Category Archives: Life

Saturday salon 22/4

1. Theresa May’s brave gambit

She didn’t need to, so why did she, especially after promising absolutely definitely that she wouldn’t?

Given a lead of about 20% in the polls, she possibly sees a chance of decimating Labour and governing virtually as a one-party state for the next five years.

However, Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight warns that the British polls are basically not worth a cracker. Their abysmal performance translates into a margin of error of 13 to 15%. Continue reading Saturday salon 22/4

Happiness: the universal goal

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The main goal is always to beat New Zealand, but this time they beat us, according to the World Happiness Report 2017, which tells us that increasingly, happiness is considered to be the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy. They say:

The results are yet another resounding endorsement of the ‘Nordic model’. The top four countries, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland are statistically a dead heat, while Finland is fifth, and Sweden ninth, tied with Australia to three decimal places, after The Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand. Continue reading Happiness: the universal goal

Teflon-coated politicians – no heart, no brains, no ethics

I must admit I didn’t know in advance that on Tuesday there were rallies all around the country in protest against the overpayment recovery system used by Centrelink which has seen thousands of people wrongfully issued with overpayment notices until I heard the Radio National report in the evening.

Googling, the only other report I’ve found was of the Melbourne rally, which, inter alia, said that over the last five years Centrelink staff have seen 5,000 of their colleagues lose their jobs. Also this item about strike action by staff last December. CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said:

    “Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support staff are frustrated and worried by the Turnbull Government’s mean and illogical public sector bargaining policy. These working mums and dads are asking us if they can go on strike again to bring some attention to this unfair situation, as they face their third Christmas without a pay rise.” Continue reading Teflon-coated politicians – no heart, no brains, no ethics

Federer rules, for now


I’m a bit of a sports nut, so we’ve had plenty of tennis watching in the last month. When we were first married we used to get up in the middle of the night and watch Björn Borg play Wimbledon. Can’t do that now, so it’s pretty much the Australian season.

This year was a celebration of the oldies, with no-one under 30 in the men’s or women’s finals. Serena Williams at 35, beating her older sister Venus (36) always looked inevitable, an unstoppable force. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal was a pure gift. Federer had no right to be there at age 35. Nadal is 30 and shouldn’t be there either. I thought Nadal would win, but I thought the match had nothing to do with who was the best player in the modern era.

The play was amazing. Federer rained down 20 aces to Nadal’s four, but Nadal’s serve was the more consistent. 73 winners flowed from Federer’s racquet to Nadal’s 35, but Federer was also making twice as many unforced errors. However, Federer’s strategy of attack paid off, winning five games in a row in the final set, after looking out of it, down a break at 1-3.

There is no single criterion for judging who is the ‘best player’, but the perception for many was that Nadal was better because he had a better head-to-head record with Federer, and dominance over Federer in Grand Slams since 2008, ignoring the fact that Nadal’s dominance only started when Federer was 27, arguably past his best, and Nadal five years younger was entering his prime. Federer winning has made some people think again, and so they should. Continue reading Federer rules, for now

Centrelink fail: Ashgrove pensioners billed for $45,000

He’s 90, she’s 88. On July 25, 2016 Centrelink sent them a letter demanding that they pay back $22,239.82 each in excess pension payments. They were given 28 days to pay from the date of the letter. If they didn’t they would lose the pension, it would be put in the hands of a debt collector and interest added. In addition they would no longer have access to cancer drugs, costing $2,000 a month. Continue reading Centrelink fail: Ashgrove pensioners billed for $45,000

Australia, you are standing in it

flag_index_250 Last year I said:

    My brother and his wife hosted a street party where people hailed recently from seven different overseas countries. Yesterday one of my wife’s clients said she knew Aborigines who would just close their doors and cry.

And the TV news reported us “playing and protesting”. Nothing has changed this year, but I’m sure eventually it will. Chris Graham, the indigenous editor of New Matilda, asks the simple question:

    If your ancestors were dispossessed, slaughtered and had their land and their children stolen, would you celebrate the date on which that all began?

Continue reading Australia, you are standing in it

Vale Zygmunt Bauman

Zygmunt Bauman, sociologist and philosopher, died on 9 January. He had a particular place in my life, which I’ll contextualise later. My introduction was in 1999 through his book Work, consumerism and the new poor.

The message of the book can be simply stated. With the industrial revolution work was deemed intrinsically good, and more was better. It was preached from the pulpits. The poor had utility as a reserve workforce, to keep the cost of labour down.

The modern world, however, is shaped by consumption rather than production, and production could be automated or moved offshore. So the poor no longer have any utility, they are simply defective consumers.

Saturday salon 14/1

1. Sussan Ley takes one for the team

Health and sports minister Sussan Ley took one for the team and resigned before inquiries into her expenses had concluded. Apparently while she was there journalists who currently have nothing much else to report on were digging into everyone’s business, like the four ministers attending the PM’s private New Year function.

Earlier Bronwyn Bishop amused everyone by saying that criticism of Ms Ley was socialism on the march. Continue reading Saturday salon 14/1

Saturday salon 7/1

1. Christian Porter, it is unethical to extort money from people with information that is just f**king wrong!

Richard Dennis says that the government should be a model litigant, but if a company did what it is doing to recover Centrelink ‘overpayments’ it would be fraud. Continue reading Saturday salon 7/1

Goodbye 2016, hello 2017

I had a look at the archive, and last January we were confronted with the question One-third of Australian pensioners live in poverty?, an overheating planet, and groups of men humiliating, sexually assaulting and robbing women around the main railway station in Cologne on New Year’s Eve.

A year later it has become clear that opportunistic, small-scale acts of terrorism are going to be with us for a very long time.

Meanwhile Britain voted to leave the EU, Americans shocked the world by electing Donald Trump, and after eight excruciating weeks of campaigning, Malcolm Turnbull fell over the line, and with a dummy spit on election night, and as one Coalition insider said, “with his authority diminished and his judgment is being questioned on multiple levels”, proceeded to try to govern with a polyglot senate. Continue reading Goodbye 2016, hello 2017

Saturday salon 24/12

1. Party time for the Tories

Christmas is the silly season, it seems, for LNP politicians. George Christiansen likes to keep himself in the news. Earlier this month he cam back from the Philippines praising President Rodrigo Duterte for his program of summarily shooting people involved in drugs. Duterte showed the way himself when he was mayor, personally shooting three people to show how it is done.

Now Christiansen is saying he may have to leave the Liberal Party unless the Turnbull Government starts acting like a proper conservative government. There have been consistent rumours that Cory Bernadi is on the move also. Both are fans of Trump. Continue reading Saturday salon 24/12