Thursday 30th

F had another day care cold to start the week, cleared now. But we were all in sleep debt for a few days.

I’ve been fidgeting with the printer at school and pottering about trying to get the class aquaponics system up and running.

I’ve been holding off on delivering a lesson on cyclones as part of our natural disasters topic, Tuesday provided the perfect opportunity. I hope things ae calming down for everyone up north now. ABC had a shot of a street close to our previous residence in Brisbane deep under water so while we are grateful to not personally be going through that again.

Holidays are still a week away for us here in NSW and there is as always much to be done. We will be taking a trip to Canberra to rendezvous with my mother and step father for the long weekend. Hot tips for attractions are appreciated.

It is hard to muster energy for a good rant on school nights, but my goodness our pollies deserve more than a tongue lashing at the moment. I’ll leave off with Chomsky instead.

and a piece on the the noble Bin Chicken to lift you spirits

Chomsky day:

Tower of Octodad

Phase complete on the Sir Vader Armour, ready to paint tomorrow. Which is a huge relief. Way behind on progress vids I know. In time in time.

Changed the blogs theme while trying to figure out what has broken in its CSS. Working fine in the big three browsers but broken display and back end in my preferred Opera in the last week.

I’ve pent the last couple of evenings indulging in a little gaming care of the Freedom Bundley. In particular I’ve been entertaining L with a little ‘Octodad‘ which has ‘QWOP‘ levels of frustration and hilarity and challenging my reflexes with a bit of the ol’ FPS bullet hell ‘Tower of Guns‘ As in inane and wonderful as it sounds.

This spectacularly lame screenshot brought to you by an unwillingness to get drawn in while trying to write.

Politics has been stormy this week and my prediction of a loss of majority is looking more and more likely. But I don’t have energy for a rant.  This article (pay walled but available free as your first of the week, or in full text here) read over breakfast this morning  upset me. Not that it was in any way unexpected, suicides are the inevitable result of the robodebt policy. But it is just so fucking pointless, so completely unnecessary and to be putting so many people through this Brechtian horror show is just unforgivably ghastly.

Put Your Hand Up

Tons of laminating, data entry, a spot of printing and some wrestling with IT systems to allow our class tele-interview with the Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove tomorrow.

My approved list of questions for the GG, chosen by the class with some additions by me and N:

What should Australia’s national dish be?
 
How often do you correspond with the Queen? Do you have to visit England often to do so?
 
What are your favourite fiction, biography and nonfiction books? (Audience is 10-12 Years old)
 
What did you want to be when you grew up as a child? Did you achieve that goal or what changed?
 
As a leader and manager of people, what techniques and strategies do you use to quickly get the measure of people?
 
As a leader do you have favoured techniques for quickly fostering group cohesion/unity?
 
What is the most interesting or enjoyable part of your job as Governor General?
 
Of the many medals you have earned, are there any that carry a particular emotional significance to you?
 
What is your morning ritual?​

Falling asleep in my seat and I’ve a maths sheet yet to modify.

I’ll leave off with this:

Which I heard played on Double J over the weekend and have had it stuck in my head since. And this lovely account of the writing process for ‘Arrival‘.

 

Invasion Day

Australia Day is growing ever more contentious.

Initially I counted myself very firmly in the change the date camp and in truth I still lean that way. A number of things I’ve read recently have had me questioning the wisdom of that position and what the likely outcomes would be.

 

Indulge me and say for instance we change the date of Australia Day to May 8th or better still sometime late in the year when we are desperately short of public holidays and make it, like Easter, a floating holiday so that it always falls on a weekend, say the last Friday in November. Guaranteed long weekend, no need for sickies, warm weather, an altogether good time to celebrate what is great about our nation. Also keep the 26th of January as a public holiday rebranded as for instance Reconciliation or Survival Day. Invasion Day simply isn’t going to fly. All sounding fair enough so far I’d hope.

 

My concern is about what happens on January 26th that first year. Because there is a significant section of our community that is not going welcome or readily accept this change. How significant I don’t know, maybe within a decade they will have dwindled into insignificance. Right now I suspect the proportion is quite staggering, possibly as high as 30% of the general population who will resent and actively resist the change. Even with a bonus public holiday. How these people are treated will have very serious ramifications for us all.

