Tuesday 11 December 2012

Getting to the bottom of Climate Change.

It took only twenty five years after scientists had warned of the consequences of melting permafrost for the Sydney Morning Herald to give it a banner headline: “Even the earth is melting!”

I will leave you to further research that one while we have a look at two really simple propositions. The first is this question: Is CO2 a greenhouse gas or not? We know that it is, so that should be the end of Climate Change debate, but it still rages. Why?

 The second is about logic. If a discussion is in progress on any issue where differences of opinion are mutually exclusive, such as “Climate change is the result of human activity V Human activity has no effect on Climate Change”, there are two possibilities. Either one is correct or none is correct. Simple? One would think so, but we are not wired for logic. It must be learned. We are wired for Faith, a process by which we take on a notion and ignore evidence to the contrary. It seems we can be hypnotised and our powers of reason bypassed. An example is the hold Hitler had over an otherwise logical and civilised people that led to the Jewish/Polish/Gypsy Holocaust with death by war of millions more.

 We think we have learned to recognise the Hitlers of the world, but have we? Perhaps we are backing the next generation of gurus who are leading us into the next holocaust; the Climate Change Holocaust.

Some questions to contemplate:
Who is constantly promoting economic growth and why?
Is it impossible to live without coal and oil?
What level of carbon emissions is sustainable?
Should I ‘think globally and act locally’ by investing in solar panels or becoming a vegetarian or riding my bike to work or or or, when the Chinese and Indians are ramping up their emissions?
Is population the elephant in the room, and if so, should we accept immigration from cultures in which large families are promoted?
Should I vote for a party with an aggressive climate change policy rather than one that promises jobs in coal mining and CSG, even though it might cost me money?
Does it really matter that we trash our environment if God is about to stage the Rapture?

Add questions, or better still, answers!

Monday 10 December 2012

I've Been Everywhere!


The 1959 song by Geoff 'Tangle Tongue' Mack was made popular by my mate Lucky Starr, but this variation sung by Geoff himself appeals to the older listener.


But wait there is more!

Touch my sweet lips in America,
Admire my atolls in Spain
And if you go down to Antarctica
You'll come back again and again!

Prompt offered by the still young and gorgeous Tess at Magpie Tales.

Monday 3 December 2012

Devil’s Music.

Talent you must not abuse.
It’s not a plaything to amuse.
Satan’s waitin’,
loves that sinful jazz and blues.

 When I was in my early twenties, and arrived home in the early hours after playing in a dance band, more often than not my father would be waiting up to berate me for playing the ‘devil’s music’. If I had told him it was a Catholic Church dance, he would have died of shame on the spot!

PS. The prompt reminded me of the story of the one-eyed planter in Africa who would warn his tribal workers that the (glass) eye he removed and placed on a fence post could see if they slackened off while he was away.
 Thanks Tess for yet another clever prompt.

Monday 26 November 2012

Points to watch when moving to Alaska.

Hey Ethel!
Where’s that old orange settee?
What Gran’pappy Scruggs gave to me?
I’m sure the pantechnicon
had all the furniture on
back at Gall’tin Tennessee!

 Hey Stanley!
You bought that settee new at Sears
and sat on it drinking for years.
caused disintegration;
the house falling down round your ears!

 Hey Reader!
Take heed of the moral here showed,
(such wisdom is rarely bestowed).
“If you’re moving house,
be sure your old couch
is in with the rest of the load!”

Sit back on your favourite chair and enjoy more poems and stories by clicking on  Magpie Tales.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Wells of wisdom.

How does one deal with an illogical argument? I am talking about the common error of extrapolation, where one set of facts apparently disproves another but when logic is applied, both sets of facts are shown to be true and independent.

I came across just such an argument last week, and because it challenged one of my pet concerns, I was forced to take another look at my premises. The argument was about climate change, and my friend Ross attempted to convince me that Climate Change was a myth, perpetrated by interest groups. He showed me evidence, based on ancient rainfall records around the Nile as measured in the depth of a well, going back thousands or years.

Those records suggest weather events occur in a twenty-one year cycle. He then claimed that current weather extremes were no more than expressions of that cycle. Ergo, climate change was not the cause. I read the evidence and it was compelling, except for one thing. There was a logical disconnect. The twenty-one year cycle had nothing to do with Climate Change. Climate change will alter long established cycles, some dramatically, particularly if sea currents change in direction and/or intensity. But has cause-effect been established between Climate Change and recent weather extremes experienced in North America, Pakistan and Eastern Australia, for example?

Last year’s Brisbane floods were not quite a record, New York’s storm surge was not quite a record, and in Pakistan records were not kept so to claim a simple cause-effect is ‘dangerous’. However, I did hear that Mississippi flooding reached one in five hundred year levels four times in the last twenty years. The chance those floods were a natural deviation are millions to one against.

It seems likely Ross’s twenty-one year cycle has been lifted in its entirety to a new level of intensity by higher energy levels retained within the global climate system. The twenty-one year cycle can be superimposed over the general climate change trend so they are both true.

Then Serendipity intervened with bad news and good news. The bad news came with the ABC show Catalyst that examined a hundred years of Australian weather records and showed the continent has heated by an average one degree, driving tropical and sub-tropical fish species south and caused extremes of temperature that was illustrated by birds falling from the sky. Then yesterday on RN Radio, as I drove along the shore, reinforced by rock walls against sea surge, that a simple experiment on Heron Island into ocean acidity proved beyond doubt that by the end of this century, that is, when babies born now are only a little older than I am now, no sea creatures that evolved to be calcium dependant will have survived. Such creatures include corals and those with shells. So what was the good news?

For the first time since European settlement of the Australian continent, energy use has fallen. Australians have the highest uptake of solar technology in the world. We are still the highest per capita polluters, but there is a glimmer of hope.

Monday 19 November 2012

Decisions, decisions!

One look,
it took.
Miserable out;
staying in!

Some are born into the most inhospitable environments and of those, most stay.
I still wonder why, but in truth the answer is in my own behaviour. I too go out.
Thanks again to Tess at Magpie Tales for the prompt and opportunity to go where otherwise I would not.

Monday 12 November 2012

Slaughter house.

Where a million
children died
for kaiser, president and king.

And in the end,
a victory yields
but rubble, bones and grief.

A sad reminder from Magpie Tales and Felix Vallotton that war has reached its use-by-date.

Saturday 10 November 2012

What we talked about at the U3A meeting this week.

I was about to write about the Obama win and how welcome that is to we foreigners. You might well say it is none of our business, but in fact US foreign policy has been Australia’s foreign policy for over seventy years, with our troops supporting US troops in every conflict during that time, despite misgivings in our electorate that is strengthening as we concentrate on relationships within our region. We see Obama as more likely to negotiate solutions than to embark on another ‘shock and awe’ adventure than a Republican Commander In Chief.

