Sunday, 16 June 2013
The most shameful things that have occurred in Australian politics.
I am not counting the eternal squabbles, minor cheats of travel allowance, and drunken MPs. These are the big things - the four most shameful events that have happened in Australian politics since 1778.
1. 1808, way back when the colony was young. Corruption was rife, the New South Wales Army Corps were making themselves rich, and the currency was rum. Governor William Bligh tried to bring order, but instead there was what came to be known as the 'Rum Rebellion.' Bligh was deposed and taken as a prisoner, leaving the army officers in control, to continue to make themselves rich at the expense of everyone else. The Army Corps was under the command of Major George Johnston, working closely with John Macarthur. History remembers Macarthur as a great man rather than a troublesome bully who did everything he could to undermine fair government.
2. 1975. Labor was in government with a hostile Senate, who blocked supply (of money that is.) The Governor-General, John Kerr, dismissed Gough Whitlam's Labor Government and put an unelected Liberal government in its place. Malcolm Fraser became Prime Minister. Australian citizens had not even realised that he had that power - he was viewed as just a figurehead - a remnant of the time that Australia was a colony rather than a democracy.
The 'Dismissal' as it was called, would not have been so shameful if the governor had merely called an election. But putting an unelected government in power - that was unforgivable.
Many, many years later, Fraser admitted that he was surprised that it had worked. He said that if he'd been in power and the positions reversed, he would simply have refused to listen to Kerr.
3. 2003. Pauline Hanson - Australia's second political prisoner. (William Bligh was the first and the only other one that I know of.) Hanson started an immensely popular 'Australia Party.' Members of the self-named 'Intelligentsia' called her ignorant and racist. She was taken before the Race Tribunal at one point, but they had to concede that saying that Aboriginals should be treated in the same way as anyone else was not racist.
The major parties opposed this upstart with everything they had. Her policies were ridiculed, (even though some were later adopted) and she was mocked for her speech, and because she ran a fish and chip shop (betraying some inherent snobbery of politicians.) After her first unexpected success, when elections came again, all the major parties conspired to put her last on the preference list, (preferences are very important in Australian voting.) The result was that it was almost impossible for her to get enough votes to win a seat.
BUT the most shameful thing is that her Australian Party was deemed to be somehow illegal, and she was sentenced to a term of imprisonment. It was in Queensland, which apparently had some very poor judges at the time. The conviction was later overturned, but not before Hanson suffered the enormous indignity of some months in prison.
2013: And now, the repeated and personal vilification of Julia Gillard, our first (and last?) female Prime Minister. Tony Abbot (leader of the Opposition) 'happened' to be standing in front of a placard which labelled her 'bitch.' She has been criticised for having no children. Vicious 'jokes' are spread by email, Facebook and Twitter. It has become fashionable to hate her. Even those I'd previously regarded as having a lot of sense have joined the bandwagon. There is a facebook page - 'Australia's
There are certainly things she has done that I disagree with, but nothing she has done warrants this vitriol.
It is an absolute disgrace that the woman is being treated like this, and I honour her for the dignity and courage with which she has borne it.
Thursday, 13 June 2013
A note to begin with: For some reason, BlogSpot has become very difficult to work with, changing the position of things, the size of the writing, the type of font, all apparently very much at random. Try to ignore the awkwardness of the positioning of some of the elements, and simply read what I have to say.
Authors, agents, publishers and little gods.
Authors have to learn to accept rejection. We are all told that, and we learn to live with rejection slips, learn to live with criticism of what we have put our hearts and minds into creating. We become desperate for publication, for acceptance, and to see our precious book in our own hands - real - something to feel and touch and admire. It is why a whole industry has grown up around taking money from yet-to-be-published authors.
Agents, on the other hand, find themselves in enormous demand. They sit back and every now and then, tell those lowly authors exactly the form of submission letter that just might gain their attention. Do something the tiniest bit wrong - or maybe not wrong, but something they don't like - and it will be rejected. Even that name - 'submission' - like you're crawling on your belly to some god.
