Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Sydney Bear Pride 2012

Got their newsletter this morning. There's quite a few events on, I dunno though I've not been feeling too well lately and not particularly in the mood for a big night or two out. They've got some movies on though at Govindas Movie Room in Darlinghurst. The "Bear City2" looks really good, but it's sold out already. So I've opted for "I Want Your Love" on Sunday afternoon. That one has "high level sex scenes", fabulous! 


Went to my GP yesterday and he printed out a whole bunch of stuff for Centrelink. I was about to take it to scan it at home and email it to the Centrelink guy, but he said he'd do it. Very good, I didn't have to do anything. I did email the Centrelink guy though when I got home telling him there was an email being sent from my doctor with all the info he was after re my kidneys and HIV. He emailed me this morning that he'd received it and it would be used as supporting evidence in his report.

Can't believe how smoothly this is all going. A slight hiccup yesterday but nothing at all really. It's taking time but these things do don't they.

GetUp: Proposed PC surveillance laws

I doubt it will happen. It's only a discussion paper. The gov is too shit scared of doing anything to offend the voters at the moment with the polls the way they are. Still, it's pretty scary. We should at least let them know our objections now rather than later. You can sign the GetUp petition here.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Centrelink wants more info

I got a call earlier from the bloke who I went to the Centrelink job capacity interview for. He's been having trouble getting in touch with my GP. I can understand that as he's very busy. But he was also told by the receptionist on the phone that it would be unlikely my doctor would release anything at all to him as it's against privacy laws. He'd need either written permission from me, signed and all, or to give them to me personally. 

It's all very logical but I never thought of that. Dunno why it never crossed my mind. It actually makes me glad that some Centrelink person can't just demand my medical records without my express permission. 

So I'm going to see my GP this afternoon, rang and got a 4:30pm appt. Centrelink wants reports from a specialist for both the kidney condition and the HIV. Both of which my GP has as he's taken over it all. The specialists at the hospital would have both sent reports to him when they transferred my care to him. 

This is so much easier than traipsing around the hospital trying to chase up medical records, from two different clinics. I'd probably have to go through some major bloody procedure or some shit. Hopefully this will just be a simple thing with my GP having copies. It's excellent having everything in one place like this. I'm so glad it all ended up being sorted out that my GP was the centre of my care. 

I'm also bloody glad I didn't go out to Lightning Ridge. I'd have been so fuckin pissed off now. On the other side of the state, a days travel away, not being able to do anything until I got back. The Centrelink bloke told me on the phone that everything's on hold until he gets this information. 

I asked him also how long it was going to take once he got it. He said he'd have to finish his report and that it'd not be much longer before I was on the Disability Support Pension. Hmmmm.... that's good news then.

Swimmer D'Arcy, a shocking roll model

I've honestly never seen an Olympics like this, with so much controversy involved in the Australian team. Is it just me?

Not likely. The information is there on the net for all and sundry to see. What's amazing is that the issues are being raised in the main stream media and isn't coming from just some leftist sports hating corner of the internet (like me here :). 

The latest head to bob up is this D'Arcy bloke, who five years ago was chucked out of the Beijing team after seriously assaulting fellow team member Simon Cowley, which he was convicted of.

And if he has divided Australia's sporting loyalties there is a suggestion he has also divided the swimming team. In general its younger members are attracted by his charisma, while the older ones who know and like his assault victim Simon Cowley do not.

The view from senior members is that sending D'Arcy home is a risk mitigation move - insurance against his turning up in a London pub after the swimming has finished and getting in a fight.

The AOC president, John Coates, banned D'Arcy from competing in Beijing after he was found guilty of assaulting Cowley. He received a suspended jail sentence and was banned from competing in the world championships the next year. He was injured and bombed out in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010 but has shown a rapid comeback to top form since then. Coates believes the swimmer has ''polarised the nation'' like no other sportsperson.

The AOC could have banned D'Arcy from Olympic competition for life but instead gave him the green light. When he declared himself bankrupt to avoid paying $180,000 in civil damages to his victim, the AOC, having extracted from him written promises to behave, tried but claimed it could find no legal grounds to ban him again.
Link
Well, if the Olympics is about role models and inspiring people to do better, WTF is this guy even doing on the team? However fast he can swim is surely not the point. This guy is representing Australia FFS! I know we started as a nation of criminals, but this is taking it a bit far. We're not a nation of bloody thugs.

I found this video about it online. Take a look at what he did to Cowley's face (a snip above the video). It was a very serious assault, not just a few punches, requiring years of treatment and recovery. And what does he do after pleading guilty? Files for bankruptcy to avoid paying the $180,000 compensation the court ordered him to pay to Cowley. What a lovely and inspiring roll model. I'm amazed this video has had less than 400 views. 

(snip):
(video):

Also, this wasn't sorted out years ago. The whole case finalised only last year.

D'Arcy will be getting no support from me. In my view his inclusion in the team may have been legal, but it's not moral. I hope he comes last. 

Update:

He totally flopped. Didn't even qualify. Came nearly last in his semi final 13th out of 16. Now he has to leave and come home. The opinion is that his disciplinary reasons were a bit of a beat up, but used because Australian officials were worried he'd get into a fight in a London bar.
"It is going to be fairly difficult having to leave (the athletes' village) just when everyone is gearing up and getting ready to have a bit of fun," said a dejected D'Arcy, who was handed the go-home-early punishment after being photpgraphed in the US posing with guns alongside teammate Kenrick Monk.

"But I came here knowing that was going to be the deal, and I'm going to wear it."

D'Arcy was booted off Australia's team for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 after being charged and ultimately convicted of assaulting fellow swimmer Simon Cowley in a Sydney bar during team celebrations.
Link
 Brilliant!   

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Australian Olympic shooter sleeps through alarm

FFS, this is just fuckin bullshit man..... It looks like the beds in the Olympic athlete's village are very comfortable:
The hype and excitement of making her Olympic Games debut were not enough to wake Alethea Sedgman as the teenage shooter almost slept through her event.

Sedgman didn't hear her 5am alarm on the first day of competition in London which threw her preparation for the 10m air rifle event into disarray.

But after waking up just 10 minutes before the bus departed, the 18-year-old missed a spot in the gold-medal final by 10points at the Royal Artillery Barracks.