Preschoolers in Beijing. 
Instead I will tell you of a most interesting conversation with a Chinese woman who emigrated to Australia twenty years ago, but visits her family in China. The context was a U3A group that discusses current events, and as she was there, was asked about elections in China and what she thought would be the direction taken economically and politically.

 She said the fear in China was politics of the Left, now fighting a rear guard action as community expectations are reflected in the current administration’s promotion of greater individual ownership and rights. She said the new aspiration was to own a home and to afford that, workers are demanding a larger slice of the pie. What seems to have been forgotten by the very wealthy here and in the US but understood there, is that higher wages for workers are spent in the domestic economy, the largest market for home produced products.

It seems nonsensical to give greater wealth to the wealthy in a developed economy, hoping they will start new businesses to create jobs to produce what workers, who continue to have wages eroded, are less able to afford. She also filled in detail of how the one child policy works, and said access to social security for the retired and access to education and jobs for girls had ended the shameful killing of female babies driven by fear of a miserable, unsupported old age.

Couples can have more than one child, but the second child is not supported by the state so there is an economic disincentive. But, she says, couples are now happy to have small families, contrary to what we hear outside the country. With child care available to most as part workers employment packages, children receive plenty of social interaction. In rural areas where there is less opportunity for girls to earn wages, she says families have more children. It is a bit rich for us to still criticise China for what we perceive as lack of civil rights, considering how far it has come since its Communist revolution and large scale social intervention while we still fail our less fortunate.

Its political system in the modern era has delivered food to the table of all, while developing a mind boggling export machine. Our ‘woman inside’ said its focus is on economic development, not military expansionism. So to continue talking about ‘containing China’ will force them to investment in expanding their military forces and hardware, which she says is not their wish.

 PS. If Climate Change and its threat to human habitation on this planet is to be halted this side of extinction, we need to invest heavily in renewable technology while we still can. For that to succeed, China must be be a full partner, so I do not wish to see them try to match the US, which spends (I read but have not verified) 40% of the global military budget. The scare campaign waged against Obama’s 10% reduction in military spending during the election seems to have failed, so watch for a ramped up rhetoric as the political/military machine feels the pain.

Monday 5 November 2012

Sensible shoes.

Dear Edward, my love, you’re an idiot.
I'm amazed you could even consider it.
I’ve set you aglow
In these boots, but you know,
By time they’re unlaced you’ll be over it!

 A likely story, you say. Well, for the real thing, go to Magpie Tales where poets and storytellers gather every Monday, west of the IDL and Sunday in the east.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Shivvery is not dead.

She’s wearing his coat,
She has his umbrella.
What sort of a girl
would do that to her fella?

OK you poets out there, I have a challenge for you.
Write a concluding verse in lieu of a comment. Go on, do it.

Thank you Tess at Magpie Tales for another challenging prompt.

Friday 26 October 2012

We buried Uncle Bill McDonald today.

For him, God was the life force inside every living thing, and he did not place himself above the lowest of creatures in that sense. He certainly looked for ways to help every human being he came across, regardless of all else except their need. He was an exceptional organiser, who pushed others gently and with humour to do better, while always wondering if he was himself doing all he could.

Stories told by his three children gave us a picture of intelligence, wisdom and kindness and a letter he wrote to be read at his funeral left us in no doubt he was not afraid to go, but was content. That is how he will be remembered.

However, the Pastor who conducted the service did not accept Bill’s understanding of God and spent most of his time at the lectern preaching about a god that existed outside the body and mind of Man; a god, who unlike Uncle Bill, did play favourites, and although we are expected to believe he created and loves us all, offers eternal life only to Christians.

When he considered he had us softened up, he delivered the knock-out punch by quoting the words of Jesus as reported by John: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

 For the past few days I have been reading a detective novel in which the ‘heroine’ character spends more time protecting her patch against intrusions from other coppers than seeking evidence to support her case. I guess the Pastor may have wondered why I was smiling as I listened respectfully and noted the parallels. Uncle Bill rests in peace. Some do not.

Monday 22 October 2012

Banknotes and Quantitative Easing.

 Bring back the Gold Standard.

Four and twenty Blackbirds
Baked in a pie.


 If you have no Mo-ney,
 Get a printing press.

 Soon you’ll have the Coun-try’s
 Finance in a mess.

. ……………

Explanation for those who do not read Roman: The year 1876 marked the start of art on US banknotes. (You will need to turn it over to read the date). Prompted by Tess at Magpie Tales.

Thursday 18 October 2012

Land of the long lost vowel.

When I was a child it was difficult to pick a Kiwi in our midst. No more. But before I proceed, I must assure everyone, particularly my Kiwi family and the rest of them that this is not intended as a slight in any way. In the year 2000, I flew back from overseas with Air NZ. As is often the case when one comes from an environment that is perceived, or actually is a threat, when one steps aboard the home flight, there is a sigh of relief. The moment an Air NZ hostess smiled a ‘Wilcem aboard’, I felt I was already home.

 What seems to have happened is that the short vowel sounds have taken a step to the right, so ‘a’ as in 'apple', as spoken by anyone else in the English speaking world, except perhaps S Africa, becomes ‘e’ as in 'berry'. Then ‘e’ becomes ‘i’ as in 'skittle' and ‘i’ disappears, to become a stop, as in ‘fsh-n-chps’. Now to complete the set, ‘u’ becomes a sort of tortured ‘a’. I am sure NZ-ers are happy with that, but I often have problems understanding our nearest neighbours, who are, I claim, our best friends on the planet. So what happened that pushed their accent so far from the middle?

It seems that we humans are not happy to share an accent with our 'just over the border' neighbours. It could simply be to express a separate identity but I suspect it is for security. We go to great lengths to create almost-impossible-to-mimic differences and there is a good reason based on ‘survival of the fittest’ theory. Of course, we use all sorts of 'in' language; jargon and such which serves the purpose of keeping outsiders guessing and if one does attempt to join in, we can throw a bit of jargon around and smile at each other as we make the outsider look a dill.

 So, we start with the premise that NZ-ers as a whole are more closely related to each other genetically than they are to Australians, so if there ever was a war between these two highly competitive but staunchly friendly nations, we and they would be able to distinguish between friend and foe to protect our respective gene pools. So there you have it.

Now, to apply that hypothesis to the many and sometimes way-out accents one finds in Britain, including that spoken by the broadest of Scots, we can assume they have a bloody and conflict ridden history. I seem to remember reading something about the occasional barney in ‘1066 and all That’. But I could be wrong.

