new short story collection. Out now!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Lifter

Nursing homes accommodate some very large and heavy residents who have mobility problems due to their size and various health complications. In some cases they have nothing much else to do besides eat so they can hardly be blamed for their obesity.

As well as being physically incapacitated, many residents of nursing homes also suffer varying degrees of mental impairment. The combined effects of old age on the mind and the body of these people means they require full time care. They need to be washed, changed, fed, given medication, and moved around. Only a few can successfully go to the toilet by themselves.

When a heavy resident has to be moved out of bed, the nurses are not allowed to do it alone. They must receive assistance from another nurse and together, use a piece of equipment called a lifter. It is designed to prevent injury to the backs of the nurses, and to remove the possibility of the resident being accidentally dropped.

Consider the situation these beautiful human beings, these children of God find themselves in, and realize that it could be you in the future. Think about the difficulty of caring for them. It is a tough job for nurses, requiring strength and stamina to do it well, and with compassion. And what of those people who care for elderly or infirm relatives in their own homes on a full, or even part time basis? Imagine the strain, the sacrifice. These carers carry an extraordinary weight of responsibility: a load which would crush most of us.

Who lifts the flagging spirits of these people? Who sustains and encourages them as they care for adults who have lived full lives only to return, in their twilight years, to a child like dependency on others?

People who give so much must also receive a lot. Otherwise how could they do it? They need a lifter too. In fact, they need, as we all do, The Lifter. His purpose is to make it possible for those who care to keep on caring, for those who love to keep on loving, and to remind all of us of our own frailty and dependence on Him.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Shout out to Nurses

Even though nurses are undervalued economically, I don't believe they are undervalued socially. I reckon most people know, either personally or courtesy of time spent as a patient, that nurses are terrific. I'm speaking generally here because I know that there are dodgey operators in all professions but nurses do work which makes non nurses say, 'I could never do that!' and they do it in a way that fills us with admiration.

Over the past three years, I have come to appreciate how hard it is, not only to practice nursing, but even to become qualified as a nurse. The Bachelor of Nursing strikes me as a very intense course which makes some other academic degrees look like puzzles from That's Life magazine.These men and women have to learn a lot in a very short space of time, and they have to begin to practice and, in the case of young nursing students fresh out of high school, be confronted with some very full on, challenging and at times disturbing facets of human nature. Emotionally, spiritually and physically, this is hard yakka we are talking about here.

Last night, nursing graduands from the University of Wollongong celebrated their wonderful achievement with a fancy ball at the Fraternity Club. I was there and what I saw was relief and satisfaction. There was loads of laughter, and beautifully clad, happy faced, if somewhat inebriated people, burned up the dance floor to booming pumping duff duff music. They were letting their hair down to rejoice in a hard fought achievement. Those crazy dance moves shouted victory.

I just want to congratulate them and their partners and families for making it to the end of what at times looked like a black hole of eternal stress and late night study sessions. Well done, girls and guys.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How to Seduce a Ghost (Lee Bartholomew, #1)How to Seduce a Ghost by Hope McIntyre

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Surprising and entertaining, even if slightly annoying at times. I developed a love/hate attitude to the main character, Lee, and actually enjoyed the supporting cast more. The plotting was a bit scattered and there were sections I could easily have left out, in fact I did skip bits but the mystery angel remained a mystery until it was revealed and it was full of surprises, humour and charm. It's got nothing to do with ghosts though if you're looking for supernatural action, look elsewhere. Lee is a ghostwriter and a very reclusive person, who gets caught up in a series of murders. This is a good read.



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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Shades of Green

In childish representations of outdoor scenes, the sky is blue and the grass is typically green. A child will colour the grass one shade of green, and the trees maybe another, (light and dark are the usual options). The detail is not so important to a child. Green is green. On the other hand, to a mature artist trying to authentically portray the scene they are painting, green is not just green.

There are, in fact, many shades of green: light and dark, lime, emerald, olive, khaki, asparagus, and myrtle and many more besides.

Next time you walk along your street, look closely at the greenery and you will be amazed at all the different hues. Even the grass is not just green. There are numerous shades.

A man was having a conversation with a Christian who brought up the subject of the Bible. The man replied, a little contemptuously, that the bible was just a history book with no relevance today. Merely a diary. Many others have dismissed Jesus Christ as simply a good man, a moral leader or even a great religious teacher, but just a man, nothing more. Surely, these people are the very same ones who only see green when they look at the trees and the grass. They don't care to delve into what lies beneath the superficial. They probably don't want to believe the reality of different shades of green because it makes things too complicated. Nor do they want to accept the reality of the Bible being a God breathed, powerful and relevant collection of books because that would upset the apple cart of their world view.

To accept these truths requires the humility to admit you have at best been ignorant about the shades of green, or at worst deliberately ignored them and denied their existence.

Look out of your window now, and tell me what you see.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The cost of coal

Coal is a combustible black brown sedimentary rock composed mainly of carbon and hydrocarbons. It is a non renewable source of energy. In other words, the supply of coal will eventually run out.

The biggest use of coal today is to produce electricity.(94% in the United States for example.) Coal is burned to produce steam which is pressurized and then used to drive turbines which creates electricity. Coal is also used in iron, steel and cement production. It is used to make a multitude of everyday items like car brakes, pencils, washing machine powder, aspirin and other medicines, and fertilizer. Coal is used for road surfacing, waterproofing, the production of paint and, of oil which is then used to make petrol for cars. Is anyone sensing any addiction to coal? We need coal. Can't live without it in fact. This isn't, or shouldn't be news to anyone.

Some forecasts have world coal consumption nudging ten billion tons by 2030. I don't care if we, because of our insane lust for power and comfort, exhaust the earth's supply of coal. I don't. I don't lie in my bed at night fretting about the coal well running dry. People say we should switch to other, greener forms of energy production, in order to save the coal and save the environment. Sooner or later, one way or another, we will be using alternative methods of energy production. However, I have no anxiety related to this issue. That isn't the sound of my teeth grinding that you can hear.

What does trouble me though, is the fact the people die to get the coal. The only loss of life involved in the production of the food I eat is that of the plants and animals themselves. That's okay with me, that is their purpose: to feed me. But coal mining is dangerous. In the 21st century it has been less dangerous thanks to technological advances but men and women, and let's not forget that children worked and perished in coal mines during the glory days of the industrial revolution, die to extract the coal that society craves.

Last week 29 men died in a coal mine explosion in Greymouth, New Zealand. In the United States coal mining is listed as the second most dangerous occupation. Thankfully, multiple fatalities are rare in developed countries but in less developed countries like China, death rates are shocking. Think about 6 027 people dying in coal mines in 2004 alone.

What's my point? I am not an environmentalist but I do care about people, and I appreciate sacrifice so I simply want to say thank you to coal miners. Take care.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Necessity of Lies

In the Ricky Gervais film, The Invention of Lying, nobody in the whole world tells lies. They don't even know what a lie is. There is no word for truth because truth can only be defined in relation to its opposite. There is no trickery, no deception, no falsehood, no pretense and no fiction.

Imagine such a world where advertising is factual and straightforward. The slogan for Pepsi is: when they don't have Coke. Visualize a world where there are no movies other than historical documentaries made by the Lecture film company, and read to camera by serious academic looking types. Think of a world where people are offended, wounded and humiliated on a daily basis because of the dearth of sensitivity and tact. Put yourself in a world where everybody says exactly what's on their mind whenever they want to. Where truth is the only option. Anybody want to live there?

Truth is upheld by most people, in most societies, as a quality of infinite worth. It is to be cherished and treasured, honored and protected. However, there is nowhere on earth like the fictional town in The Invention of Lying where there is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The people there are uncreative, motivated by pure selfishness, and are without hope because there is only absolute truth.

When Ricky Gervais' character lies to his mother about the after life in order to comfort her on her death bed, she dies in peace. Her fear disappears and she fades blissfully into eternity. When news of this lie spreads from the hospital to the whole town and then to the whole world, it's a mind blowing revelation which shows us how desperate people are for hope. They latch on to the lie about a wonderful afterlife and hold it tight because it's a beautiful lie. It gives them hope and makes them happy.

The Invention of Lying is a very funny film, but it is also very profound. A world without lies would be horrible but a world without truth would be equally bad. A can of worms has now been opened. When is a lie okay or even necessary? When is it vital? And if truth is absolute then how can we draw lines of relativity in the sand, and allow everyone to decide for themselves when truth should be used? How can we safely allow the selective application of such a powerful instrument? Is truth a healing balm or a hammer?

Does anyone see a problem here?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Here On Earth: An Argument For HopeHere On Earth: An Argument For Hope by Tim Flannery

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is the first book of Flannery's I have read. There is something very appealing about his writing. Despite being an unrealistic optimist, a classic humanist, when it comes to the destiny of man, he comes across as being quite rational and reasonably passionate. I don't share his view that mankind's salvation is in mankind's hands nor do I understand fully, let alone totally accept, the climate change bogeyman. Overlooking his ill informed and cynical view of religion, I put forward a couple of noteworthy tidbits from the book.

The highest level of radioactivity ever recorded in a living thing was in a krill in the Mediterranean Sea after the Chernobyl disaster.

The disruption to trade that is an inevitable consequence of war is almost as great a deterrent as war itself.