And then publishers. Ah, they know best, don't they? They know what sells, what title to use for the product, and whether the plot should be changed to what they think will sell. That the author should have a say? Ludicrous. And usually, the author is too overwhelmed to think they've been picked up by a major publisher that they will do what they're told, few daring to raise their voices in protest.
Small independent publishers. Some of those can be the worst of all. They can be even like a cult, where the 'publisher' is the god, and his stable of authors become something like disciples, ready to turn on anyone who does not join in the chorus of praise for the great god Publisher.
But that is just a few. Many small independents are good, doing the best for their authors. And probably many agents respect their authors, maybe even thinking them as almost as much to be respected as themselves. The big publishers? Are some of those good? Well, since I've heard that a new author gets dumped if they're not an immediate success, I doubt it.
'Submitting.' In the dictionary, 'submit' is defined as 'yield to another's authority or control, surrender' as well as 'present for consideration or acceptance.' I think most agents and publishers fully expect the first definition.
Here are just two sites giving submission requirements (no, not literally on your knees, just figuratively.) There are numerous others. There are even people charging authors to write a 'killer' submission letter. There was one arrogant agent who did a blog post listing all the utterly trivial reasons why she might reject a manuscript. (I think I remember it as a 'she')
Well, too bad.
Some of us do not choose to worship at the feet of agents or publishers. It is the self-publishing revolution. There is new light, a dawning of empowerment for authors.
Createspace or Lulu can make your paperbacks or hardcovers at minimal cost.
Smashwords or Kobo or Amazon and a half dozen others can enable your ebook to be available online, usually at no cost at all.
So here are some self-published books that are doing just fine, thank you, without an agent, without a publisher, and no need to crawl to anyone.
It is not only an extremely good book,
but it is an important book,
something that everyone should read.
When eleven-year-old Meggie's feckless Dad doesn't pay the coal man and they have no hot water she takes matters into her own hands. With her younger brother, Jack, she sets off to find the free coal she knows can be found in the pit heaps opposite their village. When she and Jack return home from their adventure, she's punished. Does she still love her dad? She’s not so sure and when she has to make a choice between going to live with her grandparents at their newsagent’s shop in Newcastle so she can go to the grammar school or staying in Shippon and going to the local secondary school she decides to leave home.
She soon finds herself in an ever bigger mess. Billy Fish and The Codmother are ripping off Meggie's grandparents. With her new friend, paperboy Dave Spedding, she tries to help, but finds herself trapped in a dangerous situation.
Meggie is such a great character - spirited, courageous and clever. She is so easy to relate to, and one can't help but want to share her journey toward adulthood. A 5-star read.
Things I particularly liked about the story of Rimsey, her battles and her victories:
*I like that she is a girl, scorned by her peers, and yet she is intelligent, courageous and above all, triumphant.
*I love the breathless speed of the fight scenes, and I like that she wins each battle. (Well, the story would have to end if she lost)
*I liked what she said once - that in her profession, there was no such thing as a partial win. It was either a win or no more dragon slayer.
*I liked the pragmatism with which she treats a needed death - when told that her enemy would not forgive her, she says: "I know he won't. But neither will he learn from it. You should have let me kill him. I'll have to eventually. Pass your plate, supper's ready."
*I like the fact that when the nun tried to lay a guilt trip on her for killing the man, she disregards it - She looked down at Berenice. "But for me, hate isn't a burden. It's a tool of the trade." She flicked the reins and drove out, without looking back.
Things I didn't like? Well, nothing really. Purchasers should be aware that these stories are only short, 12,000 words for Dragon 2 and around 15,000 words for Dragon 3.
And I suppose they're really meant for children. That didn't stop this mature adult thoroughly enjoying them.
Happily 5 stars for Rimsey, her stories and her author.
The story of Mikey, who rashly accepts a drink from a stranger, and his life is never the same again. The sequel to this book of 'Paying the Piper.' I cannot recommend these two highly enough.
(Although a Standalone novel, it is also the Third in a Series featuring Tom Kendall private detective)
Lisa Hinsley is one of those authors who self-published to begin with, but now, some of her best books have been picked up by a publisher. It demonstrates that there are a lot of very good books among the ranks of self-publishers.