Friday 12 October 2012

Reply to Snowbrush.

The tragic fact is that human beings are genetically programmed to be religious. That is, to believe things and beings exist for which there is no evidence and to believe certain events happened, even those that have been proven to have not happened.

To believe, despite evidence to the contrary is called Faith. We all have it and will give it expression unless we work at understanding its nature and, particularly at times when we are being threatened, refuse to let is take charge of our emotions and actions. Faith has been useful in Human evolution up until E=MC2. But now, if we are to meet our human-induced challenges of climate change and over-population, we must realise that Faith has passed its ‘use-by-date’ and start acting on fact.

 You mentioned a few absurdities in a recent post on Religion, and in the next post presented a fairly detailed account of the progression of your own obsession; that of transforming normal women into sexual angels and acting on that obsession. I suspect both posts are expressions of the same mental process by which we create Faith and they are both examples of how we become prisoners of Faith.

Transformation of normal women to supernatural status was a process of your mind that most of us recognise as 'falling in love'. But for you, and many others, that same process pushed you to act out what, for most of us remain fantasy, outside those 'moral' boundaries we are all taught as children and are expected to maintain as adults. Fortunately for this discussion, we have become accustomed to your confessional style and your determination to let it all hang out. And being accustomed to you means we can get past our own boundaries and experience yours, in my case, without judgement.

In your sexual history post, you documented acting out your sexual fantasies. But like a religious extremist, you did not stop where you worshipped at the altar of your fantasies, but become what could be called a Sexual Terrorist. Your fantasies were so compelling that they needed expression in action and were so strong that you ignored real dangers to yourself and trespassed the boundaries of others as you followed wherever they led.

However, your fantasies were gentle and consensual, unlike religious, racial and political fanatics who are consumed with a fervour that often drives them to murder. We all ask why this schoolgirl was shot when all she was asking for was gender equality, and the answer is as old as God and lies deep within our genetic code. It was her challenge to dogma that incited the response it did, not the essence of her request  and we need to understand that. In a comment on Selma's blog, I sought to answer the question; why there is so much religious (and political) violence now. Of course, world-wide instant media brings every statement made by anyone to the attention of everyone else, so what was said in pre-Internet times was more likely to remain local and not trigger a response. I think my comment (paraphrased) is worth repeating here.

"If you tell me two plus two is five, I can demonstrate your error. I take two coconuts and hand them to you, saying; ‘count them.’ You say: "Two". Then I hand you two more coconuts and say; ‘count them.’ You say: "Two". Then I ask you to count the number you now have. Unless you are a complete idiot, you will concede that two plus two is four and there is no need to hit you over the head with the non-existent fifth coconut to change your mind. 

However, in matters of Faith, the rules of evidence change as do our responses. If you claim your ‘imaginary friend in the sky’ is better than my ‘imaginary friend in the sky’, we are at an impasse. Because there is no verifiable evidence with which to demonstrate your 'error', the only way I can stop you from saying it is to kill you." Humans have always done it and we still do. So what do we do about it?

 Chimp pic courtesy of National Geographic.

Thursday 11 October 2012

What are you frightened of?

I did not
vilify your prophet

 I did not
 deny your Allah

 I did not
 ask for anything

 I just want
to be human

 And you shot me.


 Pic from Channel 7 Sydney.

Monday 8 October 2012


'Why not a-bed?'
The doctor said,
'You pulse is all a quiver!'

'Your temperature
is very high;
I think it is your liver!'

"Oh no, good sir,
it isn’t that;
my liver is just fine."

"I just need sleep,
a place to lie,
to spend some hours supine!"

"My marriage bed
is out of bounds;
it’s otherwise employed."

"My bastard of a
husband has the
maid in there, conjoined!"


 Dear Tess,
I hope you learn something from this poor woman's dilemma and at Willow Manor, always have available at least one spare bed!

Monday 1 October 2012

Splade Emotions.

It seems it’s a bad day to day
The demons, no longer at bay;
I see that you’re utterly
Possessed by the cutlery.
The white coats are well on their way.

 Pic and challenge from Magpie Tales.
Pop over for more insanity.

Monday 24 September 2012

Goose Bumps

David, you’re really a pain!
You want me to strip off again?
Please be a sweetie,
let’s work in Tahiti,
instead of midwinter, in Maine!

Pop over to Willow Manor where Tess has the fire going.

Wednesday 19 September 2012


So, someone somewhere in the USA made a u-tube that reportedly, among other things, depicted Mohammed as a paedophile. History states that Aisha, his youngest but not his first or last wife was betrothed at age six, married at eight and, reportedly consummated when she was ten and he was fifty-three. His first marriage to Kahdija he made when he was twenty five and she forty.

That marriage was monogamous and lasted twenty-five years until her death, so up to that time there was no evidence of paedophilia, which, as any psychologist will tell you, is a mental illness that is difficult for the perpetrator to deny. Also there no evidence he was 'bedding' two women concurrently at any time, so we cannot safely draw the conclusion he married Aisha for sex. So if he was not a paedophile, why did he marry Aisha when she was so young?

Later in life, he did marry women with families who had lost husbands so there is evidence he married some women to give them and their children protection offered by married status, and of course there is politics. As in royal households of Europe and the landed gentry of Britain, marriages were arranged to create bonds between neighbours and it was no different with Arabic tribes of his time and in some societies, it still happens.

Marriages made allies, so was the marriage to Aisha a political marriage? Some historians have Mohammed already married to Sawda by then, a widow who came with her family and, as a grown woman, would have satisfied his sexual needs. He provided an apartment each for Sawda and Aisha, so they had private quarters. Although it was stated officially that the marriage to Aisha was consummated when she was ten, who really knows? If the marriage to Aisha was political, then of course Aisha’s family would be keen for consummation to be announced so they could be confident the union was 'official'.

So we are told he did consummate the marriage and we also know that he came to love Aisha deeply. She was his favourite and later, his historian. As for later marriages to widows with families, there could have been seven or eight of those. So the household became large and complex and who actually slept with the Prophet, only the Prophet and the women knew.

 OK, so we come to now. Modern Western culture is very specific on age of consent and at what age we allow marriage, and we are unanimous in our condemnation of paedophilia. In our definition, sex with a girl of ten is paedophilia. But we cannot apply twentieth century morals to the sixth century, not can we be sure Mohammed did actually have sex with Aisha while she was a child. To assume he did, and also to assume it was unethical for him to have done so, as we say in law, is dangerous. 

