Friday, 13 May 2016

Being conned

I feel I have been conned.

It seems we are expected to all take for granted the wisdom of Economic Growth and not look at the cost. The Conservative parties are running their current election campaign on the mantra: 'Jobs and growth' and we are expected to not question its deeper implications.

Dick Smith, said it on One Plus One (ABC TV program): "We are already using one and a half times the resources of the planet and every step toward growth increases the environmental debt."
Then I read, and I wish I could claim this as mine: "I used to live in a community, but I now live in an economy".

It does not take a lot of deductive power to work out who benefits from 'Economic Growth'. The whole economy is wealthier in money term, as we whittle away at our sustainability, but it is corporations that really benefit. A corporation needs to grow so that its shares rise in value. That is what investors are looking for, and the game is set up to benefit them, offering tax breaks for the gamblers but not for those in it for the dividend.Gamblers are the wasted spaces who steal value from our enterprises and add nothing. It might be instructive to ask why we are shown the stock market report every TV news bulletin, but there is no corresponding index of CO2 rise, or sustainability index to give is the full picture, that is, real costs to the global community of Growth.

Of course, living in Australia, we tend to presume that our standard of living,with good public schools, medical facilities, power that rarely fails, water we can drink from the tap, sewerage systems, adequate pensions for all, public transport that might be tight in the cities, but compared with just about anywhere else, is reliable and safe, is deserved.

But we are in for a bit of a shock. Well, we are already in the shock, but are being shielded by governments that have not produced men or women that can be both brave and truthful enough to tell it like it is and really lead.

When I read Brave New World and '1984' in 1956, we all thought automation would reduce our working hours and our main problem would be finding something to do. I am still waiting.
It seems that those who have jobs of consequence work longer hours than ever, while others, for many reasons, are struggling to find any work at all while we try to create new industries to absorb them.

Yesterday at the bank, which I rarely visit, this time to deposit a cheque, I was advised that I can deposit cheques at any ATM. My insistence on seeing a real person was received with the sort of smile one reserves for the village idiot and maybe that is what it deserved in our Brave New World..

Anyway, back to Economic Growth. I admit we need it if we are to 'remain competitive' and we need it to create more jobs to replace those lost as we automate banks, supermarket checkouts, railway ticketing, train driving, create music, art and literature with computers, have university lecture halls where five hundred students watch a video of a lecture. We are told these create 'efficiencies' in the economy and are therefor automatically good, but are they?

Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to me that having a meaningful job, supporting oneself and family, comes naturally and is necessary for for human health. So, solving problems for oneself,even if that means doing things the hard way,making mistakes and learning, leads us to a better place than surrendering totally to the economic mantra of never-ending growth, that is leading us to where extinction is probable.

This week or the next, we reach 400PPM of CO2. We have known this was coming at least forty years ago, but as I said in CULL: 'We know the problem, we have the technology to fix it, but we lack the wisdom to apply it.'

We have an election in a few weeks but there is nobody standing that gives me confidence in their ability to at least articulate the big picture. Then again, anyone who does will not be elected. We really are still the lotus eaters and because we choose ignorance over engagement, deserve what is coming. In desperation, I will again vote Green.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Taking risks

Play equipment will never again be as much fun. We are so risk adverse these days, that I wonder why we seem to ignore the really big killers and maimers of children while we fuss over them and stop them from doing most of the things that made their grandparents resilient.
Perhaps it is because we feel we need to be able to control SOMETHING as individuals.

But what comes up when we compare the number of children who were once killed or maimed by playground equipment, with these modern maimers and killers?
Lead in gasoline.
Guns in the house.
Denial of medical facts, such as benefits of immunisation and of fluoride in water.
Domestic violence.
Climate change.
Driving dangerously.
Sexualisation of infants.

 If I was a kid now, I doubt I would rather play on modern (bland) playground equipment than do something a bit more daring for my adrenaline rush, like search the house for the gun we know is hidden somewhere, or watch that video Dad would not let us see, or see what happens when we take these pills.

Let kids find their limits, learn that a fall hurts, and why it happened.

PS. Well, Paris was a start. But, the language of reductions will not save us. Now we must stop talking about emission reduction and start talking about ZERO NET EMISSIONS, because every little bit of greenhouse gas we produce (above what is being removed naturally), raises greenhouse gas levels and the temperature keeps rising. Then there are hidden problems that must be factored in to get to ZERO NET, and here is one.

 In the paper this morning:
Methane from livestock produces 15% of global emissions.  
Our people in Paris are parting, 
All saying, they really are starting, 
To change their positions 
On greenhouse emissions. 
But who'll stop cattle from farting? 

If you liked this, you might also like this: 

PPS. Please visit other poets and writers at

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

There cannot be one person in the connected world who was not moved by images of that toddler dead on the beach. However, I wonder if we can imagine similar toddlers (and women and men) killed and maimed by air strikes in Syria. Nobody imagines that bombing Syria will end ISIL barbarism, so I ask would the money we spend on bombs, planes and all that goes with that, be better spent on supporting Syrian (and Iraqi) refugees in Lebanon and Jordan?
Of course, that would not help the hate and scare mongers get elected and re-elected.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Into the tropics and now engine trouble!

Here are a couple of pics of the tour. The first is at Readers Companion, a bookshop in Armidale NSW where it was really cold outside, but inside we had a great time- lots of laughs and sales too.
Spent a well earned hour at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery, where we tasted four different rums then went back to the A-Van for a nap.
Here we find, in a small park just north of Bundy, a set of exercise apparatii. I did try them all, but the lovely thing bout this pic is that the people of this little village took the trouble to put these devices there where any passer-by can tone up the muscles a little.
Right now, stuck in Gladstone with radiator trouble (if that is what it is). Everything closes in Gladdy over the weekend, so it looks like we don't get even a diagnosis until Monday which will put a serious dent in the itinerary!

