Sunday, 30 September 2012

Burning the scriptures

I would like to dedicate this post to the Australian Christian Lobby, and in particular it's leader Jim Wallace

On this Blasphemy Day, I have printed out the "clobber" scriptures of the Bible, which allegedly condemn all us gays. This is certainly subject to much disagreement amongst Christian gays. Which of course other Christians don't agree with. So in honour of all the gay hatred perpetrated throughout the world and over the centuries simply because of these few scriptures, I have today burnt them in protest.

Here are those particular scriptures:
Genesis 19:1-5 (KJV) 
And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; 

And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat. 

But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. 

Leviticus 18:22 (KJV) 
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. 

Leviticus 20:13 (KJV ) 
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. 

Deuteronomy 23:17 (KJV) 
There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel. 

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (KJV) 
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 

1 Timothy 1:9-10 (KJV) 
Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 

Romans 1:21-31 (NKJV) 
because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man -- and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 

Jude 1:6-7 (NKJV) 
And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. 

Happy Blasphemy Day!

Today it has arrived, Blasphemy Day. Oh it's like all my dreams have come true! 
I only found out about this wondrous international event recently, but now forever more Sept 30th will be a highlight in my calendar year. 

I'm almost bursting with excitement about what to do, so many things but so little time. Unfortunately I don't have a bible to burn (you know, that utterly dreadful 2,000 year old archaic anachronism that was supposed to be the pinnacle of human moral evolution). So I thought about just printing out the gay scriptures and burning them. There's not many, would fit on a page. Those ones that the fundies all like to use to put shit on me.

But then I thought instead of doing something first that's just going to enrage the religious, perhaps an intellectual post in regard to what has probably been the biggest load of bullshit ever to take hold in the minds of men; the assertion that Jesus actually existed. The evidence suggests otherwise.

Not to mention that this Jesus bloke has got magical powers and is in the sky or something, whereby people talk to him like the Mr magic man who's going to save them from whatever crisis they're presently in. Oh, and he's invisible so you can't see him. Or hear him either (unless of course you're like my neighbour and get alcohol psychosis and hear voices that way). But even though you can't see or hear him, you have to obey him. WTF?

Anyway, maybe a look at Horus first, an Egyptian god who was thousands of years before this Jesus guy. This is him here:

Strange looking fellow I must say. Horus is though an example of where the story of Jesus comes from. There's lots of sites on the net discussing this likelihood, not only of Horus but other pre-existing deities as well. But here for example is something to think about:

A List of the similarities between Horus and Jesus: 
  • Horus and the Father are one. Jesus says, "I and My Father are one. He that seeth Me, seeth Him that sent Me." 
  • Horus is the Father seen in the Son. Jesus claims to be the Son in whom the Father is revealed. 
  • Horus was the light of the world, the light that is represented by the symbolical eye, the sign of salvation. Jesus is made to declare that He is the light of the world. 
  • Horus was the way, the truth, the life by name and in person. Jesus is made to assert that he is the way, the truth, and the life. 
  • Horus was the plant, the shoot, the natzar. Jesus is made to say: "I am the true vine." 
  • Horus says: It is I who traverse the heaven; I go round the Sekhet-Arru (the Elysian Fields); Eternity has been assigned to me without end. Lo! I am heir of endless time and my attribute is eternity. Jesus says: " I am come down from Heaven. For this is the will of the Father that everyone who beholdeth the Son and believeth in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (He, too, claims to be lord of eternity.) 
  • Horus says: " I open the Tuat that I may drive away the darkness." Jesus says: " I am come a light unto the world." 
  • Horus says: I am equipped with thy words O Ra (the father in heaven) (ch.32) and repeat them to those who are deprived of breath. (ch.38). These were the words of the father in heaven. Jesus says: " The Father which sent me, he hath given me a commandment, what I should say and what I should speak. Whatsoever I speak, therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me." more
I remember being amazed when I started looking into this, especially after being so involved with religion early on. Had heard absolutely nothing of this before.

And here's some of a very well put together thing about this whole topic. 
1) Jesus most likely never existed. 

a) There is no mention of him by any contemporary historian from the early years of the first millennium. Although the Romans were known to have kept detailed government records, his name does not appear in any surviving documents or inscriptions. Josephus, a Jewish historian writing around 94 AD (sixty plus years after Jesus’ supposed death) mentions him only in passing, and even for those passages there remain a number of legitimate doubts as to their authenticity. Tacitus, writing in 116 AD also mentions him only briefly – his probable source being secondhand descriptions from self-confessed Christians in Rome at the time. This proves nothing whatsoever about Jesus existing, no more than children believing in Santa Clause proves the existence of an elf-run toy factory at the North Pole. All it shows is that there existed credulous members of a new cult within the Roman world decades after the time period in question. 
Following Jesus’ death on the cross, the Bible relates how, for a three hour period, “there was darkness over all the land” and a massive earthquake shook Jerusalem, and then, in a crowning act of supernatural extravagance worthy of any good zombie flick, “the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” (Matthew 27:45-53) One might think such amazing events would have drawn the attention of someone like Pliny the Elder, a Roman statesman and naturalist alive at the time, who spent his career scouring the Empire looking for unusual and inexplicable phenomena of which to write about, eventually losing his life while investigating the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. But alas, he spoke nary a word about Jesus. more
So there it is. I think of the above when I hear people crapping on about gays and all because their imaginary man in the sky (that you can't see or hear) reckons we're sinning. Actually, even if Jesus did exist, he said absolutely nothing about homosexuality. Zero. Zilch. Not one jot or tittle. 

