised no-one wanted to sit on my left. Finally someone came in and sat on my immediate right.
On the other hand whenever I go to church I search out the loner and especially the newcomer who looks to be seeking. I sit with them for the cup of tea time. Others choose to mix with their peer groups.

why be so critical - think positive,

today is the first day of the rest of your life, the glass is half full, it always rains after a drought, we are one day closer to rain, it is attitude that counts. Yep, I've got all that.
And the staff at Loloata were fantastic. They are rostered on to live and work on the island in shifts of a fortnight I think they told me. Nothing was a trouble and they always smiled. I took the canoe out one afternoon and they carried it down to the water for me. I helped the canoe steward bring it back up though as I had come in early. Too much like hard work this paddling a canoe into the wind. My younger AVI orientation mates Troy and Stewart had no problems - they looked like experts. They probably can't play solitaire as well as I can - perhaps?
And so If i am going to think positive, I wonder what was going on in the early morning news programme on EMTV from Australia. One guy was bagging the debt that people had got into and was saying how tough it was with interest rates about to rise on top of petrol prices and inflation. This is the type of commentary that is reserved for Labor governments. How can this type of commentary be going on in PM Howard's Australia? Are we no longer relaxed and comfortable? Come on, help me stick with this think positive regime.

mischief makers

The ch 9 News that we got up here this morning was that there could be another rise in interest rates and there was some financial genius spreading propaganda about people's having to cut down on entertainment because living was tough and too expensive. I don't know who is responsible for this but it is clearly inaccurate. Maybe there is a message scrambler over Torres Strait or something but life under PM Howard's Australia is good. He is the battler's friend and he makes sure we are relaxed and comfortable and that interest rates are low and for someone to say we can't go to the movies and we have to walk the dog for entertainment well he is clearly a stooge for the Opposition - not that he would have to try hard to be a stooge as the opposition is full of stooges. So James Packer should tell his news team to stop thise lies that interest rates are going up along with petrol and inflation and the cost of living. Interest rates are going down. It is the media which is lying. I trust PM Howard to always tell the truth. He is the most honourable man after Julius Caesar, thus spake Shakespeare's Maek Anthony. Petrol is going down. Credit card debt is zero. There was no arrangement with Costello. Have faith. Trust the man.