Then last week, an individual, an extremist Christian and a US citizen, made a flick and the Muslim world erupted, shooting people, smashing anything smashable, and calling for the death of anyone connected with the US. Even as far away as Sydney. Here, Muslims demonstrated and some youths rioted, putting about twenty people including half a dozen Riot Squad police in hospital. So what is the connection? Americans did not condone the film. Australians did not condone the film. In fact very few even knew it existed. But when they did, everyone from Obama, Clinton, all our political leaders down, condemned it as not representative of our attitude to Islam or the Prophet, but the riots happened anyway, killing innocents and even the US Ambassador to Lebanon, clearly a friend of Islam and a peacemaker.

 So why him? Was his friendship with Muslims a threat to those who destabilise regimes to take advantage of chaos? Muslims in Australia seem to be so happy to be here, so was the Sydney riot an aberration? Ockham’s Razor says not. Such a violent reaction to what was a grubby little film that could in no way be blamed on any one here speaks of a wider discontent, particularly among Muslim youth, and our governments seem to be ignorant of the source. Try these for size.

 • Our (secular) parliament starts each session with a Christian prayer.
• Witnesses in our courts, supposedly secular and blind to religion, race and gender, are asked to swear to tell the truth with a hand on a bible, ‘so help me God’. We are permitted to make an alternative affirmation and not use the Bible, but the Bible is still the default oath and is expected.
• Funding is provided for Public (secular) Schools to have Christian chaplains. They say the school can choose, but originally, the funding was specifically granted for Christian chaplains sourced from one Christian organisation, in a bid to attract the Christian vote. Unfortunately, there are more votes lost when something is taken away than when something is promised, so it stays.
 • Services (defence, fire brigades, police etc) fund Christian chaplains.

At a local level, communities more often than not, resist the building of mosques in their neighbourhoods. A proposed Christian church is generally welcomed.

 In other words, we are a Christian country in which minorities such as Muslims feel alienated. It might not seem that important to 'old Australians', who are accustomed to the flow of language with constant references to Christian beliefs, but one must remember that, unlike most Christians who might or might not attend church once a week or maybe Easter and Christmas or maybe only for funerals, Muslims are infinitely more enmeshed with their rituals, prayers, customs and dress codes.

They do notice and they resent it. Now having said all that, I have no doubt our Christian trappings are used as evidence of religious oppression by many Muslim leaders to keep the cultural divide in place. And with that attitude embedded, it does not take much of an excuse for young angry men to make up a mindless mob of destruction of anything representing the ‘other’.

 It might be time to remove religious references from our public institutions, and that can only be done if the majority wants it to happen. But in no case does mindless thuggery like we saw a few days ago, inflicted on a bemused population lead them to believe the minority in their midst is non-threatening. A minority that wants to be equal needs to join in the political process to present its case in the political arena, and it certainly has one. But attacking existing and emerging allies in the general community is not a smart way to go and Muslims here must talk about that among themselves. The majority must also realise that in the long term, it is vital that our newcomers, no matter the source, should be encouraged to feel 'Australian' first and Christian, Muslim, Hindu second. If we fail at integration, we will create the type of bloody mess these people came here to escape.

Maybe you might like to read this. It is more or less related and you might like the poem.
Image borrowed from Daily Telegraph Sydney.

Monday 17 September 2012

Delayed Gratification.

My sailor is great at the rumba,
the cha-cha, the tango and samba.
But when I am ready
to take him to bed, he
insists I must first learn to salsa!

Disembark at Magpie Tales for more sightseeing.

Monday 10 September 2012

Cubic’s Rube.

Dear Sir, is there anything wrong?
You’ve sat there, not eating so long.
You sent back uneaten,
 the toast, rye and wheaten,
So is Sir content with the bong?


Sorry, Tess but temptation was too great.
Prompted by Tess and her wonderful art collection.

Monday 3 September 2012


(In my) garden of radish and roses
No-one connected the hoses
Not one used a hoe,
None planted a row.
They all stood around making poses.


Thank you Tess for seeking out these mysteries.
Real stories and poems can be found at Magpie Tales.

Monday 27 August 2012

House of Love.

Remember this room,
when kindling snapped
and hissed in the grate?

Remember the girl
that was you,
so eager to please?

Remember the man
who stacked the wood,
then sat by you?

Remember the child
mewing, crawling,
trusting, so loved?

It all looked smaller then,
filled with love and warmth,
and my Harley Davidson.


Prompted by Tess Kincaid's pet Magpie.
PS. Thought it was about time to update the Photo.
This one in the Mooloola River SE Qld 2011.

Monday 20 August 2012

Power Play.

Last night Sis 3 and I caught the train to the Old Fitzroy in Kings X to see a play. I was particularly interested because the writer is Mark Rogers. Who is Mark Rogers, you may well ask? Mark Rogers (note I have written the name three times so you will remember him), is an up and coming talent in several of the dramatic arts, and he is my granddaughter Ahleigh’s bloke. That's him in the pic below. He usually looks less battered.

So I had to go. Right? No, but I am very glad I did. Mark's play, directed by Sanja Simic explored the phenomenon of ‘investment’ in another person’s life, and the right of the ‘investor’ to interfere in that life.

Parents make a huge investment in their children and do assert control, that wisely directed and with a bit of luck, turns our children into adults we are proud to know. But outside that relationship, how much right to control can we ‘buy’.

 Dale Carnegie offered the proposition that: “If you want someone to like you, don’t do something for them, let them do something for you.” Seems counter intuitive until we realise we are allowing them to invest in our success. The moment someone invests money, time or love they are hooked into a supporting role to protect their investment. This play, Blood Pressure, as the name implies, explores pressure of ‘ownership’ that starts when one brother donates an organ to the other.

The donor cannot stop himself taking responsibility for his brother’s health. The organ is being rejected but the sick brother will not seek, or even agree to treatment. He is tired of the business of being sick and just wants it to stop. His brother reacts with increasing frustration until the tussle over control of his life escalates to the point where the donor brother becomes so frustrated with his sick brother's refusal to allow him to take control, that the donor suicides.

Such pure tragedy is rarely done so well. But it is the question it explores that makes this play so special. No dramatic work I know of has ever explored this particular human interaction from that point of view. In fact I doubt Mark is quite aware of how important this play is!

 After the’ curtain’ I sat for a while. It brought back vividly the plight of my mother who, following a crippling stroke, tried so hard to recover enough to be independent again, but after a year and a half, she knew she had done all she could and was never going to make it all the way back.

Once she realised she would never regain her dignity, she just wanted it to all end. But streams of visitors continued their relentless encouragement.

Most who visit the terminally ill try to be cheery, when in fact all they need is a loving hand to hold while they get on with dying. Eventually she took control and emigrated!