Sedgman didn't go to the opening ceremony on Friday, but she stayed up to watch the Australian team march.

She set her alarm and hit the snooze button for ''five more minutes'' when she fell back asleep. The next thing she remembers is roommate Lauryn Mark waking her up an hour and 10 minutes later.

The room allocation for the Australian shooting team was one of the most controversial points leading into the Games with husband and wife Russell and Lauryn Mark being forced to sleep in separate rooms.

But Sedgman was relieved their wish wasn't granted as Lauryn saved her from an embarrassing late arrival to the first event of the Games.
Link  
I can't believe that the reporter almost uses her being a teenager as an excuse. Fuck man there she is with all that preparation involved. After being given $10,000 by the Australian Olympic Committee (as all the athletes are) and she stays up to watch fuckin telly the night before her big event. Then she can't even get out of bed to go to it. 

How about next time darling you just stay home if you aren't going to be serious about it. Give your money instead to a disability charity. It will be used much more wisely, and do much more good than paying for you to fuckin sleep.

Fuuuuck  this shit pisses me right off.

Um, BTW, shooter Mark is up on August 2nd, in squad 1. Fuck I hope he fails.

Conservative Premiers politicise the disabled

There's been a few feathers flying here, with the federal Labor gov in the process of setting up a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). It aims to, from what I can gather, massively increase funding to the disabled so they can get the level of care they need (for example, to pay for a wheelchair, or walking aids). Families can often end up in serious debt buying these sorts of things, and the family carers involved often are overworked, depressed, needing help themselves. There are many issues involved, I know as I was a primary carer myself for my wife. I had to buy her a walking frame from the hospital at one point and they're not cheap, it was over $100. The hospital gave her a wheelchair, just a basic one, as she was so well known by the staff there that they found one for her. The level of assistance apparently varies from state to state as well, and I assume the NDIS has the aim to standardise care across the country. I came across this description of it:
Here’s how the scheme will work.

1. It will cost about $8 billion a year more than the states currently spend on disability.

2. Payments will be given to the most seriously disabled people in Australia, based on need.

3. It will require a system for assessing just who the most in need are.

4. Those people will be able to spend those payments as they see fit. They will no longer have to apply for limited numbers of payments or pay for services only offered in capital cities. They can make up their own mind about what support they need the most.

5. Some money will be allocated on vastly improving the disability support sector.

6. In doing that, competition in that sector will increase and dodgy operators will hopefully be squeezed out. The NDIS will provide choice.

7. The Australian Government has allocated $1 billion in the budget to start the scheme. It will begin next year, helping 10,000. The year after that it will expand to help 20,000. There are some 330,000 people with disabilities that require ‘significant’ amounts of care and support.
Link
Which all sounds bloody brilliant. 

But,  then came the meeting between the heads of states (Premiers) and the Prime Minister to sort out some of the funding and get the beginnings of the system going. What you would think would be just a formality, especially as we're taking about the disabled here. We have however had a few state elections in recent times with loony tunes conservative gov's taking control. I dunno who's worse, the old incompetent gov's that were chucked out, or the new conservative gov's apparently on a mission from god.

So the conservative gov's use the meeting about the NDIS as an opportunity to score political points over the hapless Prime Minister Gillard. They dig their feet in, refuse to provide funding, and go back to their home states empty handed, having wrecked the NDIS before it even gets off the ground. Nice one guys, how lovely and wonderful it is to see the disabled used in a cheap political stunt. What a bunch of assholes.

Back in their home states, there is uproar at the NDIS being itself disabled because these fuckwits cared more about politics than the disabled. They finally get it into their fuckin brain that, oh yes, we're dealing with people here. No shit Sherlock. The media starts having a field day with the now hapless conservative Premiers.
Australia's disability discrimination commissioner believes conservative state leaders eventually will get on board with a national disability insurance scheme.

Graeme Innes said Australia ranked last of 27 of OECD countries in terms of the correlation between disability and poverty.

"If that was an Olympic competition Australians would never accept that, but we accept it for our population with disability," Mr Innes told ABC TV on Thursday.

"I think the leaders realise we can no longer continue to accept that and I believe they will come on board." Following a Council of Australian Government (COAG) meeting in Canberra on Wednesday, Labor governments in South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT agreed to part-fund trials of the NDIS, starting in 2013 or 2014.

But Queensland, NSW, Western Australia and Victoria could not reach deals on their bids.
Link
(are you reading this shooter Mark?)

Surprise, surprise, Victoria and NSW have now come on board, sort of. To date Queensland, with it's merry band of conservative loonies determined to change the world, remains outside of the NDIS. 
Friday's compromise by O'Farrell and Baillieu was a case of everyone grabbing for safety ropes. Victoria produced, in a complicated way, the required money. NSW recognised the per person funding level the Commonwealth demanded but only promised half the $70 million. No matter: Gillard, now confident of trials in the big states, declared all more or less well. There would be more work later with NSW, she said at a news conference where a power failure meant victory had to be claimed in the semi-dark. The gloom was a metaphor: even when she has a win, it's hard to make it seen.

The stoush over the trials was unnecessary and unedifying. The conservative premiers are determined to stir up fights at COAG, just because they can. But to do it on an issue such as disability brings them no political kudos. This was not an area in which to mud wrestle Gillard. In the end they just had to struggle out of a mire of their own making.
Link
I wonder how the disabled in QLD are feeling right now? 

Campbell Newman, the QLD Premier, supposedly has the support of the Christians and other conservative type people. Seems to me he's more concerned with politics than people. Doesn't give a shit about them. How very Christian of him. If this is how he treats the disabled, imagine WTF he's going to do to the general population up there? Shame Queenslanders voted to end democracy in their last state election. He has all power up there now, can do whatever he fuckin likes and there's nothing anyone can do about it. 

Fuck, and to think I was actually considering moving to QLD....     

Saturday, 28 July 2012

An athlete to watch

Didn't watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Apart from being completely on the other side of the world from London in the worst time zone possible to see it, it doesn't interest me much at all. I dunno even what time it was on here, probably some horrifying time in the dead of night. 

There is one athlete that I'll be following though, Matthew Mitcham. He surprised everyone in Beijing by winning a gold medal in the diving, against some very strong competition. Not sure but I think it's pretty unusual for Australia to win a gold in diving. Dunno if he can do it again but will be taking a look.

