Revisiting July 2016

As 2016 nears its end….

This photo blew me away – and July with it!

Posted on July 31, 2016 by Neil

I was in awe of this photo when I saw it this morning in my WordPress Reader.

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Isn’t that just wonderful? For more see Leanne Cole:

Leanne Cole is a Melbourne based photographer and teacher. She finds inspiration in the city of Melbourne and travelling throughout Victoria to take images of what she sees and making fine art images of them. She loves teaching people how to take photos, both in classes, groups and individually. You can learn how to use your camera or how to edit your photos from her.

Leanne Cole’s blog is one of a number I follow on WordPress. I often share posts from them on Facebook….

The Revenant of Oz

Posted on July 6, 2016 by Neil

This is she:

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I hope that hasn’t scared you too much!

But before we say more about her, let’s see how our Parliament stands this morning.

  • The Coalition is now three seats ahead of Labor. The ABC’s election computer last night moved two electorates — Grey in South Australia and Petrie in Brisbane’s north — from “in doubt” to Liberal-retained
  • The Australian Electoral Commission will continue counting the remaining votes today. 80 per cent of the vote has been counted and eight seats are still in doubt
  • Deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop says Malcolm Turnbull deserves to remain the party’s leader. “He’s been a consultative leader. He’s been a leader with integrity,” she said

It is in the Senate that we expect The Revenant, and possibly a number of cronies. A summary of where she stands:

After serving one term in Parliament, the former fish and chip shop owner has been parodied and pilloried, sent to prison for electoral fraud and written off countless times by the political class.

Now, she’s on track to win up to four Senate seats.

Her party’s policies are to stop all further Muslim immigration, including the intake of refugees; ban the burqa and any other full face coverings in public places; hold an inquiry or Royal Commission into Islam to “determine if it is a religion or political ideology” and install surveillance cameras inside mosques and Muslim schools.

The party also wants to introduce a National Identity Card for Australians who access taxpayer funded services and revoke any free trade agreements that are not in Australia’s interests.

Her crony most likely adds his dose of enlightened thought in another area:

The One Nation candidate with a strong chance of joining Pauline Hanson in the Senate, Malcolm Roberts, wants climate scepticism taught in schools and says the CSIRO and United Nations’ peak climate body endorse corruption…

One Nation wants the Bureau of Meteorology reviewed, including “public justification of persistent upward adjustments to historical climate records” and a review of the CSIRO to determine whether funding has influenced its climate claims.

Mr Roberts is listed as a project leader for the Galileo Movement, a prominent climate-sceptic group that boasts broadcaster Alan Jones as its patron.

In a paper published in 2013, Mr Roberts claimed CSIRO scientists were “deeply enmeshed in producing corrupt UN IPCC reports”, in reference to the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which he also described as “corrupt”…

Just what we need, eh! See also my 2011 post Galileo, Galileo!

What a joke!

This mob make Lysenko look like a model of scientific rectitude! Talk about the cart driving the horse! Ideology rampant, but science no way…

Given The Revenant’s rants about Islam it was somehow appropriate that I received this email on Election Day – pure coincidence.

My name is ——-. You may or may not remember me, I was a student —- from the class of ’04. You taught me English in Year 7. I went on to study Law/Commerce, but didn’t find the field of law particularly satisfying or enjoyable, so after 6 months of work experience during my practical legal training, I quit and did my Masters in Teaching.

I’m now a teacher at —–, an Islamic school in the western suburbs of Sydney, with an overwhelming majority of NESB students. This is my 3rd year of teaching, and as it is a very small school, I am teaching English and Maths, along with my actual specialisation of Commerce (and HSIE in general).

In any case, there was a time in Year 11/12 when I approached you for help with essay writing, and after a discussion, you showed me a piece of writing I had done in Year 7. I had written about my first memory, if I remember correctly, and had detailed my trips to my grand parents’ house in ——  Pakistan. I was just wondering if still had that saved. I would love to see my own writing from Year 7, as I now teach Year 7 English and would like to see how my own writing was like at that stage.

