outback to jungle

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

Friday, September 29, 2006

inspiration itself

at the multiculturalism of this diverse country. This is normal and why wouldn't people be proud of this heritage of which there is none other like it in the world.

PNG - what other images

are possible? I think that the more heavily clothed, the more likely it is the costumes are highlands. It gets cold enough for blankets up there where the mountains are higher than Mt Kosiusko (2600m or thereabouts. Mt Wilhelm is 4500m, Mt Hagen the biggest city of the highlands is at 3500 m. So imagine a city of say 80000 people on top of Mt Kosiusko?

I am not only fascinated by the

fascinating. The pictures from PNG are not meant as voyeurism but as a tribute to a remarkable people which survives despite the best efforts of greed and corruption to keep them subjected to impoverished circumstances.
I was embarrassed to have to decline an offer of an acquaintance to come and live with me yesterday. It would not be right to create a precedent for the next AVI who comes and as well, I am only renting the University property. I don't know what his normal circumstances of living are but that he sees a wait man as approachable seems interesting in a culture which lives by the rule of wontoks. I wonder who are his wontoks and whose were Simon's wontoks?
I might be a coward and selfish for not being willing to share my accommodation but I can live with that.

I've been feeling really weird

for about a week now. I don't know whether to put it down to the malaria, or the malaria treatment, or to my being concerned about Matthew, or to the irregular weekends that John and I have been working, or to the unsettling circumstances of this week. The funeral of Robin Kiliti, a student from Baiyer who was murdered last Friday was held yesterday and this morning the students will meet to decide whether they return next week.
I wasn't sure what our situation as lecturers was - I turned up in my department on two days and then I thought well if I'm wanted, someone will tell me. I certainly hope the students return next week. It's not as though people are in a daze but we are bewildered. We are not on holidays, we are not on strike, but we are confused. There seems to be very few staff on campus. So much so that yesterday afternoon I myself went into town to get my water bill sorted out.

the only female speaker

to speak was probably the one whom I empathised with the most. She spoke of PNG as a democratic society where there was a silent minority which was not being heard. The silent minority of students was not being heard on campus. Women students needed to be listened to as well she said.
I empathised with her but I was equally impressed with all the student speakers. Tok Pisin seems to have a particular way of expressing emotion whether the emotion is calming or strident and urging. "Yu mas toktok na yu mas harim" can be intoned as a strident urging rallying cry but equally it can be intonated as a soft call to reason.
This 3rd world country with such impressive new generation leaders. PNG and other Non-aligned countries who have just met in Cuba. Your turn will come as the 1st World becomes the Old World - tired, worn out and lazy - still trying to use yesterday's weapons of force on post-modern man's weapon of reason. Congratulations for the excitement your young students encourage me with.

the students met the Univ Council

in open forum in the quadrangle outside the Admin this morning. I observed the proceedings from downstairs for a while and then I crept upstairs to the Architecture faculty where I could better hear the proceedings. The Pro Chancellor used the thoughts of Mr Kiliti, father of the late Robin to encourage the students to concentrate on the job at hand - to get through their year. He recounted how Mr Kiliti at the funeral yesterday had spoken of his dream three years ago which was to be standing proudly in one year's time beside his son who would be wearing a University hat and gown and silk hood and who would be holding in his hand his passport to security. Such heartache as this dream is not to be. Such anguish and agony at having come so close. How does the human spirit recover from that.

when they saved Private Ryan

I wonder why they didn't save L/Cpl Ted Farrell as well? Great Uncle Ted whom I knew when I was growing up in Bourke and who later went over to Gilgandra to be close to his sister, my grandmother, Victoria Kate Anderson, in his old age, returned to Australia after the armistice and arrived in Australia 19th August, 1919 - about ten months after the end of the war. Great Uncle Ted had lost his two brothers over there - George (my middle name) was killed in action in March 1917, and Tim (my Father's middle name) died of wounds in May 1918.
The three brothers had service numbers 1919 (Ted); 1920 (Tim); and 1921 (George). I'm sure they must have seen it as some sort of adventure. They were shearers and labourers out around Bourke and Brewarrina in the days of dirt roads and just after the end of the paddle boats.


At the orientation week at Univ of Sydney several years ago, the compere was using the name of Jesus Christ in the context of "for Chrissake", and F%$#&N Christ" and simply "Jesus Christ!"which apparently was meant to be funny. I went up to him and told him to blaspheme Allah or the Rainbow Serpent and he said something to the effect "%$^& off you f&%$#'n wanker. What are you on about".

And we are meant to have to put up with this? This is what my country has become? Christianity has become the butt of blasphemy while we condemn Moslems? Are we perverted or what?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Chimbu province bilas

at the cultural festival nearly a month ago now

District Governor Of Rotary

Michael Gregory was guest of honour at the combined Rotary Clubs of Huon Gulf, Lae and Bulolo last night, Wednesday 27th September. The clubs met at the Melanesian and heard Michael on a range of issues facing Rotary. "Membership world-wide is stuck at 1.2 million despite moving into Kosova, Eastern Europe, China and soon Cuba. Four clubs closed in Queensland". One club proudly showed Michael a picture on the front of the local paper of Rotarians cooking a sausage sizzle for a school fete. "But what else do you do?" he asked. "Rotarians have to have fun and enjoy service with hands on service. Cheque book Rotary is killing the fun of being a Rotarian. The fun comes in projects where you see smiling faces as books are delivered, people get wheel chairs and clinics get supplies. Rotary has to act with heart and head. We think we know what people need - but we need to ask. When we put a water pump into a village we need to ensure we build a programme in pump maintenance into the project. The big campaigns need to continue. Polio is now endemic in only 4 countries. But it still needs focus. Nigeria stopped immunising and now it has recurred. The malaria campaign with corporate sponsorship is continuing. But you need to have fun. When you are not having fun the motivation ceases and members stop coming. Pretty soon there is no point in inviting a guest speaker because it is embarrassing for the speaker to speak to an audience of 6 members. And the club folds. And the community suffers. Therefore the message is - enjoy yourselves while you are being Rotarians."

As well as that we are aussies

Everybody loves us. That gives us the right to dis-own anyone who does not measure up to what us aussies consider to be aussie behaviour. Losers, sadoes, whingers, weirdos, frieks, loners, and anyone who doesn't drink beer is not an aussie and they don't belong in our country. That's why everybody loves us - we don't take no %$#@ from no-one.

But then of course we're Christians

Yes, I'd forgotten about that. We forgive others, we turn the other cheek, we preach love, we do not judge lest we ourselves be judged, we worship God, we dutifully attend Church with our brother and sister Christians every Sunday, we do not cheat the tax-man, we love honour and respect our parents so much that when they get elderly we put them into the professional care of underpaid nurses in a nursing home, we do not lie and say there will never ever be a GST and that children were thrown overboard, we do not kill civilians and call it collateral damage, we treat refugees and the less fortunate as we would like to be treated ourselves. After all, we are Christians. We love everybody.

"Realist" crossed the boundary

between fair comment and bullying and that is not the purpose of allowing comment on my blog. I can take criticism but I am not going to be bullied with stuff like "sad, bitter, twisted, loser, fool." I can take legitimate argument but why someone has to go one step further and put in hateful put-down garbage leaves me perplexed. Hopes for world peace don't seem real high with bigoted clowns not knowing when to keep quiet.

What started it was a continuing statement by me that Mr David Hicks, Citizen of Australia has been accorded none of the respect which democracy preaches and yet we are fighting a war to promote democracy. All along I have said Mr David Hicks, Citizen of Australia might be a little bit different but that puts him in need of support rather than for us to turn our backs on him. Once upon a time we called people witches or we locked them away in asylums or we threw stones at them and taunted them and made them chase us. David Bryant of Port Arthur infamy was probably similar.

That is where we have community breakdown. I don't know, but it strikes me that Mr David Hicks Citizen of Australia was a loner in need of community. It says more about our own lack of humanity that we could allow someone to fall through the safety net of community support.

There are some who would like to return to the days of burning witches - as long as they are not the accused witch.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

right on - from http://schilt.info/

"Sydney looks great - in fact, Sydney is a beautiful city... to look at. Go deeper down and this beauty all but disappears. Between the violence, mental health issues, the senseless running around in a hurry, the stress and the isolation of human beings - I think I'm over it. I was over it a long time ago - it just took me a little longer than expected to cut my losses so to speak. Life in the so called west leaves much to be desired. The sad thing is that we are lead to believe that life in the west is normal - we grow up thinking that this is how it is meant to be. Our leaders - yes our leaders - guide nations and mankind towards what? Towards fuckin what? Yet we elect these so called servants to implement our mandate - we get what we deserve by the way. If there is something that typifies the western thought it has to be apathy and ignorance. Our leaders are happy for us to remain in this state - as long as we continue to ignore and not give a rats arse about what's "really" going on - mankind will continue to spiral towards a big pile of shit."
Thanks Robert. I don't feel as though I am the only one.