He was also one of the few openly gay athletes in Beijing. Here's the interview done after he won the gold back then. It was a lovely interview with his partner and mother both there.

 

I've looked it up and his event is happening over the 10th-11th August

It's nice to finally see one of the good guys, who's not a bloody whinger.

Shingles pain returns

I got shingles earlier this year. Ack, is was horrible, as the photo's show. I remember searching for images online about shingles as I'd never heard of it before, but I honestly couldn't find anything that looked anywhere near as bad as what I got. My GP described it at the time as "full on". 

I did eventually educate myself about it, had plenty of time with two weeks off work with it. Enough time for it to reduce to only red blotches. Over time these have faded almost completely away, although it did take some months. I found out that they are a reactivation of the chicken pox virus, that after you get that as a kid the virus doesn't go but resides in the spine. They dunno why but something can cause the virus to reactivate (although shingles is more common amongst HIV+ people) and it travels from where it is in the spine down the nerves and comes out where the nerves do. There's different nerves that can be affected, but with my particular case the affected nerves just happened to be the biggest ones in the body; the sciatic nerves. 

It was really painful and I was put on a narcotic based painkiller for a while to deal with it. It was pain going from my lower back right down both my legs. Fuck, I don't ever do things in halves do I (that's how I got HIV I guess). Like the kidney thing; I don't just get an allergic sneeze or two, I get fuckin acute kidney failure!

Anyway I've noticed that at times the pain can come back a bit, at which times there are faintly visible red blotches that show up on my leg where the shingles used to be. I've been wondering why in the last week or so when going to bed both my legs have been throbbing, and have had to take some Panadol so I can go to sleep. Other night I even stuck a pillow under my knees and lay there on my back for a while, which seemed to help whilst I waited for the Panadol to work. And it wasn't until I noticed that the sciatic nerve was hurting at the top of my bum that I suspected a possible recurrence of the shingles.

And sure enough, when I took a closer look at my leg, there were the lightly red blotches. It's happened before over the last few months since I got the really bad attack so I'm not really concerned about it, but at the same time the pain involved in a recurrence hasn't been this bad. I'm only noticing it at night too, dunno what that's about. 

I'm sure it will settle down in a few days. It's not pleasant though.

Friday, 27 July 2012

"Whinge, whinge, whinge Australia"

It's rare to see such a scathing assessment of our Olympians as in this article. The poll at the bottom is telling:

And this lovely illustration:
Read the whole article if you're interested, it's very enlightening. This particular bit of it however made me feel much vindicated in my assessment of that self absorbed wanker shooter Mark.
The generally laid back and likeable Nick Green, Australia's rookie chef de mission, has implored his athletes to stop complaining and turn their focus to the task at hand - performance.
...................................................
It has not been a good month for minority groups in the Australian camp. Shooter Russell Mark made the bizarre and bitter joke before he moved into the village that gay couples were treated better in the international Olympic teams than married heterosexual ones. On several levels it was a disappointing comment, but Mark too will most likely be better remembered after London for a litany of complaints when he should have been celebrating his sixth Games.

Mark, like Steffensen, has a history of public dissatisfaction with his lot and Green spoke for everyone close to the situation with Mark and his wife, Lauryn, when he said the outspoken couple's complaint they couldn't share a room reeked of a publicity stunt.

Something illogical seems to attack the minds of key high-profile athletes when the Olympics come around but never more so than before London.
Link
I do agree that it's a bad few that are spoiling it for all, but perhaps these idiots should be reminded that taxpayers sitting at home in Australia don't like seeing their country represented this way; basically as spoilt brats chucking hissy fits over nothing. It's insulting. We sit here struggling to pay bills, and this is the shit we get for our taxpayers money? 

But even more than that, even if taxpayers hadn't chucked in a single cent, these people are an embarrassment to our country. Time to get our of their protected little world, toughen up, and actually be representative of the people back home. Or have we just created some little shits here?

Maybe it's our fault a bit too. I mean some of these people just seem to have been pampered from an early age by the state teat, as they are training to be Olympians... but in doing so they've grown up in some fantasy world completely separated from the reality of Australian life.

A furthur delay to the Ridge

Have decided to delay longer again the trip out to Lightning Ridge. For some reason I was feeling very anxious about going out there this month, I assume as I was concerned about being out of Sydney whilst the disability application was processed. The anxiety is likely unfounded, as I did ask at the work capacity interview if they had a problem with me being out of Sydney during that time, and he said it should be OK as they have my mobile number. But there's still a niggling worry in my head that they may ask for something more that I need to be in Sydney to access. 

As it's the same form that I used last year for the Sickness Allowance, I remember back then there had been a question I missed filling in and they sent a photocopy of it in the snail mail to tell me the whole process was on hold until this was done. I ended up going to the Centrelink office here and creating a big stink about it, pointing out it was unbelievable that they were expecting me to wait another couple of weeks whilst all this shit went through the snail mail, through their mailing system at Centrelink, interstate, as I had no fuckin money. Pretty much in those exact words. The lady at the counter couldn't believe it either, and had me fill out the photocopied pages there and she had it scanned and emailed that day from their offices.

It was in fact incompetence as well by the Centrelink person who initially received my forms when I lodged them, as they looked through the entire book to make sure everything was in order and overlooked the fact that the questions concerned had been missed. This was after I specifically asked her to look through it to make sure I'd not missed anything. It was another reason I was irate that day. 

If I had of been out of Sydney however, the letter from Centrelink in the snail mail would have just sat there in a pile of letters unopened until I got back to Sydney. I guess this is what I'm worried about; despite things going smoothly so far, you can never take anything for granted with Centrelink.

There's also the thing that if I buy a return ticket to Lightning Ridge it will cost at the moment full price at about $250. If however I'm on the disability pension, I get two trips a year on Countrylink transport anywhere in New South Wales for only $5 return. I told Simon that if it's only going to be about 2-3 more weeks then I'd rather wait and pay only the $5. He's not happy, but he understands.

To be honest I was starting to get slightly annoyed. Thought it a bit unfair that he seemed to be pressuring me to get to Lightning Ridge to see him ASAP. Maybe if he lived somewhere much closer, like Newcastle or Wollongong it'd all be different, but he's right out really far. It's a fuckin long long way out there.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

QLD's 'gay panic defence', global outrage

I've never heard of such a thing. This is incredible:
Queensland is copping a lot of deserved flack lately for its “homophobic” stance concerning numerous matters faced by LGBTI community. One of those is the “gay panic defence.” Further cementing itself as a backwards state, current Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie has confirmed that he would not proceed with the changes to the laws that were recommended by the previous Queensland Government.

