Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Overdoing it.

I started out to decorate,
Guitar, driftwood, a lamp, ornate.
But I was rash,
Now have no cash
So come right in and please donate!

Thank you Tess.

 Coal: Nature's hazardous waste dump.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Body Language Story.

For a moment I thought Ostinov had me, with the queen in check to his bishop, but I blocked him with the king’s rook. It looked like a desperation move, but it wasn’t. I had planned it to happen that way. Then it got really interesting. I didn’t really believe he would fall for it, but he took the rook with his bishop. I had the bishop covered with my queen’s rook. He didn’t know it, but the trap was closing. He was distracted by my knight, just one mover from taking his queen and he failed to notice that taking my rook put him in check. He was really sweating then and I knew I had him. He had nowhere to go and it was mate! Cecily, that was the most exciting game I have ever played against Ostinov and it was in record time too. I beat him in under ten hours! Oh! And we have a rematch in a month, I’d really like you to come and watch!

 Thanks again Tess for another demanding prompt!

 Coal: Nature's hazardous waste dump.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Hobbin Rood... Takes from the poor to give to the rich.

I think it started here with Graham Morris, political adviser and Mr Media Savvy, when he apparently advised John Howard to answer all question with the same slogan. It worked like this:

Q: “Mr Howard, given that it was known that Saddam Hussein had no Weapons of Mass Destruction, do you still think it was prudent to invade Iraq?”
A: “Interest rates will always go up under Labor.”
 Q: “Mr Howard, given that you knew asylum seekers were not throwing their children overboard to ‘blackmail’ Australian authorities, why, just before an election, did you say they did?”
A: “Interest rates will always go up under Labor.”

 Q: “Mr Abbott, given that you promised no cuts to education, health, pensions, the ABC and I could name many others before the election and are, post election, cutting all of them, do you now concede that you lied through your teeth to fool the people into voting for you?”
A: “Err…. Um…. We have get the budget back into surplus. That is what we promised, and that is what we will deliver.”

 In every interview I have witnessed, which is now in the tens and approaching the hundreds, I see and hear our Prime Minister follow the Morris sales mantra. But surely the strategy that worked before the election, that is, to simplify complex issues into a few slogans such as “Stop the boats!”, “Cut the Carbon Tax!”, “Get the budget back into surplus!”, is now wearing a bit thin.
To me it is pathetic to see our Prime Minister’s dogged adherence to a tactic that is dishonest and insulting to both the interviewer and the observer. I hope I am not alone.

 Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull, leader-in-waiting, could be well advised to take note. One might maintain that an opposition's job is to throw everything at the government to thwart its policies, good or bad, as Abbott did so relentlessly in opposition, but perhaps it is time for Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to think about a fair way to balance our budget, while not shredding those programs that make this country such a good place to live, regardless of one's status in life. 

These leaders are speaking to one of the best educated constituency anywhere in the world, so perhaps it is time they showed some respect for the collective intellect and confided in us. I am ready to be part of a fair reduction in spending, but penalising the poor while leaving the wealthy basically untouched is too Ayn Rand for me.

 Also, I am sure I am not alone in fearing that loss confidence in the political system will leave people ready to take their grievances to the streets, rather than the ballot box, as we are observing in the Balkans, Thailand, Egypt, you name it. Those people are not stupid or want to be destructive, they are basically frustrated by their lack of political access.

Of course there are always political vandals waiting to take advantage of that type of anger and when they do, it always ends in grief. Are we going there? Maybe we are unless we really take constituency seriously and stop rewarding dishonesty.

 We enjoy one of the most peaceful and compliant communities in the world, but watch that unravel if we lose confidence in our political institutions. Big Clive didn't help much either, by accusing the Electoral Commission of corruption. Once we lose confidence in the basic honesty of our electoral system, it is very difficult to get it back.

Photo: Lidia Nikonova (SMH)

Coal: Nature's hazardous waste dump.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Where have I been?