Other than that, fuck man the guy would've lived 2,000 years ago if he did at all. Why the hell do people insist that today's modern secular societies should be influenced in any way at all by religious zealots from long ago. There is nothing morally superior about believing in fairy tales. Using those fairy tales to claim moral superiority is entirely absurd.

If people are so naive as to believe such things well then that's fine isn't it. We have freedom of religion and all, I don't care if people believe in the Great Spaghetti Monster and wear a colander on their head. Just don't expect me to, and don't use the Great Spaghetti Monster as a platform to claim I'm not as moral as them. 

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Sydney Mardi Gras

Was looking at the Mardi Gras site. Think maybe will go next time, isn't until next year. Last time I went I got there a bit late and couldn't hardly see anything. This is from the 2012 one.

Feature: Sydney Mardi Gras launch from mardigras on Vimeo.

Gay in the AFL

Jason Ball, a gay footballer, has been behind the push to get the AFL (Australian Football League) to play the anti-homophobia adds on the big screens at the grand final this year.


I don't follow AFL myself, but I was surprised to hear that there's currently not one  senior professional AFL player who has identified them self as gay. You'd think that statistically there'd be at least some. As is stated though, there appears to be something about the culture within football that makes people unwilling to say they're gay if they are. 
SOMETIMES he'd say he had a girlfriend. In the world of Aussie rules football, Jason Ball thought he had to play up his ''blokeyness''. When teammates sledged opposition players, calling them ''homo'' or ''fag'', he'd pretend not to care. Inside the footy club where he'd played since he was five, nobody knew he was gay.

''It was the one place I never thought I'd be able to come out. Ever. It just felt like a really hostile environment. I worried I'd be bullied, maybe I'd get kicked out of the side, maybe the opposition would treat me differently or I'd get abuse [from supporters] over the fence,'' he told The Sunday Age. ''I didn't know any footballers who were gay, so I could only assume the worst, and it scared me.''

The 24-year-old, who plays for Yarra Glen seniors in the Yarra Valley Mountain District Football League, is a rare voice in a football world that gay groups say is struggling to come to terms with homosexuality in its ranks.
The fact St Kilda's Stephen Milne escaped with a $3000 fine and an education course rather than a suspension, after calling Collingwood defender Harry O'Brien a ''f---ing homo'', implied that sexual vilification was treated less seriously than other forms of discrimination, Ball said.

''At high school I got picked on for being gay and those words were used to make me feel small and worthless. If you look at rates of suicide, self-harm and depression for gay kids, this is a serious issue. I was fine coming out to my school friends and my family but I was terrified coming out to my football team. That makes it the AFL's problem because this culture is in their sport.'' Read more
Also, Beyond Blue, the organisation that addresses depression issues, has supported Jason Ball with this and has decided to sponsor the Sydney Mardi Gras. Jeff Kennett of Beyond Blue has evidently changed his mind in regard to gay people.
Ms Carnell said Mr Kennett was passionate about improving the mental health of the GLBTI (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex) community. 

"There is lots of research to show that discrimination is solidly linked to greater incidence of depression and anxiety and even suicide among GLBTI people, so if people are discriminated against just for being who they are, that's not acceptable, and Jeff is an absolute advocate of that concept," Ms Carnell said. 

"Mardi Gras is a great opportunity for us to get that message to one of our target audiences on a mass scale." 

Mr Kennett has become an unlikely champion of gay rights in recent times. 

Earlier this month when Prime Minister Julia Gillard pulled out of speaking engagement at an Australian Christian Lobby conference after managing director Jim Wallace made homophobic comments, Mr Kennett offered to take her place to debate the religious leader. 

He also backed gay country footballer Jason Ball in his successful campaign to persuade the AFL to show anti-homophobia adverts during the finals series. 

Mr Kennett is now working with the AFL and Mr Ball to help the league develop more inclusive policies and investigate a gay pride round next season. Read more

Friday, 28 September 2012

Housing form completed

Well, the form from hell is complete. Went and got it all finished yesterday at ACON. It has 33 pages altogether, most of them printed both sides. The bloke had to put it all in a big envelope.

The hard to answer questions we went through one by one. He was able to put into their language what I was trying to say. The form was still too rigid though, and will maybe take my daughter next week to lodge it (have an appt next Thursday). What the difficulty is, is that my daughter doesn't earn enough to pay tax (less than the new $18,000 tax free threshold) and with the cash from the childcare that she earns varying from week to week, it's very hard to prove how much (or little) she actually earns. So we're going to have to have a discussion about that as there wasn't any way to put that circumstance into the form.

The other thing is he was saying that it's likely they'll want to move me into their existing housing stock that they own rather than pay the private rent where I am. I'm a bit more open minded about it than before, but I'm really not sure if I want to move or not. Have been here for 5 years now and very settled. It's also right near everything with public transport and the kids my daughter looks after. I'd have to take a look at the places offered before I make a decision about that.

Was a funny part of it. One question was whether I'd accept a place in a high rise building. Thought about that for a minute and remembered a conversation with the psychologist a few months back, that I'd decided to change my suicide method to jumping off a tall building rather than having a hit of heroine. So I said I didn't think moving into a high rise was a very good idea. Poor guy looked a bit shocked. As he did when he read the psychologist report.