Eve is the woman of his dreams; but dream is just another word for nightmare, and Abe knows all about those. Amidst a confused web of lies and secrets, Abe is trying to discover who he is and make sense of what he may become. More than just his future and his new-found love is at stake. When he discovers that he has a brother, a man bound by divine destiny to kill him, Abe is going to have to make a difficult choice. A choice that might redeem the world. A choice that just might destroy it.
A Darker Moon is a dark, psychological fantasy. A mythical tale of light and shadow and the unlit places where it is best not to shine even the dimmest light.
Monday, 10 June 2013
'Anca's Story' by Seffina Desforges. This is a story of the Holocaust of World War 2.
Three young children smuggle themselves into Auschwitz in search for their parents.
If you're looking for werewolves, vampires and faeries and paranormal fantasy, try somewhere else. The only wolf in this story is very real, and the only connection with vampires is the distant Transylvanian mountains in Romania, where this story begins.
If you're looking for light-reading where they all live happily ever after then again, try somewhere else.
If you want serious, no-holds-barred literary fiction set against the background of real historic events, then this is for you.
Saffina Desforges made her name writing hard-hitting crime fiction.
This book is about that most horrific crime of all: genocide.
The book opens with the Survivor being mocked by an uninterested young person, but as Anca tells her story, respect for her incredible survival and moving on, after the war, is felt.
My review: 5 stars
I wonder if English is a second language for the author, as the English is totally accurate, but in a way that a native to the language is unlikely to use.
But that part can be partially explained - there were so few who survived the Holocaust, and each survivor's story is probably just as unlikely.
But still - 5 stars. This was an incredible story that kept my interest from start to finish. It brought history to life. This is a very good book. I recommend it.
|Anca survived, Nicholae survived, even Elone survived.|
Look for 'Anca's Story' by following one of these links.
From the author (actually one of the author partnership known as Seffina Desforges)
Anca's Story was written with the imminent WWII anniversaries in mind.
70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz and the end of WWII in 2015, and the
75th anniversary in 2020. Not for commercial reasons (we really didn't expect
this to sell anywhere near as well as it has) but because these anniversaries
will be the last major commemorations when there will still be people alive who
lived through the events, hence the choice to have Anca herself narrate the
story. The title itself was deliberately low key, and we opted not to make the
main character a Jew to remind everyone the Holocaust was much more than just
anti-Semitism gone mad. although of course the wonderful Elone is there to make
sure that side of the story is heard.
In answer to my criticism of the unnatural language:
The choice was deliberate. The narrator, Anca, is very much an English as second language person. There were probably very few native-English speakers in the concentration camps, and Anca's generation would have learned and spoken English in such a fashion
For the author's profile, and details of other books, follow the link below/
Wednesday, 5 June 2013
Sadly, as a glitch in the system means that I can't load photos as desired, the images here are limited to those I have used in past blogs. But these are book-covers that are attractive and suited to the mood of the book.
Also, I apologise for some of the spacing. The way my blog is accepting both pictures and writing seems very cranky today - maybe another glitch and maybe I'm just not doing it right.
The owl face conveys a mysterious feel, suited to the book.
This excellent book has been recently self-published. In my opinion, the positioning of the elements could have been improved slightly, but all the same, it's a cover that is relevant and attractive.
The Angelique books.
These are books written around the 1940s (at a guess) with translations and reprints over the next 30 years. I have no idea how far these particular covers date back, only that my copies are at least 40 years old. The covers would no doubt be judged as old-fashioned these days, and yet they are attractive and one can tell at a glance what they are - adventure and romance. Angelique, of course, is the main character.
They are set in pre-revolution France, and the research is excellent as far as I can tell, so they are more than 'trashy romance.'
Two books about eunuchs. The deep, rich colours convey a mood of old-fashioned romanticism.
'The Persian Boy' is about the eunuch beloved by Alexander the Great, and 'Cry to Heaven' is about the Castrati of Italy. It is by Anne Rice, famous for her vampire books.
'Hamelin's Child' by DJ Bennett. Another Indie published book. This book-cover is perfect for this story - the posture of the youth, the setting, the colouring. It could not have been bettered.