I have been sitting in the public gallery of the Supreme Court at a murder trial. The jury was out for four days deciding on two questions, the second of which was divided into two sub-questions.

For those who do not know, my elder son David died from a brain haemorrhage after being kicked in the head by a stranger. That was two years ago. But for the last two weeks, the accused faced the court on a charge of murder. He had tried to plea-bargain a verdict of manslaughter, but because of overwhelming evidence of the force of the kicks, captured on CCTV, the Police and Dept. of Public Prosecutions went ahead with a murder trial.

Footage showed the stranger walking up to David and his friend Sarah who were sitting on a doorstep in downtown Sydney. After talking to David for a short while, he suddenly stood up and kicked David in the head and upper body. The footage showed three kicks before the camera was masked by a passing bus, but he admitted to more and witnesses said there were at least six, up to nine.

After he kicked David, he walked away, but was tackled by a man who saw the kicking, and with the help of a bouncer working the door or a nearby night club, held him until police arrived. David appeared not badly hurt and did not press charges, so the police let the man go. David was talking normally and walked normally according to paramedics who were called to check him out. He did have an obvious haematoma on the back of his head and complained that his jaw was not lining up properly.

Because there was a head injury, he was taken to hospital for examination, which would normally have included an MRI scan. Unfortunately, there were six ambulances waiting with injured people, plus a full waiting room, so he was not given the MRI, but was triaged and returned to the waiting room to be given a thorough examination later. Nurses who saw him missed vital clues. His level of alertness deteriorated as time passed, but there was a change of shift. New people coming on duty, although told of his condition, did not observe those changes and also thought his less compliant attitude, and his insistence that he be allowed to sleep, was due to intoxication.

In fairness, he was an alcoholic but as reported by the paramedics, he was not showing significant signs of intoxication when they checked him out and there was no reason to think intoxication would get worse with time. So after three and three quarters of an hour of waiting, he left the hospital, taking a hospital blanket and walked across the road to a small park where he went to sleep. His body was discovered at about 2PM next day.

The only positive to come out of this was that, like the Gambler, he died in his sleep. His troubles are over. Because the assailant was arrested on the spot, there was no question as to who kicked David, ultimately causing his death. However, for the murder charge to stick, he must have had an intention to ‘inflict really serious bodily harm’. The CCTV footage seemed to show intention with the severity of the kicks, and the jury decided that way.

The next question for the jury to consider was whether an underlying mental illness caused him to lose control or whether it was more likely alcohol, consumed during a night of drinking at five bars or more, plus smoking three cones that caused him to lose control.

The jury was confused and so was I. Summing up, the judge’s directions were so convoluted and confusing, the jury must have felt they needed to err on the side of caution. So on that question, they decided it was more likely an underlying mental illness that caused his loss of control, and therefore, he was guilty of manslaughter. Philosophically, I guess anyone who attacks a stranger with no provocation, but with intent to do serious harm, has to be insane at the time.

In a few weeks, a sentence will be handed down but whatever it is, that young man’s future is bleak. He will spend years in jail, those years when most people are setting up their futures. And when he comes out, he will be a different person. What that is up to him, but the prognosis in not good.

 For the two weeks of the trial, I watched the accused and at times felt compassion for him. On that night, he made choices that resulted in a person dying and that cannot be undone. For his parents I feel even more compassion. I had to mop up a few tears when they approached me to express their sorrow and I was able to express my sympathy for them. Except for the sadness that never ends when a child dies before you, my worrying for David is over. But for that young man's parents, it has a long way to run, and most likely can only get worse.

Touchdown: 0.0534 seconds.

Once I built a tree house
High up in the sky,
There I watched departing leaves,
Imagined I could fly.

So now I’m in Emergency
My body wrapped in plaster
With broken bones, no dignity
An absolute disaster.

Please go to Magpie Tales for a more believable explanation.

Coal: nature's hazardous waste dump.