Even the proposal for this change is creating deep divisions within communities. I don’t feel the potential consequences are being given enough discussion. If for instance this issue became a cultural touch stone to One Nation voters or Rise Up Australia, which seems quite likely to me, we would be looking down the barrel of some serious and ugly disrespect and push back both on the day and in the polls with our own inflammatory demagogues picking up even more seats in our parliaments. Thereby imperiling many of the gains in social justice fought for and won in past decades.

I have seen it suggested that we could practise a different way of conducting Australia day. Start with a fire ceremony, an acknowledgment of country, broadcast speeches by the PM and a select few of the new Australians of the year reflecting upon our history and injustices and challenging all Australians to find ways to improve our country together in the year ahead. Start and finish with national minutes of silence across all media, one each to reflect upon the past and look into the future. After midday fire up the barbecue, eat and celebrate what we have become together. I don’t have the answer and by dint of my heritage my opinion has limited weight.

Finally, in all honesty I think changing the date and signing a treaty, much as with marriage equality and a Federal ICAC is an inevitability it is merely a matter of time and political integrity. One of which we have, one we don’t.  How well the transition is handled will determine whether it is an act of healing or deepening division.

 

Evaporation

After a good meditative start and a nearly 6k run the rest of this day simply evaporated into meal times, naps and swimming. A little work related reading and housework and continuation of the parenting course with N.

I experienced my first print failure due to the existing spool holders inadequate movement.

But got the Spirograph made yesterday working properly:

I’ve been avoiding comment on the orange man’s inauguration. But I do want to share the immense pride at the vast numbers of women and their supporters who have turned out to marches globally to denounce Trump and all he stands for as well as celebrating diversity and resilience.

 


I also need to address the large number of really heartfelt ‘Thanks Obama’ memes being shared around and while he has been without doubt the most progressive American president of my lifetime I am concerned that the rose coloured glasses shouldn’t rapidly become opaque.

A lot of the Obama legacy will be dismantled or used as a tool of oppression in the coming years and some of the responsibility for that rests firmly on his shoulders. The fact that Trump is even in the White House now is still to my mind very much the fault of the DNC with whom Obama also has a very close relationship.

 

Entitlement

I think we may be about to witness something incredible.

I think Turnbull’s Liberal National government is going to lose their majority.

The scandals and catastrophic failures are snowballing. The latest parliamentary entitlements scandal, the tens of thousands of fraudulent Centerlink debt notices, Brandis’s ever more absurd breaches of legal ethics, Mr potato head’s tropical torture tents, the billion dollars for Adani, Joe ‘Age of Entitlement is Over’ Hockey smoking cigars on budget night ’14, now pulling pension as well as being paid as US ambassador. It is all rolling down hill, gathering speed, growing into a boulder of icy public discontentment, careening towards the most cataclysmic political failure in Australian history.

They really do have a snowballs chance in the proverbial and it will likely be even more impressive than this

Some of the governments ministers have been caught with their hands in the till. At a time when another arm of the same government is doubling down on claiming that the people who actually got off welfare owe it all back.

They have a one seat majority. For crying out loud they replaced Ley* with Sinodinos rather than risk bumping Tony back into play.

I will honestly be surprised if they make it to the first sitting day of the year intact. I don’t know what will happen when they lose the numbers, clearly they will retain minority government but for how long? The pool of buffoons from which they can replace Turnbull is small and tainted. Their characteristic inability to negotiate, the constant repetition of the idea that it is how they are selling their ideas not, you know the ideas themselves, that are the problem, their persistent inability to accept responsibility and blame for the consequences of their actions. All this leads me to believe that unlike our last minority government they will achieve very little at all besides digging themselves deeper holes, and short of a massive terror scare and a herculean effort from Rupert, eventually losing government.

The blistering hypocrisy of their ridiculous sense of entitlement the government holds is the most galling thing about the whole mess. These people who year after year have voted to increase their wages well above inflation, who have voted to increase their pension well above the median wage yet still penny pinch for Cabcharges from the airport to Mal’s place, or a trip to the polo to rub noses with Gina. These same people who think it is OK to charge everyone more to visit doctors, to renege on funding arrangements for public schools, to slash public dentistry programs, to risk driving childcare prices through the roof** (this on top of cutting the wages of childcare workers*** as one of their very first acts of parliament), propping up the ever expanding housing bubble while cutting investments in public housing, to build toll roads while cutting from public transport, to cut from actually profitable renewable investment and invest billions in coal, to undermine our human rights commissioner and keep children in concentration camps, in adult prisons or as a final middle finger to decency send them to countries they don’t even know for failing to meet the standards of the community they were raised in. These people who suck hard on the teat of the fossil fuel industry, fully concious that it’s business model fully intends to burn us all on the alter of quarterly profits.**** These people have the damned pride to claim that they have fiscal or moral authority on anything.