I was starting to doubt myself

That is what bullies are good at. They have no self esteem of their own so they try to knock others down to their level. A bully the other day did not like what I had written about Australian Citizen Mr David Hicks. "You sad bitter twisted loser fool" he ranted on two comments I allowed through. Just like the bullies at school and elsewhere in Australia, the ones who call others "Fatso, Ugly, Dago, Lebo, Refo, Abo," in fact anything to build themselves up relatively by putting the other person down.
I thought that maybe I might have gone too far myself in knocking aussies and the lack of community in Australia and in what I had said about Australian Citizen Mr David Hicks, prisoner of the Americans in Guantanamo Gaol.
Then I looked at my ancestry. 3 great uncles in WW1, 2 of whom did not return; Father in WW2; Brother in Vietnam.
There is no way you bully that you are going to shut me up. You gutless coward. You hide behind my blog to publish yourself. You gutless fraud. My ancestry %6&8s all over you. You contemptible bully. You and your aussie "mates" are not worth the sacrifices that were made for you so that you can live to bully Australians out of their right to an opinion. You vile piece of muck.

Edward (Edwin) Albert Farrell

Rank on discharge L Cpl
Number 1919
Date of Enlistment 4/Feb 1916.
Returned from Action 19 Aug 1919
Unit 55th Battalion
Embarkation HMAT Barambah, Ship no A37 23 June 1916
Unit at Embarkation 54 Infantry Battalion 2 to 5 Reinforcements April- September 1916.


Service Australian Army
Service Number NX58048
Date of Birth 8 Jun 1909
Place of Birth BOURKE, NSW
Date of Enlistment 18 Jul 1940
Locality on Enlistment BALLADORAN, NSW
Place of Enlistment PADDINGTON, NSW
Date of Discharge 4 Aug 1947
Rank Sergeant
Posting at Discharge 1 AUST AMPH ARMD SQDN
Prisoner of War No

George Charles Farrell

Rank Private [Pte]
Service Number 1921
Unit 55th Bn Australian Inf
Service Army
Conflict 1914-1918
Date of Death 9 March 1917
Cause of Death Killed in action
Cemetery or Memorial Details
FRANCE 374 Guards' Cemetery Lesboeufs
Place Of Enlistment
Bourke, NSW
War Grave Register Notes
FARRELL, Pte. George Charles, 1921. 55th Bn. Australian Inf. Killed in action 9th March, 1917. Age 21. Son of Timothy and Mary Ann Farrell, of Tudor St., Bourke, New South Wales. VII. L. 10.
AWM145 Roll of Honour cards, 1914-1918 War, Army
Location on the Roll of Honour
George Charles Farrell's name is located at panel 160 in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial (as indicated by the poppy on the plan).Print out this certificate and bring it to the Memorial & we will give you a free poppy to place next to George Charles Farrell's name.-->

Paul Timothy Anderson

Service: Army
Conflict: Vietnam
Summary of Unit Name(s)
A Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment

Timothy Oxley Farrell

Rank Private [Pte]
Service Number 1920
Unit 55th Bn Australian Inf
Service Army
Conflict 1914-1918
Date of Death 22 May 1918
Cause of Death Died of wounds
Cemetery or Memorial Details FRANCE 29 Crouy British Cemetery Croy-Sur-Somme
Place Of Enlistment Bourke, NSW
War Grave Register Notes
FARRELL, Pte. Timothy Oxley, 1920. 55th Bn. Australian Inf. Died of wounds 22nd May, 1918. Son of Timothy and Mary Ann Farrell, of Tudor St., Bourke, New South Wales. II. C. 16.
AWM145 Roll of Honour cards, 1914-1918 War, Army

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I went around to Robert and Tony

last night. The murder of a student is so unsettling - that's not the word I want because a murder is wrong and a tragedy and what I probably mean is that the response to the murder is unsettling. Tony told me how he went to the haus krai and spoke words which encouraged the grieving father - "Your son was only doing on Friday night what 50 million students world wide were doing. He was out with his friends." You shouldn't get murdered for that. You shouldn't get murdered full stop. The grieving father had been told that his son brought it on himself and so he was relieved that Tony said what he said.

curriculum writing at Lae High School

The Mathematics teachers from Bugandi and Lae High Schools are helping the distance learning unit to upgrade its courses. They identified some of the shortcomings in the present curriculum as being statistics, calculus and vestors.

Post Courier day 2 report

Students urged to return to classes
ACTING Vice Chancellor of the University of Technology Wilson Tovirika has appealed to students to return to classes. The students yesterday started an indefinite boycott of classes to push for a number of demands, among them for the University council and administration to consider the re-introduction of sale and consumption of alcohol on campus. This, the students said, would stop students going outside campus to look for beer and ending up getting killed. Other security issues have also been raised by the students to be addressed.
The boycott of classes is in response to the killing of a third-year Computer Science student early on Saturday morning near a pub at Tent Siti by armed thugs. Six suspects have been arrested by police over the killing. Mr Tovirika said yesterday the boycott of classes was untimely because the students' exams were only four weeks away. He said student activities including the recent cultural show had already disrupted studies and the boycott would only add to the disruptions. Mr Tovirika also called on the students not to disrupt normal operations of the university and to allow public access in and out of the campus. He assured that the administration would endeavour to address the concerns that relate to the running of the university and pass on to the council issues relating to policy.
He said a special university council meeting could be convened to address the issues. The students also held meetings yesterday and requested Vice Chancellor Misty Baloiloi and members of the council to meet with them today to receive their petition. Mr Baloiloi, who is on leave, has indicated to attend the meeting. SRC president Nathan Dingu said the students would stay away from classes until their concerns have been addressed.
Acting Vice Chancellor Mr Tovirika and Registrar Allan Sako as well as other university staff attended the meeting with the students yesterday. Mr Sako assured that the university would provide support to repatriate the body of the murdered student and assist in funeral expenses. A ‘haus-krai’ has been erected on campus and students have been visiting in provincial groups.

Dear Realist - Get with the Strength!

"Dear friends, It's up to us to act, so we're going global and taking our David Hicks' campaign straight to the top. This coming week, the US President wants to pass new legislation for trying detainees that's actually far worse than the unfair system the US Supreme Court threw out - and ignoring the facts, our Government barracks from the sidelines. But his new plan is so outrageous that now support from Congress could collapse. America sees Australia as the closest of allies. At this crucial moment, tell the President of the United States and Congress that another sham system of Guantanamo justice is unacceptable. The President wants to use the anniversary of September 11 to pass devastating new legislation for trying detainees. It prevents defendants and their lawyers from even seeing evidence against them or confronting witnesses, while allowing prosecutors to use hearsay and evidence obtained through coercion. If the President is successful, detainees such as David Hicks will never again have access to appeals, or be able to make allegations of torture or mistreatment in the courts. The American Government has not, and would not ever, allow their citizens to be tried in Guantanamo Bay. Tell them not to create a system of justice for our citizen they wouldn't accept for theirs. Last month Australian Attorney-General Philip Ruddock promised David Hicks would be brought home by November if not properly charged. And Australians will hold him to that promise. But first we need to make certain the US doesn't let the Australian Government off the hook with a system so rigged, even leading Republicans and career military lawyers are protesting.Send your message right now. Let Washington know the eyes of the world are on them - and we expect the real deal, not another kangaroo court. www.getup.org.au/campaign/AustraliaCallingWashingtonThank you for taking urgent action,The GetUp team. PS: If you thought you were alone in supporting the right to a fair trial, GetUp's new Newspoll survey finds that more than 9 out of ten (91%) Australians believe David Hicks deserves a fair trial without delay, while less than 1 in 4 (24%) believe he will receive a fair trial in Guantanamo Bay."

the equatorial equinox

has just passed and Lae's equinox is in about a month. It is starting to get more humid now and soon I will be back to four or so showers a day. Two showers a day is sort of normal but sometimes if I am lazy I might skip the night one. I need the morning one to wake me up and the evening one to clean me up from the perspiration.

eleven months has gone by

since I arrived to start a two year contract with PNG Univ of Technology. I got the job through Australian volunteers International. A volunteer is actually paid but not at international contract rates. We get a subsistence allowance that enables us to live modestly but comfortably. We can't afford to buy a car so we travel by Public Motor Vehicle (about a 22 seater bus size). This is the way to meet people anyway.
I started to wilt at about the 6 month mark and I didn't think I would get through to this far. I have been supported by my fellow AVIs, ex-AVIs and their families, my work colleagues and my Chuirch and Rotary colleagues, and particular friends through circumstances which brought us together.
My nephew Byron had a Ben Franklin motivational statement to keep him going, something to the effect that so many brilliant inventions were on the point of discovery when the inventor gave up. Winston Churchill's best speech was his shortest to a School Speech Day. "Boys and Girls, never give up. Never, ever, ever give up. Thank you."
I am glad I persisted. I didn't know this was me until I came here.