Catholic priest Paul Kelly, whose parish church was the scene of a violent crime in 2008, has pledged to continue an online campaign against Queensland’s provocation laws, which make it possible for those accused of violent crimes to alledge their victims approached them in an intimate homosexualy way, prompting them to ‘lash out’. Similar archiac laws have been removed in several other Australian states and in New Zealand recently.

Richard John Meerdink and Jason Andrew Pearce who were jailed for the manslaughter – not murder – of Wayne Robert Ruks on the grounds of Maryborough’s St Mary’s Church in 2008.

With the announcement that planned changes to the law have been dropped, the Queensland priest is renewing his campaign for the state to remove the so-called “gay panic” defence to homicide.

The online petition has received more then 180,000 signatures, including international support from English comedian Stephen Fry and most recently American actress Sophia Bush of One Tree Hill fame
Link
WTF is going on up there? And to think I was actually considering moving up there. No fuckin way in the world would I go near the loony place now. What, if I smile at someone the wrong way then that's an excuse for them to bash me to death?

Queensland has recently elected a new conservative gov. Unfortunately the voters wiped out the Labor party nearly completely, leaving the state without a opposition capable of doing anything. In short they voted to end democracy up there. Now the conservative state gov can do whatever it likes, with no checks and balances. QLD doesn't even have an upper house, which I was surprised at. 

Anyway, I invite all concerned people, from anywhere in the world,  to join with me and vote in this online petition organised by the Catholic priest himself, to ditch the "gay panic" defence from QLD law. 

 A loophole in Queensland law allows people accused of murder to defend themselves in court by claiming “gay panic” -- that is, if someone who they think is gay “comes onto” them, the sheer panic they feel is partial justification for murder. 

This law belongs in the dark ages -- but it was enshrined in Queensland law in 1997, when a man responded to “gentle touching” by ramming his victim’s head against a wall until he was unrecognisable, then stabbed him to death. 

The killer’s argument was this: “Yeah, I killed the guy, but what he did to me was worse.” 

Just over two years ago, a man was killed in my church’s grounds, and one of his killers used this same “gay panic” defence. They were eventually acquitted of murder. I’m utterly appalled that a law that so revoltingly and openly discriminates against gay people is still tolerated in a modern society. Laws like the “gay panic” defence are a crucial part of legitimising and reinforcing a culture of hate which means that 73% of gay and lesbian Queenslanders are subjected to verbal abuse or physical violence for their sexuality. 

While almost all other state governments have abolished similar laws, and refuse to admit evidence of non-violent homosexual advances in murder trials, nothing has changed here. Queensland is now one of the last states upholding the idea that a person can be panicked enough by gay and lesbian people to justify murder. That’s why I am calling on the Queensland parliament and LNP leader Campbell Newman to eliminate this law as a partial defence for murder, and forbid non-violent homosexual advance being treated as evidence in any murder trial. 

This situation cannot go on. Please sign and help eliminate this antiquated, 17th century defence from our law books. 
Link

Shopping mall collapse

Couple of days ago I was going to the local mall, and when I got on the bus the driver told me that if that's where I was going it had been closed by the police. Including many of the surrounding roads. Far out, the whole mall. This is a big place, 3 levels, major stores, a cinema complex, food court, etc, all shut. When it opened years back it was the biggest one in the southern hemisphere at the time, even though it was only two levels. Since then they've built another level on top of it. 

Turned out part of it had collapsed. Not much, but it looked pretty bad what it was. Luckily it had happened before opening so no one was injured or killed. So far they dunno WTF caused it, will be a big investigation. I'd say there will be law suits by the retailers there for lost money.

Got these off the net as you aren't allowed anywhere near it. More here in the local paper.

I like this one, Karma baby!

Here's a different angle.

The collapse continued through the car par floor to the level below.

This one was freaky. This is a walkway between two carpark levels, and people use it with shopping trolleys. I've been up and down it many times. Lucky no one was there as they'd have been killed.

Olympian on holidays?

After the shooter Mark debacle, it's interesting to see the reaction to the new controversy now sweeping the media here. I will reserve my thoughts on this for now as I can't be bothered with some of the hysteria flying around about anyone daring to be critical of one of our Olympians. Firstly, I came across this story in the SMH yesterday:
Jones not in London for a holiday, coach insists
LEISEL Jones' coach, Michael Bohl, has vehemently rejected suggestions she was treating the Olympics as anything other than serious competition, and says she has been performing well in training and is in good condition to compete next week.
Jones has repeatedly said these Games were the icing on the cake for her, having created history by becoming the first Australian swimmer to qualify for four Olympics.
Some feel that Jones is not in the best shape and is treating London as a farewell tour, not taking it as seriously as she had the previous three Games, where she won a total of eight medals.
Link
Here she is in Beijing:
 and here she is today:

Now the shit has hit the fan, with everyone coming to her defence, claiming everything from women being denigrated to those doing the criticising being "un-Australian". Cathy Freeman for example:
OLYMPIC sprinting legend Cathy Freeman has hit out at critics of Leisel Jones' pre-Olympics body, labelling them "un-Australian".

"It's not very friendly or encouraging at this stage," Freeman said.

"I think it's very un-Australian, to be quite frank.

"All of us need to be supportive of our athletes.

"Liesel is an Olympic champion and we have to give her the respect she deserves.
Link
Oh come on Cathy, get a grip. This comment (from another women) puts things in a much better perspective: 
Recently retired swimmer Alice Tait said: “The questioning over Leisel Jones fitness due to an unflattering photo is exactly what many girls have body image issues! Makes me so angry!”

Giaan Rooney said: “Anyone commentating on Leisel’s weight three days out from the Olympics should be ashamed. Should be celebrating our athletes not pulling them down.”

It’s understandable they would want to protect their friend. But invoking the “body image” debate in this case is a bit of a stretch.

Jones has not been papped on a beach while on holidays looking a bit comfortable around the middle. She has been selected to represent Australia at the absolute peak of competition. In the sport of swimming it doesn’t get any more significant than the Olympics.