Here on Earth: full of amazing and interesting facts and alleged facts with enough science and statistics to easily bamboozle feeble minds like mine.



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Saturday, November 13, 2010

More Chewing Gum Anyone?

You may well wonder what on earth chewing gum could teach us about life. (see November 6, 2010 for my initial musings) Life is short and then you die. Chewing gum gets chewed up quickly and then discarded, often carelessly. Whatever pleasure it may have provided is soon forgotten. It is a question of comparisons, of relativity. I could eat a whole packet of Extra but still feel infinitely more satisfied with a baked dinner. Life lesson #4: in crude terms life is packet of chewing gum whereas Heaven will be a banquet.

Is the chewing gum fulfilling its calling in life? After the initial burst of flavour it gives, chewing gum soon becomes a taker; the more you chew the harder you have to chew. Someone should invent a slow release chewing gum. That would be a better, more balanced approached which would prevent the chewing gum suffering burnout. Life lesson #5:Godly people are nothing like chewing gum in this regard. In fact the harder life chews them, the more flavour they release, and they don't get hard or become hard work for others. God's power is more than sufficient to sustain the righteous. Love doesn't get tired.

Life lesson #6: Even the humblest, most mundane things in the world, like chewing gum for example, can be used by God to teach an open minded soul who is listening. Are you listening?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This post is rated MA

As I listened to radio talkback callers this afternoon on the subject of Joel Monaghan, one word erupted continually in mind like a psychological Mt Merapi: hypocrisy.

Why is is that the outrage is greatest when some variation of sex is involved? In the Monaghan case, for those who don't know, he was photographed simulating intercourse with a dog. His friends, family and rational compassionate strangers, say he is a good person who made a stupid mistake. His enemies and a vociferous minority of puritans say he is the Devil incarnate. Some people are even more worried that the dog may have been mistreated than they are about Monaghan and his family.

Hypocrisy.

Most adults have sex and apparently most of those people do it their bedrooms with their husbands or wives. Every other variation on the theme gets dismissed with the slightly ridiculous statement that people can do whatever their like behind closed doors in private. Unless of course they are footballers, movie stars or politicians then they can still do whatever they like, but the public has to know about it and has to moralize about them and their disgusting behaviour, and they'll have to stop doing it.

Hypocrisy.

My friends and family presumably think I'm a good bloke. But if I gather them all together and confess that I watched a video of a gang rape and found it arousing, what would they think then? What about if said I have sex with prostitutes, and sometimes dogs if I can't afford a decent hooker? Or, suppose I casually mentioned that I was a proud paedophile? Maybe, I just lust after every woman I see, and have been actively plotting to seduce a married woman? Felatio on horses or group sex anyone? Even if I had ever participated in any of the aforementioned variations on a sexual theme, there's zero chance I would tell anyone, and if the reason isn't obvious, then may I suggest you have a brain scan?

Most people's private lives are exactly that: private, but sex has become so twisted and depraved in the way it is portrayed in the media and in movies, including pornography, and the way it is used to sell us all the things we need, that incidents like Joel Monagahan's appalling attempt at humour spark explosions of moral outrage. And before all you God haters start patting yourselves on the back and saying, "I'm so proud that I'm not a hypocrite like all those Christians", I should warn you that hypocrisy is a human disease of pandemic proportions which afflicts the righteous and the unrighteous alike.

The old prophet Isaiah was right on the money when he denounced the hypocrites of his day, as having outer shells of virtue with inner wickedness. We are no different.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Scared to LiveScared to Live by Stephen Booth

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The was the first Fry and Cooper novel that I've actually read. I listened to all the others. The plotting is amazing as usual and I love the characters but it takes too long, there's too much stuff too wade through. Some of it is interesting but a lot of it makes me want to fast forward to the good bits if you know what I mean. If the narrative moved faster I would happily rate all Booths Fry and Cooper novels as four out of five. It's a minor criticism really. I really recommend Booth's crime fiction.



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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Does Your Chewing Gum Lose its Flavour on the Bedpost Overnight?

The other day I was feverishly working at opening a packet of Juicy Fruit chewing gum. But just as I succeeded at one end, the other end of the packet opened by itself and a couple of pellets of gum were deposited on the floor of my van.

In a blinding flash of revelation, I was struck by an epiphany.Chewing gum became my sagacious teacher, a wellspring of wisdom.

Life lesson #1: Sometimes success can come in unforeseen ways. Life lesson #2: Sometimes we can be very zealously attacking a particular task but going about it the wrong way, wasting time and energy in the process.

I popped two pellets of gum in my mouth in eager anticipation of the burst of freshness they would provide and I was not disappointed. It was so good while it lasted, but it didn't last long. After a few minutes, I was chewing a tasteless piece of rubber. Life lesson #3: People are always looking for a burst of excitement in their lives, a buzz, something new and invigorating. We long for mountain top experiences, emotional highs which enable us to enjoy life and suffer the mundane. Many things can deliver this freshness into our lives but no matter where these thrills come from, they don't last.

We have all experienced the flat feeling when some event we had been looking forward to for ages is over. In life when the fun is over, the work begins, but I reckon work should be fun and fulfilling as well. Perhaps the reason it is not, is because we expect too much and live for the weekend instead of gratefully accepting and wisely using each day as it comes.

Juicy Fruit freshness will come into our lives periodically, but the gum will soon transform into tough insipid rubber. Good times come and good times go. We should not depend on the highs to get us through the lows, we should depend on Jesus Christ who does not just offer to help us survive the ups and downs, but promises to give us abundant life. Guaranteed.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Race that Stops Our Sanity

They call it the Sport of Kings and bathe it with timeless romanticism but it leaves me as cold as the weather in the sporting capital of Australia. The Melbourne Cup is held every year on the first Tuesday in November. Believe it or not, punters, socialites, and various assorted horse people have been gathering at Flemington racecourse for 150 years. I have no idea why.

If you love horses, which I don't, then I can understand how joy is derived from watching them do what they do very well: run. If you love gambling, which I don't, then I can understand the ecstasy of winning money by betting on the outcome of a horse race. I leave aside the devastation, and the there-goes-my-hard-earned-money-down-the-toilet feeling, when you lose. Apart from these two pull factors, what is the appeal?

Which brings me to Melbourne Cup day when people who never even think about horses let alone speak about them with other people or waste their money betting on them, suddenly and miraculously, in a burst of communal euphoria, are overwhelmed by the excitement of the great event. People take time off work to attend the race itself or special luncheons/booze ups to celebrate something. And they dress up fancy. Man, do they dress up.

Here's a quick quiz. Can you name another occasion for which people don their best formal attire and take time off work in the middle of the week?

Funerals. People dress up for funerals, weddings and the Melbourne Cup. How often have you attended a mid week wedding? Never. That's because weddings aren't as important as the Melbourne Cup. It must be important because a total of $98.1 million was spent on bets at Tabcorp in New South Wales and Victoria.

All this adds up to either absolute collective madness, or just a bit of harmless fun in the true Aussie spirit. You can decide which but I think you know where I stand.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bending over backwards

I have had the opportunity over the past six months to participate in a workplace literacy research project. A dozen of us literacy practitioners were asked to provide literacy and numeracy training to employees at various pilot sites, and to gather information about what worked and what did not.

This week we gathered together at the completion of the project to discuss what happened. Each of us was asked to speak for five minutes on a particular aspect of our project which the project managers had identified, from our final written reports, as worthy of further exploration in the group setting. My topic was flexibility.

I talked about flexibility being a desirable attribute in some circumstances and undesirable in others. For example, flexibility of thought is a good thing when attempting to deal with the unexpected, or in coping with change, but it's not good in relation to adherence to safety procedures. A cricket bat would not function at all if it was constructed of the same type of rubber as floor mats in cars. Sometimes rigidity is crucial to effectiveness and positive outcomes. Other times it is a hindrance.

In the case of the company I worked with, it was necessary for me to be flexible with the training schedule because it had to be changed on a weekly basis due to the unavailability of participants. My flexibility was limited though because I was only available one and half hours, two days per week. The company's flexibility was limited by the fact that they needed to serve their customers first, and attend training second.In the end, training was suspended because the frequent interruptions to, and forced rescheduling of the training caused us to believe that we were wasting our time. The level of flexibility shown, whilst initially helping the advancement of the project, ultimately resulted in early termination of the training.

We have to be flexible in life and in how we deal with people but extremes should be avoided at all costs. We all have to determine how flexible we are willing to be. How far are we willing to bend before we break? How far are we able to bend before we break? Do we want to bend at all? If we are thin rubber cricket bats we won't break but neither will we be of any use. At some point our flexibility stops being useful and becomes unhelpful, or worse destructive. I talked about car floor mats, and some people believe that bending over backwards for everyone indicates weakness. People who are that "flexible" may be labelled doormats. On the other hand, people who don't go out of their way to help others, who don't inconvenience themselves, may be criticized for being selfish.