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Nice oddities

Sorry, no pictures but important none the less. This last week saw me getting stuff fixed, and I was in for some surprises.

Surprise 1. My smart phone was going flat at an alarming rate so I took it to Battery World Tamworth, expecting to have to shell out for a new battery at sixty or seventy dollars. The young man at the counter took out the battery and tested it, to announce that the battery was fine. He then showed me how to open up the apps to see what was running in the background and how to turn them off and on. That young man saved me a new battery and the inconvenience of the battery going flat always at an inconvenient time.

Surprise 2. The new (second hand) 4 wheel drive I bought to pull the caravan (trailer) was using about 2 litres (a quart) of coolant every 5,000 Km (3,000 miles). I took it to a radiator specialist in Tweed Heads South for a pressure test, expecting a leaky hose at least, or a cracked head at worst. Within five minutes I had the truck back. The problem was a faulty radiator cap. All-up cost? $15.

Surprise 3. Two years ago when we bought the caravan, we also bought a 12 to 240V inverter. A few days ago, it decided to not work, and to announce its demise, it continued to emit an ear-splitting squark when it was plugged in. I took it to Jaycar at South Tweed, where it was replaced by a new inverter, free of charge. What I did not know was that it had a two year warranty, and completely unknowingly, its warranty was due to run out on the following day. I guess that was luck, but because it had been bought at a different franchise, strictly speaking, I should have had to return it to the shop where it was purchased. Unfortunately, that shop is now about 1,200 km away. I'd say Human nature is not all bad, in fact this week has convinced me that honesty and generosity are alive and well... at least here in the north. Having a great time on the road, wish you were here!

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Jo doing what she does best.

Into the second week of the trip and loving it. This morning at Historic Wollombi, it is a bit nippy, so the crew have expressed their intentions for the day.

Attendances at talks have been better than expected so with some media coverage, we should improve as we go.
Wednesday morning we are at the ABC Bookshop at 11am. Thursday morning at 10 we are at ABC Radio Northwest at the Country Music Capital, Tamworth, to talk to the on air Book Club, and at Readers' Companion at Armidale on Thursday afternoon, 4pm. More later!

Chloe, keen to go hunting.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Channeling Grandma.

Mornings, I’m equipped for a sojourn to the brook,
With fold-up seat and a jolly good book.
But ‘fore I leave the inside,
Ready for the outside,
Is my hat and my bag and my brolly on a hook.

Madly rehearsing Sarabande for the Batemans Bay Writers Festival where we (Paul Baker and Sarah Leaver and me), will be plying live Muzak for the cognoscenti. I know it's a big word, but it is late at night here and I have had a nice glass of Pinot Gris.

Thanks you Tess for encouraging we scribblers to aspire to higher things. .

Monday, 18 May 2015

Wings ‘n things.

I’m an angel, she shouted, her eyes flashing blue. 
She’s flying! she’s flying! we all shouted too. 
But then little Willy, 
Said ‘don’t be so silly, 
They're stuck to her back with some cheap super glue!’ 

Thank you again Tess for stimulating the writer in us, and for the comments that show us you are interested.

Now for something that has blown me away. This letter arrived from my publisher a few days ago.

From: Shamini [] Sent: Thursday, 14 May 2015 3:29 PM
Subject: 'Cull' to be presented to 'Books at MIFF 2015'
Hi Stafford, This is Shamini from JoJo Publishing, just emailing to let you know that we've entered your book into 'Books at MIFF 2015'. This is an annual event at the Melbourne International Film Festival which allows publishers, producers, film financiers and agents to network and pitch film ideas to each other. This year we were allowed to enter 5 of our best books, and yours was chosen from our range of titles to be pitched to the 'Books at MIFF' for the opportunity to be selected for their films rights catalogue and pitching sessions on the day. Please feel free to read the attached documentation as that will undoubtedly answer some of the questions you may have about this process. I will certainly keep you informed if your book is selected and let you know what the process will be from there.
With kind regards,

If it goes no further, this has been huge for me and I thank my friends who continued to believe in me and kept me writing.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Caught in the act

They said it won’t go on TV
Or Rupert’s news rag on page three.
“We’ll just show the torso”,
They said, but showed more, so
Now, everyone knows that it’s me!

I know, I know, it's an old one, but I can dream! Thanks again Tess for yet another opportunity to play with words.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The death penalty.

At thirteen, my son was introduced to Heroin by trusted adults. That one act was enough to ruin his young life and thus began almost half a century of grief for his family and his friends and a sadness we will carry to our graves.

This week we saw the execution of two people who had organised others to smuggle enough Heroin into this country to ruin many more young lives.
But both of those men changed while in prison to become leaders in constructive ways that offered other prisoners a role model. That loss was only one of many Indonesia will suffer.

We all saw the grief and disbelief on faces of innocent mothers, fathers and siblings as the executions were carried to their grisly end. But that pain was not matched in Australian media by depictions of pain suffered by thousands of Heroin users, as they slowly destroy their lives and degrade the lives of people who care about them.

The plight of Heroin users was the excuse for the executions, but if we demand an 'eye for an eye', as Gandhi said, that just means we will have a lot of blind people. There is no value in a contest to see who suffers the most. This is not about difference, this is about inclusion. If we widen our scope to include the loved ones of all people in jails and detention around the world we see a compelling oneness. All their loved ones grieve for them, the perpetrators just as much as the victims.

But the death penalty adds a dimension that is more cruel to the survivors than it is to those executed. The death penalty destroys that one emotion that keeps us going against all odds, and that is hope.

Pic: courtesy Daily News.