outback to jungle

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

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

market on the way in to town

General David Hicks meets General bin Laden

General David Hicks (practicing his Arabic): Mohammed, laksha e toiba, Abraham, Ali Baba, nine eleven, algebra, alchemy, Aldebaran, camel.
General bin Laden (practicing his English): It is good to see you too General Hicks.
General Hicks: One two three four five, six seven eight nine ten.
General Laden: Thank you General you are too kind. You must tell me your battle plans and please do not hesitate to ask me for any resources you need to crush the infidel.
General Hicks: Petrol, oil, Sheik Hilali, pyramid, oasis, desert, harem, belly dancer, flying carpet.
General Laden: Yes indeed, that sounds like a fine plan. These Americans are going to rue the day that they dared to think they could outsmart us.

when did they say that?

"Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said they wanted the case dealt with "expeditiously and fairly" and would maintain pressure on the Americans."

Australian Citizen Mr David Hicks has been in Guantamo Gaol for over five years and just today those two great defenders of all things Australian, like mateship and sticking up for Australia and Australians no matter what side of the track they are from nor of their circumstances, those great upholders and promoters of democracy and equality before the law and the rule of law, those advocates of justice and fair trial, those two proud Australian men have come out gallantly on behalf of one of their own, Australian Citizen Mr David Hicks. It is so stirring, bear with me for yea I am brought to tears by their love of country and fellow Australians. I am sorry, I should not get so emotional, but this is something to get emotional about. For five years they looked on pitilessly and now the polls have have turned we see their true colours - proud Australians both whose patriotism has been strengthened in the cauldron of the turning tide of public opinion. I love them both, hoist them up high, cheer, clap, salute, bow down before their integrity. How are the mighty risen up. All hail Alexander and Philip! Join your namesakes of yore! All hail! Mighty men both! We weep to see lesser mortals but for these two brave noble men let them today be declared immortal!

Liberal PM Howard's intentions were honorable

that the consequences for invading Iraq should be such as to bring the most happiness to the greatest number. His intention was to find the WMD's and get out of there. His intention was not to do regime change - see his speech to Parliament about Feb/Mar 2003 - or was it his speech to the National press Club of about the same time.
So where does utilitarianism of the founders of liberalism as a moral philosophy stand when the intentions do not accord with the results?
These people are in a boat in the middle of the ocean and the only way the greatest number will survive is to eat one of them. Greatest happiness for the greatest number? Or is there another moral imperative - do what you do such that you would will that action to be done to oneself. When you elect to eat someone to save yourself you cease to act as a moral being. The greatest happiness in the boat in the ocean case is that all may die but at at least all die with the happiness that their integrity as human moral beings was intact.
Still a liberal in the Bentham-Mill definition - or anything but? So why retain the name liberal? Because it is an established brand name. Why not be honest and not misuse the good name of liberalism?

I don't know what is happening

here but I read this in the National yesterday I think it was:

"UOG has a job to do, says Mel.
THE University of Goroka is an important institution that has to keep its programmes going despite challenges and impediments. At a gathering held at the Dr Mark Solon Auditorium, acting Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Mel thanked the university staff and other personnel for holding the institution together during the management crisis last year. Dr Mel said the university had a job to do and it was leaving the issues on governance for the court to resolve and get on with the day to day running of the institution. “It is very important to keep the programmes going,” he said. Dr Mel revealed the university this year would start to see major changes in programme developments."

the size of a pawpaw

power blackout just after hours

yesterday was reason enough to shut up shop and go home. I hadn't eaten lunch so I made two sandwiches of cheese, avocado and tomato and then settled back to do an electronic sudoku. I've got some French that I ought to be studying but I felt lazy. For dinner I cooked up some rump steak in the thick based fry pan with an egg. That was starters. Later I boiled up some kaukau, potatoes, carrot, beans and pumpkin and ate that with margerine. I don't think that is a good diet but it tasted nice anyway. For breakfast this morning I had baked beans on toast. I took some out to Peter and Joseph with a cup of tea and I gave them some milo type powder which is too sweet for me. Keela is now coming Monday and Thursday which is a better arrangement - I can have a party on the Sat night and only have to live with the mess for one day. I must try to have my first party for the year this weekend.