I’d appreciate any help you can provide.

Thanks for your time, and I still remember you as my Year 7 English teacher! I honestly don’t remember who taught me in year 8, 9 or 10 haha, so you must have done something right!

The occasion he came to me in Year 12 is this one, originally blogged on Diary-X in 2004:

Second last period today ….proved to be an enlightening, even humbling, experience. I spent it with a Year Twelve student, whom I shall call “Ali”, who was referred to me by his English teacher because there may have been a problem with what he was proposing to do as an assessment task next week. He is doing Extension 1 (“3-Unit”) in the topic Retreat from the Global.

What he proposed doing (in a three minute talk!) was something very Islamic. Ali was born in Pakistan — in fact he told me in Year Seven that he still spoke and read Urdu (and one or two other languages) and could still recall a three storey red house he lived in in Islamabad as a small child. Now he is seventeen or so, and suitably bearded. Security would probably take an interest in him if he stepped on a plane…

Naturally, the topic of the values and attitudes implicit in globalisation is of great interest to him.

He wanted to introduce his fellow students to the idea that in this world there are those who turn away from globalisation for positive reasons, because they feel there are values under threat which are worth preserving, and he wanted to do this in terms of the particular religious movement he himself belongs to. His English teacher had no idea what movement he was talking about, and, I have to confess, for all my interest in and reading about Islam and Islamists, neither did I.

Have you heard of Tablighi Jamaat?

No?…

You don’t often read about these people or see them on the media, after all. I mean, they really aren’t bad, so they really aren’t news.

I’m glad I have met one.

And Barbara Metcalf’s account of them has become a text around which Ali can build his speech.

I checked the school out where that ex-student now works. It looks interesting. Their vision:

To provide a well-rounded education suited to cultural and historical framework of the current living environment in Australia. We hope to empower and equip the future generations to meet the challenges of today’s evolving and highly competitive world. —- is committed to establishing a dynamic and supportive learning environment in which all students can become caring and considerate citizens of Australia. —- will strive to uphold the highest standard as set out in the New South Wales Board of Studies curriculum.

The school will foster understanding and respect for themselves, each other and for the diversity of the multicultural communities in Australia. Students will be encouraged to be innovative, creative, problem-solving and questioning people. Students will strive to achieve their personal best. They will be able to take their place with pride in the community and in the world.

Before leaving The Revenant and her policy in this area, check my post Eating halal food again… – and, sorry to say, the wonderful Shiraz is no longer open for lunch. But there is always Samaras.  You might also check my 2015 post Bringing it home for more related to Samaras, but much more on jihadism very close to home.

I guess you could say I find The Revenant extremely unhelpful to any Australian really wishing to be informed about such matters.

But despite her having been since Day One in 1996 a carbuncle on the Australian political scene (in my opinion) and a perpetual self-referencing soap opera, there are quite a few that like her. According to Alan Stokes in today’s Herald:

…who are these irate Australians?

Let’s look at the numbers nationally and particularly in the seven NSW seats where the incumbent is trailing. They are where people blamed their local MP. They were all held by the Coalition. One seat is inner metropolitan, three outer metropolitan, two provincial and one rural.

They are Barton around Rockdale, Macquarie around Richmond, Lindsay around Penrith and Macarthur around Campbelltown; Dobell around Wyong and Paterson around Raymond Terrace; and Eden-Monaro around Bega….

Pauline Hanson: Support for her anti-immigration views is between 3.32 per cent and 9.88 per cent based in the Senate votes for all NSW outer metropolitan, provincial and rural seats where the incumbent is trailing. In the six city-fringe seats, the average Hanson vote is 0.8 per cent. In Longman north of Brisbane where Assistant Innovation Minister Wyatt Roy was dumped, it is 9.54 per cent for Hanson. In the knife-edge seat of Herbert in north Queensland it’s 13.2 per cent. Even in Murray in Victoria she drew 5.5 per cent.