We are entitled to representative government. We are entitled to hold our representatives accountable. We are entitled to expect that corruption in public office when detected is appropriately punished and corrupt politicians are to be removed from office. I demand a federal ICAC with the power to prosecute now.

Until then prepare your popcorn because this is only going to get better.

 

End rant. Time to paint.

 

*Even the despicable pond scum in the Murdoch press have smelt blood in the water and are turning, looking to be on the winning side as always. ‘The Australian’ link >> .

**Eww a Daily mail link >> .

*** Item two on the list.

**** Citation no longer required.

Beginnings

Maybe the week before Christmas wasn’t exactly the best time to try and adopt mindfulness habits and healthy eating. Better than on January first I guess as I actually achieved my goals for a number of days straight before heading into the Travel and Festivus nosedive. We are emerging out the other side now, re-accustoming ourselves to our Cobar home and the thousands of little jobs needing addressed around the place. One day back and it is a bit overwhelming.

Today we put up calendars, made lists, cleaned, sweated and swam. I have a little under three weeks until work starts as we start term 1 late in the Western district and it is going to be a very busy time.

For now I’ve read, watched and enjoyed a couple of good things over the last week, here are a few to share:

I have been slowly updating my security settings and now habitually use a VPN, as should you. I am still sometimes surprised by how exposed I am: What every browser knows about you.

Somehow I missed this hilarious re-dubbing of one of the Star Wars films which does not exist, using as script; the English subtitles on a pirated Chinese DVD. Contains the origin of the ‘Do Not Want’ meme.

If you follow UK media, which I do vaguely but with some extra exposure this year, Charlie ‘Black Mirror’ Brooker’s 2016 Wipe is an entertaining hour.

Wait But Why on how much time we have.

Finally I don’t want to come off all news hipster or anything but I have been following the Centrelink debts fiasco since mid November when the first stories about false debts from as far back as 2011 began surfacing on r/Australia. Mostly out of worry for myself and my friends, a number of whom have gone on and of student payments in that time frame. For those not following Centrelink has introduced a spiffy new algorithm wherein they compare your taxable income as reported by the ATO and look for as many ways to issue a debt based on that as possible, including but not limited to dividing the total by 26 fortnights even if you were only on a payment for a tiny fraction say one fortnight of the tax year.

Anyway I didn’t write about it then, and now, well now bloody John Birmingham has just written such a face melting burn of the whole malignant mess and the myopic machiavellians orchestrating it that it simply cannot be topped.

Yes I subscribed. 

 

 

News Limited

We have had a busy couple of days including two very late nights, a wedding reception and a ridiculously expensive trip to one of my favourite book shops on earth.
I’ve had this post stewing since I saw this headline in an unmentionable fast food restaurant on the way to Orange 3 Days ago.

 

Now the Murdoch press prints ridiculously inflammatory bullshit all the bloody time. On this occasion whether due to hunger or general irritation I let it get my goat, snapped this pic and stewed on it until the next day when I noticed a post about it on r/Australia where upon I posted a version of the following rant. But I missed the peak of discussion as the post was slipping off the front page by then.

  1. First and foremost, despite indicating that the picture is an example of the children’s art work, the picture is clearly digitally fabricated adult work masquerading as childhood scribbles. It is my understanding that there is a legal requirement that this is acknowledged and it way well be on page 9 but I and many others didn’t open it to check.
  2. With direct experience I can pretty much guarantee that this whole exercise began with student concern NOT as is indicated in the article by the teachers ideological positioning. Students likely came into the class with questions and enthusiasm about a news item they had been exposed to and wanted to know what they could do. I have direct experience of students coming into class concerned about refugees, turtles and plastic bags and shark finning. In each case I have encouraged the creation of letters, posters and petitions as ways to communicate their concern. Directing these students energy into writing letters to a Senator seems a pretty good response no?
  3. Since when was children caring about the treatment of other children an ideological problem?
  4. What the actual fuck is wrong with these people?
  5. If your first response when a child asks you to help get other children out of concentration camps is to question who told them about the camps and attack their educators instead of you know, praising their compassion. Then you are not a moral authority and are in fact a human of questionable ethical character.