Monday, September 25, 2006

the case of the murdered student

The tragic death of a student by murder last Friday night is being felt around the campus this morning. Yesterday the road up to Bumayong and Tent City was blocked. Today the main gates are blockaded. Students met outside the Admin block this morning and there are no classes today. I went over to the cake and pie shop for lunch and brought back a packet of scones - the last packet - for the people at the gate. I asked if it was alright to pass through firstly though. How this tense situation will resolve itself over the next few days?

breakfast at tiffany's

Us Unitechers hosted the townies on the night of the cultural festival. We partied at Roger's at night and then went to Robert's and Tony's for breakfast. Between us we managed to billet everybody which is quite good fun.
Here is maitre de cuisine Robert taking orders. It was the best bacon and egg roll - better than at the Nadzab airport lounge.

It had to happen sooner or later

I watch Fox news at 4.30. It might be a conservative channel but I am open minded. They use vocabulary like top of the hour and bottom of the hour to mean the o'clock and the half past. Like all good aussies, it had to creep into our vocabulary. I heard a bloke on the breakfast programme today before the eight o'clock news tell me that the top of the hour news would be on after the break. Fair dinkum. Why have we always got to copy other people. As if anytime soon, gimme a break, get a life, loser, wuss, were not enough. What is wrong with our Australian language? These are the very same people who tell you how proud they are to be aussies and then in the next breath they go using the language and idioms of another culture. How unAustralian is that.

Post Courier on murdered student

UNIVERSITY of Technology students are boycotting classes, starting today. They are protesting over the shooting dead of a fellow student during the early hours of Saturday near a bottle shop at Tent Siti. Student leaders said the boycott of classes would be indefinite. The students are demanding that the University allow the sale and consumption of liquor from the Unitech club. At a forum yesterday, the students said this was the second time that a student had suffered at the hands of criminals while looking for alcohol outside of the campus. In 2003 a student from Enga province was shot dead at the University bus-stop while on his way back to the campus after a night out. The student killed at the weekend was doing his third year in Computer Science and was from Baiyer in Western Highlands province. He had gone with two other colleagues to a beer outlet at Tent Siti and were walking back towards the campus when a group of men stopped them and asked for their beer. When the students refused a gang member shot the student at close range. He died instantly. His colleagues went back to the campus after taking his body to the Angau Hospital and recruited more boys and returned to the site of the shooting to hunt for the attackers. The students burnt down a house at the back of the beer outlet which they suspected was the hiding place of the attackers. On Saturday morning large groups of students marched to the Taraka Police station, where they presented a petition to police demanding for police and the community to ‘care and respect students’. They also petitioned the police to act quickly on finding the killers. The students also placed road-blocks outside the university gate and searched some vehicles going to and coming from Tent Siti and Bumayong. Police later ordered the students to remove the road-blocks. Police sources said yesterday a man, believed to be the one who shot dead the student, surrendered and is in police custody. Four other suspects were also rounded up, while two others are at large.

Communities have to show that

they care enough about their members and that they are resourceful and responsible enough to do without government intervention. They have to leave government with nothing to do. Of course this works against the interests of politicians who look for a career in being important and against the interests of political parties which have built a political ideology around their corporate identity and who desire to convert others and to impose their ideology on others.
Noblesse oblige works well in the USA where there are so many institutes for the betterment of the community. Australia has some community spirited noblesse oblige but we are a new money country and new money is less generous than old money.

the apparatus of the State

versus the apparatus of the community. In the days of pre-democracy, "noblesse oblige" was the instrument the ruling classes used to keep a community together. In return for peace, order and goodwill, the better off looked after the less well off - that was their contribution to community and their insurance for their privileged position. The irony of post-Nazism, post-Fascism and post-Communism ideologies is that the democratic regimes have become more bureaucratic and the central governments more signitficant in the lives of people now than when these democratic regimes were competing against the now-discredited State-elitism-in-practice regimes.
Anonymity, individualism and resignation from community responsibility on the one hand and on the other, the social conscience demand that someone else other than me look after the social welfare sector required that central government become even more centrist. User pays and privatisation were attempts by government to get out of the lives of people but personal greed in the private sector has required that government continue its role in regulation and therefore it is still in our lives only much more so than ever.
So how can communities reclaim their heritage and sense of worth?

from the LCC

"If we thought life was difficult with power interruptions, no mobile service, spare a thought for residents in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, or Baghdad Iraq, where that type of chaos we could not possibly fathom in PNG.
Safe weekend
to All!"

you haven't tried if you haven't failed

was a saying told me by a good farmer mate once. Thanks Don. When the going gets tough as it does if one lives life to the full, I pray this prayer.
"I need your help.
Lord, I lost sight of me and of my way,
I am blind and don't know where to turn,
Nor do I see my sister and her plight.
Please give me light that I can see again
A goal, a purpose and a meaning in my life,
And in my daily work and world.
My friends have tried, have tried in vain to help me,
See and find that light.
Yet they themselves were partly blind.
I need your help. You have the only light
That's strong enough to penetrate the darkness of my life.
Please give me sight. Touch my eyes."

shock jocks aussie values quiz

1. aussies drink more beer than (a) the world can produce; (b) New Zealand (c) Arabia.
2. When you go into a Chinese Restaurant an aussie should say (a) Oi Chink, aint yez got no steak n' chips n' eggs (b) May I have the noodles and chow mien please?
3. In a Lebo kebab shop an aussie should say (a) Oi Dago, why don't yez bake the lamb like we do. (b) This is a really interesting multicultural way way of appreciating lamb cuisine.
4. Complete this line of poetry: "aussie, aussie, aussie, oi, oi, ----." Note: This is a trick question - Only aussies are dumb enough to get it wrong.
5. Anyone who isn't an aussie is (a) a loser; (b) a wanker; (c) unAustralian; (d) all of these.
6. When an aussie sings Advance Australia Fair, which hand to you put on your heart? (a) left; (b) right; (c) either.
7. When should an aussie wear the Australian Flag lapel badge? (a) all the time; (b) when likely to be caught on TV; (c) only in Parliament; (d) on public occasions.
8. Complete this joke. "How can you tell a planeload of Pommies has arrived?" ....
9. aussies are the best at (a) two-up; (b) cricket; (c) horse racing; (d) everything.
10. When an aussie sees a down and outer, what should he do? (a) dunno; (b) don't care; (c) tell everyone we look after our mates; (d) walk past.
11. Bonus question. Who was the worst ever Australian Prime Minister? (a) Keating; (b) Hawkey; (c) Whitlam; (d) Chifley; (e) all of them equally bad as they were all Labor.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

one of the other groups

I think Western Highlands for the cultural festival about three weeks ago now.

Such a joyous occasion was that weekend but tragedy struck on Friday night when one of the students was shot at club140 on the boundary of the Unitech and Tent City.

Students will be having their haus krai at the admin building so teaching for this week looks uncertain.

more of the mud-men

from Goroka. What fascinating culture and how rich is this whole world that such traditions are alive. They have the same needs and wants as most other people but they are not overly worried generally if they cannot satisfy everything.

Peter came back this morning from Goroka after seeing his 14 yr old nephew buried. He knocked on my door with 6 yr old daughter Betty about 8.30 with a pile of vegetables for me. How lucky am I. And some clown has the ignorance to bully me as a "sad bitter loser" for writing some quasi-political story that offended their delicate sensitivity. They would do well to experience the vibrancy of PNG or the earthiness of Brewarrina - to realise what is important in life. Get a life - don't be so precious.

dancers with penis gourds and kundus

The blue building behind is the new womens post graduate dormitory and this "new" contrasts with the "old" tradition as seen by these dancers at the recent cultural festival.

Clancy of the Overflow

How many of our Values experts know where The Overflow is? "And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended and at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars."
You need to get out between Nyngan and Condobolin to find it. That's an Australian Value - to know where these places are that were written about by our heritage poets. Australia is more than Sydney and Melbourne and Parliament House Canberra.

Matthew and Hannah

Matt when he was in y10 at Oxley High School Tamworth, aged about 15 and little baby Hannah at four months or so I think it was at Wilcannia. No wonder they gave Christine and I such happiness.

As I wrote last Tuesday, it is 22 years without her as she died as an eight month old baby from a viral encephalitis. We miss you darling daughter.

from the Crown plaza hotel

in P Moresby. This view looks into the Coral Sea out to the left and the business precinct is away to the right. I was able to get this picture up as it took only 145mps I think.

