Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 74 — five years ago…

They say this weekend will be the last in lockdown here in The Gong. But we have a new Premier whose right-wing zeal exceeds by far his common sense or respect for medical advice, so he has been fiddling with the rules governing the timetable for opening up. Not everyone is impressed.

Cathy Wilcox, Sydney Morning Herald

I do wonder if this will be the Premier’s Ruby Princess moment! Of course I hope not, but it may be “interesting” to review the Covid-19 stats for NSW in 5-7 days!

Now to five years ago — just a couple of entries from October 2016.

Crossing the Bar: Tennyson

Posted on  by Neil

This was a favourite of my mother.

Sunset and evening star,
         And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
         When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
         Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
         Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
         And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
         When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
         The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
         When I have crossed the bar.

I quote it today as yesterday at Diggers I learned that an ex-student from The Illawarra Grammar School, Peter D (Class of 1974), has passed away. He had been very ill for a long time. I used to see him and his wife at Steelers and, until recently, at Diggers. He was 59.

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Body language, cross-cultural communication, Trump etc…

Posted on  by Neil

I see Tony Abbott has gone into bat for The Donald. That figures…

Mr Abbott defended Mr Trump’s policies, which include building a wall between Mexico and the United States to repel migrants, as reasonable.

“Many of the Trump positions are reasonable enough,” he said.

Mind you, I don’t entirely disagree with what Tony Abbott says there about T’s supporters. It is worth reading David A Hill Jr, I Listened to a Trump Supporter.

She was a family friend, a good person. In rural Ohio, everything was tight. Money, jobs. If you really needed quick cash, she’d put you to work doing landscaping. She’d pay fairly and reliably for the area.

She’s voting for Donald Trump. I disagree with her choice, but I understand why she rejects Clinton so fiercely, and why she’s been swept up in Donald Trump’s particular brand of right-wing populism. I feel that on the left, it’s increasingly easy to ignore these people, to disregard them, to write them off as racists, bigots, or uneducated. I think that’s a loss for everyone involved, and that sometimes listening can help you to at least understand why a person is making the choices they make, so you can work on the root causes.

Hat tip to Alex Au in Singapore for that article.

Meanwhile The Donald himself lately does seem to be verging on the barking mad:

Florida: Donald Trump has denied a slew of new allegations of sexually predatory behaviour in an angry diatribe of speech in Florida, accusing the women who made them of fabrication and the media outlets that published them as being party to a conspiracy against him…

Mr Trump claimed a variety of forces including the Clintons and the media were seeking to rig the US election.

“Their agenda is to elect crooked Hillary Clinton at any cost, at any price, no matter how many lives they destroy. For them, it’s a war. And for them, nothing at all is out of bounds,” he said.

“This is a struggle for the survival of our nation. Believe me. And this will be our last chance to save it on November 8. Remember that.”

Sorry. Did I really say “verging on” then?

OK, back to that second debate. I found myself riveted all through – yes I watched the whole show – by the body language, especially The Donald’s. What a study in proxemics!

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Pure monstering. The stills barely capture the effect that the pacing and scowling communicated. Not a nice man.

All that had me thinking again of what I learned from the 1990s on in my ESL studies and practice about cross-cultural communication, and the topic in fact came up earlier this week in conversation at Diggers with someone who spent considerable time in PNG and S-E Asia. A summary directed at business people is Different Cultural Communication Styles.

Factoring in personal space expectations between cultures enhances communication in any social or business setting. While Northern Europeans and European Americans feel most comfortable at an arm’s length away in a social interaction, Hispanics would consider that distance unfriendly. Knowing what is expected is helpful. Eye contact and touch etiquette also vary dramatically in different cultures. Asian cultures do not believe in touching in public settings, and they don’t favor direct eye contact. Like the Asian culture, Hispanics also view direct eye contact as a lack of respect. One significant difference between these two cultures is the way touching in public is perceived. Hispanics are a “high touch” society. Before meeting with a different culture, it is best to learn about these etiquette considerations.

That’s just one aspect. Oriented to schools is Communicating Across Cultures from the Victorian Education Department.

Interpretations of verbal communication can be culturally based. Misunderstandings can easily arise. For example in some cultures:

  • It is impolite to speak without being specifically asked by a superior, thus some students will not say hello, will not volunteer answers and will not answer generally directed questions.
  • It is not appropriate to refuse a request, thus saying ‘yes’ may mean ‘I am listening’, or ‘maybe’, or ‘no’. Avoidance behaviour rather than contradiction is used i.e. not doing what is requested is the polite response, as opposed to saying directly ‘no’.
  • Direct confrontation is to be avoided. It is more important to maintain the relationship, then to find an answer to an immediate disputed issue or problem. This contrasts with the anglo-Australian approach of trying to resolve issues by frank and open discussion of the disputed issue, clearly stating personal needs and preferences and direct bargaining tactics focusing on an immediate solution.
  • Asking questions when you already know the answer, which is a common teaching technique in Australia, can indicate a lack of intelligence in some cultures.