A line has to be drawn somewhere between flexibility and rigidity. The fact that everyone draws this line in a different place on the spectrum is the reason why we have conflict.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Twilight EyesTwilight Eyes by Dean Koontz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The good, the bad and the ugly. Good: engaging narrative, good action sequences and characterizations. Bad: I was groaning over historical bits and Koontz trying too hard to place the events of the novel in a particular point in history. It didn't seem necessary to me. Social commentary and recitations of lists of artist and songs from the era. Boring. Really bad: the sex scenes were comical but I'm not sure they were supposed to be. eg. silky streams of semen unfurling...arrgghh! Ugly: Hyperbole in hyperdrive describing the inconceivably gross physical appearance of the goblins and the depth of their evil. Too much. Overall I still enjoyed it but silky streams of semen unfurling...arrgghh!!



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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Halloween Horror

Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain. The festival is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. The Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped, and the deceased would come back to life and wreak havoc by causing sickness or destroying crops. Masks and costumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them. Trick or treating resembles the late medieval practice of 'souling' where poor people would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1) receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2).

Early migrants from Europe carried the Halloween festival to America where it was elevated to a whole new ball park, made into an art form and a massive money spinner. The celebration of the macabre, the dark side of life or death, even for skeptics, is big business now. And it's great fun too. It is one of the great American holidays and is an entrenched part of American culture. Every television show that has ever been made has featured a Halloween special. From The Simpsons to Supernatural, the ghosts and ghouls, the jack o lantern, costume wearing, and trick or treating are woven into the fabric of the modern pysche. And let's not forget the multitude of slasher and horror movies which have been inspired by Halloween, including the classic series of films which featured the deranged Jason violently murdering people on October 31.

Naturally, Australians who slavishly follow United States pop culture trends, have embraced Halloween. Why, I do not know. I know why businesses push it. They see dollar signs. Halloween has been added to the crowd of marketing gimmicks, like Valentine's Day which is another crock. Here's a day to do this, and to do this, you need to buy this and that. Hand over your money. Hand over your brain. Let's follow the corpulent zombies, dance with the witches and join with the damned as hell breaks loose over our land. Happy Halloween! Bah Humbug!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rulers of the Commonwealth

Fifty four independent countries belong to the illustrious intergovernmental organisation known as the Commonwealth of Nations. It is not a political union, but an organisation through which member nations with diverse political, social and economic systems, treat each other as equals even though they are plainly not. Via various government agencies the member states seek to promote democracy, human rights, individual liberty, rule of law, free trade and world peace. There are 2.1 million people who are citizens of Commonwealth nations and just over half of them live in India.

Interest in the Commonwealth of Nations peaks every four years when the organisation's most visible activity occurs. The Commonwealth Games are seen as the poor relation to the Olympics, and achievements by athletes at the games are considered by many to be less noteworthy because the Games do not feature all the best athletes in the world competing. Significant absences include Europe, America and of course, the soon to be economic ruler of the globe: China. There is less competition, fewer events and less interest which leads to the cyclical debate about the relevance of the Games. This discussion was brought into sharp focus in Delhi recently due to overblown concerns about possible terrorism, and inadequate or incomplete facilities.

Personally, my only gripe with the Commonwealth games is that because Channel Ten hosted the television coverage in Australia, I missed out on two weeks of Neighbours. Otherwise, it was great, especially because Australia is plainly the ruler of the Commonwealth in relation to sport. We kicked butt in Delhi. It was Australia first in the medal tally and daylight second. There was very little equality on show at these games. It was the Masters of the Commonwealth universe crushing the feeble minions from the rest of the nations. We didn't win everything but only because we didn't compete in everything. We must have let the others win so as to not humiliate them. Although we like to win, we also show great sportsmanship: wrestlers throwing fridges out of windows, boxers mooning judges, and cyclists flipping the bird to them.

We have no competition in sport, no equal (in the mighty Commonwealth of Nations - please don't talk about the cricket), our economy is the strongest, and our political system is superior. The biggest scandal in politics is the Federal Opposition Leader claiming the Prime Minster was playing dirty because she invited him to visit our soldiers in Afghanistan with her. We champion free trade and are the epitome of flourishing democracy. If countries had middle names, Australia's would be peace.

With all this is mind, I propose that, following the expiration of our current monarch, Queen Elizabeth (may she live long and prosper,) Australia not only become a republic but also the ruler of the Commonwealth. According to the London Declaration, the head of the Commonwealth of Nations is a symbolic position which does not have to filled by England's ruling monarch. Try this on for size then, President Kevin Rudd, Lord of the Commonwealth. (I foresee Julia Gillard remaining Prime Minister by the way, otherwise she could do the job.)

We'll see all you loser Commonwealth nations in Glasgow in 2014.Go Australia!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Need for God

There are numerous misconceptions about Christianity which are held to with religious fervour by members of society. One popular view sees Christianity as a set of restrictive rules and regulations presided over by a cosmic killjoy. In another, a person says they are a Christian because they try to do what is right, and not hurt people. Both of these views should be completely rejected as false by Christians.

Recently I heard a new and interesting theory on what constitutes religion. This young lady, a lapsed Roman Catholic, said to me she believed she was religious, or even Christian in her case, because she sinned and religion depends on sin. She reasoned that if she was not committing any sin, she would have no need to confess and therefore no need of religion.

I told her that I believe religion is based on need and to suit my purpose here, I am referring to both good and bad religion (Jesus talked quite clearly about both). Men have always looked to something or someone bigger and more powerful than themselves for answers, for meaning and direction in their lives. Honest men have always felt and still do feel, overwhelmed at times by the the enormity and complexity of the world around them, and the various problems which have faced them.

Only when a person hits rock bottom, when everything else they have is stripped of value, when they feel lost and realize their desperate need for salvation, will they look up and see their Saviour: Jesus Christ.

I'm not telling you that you have to become a Christian, even though I would like you to, but I am asking you to accept the facts about Christianity. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Christianity is about God's plan to fix this messed up world which is full of broken people. Jesus said that he is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through him. Christianity is about God reaching out to us and saving us from our pride fuelled self destruction. Christianity is all about Jesus Christ and everyone needs a saviour.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Split Ministries

It started with the Rudd Labour government separating the climate change portfolio from the environment and giving it its own minister. This was obviously done to broadcast the importance the government placed upon climate change. The recently re-elected, albeit barely elected, Gillard Labor Government scrapped the Education portfolio and installed a Minister for School Education,Early Childhood and Youth (Peter Garrett) and another minster for tertiary education and skills (Chris Evans).In the spirit of the Labour government's division of ministerial portfolios, I would like to suggest the following.

Foreign Affairs should be divided into two separate portfolios: one for countries we like and one for countries we don't like. Immigration could be split between illegal immigrants/asylum seekers and legal immigrants. And there should definitely be a distinct ministry for the greatest game of all: cricket. One minister for all the other sports and one minister whose sole responsibility is to look after the interests of our national game.

Lastly, I would like to propose a brand new portfolio to oversee our politicians, and make sure they do their jobs instead of spouting negative and nonconstructive rubbish.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

God Had an Accident

I heard a very learned man on the radio today. A professor of physics, astronomy and natural philosophy (I didn't realize you could have unnatural philosophy). He was explaining, as fact, his opinion on the origins of complex, intelligent life on Earth. Go to http://www.abc.net.au/brisbane/conversations and look for the interview with Marcelo Gleiser. Listen and marvel at the absurdity of an intelligent man describing the miracle of life as an aberration.

Here are some further examples of this man's outrageous folly. Life is a wonderful accident without purpose. This imperfect universe and the life in it are chance outcomes of random conspiracy. Humans are animated stardust. I have to stop. I want to use very strong language to condemn this nonsense.

I am not impressed by people who are "puffed up" with knowledge. I am a simple man so I like simple arguments. What is the origin of life? There are only two possible answers. God, or an accident.

I am not a product of chance. I am not an accident, and neither are you. God doesn't have accidents, and only fools deny the existence of a Creator.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bonobo Bonkers

Bonobos are a little known species of ape whose communities are ruled by bi-sexual females. They live on the south bank of the Congo River in Africa where, unlike gorillas and chimpanzees, they don't wage deadly wars over territory. They do have fights but these are often settled by quick aggressive sexual encounters.

The existence of the fascinating Bonobo ape was revealed to me when I listened to the AM program on ABC radio (http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2010/s3010902.htm) As with all little known species, the Bonobo are endangered. Much like the whales which beached themselves in Spirits Bay, New Zealand last Wednesday, the Bonobos, fortunately for them, have human champions who are willing to do whatever they can to save them. Sally Coxe is dedicated to the preservation of the Bonobo apes, and she believes that they can teach people some lessons in humanity. Presumably she's not suggesting we have wild sex with everyone who we disagree with. Says Eric Campbell on AM, "Some scientists believe the Bonobo's behaviour can explain a lot about our own. When resources are plentiful, people tend to be caring and sharing. Scarcity of resources tends to bring out our inner chimp."

These words are humanistic nonsense. People know how to cooperate and share resources, they just don't always choose to do it. The inner chimp reference is of course a reference to our alleged common ancestry. The inner chimp is a myth created by God haters who want animals to have the same status as human beings. I get both frustrated and amused by the constant efforts of many people to categorise humans as animals. We are not animals and we did not evolve from animals. We are the high point of God's creation, fashioned in His image. The fact that we sometimes behave like animals does not make us animals.

The only lesson I learn from the Bonobo apes is that God's creation is astonishingly diverse. Why aren't apes still evolving into humans by the way?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What do Experts Know?