The Murdoch press has been screaming ‘Fire’ in the proverbial crowded theatre for too long. It either needs to be dragged kicking and screaming into legal requirements for honesty and good faith reporting or to be dismantled.

Start right now with a Murdoch blocker. You wont miss them, but they will miss us.

Super Lame

Accomplished a lot of tiresome little admin jobs today. Shuffled my Super around, and stopped multiple accounts from charging for insurance. I have managed to reduce my super portfolio to four companies now. The eventual aim is to get it all into Australian Ethical, but it seems like every employer I have dealt with in the last few years has had a prearranged relationship with their own industry or other Super fund.

Yes it is dodgy, no it is not illegal, I’ve checked. So I have one fund for each school system I have been working in as well as the AusEthical account I periodically roll everything into.

What should be illegal is each fund automatically adding life insurance and deducting insurance premiums. The fund the local Catholic school is affiliated with, which as I only do occasional casual work with the school has only a small deposit, prompted the whole process today as I recently discovered that they had halved my deposit in fees alone during over the course of the year. They will also likely charge some bullshit exit fee when I close the account and roll the deposit over to ethical after my last pay from that school.

Also sorted health insurance again which has been pending since we got back.

Fencing, like the construction of a fence, a swim and good bit of Lego construction consumed the rest of the day.

Politic

While there is some good news from Standing Rock.

Unbelievably despite very vocal and clear opposition prior to the past state election and election commitments to the contrary. both the Queensland and Federal Governments appear to be rolling over and digging deep into the public purse to build the Carmichael mine.

Super lame behaviour.

 

 

 

 

Footprints

Today I calculated a rough estimate of my lifetime carbon footprint.

I based my figure on the results generated by a variety of online carbon footprint calculators all of which are a bit cumbersome and I had to make a lot of assumptions. Generally I have erred on the side of more rather than less carbon. I have accounted for every piece of airplane travel I have ever undertaken as either SYD to LON flights or BNE to MEL flights. I have averaged half the electricity usage in my house over two billing periods and multiplied that by my thirty eight years. I have claimed responsibility for the entirety of the pollution produced by my family car, a 2011 Hyundai diesel wagon over a 15000km distance year again multiplied by my entire life. In similar fashion I have accounted for food, public transport, entertainment, electronics, furniture and waste disposal, generous estimates all and with no shortcutting for good behaviour like the limited meat consumption we are striving for or the lifelong composting of food waste.

I have to this point in my life been responsible for something on the order of five hundred and seventy seven tons of carbon emissions.

Using the 25 story ‘Gotham City Building‘ from the Brisbane skyline for scale. 577 tons as 8.2m cubes stacked in an array would approximate something like this:

carbon-footprint

It seems to me that a significant problem among climate denialism is a lack of imagination. I don’t suffer that problem, quite the opposite in fact.

My average output appears to fall somewhere between nine and sixteen tons per annum. The significant amounts of plane travel this year have pushed me upwards of twenty tons.

Damn right I live in the first world.

If I continue to err on the generous and I give myself a generous lifespan of say ninety six years my lifetime output will be one thousand four hundred and forty seven tons.

But I have decided that I want a Carbon Positive life.

I want to make sure I take more carbon out of the atmosphere in my life than I put into it. Leave it better than I found it as it were. To that end I am going to actively reduce my own emissions but I am also researching meaningful carbon offsetting techniques with which to meet this goal.

One of the concrete things I took away from ‘This Changes Everything‘ (Which you really ought to read) is that most carbon offsetting is total bullshit. Lots of dodgy operators and Howard era economics like ‘not cutting down this forest is a carbon offset’. Even so if I were to take the easy option and use, for instance one of the tree planting services listed here, as they are at least actively removing carbon from the atmosphere, I would be looking at a cost between eighteen and twenty five thousand dollars. Which needless to say I don’t have to spend. The how to accomplish this goal will is a work in progress.

Lots of ideas floating around, more are welcome.

Doubtless lots of work to do.