Anger grows where people are unhappiest about their access to healthcare, financial security, sense of safety and chance of securing a future in this rapidly changing nation. Turnbull hoped voters would trust him when he said he would not threaten Medicare. He promised that the benefits of his economic plan would trickle down to those outside inner-suburban, service-industry, globalised, multiculturally committed and highly educated seats.

Plenty of people didn’t believe him.

Such is life …

Finally, something I first found bizarre is who The Revenant’s pilot and media adviser turns out to be now: James Ashby. Yes, that one! See July 2015 James Ashby joins Pauline Hanson’s entourage, as her pilot and post the 2016 election, How Pauline Hanson made her political comeback.

Oh, and how did The Revenant give me a hernia in 1996? Well, recall her maiden speech. Living at the time in Surry Hills with M from Shanghai, and working where I was, I rather took a dim view of the “swamped by Asians” line. Why, would you believe I even thought it racist?  I wrote to many a politician on all sides expressing how peeved I was that P wasn’t kept in a box somewhere. Some replied, even John Howard. Meanwhile I practised what I preached by being nice to all Asians who crossed my path. One day that included a young Korean lady lugging some very heavy suitcases. Gallantly, and in defiance of Pauline H, I offered to carry them up the stairs for her. Result, alas, a hernia. And a sojourn in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

And that’s where I propose as far as possible leaving The Revenant. This time round quite a few are already speaking up and suggesting that she really might not be the best thing since sliced bread…

PS

Margo Kingston is well worth reading as a counterpoint to this post.

So what to do?

First, understand that Pauline Hanson’s jailing in 2003 drew almost universal condemnation and transformed her into a celebrity. She has appeared on popular reality shows and has a weekly spot on Seven’s Sunrise program. She is LIKED by most “ordinary” Australians. It follows that sneering put downs, nasty labels and suggestions she has no right to be in parliament are utterly counterproductive and will, like last time, increase her support.

Second, understand that her high vote signifies a serious scream about what life is like in those areas, and address the issues.

Third, welcome Hanson to the parliament. She has the right to be there and her voters have the right to be represented.

Fourth, have the conversation. Go with her to where her voters are and have a chat.

Western democracies are splitting up into warring tribes. I think Hanson’s return to our parliament is a chance to bring ours together a little bit.

If we try.

Also good:

Michael Bradley, Why simply calling Hanson racist doesn’t help.

…It’s obviously perplexing, because Hanson has always had visible difficulty with her debating skills. She comes across as not very bright, but perpetually very angry and confused; a person who struggles to articulate how she feels about the world beyond saying “I don’t like it”.

She isn’t exactly a charismatic or charming presence. She is certainly not a demagogue. But here she is, with enough votes to secure two, three or four seats in the Senate for her and a few of the odd white men who have sworn fealty to her brand.

It’s unclear to me what the difference is between our calling Hanson a racist and her habit of branding other people who she has not met with pejorative labels. What Hanson does – in particular, what she says – is frequently reprehensible. She can appropriately be criticised and called to account for the offence and hurt she causes by her repetitive and irrational attacks on everyone and everything she perceives from her extremely limited frame of understanding to be not representative of the “real Australians”, her nostalgically imagined tribe….

Facts

Antony Green has crunched the numbers: One Nation Support at the 2016 Federal Election.

The most evil words in the world?

Posted on July 16, 2016 by Neil

… are not those referencing bodily parts or functions or sexual activities. Rather they are those that dehumanise to the point where you think it is a rather good idea to drive a truck through crowds of innocent fellow-humans, or act like that shithead in Norway – not a Muslim—who five years ago ran around shooting 77 teenagers and others because he didn’t care for their politics.

So I lament Nice, and all the other horrors across the world in past weeks and months.