Many in the family are still wondering why she moved out of range of their visits. This play put flesh and blood onto the bones of my not-totally-formed understanding of what she did back then. Of course she died, but only after she insisted on her right to stop fighting and just let it happen.

She removed the ‘Blood Pressure’ by removing herself, all the way to New Zealand, so she could die peacefully, in the end, satisfying nobody’s expectations but her own. I love you Mum.

Dirty Windshield.

You missed the turn, you silly arse,
We’re off the road and on the grass.
So stop the car
Right where you are,
Get out the sponge and clean the glass!

Boy oh boy, Tess is making it hard!

Friday 17 August 2012

Just another patient.

Yesterday, I took Sis 3 to see a doctor. She arrived on Sunday last from Sunny Queensland to cheer me up. As some know, I have suffered a few losses lately but none know quite how many. All up, it has been a crowd of grief over a short period. So, considering the state I was in, I handled what happened with outstanding aplomb!

 Sis left me in the waiting room with a pen and a crossword, so I was happy, but as I came to the last clue, a man leaned over the gap between seats and, in a very educated English accent, remarked; “You must be very clever to do those!”

I looked at him, smiling, leaning so close that I was glad he paid attention to mouth hygiene and took in his appearance. He was well dressed, nice clothes, well groomed, even features, intelligent eyes and good looking for a middle aged man, but before I got around to an answer, he challenged me with two statement that caused me to wonder. “I know everything there is to be known. Ask me a question!” I thought I would go on with the game;

“You don’t know my name, but you could easily find out.”
“I can levitate and I can be invisible!”
Now I was intrigued.
He sounded and looked too normal to be a nutter, so I waited.
“Many people don’t believe me,” he confided. “But if you go to Sydney, there must be a few that can do what I do, don’t you think?”
I opened my mouth to agree when his name was called and he disappeared through a door marked ‘Psychiatric Services’.
Damn! I wanted to see him do his stuff!

Monday 13 August 2012

Revealing Attitudes.

Women are catty and spiteful;
Of others’ bare forms, are judgemental.
But men will attest;
When seeing a breast,
They just feel eternally grateful!


Based on a quote from Robert De Niro.
Thanks to Tess,who shared her nude image.
I am grateful.

Thursday 9 August 2012

Gay sex.

The Australian Government has been plagued by difficulties since the last election and needed to make deals with two Independents and one Green to form a government . How that mix effected Labor’s reform agenda will most likely be seen by history as constructive but in the meantime, has made the job of governing extremely difficult.

 The opposition successfully destroyed the Government’s standing in the polls by simply pouring scorn on every proposal, need and science notwithstanding. Nevertheless, the Labor minority government has made inroads into some big problems, with a Carbon Price, National Disability Insurance Scheme, a Resource Rent Tax, a National Broadband Scheme and is hammering out a well overdue plan to keep our largest river system flowing.

All these reforms would be difficult enough with a majority government and it is a measure of Julia Gillard’s guts and determination that she is well on the way to achieving all those goals and a measure of support she maintains within her own party that she is still there! However, that is merely background info to set the stage. The subject I want to raise is gay sex.

Peter Slipper (picture) was the Speaker in the current parliament and has had to stand aside while a charge of sexual harassment is tested in court. It is claimed he made improper sexual suggestions to a staffer. It turns out the staffer is also gay and is being investigated for having sex with a minor or two, but that is a different matter. We do know, he and another staffer had been undermining the Speaker by feeding private information, including pages from his personal diary, to the Opposition, which offered the staffer ‘advice’ on how he should proceed in bringing charges.

 I am now old enough that I am expected, by most of my offspring and their offspring, to have finished with sex. Most find it bizarre that older people might still find comfort and joy in sex with a person they love. But if I formed a relationship with a woman I found attractive and who reciprocated, it would be accepted even by them, my greatest supporters and critics.

 But think how much more difficult it is if one is older and gay. Heterosexual relationships that start in the workplace are common and accepted, so long as there is no duress. The old Casting Couch has gone, but a gay man who approaches another gay man to suggest a more intimate relationship, particularly if he is older, is risking a lot. If his overture is accepted there is no problem, but if not and the other decides to spread the word, the older man is regarded as immoral and can also be charged, as has Peter Slipper, with sexual harassment.

I am confident the legal system will apply balance to the case, but enough of the public will make judgement guided by what the Opposition has said for it to matter politically. Some in the Opposition are urging people to make the Slipper case another test of the legitimacy of "this rotten" Gillard Government. Of course, it would be irrelevant if the Government enjoyed a comfortable majority but the loss of Slipper as Speaker means the Opposition is within one death or disability of forcing an election, which they would win comfortably and claim a mandate to do whatever their constituency wants.

It is argued that an election is what voters want now and fair enough, except that most big items of reform are in that state of limbo where a negative opposition can heap scorn and while the benefits are yet to be appreciated. Unfortunately the stakes are high.

 It will take a miracle for Gillard to survive the next election and that could be a tragedy for this country. Abbott has promised he will repeal the Carbon Tax and the Resources Rent Tax and give us an el-cheapo Broadband Network, but being the populist he is, he will go on with the popular Disability Scheme in a watered down version.

 Opposing policies, if we ever get to see more than a vow to “turn back the boats”, should be argued on their merits and it is almost unthinkable that such hard won progressive policies will most likely be dumped, not on their merits, but because enough key seats were lost, when voters were invited to be appalled that an older gay man should be seeking expression of his sexuality.

Monday 6 August 2012

Internet Dating.

Tess said:
'I thought I should go there to see
If it was the answer for me.
The food was OK,
But the fellow was gay.
It happens with RSVP!'


My gay friend Fred replied:
'Internet dating just sucks
It's aimed at the straight does and bucks.
But most of my friends
Are girls. It depends
On what you are looking for, Ducks!'


PS. Retraction.
RSVP does cater for all permutations of sexual combinations.


More successful romantic adventures can be found at Magpie Tales.

Monday 30 July 2012

Kleptomaniac Dog

No, Dog, you might think you’re cute
But you have besmirched my repute.
You pissed off the neighbours
With your bad behaviours
And now you have stolen a boot!


Steal a look at what others have made of Tess's prompt at Magpie Tales.

Tuesday 24 July 2012


Driving to my youngest’s house, just south of Wollongong, pronounced ‘woollen-gong’, handicapped by a scribbled map and desperate for a landmark, I stopped at traffic lights, scanned my surroundings, and there it was, right at the intersection. Big, bold and backlit: FIGGY BOWLO! I stared and muttered WTF while I wondered until the driver behind lost patience and tooted.