Some people are very emotionally disturbed about the Federal Government's $43 billion national broadband plan. The Coalition Opposition has an alternative, cheaper plan which they put up against the government's plan during this year's (2010) election campaign. Independent MP, Tony Windsor was said to have been swayed to supporting the formation of a minority Labour government by , at least partially, advice from an telecommunications expert about the respective broadband plans.

Rabid opponents of the Government and all things Labour, have tried to discredit the expert who advised Tony Windsor by saying he wasn't qualified to give an expert opinion. Chris Smith, on his 2GB radio program, produced his own independent telecommunications expert, and invited the so called expert who advised Tony Windsor, to take part in a debate about broadband technology. Fearing an ambush from Chris Smith, the pro Government plan expert brought some reinforcements: you guessed it, another independent telecommunications expert. The two experts presented their credentials and in my view were equals. Two men with access to the same information, analysed the broadband options within the framework of equivalent education and comparable professional experience, and came to different conclusions.

Leaving aside the fact that the debate was a farcical attempt by Chris Smith and his independent expert to grind personal axes against the Labour party, and smear the credibility of the other expert by attacking his integrity, what other conclusions could I, as a listener, draw? I am not an expert. Who do I believe?

When two experts interpret information differently and therefore have divergent views on what practical application of those facts should follow, how does a layman like me decide who is right and who is wrong? Who has the authority? Who should I believe?

We have experts declaring that the war against illegal drugs has been lost, but nobody in government is listening. We have other experts wailing about the end of the world being hastened along by climate change and nearly everyone is government is listening. We have telecommunications experts saying fiber optic is the only way to go because it is future proof while other experts assert the technology will date, and the Government's plan will be a $43 billion white elephant. There are many voices claiming to speak the truth and demanding that we believe them. Who should we believe? Who can we trust? As Pontius Pilate said to Jesus, 'What is truth?'

There is no answer in this final sentence.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Blood on the TongueBlood on the Tongue by Stephen Booth

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Booth still annoys me, as in other Fry and Cooper novels, with very slow paced narrative filled with interesting information which may or may not enhance the story, while at the same time compelling me by virtue of intrigue and wonderful characters. I prefer faster pacing but Booth's ability to plot so intricately is impressive. Overall an enjoyable read and I think I've become just a little but addcited to Fry and Cooper.



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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pride goes before a Fall

"I was all on my own in a situation that I'd no control over - I started praying...it became a chant as I repeated it over and over to show my sincerity."

In 1999, aged 17, Jesse Martin became the youngest person ever to sail around the world solo. His feat has recently been emulated by coincidentally named compatriot, Jessica Watson who completed the trip three days before her seventeenth birthday. The above quote comes from Jesse Martin's book, Lionheart, which tells the story of his amazing voyage.

When he was in the middle of a fierce storm in which he really believed he might die, Jesse asked God to save him. He later attributed his survival partly to luck, but mostly to the power of the human spirit - no thanks to God. More relevant and powerful to Jesse is the "spirit of adventure which lies in all of us...with faith that we as humans will be able to overcome any hurdles."

Jesse's religion is humanism which is a religion based on pride, and pride is the worst of all sins. Pride caused sin to enter the perfect world God had made. Pride says, 'I don't need God or anyone else, I can do it by myself.' Pride cannot admit fault or weakness. Pride is still destroying lives today, even as you read this.

It's insulting to God to cry out to him in times of trouble, then ignore Him and give yourself the credit when things turn out well.

(see my September 4, 2010 post for more on humanism.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Political Faultlines

The doomboosters and nay-sayers are in full voice declaring the minority Labour government is on shaky ground and won't last three months, let alone three years. We are just one by-election away from political catastrophe. All the positive talk about a new era in Australian politics is being drowned out by passionate pessimists and ignoramuses.

Coalition supporters are predicting the end of the world as the Axis of Evil (Labour and the Greens) plots the downfall of modern Australia. People are suggesting the Independents have prostituted themselves in their dealings with their enemies. The Coalition itself is moaning about the illegitimacy of the minority government led by a Prime Minster who hasn't been elected...again.

We have a democratic system for dealing with hung parliaments. Due process was followed and in case you haven't heard, the final seat count is Labour 76, Coalition 74. It's as simple as that really. The Coalition and their supporters need to build a bridge. You lost. I repeat, due process has been followed. A minority government has been formed and it is led by Julia Gillard's Labour Party. Don't like it? Too bad.

Here's a sporting analogy because there is nothing like a sporting analogy, is there?
NRL: National Rugby League. Suppose your team is clearly the best throughout the regular season. They win more games, score more points and concede less than any other team. They qualify for the play-offs in 1st place. Also in the play-offs is a team which only won half of its games in the regular season, and is statistically inferior. These teams meet in the Grand Final and your team loses. That sucks, but according to the rules of the competition, the only thing that counts is winning that final game.

Okay, its a imperfect analogy but aren't they all? Let's accept the umpire's decision and get on with the game. Let's believe that things will be better and that this government will be effective. Not all legislation will be contested. In fact according to Senators Minchin (Liberal) and Milne (Greens) roughly 80% of legislation which comes before the Senate passes easily with bipartisan support. The rest should be, and will be hotly debated. That's what a parliament is for, isn't it? And if you think all 150 of our representatives in the lower house are in it for personal gain, then you need help.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Excerpt from Devolution

Turning around quickly she said, ‘Hush, where’s your father?’

‘Swimming in the living room. You don’t mind if we talk, do you?’

‘No,’ she said, smiling, ‘I kind of like it. It must be such fun for you to be able to voice with your friends at school.’

He scratched his nose and played with the buttons of his shirt. ‘That’s what I wanted to ask you about actually.’

Sensing the serious tone in her son’s voice, 2 rotated her hoverchair to face him.

‘Has dad said anything about our school being closed down?’

‘He,’ she hesitated, and 3 noticed her uncertainty, ‘He says it’s almost a done deal. He’s been pushing hard for years now and has finally gathered enough support among the other councilors to go ahead. Of course he is the education minister.’

Keeping his eyes fixed on the liquid floor, 3 felt a surge of anger in his veins and his head began to ache again. ‘It’s not fair, mum. It’s just not fair.’

Wisely, his mother tried a change of subject to attempt to calm him, ‘What about your dream? Did you want to tell me about it?’ she said. But he turned abruptly and left the room talking to himself. She tried to project a warning to him to stop voicing, but he was so angry she could not penetrate his thoughts.

In the bathroom, 3 looked at his image in the mirror and cursed. His head, a little large for his body, its shape oval yet triangular, narrowing at the forehead. Eyes wide-spaced, under no eyebrows and long lashes, nose flattened, mouth too wide. As far as Newtonians could be attractive he probably looked all right, but how would any girl ever find him attractive? How would a particular Adonite girl desire this ugliness? If he was to be forced into single tribe education then it probably wouldn’t matter anymore. Obviously looks would play no part in the partnering of Newtonians, but he desperately wanted to stay in mixed schooling. Of course there was no hope of him ever partnering with a girl from another tribe but so much of a teenage boy’s world was fantasy, and 3 was no different. He burned with passion for his friend, the goddess, Veena.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Power of Humanity

I love how people ascribe greatness to human accomplishment; giving all the credit to mankind without so much as a tip of their collective hats to God. There is a phrase which always makes me cringe: triumph of the human spirit.

What keeps a person alive in a desperate situation? Is it determination? Physical strength? The power of humanity? No. It's hope. Where does hope come from? Circumstances? Positive thinking? The triumphant human spirit? Think again.

What makes people confident enough to share the road with other motorists, tens of thousands of complete strangers? Faith in other people that they will obey the road rules and drive safely, and faith that cars will do what they are supposed to do. Would people bungee jump without faith in the strength of the elastic cord? Does faith come from positive thinking?

What is it that makes people sacrifice themselves for others? Their time, their money, their very lives? Love. Is unconditional and sacrificial love a human quality? Does it emanate from within the almighty human spirit? Is it yet another accidental by- product of evolution?

What is the origin of these three life sustaining immortals: hope, faith and love? The motto of the Australian Red Cross is 'the Power of Humanity' but I don't think humanity is all it's cracked up to be. All goodness originates with God because God is good. All love begins and ends with God because God is love. On what grounds then can we boast of triumphs of the human spirit? We can help people, even save a few but we can't save everyone. We can heal people of diseases but in the end they'll still die. 'We spend all of our lives going out of our minds, looking back to our births, forward to our demise.'(They Stood Up for Love by Live)Desperately clinging to life because we know we cannot avoid death. Pretending we are the masters of our own destinies.There is no life without faith, hope and love and these three come from God. Therefore there is no life without God.

Humanity is not powerful. It is weak and foolish. Paul says that the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom , and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. (1 Corinthians 1:25)

Friday, August 27, 2010

More Rules Please

Plainly, I am unable to function as a productive member of a peaceful society without rules. If I didn't have the framework of legislation within which to operate I would be a menace to the community and to myself. I don't have the ability to determine what is right and what is wrong. I don't have the skills to exercise common sense nor do I have the power to make good choices, without rules. I need to be told how to behave because I don't know. I'm a hopeless case, a basket case. But I am not the only one. You are guilty as well. Don't cry innocent. Innocence is only found in babies whose parents quickly dilute it, not because they are abusive or even negligent but because that is the way of the world. We are all guilty and hopeless and lost. Ouch!