the beauty of PNG is everywhere

Monday, February 05, 2007

trying hard not to be perceived as racist

Being the best person you can be without comparison and feeling the need to shake off the baggage you think others have saddled you with. I saw too many try hards coming to the bush from the enlightened liberal value universities and cities wanting to establish their goodness and enlightenment among the aboriginal people of outback Australia as if the rest of us were unenlightened bogans. Big mistake. If you have to build yourself up by knocking your ancestry or cultural heritage down then you misunderstand the nature of racism. All you are doing is hiding your embarrassment by big noting yourself in comparison to others. You end up a relativist rather than an absolutist.
Racism is about attributing socially relevant traits such as manners, human relationships etc to people on the basis of physically and other irrelevant traits such as skin colour or religion or gender etc.
The harder you try to be not perceived as racist, the more you miss the point of trying to be the best person you can be. This is what being absolute is about. When you try to be the best person you can be then you do not make the mistake of patronising the very people you are trying hard to demonstrate your non racism to. Patronising itself is a form of racism because it sees the other as different rather than as a person.

mo' info'mation, mo'info'mation

I got this seemingly cryptic comment on a blog the other day: "Blarry expats, sounds like the ones that hang around the Yacht Club in Moresby." I can't work it out. Please explain?

I went into the Commercial one day

not long after I had been involved in politics and one of the drinkers started talking politics to me. There was a new publican there from the last time I had been to this pub and he comes up to me and tells me to cut it out mate we don't talk politics here. This was in my town, this bloke I was talking to was someone I knew and he was the one who had started quizing me about politics. It was not I who brought the subject up. We were talking harmlessly. But this new publican knew the other bloke but he didn't know me as I was not one of his regular blow flies so he was laying down the law to make himself look tough and impress on me that HE was the landlord of the Bogans. Maybe he thought politics was too high brow and it would frighten the bogans away if any of them should hear me.
There is something of the same sort of mentality about David Hicks alive in bogan land. Thick-wits like the landlord like to encourage people to demonstrate that they have no brains and that this is a peaceable and happy state to be in and that drinking more beer will help keep you in this treasured state.
"David Hicks is a terrorist, he'd shoot your mother and rape your wife and blow up your children. You should think about that before you go spruiking sympathetic nonsense. I thought you had more sense. The best place for him is at the end of a rope."
You would think that PM Howard and ministers Ruddock and Downer would be interested in trying to readdress the injustice of this case as is appropriate for a mature sophisticated nation but instead their words and actions are those of bogans.

summer of cricket's nightmare

Hello, Cricket Australia, James Sutherland here.
Listen up you f wit. It's James Packer here. What's happened to this advertiser's dream summer of cricket you promised me you @#$% goose? I've had to buy in more @#$%Days of our lives and *&^% repeats to make up for the empty slots when the pommies got out. I paid you for five &^%$ days of cricket and at best you gave me four. The other night I bought 100 overs of cricket and you gave me 54. Look at the numbers for the tennis - Channel Seven is laughing all the way to the bank while I'm stuck with you lot. My programming costs have gone through the *&^% roof. You've breached your contract. Who's going to pay you to programme your %$^& games next year? My advertisers have dropped out. You tell me smart arse what advertiser is going to advertise for space on day five at the cricket. Naar, You listen clever dick, I want my money back.