I remember working on my first

polling booth out at Brewarrina. I was too young to be a poll clerk so I helped one of the political parties give out how to vote cards. They were times when each of the parties gave out each other's votes if we went for a drinks break or anything. It was a more generous social and political climate then.
Leadership has a lot to do with building a more good natured community. Democracy functions with the consent of the majority and the good will of the minority. The beauty of the Americans is that there seems to be much more goodwill to rival political opinions. They argue their cases strongly, but their comraderie is more good natured. Conservatives joke that they'd much rather party with liberals because they are more fun to be with.
I'm sure our leaders take themselves too seriously here to the detriment of community. Why do they not stop to ask whether what they are doing is good for the cementing of the community? We are a much more divisive society because of personal ambition and power. And for what? We are a minnow on the world stage.

I have a feeling

I published this one before - taken at Eriku looking up towards the Golf club on the right and the park on the left with Anderson's supermarket on the left.
We ate at Phil's restaurant on the balcony after writing courses at Lae High School in the morning.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

there's a problem with getting my photos

to get through the system. The problem with the lines seems to be worse than usual and has been this way since I returned to Lae and it was particularly bad in the week I was back in Australia. I particulaly wanted to put my view from the Crowne Plaza Hotel up - as proof that I was there. On AVI wages, we don't get to stay at something like this and even on Uni business we stay in more modest accommodation.
Malaria treatment seems to be working, at least the cough has gone. I was relieved to be able to talk to Matthew tonight - I couldn't get him on his mobile all day but his battery had gone flat and was out fishing with a mate anyway. I got him a Dave Hughes comedy DVD and a Billy Connolly one and Christine said he brought it out to Ballina where they watched Hughesy last week after I had come back up here.
Talking about the malaria, I was doing a lesson and I interrupted to tell the students about it. It's Vivax Malaria I told them - little grubs hide in the liver. I think there's one coming out now. Got him. And I put the imaginary grub on the table and hit it with my sandle which I had kicked off. They seem to relate to a quirky sense of humour which is why probably the student felt confident in coming to me yesterday. I enjoy teaching them. I've got to do a lecture to 700 on Monday. They sit in two amphitheatres and the lecture is videod across.

there are no easy solutions

to some of life's problems. Yesterday afternoon a student came to me with his essay and he needed to talk. He is far from home and I felt honoured that he chose me, an ex-pat wait man to help him, a Melanesian, talk through the problem he had. I could only listen and encourage him and I gave him my phone number in case he needed to talk ove r the weekend.
Life in the dorms can be lonely, particularly if one is feeling down and everyone else is enjoying sport so I wanted to make sure someone was there for him. As I said, I was happy he chose to come to me. After a while I got one of the national to help me and hopefully between us we were able to help the situation.

It is fascinating that in "Mateship Australia"

that one can't have an opinion outside the the 52% mainstream majority without being derided by someone as a "sad bitter loser". The Australia of the Australian Values I grew up with was an egalitarian, democratic and respectful people. The shock jocks are responsible for some of the put downs and discourtesy on mates in Mateship Australia but a decline in the spirit of tolerance and a more individual and anonymous culture are changing our values consciousness to one which my grandparents would not recognise. My Mother and Uncle and Aunty can't understand why I have the views I do but they don't resort to to deriding me with the "twisted bitter loser" line. It's a form of bullying which once upon a time was not part of our culture.
Fortunately there is help for people prone to bullying behaviour but often they do not realise their insults are a form of bullying. It's not necessary to bully other people but bullies need to assert themselves by putting other people down and thus to make themselves feel better.

Friday, September 22, 2006

where heroes abound

As a young teacher in western NSW I never heard any heroic stories of ex-pupils. But as I moved further east, I would get swamped on my first night in town when standing at the bar and it would be discovered I was a new school teacher. Well did the heroes come running to tell of their and their old mans' exploits with the last headmaster but one. "Mate, he called me into his office and he hit me with the cane and I grabbed it and wrapped it around his neck." "Mate, he called me into his office and as he was going to hit me with the cane, I ran out the room. I came back with my old man and he grabbed the cane and shoved it up his @#%^." I'm so glad I wasn't a headmaster in those wild and violent eastern towns. It's a wonder Byron Bay* could attract any headmasters at all.

* Byron Bay. Most easterly point on mainland Australia.

I am always intrigued and bemused

when I hear and see the line "poor/sad/misguided/pathetic/ignorant/bitter/and warped soul" or some variation on it. Intrigued because I wonder why one would have those sentiments about a mate in "Mateship Australia" and not do anything about it to alleviate the perceived misery of the addressee? Bemused because I wonder if like the bully, the addressER is actually feeling that way about themself?
I myself am reluctant to say "I am sorry you have those sentiments" lest it be taken as patronising. I have read and heard the line in letters to the ED, at public rallies, the back of toilet doors, movies and I received one myself the other day in a comment. I am perplexed. I don't want to sound patronising but I would hate to think if there is someone out there in need crying out for help through the transferrence of of their pathos vicariously.

I mean if I felt that a person

was a poor/sad/misguided/pathetic/ignorant/bitter/and warped soul, I think think it to be a moral duty to help the person. It doesn't take much to listen to someone and to buy them a cup of coffee and sit with them a while. My parish priest in Australia wrote the other day for example: "2 days later I found an old man sitting on my doorstep. He too was tired and hungry. He was also ill and could only talk in a whisper. I offered to take him around to the shop to buy some food. He walked very slowly and half way there he had to sit down and rest. He was very thin with a long tangled beard and he carried a crust of bread in his pocket and a ragged bundle on his back. I asked him to collect what he needed and I paid the bill."
Whom is to be pitied - the author of the "poor/sad/misguided/pathetic/ignorant/bitter/and warped soul"? Or the addressee? One really should not belittle the sentiments expressed in the line by attempting some sort of sarcasm with them because there are people whose reality is those tragic circumstances. Spare a though for them if one is not in need oneself.
On the other hand, and I mean this seriously and not as a cheap put down, one should call Lifeline or some other such agency if one needs help. Bullying, intimidating in words or deeds and being anonymous are problems of the modern age which need to be treated. One maybe needs to talk about it. The first act of a brave person is to acknowledge one needs help.

Jesus spent his whole life

with "poor/sad/misguided/blind/crippled/leprous/sinful" Jews and Samaritans and the occasional Roman soldier. His message was that whatever I do to one of them, I do to him. When Lord did I see you poor/sad/misguided/blind/crippled/leprous/starving, alone/ignored and in gaol? And when did I help you?
"Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of these, you did it to me" said Jesus. Matt, 25:40

wanker - I'm not sure what

this term means but I can probably guess. I think I've heard it used in a rude sense but my understanding is that it is a foreignism and being a hot-blooded-true-blue Australian who is proud of my Australian heritage mostly in the outback, born in Bourke western NSW, Father born in Bourke western NSW, grandparents from around Byrock, Brewarrina, Gongolgon, then I prefer to use Australianisms rather than foreignisms.
So while talking about values, I wonder if the values experts can tell the difference between a billabong and an anabranch; or a coolabah tree from a liquidamber? or a wallaby from a kangaroo; or a sheep from an emu?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

dealing with outrage: a victim at Unitech

"Dear all, We strive in life in whatever beneficial occupation not only for our personal and family comfort and convenience, but also that our neighbours, our beloved nation, our people, or at least those who cross our paths might enjoy a speck from our achievements. And we always desire that the benefits others receive from us is through goodwill and via generous consent and not through forceful acquisition and mischievous demeanour of sort. Unfortunately, as many of you may have already heard, and in my absence on study leave, my family was a victim on Friday (1/9/06) to some of our own citizens, whom regrettably our society has come to accept as "criminals". The modern armour they used was not against an international enemy in some warfare or against a traditional rival in some tribal conflict, but against a harmless family, whose members toil daily to contribute to the nation's coffers so that these "criminals" might receive sufficient medication, travel on better roads, and generally receive other government services. As a family, like any hard-working citizens and non-citizens, we annually contribute significant sums in income taxes, let alone goods & services taxes, to indirectly assist our brother and sister citizens. Nevertheless, some of our own people thought these was not enough! They came and took that which pleased their eyes, fruits of our sweat, from our home that day. I can spare some peace that my wife, my daugters, my sisters, and my nieces were untouched.Now, I am wounded in the mind. My family's traumatic ordeal has occurred only a few days from my beloved nation's 31st anniversary, where we are expected to sing, "...we are independent and we are free..."; and at the anthem's end, "...shout again for the whole world to hear..." Through our national anthem, which is our pride, we are assured of our freedom and safety. We are urged to shout again that this is the nation of our dreams, and a place we desire our children journey through joyful time and space. Unfortunately, our selfless service to our people has been rewarded with the traumatic experience. Our pride to sing for freedom and safety has been paid with a psychological wound. Should we serve? Should we sing? We are indeed mystified! In revenge, I could opt for assistance from my "bubu's black bilum" (a RIGO measure!) and invisibly track my assailants until all drew their last breath. But, to kill a citizen is to kill myself! Or I could accend a mountain and pray for divine lightning bolts to strike my enemies. But, I do not consider myself holy enough to draw that response; even if I were, the Maker would likely forbid the scheme. BUT, I HAVE VOWED TO FIGHT! AND IT WILL BE A DIFFERENT BATTLE...
To those Christian brothers and sisters, colleagues, friends, and relatives, who comforted my family after the ordeal, and assisted in any way, I owe you my deep gratitude."