It was very hard going through some of the subject matter again too. I felt terrible going there on the bus, to the point of getting flashbacks to some of the painful episodes in the past. That happens sometimes, an image of an event and the pain surrounding it comes into my head from nowhere. I felt a bit upset after the meeting I must say.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Julian Assange addresses the UN - transcript

Good on you mate.....  


Transcript here. Some of it:
I want to tell you the story of a young American soldier in Iraq.

The soldier was born in Cresent Oaklahoma to a Welsh mother and US Navy father. His parents fell in love. His father was stationed at a US military base in Wales.

The soldier showed early promise as a boy, winning top prize at science fairs 3 years in a row.

He believed in the truth, and like all of us, hated hypocrisy. He believed in liberty and the right for all of us to pursue happiness. He believed in the values that founded an independent United States. He believed in Madison, he believed in Jefferson and he believed in Paine. Like many teenagers, he was unsure what to do with his life, but he knew he wanted to defend his country and he knew he wanted to learn about the world. He entered the US military and, like his father, trained as an intelligence analyst.

In late 2009, aged 21, he was deployed to Iraq.

There, it is alleged, he saw a US military that often did not follow the rule of law, and in fact, engaged in murder and supported political corruption.

It is alleged, it was there, in Baghdad, in 2010 that he gave to WikiLeaks, and to the world, details that exposed the torture of Iraqis, the murder of journalists and the detailed records of over 120,000 civilian killings in Iraq and in Afghanistan. He is also alleged to have given WikiLeaks 251,000 US diplomatic cables, which then went on to help trigger the Arab Spring. This young soldier’s name is Bradley Manning.

Allegedly betrayed by an informer, he was then imprisoned in Baghdad, imprisoned in Kuwait, and imprisoned in Virginia, where he was kept for 9 months in isolation and subject to severe abuse. The UN Special Rapporteur for Torture, Juan Mendez, investigated and formally found against the United States.

Hillary Clinton’s spokesman resigned. Bradley Manning, science fair all-star, soldier and patriot was degraded, abused and psychologically tortured by his own government. He was charged with a death penalty offence. These things happened to him, as the US government tried to break him, to force him to testify against WikiLeaks and me.

As of today Bradley Manning has been detained without trial for 856 days.

The legal maximum in the US military is 120 days.

The US administration is trying to erect a national regime of secrecy. A national regime of obfuscation. A regime where any government employee revealing sensitive information to a media organization can be sentenced to death, life imprisonment or for espionage and journalists from a media organization with them. more
Also at RT are a couple of Questions and answers after the speech:

Fairfax Newspapers: The US military officially designated Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as ‘enemies of the United States’ through declassified US Air Force counterintelligence documents. In light of these reports, do you believe this vindicates your decision to seek asylum in Ecuador, and what do you think this says – the statements made by the Australian and American governments regarding this issue? 

Julian Assange: Those documents are now in full on the WikiLeaks website, just released tonight. They formed a part of the submission that we made to Ecuador. We had those documents for some months and of course were very concerned about them, but it was necessary to conduct, because of the sensitivities of some of the people involved in that investigation, to prevent their release until more recently. But yes, I encourage everyone to read those. It is an unusual position that I am in and the organization is in, and yes, it is difficult sometimes. 

But it is also completely absurd. I mean, these claims against us are absurd. For example, that the US military should designate me and / or WikiLeaks as ‘the enemy’ in its formal investigation – investigation which carries a death penalty offense – into a person who was alleged to have come to my extradition hearing. And in the same document, it speaks about the victim being that of society, when there is no allegation that any documents have been released or published by us. 

So I think that goes to the… to really quite sort of absurdist, neo-McCarthyist fervor that exists with some of these government departments in the US. I am hopeful that the White House over time is starting to shed that, but enormous wheels have been set in motion, as I described before, with over a dozen different US intelligence and investigative organizations churning through this, and it’s a very difficult process to stop once it starts. Even once everyone sees that it is completely absurd and counter to the values that the US should be trying to present to the world. more
Here is the PDF of those documents, from the WikiLeaks site: 

"Do not resuscitate" - tattoo

Laughed when I saw this. I've often joked (sort of seriously though) about getting one like that myself. Think I'd make mine a bit more artistic though. There's probably some good ways to write that that are much more pleasing to the eye.

It's in my will, if I'm on the ventilator and not coming back, I've given my daughter the legal right to pull the plug.

Spent 3 days on a ventilator in the Great Kidney Collapse last year, second hospital visit in Jan. Don't remember any of it, but am told the doctors were discussing what my wishes might be regarding pulling the plug. I woke up though. Took a long time to recover from that, I was a mess. Unsteady on my feet, couldn't talk very well as I couldn't remember words.

Wikileaks are not terrorists

This shit fuckin pisses me right off. When the fuck is the US military gonna stop drinking the kool aid and recognise that their futile pursuit of Julian Assange is doing nothing but further destroying their (already on life support) reputation around the world as some kind of light on the hill, or whatever. Instead it's showing up the USA to be a paranoid hypocrite who's ready to plaster a "terrorist" label on anyone they feel like. Today I read in The Age what we've pretty well known all along, the US military has labelled Assange as an "enemy of the United States". This means they can kill him, or throw him in Gitmo to rot, without fuckin trial or charge. 
THE US military has designated Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as enemies of the United States — the same legal category as the al-Qaeda terrorist network and the Taliban insurgency.