Nice-truck-terror-attack

While the majority of Muslims (around one quarter of the world’s peoples) are no threat to anyone, there clearly is a part of Islam that is against anyone outside its tent. In them words like kufr join the most wicked words ever to curse humanity. Now there are other kinder interpretations, such as this US Muslim.

…to ascribe divinity to anything besides God – in the Qur’anic worldview – is to be utterly ungrateful to all the favors God bestows on the person who claims thus. In fact, the Arabic word for “stubbornly ingrate” at the end of Quran 39:3 is kaffar, which is derived from kufr and kafara.

This passage of the Qur’an even further bolsters the view that kufr is essentially ingratitude:

And so, when they embark on a ship [and find themselves in danger], they call unto God, [at that moment] sincere in their faith in Him alone; but as soon as He has brought them safe ashore, they [begin to] ascribe to imaginary powers a share in His divinity: and thus they show utter ingratitude for all that We have vouchsafed them, and go on [thoughtlessly] enjoying their worldly life. (Quran 29:65-66)

On the other hand read this and weep.

(O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and Christians as your friends. They are the friends of one another [in their enmity toward Islam]. Whoever takes them as his friends becomes one of them [a disbeliever]. Allah does not guide the unjust people [who wrong themselves by taking disbelievers as their friends].) [Al-Ma’idah 51] (If the People of the Book were on the true path, would he who takes them as his friends have been called a disbeliever?)

(Fight those of the people given the Book who do not believe in Allah and the Day of Judgment, who do not consider forbidden that which Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, and who do not follow the true religion [Islam], until they give the jizya with their own hands in a state of humiliation [in submission].) [At-Tawbah 29]

(Those who deny Our aayaat are disbelievers. They are the dwellers of Hell; they will remain therein eternally.) [Al-Baqarah 39] (All non-Muslims are disbelievers because they deny Qur’anic verses.)

Now read a compelling article in today’s Age:

Undercover with Australia’s Islamic radicals

One journalist spent a year undercover in Australia’s radical Islamic networks.

…The man then directed a question to me: “Do you not feel the pain of your Muslim brothers and sisters dying? Is this not why you have come to us, brother? Why you have reached out for guidance to Allah in dar al-kuffar (land of the infidels)?”

In a flash I responded with: “Allah subhana wa taala (glorious and exalted) is guiding me to the path of vengeance and why I must make hijra.”

Allahu akbar (God is greatest) brother, you are a lion and among other lions here today sent by Allah. We must do what is right and according to Allah, subhana wa taala. It is our duty as followers of Allah to stand against this attack on the Muslim way of life. All the kuffar are trying to keep you from the righteous path.”

I was seeing first hand the process speculated on for so long: here, in the middle of a Melbourne park, young men were being radicalised.

As he spoke, men and women walked by, pushing prams and walking dogs, unwitting witnesses to an event that was troubling and terrifying much of the Western world. It was in these types of groups and gatherings where Australia’s dead jihadists were inducted into terror….

Between meetings, the messages flew on encrypted messaging applications arranging get-togethers that I surmised were going on all over Australia. They are held in secret; Muslim community leaders are oblivious.

Their words are dangerously seductive: they play on the confusion of young men struggling with their sense of identity and life in a society whose politics and media seem increasingly alien and hostile to them. Prakash is (probably) dead now. But Abu Hassan, Salman, Brian, Mahmoud are alive and well, still living in the community and still plotting….

Do read the whole thing. And no, Senator Hanson* does not have the solution. Reject all who practise the language of hate and division.

May all the world unite against both war and extremism, wherever they may be. (Whistle John Lennon’s “Imagine”….)

*NOTE:

Many of those who had to watch their families being killed by Daesh in the Middle East also had to endure being labelled as the problem in Australia, thanks to loud attacks against them by the likes of Pauline Hanson. The Australian Iraqi Muslim community has had to watch helplessly for years as many of their family members were murdered by Daesh following the illegal invasion of Iraq, and the anti-Islam movement has left them feeling alienated and alone in their grief. Labelling the religion of Islam as a dangerous political ideology has thus been a callous attack on devout Muslims who have been hit by terrorism, and who reject terrorist ideology as un-Islamic.