Then at the levels prom personal to international relations see the course Dealing Constructively with Intractable Conflicts, particularly Michelle Le Baron, Cross-Cultural Communication.

The challenge is that even with all the good will in the world, miscommunication is likely to happen, especially when there are significant cultural differences between communicators. Miscommunication may lead to conflict, or aggravate conflict that already exists. We make — whether it is clear to us or not — quite different meaning of the world, our places in it, and our relationships with others. In this module, cross-cultural communication will be outlined and demonstrated by examples of ideas, attitudes, and behaviors involving four variables:

  • Time and Space
  • Fate and Personal Responsibility
  • Face and Face-Saving
  • Nonverbal Communication

As our familiarity with these different starting points increases, we are cultivating cultural fluency — awareness of the ways cultures operate in communication and conflict, and the ability to respond effectively to these differences.

In a multicultural society in an even more multicultural world these are areas we all need familiarity with. Back to proxemics:

The difficulty with space preferences is not that they exist, but the judgments that get attached to them. If someone is accustomed to standing or sitting very close when they are talking with another, they may see the other’s attempt to create more space as evidence of coldness, condescension, or a lack of interest. Those who are accustomed to more personal space may view attempts to get closer as pushy, disrespectful, or aggressive. Neither is correct — they are simply different.

Mind you, Trump was being “pushy, disrespectful, or aggressive”!

Related: My 1998 UTS Grad Cert TESOL assignment A Japanese Backpacker’s year in Australia may even amuse you.

One year ago exactly — a reminder of what a total goon we were dealing with then! Worth reposting it all.

Note: 500,000 more Americans have died from Covid since this first appeared. The 700,000 was passed yesterday.

On Donald Trump’s miraculous recovery

Posted on  by Neil

When Donald J Trump performed that characteristic attention-grabbing stunt yesterday and also tweeted about how much he had learned about Covid, I had a short exchange with my niece on Facebook. I had said “A showman to the end! Will be interesting to see what he has learned.” She replied: “Nothing I expect. You don’t end up in your 70’s and suddenly change.” Well, turns out my niece was right.

First, let me quote the ABC’s go-to person on the virus, Dr Norman Swan, on ABC News Breakfast a short time ago.

The ABC’s medical expert Dr Norman Swan said that Mr Trump being given “unproven therapies” was interesting. Dr Swan said this was because Mr Trump was either more seriously ill than the White House was saying or they had panicked and were, “just throwing everything at him. The reality is though, if he’s going to fall off the cliff with this, it’s going to be Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday of this week,” he said. “So, he may well be returning to hospital. I hope not and the signs that they are sending him home are good but I imagine that this is the patient from Hell.”

On MSNBC the opinion was:

To be sure, the competition is fierce, but this might be the single most dangerous thing Trump has ever tweeted. The president wants the people of his own country not to “be afraid” of a deadly virus that’s already claimed the lives of nearly 210,000 Americans? There’s a significant percentage of the population that, for whatever reasons, is under the impression that Trump knows what he’s talking about. These people are now being told that if they get infected, they’ll be treated with “really great drugs [and] knowledge,” and ultimately feel the best they’ve felt in 20 years.

In announcing that I would write this post, I said: “I am about to write a second blog post today prompted by the 210,000 dead Americans and their families who are so grateful to Donald Trump for being told COVID should not dominate their lives.”

You will recall what Dr Phillips said after the motorcade stunt:

So the leopard has not, cannot, change his spots. As I said after that dreadful “debate” — and I do not repent my words:

On a slightly lighter note:

It is a White House where lies are normal and bullshit and spin rule. I do not go for any of the conspiracy theories that have emerged either on the right or the left. It is simply that Trump and it appears the toadies and fans around him are so far gone into the delusionary mindset of a Willy Loman or a Jay Gatsby that there is no way back. They have not realised that for all the worthy characteristics Arthur Miller and Scott Fitzgerald gave those characters, they both — like this presidency will — ended badly.

Do revisit Dr Norman Swan’s clever son.

And this US voter — a lifelong Republican — shows that not all Americans have drunk the Kool-Aid. Posted TODAY!

Then on 10 October 2020 this marvellous song appeared on YouTube:

Just wonderful!

May this creature vanish until he is a distant nightmare, or a cautionary tale for the future and nothing more….