There’s no doubt pop culture and the media has a big impact on the body image of young women. And I generally plop on the side of the fence where we don’t pass judgement on what women look like in their swimmers, partly out of self-interest and party because I agree the media influence on young women can be damaging to their self-esteem.

Leisel Jones is a champion. Making her fourth Olympics is a spectacular achievement. She is a role model.

But we’re not blind. Discussion of her condition is legitimate, not an attack on the sisterhood.
Link

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Australian fuckin culture

Readers here may note my propensity to say "fuck" a lot. Um, it's just how I talk really. Unless I'm in a place where it's not appropriate (hardly ever) the fuck word is simply part of my speech. I suppose working 30 years in factories may have something to do with it. But even other than that, just in normal everyday life, in everyday conversation, fuck is used freely and without controversy.

Now I read it's apparently part of Australian culture. What the fuck? I knew we had some sort of culture in there somewhere. 

It's a long article but a really funny read if you're interested. 
Swearing has always been part of the Australian character. Think ''bloody'', the great Australian adjective. In a paper on swearing, Monash University's Kate Burridge and Keith Allan noted Australians have always regarded their colloquial idiom as being a significant part of their cultural identity.

''The standard language is more global in nature and many Australian English speakers see their colloquialisms, nicknames, diminutives, swearing, and insults to be important indicators of their Australianness and expressions of cherished ideals such as friendliness, nonchalance, mateship, egalitarianism, and anti-authoritarianism,'' they wrote.

The Centrelink work capacity interview

Left early yesterday afternoon to make sure I got to the Centrelink appt in time. The bus was going slowly to Central station as it was raining and cold outside and the bus driver was old and apparently cold, having the air conditioning turned up hot inside the bus and so all the windows were fogged up. He nearly didn't see me signalling him at the bus stop and I had to wave my arm up and down. Must've been a bit blind as well. One of those drivers that takes forever at every stop, farting around with the doors and the beeping register thing next to him. Traffic was heavy as everyone seems to forget how to drive when it rains here, and they all putt along like the old bus driver I had. Got to the Uni and the bus got packed full, and I had to take my jacket off as it was so fuckin hot in there I was starting to sweat. 

Got to central and waited about 10 min's for the next train to stop at Redfern. Only a short trip, and when leaving Redfern station there were about 5 police there with a sniffer dog hassling commuters. Fucks sake, hadn't they anything better to do than bust some bloke with a joint? Cops here look quite intimidating too, great big boots, pants tucked into them, a belt full of accessories (gun, capsicum spray, baton, taser) and a dark coloured police cap. They sort of look like the thought police when they're all together like that.

Crossed the road and then all these more cops started coming out of the building there. WTF? It was starting to feel like a nightmare. But then I noticed that it was the Redfern police building they were coming out of, which was right opposite from where the other ones were with the sniffer dog. Must be a slow day for the cops.

When I finally got to Centrelink there, there were about another 5 cops right at the entrance. Oh FFS! They're fuckin everywhere  I thought to myself. Walked past inside while they stared at me, I mean really stared at me like I'd done something wrong. Turned out they were there for some disgruntled Centrelink customer who was creating a ruckus about something (probably having trouble jumping through the Centrelink hoops). When I was waiting inside he came back from somewhere and there was a loud argument with the cops outside the door. Everyone inside looking, including everyone in the line. His girlfriend got involved too. I guess Centrelink called the cops as you can't behave threateningly in there, fair enough of course. 

So I waited in the waiting area while this was going on outside. Everyone was looking, it was actually quite entertaining. Strange the cops didn't arrest him, probably as they knew people were watching. All he was doing was arguing with them, but I've seen people arrested for less. He had a hood on, his girlfriend didn't, a Caucasian couple. Felt a bit sorry for them as obviously they felt very frustrated and wronged by Centrelink, but it was just unfortunate that this anger boiled over to what it did. They told him he couldn't come back for the rest of the day.

Behind me was the usual computers for people to do stuff online instead of waiting in the line, and a phone on the side where a smackie (um, heroine addict) was dribbling words into a phone that were vaguely intelligible. A bloke from England with his two kids was waiting in front of me to be called. And the line got progressively longer. After about a 20 minute wait I was called.

Went into a private little office with this guy, and copies of some of my application form were on the desk along with the report from my GP and psychologist. Thankfully at the outset he seemed very professional and I related how I'd been worried about this interview due to going over bad memories. He stated that he didn't want me to get upset but just to ask a few questions, as the psychologist had summarised much of what he needed to know. *phew* 

Asked about the HIV, and no I wasn't on meds currently due to the kidney failure beginning of last year. Wanted more info re the kidneys, and I told him to contact my GP as the kidney specialist and him were in contact with each other for my care. Think he was pretty blown away by the psychologist report. In the end the whole thing only took about 15 minutes, not an hour that I'd been told. He said I had a good chance, and that he needs to do his report or whatever on me, and then it all gets sent to someone interstate to make a further impartial decision. Said I'd get a letter in 2-3 weeks telling me the outcome. 

The fact that he's asked for more info re the kidney specialist tells me it's looking pretty well a formality that it'll be OK'd. This whole process has gone remarkably smoothly so far, certainly compared to the 5 month debacle with Canberra over my Superannuation. I left saying how painless that was, and repeated to him how worried I'd been about it. He replied that the psychologist report was very informative and so many questions weren't needed. Will have to thank the psychologist on my next visit.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Today the Centrelink interview

Am feeling extremely nervous today. I have the appt this afternoon to see the Centrelink doctor in regards to the disability support pension. It's an hour long appt. What concerns me is that they will be a complete stranger and I'm afraid of having to go through events of my life bit by bit, afraid of how I'll feel doing that. Much of what's happened is not easy to remember, not the act of actually remembering, but the act of reliving those memories. I fear this is a challenge beyond my capacity to deal with. 

I often (even around the house) get bits and pieces of things that remind me of past events. Even just going in my daughters room sometimes evokes pain from the past. A picture on the wall. Little trinkets on the dresser that my wife bought my daughter at the hospital gift shop, the last of her birthdays that she was alive. ...  On these occasions I avoid that pain, it's too much to think about and feel again. I'll leave the room or look away from the photo. I won't have that luxury at today's appt. 

