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.


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!


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 — 19 — a year ago…

I notice looking through my posts for August 2020 that I hardly mentioned COVID. That is because by then here in NSW (and The Gong in particular) we were pretty much back to normal life. Well all that changed when one driver ferrying people to and from quarantine led to the monster Delta starting up around Bondi Junction. The NSW government was slow to realise what was going on. So came the lockdown we are now in — Illawarra Leagues Club, for example, putting up the shutters on 26 June 2021.

In the USA in August 2020, under that incompetent narcissist Donald Trump, things were going from bad to worse. What a nincompoop he is! This was there for all to see in an interview with an Australian journalist which I posted about on 7 August: Donald Trump meets Dr Norman Swan’s clever son. Who can ever forget it?

With the US election looming I posted several very genuine views from Republican voters who for one reason or another had had enough of The Donald. For example:

One of the few times I mentioned COVID was on 17 August: COVID takes me back to that old school again. Just over a week later came Sydney High — lively Facebook discussion about that slogan — do look if that seems interesting to you. It was a very good exchange of views, in my opinion. The issue was a slogan the school now uses:

There were some good family history posts too, for example That convict Jacob again on 20 August. That post included this remarkable document:

New South Wales, Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1830 for Jacob Whitfield

There were so many good posts in August 2020, but I will finish with another family-oriented one from 13 August: Bird flies in at last.

This bird: the original post follows.


That painting of a Palm Cockatoo is by my sister-in-law Aileen….

There is quite a back story to this painting. First you have to understand that my brother Ian and Aileen married in 1955 when I was 12. Their marriage lasted for around ten years, producing four children, two now in Queensland and two in NSW. And lots of the next generation all over the place — some I have only discovered through Facebook quite recently.

I did not see Aileen, with one exception at the Cecil Hotel in Cronulla in 1978-9, after the marriage ended — so that’s over FIFTY years! In the past couple of months I have spoken to her on the phone. She lives around 100 kilometres further down the NSW south coast and was affected by the summer bushfires of 2019-20. Contact arose when her youngest, Maree, got in touch — through Facebook.

In due course Maree posted this image on her feed:


I praised it, and next thing I knew Aileen was asking me if I would like to have it. Well, what would you have said? There was a mix-up over my address and the package was returned to Aileen by Australia Post. We sorted that and the package was delivered to the local post office last Friday — but not to Wollongong Post Office. Instead it went to Keiraville, a nearby suburb just north of West Wollongong, but not on my usual bus routes. Then came the rain! So it wasn’t until yesterday that I got to Keiraville to collect.


Had coffee with the package — much bigger than I expected! And the coffee was a nostalgia trip in itself because they source from the excellent The Coffee Roaster which back in Elizabeth Street Surry Hills days was my coffee shop of choice, being in the same complex I lived in!  So I think I will be returning to Keiraville shops which is, as you can see above, charming. “The Village”, they call it.

I caught the 10 bus to Wollongong — there being just one other passenger, a lady who had been living in Keiraville for 58 years! One more joined us on the way. I was masked, and social distancing was not a problem. What a scenic, wandering route the 10 takes!…


Lunch at City Diggers, where on Facebook I shared the day’s doings:-

So now I am at Diggers — well fed with an odd but tasty dish of curried sausage and jasmine rice!

The #10 bus from Keiraville to Wollongong proved to be very scenic. In this photo I am in the Keiraville coffee shop with the Mystery Package — collected at last. Let’s just say it is from someone I hadn’t seen or spoken to since 1978-9 — and that in Cronulla at the Cecil Hotel. I suspect we are all getting far too old to be hanging on to past issues. And this is a gift I am glad to have. More later perhaps.

It’s bigger than I expected though so that limits today’s shopping.


What is in the Mystery Package. I am still at Diggers and about to go, but decided not to leave you in suspense. Thanks to my niece Maree I can share an image of quite a wonderful painting by my (former) sister-in-law Aileen, who quite literally until very recently I had not spoken to since 1978-9. I won’t bother you with the details, except to say none of it was really anyone’s fault. Aileen is now 81. I think we have both decided life is very very short….

But what a painting!

And I am now the recipient of it… I suspect my brother Ian would not be unhappy. Hope the same is true of all our family — though I have a strict policy of not taking sides. How can I? I was only 11 or 12 when Ian and Aileen were married.

That painting, whatever, is bloody good!

There were plenty of other topics raised in my August 2020 posts — but that will do, save for some music I shared, something of a favourite.

I am proud that I saw through the Orange Fake pretty much from the beginning…

But it didn’t really take talent. The man was obviously an enormous mistake pretty much from Day One! And yes, I did piss off quite a few people by the line I took — but history is justifying that line in spades! The Stable Genius who among other things confused his dementia screening test with an IQ test, who comprehensively stuffed up US reaction to COVID-19, who thought being a performing seal in North Korea was some kind of policy…. And one could go on….

Nowadays six months on from being trounced in the Presidential elections he still maintains “we woz robbed”! Sadder still there are idiot commentators in such places as the New York Post and Sky in the Bog who go along with such obvious guff!