If we are not all as I say we are, then why do we need rules? What is the purpose of the law? Why do we need laws against murder? Against theft? This is not the place for a discussion of crime and punishment, nor is there any scope for a full discussion of human nature. Gazillions of word have been written and spoken on these subjects by people who are experts, unlike me. My point is that we do need rules and regulations for all sorts of activities. I want a law that says people should not drink and drive because that behavior is dangerous and should be discouraged by all available means including heavy legislated penalties. I want a law that says my property is not to be taken by another person without my permission. I want a law that discourages an otherwise sane man from violently attacking me because I glanced at his wife for two seconds too long. Some laws are good, and generally rules are also good but...

You could feel the but coming for a while couldn't you? But do I need a law that threatens me with a $3000 fine if I don't tell the Environment Department that I disposed of my pet frogs? If the answer is yes, then I also want the following:

A law that forces people with garages to park their cars in them overnight. I'd also like a law which prohibits the leaving of dirty socks on the floor. What about one that bans opera music? How about some legislation to compel politicians to answer questions directly? I could go on forever but I want to suggest one final law that is essential, critical even; a minimum of one in every one hundred people should be forced, under threat of punishment (although deprivation is surely punishment enough), to read the Cairns Experience - and buy Devolution: the novel.

What laws would you like to see enacted for the benefit of mankind, or just yourself? Comment below.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Not About the Election

There was a 100km long traffic jam in China which lasted for days. Ever been stuck in a jam like that? When I heard the story I began to imagine everything that would not have happened because of the people on that freeway not being able to get to their destinations. Frustrating doesn't even come close to describing the feelings associated with such a monumental impediment to the execution of their business. That's like saying that apple pie and ice cream is a passable dessert.

The news report mentioned that the people involved were making the best of the situation. That's not what I do when I'm caught in traffic. I get agitated, and start fretting about how I'm going to be late, and how as a result of my tardy arrival, the world will cease spinning on its axis. How much does what I do and when I do it really matter in the overall scheme of things? None of those poor Chinese and Mongolian motorists know that I was fifteen minutes late to work nor would they give two hoots if they did. If I tried to explain to them how important it was, and how essential my arrival was, I would be laughed off the road and out of my car, and into some lonely hole in the ground where I could anxiously contemplate my bleak future in profound obscurity.

I'm a bit stupid sometimes.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Unsustainable Arguments

Of apparent interest to some in the current Federal election campaign is the issue of sustainable population. Having dumped Kevin Rudd's Big Australia policy, the government has refocused the debate on sustainable growth, and the most pertinent aspect of this is immigration. Inevitably, because they are relevant, the twin issues of over population and alleged food shortages come to the fore. We may be all right in Australia but we are part of the global community, and therefore cannot make decisions as though we were alone on this planet.

According to the FAO, (Food and Agriculture Organisation), there is more than enough food in the world to feed everyone—at least 1.5 times current demand. In fact, over the last 20 years, food production has risen steadily at over 2.0% a year, while the rate of population growth has dropped to 1.14% a year. Population is not outstripping food supply. “

To avoid picking on individuals, I suggest Fred Smith who is a multi-billionaire. Let's say Fred lives in the United States and has a net personal worth of roughly 50 billion dollars. (Forbes magazine has 1100 names on its current list of world billionaires, by the way.)Fred deposits just 10% of his wealth into a bank account where he will earn a 5% per annum return. Excluding the compound interest factor which I can't calculate, this will generate $250 million per year. Money for nothing. It sits in the bank and earns interest. It costs $572 per year to sponsor a child through World Vision. World Vision doesn't throw cash at problems, they invest in sustainable futures for poor communities. With the interest earned on Fred's investment he could sponsor 437 062 children.I'm sure you can see where this argument is leading despite my lack of mathematical prowess.

The world is suffering a food shortage, because of the cost of food. It is a problem of distribution. I repeat what the FAO said above, 'Population is not outstripping food supply.' Two billion people live on an income of less than $2 per day and they spend around 70% - 80% of that income on food. When the price of food goes up in wealthy nations like Australia, we simply eat out less or switch to cheaper alternatives. (Generic bread instead of Helgas, for example). When the price of food goes up in the two thirds world, they don't eat. We’re seeing more people hungry and at greater numbers than before,” says World Hunger Program’s executive director Josette Sheeran, “There is food on the shelves but people are priced out of the market.”There are many reasons for rises in food prices but one of the most immoral is speculation in food community prices on the short term money markets.

The world is not overpopulated nor is it short of food resources. The problem is distribution. The higher the population density the greater the demand placed on resources. Is the answer to stop having babies and ban migration to ensure allegedly sustainable population numbers? Or should we just be smarter and more just with how we use the resources we have? Does the maintenance of high living standards for the few of us who live in affluent nations have to damn the rest of the word to the ongoing hell of extreme poverty? No, it doesn't. So what are you going to do about it?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wolf of the PlainsWolf of the Plains by Conn Iggulden

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Gripping, fascinating and engaging. Easily the best historical novel I have ever read. The writing was simple and strong and the characters so well defined that I felt I knew them. I almost wanted Temugin to be my king and to protect me. The narrative was compelling. Highly recommended if you like historical novels or even if you don't. This is a very good read.

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Being serious about the exercise of my democratic right to vote in the upcoming federal election has caused me to think more carefully than ever before about the options. More than that I have had to consider whether I really do have choices.

The Labour Party and the Coalition are the two main parties and one or the other has ruled Australia for my whole life. No other party is large enough to even win an election let alone form a government. Our system requires the winning of a majority of seats (electorates) in a majority of states. The minor parties, and independent candidates may win seats but they can't form governments. The value of independents in the parliament is a debate for another time but from the point of view of the voter, you have to determine whether the person you elect to represent you in parliament is actually going to be able to achieve anything if they are not part of the government or at least a major party.

Running my eye over the options I am left without a party I can call my own. One that truly and totally represents my point of view and one which can achieve things for me locally and nationally. When nobody completely measures up, I am forced into a choice between lesser evils. I am stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea.

A vote for the Coalition gives me a government led by a man who I feel is 'not right' for the job of Prime Minister, and which doesn't like spending money until election time. Their obsession with surpluses is annoying, to put it mildly. A vote for the Greens will give me a carbon tax amongst a host of other extreme environmental policies, soft immigration policies and same sex marriages. I tried Family First, although the name is strange given that the importance of the family unit to a functional society is universally held and self evident, but they don't have policies. They have general statements of principle which I happen to agree with but they don't have any policies. Respecting Rev. Fred Nile as I do, I checked out the Christian Democrats and again courtesy of fundamental shared faith in Jesus Christ, I found plenty with which I could agree. However, their policies on drugs are too hard in my view, almost graceless and some of the CDP's rhetoric on immigration issues borders on racist. And what economic credentials do any of the minor parties have? Finally I return to what has been my default position since I began voting twenty four years ago:The Australian Labour Party.

With the ALP I have a poll driven wishy washy government which has fallen into the sustainable population trap. A government led by someone who modified her public persona and bored us all as soon as she wiped the blood off the knife. This government conducts endless reviews and commissions of enquiry but doesn't act. Their response to the Henry tax review was disappointingly underwhelming.

I need a party with the clout to succeed. The strength and courage to rip the big changes which are necessary to keep Australia the ridiculously prosperous nation that it is. I want people to be put first. I want compassion and grace. I want Christian values because those who love God and people, have positively and immeasurably transformed the world. Governments should pour resources into education, health and public infrastructure. I want a passionate and brave leader who inspires me and makes me proud to be an Australian, and who leads a government which is strong, clever, competent and compassionate.

Daryl Kerrigan might tell me that I'm dreaming but I am happy to admit to being an idealist. Is the Labour Party led by Julia Gillard whom I have always admired as a leader, what I am looking for or will I simply have to settle for second best?

Yours Truly,
Undecided.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Scapegoating Migrants

We have massive problems in our cities with failing and inadequate infrastructure.
Our relatively slowly expanding population, which is almost entirely driven by net migration not natural increase, is placing ever increasing demands on our public facilities and services. In response to the perceived panic generated by former Prime Minister Rudd's push for a big Australia, his successor, Julia Gillard, has ditched the concept in favour of a 'sustainable' Australia. She says we are going to have a sensible debate about how many people we want living in our country. Bulldust! The longed for rational discussion on serious issues in the lead up to this federal election has been torpedoed by spin and alarmist sloganism.

Cheryl Kernot put it this way, "everything seems to be coming more and more trivialised than ever and I think that the 30 day election campaign is becoming a waste of time and a waste of money and an expensive game between journalists, the media and two big parties." The ABC's Mark Colvin asked this question at the beginning of a recent interview with former NSW Premier Bob Carr: He said, "Are the main parties having a real debate about sustainable population or are they both more focused on finding ways to garner the anti-immigration vote?" (For the record, Mr Carr supports Julia Gillard on this issue.)