credit where credit is due

Have you noticed how nice and tidy our Lae City is looking lately? We have had a number of members commenting on how nice our city is looking these last two weeks, with the transformation most appreciated. The grass cutting and drain cleaning, and with lack of plastic bags and paper is a credit to all concerned. And the congratulations must go to the Provincial Administration and City Council making a huge effort for our Independence Anniversary.
With the kerbs so clean, it was very obvious today with the very big downpours the rain runoff was travelling at a remarkable speed into the cleaned out drains keeping the streets with less water catching in pools. As one Member wrote in and stated "Administration, please keep up the good work and congratulations on a job well done." If the Government can plan to keep it this way for the next 50 weeks till mid Sept 2007, it will certainly be a most welcome challenge as well as for the rest of the city residents and our Business houses to also take up the challenge to spruce up their property spaces. Afterall it isn't just up to the City Council to do ALL the work. Cut grassed areas will leave no place for criminals to hide. Adding the street lights back may also deter some of the crime situation. Regards, Executive Officer Lae Chamber of Commerce Inc.

Vivax malaria

I had a blood test done on Tuesday morning and I went in to pick up the results yesterday. The Sister announced "Vivax" in a tone that I thought was alarming. Do I need to go to Hospital? An ambulance? Evacuation to Cairns? The previous malaria about a month ago was Falcifarum but Vivax apparently hides in one's liver. The symptom with it that I have which alerted me that something was wrong was a niggling cough. Previously I had had a hoarse and sore throat which alerted me to the Falcifarum malaria. So the Sister put me on three tablets at once only of Fancida, 4 tablets at the same time of Chloroquin and 6 tablets at the same time of Primaquin. Then daily I have to take 2 each of Chloroquin for a week and of Primaquin for 2 weeks.
Other than the cough I feel alright but as I said before, I don't like the idea of little creepy crawlies living inside me. Shika and Atul ran out of gas last night and so Shika brought around a typical Indian dish to cook. That's a nice way to spend an evening. Not that it any comfort, but most of my friends get malaria more regularly than I. Maybe I have had it before but have not noticed the symptoms.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I saw a programme on

SBS about Australian Values last night. Maybe I came into the programme too late but no-one said anything about valuing our AUSTRALIAN CITIZEN MR DAVID HICKS who is locked up in an American gaol and has been there for five years. Hello? Hello? Do Australian Values count for valuing one of our very own citizens? Or is it another weasel word? They raved on about democracy and rule of law and not one of them saw the hypocricy of their words with one of their very own citizens' being locked up without being in Court - where there is the RULE of LAW - for FIVE YEARS. No, not five hours or five days or five weeks or five months but FIVE YEARS. Hello? Does anyone care? Yes, I know you got your pictures on the tele but MR David Hicks, Mr Citizen of Australia David Hicks?
And then when an Aborigine tried to speak, the compere quickly passed over him to another speaker. Ah, doesn't matter, he was only an Aboriginal. His opinions don't count when it comes to Australian values. What would he know about Australian Values anyway?

"That cup of tea line worked brilliantly.

James was impressed. We finished up on 16, only one point behind the ABC on the night. Eddie wants us to work on our intonation though. He reckons we're not milking the "coping" one enough. The audiences love it when we show how compassionate we are with the "coping" line so he wants us to practice it. Mike, let's hear you.
HOW are you coping?
Yair, not bad. Cindy-Lou, give it a go.
How are you COPing?
Yair, I think that works. Dwayne?
How ARE you coping?
Yair, that's great. Great variation. Kelly?
H, h, how are you c-o-o-ping?
Top one Kelly. Hey, I loved the sobs. Let's try that everyone. Ready - on the count of three. One, two, three - H, h, how are you c-o-o-ping? Sounds fantastic. Dwayne, can you make your sobs sound a bit more authentic, you know sort of like sobs and not stifled laughter?

"ok, listen up guys n'gals

Channel 7 has got this Steve Irwin thing tonight so we need something to counter that. Who's got some ideas for a tear jerker we can milk? Yes Cindy-Lou?
Well, Ed, Beazeley hasn't moved much in the polls so I thought we could do the "How are you coping one on him?"
Yes, keep it going Cindy Lou.
Well I thought if we started with the "How are you coping" and follow up with the "You must be so exasperated" and then "What would you like to say to your colleagues" and finish with a touch on the knee and "Can I make you a cup of tea?"
Hey that's brilliant. "Can I make you a cup of tea!" Hey that's great. Listen up everyone - Dwayne, Kelly, Marti. Put that one in your scripts. I'll get catering started so we can have the tea brought straight in. That should be great vision. "Can I get you a cup of tea!" Smart thinking Cindy-Lou. Yes Dwayne?
What if Beazeley doesn't want a cup of tea?"

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

after a week back in Australia

I arrived in Lae, yesterday, Monday about noon. I am glad to be back here away from the inanity of a soul-less celebrity driven society that Australia has drifted into and back to a land where people know we are all people with various wants, gifts and needs. I had to stay in Pt Moresby on the Sunday night as the balus had broken down and Air Niu Guinea accommodated me and 3 new mates from Ramu Sugar among others at the Crown Plaza, and other passengers among other hotels.
The rain today and last night was the heaviest I have seen here. The back ditch was dug out to enable to the water to get away but still the rain was so heavy and constant that the road in front of the flats flooded up to the car port. Peter has had to go away on account of the death of his nephew and Eunice lost her mother last week.
Today has been a day for memories and reflection. I rang Christine but couldn't get on this morning so will try tonight and also will try Matthew. Mum rang before I left for work. My dearest little Daughter and my dearest grown up Son. I love you. I'm sure Hannah loves to know how much she is in our hearts and minds. We miss you little one.

Adelaide, 22 years ago.

We had been told the day before, on the Tuesday, that our 8 month old baby daughter Hannah had died but the Doctors wanted to check that the drugs were out of her system first. So they maintained her on life support for the 24 hours. I find it difficult to watch TV when they show emergency room operations and the monitors stop working and the pulse signal flattens out. It was like that for us on the Monday night about 3am. I knew that the worst had happened. The previous Friday I had gone to school in Wilcannia and about 9 o'clock I got a call from Christine that Hannah had taken a fit and she was in hospital just up the road from us. Fortunately the Flying Doctor was in town from Broken Hill that day. She had not stabilised at the end of the Doctor's shift so he took her back to Broken Hill when the pain in her head must have been so agonising for her, requiring that she be flown to Adelaide. We didn't know then that she had a viral encephalitis from the cold sore virus. Her illness drained the life out of Christine and myself and Matthew - only 3 at the time, and Christine's parents Rex and Marie and my Mum plus I think little Hannah herself somehow willed us on. So on the Wednesday, when the Doctors had reached their conclusion, we gave permission for them to remove Hannah's life support. They sent us out of the room while they removed her breathing and feeding and drugs tubes and then we went in to hold Hannah for the last time. Nanna, Pop and Granny kissed her and nursed her and then Christine, Matthew and I took her in our arms. We dressed her in a little yellow dress, laid her down in her cot, and we said goodbye.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

once upon a time

it was considered inhumane to put mentally people in mental homes, removed from the community's consciousness. The psychiatric hospitals closed down and the patients now live "in community". We see them shopping but that doesn't mean we treat them any more humanely. So why if this philosophy was right do we now do to the elderly and frail and infirm what we did not think was right to do to the mentally ill? They get compassionate treatment there but why are underpaid nurses the only ones who interract with the elderly? It ought to be a responsibility of all in a community to show compassion. The "locking up" of compassion in an out of the way nursing home does not present the opportunity for reminding the rest of us that compassion is POSSIBLE by all of us. Perhaps when a sense of community returns?

which is why the church

has lost its way. Mum plays cards with four other ladies in their 70s-80s. They take it in turns each Monday afternoon to host it in each other's homes. Why is my generation reluctant to open up our homes like this? We meet if we meet at all on neutral ground such as a coffee shop or club or bar. Church too functions as a club. I worship God on neutral ground,. Bible studies are good but the focus is always on the Bible and very little is on the human things that brings the group together. God doesn't want to have himself and his word discussed outside the currency, relevancy and context of his people. When loners turn up at church they are looking for God to notice them. God put his believers there to do his work for him but so few of them know what to do. My Church if i had one would not meet in the church building. We would meet in homes like Jesus used to do with Mary and Martha and Paul at Lydia's.