It was hard getting to sleep last night as the appt kept going through my head. And when I did sleep it was terrible nightmares. Woke up at midnight and shock my head, turned on the light, trying to shake off the fear from a dream. Eventually went back to sleep, only to continue with nightmares. This morning I tried to think positively and that my anxiety was a bit silly. 

They will be a professional,  I thought to myself. They'll know how to question appropriately for someone in my position, surely. I can't be the first person they've interviewed who has post traumatic stress. 

It's raining and cold today in Sydney, not a nice day to go anywhere. My appt is at the Redfern Centrelink office, which means a bus and a train in this weather, oh fuckin joy. Googled it and it's only a couple of blocks from the train station though.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Latest HIV blood results

I am very pleased.

This time I was worried, not drastically, but worried. Probably the most I've been since the beginning of last year. That time it got down to CD4- 450, when I was having acute kidney failure. My last test 3 months ago the CD4 count had dropped about 100 points to be in the low 600's as well as the viral load going from 4000 to 26,000. 

Both of these were going in the wrong direction, those figures meaning that the immune cells that HIV attacks (CD4) had dropped 100 points in the test results, and the viral load (a measure of the amount of HIV virus in the bloodstream) increased by about 7 times I think. It was good news that both those numbers meant a turnaround this test. CD4 was over 700. Viral load down to 14,000.

It confirms to me now that the stress I was in 3 months ago with the banks, my debt, Canberra buffoons, bank buffoons, and any other fuckin buffoons, that I was being dealt severe stress. I put the deterioration in my HIV bloods then down to stress, simple as that.

Thing is in normal circumstances if someone was under stress like that with HIV, then they'd put you on meds. The idea is that there's one less thing to worry about, which is helpful to your overall HIV health. I wish I was sort of at least a little bit normal sometimes...... sigh....... 

Nah! Normal is so fuckin normal  man. Meh, looks like my body's not normal either.

Another gun massacre in America

Australians of course know how terrible it is when some nut bag picks up a gun and starts firing at people. We had Port Arthur in 1996, where 35 people where killed in cold blood. Unlike some countries however, there was a huge groundswell of voter support after this massacre for much stronger gun laws. The Howard gov then proceeded with legislation, and a gun buy back scheme and gun amnesty if they were unregistered. These guns were all destroyed.
Fifteen years ago today, the largest gun massacre by a civilian - anywhere in the world - occurred in Tasmania. The weapons used by the Port Arthur murderer were designed for killing large numbers of people, and they delivered: 35 people lay dead and 18 wounded.

As a result of the tragedy, those weapons were banned from civilian ownership and more than 640,000 were bought back and destroyed. The rules applying to firearms in general were tightened, making it harder to qualify to own a gun, and especially to own more than one.
Universal registration meant the police would have records of gun ownership. Most importantly, the new rules applied to all states and territories, providing a uniform standard of safety across the country. (Under the previous regulatory patchwork, assault weapons banned in some jurisdictions were freely available in others.)

The new laws were a victory for hundreds of public health and legal organisations, domestic violence agencies, youth groups, churches and trade unions which had campaigned for the reforms. The overwhelming majority of citizens, according to opinion polls, wanted much stronger gun laws.
........................................
Fifteen years later, Howard has been vindicated. In an article published today, researchers at Harvard University review the evidence on the impact of the reforms, concluding, ''The National Firearms Agreement seems to have been incredibly successful in terms of lives saved.''

To be specific, we've had no gun massacres since 1996, compared with 13 such tragedies during the previous 18 years. (A massacre is defined as the killing of four or more people.) Total gun deaths have been reduced: gun homicides and gun suicides had been falling gradually before Port Arthur, but the reforms in 1996 caused that decline to accelerate dramatically. In the early 1990s, about 600 Australians were dying each year by gunfire; that figure is now fewer than 250.

A comprehensive evaluation last year by the ANU researchers Christine Neill and Andrew Leigh revealed that the reforms had reduced overall homicide and suicide rates too. In other words, gun deaths have not been substituted by other methods of homicide or suicide.

This makes sense because you can't kill someone (or yourself) as easily with a knife as with a gun. The ANU researchers estimated that 200 deaths a year have been prevented, with an annual economic saving of $500 million. That's a $7.5 billion return on the one-off $500 million cost of the reforms to taxpayers.

As the Harvard researchers remark, ''from the perspective of 1996, it would have been difficult to imagine more compelling future evidence of a beneficial effect of the law.''
Link
The first thing that went through my mind yesterday when I turned on the PC was "Oh, another gun rampage over there". It is of course a terrible thing, and my heart goes out to those affected by the killings, not just the immediate relatives but in the wider community as well who may not even know anyone killed. It's the sense of violation and loss of innocence.

At the same time I, and I suspect many many people in countries other than America, are completely bewildered that despite these continuing massacres in America, the American people don't in turn want something done about the gun laws in their country. In fact to the point that people over there even say, pretty much, that you've just got to live with it.
Before the dead had even been carried from the cinema in Colorado on Friday afternoon a CBS broadcaster said in a solemn radio editorial:

''We'll eventually find out who James Holmes is, but he's not a terrorist, we're told, and thousands of other showings were peaceful, so really we have to start seeing these things as natural disasters, like an earthquake or a tornado.''

That this view was swept away in the deluge of sad commentary on Friday was surprising to me, an outsider.
By this standard James Holmes was not a young man armed more heavily than the soldiers the US fields in Afghanistan, but an event, an act of god, to be weathered rather than countered.

This, even though he was carrying two semi-automatic pistols, a shotgun and an assault rifle with a clip that let him fire 100 rounds without reloading, and though he was wearing body armour from head to toe, and a gas mask, and though he carried a tear gas grenade to disorient his victims, and though he bought all this equipment - plus 6000 rounds of ammunition - legally from discount stores and websites.

After mass killings in schools, universities, offices, restaurants and even a military base there is no real debate, let alone political action, to restrict the free sale of any guns - even military weapons - in America.
It is difficult to understand how a country that so truly values its citizens' rights to life - and uniquely to their pursuit of happiness - can tolerate such a situation.
.................................................
The NRA boasts only 4 million fee-paying members. But its reach is far further. Its members and surrogates have convinced a wider constituency that the right to keep and bear arms is not a singular right, but is freedom from tyranny itself.
Here, I know only one person who actually owns a gun. It's not in his house. He's a member of a gun club and it's locked up there, by law. I don't know anyone else who owns one. The closest I ever get to a gun is when I see cops with them in their holster. If a cop actually shoots it's big news.