Declassified US Air Force counter-intelligence documents, released under US freedom-of-information laws, reveal that military personnel who contact WikiLeaks or WikiLeaks supporters may be at risk of being charged with "communicating with the enemy", a military crime that carries a maximum sentence of death.
"It appears that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are the 'enemy'. An enemy is dealt with under the laws of war, which could include killing, capturing, detaining without trial, etc."

The Australian government has repeatedly denied knowledge of any US intention to charge Assange or seek his extradition.

However, Australian diplomatic cables released to Fairfax Media under freedom-of-information laws over the past 18 months have confirmed the continuation of an "unprecedented" US Justice Department espionage investigation targeting Assange and WikiLeaks.

The Australian diplomatic reports canvassed the possibility that the US may eventually seek Assange's extradition on conspiracy or information-theft-related offences to avoid extradition problems arising from the nature of espionage as a political offence and the free-speech protections in the US constitution.
Assange is scheduled this morning to speak by video link to a meeting on his asylum case on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The meeting will be attended by Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino. Read more
Pretty bloody dangerous to be a reporter these days isn't it. The Australian gov should grow a fuckin back bone and stand up to this hysterical witch hunt by the American gov. Assange is an Australian citizen and they've abandoned him in exchange for platitudes from America about "the alliance". Well, true friends can disagree without fear of retribution.

I'm reminded of when I signed an online thing from GetUp here, that was to be printed in the New York Times. It was printed, and we all got sent a copy of what appeared in the newspaper:

It reads:
Dear President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder: 

We, as Australians, condemn calls for violence, including assassination, against Australian citizen and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, or for him to be labeled a terrorist, enemy combatant or be treated outside the ordinary course of justice in any way. 

As Thomas Jefferson said, “information is the currency of democracy.” Publishing leaked information in collaboration with major news outlets, as Wikileaks and Mr. Assange have done, is not a terrorist act. 

Australia and the United States are the strongest of allies. Our soldiers serve side by side and we’ve experienced, and condemned, the consequences of terrorism together. To label Wikileaks a terrorist organisation is an insult to those Australians and Americans who have lost their lives to acts of terrorism and to terrorist forces. 

If Wikileaks or their staff have broken international or national laws, let that case be heard in a just and fair court of law. At the moment, no such charges have been brought. 

We are writing as Australians to say what our Government should have said: that all Australian citizens deserve to be free from persecution, threats of violence and detention without charge, especially from our friend and ally, the United States. 

We call upon you to stand up for our shared democratic principles of the presumption of innocence and freedom of information. link
So there it is. Free speech it seems only applies if the American gov agrees. What a bunch of hypocrites. And they wonder why people outside America have got the shits with them.

This is yet another example of American policy being an unmitigated public relations disaster, even in Australia which is considered the closest of allies. Does the US military and gov think we're all dumb fucks here? Do they actually think they can behave like this without any repercussions at all in our attitudes and thoughts on the US? Are they really that stupid? Australia right now is very sensitive to the whole jail with no charge thing after David Hicks (also abandoned by the Australian gov as Howard was too busy kissing Bush's ass) spent 5 years in the Gitmo Gulag without charge.

Honestly, they're behaving like a bunch of school kids playing wars in the playground, only they're a bit more adept at the hysterical rhetoric. "Light on the hill"? Bullshit. There's more light coming out of my ass right now than from the American leadership.

BTW, to date Assange still hasn't be charged with anything.  

Baseball bat reality

Today I have my review for how I'm going with the form from hell (Housing assistance). 

Yesterday I picked up the psychologists support letter. And what a tragic tail it contains. Thought I was used to reading about how fucked in the head I was, but this one for some reason seems especially dire. Two pages of dire-ness. Maybe I shouldn't have read the thing, I dunno, but I did want to scan it to keep it on file for any future reference if needed. Got rather depressed last night after seeing that. 

I try not to think about these things generally, but reading such a factual and straightforward document that explains it all in such a clear and concise way.... it can be like reality hitting you over the head with a baseball bat. Not the most pleasant thing.

So I guess just keep plodding on as usual. Am feeling a bit better today about it. Think it was a shock at first read. Wonder what the housing bloke at ACON with think of it. This is something that perhaps could be given some more thought by the various arms of gov, that engaging in an exercise like this form also involves getting reminded of things that would rather be forgotten. 

As I've said, I already went through most of this with the disability pension application. If the Federal Centrelink people could talk to the State Dept of Housing people, all this duplication could have been avoided. At the moment I feel like I'm just coming up with more paperwork to justify the existence of more paper-pushers. 

I appreciate all the help available from gov of course, but all this bureaucracy is just fuckin bullshit man. I'm sure there must be more efficient ways to provide said services to me without me drowning in the bullshit they're feeding me, or having to jump through fuck knows how many hoops. FFS how many more gov depts do I have to individually prove to that I actually do have HIV and I'm not just pretending?

How long is this application going to take to go through I wonder? Does it take the NSW Dept of Housing the same amount of time to "attach" a document to my file as it does the Dept of Human services (i.e. one week)?   

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Living under drones

This is a short video about what's happening in Pakistan, and the consequences of bombing people with drones without even declaring war on them.

I look at that video and it's like you get numb to it all. Like it's no surprise that it's happening. Like there's nothing that can be done about it. Which is a bit scary really.

The worst thing about it was when it was mentioned that some of these people being bombed knew nothing about America than this. Talk about sowing the seeds of hatred.