the frightening - for me - is that

I am not going to change the world. I was on the bus from Grafton to Lismore via Maclean, Evans Head, Coroki and I was listening to these two mature age gentlemen. Both were in their eighties. "I can't see out of this eye Arthur and with the other one I can just make out that it is daylight. I'm living in an independent villa. I cook for myself - just basic stuff like sausages and steak." That is going to be me in thirty years time. Hopefully? Regretably? It depends on what I do in the meantime. What else is there? I'd love to find a soul mate in one of my loves - politics, world peace, languages, theology-church.
I was talking to Jane in Armidale about my essay on Les Liaisons dangereuses. We had the meweting in the Principal's flat at Mary White and when I walked in there was ABC Classic FM on. It turns out that Jane is married to Charles Southwood afternoon presenter) who is retiring soon. He has lots of other passions he wants to pursue. Luck will find you when you are worth looking for was a favourite line from Margaret Paice (Valley in the North?) - children's fiction and I think about it often. On finding soul mates CS Lewis cautioned that soul mates are found in the thinbgs you do. With so many people, soul mate finding needs to be broken down into sets in the community - you cannot just walk into the street and find a soul mate. Which is why the breakdown in community creating the virtual society existing through internet and TV is such a problem. What is the point of protecting this decrepit moribund soul-less community from terrorists? Why would they want it? Jesus warned not to build up treasures on earth where moths and rust corrupt. Instead he said, build up heavenly treasures. Such as?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Germaine Greer - love her or

hate her, she is still Australian as far as I know and she still calls Australia home and you aussies who got offended ought to look at your own offensive behaviour. I agree that it is very impolite to say unkind things about a person who died - any where - let alone in the sudden and tragic circumstances of Steve Irwin. It was not very gracious of her. But who are you aussies who have hijacked our Australian culture from us dinki-di Australians to complain about a true-blue Australian like Germaine anyway? Why don't you start to learn some dinki-di Australian culture yourselves and drop all this aussie behaviour and ignorance. You aussies are the ones who ought to find somewhere else to live so that us fair dinkum Australians can reclaim our heritage. Henry Lawson, Banjo Patterson, CJ Dennis, Waltzing Matilda and everything else belongs to us - not to you aussies. You're as bad as the advertisers who come out to the bush to get some "Australian Looking Scenery". If you love the bush that much why don't you live there - Byrock, Girilambone, Weemalah, Quambone... they're all looking for more people to fill up the houses.

when is collateral damage

murder? Any form of taking another human being's life is killing and the 10 commandments said "thou shalt not kill". So why do we make fine distinctions between a family's killed by being blown up in Iraq as "collateral damage" and the people killed by the twin towers attack as "murder"? If it was an act of war, is any death resulting to civilians "murder" or "collateral damage"? I am just looking for a pattern of consistency to get away from the hyperbole. Any death is wrong. Agatha Christie wrote the novel "Ten little nigger boys" (since renamed for political correctness reasons) to make this very point. But it seems to me that if we are calling the deaths in New York and Bali, London, Madrid and other places "murders" then is not "murder" a civil offence which should be investigated by Interpol? But we have chosen to say that the deaths are an act of war and so are any of our victims "collateral damage"? You can't declare WAR and then call the participants "murderers". Either they are soldiers or they are murderers. If they are murderers then they have committed a crime and ought to be punished by criminal Interpol justice. That's just the point - a terrorist is in no-mans land legally but mixing up the terms for our dead and their dead confuses the matter. Our dead and their dead have families and people who love them.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

this is the society we have created

for our children. While governments over the past 30 years have been obsessed with the big-noting issues like economy and employment and interest rates and Vietnam and Middle East and keeping up with the Asians, they have created an individualistic and selfish society where now our children are reduced to on-line dating to get a partner for life. Once upon a time young people met each other through clubs and shared interests that existed in the living breathing soul-ful community. Advertising for a partner was the last desperate act of a loser. Community has gone the way of the chook raffle and with it has gone the respectable and self esteem way of meeting soul mates. Us baby boomers, why have we let it came to this? We ought to be ashamed to call ourselves parents for bringing our children into this soul-less world.

when the Parthians routed Crassus

that loss so distracted the Romans that foreign policy dictated domestic policy and thus set up the conditions for the end of the Republic. As for Australia, we have to make sure that vengeance does not override the goal of reasonable security. If we gain our security through losing our values, whom does this profit? The Romans so valued their Republic that they fought a civil war - a war that need not have been fought were it not that irrational foreign policy over the Parthians distracted the Senate which CHOSE to avenge itself over PERCEIVED humiliation.

Monday, September 11, 2006

What if there had been a UN in the days when

Abraham left Ur and went over to take possession of Canaan. Who would have prevailed - God or the UN? What if there had been a UN in the days when the British overcame the feeble resistance of the Australian Aborigines? Who would have supported whom? Would the Christian "WEST" have told Abraham to get himself back to Iraq? Or would their Christian Fundamentalism have told the Canaanites Stiff, bad luck, y'know how it is. love to help but hey...

I've been writing about boogie men lately and it seems I am not the only one to recognise a boogie man in the rhetoric of the fear pedlars. Alan Ramsay in the SMH at the weekend quoted Sen John Faulkner "This government ... the most unAustralian ... It is comfortable to blame the flaws in our society on others ... Australians who suffer discrimination deserve better from their PM than to have their real problems blamed on hobgoblins."

Quoting Michael Gawenda SMH "Free to air TV is in the main as mindless, as celebrity driven, and as parochial as it ever was."

Alan Ramsay again - on the death of Colin Thiele: "To make your mark by the power of the written word is not good enough in Australia. You have to act like a mug lair if not an idiot for the amusement and wonder of the TV and masses."

Storm Boy and Jodie's Journey

I don't knock Steve Irwin or Peter Brock. They were the gladiators and charoteers of modernity. Their colosseums and circi maximi were the TVs. But name one gladiator or charioteer of Rome? Yet Ovid and Horace live on in their works. Hopefully children will be reading Colin Thiele's works for many years. Authors of my childhood - Nan Chauncy (Tiger in the Bush) and Margaret Paice (Hill's End?) or was that Ivan Southall? impressed me then as they did when I taught their works. The Wiggles and other children's TV versus a book. Each has a place. But more power to the almost anonymity to the author.
I loved teaching the prose and emotion of Storm Boy: "The shadows moved up from the sandhills as the sun went down. Hideaway Tom and I sat by the fire. The sun went down and the stars came out as clear and pure as ice. And at nine o'clock Mr Percival died." My other favourite was Jodie's Journey, the story of an arthritis sufferer horse riding girl, Jodie in the 1983 Adelaide Hills bushfires. I would read the stories and I knew from the silence in the room that children as well as I were holding back tears as the father discovers the blackened burnt out wheelchair on the edge of the dam ... and then he hears something. It is only a story. But doesn't it reveal so much of our shared humanity. Humanity? What is that.
Thank you Colin Thiele for the inspiration that you gave to young and old alike.

hey there George, you want me

to feel sorrow and righteous indignation with you? Well give us back one of our citizens you've been holding captive for five years and I might understand what you're talking about. You rabbit on about freedom and liberal democracy and justice and Christianity and holiness. George, what do you mean? One of our blokes has been in one of your gaols there since 2001. Habeus corpus George means the COURT not you personally has got the body George. Yairbut George, that's not the way it works. YOU have to hand the person over to the trial so the trial can make a decision George. Yairbut you're not Charles I, George. Naa, but President is still good George. Remember that was over 300 years ago - we've moved on George. You've gotter give him over to the COURT. Naabut George, George, listen up George willya, that's what democracy and civil courts and rule of law and all that is about. Yair, I understand I know you reckon he's guilty George but I reckon you're guilty of an unjust war in Iraq George but where does that get us? Y'see George, JUSTICE is all about hearing FACTS not OPINIONS d'ya see George? Yair I know that back in the olden days y'could just lynch'em and hang em'high George but we tell people we're sort of more CIVILISED, y'know not BARBARIC anymore George, know what I mean? Yair I know it's tough George but that's what justice and liberal democracy and Christianity and holiness is all about George. They are OUR values George and no terrorist or no-one is going to take them away from us right George?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

what I was thinking of

when I was talking about the contribution of the Arab civilisation to the rest of the world was that civilisational justice seems to give no credits for past contributions. The people of Olduvai Gorge, the Jericho and Catal Huyuk and various Chinese and other African and Indian and American Indian civilisations have all contributed to our present understandings of what home sapiens is. How might America feel in a thousand years, the America of so much medical science, creative liberal culture and humanitarian development if its contribution is ignored and discounted and not recognised for its serious development of knowing whom we are as a world people? Where would we be without our parents and grandparents? They went through war and depression. It is a duty to be thankful for all the good things we have inherited and a duty to learn from the mistakes. Surely that can't be too big a problem?