I drove on, now totally absorbed with the question and it took a while. But it shouldn’t have. When Mum died, I inherited the title of Family Cryptic Crossword and Scrabble Champ so, after trawling through all that experience, it finally came. Here it is. Figtree is a southern suburb of Wollongong and a Bowlo is a bowling club.

 I once worked in a band with Warren Daly. Warren was called Wozza. My mate Greg’s sister is Caroline, called Cazza. Gary the gardener is Gazza. People who live in public housing are called Housos and I once played football and called it Footy.

 So, translated for all but those who live within the five kilometre radius, within which, by law, all visitors must be members, FIGGY BOWLO directs one to the Figtree Bowling Club. But you knew that!

I'm off now, to kick back at the Figgy Bowlo and knock back a few with Gazza, Cazza and Wozza.

Monday 16 July 2012

Off the grog...I mean, blog.

I will be off the blog for a short time, will report in and catch up when I am in range again. Enjoy the silence.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Leaving. Excitement tinged with fear.

Leaving Sailors Bay, a slice of nature in the heart of Sydney in a few hours and sad to leave.

IXL has wangled a free week at Akuna Bay in gorgeous Coal and Candle Creek on our way to Newcastle.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

A Poem for Wally

A poem written for Wally by his mother, Ella Turnbull in 1932
 My Son.
When my heart was dark and empty
And my courage was undone;
When Life’s grand promise, bountiful
Seemed forever to be gone
    God sent my son-
Infant hands, so sweet, so fragile,
Like the blossom in the spring;
But so potent was their message
To my heart, it could not sing
For my son filled all with light
   In victory won.

Then my way no more was darkened,
For my son filled all with light;
Little fingers, pointing, showed me
Jewels crowning every height
   Like stars in Heav’n.
Will he also look for beauty?
Will his heart be true and fine?
Gallant pressing ever upward,
Will he trace the truths sublime,
   That God has giv’n?

Brighter than a radiant morning,
Child, your image in my heart;
Grant that never shame shall touch it;
That your life may be apart
    From Sorrow dire;
May all loveliness enfold you,
And the truth be e’re your goal;
May you ever cherish beauty-
Keep it burning in your soul
    Like living fire.

Where's Wally.

Last weekend we buried my closest cousin, Walter Turnbull Jones who was a few weeks off 80.

At the funeral service, a few of us talked about how he effected our lives, and as his closest, I had the most stories, all good memories. In one story I mentioned that Wally had taken me to see my first movie at about 8. At the State Theatre in those days, an organist entertained before the start and a jazz orchestra played a 20 minute spot at interval. That experience opened my mind to live music and a glimmer of what I might do with my life.

 I finished that story by telling the congregation that, as a child raised in an Exclusive Brethren household where radios and record players were not allowed, just about the only music I heard were hymns. If he had known, my father would have been horrified. Even fifteen years later when I had established myself as a professional musician, he would wait up for me to come home from gigs and berate me for playing the ‘Devil’s music’. I never really understood why they were all so frightened of music.

That questioning of doctrine led to other questionings, so I guess that was the start of my escape into the world of Reason. Maybe I would have made it on my own, but I thank Wally for opening the door and his mother for teaching him to be independent. Paradoxically, he became more and more devout as he aged, with a child like faith that I never tried to shake. Dogma and ritual made him as happy as it had made me sad.

 Wally was born 'a snag short of a barbie', but his firecracker of a mother, after giving him every chance to reach his potential and finally realising he did not inherit her amazing intellect, set about setting up his financial future and she did it well. But it was the service itself that I want to talk about today.

The old stone St Peter’s at Mt Victoria was packed with family and friends to see him off. The regular Minister came back from holidays for Wally, and some travelled from overseas to be there. He was very short at barely five feet tall, never married and never had a partner. He was incapable of much more conversation than your average ten year old, so what was it that drew them to him? As their stories unfolded, it became clear. He was a connector.

Wally would call every one of his cousins out along the family tree to about three degrees at least once a week to pass on a snippet of information, typically a one-sentence announcement such as: “Who had a new granddaughter yesterday?” He was just quirky enough to leave it as a riddle and start the rest of us phoning around for the answer. He was invited to everything going and seemed to be always there, always smiling and always pleasant.

He was welcomed into at least twenty homes any time he wanted to visit, and was loved by all of us. I was holding his hand as he drew his last breath and I know what it means when they say ‘he/she died peacefully in his/her sleep. He did. RIP Wally.

 Of the three hundred or more there that day, I would guess over half were regular churchgoers, and maybe they all believed in the ‘resurrection of the body and the life everlasting’, and maybe they found solace in the idea that his death was not the end. I respected that by not telling all of them I am a card carrying Atheist. They are good people and they loved Wally. In that context and to me, that was all that mattered.

Support for the bereaved is one of the three positives I think religions offer, apart from magnificent architecture and wonderful music. Next time I might share the other two.

Monday 9 July 2012

Cacky Handed Magpie

The playwright’s eye
Sees how it’s done,
The artist merely looks.

 The horse and dray
 Are neatly drawn
The hay arranged in stooks.

 So, take yourself,
The three pronged fork,
And try to throw the hay.

 If you don’t wish
 To hurt yourself,
 You’ll face the other way!


If you are wondering what this is saying, let me explain. To me, the man looked awkward in that tranquil setting and I wondered why. Then it came to me. The haygatherer has the stance of a left handed person, but is right handed! (try it).
Right handed people throw over the left shoulder and the higher the load, the more necessary that becomes. (been there, done that and as some know, most of my 'life's work' is in the form of plays, musical and straight).
I apologise for being so picky, when the painting is such a beautiful depiction of that part of Martha's Vineyard, as it might have looked early last century before the mansions and ride-on lawn mowers arrived. 

Less analytical and more poetic takes on Tess's art collection can be found at Magpie Tales.

Monday 2 July 2012

Ophelia and Mark.

A winner, a night 
a need to rejoice
In through the door, 
enticed by her voice.

He, innocent asked;
‘Can I kiss you Ophelia?’
She took off her robe.
“Your money, your choice!”
To lovers or art; 'I apologise'. 
To old comedians; 'You said it first!' 
To those who are offended by naughty rhymes; 'Stiff!'
G rated contributions can he viewed by the kiddies at Magpie Tales.

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Orson Welles

His talent was huge, like his size,
His motto was ‘no compromise’.
But though he was fearsome,
And awesome and fulsome,
He never learnt how to tie ties!

 Prompt from Tess's movie collection.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Scott’s Antarctic Expedition Learns from Nature.