No marriage vote: behind the scenes

GetUp is sending out emails giving details of how our parliamentary masters elected representatives voted the other day to defeat the gay marriage bill before parliament. If you're a member of GetUp then they send you how your MP voted in your electorate, in my case Peter Garrett voted yes (at least he's good for something).

If not a GetUp member, there's a complete list of how all the MP's voted here at the GetUp site.

In the email they state:

Part of the reason the yes vote was low is because Tony Abbott did not allow Coalition MPs to vote with their conscience. Many, like Malcolm Turnbull, Mal Washer and Teresa Gambaro, actually had to vote against their stated beliefs on the issue; other supporters abstained from voting in the Senate. This we know for sure: the only way we’ll ever see leadership on this issue from Canberra is if Coalition MPs who support ending marriage discrimination speak out inside their party room for the right to a conscience vote. It's important that we congratulate those who have, and ask them to continue doing just that. If you're still not sure what to say, click here for some tips so you can ask your member to step up and start the conversation.

This issue isn’t going to disappear – there are yet more bills before Federal Parliament and the states like Tasmania are moving fast. With a majority of Australians now on board, it’s only a matter of time before politicians catch up. For many MPs, this journey has already happened. Peter Garrett, for instance, was inspired by Barack Obama to lend his support – despite public criticism from some members of his local branch. So it's really important that we thank these people, especially those who stuck their neck out because they believed it was the right thing to do, not necessarily the easy thing.

Politicians rarely hear from ordinary constituents after the fact, and they almost never get thanked. So whether you’re calling to say you’re happy or disappointed with how your MP voted, hearing from you sends a message that you care how they voted. It shows you’re paying attention, reading beyond the headlines and are committed to holding them accountable.
Although change might not happen as rapidly as we'd hope, we're making steady progress and we know it's only a matter of time until marriage discrimination is ended once and for all. Sometimes it takes patience; often it takes persistence. Always it’s worth it.
I was also interested to read what went on in the local ALP Kingsford-Smith electorate when Garrett made it clear he was going to vote yes for marriage equality. Basically the branch spat the dummy, sending him an open letter which was published in the local rag the Southern Courier. Here is some of that letter:
Dear Mr Garrett We note the ALP Maroubra Branch and Kingsford-Smith Federal Electorate Council’s recent motions supporting the existing definition of marriage in the Commonwealth Marriage Act - that marriage is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

Your public position, as we understand it, is that you will vote to change the definition to a union between any two adults which will make same sex and heterosexual marriage legally the same.

The Maroubra Branch members have specifically raised the following issues to better understand your position.
Research strongly shows that same sex unions have significantly different normative values to traditional marriages between men and women. Do you accept that the definition change you support also calls into question other marital norms, eg permanence; fidelity; sexual consummation; impediments of consanguinity; the limitation to two people only? If not, why?

Do you acknowledge that our society may be limited in its ability to foresee the consequences of diluting the simple clear model of marriage that we have?

Do you think that schools that teach that marriage is not and cannot be between two people of the same sex should be coerced by law to either teach that same sex marriage is the equivalent of heterosexual marriage or suffer deregistration by Education Departments or other penalties?

Do you accept the assertion by some advocates of same sex marriage that an adherence to the traditional definition of marriage is ipso facto homophobic and bigoted?
Do you accept that people who wish to preserve traditional marriage in its current simple unambiguous form can still hold genuine love, respect and charity towards gay and lesbian people? more
Pretty incredible, especially when the Federal Labor Party changed it's platform to embrace gay marriage. WTF is the local ALP branch doing coming out against that? No wonder I don't vote Labor. The local branch at least is certainly not representative of community attitude, particularly given this is the eastern suburbs of Sydney which has the highest concentration of gays in Australia. How could they be so bloody ignorant and small minded?

Anyway, here's most of Garrett's reply.
The National Conference of the Labor Party considered this matter most recently in November 2011. The platform now states “Labor will amend the Marriage Act to ensure equal access to marriage under statute for all adult couples irrespective of sex who have a mutual commitment to a shared life”. 

Conference also determined that Members of Parliament are free to vote on this matter as informed by their conscience and on that basis I have decided I will support the Bill. 

Additionally, I have sought the views of the constituents of Kingsford Smith, with a majority in favour, and also note the Kingsford Smith FEC resolution. 

The ambit of the questions you raise in the letter, for the most part, go to the issue of whether or not additional recognition of same sex couples as is contemplated by amending the Marriage Act, will in some way weaken the traditional bonds of marriage and cause adverse impacts on children and society as a whole. 

I do not believe this will be the case nor do I consider there is substantial evidence to support this view nor the other propositions you have put in your correspondence to me. 

For the record I am a strong supporter of marriage, having been in that happy state for 27 years and I greatly value family life. 

At the same time, I don’t consider that sexual orientation in and of itself is sufficient reason to deny any person the right to which others are entitled. In that sense I find myself in agreement with President Obama, amongst others, who have identified the denial of this right as an important issue to be considered. 

Just as I do not believe we should discriminate against people on the basis of race or religious views, the same applies in this instance to the question of choice of partner and the equal recognition of that choice and commitment by the state. 

It is important to note that the Jones Bill does not impose any obligation on ministers of religion to recognise same sex marriage. 

I am firmly of the view that the integrity and commitment within any relationship lies at the heart of durable family and community relationships we all value. 