back in lismore

I arrived in Lismore Friday afternoon 4pm or thereabouts after having left Pt Mot\resby on the early 7.30 am flight. I transitted avernight from Lae at the Comfort Inn. I walked over to the Chinese restaurant in Boroko by myself and nearly got myself lost on the way home. It was sort of a bit intimidating - there were no other wait men in the square and a few people I could sense were eying me off but I just walked quickly and I was relieved to get home. You get the jitters when you hear so much bad publicity. I am sure most people who were about and there were some security guards among them would have come to my rescue.
Anyway it was good to see Matt again. He is in a quandary about what to do - he is only working casual at the Irish Hotel, today he is in charge of the bar for the Rugby Grand Final and tomorrow we will go up to see Mum. Hopefully his Mother will be here in the next little while. He is very independent but he just cannot see a direction - he knows he is at his limit with doing any more pub work and is enjoying just working in a mechanic-car detailing hard dirty work job. I told him I felt like that at his age and I was going to go off and join the circus. I pulled down the tent and packed away the seats but reality of smelling the animal manure clothes of the carnies brought me to my senses. He loved his time in Lae but told me last night his reality moment came at the Airways stopover when he realised he was going back to an uncertain future. So I am glad to have been able to get this time to help sort through some reality and future directions issues.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

what do African, Asian and South Pacific

among other cultures have to teach the world about justice and punishment and crime? My culture struggles with issues of revenge and justice and mercy and compassion and forgiveness so I wonder what it might be able to learn something from the way other cultures handle the issues. Is that called comparative jurisprudence? Amnesty International does not like the idea of criminals being beaten up and the eye for an eye justice system seems too primitive. They have community courts here in PNG which put big compensation penalties on wontoks for the misdeeds of one errant member. Aboriginal Elders are involved with a similar programme of justice for their young members in some parts of NSW.

my Mother attends the same Church

as a bloke who used to be in gaol for armed robbery I think it was. I've met him and shaken his hand and we have shared the greeting of the "Peace of the Lord". The last time I saw him he had his 10 year old son with him in church. He doesn't seem to hang around after the service. When I was doing Theology, several of the students were involved in pastoral visits to the gaols and one student talked about visiting a paedophile, the most reviled of people in society as well as in prison.
So I wonder how victims of crime and particularly victims of violent crime must feel about others seeing any sort of common ground of humanity in a criminal? "There but for the grace of God go I?" It must be very difficult. How can you even shake hands with a criminal? It took me a long time to look at let alone shake hands with the bloke who ran off with my wife. He is certainly not a friend but I try to be civil for the sake of Matthew. And that was an adultery case. What about a rape or murder or drug trafficking criminal? The wisdom of Solomon and Hammurabi - what would they say?

no better than the beasts

Society's response to the "non-mainstream" is an indication or measure of its own development above the level of the beasts. Society's response to "nine-eleven" or to "Bali" or to "London" or to "Madrid" or to "The Bali Nine" or to the "Israel/Lebanon/Hezbollah/Palestine" or to "rascol Activity in PNG" is a measure of its own purported level of human development.
No-one "deserves" to be the victim of violence. No-one "deserves" to be murdered or raped or assaulted or violated or bombed or to be blown up or to be left homeless or motherless or fatherless or childless or traumatised or turned into a heroin addict. The murderers, drug traffickers, terrorists, rascols, gangsters bring their punishment on themselves. Don't they?
Are some deeds more inexcusable than others? Until one has walked in another's moccasins, how can I know? Why do I "need" more than what I've I've got? Why does "the other" not do something himself - by honest and productive means - to get what I "have"? "Am I my brother's keeper?" The Arab World, having given the world so much mathematical and scientific and cultural and civilisational development over five thousand years "seems" to be a living relic and "seems" to have made no contribution since 1300. What did Plato and Alice in Wonderland have to say about "seems"?

I saw the security ute that was shot at

the previous night. The guards were around checking up on Joseph and I had just taken out some dinner (casserole and mashed veges) to Joseph. They showed me the dings in the rear panel and the hole in the canopy over the dogs' cage.
Apparently it is not a good idea to be caught by the guards if one is up to doing rascol activity. When the Police turn up to take over from the security guards they find that the rascol has somehow severely injured himself and broken a lot of bones while attempting to flee the scene of the crime. My Christian side tells me that I should feel sorry for the rascol; my human instinct side tells me serves him right.
Poverty is the root cause of the violence. You meet nationals and they are lovely people like people everywhere. They and kind and smiling and friendly. And they are proud of their culture which is distinctively unique.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

the Engans whose hats are made of

human hair reminded me of mediaeval headresses of some of the hierarchy of the Church.
The hair of up to and maybe more than a doxzen people is used to make these wigs/hats.
Enga is one of the highlands provinces up near Porgera.

the speech I would love to hear

"Men and Women of Australia. It is without shame that I echo these famous greeting words of PM Curtin. But it is WITH shame that I acknowledge that I was not the strong leader that this country needed five years ago. At that time, I copied the policies of the Government for what I assumed would be political gain - MY political gain. I was not the leader of principle that this country needed. I can live with the fact that my weakness then cost me politically. What I cannot live with is that my weakness - by failing to stand up on principle for the Tampa and other refugees - has cost this, my country its international reputation, and the refugees themselves dearly. I personally have learnt my lesson. I regret the sacrificial price paid by my country and by the refugees on account of my weakness. I made a mistake. And for that I ask for your forgiveness. If you can forgive me, and if you will forgive me, then let me pledge that this election will be about matters of principle. This election is about the ideals of principle, honour, integrity, and pride. This election is not about the economy or taxation or interest rates or health or education of defence or terrorism or security or the aging population or rural drift. As humans we have lost our way. It is time once again to shine a light, to rekindle the beacon on the hill and to re-own what it means to be human. I am sorry this is five years late but let me take you on my path of principle to show you my programme of re-owning ourselves by re-owning our communities.

no sooner had I got home from Rotary

about 9.30 last night than I heard Joseph the security guard call out "'Ullo" - possibly about 10pm. I went out and there was Joseph puffing and panting, "wara, me laikim kol wara" and I said what's happened and in my best tok pisin I will try to recapture the essence of his story. "Tripela rascols mi harim na mi kisim upsait long ditch na tupela emi go we tasol mi kisim wonpela na security guard kam. Tupela rascols kisim guns na narapela kisim busnaip." The only weapon Joseph had in his hand was a shanghai.
Last Friday night at the end of Sepic drive - about 200m from my house, rascols held the wife hostage while they took the packed up possessions of the family which is moving to Australia for the husband completes further study.

Subject: Prison Outbreak; Importance: High

1. "Members,The Chamber has been advised by the Police that there has been an outbreak of 22 detainees from the Lae Police Cell last night during the heavy rains.The Police suspect the criminals from Best Buy and Formosa hold-up incidents are amongst the escapees. Police will confirm later on in the day. Meantime, the Chamber requests members to be vigilant and take appropriate security measures accordingly. The escapees made their breakout through the cell roof which had required overdue maintenance. However due to lack of funds this had not been possible. The Chamber therefore seeks urgent assistance from our Members with these repairs to the cell roof. Kindly contact our office via email or phone call re assistance request."
2. "Members, The security situation in Lae has escalated as noted by all who have sent in crime reports. The Chamber encourages all crimes to be reported to Police firstly and secondly to fill out the LCCI crime report so we can table every reported crime daily. For those who have already sent their reports previously, kindly refrain from resubmission. Please ensure the correct information is noted of these incidents: date & time type of crime - attempted or otherwise Members involved - Staff Personnel & Families have you reported incident or attempted to report to the police & what is their response? Please also be reminded that the Lae Chamber of Commerce is NOT the Police authorities. Crime reports have been known to come directly to us and not firstly reported to the Police. We, a staff of only 2, make every attempt to be as proactive as a voice for our (over 200) members, by collating, managing and reporting as much information on behalf of them. In an effort to maintain orderly and effective reporting on your behalf, your cooperation is requested at all times. Regards, Lae Chamber of Commerce Inc."