register now for the chance to purchase

tickets to the most almighty scintillating, titillating, electric, surreal, unreal, nucear, cataclysmic, apoplectic, apocalyptic cricket series to end all series. This is the most hugely anticipated cricket series you are ever likely to see. Forget last summer against the pommies, this one is really really humungously ginormously marathonly ultra-ultra-huge. The biggest cricketing nation in the world against the all conquering champion most-loved hero-worshipped adored advertiser's dream aussies. This time it's the truth. This series is so big you have to pre register to go in a ballot to determine if you can get tickets. Don't be the one to regret it. Don't be the one with no memories of the big one to tell your grand children. Don't be a loser. Day Five tickets will be at such a premium we can even arrange a mortgage to enable you to get a ticket. Warning: late ticket buyers should expect they will be rationed to watching one session only. Make no mistake. This series is big. Get in early, part with your money. This time the series is so big tickets are to be sold on a per session basis. The premium session is session 3 day five. Be early and buy at a discount. Register for the right to buy at a discount. One billion Indians can't be wrong. They have already brought all the tickets and there are only two left for aussies. You can be one of them to say you were there on the day history was made. Give me your money. Make me happy.

i can't find the ones I'm looking for

opening presents

christmas time

if I called myself a liberal

and stood for the liberal party, you would expect I would be a liberal and not a conservative or a socialist. I think that would be reasonable. I think Bentham and Mill were the founders of liberalism as a political statement and their liberalism included consequentialism of moral actions - that an action was morally right if it had good consequences leading to happiness; and morally wrong if it had consequences leading to unhappiness.
So what does that say about intentions? It was all very well to have the intention of bringing about good consequences for Iraqi people as a result of the Iraq war but things went pear shaped. Was this not foreseen? 6 billion people around the world minus the supporters of the coalition of the willing (300m Yanks; 60m Brits; 20 m Aussies; some Poles and assorted others) could see the consequences would not be good. Were the liberals pig-headed or just stupid?
So what should be done about Zimbabwe? Whose responsibility is it to do anything? I drove past a hold up the other day and didn't do anything. Doesn't matter. I didn't know the victims anyway. Why lose sleep over it? All those Iraqis dying in their own country. Doesn't matter. Our intentions were honourable. That makes it OK.

I had not been on a PMV for 2 months

so I set out yesterday morning for lotu about 8am. Thoughts of crowding at the PMV stop and waiting for 30 minutes or so and pushing people aside don't make for pleasant PMV travelling but I got the first PMV that came along. Same thing on the way home - with thoughts of pick pockets waiting for me at Eriku. I got off the town bus and saw two Kamkumung PMVs and then sort of a crush of people at a PMV that had just pulled up and I knew that it was the Unigate bus. Anyway I caught it no problem. Walking home from the PMV stop carrying my groceries in the heat was the worst part of the trip so I had a shower and then settled down to do nothing for the rest of the day until I went around for dinner in the evening.

my first hold up experience

we were driving in to do the banking on Friday about 3pm and I could see this white car pulled up outside Pikus Club with four guys holding what looked like sticks and I thought the car had broken down. I thought my passenger told me it was her friend so I went to slow down but she said hold up hold up go speed go speed. I accelerated as much as I could but the truck was slow to pick up. I kept looking in the mirror but it seemed like their hand guns weren't pointed our way and my other passenger in the back seat said they didn't have bullets otherwise they would have fired. I remember thinking I would have been more alarmed if they had been holding rifles as the aim could have been more accurate and that's what I was looking for to see if the weapons were being brought up for sighting aim. I hope that's as close as I have to come to being held up. As for the poor people in the white car? Not my problem. Well it is I know but what should I have done?

lamb in the crock pot.

A leg of lamb done in the crock pot. I went around to alex and Jonika on Sat night. We had been talking on the Friday about the new slow cooker that Roger had given Alex for Christmas and I was saying how I used one all the time - cooks beautiful baked dinners - doesn't dry out the meat like conventional oven baking - cooks pork particularly well - just cut off the crackle and oven bake it as normal but cook the meat in the crock pot. Very nice.
Anyway the the lamb on Sat night. Slow cooked with spices and veges. Other kaukau and pumpkin baked in conventional oven. Some very nice dark home brew. Very good company. Very nice.

my new fridge

The old one had been threatening to die on me before I left. I think the seals had hardened and weren't working properly as the freezer chamber used to fill up with ice and freeze the door shut. Anyway I turned it on last wednesday and the freezer seemed to be ok but the fridge chamber wasn't working at all. I sort of had to prop the door closed with a mop as the door seemed to be not closing tight. So on Friday the maintenance guys shifted Vivien's fridge into my place and they'll check out the other one to see if gas might be the problem. Very nice.