I don’t believe the denial of the rights or opportunities of one group over another will contribute to this shared societal goal of healthy relationships. 
Indeed it is clear to me that there are now differing and evolving attitudes and practices to marriage, for instance the increasing number of de facto relationships, and that enabling an additional group of people to have their joint commitment recognised by the state as marriage should not be seen as weakening its meaning or import. the rest
Think he actually did quite well in this case. Going against his whole local branch and listening to what his constituents were saying instead. 

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Income inequality after the GFC

There's something going a bit wrong with things as we come out of the GFC, or try and work our way through it, depending on how you look at it. 

I don't begrudge rich people BTW. This isn't about jealousy or culture wars (as the conservatives accuse anyone who mentions income distribution). This is simply about fairness, that's all. Our society is far from perfect, but I do think fairness is a worthy goal to work towards. 

It appears the rich here are taking a greater percentage of income than they used to. You'd think after the 30 year failure of our system we'd be wanting to do things a bit different this time around. But it appears not. The rich here, the top 1%, are currently increasing their percentage of Australia's income, again.

THE 2008-09 financial year - when the global financial crisis took hold - was a bad one for Australia's rich.

As share prices dived, markets froze in fear and everyone's wealth shrank, the top 1 per cent of income earners saw their share of Australia's total taxable income slashed from 10.1 per cent to 8.6 per cent.

But the following year, 2009-10, was better at the top. Calculations by economist and Labor MP Andrew Leigh show that - even after tax accountants had done their best - the top 1 per cent of earners declared 8.9 per cent of all taxable income in Australia. This was almost twice their share 30 years ago. Read more
Pfffft. Here we go again..... How long's it gonna take this time before nothing trickles down, again. Although it doesn't seem a hell of a lot of an increase and is still lower in percentage terms than before the GFC, I think it's a worrying trend.

Same thing in America BTW, only worse:
The top 1 percent of earners in the United States accounted for 20 percent of income in 2008 more
This one is incredible: 
Before the recession, from 2002 to 2007, the richest 1 per cent enjoyed a generous 65 per cent of the gain in total national income. In 2010, it was a startling 93 per cent. more

Amazing statistic

There's commentary aplenty about the Muslim riots weekend before last here. The situation has calmed down and it was peaceful last weekend both in Sydney and Melbourne, but the media is full of pontificators all giving their particular take on it all. I think that's a good thing. A national discussion analysing the events.

There's one thing mentioned in all this that's really surprised me. Up until now I've pretty much just assumed that we in the West have given the Muslim world an absolutely terrible time and been responsible for the majority of Muslim deaths in the last 70 years or so. This isn't only not true, but it's grossly untrue.

It was in some opinion piece somewhere where I read a reference to this, can't remember which opinion piece there's been so many. I thought "wow" and wanted some cold hard statistics to actually see this in fact, rather than taking a comment in an opinion piece as right. 

I ended up here:

In a different perspective, some 11,000,000 Muslims have been violently killed since 1948, of which 35,000, or 0.3 percent, died during the sixty years of fighting Israel, or just 1 out of every 315 Muslim fatalities. In contrast, over 90 percent of the 11 million who perished were killed by fellow Muslims. More
Far out. It appears the rage against the West is perhaps a touch misguided.

Smooth sailing (so far) with form from hell

Have been printing out bank statements for the form from hell. Also the latest payment statement from Centrelink. When I logged on to Centrelink it wanted me to set up an all encompassing login for which would be linked to everything, meaning I could access Medicare, Centrelink, and Dept of Human Resources all from the same place with one login. Been putting it off for a bit, so did it today. Wasn't hard at all, and was even able to use the same secret questions as with the Centrelink login.

Anyway printing the stuff out wasn't such a hassle. Seven pages worth. Amazingly nothing at all went wrong with the printer (it has a mind of it's own) and there were no delays. The working account that I have the debit card ended up being 3 pages with a months transactions so even that wasn't so bad. Lucky for the internet or I'd have to be traipsing around to all these places to get everything. This form is nightmare enough without doing that as well. 

Looked at the money in the big account and I've not gone through much of it at all so far. I do live rather frugally. Thought would've gone through more by now. Haven't looked at the thing for nearly a month, just have the auto thingo set up on it to transfer enough for the rent each week so can just leave it without worrying. First time I'd looked at the working account too for weeks. All these auto thingys make it so much easier, takes the hassle and worry out of sitting there each week going through it all.

Was reading earlier they're talking about getting rid of large cash denominations, like the $50 and $100 notes. The Reserve Bank is saying eventually there'll be no need for large cash payments with all the cards around now, and to keep them simply encourages the cash economy. I dunno if it'll happen, doesn't bother me as it's mostly cashless anyway at the moment. 

Those big payments I did to pay the debts, can't imagine going into a bank, withdrawing it all in cash, then going to another bank and paying there. I don't even have a cheque book, that went out years ago. If someone gives me a check (can't remember the last time) I have to get the bank teller to fill the details out on the deposit slip as I don't know how to do it any more. Went into the chemist other day to get prescriptions and they had this new fangled thing where you just tap the debit card on it and hey presto it's paid, anything up to $100. WTF?

I also got a letter emailed today from the $guru, the support letter for the form I was waiting for, just waiting on the one from the psychologist now (they're always entertaining to read). Got the medical assessment done yesterday at the doctors. It all does seem to be going smoothly so far with the form, it was just that mental block at the start that was near impossible to get past.  