Reply to "I make no comment"

The "I make no comment" article was from a European paper or journal as I understand and to balance it I enclose this letter from today's Post Courier:
"Aust claims absurd
AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister John Howard’s assertion that PNG is in danger of failing and his pursuits to build up the Australian Defence Force to contain what he contends are emerging security risks in the South Pacific region with specific connotations on PNG, is totally absurd. Like all other patriotic Papua New Guineans who love our country despite how “outsiders and the infidels” view us in every context, I reject those “political hallucinations” that our critics from the outside and the “traitors” from within harbour in their distorted minds. They take every opportunity to “suppress our ideas” and “dethrone” our sovereignty so that they can justify their agendas for their own convenience. In view of the absurdities that the “foreign infidels” sensationalise, and in support of our patriotic Prime Minister Michael Somare, I call on Australia Prime Minister John Howard to stop misleading the tax paying public of Australia but to tell them the truth about his own policy miscalculations and deficiencies. — Reuben Elijah Lae"

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I tested positive to malaria

10 days or so ago. I had a cough and hoarse throat and some nasal congestion but it was the hoarse throat that concerned me enough to get myself checked for malaria. "You'll know if you've got it" I was told. Fever, lethargy, head-ache, very weak. I had none of these symptoms.
I hate the thought of little creepy crawlies being inside me. I asked for artimetre instead of chloroquin. I feel back to normal - no flu type symptons. I was worried about loss of weight. I was 93kg before coming here and am now about 86.5 - 87kg. A loss of 6kg has made me look thin around the shoulders and chest. I thought maybe I hadn't been eating red meat so I have been eating steak over the last four or so days.

students are still deservedly on a high

after the hugely successful Students Cultural Festival. It left me feeling on a high myself. I went to rehearsals one night last week; I had heard the bands rehearsing during the previous fortnight; I went to the opening ceremony on Friday; I went to the festival on Sunday. There were no classes on Friday. There was a staff strike on Monday. I had one class today at which 2 students turned up. There was no water this morning. The electricity was on then off then on then off again. The admin decided to close the campus. The Library closed. I had a 400 level research student to meet. It is mid-semester break on Friday. Assignments are due. It is all too much. It is all happening. Take a break. There has been too much on.
Concerning the previous article. It sounds a bit dramatic don't you think? PNG on the verge of collapse? Infrastructure is worn out; corruption is bad; management needs to be skilled up; my haus meri is looking for more work as her previous employer (a wait man) left. Things can be frustrating and if I were not working I might agree with the article. As it is, I am working and enjoying it. I hope this is a permanent state and not a side effect of malaria.

I make no comment - I only pass on

Sydney. Australia is gearing up for what many see as the impending collapse of Papua New Guinea, the colony it gave independence to 31 years ago and the troubled South Pacifics biggest country.
Prime Minister John Howard, announcing that two new battalions would be raised to take the army's strength to 30,000, named PNG as the region's next big security problem. "Papua New Guinea is a country with a fair degree of instability,' Howard said. 'I think it's been bad for some time and I think in some respects it's got worse.'
Despite around 10 billion Australian dollars (7.5 billion US dollars) of Australian aid since independence, PNG is now heavily in debt and unable to protect, let alone develop, its natural resources. At the root of the problem is corruption on a mind-boggling scale. Straight-out thieving by elected officials is commonplace. Last year retiring head of state Sir Salas Atopare freely admitted that he stripped the bedrooms and kitchen of Government House at the end of his six-year term, taking away with him curtains, cookers, computers and even his official vehicles.

Ladies and Gentlemen, aussies all

Let me say how humbled I am to be addressing you as your PM for the fifth time. I have the utmost respect and admiration for your sound judgement which has so wisely elected me four times now. I trust your common decency and political sense as I offer myself to you for the fifth time. I bring before you a programme for the next three years to confront the boogie man. These will be difficult years..
What about jobs in rural Australia?
A job is no good to you if the boogie man gets you and your family my friends. You must be alert and afraid.
What about the breakdown in community?
Yes indeed, and it will break down even further if we do not address the boogie man. My Party has policies to deal with the boogie man, unlike the Opposition...
How many more interest rate rises are there?
Interest rates are the scariest weapon of the boogie man. You must be afraid of the boogie man. You cannot afford the luxury of wondering about jobs and community and interest rates. This is not the time to be rational. You must panic. Let your emotion spill over. Be afraid. Shout in terror. And vote for me.
Has anyone ever seen the boogie man?
Thank you. I have the utmost respect for your good will and common decency. Thank you. Good night.

Exemption from Voting. Form 3a.

(This form to be used by persons claiming Exemption on Stupidity Grounds only.)
Personal Details (as on electoral roll) ...
Statutary Declaration.
I hereby declare that I am too stupid to vote. I get confused when politicians talk policies. I can't tell if they are lying. I can't remember if they have broken promises. And if they have it doesn't bother me because I lack a moral conscience as well. I can't distinguish between whether they just want my vote and whether they will be good for the country. I am easily fooled by con men, liars, cheats and scoundrels. I cannot make rational decisions. I am easily influenced by 10 second photo ops and by the demagogues on talk back radio. My vote would put a liar, cheat and self interested rogue in power. This would not be fair to the 48% rational Australians who deserve better. I accept that this exemption will have the effect of disqualifying my dog from exercising my proxy.
Signed ......
In support of this application, tick the following media items that you pay attention to:
Piers Akkermann; Channel 9 Breakfast Programme; Channel 7 Breakfast Programme; Fox News; A Current Affair.

Monday, September 04, 2006

the Hageners marched phalanx style

and the crowds parted to let them through. They were the noisiest of the singsing groups.
Such a diverse range of cultures in the one spot made a big impression on me.
In the days of Roman hegemony, the one thing the Romans did not control was language and culture. With TV as a universal, the hegemon can subtly influence culture and language by making its programmes available world wide. Look what it has done to English language.

the mud men from Goroka

they move about in creepy slow motion. I they scared their enemies rather than confronting them physically.

Goroka is Eastern Highlands and is famous also for its coffee.

a man who does not trust

does not deserve to be trusted.
Howard has never trusted Australians and so he has turned into this clever and successful politician. Beazeley lost me as a supporter when he did not make a stand on principle during the Tampa crisis.
Sadly for us Australians, us owners of the convict, gold-digger, squatter, swaggie, Anzac, Depression, steam-train travelling egalitarian heritage, we are now the minority. The aussies, the owners of the thong separating the backsides at Bondi, the beer can throwers at the cricket, the race rioters, the couldn't care less about the community, the NIMBYs, have become the majority.
The aussies are Howard supporters. He supplies them with immediate gratification. Lower taxes and you don't even have to contribute what you save in taxes to a chook raffle for the community. You can keep it to buy a bigger five bedroom house just for you and your wife. The aussies can even send their kids down to Saturday morning cricket to have them supervised by Australians while they go and have a latte.

"You're not listening to me Steve,

You're trying to shout me down just because you've got control of the switch.
"You're nothing but a left wing whinger who ought to be grateful I've even taken your call. Crawl back into bed with your commie and boogie-man and terrorist and anti-American friends.
"Oh, that's real intelligent Steve. That contributes a lot to intelligent and rational debate. Why did you invite me onto your programme if you don't want to hear an alternative point of view? This is a free country where free speech is still allowed.
"They don't want to hear you, you clown. They tune in to hear me put ratbags like you down. Click"

Such is talk back radio. When I was in the Motel at Armidale I used to listen to it as I went around doing the rooms. Then a couple years ago at the time of the sentencing of Amrozzi in Indonesia I was driving to work in Annandale and I had talk back on and these frothing at the mouth aussies were raving about what the sentence should be - castrate him and put him in one of our strip joints; put him in a tub of pig fat and feed him pig intestines; etc. I rang up (more fool me - I naively thought the aussies were a minority then) to suggest they listen to their idiocy and hysteria and frenzy and wonder what makes us any better than the bombers themselves. Going back to Australia for me? Why. It is more my country, the country of Australians than it is the country of the aussies who have slyly and insidiously over-run it. I want to reclaim it from the aussies.

to make himself sound tough

instead of intelligent, Fatso will come out tonight with a statement to prove he is as much a predator on stupidity and aussies as the Prime Minister and the Amnesty International badge wearing Ruddock are. "Labor is tough on these vile filthy disease ridden boogie men. We will fumigate the whole country and bring in American Toops and pharmaceutical technology to cure us of this plague. The boogie man must be eliminated. You have my word on that."
Poor fulla my country.

right on cue just as the polls drop

for the government, guess what the ministers were telling us yesterday? The boogie men are coming to get us this time real proper and they are even living amongst us. Imagine all these boogie men, scarier even that Gough Whitlam, now about 90, possibly living next door to us?
You rogues, you utter lying, cheating, bullying, reckless and cowardly rogues. You don't trust us to make a sensible political judgement about your stewardship of this country so you try to scare us into not voting for the Opposition (whether they are worthy of stewardship is another matter) and scare us into supporting you on the basis of our knowing you talk "tough on boogie men." Fagin and those ugly Dickens characters are nothing compared with you.
As for you idiots who listen to the scaremongering and believe it - including that fat fool Beazeley, all of you aussies out there, why don't you declare yourselves "too dumb to vote" ? I'm sure there must be a clause in the electoral act that would save you the trouble of turning up to vote on election day. Write to the Commissioner and tell him "Dear Sir, I'm too dumb to vote. I get too easily pursuaded by cheats and liars and cowards and rogues that I can not make a rational decision..."