George Levick was the scientist with Scott's ill fated quest to reach the south pole. George was appalled at what he saw as depraved sexual behaviour by male penguins, describing some males as hooligans. To fulfil his obligation to record his findings but to hide his embarrassment, he wrote of the penguins in Greek. His notes have now been released. From a 2012 perspective, inserting moral judgement into a scientific record of the behaviour of animals is extraordinary and laughable. So have a laugh.


In far away Antarctica
George Levick wrote in Greek
“Male penguins there are hooligans
No morals, so to speak”.

“They go around that frozen waste,
Those base bi-sexual lads,
And stick it into anything!
Alive or dead, the cads!”

And so Scott’s men decided they
Would stay until next season
To give them time to teach those penguins
Moral sense and reason.

Alas, a hundred years has passed
And none has been converted
In fact it seems, the men who stayed
Became themselves ‘perverted’.

For look around and you will see
Behaviour that they learned
Has now become so commonplace
It is no longer spurned.

Homosexuals walking free-
Being gay’s an institution,
And penguins of Antarctica
Are safe from retribution.

Monday 18 June 2012

Marital strain.

Our country lane
after rain,
puddles remain
that never drain.

 Muddy stain
on mats are plain.
Explain, no gain
good feelings wane.

 Next time I’ll take my boots off at the door.

 More at Magpie Tales.
PS. Very little time this week, will explain later.

Sunday 10 June 2012

Recycling. Getting to the bottom of it.

All mail was attached to the door,
Of the dunny, when we were all poor.
So, having no tissue
Was never an issue.
We just used our papers once more!

McPhersons Ltd, established in Melbourne in 1860, was the leading supplier of machinery and farm supplies to rural Australasia for a hundred years. What was not commonly known, is that the secret to their success was the famous McPherson's Catalogue.
No, it was not glossy, with glamorous models and high res photos. In fact it was the opposite. Its hundreds of pages were thick, soft and absorbent. So on the backs of dunny doors on farms from Camden to Colgoorlie, from Darwin to Deniliquin, was the perfect toilet tissue, packed with information to be read by chairmen and women across the nation, while they waited for their motions to be passed.

So it was not Chinese imports, strikes, fires or floods that forced that venerable business to move its focus away from its original rural business, it was the invention of the toilet tissue. Is this story true? Defecately!

More e-rude-ecation available at Tess's House where you will find the actual dunny door as pictured above, complete with letters from her Presidential Candidates awaiting their fate. Take a look!

Friday 8 June 2012

Working as a vegetable.

This is a picture of me arriving for work. .

My boss might appear like a fool,
To pay me to swim in his pool.
But he makes a motza
By bottl-ing lotza
Pool water, he markets as Gruel!

Go take a look in Tess's veggie garden for real poetry.
PS. Been out of range all week, almost missed my 101th consecutive magpie!

Monday 28 May 2012

Juliet at the Window.


Oh, Romeo dear, don't be mean,
So harsh of you to vent your spleen!
For I cannot join thee,
to make love tonight, see,
There's three hundred rooms I must clean!

A Magpie always keeps its nest in order. Take a look.
PS: As second time visitors may have noted, a poem is never finished; it is merely abandoned.

Friday 25 May 2012

Reply to Kutamun.

There always was a difference in how the two extremes of politics regard personal peccadilloes. John Gorton, Liberal Prime Minister, war hero and considered to be a serial womaniser, was never hounded. But his contemporary, Jim Cairns, Labor Treasurer, was hounded to resignation over his affair with Junie Morosi. As you point out, Malcolms’s mysterious pants-less episode was treated as an amusing and atypical episode in an honourable career.

Bob Hawke knew how to handle such matters. If he had been Bill Clinton, he would have said: “Of course I let her suck me off! What is a man to do when his wife is so never home? Grow up!” However, the vital difference now is the hung parliament and what is at stake.

 If Gillard loses Thompson, there will be an election and all the reforms that over half the members of the Government worked so hard to achieve, will be in jeopardy, if not doomed. Abbott has wanted blood from the get go and has used all and any tactic, no matter how negative, no matter how sleazy, no matter how bad for the country, to bring down this reformist government. Note also, that the tactics used on Jim Cairns were as vitriolic, and like the Thompson affair made great news stories. And like now, the media became obsessed with sensationalism at the expense of good government.

 So frustrating for me, as a scientist and ‘futurist’ is that the Rudd/Gillard government is being attacked so savagely because they had the guts to start this country on the absolutely crucial change towards a carbon free economy and secondly, to drag some value out of the mining boom to apply to infrastructure and education instead of tax breaks for the already wealthy. Both these are overdue, but will cost the Corporate world, so with their ear to their constituency, successive Conservative governments failed to address either. 

The ‘Juliar’ jibe needs to be put into perspective. She had the choice of agreeing to a Carbon Tax to get her carbon price through the Senate or call a new election on a small change to the detail of the carbon price mechanism, a change that was supported by the majority of the House. She chose to not call an election, knowing that to so would result in loss of government the dumping of any chance we would have this side of chaos to make a start on pollution reduction. By this time, the seeds of doubt, boosted by the perceived pink batts scheme mismanagement on the one hand and Rudd’s hissy fit as he unilaterally announced he had abandoned his carbon price policy, a key election promise, was enough to swing public opinion.

 The Rudd/Swann decision to borrow our way through the GFC and so avoid recession was successful, but is now being described by those who offered nothing but constant statements that ‘we would do it better’ as unnecessary. It was a bit like inoculation against smallpox. Nobody gets it, so maybe the drive to inoculation was just a scare campaign! Sure, I care about election promises and the standards of behaviour of individual MP’s, but I care more about policies. In this Parliament, I have heard not one word from Abbott that tells me he has one policy that addresses the difficult issues like climate change, infrastructure building and social justice.

 All I have heard are accusations of incompetence and personal attacks; all designed to give media plenty of controversy to hold our attention while Abbott and Co enjoy teflon coated life in the policy free zone. He has his orders from the big end of town, and I am terrified he will get his way. The media will continue to accentuate the sleaze of one side of politics only, and the electorate will continue to lose respect for Parliament.

Unfortunately we are prone to believe 'where there is smoke there is fire'. But I remember the media picture built around the myth that Lindy Chamberlain murdered her infant daughter Azaria in some bizarre religious ritual. Lindy was found guilty and was jailed because the court believed she was capable of such a ritual and the court also believed an opinion by National Park rangers that a dingo would never attack a human child! Several child deaths by dingo attacks busted that myth and Lindy was freed. But imagine the pain. A mother loses her baby by wild dog attack, she is accused and convicted of the child’s murder and jailed!