Given how painful it is for a community to lose people senselessly, I find the lack of will to do anything about guns in that same community strange, even bizarre. We had a very different experience here after Port Aurthur, and people are alive today because of the changes in the gun laws back in 1996.

All revved up with nowhere to struggle

Woke up this morning and dunno if it was because of some dream I was having or what, but I had a feeling of having to brace myself for the day. Lay there in silence remembering what I was doing today (going to the doctors) and wondered what had set off this notion of an impending struggle. There was after all, nothing on the agenda that would infer a struggle to get through it. So why was I feeling like this?

It was as if my body was setting itself up again for another day. Like it was on the starting blocks, muscles tensing, preparing to battle the odds. Perhaps there was something subconscious as well involved, and more than just a physical response there was an internal mental procedure happening. All of this in preparedness for another day of struggle. The only thing was that there was nothing to be struggling against.

Well nothing other than the usual fatigue of HIV, the slight vacantness from the happy pills for a couple of hours in the morning, the what appears to be a constantly aching back and neck, and other niggling little worries like that. But nothing on a grand scale, like having to lift tonnes of paper in a day, taking painkillers all day for my back, dealing with the bullshit that was a constant flowing entity out of the office's. Or trying to get a bank to be reasonable that I owed $25,000 to (BTW, I've still  not heard anything from the stupid bank, it being 3 weeks now since it was contacted by the $guru telling them I was able to pay them now).

Given the absence of impending doom on any grand scale, I thought it best to try and convince my head and body that there was in fact nothing hard to do today, and to relax FFS! It's like everything was revving up to go, and there was nowhere to go. Sort of like an open space of non-struggle. A struggle free zone. 

I guess this is a period of transition between all that shit I've been dealing with the last 12 months or so, and suddenly not having to any more.

Have been considering too the last couple of days at what exactly is going on in my head with work. Quite apart from the physical effort involved, there seems to be a major mental block when it comes to the prospect of work. Have been thinking about how the company treated us, me particularly in my last 18 months at the place. We were nothing more than numbers on a page for them. In fact in the meeting where we were all told we were being made redundant, we were referred to as "Units". 

So after 13 years that's what it came down to. I was simply a unit. I wonder if they have any idea how that makes people feel being treated like that. Apparently not. No wonder I'm feeling rather averse to the whole industry now.  

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Phonecall from a forgotten past

I got the strangest phone call 2 evenings ago. I'd gone to bed early again (seems to be a habit of mine) and was woken by the land line phone ringing. That's unusual in itself as most people ring me on the mobile now. It took me quite a while to identify who it was on the other end as I must have been in a fairly deep sleep. 

It was my X from years ago. Before I met my wife and our daughter was born. We'd moved over here from New Zealand as a couple and had bought a little unit together. It didn't work out though as she drank like a fish, and was a horrible drunk. Angry and aggressive, she used to state many times that she thought more clearly when she was pissed (drunk). A hopeless situation as she was in complete denial about her problem and was therefore not going to change.

She was an absolute vile bitch when she was drunk, and she drank with the sole purpose of getting drunk. Completely unreasonable and argumentative. I didn't know how to handle her, fuck back then I was just a kid. Long story short it all ended badly and we split up acrimoniously. The last time I saw her would have been about 20 years ago I suppose. Had no desire to see her ever again, but now here she was after all that time, ringing me and talking now on the other end of the phone.

I was dumbfounded. Speechless. Just didn't know what to say. Why in the hell was she ringing? I was a completely different person now, so much water under the bridge. It was like talking to someone from another life. There was simply no connection there. 

I thought about maybe filling her in on a few details, but then thought better of it. She said she'd had a few wines, and she would've been in her foul judgemental mood after that. She even said she was thinking very clearly. Ugh, the bitch hadn't changed. And she said "You've still got that laugh, that I hated"  her exact words. WTF? Piss off!

Anyway I was polite and just sort of said the odd thing, like my wife had died, daughter 21 now, bla bla. She's still not in a relationship at all, not surprised I mean she's impossible to live with. Mentioned nothing about HIV, fuck that's a disclosure I'd avoid for sure. I can just imagine how condemning she'd be about it. Didn't bother even getting into a discussion about sexuality, it'd most likely be way over her stupid head anyway even if she was thinking clearly when pissed. 

I was surprised we actually ended up talking for about half an hour. I remained calm and polite through it all, which was a pretty good effort on my part. I can see much better now how she used to manipulate my head, sort of passive aggressive. Like when I was trying to say goodbye to hang up, she says "What you don't like me after that?" (she'd just told me she'd put on weight). I cringed. 

Anyway we exchanged emails and mobile numbers, both of which weren't around when we were together. Fuck that's how long it's been, since before the internet FFS. Late '80's we split up. I thought I'd repay the favour with her ringing me when she was drunk, I had a few beers at the pub and sent off a long email to her last night when I got home. Remarkably it was polite, but also very truthful. Told her straight out how much she hurt me, that it wasn't actually splitting up that was bad, but the way she carried on during the split up. She was a vindictive shit, and I've always been very sensitive. I was trying to be nice about it all, while she was twisting the dagger in my heart. 

She's not going to like the email, but I don't care. Maybe, just maybe, she might come to some understanding of what happened that doesn't involve her being the hard done by woman being left forlorn by the selfish man. 

I also reminded her of what she was like and what she expected me to deal with, citing the particular example of finding her passed out with the stereo headphones on, lying in a pool of piss all over the carpet in the middle of the lounge room. Charming.....

Hopefully she'll get the hint and not bother ringing me again.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Do you like Pink Floyd?

Watching this now.  If you do this is excellent. Take a look darlings.

 

Are taxpayers giving too much to our Olympians?

The story of the straight couple whinging about their freely provided Olympic accommodation caught my eye the other day. It's seems the poor dears have been surprised at the reactions to their drivel that they freely provided to the media. Oh my bleeding heart. But still the bloke refuses to accept the decision, in doing so even the main stream media is now bagging him (it's almost blasphemy in Australia to bag an Olympian):
Shooter Mark plans to visit wife's room
He says he's accepted the umpire's decision but, like a teenager at a school camp, Russell Mark is still planning to sneak into his wife's room in the Olympic village.