Friday, February 02, 2007

a paradox, that's what i was thinking of

Lae, so wet, you would not think there could be dust. But I came back to my house on Wednesday and the floors are just dusty. My haus meri came today - she was supposed to come yesterday and didn't and Joseph knew where she lived in West Taraka so he told her I was back when he went home from finishing night shift this morning. I forgot all about getting something for Peter and Joseph from Brisbane airport.
The fridge isn't working properly - freezer is going but the lower cabinet isn't. I killed six big cockroaches last night and this morning. There was one desiccated mouse under the lounge. Three or so sets of clothes and contracted mildew so I had to soak them in bleach. The floors are dusty and my feet are dirtier from walking around inside the haus - you can see my footprints up and down the stairs. I caught the balus bus in from Nadzab on Wednesday and it just stopped at about the 20 mile - half way in. We pushed it for a bit and bus cru were apologetic particularly to me the only wait man so I assured them liklik samting, noken wori. Finally we pushed it in reverse and it went. I bought groceries yesterday - K173.

I can because I can

and you can't stop me. Being smug about things must be one of the ugliest of human conditions. We can win at cricket because we can and there is no-one to stop us. Ricky Ponting's snide backhander to the whinging pom about our gracelessness and arrogance. Winning an election in the face of an unelectable and hapless opposition. Picking a war using advanced space technology against an army clothed in joggers and throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. Foreign Minister Downer's being happy to look in to allegations by Australian Citizen Mr David Hicks about mistreatment. All good reasons to be smug I suppose. Smart-arse is how the smugness is perceived.
There is the drunk who doesn't know when to cut his losses. Ahh you're a loser mate. Smash goes the fist into his nose and blood spurts and leaks from his nostril. That didn't hurt - try again if you're game. Smash goes the fist into the mouth and blood and a couple teeth wobble out. I've got me pride - betcha can't beat me pride. Why bother? The drunk has already lost his pride. So why would Ponting want to lay the boot in? The merciful thing for England would be to forfeit. The gracious thing for Australia to do would be to field its 3rd Eleven. England were never going to win. To play a 3rd eleven is not an insult but an acceptance of reality. Why be smug?

the cricket

I s'pose all us aussies are happy now we have cat o'nine tailed them pommies. Goodness knows what hyperbole the advertisers are going to use next year when India comes out for a four test series. If this recent Ashes series was the series to end all series, the most anticipated cricket match since the dawn of civilisation, then how do you get the crowds in next year? We were sold a dummy this time, am I going to buy another used car off the same salesman?
I would love to have been proved wrong. I kept my money and didn't buy a ticket. But I've got no sympathy for the suckers who paid for a 100 overs game the other night in Perth and went home after about 50 overs. The emperor never had any clothes on when he left Heathrow at the end of October. How on earth you expected him to get a full wardrobe for 16 players in the space of a 24 hour trip leaves me astounded that we try to kid ourselves about the "clever country."
Australia is just too good. But this is no good for international cricket. We are arrogant too. There was no need for Ponting to add his snide comment to the poor pommie whinging about our arrogance. Leave him be. Say nothing. He's lost his pride, what more do you want to take from him Ricky?

