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!

Freaky Magpie.


In big tops on Saturday night,
 The clown is the children’s delight.
With faults anatomical,
 Even more comical.
 (Note: his right hand isn’t ‘right’!)

 PS: Is Marc making a statement on circuses and freaks here, or did he simply make a boo-boo?
If you are still wondering, try to adopt his pose and note the direction of your thumbs. 

For more freaky circus poems and stories, go to Magpie Tales.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Tahitian Magpie Riddle


Three Tahitians in a row,
A vahine in the middle;
 A tane sitting either side;
 A Gauguin Painting riddle.

 But note expressions on each face,
Their minds are on each other.
The boys are clearly terrified
She’s gonna drink their kava!


 Prompted by The Meal, a Paul Gauguin collected by the Magpie.

Monday 7 May 2012

One act Magpie. Warning: IO rated. (idiots only).

 Scene: Office of Minnie Bannister and Henry Crun, Bridgebuilders.

SFX: Old fashioned phone rings.

Min: (picks up phone, listens) Henry! Henry! There’s a strange man on the modern type electric telephone!
Henry: I know, Min, it’s me!
Min: Um-um-um, what are you doing on the electric telephone, Buddy?
Henry: I am talking to you Min.
Min: Oh you clever Henry! Why are you talking to me on the electric telephone, Buddy?
Henry: I am talking to you on the electric telephone, Min, because I am not there.
Min: Where are you not there, Henry?
Henry: I am not there, Min, I am here.
Min: Um-um-um, but if you are here, Henry, why are you talking to me on the electric telephone?
Henry: No, Min, I am in Barton-Upon-Irwell.
Min: What are you doing in Barton-Upon-Irwell, Henry!?
Henry: Minnie, listen to me carefully. Do you remember where you hid that five pounds your grandma gave you in nineteen twenty-eight?
Min: (giggles) You know where it is, you naughty Henry, I always keep it tucked in my stockings under my knickers.
Henry : My poor Minnie! Take it out at once!
Min: Righto Buddy. I will look for it. I haven’t seen it for years!
SFX: Cupboard doors and drawers opening and closing,
Min: (mumbling) Um-um-um, I know I put it here somewhere. Um-um-um, Ah! Here it is, Buddy!
Henry: Yes, Minnie, now listen carefully. Take that five pounds and give it a bit of an airing, then bring it here at once!
Min: All right, Buddy, at once. Why do you want Grandma’s five pound note, Henry?
Henry: Minnie, we need it to buy cardboard to build a bridge, you see.
Min: Where are we building a bridge, Henry?
 Henry: We are building a bridge over the River Irwell at Barton, Minnie.
Min: I see, and what will be going over the River Irwell on our new bridge in Barton-Upon-Irwell, Buddy?
Henry: We are building a bridge so boats can cross the river, Min.
Min: Oh you clever Henry! A bridge to carry boats across a river! Why has nobody thought of that before?

SFX: Really bad discord from orchestra, which then runs from flying tomatoes and rotten eggs.
Curtain (quick!)


Barton Swing Aqueduct. It really does carry boats across the river Irwell. Look it up. It is worth the effort.

 More plays, poems and stories at Magpie Tales.

PS. This little play will make sense to nobody, but might stir a memory in those old enough and who were so geographically placed, as to have been exposed to Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe, whose zany, lovable characters graced the airwaves in the BBC's Highly Esteemed (all leather) Goon Show! For me, the silly and unexpected is the essence of comedy and anything I write that is funny was at least inspired by a childhood addiction to the Goons, folks!
PPS: On the shores of the Eastern Atlantic and in the Dominions, 'goon' means 'silly person'. In fact what became the Goon Show was originally called Silly People.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Bottled Magpies

Beware of Genies bearing gifts.

A genie once told me; “I’ve come from afar
To give you a room, with good light and a spa.”
“Oh goodie! My wish has been granted!” I cried,
“Will I need a latch key, to get me inside?”
“No need,” he replied, driving off in my car.
“When you find your room, you will see it’s ajar!”

 More bottled magpies here.