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 62 — when patience wears thin

Good one — shared on FB by that wonderful US meteorologist (and blogger) Dan Satterfield.

And in Melbourne in recent days we have had spectacles we could well do without. Yes, there are valid reasons for affected workers to be pissed off — but trashing their own union does not come to mind as a good move. Thanks to numerous analyses — and an excellent photo-set from Al Jazeera — we can have little doubt about the mischief-makers who have hijacked the cause.

On Facebook I noted: Just what we do not need — the malignant American madness on our streets! No need for an expert! I saw on FB with my own eyes an anti-vaxxer inviting people to come join yesterday’s fracas and advising hi-viz to “blend in”! Bastards.

This was posted last night by the South Coast Labour Council Secretary Arthur Rorris and represents the views of our local Illawarra union movement. Kudos!

Melbourne meanwhile has had other happenings:

Not the first time for Oz of course, though it is not as great an issue here as in many other parts of the world — New Zealand and Indonesia just to name neighbouring countries. But it does happen. See my blog archive: Australia not earthquake free.

I remember this one well, though the effects in Sydney were minor. My father had just died and I was in my mother’s room in her Glebe Point old people’s home, on the phone making funeral arrangements. “Shit! An earthquake!” I recall saying inadvertently to the person on the other end of the line as the room distinctly shook.

My father, mother and I were living in West Wollongong in 1973 when a magnitude 5.5 earthquake struck in the early hours of the morning. Not only were we shaken but the noise was amazingly loud. The ceiling was damaged in one room at The Illawarra Grammar School where I was teaching at the time, the local radio station was off the air for several minutes, the lights went out at the Steelworks and in the coal mines – that would have been scary – and a large crack appeared in the front of the Department of Education building in Wollongong. One woman reported being thrown out of bed and afterwards laughed that this was a rather extreme way for her boss to make sure she got up early enough for work. At TIGS we joked that the quake was a “punishment” for the previous night’s rather pleasant wine tasting in the very room that was damaged; the Reverend Gentleman who founded the school was of evangelical persuasion and his portrait had fallen off the wall in presumed disapproval. The epicentre of that quake was out towards Picton/Appin. There is an active fault in that region.

There are several active faults in Australia, but we are far from the edges of tectonic plates so earthquakes such as those in the Pacific rim of fire are unknown here. Nonetheless a 2002 report says “two separate geological studies have concluded that an area from Adelaide to south-east Victoria is seismically active and the next ‘big one’ could endanger lives and infrastructure.”

It just might be of course that Jacinta Ardern is more pissed off about AUKUS than we realised!

The earthquake that hit Victoria on Wednesday morning is probably the result of tectonic plate pressure in New Zealand that built up slowly and then released suddenly in a rupture at a fault east of Melbourne.

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 61 — good sense is out there

One does despair at times — when for example seeing the abysmal level of live comments when NSW Health is updating us on the Covid situation. So it is nice to find on YouTube that sane people — even sane young people — do exist, and that indeed some are in America!

Poor things!

But how refreshing to have found this young man. I will share two of his reaction vlog items.

The first is about how workers are treated in America, compared to other countries. He does not mention Australia, but I would hope we will never follow the USA in this respect, as much as some in the government here and of course the bloody IPA want us to. The second is about health care. Enough said really. What an honest, clear-sighted and articulate young man this Jps is!

On Facebook when I shared the following video — the first of his I had watched — I said: Have a look at this nice young man — and what he is watching even more so! And take another look at ourselves too…. You may well conclude that trade unions really are necessary and that anything the IPA wants we shouldn’t do….

Now the second on medical care. On Facebook I said:

I am so glad that I live in Australia where (for example) next Wednesday [today!] I have an appointment at the Wollongong Medical Centre for some necessary podiatry. Cost charged to me? $0. Had my second Covid jab on 9th September. Cost to me? $0. Had some medications made up at the chemist. Cost to me? Around $6 each. And so on…

Even if you have a specialist consultation and are charged, say, $200, Medibank will normally refund around 75% of that.

The American Way? Keep it! Not interested! The killer for me in this video was the cost per arterial stent in the USA @$19,000! I had a stent put in at Wollongong Hospital in 2011, including 9 days in the cardiac ward. Cost of my stent? $0!

I had then — and have since maybe 6 times — needed an ambulance. Cost to me? $0!

There are many intelligent comments on that video — and an advocate of revolution. That always sounds attractive but why should it be necessary? However, here in OZ…

DEFEND what we have zealously, people, and vote in a government without those who really do want to white-ant it, even when they make the right noises because they know attacking Medicare in Oz is political suicide. As it should be!