So what do we have? Ms Gillard appoints a sustainability minster, and dribbles on about some pie in the sky plan for an offshore processing centre in East Timor while Mr Abbott and his pals in the Coalition can't stop babbling on about how they are going to stop the boats. (Even though they haven't actually told us how) Both parties are talking about reducing migration targets, they just have different numbers to throw in our faces. Who are they talking to? Who is afraid of Australia being overrun at worst, or overburdened at least, by migrants? There is a very strong connection being made between migration and public infrastructure problems. The argument goes like this: we can't handle any more people in this country because there is already too much congestion on the roads, and overcrowding on public transport. Let me reduce it further: F#!* off we're full! Have you seen that bumper sticker? Makes me sick but that is what the current immigration/sustainable population debate has been reduced to.

Professor Peter McDonald is the director of the Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute at the ANU. He doesn't think migration should be or even can be fixed at any particular number because we are in a global labour market. He says migration is going to be highly volatile and we need a system which is foresighted and flexible. No other country in the world has a target for a population growth rate.

The transport and infrastructure problems we are experiencing are as a result of a failure of government planning but if you listen to the rubbish being spouted in this election campaign, it is blatantly obvious who is copping the blame. Migrants are being scapegoated and it's not right.

Sources:

http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2010/s2963891.htm (Peter McDonald)

http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2010/s2969354.htm (Cheryl Kernot)

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Ignorance of Democracy

There will be a federal election on August 21 in Australia where voting is compulsory. The perennial debate surrounding the apparent contradiction between the concept of democracy and the mandatory call to 'have your say' never gets satisfactorily answered, but who cares. Where is the tidal wave of opposition to this imposition which forces people to vote when they either don't want to, or they do not give any thought to how they use their vote? Is this a decision which the citizens of Australia take seriously?

People might spend three weeks on the purchase of a new car. Perhaps months or even years on the huge choices involving the purchase of their first home. There are women, and men, who probably spend more time thinking about what they are going to wear on any given day than they have done in their whole adult life, considering who to elect as Prime Minister of the country. Generally speaking people do not invest time in the decision making process come election time. There are a number of reasons for this.

Some, as already mentioned, simply don't care. Some can't see the point, either because they see very little difference between the major parties or because they live in a safe seat. A seat which has always been held by a particular party is unlikely to change hands. They believe that after they vote, nothing will change, and more often than not they are right. Even at the national level. Changes in government rarely result in massive changes to the lives of ordinary Australian, and thank God for that. Change happens very slowly in Australia even when the need for change is universally recognised and urgent.

Even if we do care, and we do want to vote, most of us will not find the time needed to because it does not seem worth the effort. Investments are made readily when a good return on those investments is, at least a possibility. What difference will it really make if I spend an hour a day for the entire election campaign researching and ruminating on the issues?

What do we know about the policies of the parties and their representatives who woo our votes with the fervour of teenage boys chasing girls? What do we know? What can we know? If we want to make an informed choice and properly consider the issues, where do we find that information? Not from nightly 'tabloid' news programs which include the half hour of alleged real news. Not from sound bites on radio news bulletins. Not from propagandist advertisements on television, radio and in newspapers. Not from commentators like Alan Jones and Piers Ackerman who have made axe grinding an art form. Not from our politically savvy friends who spout the ideas of others in convincing monologues. The nature of this problem should be clear to the reader by now.

To get to the truth of political spin and sloganism you have to dig deep, and that requires an investment of time which most of us unwilling to make. It is imperative that we use the brains God gave us and make up our own minds.

Here are two suggestions: Firstly, watch full interviews with politicians on television programs like the ABC's 7:30 Report, or listen to them on the radio where again the ABC, on programs like AM and the World Today, offer some very enlightening content. This way you will hear what the politicians have to say in context, and how they respond to questioning. Secondly, research the issues on the world wide web. When in doubt, Google it! Make an informed choice Australia.

In my 24 years as an adult, an Australian citizen by birth, a proud Australian, I can recall very few decisions made by our government which have radically altered my life, and none at all that have messed it up. Life goes on, we vote for politicians because we have to but we want to believe their promises, we want to believe in the system. We cherish the concept of democracy but ignore the practice of it. I think we want to believe that our vote will make a difference. We cling to this hope even though it seems to fly in the face of reality. The absolute rubbish we are bombarded with nowadays is appalling in its superficiality. I need only offer one example: 'Turn back the Boats'. The fact that the arrival of illegal immigrants by boat to Australia is a major issue in this Federal election is a damning indictment on the intelligence of our democracy. It's embarrassing!

Do Australian's take their right to vote seriously? Generally, no, they don't. What about you? Use your freedom wisely.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Too Many Choices

I went to buy some milk from a supermarket in Manoa Valley, Hawaii when I lived there back in the day. There were more varieties of milk than I had ever seen or even heard of but I could not find 'ordinary' milk like I was able to buy at supermarkets in Australia. With so many different varieties of milk on offer, I felt confused. Many of those varieties are now available in Australia. If you want some milk you can choose from fresh, concentrated, long life (UHT) or powdered. If it's fresh milk you want you have the following options;regular full fat, reduced fat, low fat, skim, modified milk, ultrafiltration milk, lactose reduced, lactose free, buttermilk, fortified milk, or the kids favourite, flavoured milk. Am I boring you yet? I won't go on but it is good to have all these choices right?

Sometimes when I go to buy my regular brand of toothpaste it takes ages to find it amongst the plethora of competitors. Colgate is arguably the number one brand and they alone make over 30 different types of toothpaste, in different sized tubes and dispensers. How they differ from each other may be marginal but it is good to have so many to choose from, don't you think?

Even the humble chocolate bar presents confounding and conflicting alternatives. Once upon a time you could just ask for a Kit-Kat. Then we had the Chunky single finger version introduced which was followed by different flavour varieties. Thankfully, or sadly depending on your point of view, in Australia we have limited choices; dark chocolate, peppermint, caramel, cookies and cream. In Japan they have gone to extremes by offering around 40 different flavours. Worldwide there are over 80 varieties of Kit-Kat available for the pleasure of the chocolate loving consumer. Wonderful, isn't it?

Does all this choice enrich our lives or simply complicate them? With fewer options I would need less time to decide but I might get bored without the chance to try something new. With less to choose from I might miss out if I don't like anything in the range but does that really matter? If Nestle didn't offer me a Kit-Kat that I liked I could simply visit the Cadbury section and see how they might be able to satisfy me. Would it be so terrible if there were only two or three different types of chocolate to choose from instead of hundreds?

I know you think I'm a killjoy. The shine of life would be tarnished by limited choices, wouldn't it? Variety, they say, is the spice of life. Is that true, or does variety merely foster envy and greed? Does it spoil us and make it harder for us to find satisfaction? Does our experience of the exotic, cripple our appreciation for the ordinary? Are we actually becoming insatiable?

The answer is yes to the latter three questions but it probably would not be of any real consequence or concern if I was only talking about food. However, life is a series of choices. Some are important, some are trivial but almost all are necessary. I think life would be much simpler and easier if we had less choice. If there were only one or two types of toothpaste for example, I could like it or lump it but I wouldn't have to spend so much time searching and deciding.

The biggest choice any of us will ever have to make only presents two alternatives. A very clear cut decision between two options. Choose life with Jesus Christ or life without him. Considering the unimaginable benefits of life with Christ, this choice could not be more straightforward. No confusion. No disappointment. It's simple. Choose today.


Does having so many options to choose from enhance our lives?
Yes
No
It depends.
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Friday, July 9, 2010

Little Things

Good Charlotte had a hit song called Little Things which was about the trials and tribulations of high school students. The chorus talks about the little things that always hang around, and try to bring us down. They just won't go away, and the little things have made them who they are today. All the things that have happened to them, testing them, angering them, and bothering them during their lives have helped shaped their characters.

How we react to and deal with people and circumstances in our lives is largely determined by what has happened to us in the past.

In a perfect world, the kind God intended us to live in, we would have been raised in a loving environment by parents who loved God and considered child rearing both a joy and a privilege. Their job was to disciple their children and impart to them the Godly wisdom which they themselves had accumulated from a lifetime of service to God and others.

In the real world, many people have no such Godly influence in their lives. Their parents have still passed on their values but they often aren't even close to God's standards. So sin and its vile consequences are perpetuated through the generations.

Praise God this cancer in our society can be cured. The cycle of sin can be broken when we repent of our sins and give our lives to Christ. Then the healing can begin and all the little things which come along to test and trouble us, will become reasons for us to praise and thank God, and things which he can use to mould us into the image of his Son, the Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Honourable Bank Fees

If you have a cheque account,do you know how much your financial institution charges you for cheque dishonours? When you do not have sufficient funds in your account to cover the cheque and it causes the institution to collapse from the pressure exerted on them by having to cover your cheque so that they payee can receive their money, do you know how much they charge you for that unspeakable inconvenience?

We're with the Greater Building Society. We have a fee free savings/cheque account. Well it's not entirely fee free because they do charge $30 for a cheque dishonour fee. I believe the NAB charges $45. Maybe the extra $15 is to deal with the extra advertising and administrative costs associated with being one of the Big Four.

Anyway, here's my story. It's a story about honour and common sense and good customer service.