 Now we have the same witch hunt mob mentality casting aside natural justice to prejudge a man accused of misuse of union funds for political purposes and other dishonourable pursuits. He may be guilty but the allegations must be regarded as suspect, considering the source. But whatever their merit, I think it is vital to the very survival of Humanity on this planet, that media time and effort be directed toward informing a complacent public about acidification of the oceans, rising sea levels, peak oil, degradation of soils, overpopulation, starvations of billions, looming worldwide conflict over water, land and resources and so on.

Remember press coverage of wars like Korea, when every newspaper showed gains and losses on a map? WWII also showed the position on a map. Newsreels and papers had war news on the front page almost every day. Where are the daily 'maps' of carbon dioxide, forest destruction and acidification?

These threats to our Human future are more pressing than any war has ever been. I know any unilateral action by Australia will have virtually no effect in the physical world, but if the country with the healthiest economy in the world does nothing, why should anyone else? I suspect we will all degenerate into a mess of squabbling tribes. If we do not change how we react to crises we will destroy each other. I look at the bright trusting faces of my dear grandchildren and cry for them.

  Pic of politicians as the Three Stooges, borrowed from Moir.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

A Post for the Australians among us who are interested in union funded prostitution.

Yesterday Craig Thompson, member for Dobell stood up in parliament and answered his critics. His guts, anger and anguish as he explained his version of events were so convincing, I was forced to offer him the benefit of doubt, for now.
Every claim he made, as incredible as each was, could be the truth. And as we know, ‘truth is stranger than fiction’.

 But if he was lying, he has now sealed his fate because, although a civil action, (as Peter Slipper faces on sexual harassment charges) is not grounds for immediate dismissal from Parliament by the Parliament. Misleading Parliament’ certainly is.

 As he rightly claimed, he has not been charged with any criminal offence and police have already declared he has no case to answer. However there are questions unanswered that, although not of a legal nature, leave him in moral limbo. Unfortunately, those questions, particularly his alleged use of ‘escort services’ paid for using his (union account) credit card, will probably remain unanswered unless certain ‘escort’ girls are called to give evidence. That would be an event not to be missed!

 I thought his assertion that, on three of the times his credit card was used to pay for ‘escort services’, he was either not in the state, or was attending a function, proves his credit card was used without him being there. If it was true for those occasions, it is not just possible, but very likely true for the others. Another curious assertion, that when the credit card was used, including times he could not have been there, his ‘identity’ was verified by his driver’s licence number, not by presentation of the actual licence. As he said, when one presents a photo licence for identification, no record is kept of its number. A record of the number is kept only when a licence cannot be viewed.

 As for the claims he misused Union money for personal gain, his re-election campaign and donations to a charity, the Electoral Commission has now declared his actions perfectly proper. So what is left to do? In my opinion, his claims must be thoroughly investigated by the Federal Police then on the evidence, he is either dismissed from Parliament, with all appropriate penalties applied, or reinstated with full rights and respect.

With that done, we do need a Code of Parliamentary Conduct to prevent ‘trial by media’ being used to undermine the duly elected government of the day. We are seeing respect for Parliament being destroyed, as individuals are personally attacked with allegations presented as fact. Before demands for resignations are made, allegations must be investigated and tested in court. With that code in place, presumption of innocence will be applied inside Parliament as it is outside. That is not to desert the principal of Parliamentary Privilege. There is no reason questions should not be asked so matters can be opened for scrutiny. But that is where it must end. If there are allegations against an individual, there can be no calls for resignation or further comment until a court, or the Senate sitting as a court with powers to call witnesses, decides.

 PS: On a lighter note, with the Government so desperate not to lose its excruciatingly thin majority should Craig Thompson be dismissed, it would be hilarious if (independent) Bob Katter, Member for Kennedy and perennial eccentric was offered the post of Speaker.
I did post that possibility as a joke a while ago, so for a laugh go back for a look. It just might happen! Unfortunately, Iron Bar Tuckey, who was given a leading role in that post, is no longer in Parliament.

Monday 21 May 2012

Getting your Mit’s on Public Health.

My youngest bullied me into a haircut and as it was a warm day, I stripped down and perched on a high stool in the sun, telling the world I still had enough hair for it to matter. She had a look over my back and poked a spot she didn’t like. “Get this looked at, Dad.” Now you don’t mess with Jessica, she’s a cop, so I did and a biopsy later, I am booked in to have it removed.
Don’t worry, it is a basal cell carcinoma so it is not dangerous to health or pocket. The cost of consultation, pathology and operation are all bulk billed. To my friends across the Pacific, that means my wallet stays in my pocket. The doctor is paid from the public purse, (a little less than the standard fee) for all patients seen that day according to a formula, so there are no charity cases and paper work is minimised. 

Negative publicity following Obama’s proposal for a universal national medical scheme got me thinking about a discussion I heard recently that was prompted by a question asked on radio about eye health in New York, USA.
 The question, asked by an Aussie tourist upon her return to Sydney was; “Why do so many people in New York have cross eyes or splayed eyes? Why are there none here?”
 The answer from Dr Norman Swan, radio presenter of medical programs was: ‘If a child is born here with an eye muscle defect, testing is done and if the parents agree, surgery is performed before mother and child leave the hospital, all free of charge. If the same child were born in a public hospital in New York, the condition would most likely not be treated because the operation would cost the already cash strapped parents many thousands of dollars and the same operation on an adult costs tens of thousands.’

Now, you can argue all you want that publicly funded health is socialism, which it is, but so are 'free' roads and bridges, not to mention parks and public schools. All these publicly funded facilities pay a dividend to the community and so does public health. Good eyesight is clearly an advantage in the workplace and people who are limited by less than optimal health are less productive. Public funded health here is not the first step towards totalitarianism, but is an investment in a more productive society.
However, idealism of any colour encourages us to defend nonsensical positions and that is what I think is happening in the US health debate.

Having visited the USA myself, I have experienced the similarities with home, the friendliness and help generously offered by individuals and the support Americans give to each other. So I am amazed at the anti-anything-collective rhetoric that seems so out of place in a caring society!
Obama is spoken of in the same sentence as Stalin and Lenin! But I guess we need to ask; who is saying it? Here, family doctors and doctors in the public hospital system will never be super rich. So, I guess a system that has many doctors on salary must pose a threat to those who are mainly there for the money and are terrified their income might be reduced from fabulous to merely high.
 Our total health cost per capita is way below that of the USA, despite much of it being publicly funded and universal. Every doctors know he/she will be paid, so they go ahead and do what is best for the patient. The system does suffer from overloaded demand for elective surgery, but in any emergency, comprehensive treatment is available, free of charge, to anyone who needs it. I don’t think any President ever achieved that, but neither did Stalin!