Monday, 24 September 2012

"Cranks and crazies", Huffington Post

Rightly, looks like there a few annoyed Americans over there after Australian Treasurer and deputy PM called some Tea Party Republicans "cranks and crazies". The story has been carried in the Huffington Post, which BTW has a bit more juicy quoting that I've seen in the media here:
Wayne Swan, who also is treasurer and his center-left Labor Party government's ranking finance minister, took aim at the tea party during a speech to a business forum, breaking a convention among Australia's major parties to steer clear of U.S. domestic political debates.

"Let's be blunt and acknowledge the biggest threat to the world's biggest economy are the cranks and crazies that have taken over a part of the Republican Party," Swan said.

He said "the extreme right tea party wing" of the Republican Party had held the national interest hostage during last year's debate over the U.S. borrowing limit despite President Barack Obama's "goodwill and strong efforts."
He said it was imperative that Congress reach an agreement to support growth and avoid a "fiscal cliff" of deep government spending cuts and higher taxes in January, which he said could push the U.S. economy back into recession. More
Interestingly, Prime Minister Gillard has backed Swan over his comments:
But the Prime Minister said Mr Swan was simply doing his job. “The strength of the American economy matters to the global economy,” she said. “The Treasurer has been making appropriate comments today about potential risks for the global economy and consequently for the Australian economy. You would expect him to be doing that.”. More
Which I found a bit strange. After all, according to the Huffington Post, there is apparently a "convention among Australia's major parties to steer clear of US domestic political debates". Is there? I didn't know that. How informative the HP is, I get to be instructed by them on a "convention" that evidently exists here.  

You'd expect therefore this to be the first line of attack by the opposition here, who'd have howled long and hard about breaking this convention. But no. I would say that at the most it's a bit inappropriate, but there's been no attack by the Federal opposition here about the breaking of some convention. Pretty much all they've said is accuse him of hating Republicans, or some other lame assed thing like that. 

So does the American gov also have some sort of imaginary convention about involving itself in the domestic affairs of Australia? Apparently not, if Bush's treatment of the failed Labor leader in the Mark Latham experiment is anything to go by back in 2004. This too was in the lead up to a Federal election here, with Latham being the opposition leader and at the time (if I recall correctly) was ahead in the polls. He wanted to get out of Iraq:

The Opposition Leader, Mark Latham, has refused to give ground after an unprecedented attack by President George Bush over his pledge to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq, plunging Labor's relations with the US to a new low.

"Nothing President Bush has said today changes our hopes and expectations about the future," Mr Latham said after Mr Bush described Labor's proposed pull-out as "disastrous" and implied that he should not be elected prime minister.

"Labor never wanted the troops there in the first place. We intend to have them home by Christmas."

Analysts described Mr Bush's strong attack on Labor policy at a White House press conference with the Prime Minister, John Howard, as an unprecedented intervention in Australian domestic politics that would put the alliance under strain if Mr Latham and Mr Bush won elections later this year.

Mr Latham issued a declaration on Iraq policy, repeating Labor's claims that the Government's policies were making Australia a bigger target and diverting resources from the "real" war on terrorism.

He also said the recent revelations of prisoner abuses had given terrorists the best recruitment campaign they could wish for, that Australian troops had been sent to war "for reasons that were not true", and the war was contributing to higher petrol prices.

Mr Latham restated his position that Labor supported the alliance but reserved its right to disagree over Iraq. "Labor strongly supports the American alliance first established by the Curtin Labor Government during World War II."

In Washington, Mr Howard called on Mr Latham to address the issues raised when Mr Bush said Labor's withdrawal pledge would embolden terrorists and reveal the West as weak. "Mr Latham has not addressed the issues raised by Mr Bush - he should do so."More
Pot, Kettle, black? Which sort of makes me wonder, is this thing by Wayne Swan a bit of a payback for Bush and his Republican cohorts back in 2004 bagging the then Labor opposition leader? I mean seriously, what can the Republicans say about it? They did it to Labor, so why can't Labor do it back to them?

BTW, here's a paper here reporting about the reporting in the Huffington Post:
Treasurer Wayne Swan's "cranks and crazies" attack on the US Tea Party has a few Americans simmering online. 

But many reckon his comments are "spot on" and hope their fellow US citizens will notice how the rest of the world views them. 

In a speech on Friday, Australia's deputy prime minister said the Tea Party had taken over parts of the US Republican Party and was preventing Congress resolving its budget problem, the so-called "fiscal cliff". 

When asked if calling the Tea Party "cranks and crazies" was inflammatory in a presidential election year, Mr Swan replied it would be "pretty inflammatory" to see a country default.Read more 

Doctor visit, medical assessment

Seeing the Dr later on today. I have to get him to fill out the medical assessment for the form from hell; proving once again to another gov dept that yes I'm HIV+ amongst other things and am really fucked up. It's a bit depressing actually, I mean I know I'm fucked up and having to prove it again means revisiting that fucked up-ness again. Dunno what it is, but for this form I just can't get motivated about it and got some kind of mental block.

Might ask him about my shoulder and neck pain while I'm at it, if I remember. It's better than it was, but it's been 3 months since I stopped working and some doays has been hurting very badly. Have been using way less Panadol (the magic elixir) last few weeks so I suppose that's something. I assume it's simply tight muscles from work. 

I better get other things together as well for the form from hell, as I have the review of how it's all going filling out the bloody thing this Thursday. Still waiting on support letters. Ugh, I have to print out my entire bank history for the last whole month too. I think that's a bit silly with the working account, fuck I use a debit card all the time now (instead of an evil credit card) and not much cash, the last months transaction will be fuckin pages and pages. Oh well, I guess that's what they want....