We wrote a cheque to pay a specialist doctor's bill. At the time of writing, there were sufficient funds. My pay is deposited into the account every week and every second week I receive an additional pay packet from my other job. Three weeks after I wrote the cheque and one day before I was due to be paid, the doctor cashed the cheque and it bounced. GBS said you owe us $30, and the doctor said we had still to settle the account and pay the $45 that their bank had charged them for the cheque bouncing. Does that even make sense? So, we were up for $75 on top of the original bill because of bad timing.

I know the official line is that it is the responsibility of the cheque writer to make sure there are sufficient funds to cover the cheque. Fair enough, but it's a bit tricky when you have no idea when the person you pay with a cheque is going to cash the thing, and you use all available funds in your account between pay packets to pay bills. I felt this was unfair.

To cut a long story short, I asked GBS to waive the fee which they did, and then I wrote to the doctor to say that, having made a cash payment for the original invoice amount, I now considered the account settled and they should talk to their bank about the $45 because there was no way on earth that I was going to pay it.

I thank GBS for being fair and rewarding us as loyal customers, but this is just one small example of the kinds of rip offs and little injustices that go on all the time. Sometimes you just have to stand up and say 'enough', and this time I did. I encourage to do the same.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Spread the Love

Most families have had their share of domestic disturbance. From trivial bickering over what to watch on television to the unspeakable horrors of sexual, physical or emotional abuse. Families have been torn apart by tragedies like grief and infidelity, and by overwhelming financial burdens. The Beatles told us that love was all we needed, but look around. It isn't enough. Fifty percent of marriages fail.How many more continue in perpetual misery?

Some have suggested that monogamy is unnatural and, that forcing people together forever, or at least until death they do part, is rather like the artificial construction of political nations from disparate ethnic and religious groups who happen to share some geography. In other words, doomed for disater. There is a pattern around the world, particularly in African and Eastern Europe, of nation states devolving into smaller ethnically based nations. It can be argued that this is more natural.

Similarly, it can be argued that it is more natural for people to spread their love around a bit. Love here, is plainly a euphemism for sexual relationships which again, according to some, flow very naturally out of friendships. This is not the forum for debating the pros and cons of monogamy but it does raise an interesting question.

Can people who cheat on their partners still love them? Is it reasonable for a man to have a sexual relationship or even a very intimate emotional relationship with another woman and say that he still loves his wife or girlfriend? Can a man love two or even more women? Equally?

There is man in India named Ziona. He has 32 wives and 94 children. They all live together in one pretty big house in Eastern India. Think about that. This situation raises enough intrigue to fill a book, but of relevance to the current discussion is the question of whether the man loves his wives. Is it possible? Obviously he has sex with them but sex and love aren't the same thing. There is hell of a lot of loveless sex going on in this world. Does he love them? Does he have enough love for each of the women he has married? Obviously, he does not have sufficient time for each of them unless their definition of sufficient, and his, is ridiculously low. Immeasurably lower than most of ours. Fascinating.

I have one wife and no girlfriends or mistresses, so for me to answer the question posed earlier is a long stretch into the realm of the hypothetical. Could I love two women? I don't see why not. I don't, but I really can't see why that would not be possible. The closest analogy I can draw is loving our children. It is an imperfect analogy, I know but it's the best one available. I didn't have to use some of the love I already had for my son to love my daughter when she was born. I found some more. If we had have had a third child, I would have had more love available for that child as well with no diminution of my love for my other children. I don't know if that would be elastic enough to stretch to 94 children, (as Ziona in India has), but I can't see why not.

I believe that love originates with God. God is love. God is infinite and therefore love is infinite. God finances our love from his inexhaustible supply of it, but would he provide the love I would need to love a woman who wasn't my wife? I don't want to know the answer to that question.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

All Things are Pure

French convict, Henri Chariere, a.k.a. Papillion, was planning the final stage of his getaway. Having already miraculously defied the odds to escape from the penal island, Royale, he needed a boat to sail to British Guiana where he and his friends believed they would be allowed to settle as free men.

Another escapee, a Chinese man called Ciu-Ciu, arranged to buy a boat off a negro woodcutter whom he called Chocolate. Having inspected the boat, and seen it was basically sound, Papillion cut a deal with Chocolate which included a satisfactory price and the purchase of some other supplies for their journey. Papillion tore some bank notes in half and told Chocolate he could have the other half when he delivered the finished boat and the other supplies.

When the day arrived for them to settle, Chocolate had done exactly as he was required. Papillion was impressed by the faithfulness of this man who was willing to help a stranger, an escaped convict. Chocolate had brought his half of the bank notes and asked Papillion to stick the notes together again for him. It apparently never occurred to Chocolate not to trust Papillion, or that Papillion might simply keep the money for himself after he rejoined the halves.

Chocolate was a simple man: a honest, hardworking man who wanted to believe the best of Papillion, and of people in general. He could not imagine people were deceptive because he himself was without guile. He had seen first hand the inhumane treatment that prisoners received from their captors in penal settlements like Royale, so he wanted to help Papillion escape and start a new life. Papillion saw God in this man.

"To the pure, all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are corrupted. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their deeds..." (Titus 1:15,16)

Friday, June 11, 2010

book review: Hoping For Hope by Lucy Clare

Hoping for Hope Hoping for Hope by Lucy Clare


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Very well told story. Multiple POV seemed a bit overdone particularly random Jake's view but Hope's cameo at the end was good. Good ending. So glad to have read a book and not been disappointed by the ending. Sharply drawn characters even if a little stronger/stereotypical than believable. Overall A surprisingly enjoyable read.

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wetting the Towel that Dries You

Original sayings are as rare as hen's teeth theses days. It says in Ecclesiastes there is nothing new under the sun, and who can deny it? Words are repackaged and reworked but at the end of the day, the song remains the same. Soon we will all hear the mother of all cliches, the straw that breaks the camel's back in terms of our ability to endure tired old adages.

Many hands make light work but too many cooks can sometimes spoil the broth especially if there are more chiefs than indians, so if a stitch in time saves nine, it is high time this plague of aphorisms was nipped in the bud. Maybe the horse has already bolted and although we may be able to lead it to the freshwater of originality, we may not be able to make it drink.

There is apparently a cute little platitude for every experience and situation, but we've heard it all before. We should all pull up our socks and dig deep to unearth some new maxims with meaning. Maybe we could scrape the bottom of the barrel and see if there is any light at the end of this tunnel of torpid tale telling. At the very least we should tighten our belts and avoid verbal extravagance.

However, what we should not do is wet the towel that dries us, that is to say we should not throw out the baby with the bathwater or bite the hand that feeds us. That would be madness. We need words to communicate. Words have power. The pen is mightier than the sword. James talks about the restless evil that is the tongue and he tells us to be slow to speak and quick to listen. Be wise with your words.

Here is a trustworthy saying which rises above the pack, and deserves full acceptance: 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst.' (1 Timothy 1:15)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Generosity versus Greed

How much effort and cash is expended by people to help themselves compared with helping others? This is a frightening question which many will shy away from asking. Many more will not want to hear the answer. The truth can be troubling, to say the least. Truth often is. Despite its outrageous propaganda Al Gore's documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, was well named. Facts can be sledgehammers. Facts can make us squirm and sweat, even make us sick. Contestable? Debatable? Controversial? Yes to all three, but people react and respond to the truth differently, and regardless of whether you agree or not, truth is truth. Not liking something or not believing in it does not alter the reality of it. Some things are true and that's all there is to it.

Former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli is believed to have once said there are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics. At the risk of being accused of using statistical acrobatics to support my case, I offer the following shocking facts.

The 2005 Boxing Day tsunami was arguably the worst natural disaster the modern world has ever seen. Australians responded to the cry for help from the people affected and by the organisations that moved to alleviate their suffering and begin the rebuilding process. Roughly $100 million dollars was raised by Australians alone.It was a fantastic effort and a wonderful display of generosity. In that same year however, gambling losses by Australians totalled $17.5 billion dollars. Read that sentence again. It's not a misprint. Here's more; total giving by Australians to non profit organisations in 2004, personal and corporate, was $11 billion dollars. Gambling losses in the following year were $17.5 billion.

Statistics from Giving Australia in 2005 showed that Australians donated 0.7% of GDP on a per capita basis. That puts us behind the Americans, the British and our friends across the Ditch. A more recent survey by Commsec showed that Australians spend more on gambling than they do on some bills. $2292 on gambling versus $1830 on gas and electricity bills, for example. Illuminating isn't it?

Why? That's the question. Why are Australians addicted to gambling? Hope. Most of us struggle a little financially, and whether our wallets are fat or emaciated, we would like a little more. The desperate need we feel for more, the belief we have that more money will solve our worries, that having more will make us complete, make us more content, that winning a fortune will rescue us from the prison of our boring jobs with their insufficient incomes, all translates into an addiction. Our hope is in gambling: the small chance that we will get lucky. The statistics say we spend more on this addiction (and I haven't even mentioned alcohol and cigarettes) than we do on helping others.

That's pretty sad, isn't it?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Throwing Stones

Everyone is talking about David Campbell: former Minister for Roads and Transport in New South Wales, and former heterosexual family man. Channel seven aired footage of Mr Campbell attending something called a "gay sauna" in Kensington, and as result of the publicity, the minister resigned. There was talk at the time that his crime was not that he visited such a place and thereby inadvertently outed himself as a homosexual, but that he drove himself there in his taxpayer funded ministerial car.