A comment on a YouTube post gave the best insight into what this global laughing stock now is — reprising day after day one of the great scenes from the golden years of Hollywood!

Cut off perfectly correctly from both Facebook and Twitter, the Dunce-Once-In-Chief has become a blogger — nothing wrong with that in itself of course — after pumping up his retreat to 1990s Internet as a great advance in truth, justice and the American way — it’s SuperTrump. I will grant he may indeed have come from another planet….

I rather enjoyed that back in the day in Kirrawee in 1956-7….

Here is what I posted before about this dolt….

He exposes himself every time he opens his mouth.

Another suggestion is that Trump is Miss Havisham spending her life beside her mouldering wedding cake lamenting that she was jilted on her wedding day and devoting herself to revenge:

The only appropriate response to this man is contempt.

The Pyrrhic victory of the greatest conman ever to inhabit the White House — a verdict not worth a cracker!

I am not being namby-pamby about this hideous creature any more. He is not a credible leader. He is not clever. He is a menace.

Is that clear enough?

Then how about Carl M. Loeb University Professor at the Harvard Law School of Harvard University Lawrence Tribe on Twitter: “What McConnell said today ends all legitimate debate over Trump’s responsibility for inciting violent insurrection against the United States. The Senate shamefully let Trump off on a hypocritical technicality, but the House Managers overwhelmingly proved Trump’s guilt forever.” This is what McConnell said in a great factual speech. Shame about his failure to vote accordingly:

57 found him guilty, endorsing the facts and the verdict of history from this day on. 43 took a different view, for reasons no doubt varied but almost certainly political. Hardly a verdict to crow about, is it? The defence case was a master class in narrow nit-pickery. This was NOT a criminal trial. It was a political ritual, but an important one, even if the outcome was entirely predictable.

Note the unambiguous caption from this US evangelical site: “Trump incites his followers to violence.”

Whatever the outcome of what is happening in the Senate, that is the truth, was the truth, always will be the truth.

“… the mayhem brought with it the stark realization that this destruction was the logical conclusion of a presidency committed to undermining and delegitimizing the foundations of American democracy.”

The photos are excellent. Here is just one:

This is a must see. Irrefutable. There was an attempt to steal the election. It was led by Donald J Trump!

As doyen of US news Dan Rather said:

January 6 was a coordinated attack. It was built atop a foundation of lies doled out with precision over days and weeks. From a different perspective, you might say this was months, years, and even generations in the making. Will it be the last gasps of a discredited white supremacy and the other forces of intolerance that weaken our nation? Will we be able to successfully fight off the lies and propaganda? Or will this be part another major strike of the sledgehammer that’s fracturing our democratic experiment?

I have long believed that anyone who thinks Donald Trump is or ever has been anything other than the worst ever President, the most wilfully ignorant, and the greatest liar ever to hold the office, has rocks in his/her head.

His policies, such as they were, if they can really be sorted out from the chaos, were and are as attractive as the worst of the Isolationists in the 1930s. Those who think he is some kind of intelligent conservative have forgotten what a conservative is.

To many of my leftist friends I am a conservative. I read Shakespeare. I love the Queen. I have even been known not to vote Labor or Green. I do know what a conservative is, and I do know that Trump is an authoritarian, crypto-Fascist to some degree, but essentially a deluded ignoramus on whom, sadly, many Americans, who rightly in many cases felt left out, put their faith. They were tragically wrong.

His primary characteristic really has been rampant narcissism. His speeches and rallies were “positive thinking” gone to seed, worthy of the maddest moments of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman or the tragic Jay Gatsby gazing at the green light on Daisy’s pier.

Except Trump had no green light — other than his own mad conviction that multiple bankruptcies and business ventures of dubious real public worth fitted him somehow to “Make America Great Again.”

Hundreds of thousands have died under Trump’s maladministration, victims in part of that toxic bullshit positive thinking.

The defence offered the most thin, most nit-picking, most narrow defence against what was to any observer Trump’s patent guilt over many months.

This Toon (thanks to Loon Pond) pretty much sums up the case that 57 Senators rightly accepted. Trump meanwhile might (one hopes) be compared to King Pyrrhus of Epirus.

This was not a witch-hunt, not the pursuit of a saint or patriot out of vengeance, but the legitimate exposure of possibly the greatest conman ever to occupy the White House, who was and remains a clear and present danger to US democracy! This has been a clear and vivid demonstration of how a vile shonk set out to lie his way back into office, caring not at all about how it was done or who was hurt. Whatever has been the decision of the Senate, this man should never again hold any kind of public office anywhere.

Let me remind you about what this wonderful Australian singer/songwriter offered us last October, given the WRONG decision made by the US Senate today.

A NOTE ON COMMENTS: This post is a statement of my position. You may take it or leave it. You are free to do that, and you can sound off about the issues wherever you like. I am not limiting your free speech. But NO COMMENTS — for or against — will be published about this post. You will not be blocked — unless you are especially offensive — but your comment, for or against as I said, will simply not be published. I will have read it though. I simply have no desire for this post to become a punching bag. It is what it is, and I do not regret a word of it — after around five revisions in the past 24 hours. It is considered, that is for sure.