at best, at worst

A letter in the Australian wrote, "the claims made are at best disingenuous, at worst deceitful." On the one hand it is encouraging that writers like this do not go overboard with hyperbole and make an at worst statement such as "at worst the end of civilisation as we know it". It is good to balance the "at best, at worst" contrast but often I look at the "at worst" argument and wonder - so? Is that all? Why bother oneself over that!
Should the Americans withdraw from Iraq? What is an "at best, at worst" scenario? At best we can save American lives, at worst we can lose face? At worst we can leave Iraq to the terrorists? At worst we can leave Iraq in the too hard basket? At worst we can abandon Iraqis to civil war?
Clearly the stupidity of the original decision to go to war with Iraq is biting George on the bum and now he wants others to get the ants out of his pants for him. George, we told you it was a stupid idea but you went ahead anyway. Unfortunately, the coalition of the willing has no other choice. It can't just shit in the kitchen and not clean up the mess.

what if every country had the same rights

to pollution and extinction? Industrialised nations have been polluting the planet for over 200 years now. China and India have been overpopulating the planet. Brazil has been deforesting the planet. What if the Chinese and Indians thumbed the world and polluted it at the same rate as the already westernised countries, would we be justified in putting sanctions on them and bombing them to get them to comply with us? I assume I am part of the us and we who tell the rest of the world how to behave? What gives me that right? I am part of the culture that the them and they aspire to - them and they want to migrate to the lands of the we and us; not too many of the we and us want to migrate to the lands of the they and them. Is this an argument for anything? If the lifestyle of the we and us is sought after by the they and them, that does not necessarily give moral rights. So where does this leave people who are on the fringes, caught in a half way world of development and tradition?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

"beware the fury of a patient man." - Dryden

the desk calendar saying for 8-9 September. I like that. I wonder if I am patient? I left Brisbane on Tuesday about 11am and got to PM about 2pm. By 3pm I was at the Lamana hotel where I watched the cricket. I had a nice piece of barramundi at the restaurant for dinner. I should have remebered Kevin's phone and stayed out at the PM city mission. I'll try to remember for next time. I was booked on the 4pm flight on Wednesday to Lae but I went to the airport early to try to get on the noon flight. Too full. Just check I am on the 4pm I asked - just in case because I had been away for 6 weeks. No. you're not on. You were a no show so your booking was cancelled. Excuse me? I am here in PM. How did I get from Lae to PM if I was a no show? Dunno, but the computer says you were a no show. Well here is my boarding card which says I was a show. Yes but even so you are not booked on and there are no seats. I was booked six weeks ago. Who is going to pay for my hotel room tonight? Go and see the Deputy Senior Reservations Attendant. Ah yes we have seat for you - 3D. I got back to the airport at 2pm and boarded at the first call just in case there were two people with 3D boarding passes. There weren't. And this plane for which there was a stand-by list of 26 took off with seat 1F empty.

at the risk of offending a reader

who objected to my sympathising in about October last year to the plight of Australian Citizen Mr David Hicks, I just wanted to say that it now appears I am part of the mainstream with more and more fellow Australian citizens and mates being bothered over this case. I'm not sure that my blog can add any more earnestness of indignation than what is already out there and Citizen Hicks is still locked up. I'm out of practice. I'm not fired up. 6 weeks without writing proves the point that you write by writing. The ideas are not yet flowing.

back in Lae

I did manage to get to a computer during my time away but along with my brother in law Bob whom I was helping to set up a blog for I could not log on. I have now changed my password and it seems to be working. Six weeks without logging on the WWWeb, forgetting pass words and log in addresses, remembering PINs, an uneventful holiday even, no permanent house to return to for a holiday. It didn't start off at all well. The night I left here I ordered dinner at the Gateway in PM - prawn kebabs. They brought out two skewers with six tiny prawns about two cms long. The waitress was so embarrassed to present this to me she filled up the plate with potato salad to make the "meal" seem a bit more respectable. Such miserliness and meanness is becoming our way of life. Coles and Woolies are big-noting themselves about making donations of their profits to the "Drought Fund" but these are the same misers who screw down the price of milk, eggs, peaches, potatoes they are prepared to pay to the farmers. For a 2 litre carton of milk, the farmers gets not much more than 30c. If he gets that.