Mark and Australia's team boss Nick Green remain friends despite the chef de mission's ruling that the six-time Olympian cannot share a room with shooting teammate and wife Lauryn.

But he has a plan which could stretch the friendship.

"It's like cricket ... at the end of the day the umpire gives you out and you've got to walk," Mark told reporters at Olympic Park in London on Thursday.

"I've walked. And I'll probably walk across the corridor into Lauryn's room. As far as I know, that's not illegal. It's just I've got to get out of there before the sun gets up."
........................
The pair met when Mark arrived in London on Tuesday and discussed the village rooming plans, which Green had earlier said were designed to suit all athletes and could not be changed to suit individuals.

The AOC said if the Marks were given a room together, five other female athletes would have to share one bathroom.
Link
I'm honestly dumbfounded by the extent of this bloke's immaturity and juvenile capacity. Yet taxpayers are supposed to cough up $ galore to fund his jaunts to various Olympic events, like it's going to do us all good somehow? Seeing someone like that represent my country isn't exactly helping my motivation to engage HIV in a positive way. More like makes me want to do a bowel movement. 

Thinking I must have entered the world of cultural blasphemy (for those who think Australia does actually have a culture) I searched online for perhaps some like minded heretics. To my surprise, even without the buffoon "shooter Mark", I found people who were already questioning our level of gov funding to said buffoon:
For various reasons, the Australian taxpayer provides significant subsidies to athletes and to the Australian Olympic Committee. Yet the taxpayer never get a return on that investment.

If a student goes to an Australian university, he or she will usually receive a subsidy through the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) for undergraduates, which is a contingent loan repayable when the student’s taxable income rises above a certain level (about $45,000 now). The HECS scheme (now HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP) recognises that a student internalises the benefits of tertiary education, while there is a public subsidy component for the positive externalities of such education.

Yet a similar scheme does not apply to elite athletes, where the costs are considerably greater than any university place and where, arguably, the benefits are more fully internalised by the athlete. This is a distortion, and Australian athletes should be required to repay some of the costs of their training when they have sufficient financial resources.
Link 
OMG! Heretics unite! Now that would make me feel better about this whole thing. Perhaps seeing "shooter Mark" having to pay back money that we all gave to him for the privilege of seeing him belittle the plight of many Australians in his claim of "discrimination". Not that he would realise that, he's too fuckin dumb. No wonder I feel like having a bowel movement when he speaks, he's got verbal diarrhoea. 

But anyway, look at his shooter wife, she looks like she's in for some sponsorship money shortly (this just a Snip from the article).
Maybe seeing her sponsorship deal fall flat on it's face because of shooter Marks verbal diarrhoea would motivate me a lot more than actually having to listen to his verbal diarrhoea? Given her body though not likely. Is this what we're paying these Olympians for?   

And this one was a very in depth discussion on the whole matter:
The Rudd Government will also deliver a $324.8 million investment into the ASC funding base to create a secure platform to plan beyond Budget cycles.
In particular, this will assist in better preparation for major events such as the Olympic and the Paralympic Games.
................................................

This seems right - we don't fund Australian films to help people to become filmmakers, no we fund them because governments view film as integral to our culture and know that it costs a shirtload of money to make a film that people will pay to watch. We fund film schools like the Australian Film, Television and Radio School to help people to become filmmakers.

Is fifth on the medal tally where we should aim to finish? We are 52nd in the world in population; we are 13th in GDP, we are 10th in GDP per capita. Seems to me anything better than top 10 is punching above our weight.

Given America, Russia and China are always going to beat us, the best we can hope for is fourth. If the home nation is of any decent size -as is Great Britain next year - then fifth is a more realistic best outcome.
But given the link between money spent and position on the medal tally is aiming for fifth worth it?
What do we give up to come fifth?

Yes we want to do well - but if this is for cultural reasons, then perhaps the funding for sport needs to be measured against and included the funding for other cultural activities. Would it be better we accepted just "Top Eight" at the Olympics at the expense of more money into painting, dance, music or writing?
Link
Or how about giving someone like me, who was until recently working only 3 days a week because of HIV health issues, a health care card? That's chicken feed compared to what they're giving this wanker shooter Mark.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

In demand

Have had to delay the trip to Lightning Ridge, was already supposed to be there by now. I'm going to ask next Tuesday at the doctor interview for Centrelink, if they need me to be here in Sydney while the form is getting processed. They said it can take about a month or so, and when I asked what was involved other than the interview they said just waiting. They do have a Centrelink office in Lightning Ridge of course, but it's a long way away from Sydney. I'm just worried if they want something more for the application then I'll be way out there. 

Simon's not happy about it at all. But WTF can I do? I started this whole process, and I can't just drop everything in the middle of it and travel nearly 1,000 km's away. All this shit takes time, particularly when it involves the gov. He wants me to try and get out there end of next week for the gem festival. Apparently it's the biggest event of the year there with people coming from all over the world to buy and sell gems. Sounds really great, interesting and all, but if I'm stuck here sorting out things well that's just life. 

The agency rang me again too. I seem to be in high demand, fuck Simon having a stress attack whilst playing a tragic violin, and the agency wanting me to work. I've told the guy, I don't know how many times, I'd not be wanting to work until the beginning of next month at the earliest. But he just keeps ringing. Stories of jobs that won't come up again, bla bla... whatever. I'm sure it's just a line he uses to get people to go to these places. Suppose there must be a real shortage of skilled tradesmen. In the end I texted him that I was already in Lightning Ridge, that'll get the guy off my back. How's he to know where I am, he only has my mobile number. Think I might just keep saying that until I get a result with the disability application. 

Back is hurting a lot today, dunno why. Noticed this morning when I did the dishes and was leaning over the sink. Right in the middle and up to my neck, giving a bit of a headache too. Exactly where it was hurting at work a lot, from leaning over the machine all day. My body's already pretty used up with that sort of work over the years, wouldn't be looking forward to driving it further into the ground if the disability application failed. 

Am sort of quietly confident though it will go through OK. The psychologist I've been seeing since 2009 is well known in Sydney, and for him to write that he supports my application on the grounds of mental and physical health (yes I'm totally fucked darlings) would carry a lot of weight.