AND ANOTHER NOTE

There is so much not known about the murderous maniac of Nice at this moment, and there are experts who doubt what could be a purely opportunistic claim from ISIS: see Nice attack: Islamic State claims responsibility for truck carnage as police arrest three more people.

Weep too at this evidence of how low some will go on the “other side”: After Nice attack, internet trolls try to frame Sikh man as a terrorist, again.

And the 45th President of the United States MIGHT be….

Will be…

Posted on July 22, 2016 by Neil

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Now lest you think I searched for the scariest, dopiest picture I could find… not so! This is the one Rupert Murdoch’s News.com is currently using to top its feed Republican National Convention, day three: Ted Cruz, Newt Gingrich and Mike Pence feature.

Thanks to ABC News 24 we have been, if we chose, exposed to more of this American circus than we ever wanted to know. I watched quite a bit of it yesterday and wondered if it was real. Reality TV? A Nuremberg rally? A mix of the two? Or a remake of Citizen Kane? And so I was drawn back to some of the genuine touchstones of 20th century American culture, for which I am duly grateful.

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citizen-kane

And I thought of this:

Death of a Salesman has always been gripping, but our current economic climate makes it all the more devastating for modern audiences. The dream of success remains the American Dream, but the idea that success is more likely to end in disappointment is a reality of our times. The notion that people are disposable is terribly difficult to swallow, but it’s true.

Every artist recognizes a little of Willy Loman in himself, and I don’t think my father is an exception. Willy is selling himself, but also a vision of himself. Essentially, he’s selling air. There’s no rock bottom for Willy. Any artist or businessman who makes something out of nothing has been there at one point or another.

That’s Arthur Miller’s daughter Rebecca on the great Death of a Salesman.

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“Nobody dast blame this man. You don’t understand: Willy was a salesman. And for a salesman, there’s no rock bottom to the life. He don’t put a bolt to a nut, he don’t tell you the law or give you medicine. He’s a man way out there in the blue riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back—that’s an earthquake. And then you get yourself a couple spots on your hat and your finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman has got to dream boy, it comes with the territory.”

“The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell.”

“When I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty-one I walked out. And by God I was rich.”

Uncle Ben for President?

Finally:

“And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning——

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Do I need to tell you that one?

And I am so so glad that our recent election was, comparatively speaking, free  of some of the nauseating bullshit I witnessed on ABC News 24 yesterday. I am even rather pledging allegiance in gratitude to Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, and her heirs and successors. For one thing I look really dreadful in a red bandanna.

Saturday Updates

You really must read this fact-check: Donald Trump Promises Not To Lie, Right Before Lying A Bunch Of Times. Sadly, though, the subheading is too true: But don’t expect his supporters to care.

In news that will come as little surprise to anybody who has followed the campaign closely, Trump’s [acceptance] speech was littered with misleading claims and even a few flat-out untruths.

Some were obvious, like when he said, “America is one of the highest-taxed nations in the world.” It isn’t. In fact, according to statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S. is among the least-taxed nations in the world…

Of course, deception has been a hallmark of the Trump campaign. Independent, nonpartisan organizations like Politifact and Factcheck.org have called out Trump over and over again for his misrepresentations, many of them blatant and obvious.

And while they’ve cited misrepresentations by Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, they’ve found her deceptions to be both less frequent and less extreme than his.

Will Trump’s supporters care? Probably not.

And then I saw that wonderful Aussie marvel First Dog on the Moon: Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight and don’t bring facts to a Republican convention.

And then! Today’s Cathy Wilcox cartoon in the Sydney Morning Herald.

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No wonder the Merriam-Webster Word of the Year 2016 is “surreal”! “Revenant” was up there too.

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