Have filled out all the bits of the form that I felt I could answer with no doubting what the question was on about. There's a few that I've left blank and will have to ask about on Thursday.

Anti-homophobe adds: an Australian first

Surprisingly to me, Australia hasn't had adds before like this. I didn't know that.

They're interesting, as normally you don't think about the subtle innuendo that sometimes works it's way into daily conversation. It is a put down, inferring that who you are is bad. Some of the comments are blatant as well. 

Personally I'm the sort of person to either let something slide or mock them back with humour. Like when the bloke puts a crown on the desk, I'd probably make a big deal "Oh thank you darling, it's just beautiful!" or some shit like that. But that's just me. Some people aren't as forthright as I am, and they don't deserve to be demeaned in such a way.

The adds:

Also an online resource here:
No to homophobia


Maybe the adds will educate people who may not even realise how hurtful their remarks can be? It is true after all that we're well over-represented in numbers relating to suicide and depression. Perhaps a better community understanding of the subject wouldn't go astray.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Israel is Apartheid?

funniest thing in months........

Oh my fuckin god....  I can't remember last time I laughed this hard.......

Peaceful Irony

I couldn't resist. It's not from last weekend in Sydney. Found it at The Chive.

Issues of not working

Went to my last dental appt the other day. Was telling him that I'd not be able to come back after this as there's no more gov money going to pay for private dental treatment for me with the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme coming to an end. We got to talking about what had been happening with me lately, and I said I'd been redundant at work and was now on a disability pension.

His reaction was a bit strange. He straight away judged my situation as being bad by asking "So how did a young bloke like you end up in this predicament?" (I'm 50). There wasn't even a question asking if I was OK in being in that situation. Then he followed it with "What do you dooooo all day?" 

He was completely unable to grasp that my not working was actually a good thing. FFS it's not as if I've never worked or paid any tax. Thirty years in a very physically demanding industry has to count for something. And believe me, you work hard when you work in the printing industry, it's no walk in the park. 

It was only my last job that the factory was air conditioned, and that was for the computers in other depts, not us with our machines. Most places are simply tin roofed factories, many of them poorly ventilated. You'll have a hot humid day of 35 degrees C and the place doesn't cool down overnight. You go in there in the morning at 7am and it's still fuckin 35 degrees in the place. But they still want you to go the same speed, lifting tonnes a day. 

This was the situation that I was looking at when I thought about doing agency work; these are the sorts of places I'd be sent to. Yeah, the money good at about $35 an hour I think, but with the company being charged about $60 or so an hour they'd want fuckin blood man. That, and I'd be working 5 day weeks on occasion, likely expected to do overtime. In the end I just don't think I could've done it any-more, not at 50 years old, HIV+, chronic kidney failure, and clinical depression along with post traumatic stress.

It was either go back to work and drive my body completely into the ground when I'm at my weakest I've ever been, or go on disability. I chose the later. I don't regret it one bit. Don't feel guilty at all. Yes, it's good that that option was available to me, we're very lucky here in Australia as there's many other places in the world where I'd have simply had to work despite my health. It's a good thing I'm on disability now.  

It's been 3 months since the job ended. It has been an adjustment mentally I'd have to say. Before that I'd worked all my life. For many many years I had an extremely good record of attendance and performance, a very strong work ethic. Suddenly not working there has to be an adjustment there to how I think. Comments like above don't help.

In hindsight I honestly don't know how I worked that last 18 months. I was talking about this to the psychologist last time. Fucks sake, I'd just finished 2 months of dialysis and then went straight back to fuckin work! I even had the central line still hanging out of my chest as they wanted to wait a couple of weeks in case it needed more use. I had a list by the bed for the morning as my brain wasn't functioning very well after the brain injury, to "get dressed, brush teeth, take pills, feed cat" in case I forgot something. A few times I was in tears on the side of the bed as I just felt like I couldn't do this. 

No, I'm not going back to that. I just can't. It was really hard going. On top of that I had that ass-hole factory manager chucking hissy fits about time off work. Fuck, I was lucky to be alive, let alone at work.

It worked out good in the end with the redundancy payout, but honestly I still don't know how I did it. Must have been in some kind of denial about how sick I actually was. 

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Republican "cranks and crazies": Treasurer

Occasionally a politician comes out with something that's actually almost in the same language us mere mortals speak in, even though it's in the media and on the national stage. I saw this the other day on the telly, what a laugh.

Australian Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan was addressing some financial thing (who cares WTF it was) and proceeded to come out with this little gem:

Mr Swan identified the biggest threat to a full resurgence in the United States economy as ''the cranks and crazies that have taken over a part of the Republican Party'' and preventing Congress resolving its budget problem, the so-called ''fiscal cliff''. 

''With the world watching, it is imperative that the US Congress resolve an agreement to support growth in the short term," he said. 

''In a throwback to a year ago, global markets are nervously watching the positioning of hardline elements of the Republican Party for signs that they will dangerously block reasonable attempts at compromise. 
"Let's be blunt and acknowledge the biggest threat to the world's biggest economy are the cranks and crazies that have taken over a part of the Republican Party." Read more
Well, he's overstepping the mark obviously by involving himself in the domestic policies of another country (gee, not that the American gov hasn't ever done that) but really, who could argue with that? He's summed up the political situation over there in one short sentence. Brilliant!