This story is embarrassing for a number of reasons.The private lives of public figures has always been a talking point, a thing of interest apparently. Quintillions of copies of women's gossip magazines are sold because people are interested in other people's private lives. That is an embarrassment to society. So much pleasure gained from the knowledge of the problems of complete strangers. It is also an embarrassment for David Campbell to be called a hypocrite and excluded from being able to fit under the family man umbrella because he is homosexual. That people think "homosexual" and "family" are mutually exclusive words is an embarrassment to those narrow minds. The journalist who broke the story should be embarrassed for an unforgivable intrusion into Campbell's private life, and further ashamed to have used the pathetic excuse that it was in the public interest for him to be outed.

I'm embarrassed that people much such a big deal about homosexuality. Furthermore, I'm embarrassed that people obsess about sexuality in general. I think it's an absolute tragedy that sex has been so debased and distorted by men and women over the years that it has lost much of its beauty and simplicity. I do believe that homosexuality is a symptom of that distortion but I don't believe in ridiculing people and destroying families for personal gain or pleasure. I don't think it's right that homosexuals are treated differently, in some cases cruelly, by homophobic people.I don't think what has happened to David Campbell is interesting at all or even remotely titillating. I think it's very sad and embarrassing.

I can't help but think of the famous woman caught in adultery who was brought before Jesus by self righteous, heartless hypocrites who demanded she be punished. They said the law demanded that she be stoned. Imagine that! Imagine if people threw rocks at adulterers today. Would we be able to find enough rocks? Anyway, Jesus' words to those men and to us today were words of grace and compassion for the woman and condemnation for the would be stone throwers. He said, "let him among you who is without sin, be the first to cast a stone."

Those with the ability to be honest with themselves are laying down those rocks right now. I can hear them falling to the ground. Mercy triumphs over judgement!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

There's Something About Tony

It really disturbs me when I think of how modern politics panders to the lowest common denominator in society. Ignorance and prejudice. Narrow minded, backward looking people who swallow soundbites of partial truths and propaganda because they are either too lazy to eat a whole meal or because they lack the capacity to chew and digest it.

There's something about Tony Abbott and his equally non credible mate, Joe Hockey, that resonates with ignorance. The media supports the ill informed opinions of the masses as people get worked up over issues which are in fact non issues. There are three I want to mention here: boat people, resources rent tax, and economic management.

Boat people? Does anybody seriously think that people smugglers pay attention to Australian immigration policy changes? They are engaged in illegal activity for the purpose of profit making. Do the disaffected residents of Afghanistan and Sri Lanka study Australian politics and decide whether to attempt to seek asylum here based on the latest policy re processing and detention? Hundreds of people are coming to Australia in boats because they are desperate, not for any other reason. Hundreds, that's all. Do you know how many people are in Australia illegally as a result of overstaying their visas? Tens of thousands. In 2005 there were an estimated 47,800 overstayers under the Howard government. In 2007/08, the number is believed to be about 14, 000. Why isn't that information in the news? Stop crapping on about boat people, Mr Abbott.

Thankfully, he has changed his tune. But now he's singing a pathetic little ditty called Great Big New tax. The so called resources super profit tax, apart from needing a shorter, more catchy name, is the latest attempt by Abbott and his vacuous shadow cabinet to make people question the economic credentials of the Labour government. Apparently the mining industry is terminally ill and needs palliative care. This Great Big New Tax (somebody please make him stop saying that because I'm losing my mind)will kill the mining industry instead of allowing it a pain free and dignified death. What a load of rubbish. This kind of tax was suggested by the Henry review, and endorsed in principle by the mining industry. This kind of resources rent tax, as it is technically called, has been operating for 25 years in Australia with the oil industry. We heard the same anguished cries back in 1985 when the Hawke labour government introduced a 40% super profits tax. Anybody crying now? As far as I know oil companies are still doing all right. The mining companies are in superb health and this tax won't hurt them. Another storm in a teacup, Mr Abbott.

Finally Tony Abbott wants us all to vote for him on the basis that Kevin Rudd can't be trusted to run the economy. Why can't we trust him? Because he changed his mind. God forbid! Do you mean to tell me, Mr Abbott, that politicians don't change their minds? He says the government spent billions during the Global Financial crisis so we can't believe them when they say they will spend much less now that the crisis has been averted. Ridiculous. The government did exactly what all the governments of the world did, and what governments should do in financial downturns. They should spend. As Mr Rudd has said, when the private sector's involvement in the economy shrinks the government's role must expand and when private sector investment fires up again, based as it is solely on confidence and speculation, then the government should reduce its role. Tony Abbott, if faced with the same situation would have done exactly the same thing.

There's something about Tony which irritates and worries me. He's a broken record of economic and moral conservatism without a vision for Australia's future, or any policies.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The End of the World

I have received some very disturbing news about the fate of our planet. We are doomed. This world will be destroyed. Life as we know it, will cease. There is no escape from the bitter reality of this truth. You can run from the past. You can run from your troubles. You can run from your enemies. But you can't run from the future.

One day it will all be over. I don't know how. It could be an unpronounceable Icelandic volcano or a nuclear war instigated by Iran or North Korea, or even India because we know what a war mongering nation they are. I don't know. Nobody knows.

I don't know when. I can't give you a date but it's probably not going to be in May 2012. Nobody knows the day or the hour. Nobody except the one who created it. The world will definitely end and no one can stop it.

Have you booked your ticket to the next world? There is only one way to guarantee your future. Surrender to the Lord of all eternity, the timeless King of Kings: Jesus Christ.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Accidentally on Purpose

Everyone loves a love story, right? We like to hear stories of how people got together. Of how they first met and how that relationship developed. Stories of how love blossomed in unlikely circumstances or between two people whose worlds have collided. We delight in tales of people falling in love. It's beautiful. It's romantic and it's why romantic comedies are so popular. The bliss of love is the reason Mills and Boon sell squillions of books. But do people really fall in love?

Falling indicates an action which is unplanned and uncontrolled. You can fall off something like a cliff, or off a horse or a bike. You can fall down the stairs or down a hole. But all that sort of falling usually results in some sort of injury and is consequently not something we desire. Even an adventurous young boy doesn't climb a tree and plan to fall out of it. Falling in love is the same as the abovementioned falling activities in that it's likely to result in harm. In us getting hurt. In the case of falling in love, the pain will be from a broken heart.

However, is love really an accident? I don't think so. I reckon that people choose to 'fall in love'. It happens as a result of choices. If we think of love as an ocean, then there are two responses. Some people run and jump in to the water. Other people wade in carefully. Whether cautious or reckless, a choice is still being made.
We choose how we respond and react to people. Love is a choice not an accident. I don't believe that ruins the romance either, and I'm sorry if you do. Love is still beautiful. In fact, it's more valuable and praiseworthy when it is deliberate.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sack the government

We must get rid of the Kevin Rudd led Labour government in Australia. We no longer have a choice. When they are to blame for everything that's wrong in this country, what else can we do? Thankfully, there is an election approaching fast so we can vote them out and with the arrival of a new government all our problems will be over.

No more boats arriving from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan loaded with desperate refugees seeking asylum in our great nation. No more waiting for surgery, no more medical disasters caused by a lack of money, no more people sleeping in corridors because there aren't any beds, and no more hospital patients dialling triple zero to get drinks because there aren't enough nurses. The health system will be miraculously healed in the blink of an eye. Finally, and most importantly, there will be no more dishonesty in Australia. Liars, cheats, and frauds will vanish. The evil that men do will cease. Shonky businesses won't use the fact that they are bidding for government tenders as an excuse to overcharge. That's called "price gouging" and it will never happen again under a new government.

One of the government's responses to the Global Financial Crisis was to spend and spend big in order to stimulate economic growth and offset the worldwide downturn. Three of these big spending programs have been in the news over the last month or so. The Home Insulation Project, The Schools Building Project and another project which builds housing for Aboriginals in regional and remote areas. Apparently in its haste to roll out the money for these projects as fast as possible, the government overlooked the fact that some people only see advantage for themselves in certain situations. For example, when the government says that everyone can have their homes insulated for free, some people think that represents an opportunity for them to make a lot of money very quickly. Safety standards? Proper accreditation? What? Who cares about that?

Building companies see that the government is handing out money for school building projects and aboriginal housing projects so they dive in for their share of the action. It's a feeding frenzy on public money.No problem as long as they do a good job. As long as they do it properly. As long as they don't overcharge. The trouble is that some did.

This may disturb you so I hope you are sitting down. There are dishonest people in our society who think nothing of cheating and lying or doing whatever else may be required to get what they want. There are people whose main concern is the dollars in their pocket. The government should have known that their good intentions would be torn to shreds by selfish frauds. They should have foreseen the extent to which crooked business people would rip them off. A government so naive should not be allowed to continue governing the country.

If you agree with me and can't read the intense sarcasm in my words, then you are the naive one. The truth is that every system that has ever been designed to benefit society in any way has been abused by selfish, heartless, and lazy people. Fact. We are being ridiculous in the extreme when we blame the government for human nature. These are good programs which have in the majority of cases worked very successfully and benefited many Australians, but thanks to the squeaking wheels of rorting and gouging, some people want to scrap the whole thing, and of course it's all the government's fault, so let's sack them.