“You can’t go to the hospital to get help, it’s too expensive.” In what civilised country in this modern world does that make sense? It’s about time for another revolution over there guys. The American people are being walked over by these big companies and all you are doing is whining about it… Hell, a lot of you aren’t even doing that! Just shrugging your shoulders and saying ‘It’s capitalism; what ya gonna do?” ISN’T GOING TO CHANGE ANYTHING! Land of the free my ass!

In the present febrile climate too I think it does not hurt to look seriously at these.

Sydney’s shame

Our shame has been broadcast around the world. Here from France is just one instance. Quite a balanced report, actually.

Yes, I can understand there is a diversity of views — which in a democracy of course can be expressed but preferably in measured and responsible ways — and there are those being hurt or at the least inconvenienced by the current lockdown in our part of the world, escape from which has just been made LESS likely by the actions of yesterday’s unlovely, angry and undisciplined mob.

But possibly not unorganised.

There is a world-wide movement out there, and here is one of their posts: Freedom March London: LIVE. Look at the fools behind it! The Great Alien Lizard Dude being one name that struck me immediately, described in the post as a “champion of freedom” no less! What utter hogwash! Champion of insanity more like.

Our South Coast Labour Council Secretary Arthur Rorris has it right when he says on Facebook: They are liberating themselves from their … brains.

On Twitter our increasingly attractive alternative Prime Minister, Anthony Alabanese, posted:

The irresponsible and shocking actions of those who engaged in acts of violence today against police officers doing their job have no place in society and should face the full force of the law – our police deserve respect and have taken risks to keep us safe during COVID-19.

Poet Beth Spencer shared a very apt comment, adding: “So sorry, Sydney. So sorry Australia.”

Among my replies I said: How many on the streets of Sydney today thought of this?

“Doctors were immediately concerned as Logan’s organs started to fail, his skin blistered and he developed heart murmurs…” I was referring to this item: Mother’s warning after dangerous COVID side-effect.

I also said:

Here is one of the geniuses at the Sydney lockdown “protest” — that is, the self-destructive mass hysterical self-centred hissy fit. There are not enough synonyms for “drongo” in Roget to adequately describe them.I fully support concrete and real help — Bill Crews for example — for those personally and economically suffering. But unlike these protesters I am not in favour of increasing infection, pain and death as the solution. I am a pensioner living alone in lockdown. The protesters in my book are selfish scum.

Thanks to Van Badham for the meme.

Crazy, mad as a cut snake, certifiable! On the other hand a highly respectable journalist, Channel 10’s Hugh Riminton, noted: A lot of people have been dismissing the #sydneyprotest mob as unwashed, toothless losers. More disturbingly, they looked like anyone you’d see on a train. Which is not to defend the lunacy.

He has a point, and that IS disturbing.

Behind such people are the loudmouths, the motormouths, the People’s Tribunes, the Alan Jones’s of Sky IS The Dark: if you want to know about Alan Jones, view this. When he is not endorsing — often with a clever and mealy-mouthed get out of jail free card to save his arse though — the Great Election Fraud view of Donald Trump, or having the pathetic pollie Craig Kelly on his show as an expert opinion, then he is in the business of white-anting not only obvious targets like Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews but also embattled NSW Premier Gladys Berejilkian. Here he is on that one: Berejiklian ‘should resign’ if she thinks the virus can be eliminated: Alan Jones.

So thanks to a variety of loons, has-beens, alt-right dingbats and comparatively innocent fellow-travellers who may be reacting to genuine difficulties, the mob has disgraced and shamed us in the eyes of the world by organising the greatest super-spreader event imaginable! There must be a lot of very happy Delta Variants out there this morning! Except of course viruses don’t give a shit about politics, religion, freedom or whatever. They are mindless little machines intent on one thing only — spreading and replicating.

Anticipating a predictable retort to such an idea, Hugh Riminton has also tweeted: For comparison, here was the mask wearing during last year’s Sydney #BLM March.

Just to lighten up a tad! I rather like this, which comes from England — which is undergoing an interesting if very probably tragic experiment in political sleight-of-hand at the moment.

Updates — already noted on Facebook

  1. Possibly Australia’s most egregious boofhead, mate of Alan Jones, who regularly infests Sky Is In the Dark, the soon to be former Member for Hughes, that furniture salesman extraordinaire, shows his true colours by rooting for chaos in these ill-conceived “freedom” (aka irresponsibility) rallies.Shame on him! No, let me be old-fashioned — a pox on him! Here is a sample of the sh*t Kelly has posted, annotated by the good people of Hughes, his long-suffering electorate. Vote the bastard out!

2. The Illawarra Mercury reports that “up to” 250 protesters took to the streets of Wollongong. The population of Wollongong is 307,000 plus. I call that a success!