The books below are some of my own. The cover for 'Not a Man' was designed by Authonomy member, Bradley Wind. I wanted a mood that conveyed mystery with a touch of the exotic. The image used was from my own collection of photographs. (A portion of New Zealand pretending to be the Atlas Mountains of Arabia.)
The second and third of the series, I did myself.
Two very different books by Paul Trembling. These are not fantastic covers, but are both attractive and both suited to the book.
A book cover in progress. This is to be the back-cover of the paperback of the next Penwinnard book. The blurb has yet to be added.
Thursday, 30 May 2013
On Bigpond news today: Thursday, May 30, 2013 » 07:05am
Workplace safety regulators have ordered a halt at several NBN construction sites amid asbestos fears.
Comcare has told News Limited it issued stop-work orders at multiple locations, and expected to issue more in connection with work on the NBN.
The move comes after a resident in Penrith, west of Sydney, contacted the NSW WorkCover authority with concerns that asbestos safety procedures weren't being followed.
News Ltd on Thursday reported Comcare had confirmed one case in which Telstra had not applied proper risk assessments to its work on the 'pits' that are crucial to the network.
In addition to the Penrith incident, News Ltd said there were allegations of asbestos release at work sites in Ballarat, in Victoria, and in Hobart.
Asbestosis: A serious and terminal disease which has affected Asbestos miners. though usually many years after exposure. It does not happen to a person because they once lived in a fibro house, it does not affect a child who plays with broken bits of fibro - I'm pretty sure I remember doing that myself, it has not even affected a man I know who used to be a mechanic and remembers covering his face while blowing dust particles containing Asbestos from the brake linings of cars. (I may not have that precisely right - it was something like that.)
Saturday, 25 May 2013
From ABC online, 26th May, 2013, 10.27am
Adam Goodes 'gutted' by racial slur but wants AFL fan educated
But the 328-gamer fell victim to a racial vilification incident after being verbally abused by a Magpies fan, who was then escorted from the venue.
The win, the first of its kind in 13 years, to play such a pivotal role ... just means nothing. I turned around and I saw it was a young girl I was just like...really?Swans stalwart Adam Goodes
Goodes, with security staff around him, had stood only metres away and pointed to her following a verbal clash with the fan.
Victoria Police said on Saturday morning that a 13-year-old girl was interviewed over the incident and released last night pending further inquiries.
But Goodes said he is not blaming the girl, saying she deserved to be supported and educated about why the racist comment was unacceptable.
"I'm pretty gutted to be honest," he told reporters in Melbourne on Saturday morning.
"The win, the first in 13 years, to be up 47 points against Collingwood, to play such a pivotal role just sort of means nothing.
"To come to the boundary line and hear a 13 year old girl call me an 'ape', and it's not the first time on a footy field that I've been referred to as a 'monkey' or an 'ape', it was shattering."
People should not throw insults at football players during a match, or after the match, or at any other time. A thirteen-year-old girl called a football player an 'ape.' She should not have done that, obviously.
But still - I tend to think that very many football players are thugs - big, brutish, with no manners - (how often do they spit! Yecchh! ) And they are far too often involved in brawls, assaults, and are routinely accused of inappropriate behaviour to women. Too many are thugs. I could have just as easily used the word 'ape.' When used as an insult, 'thug' is akin to 'ape.'
So just exactly how is that 'racist?' It is in no way inherent in the term.
Who says it is racist? And why are they saying such a thing?
To me, accusing someone of being an 'ape' has not a thing to do with their ethnic origin. The girl has said publicly that she never thought of it as being 'racist.'
So who has it wrong here? The girl was guilty of poor behaviour, but I do not think she was racist. Most of you who read my blog are of superior intelligence and sense, so maybe it is worth trying to explain my concept - that many terms labelled as racist are not at all. It is the ones who call them racist who are betraying their feeling that the term conveys inferiority. 'Black' for instance. It is an adjective, and also a term for the darker skinned races. It does not say that being darker skinned is in any way inferior. To become incensed at the term, to abuse anyone who uses it - that is somehow saying that the darker-skinned races are inferior. So it is not the one who uses the word as an innocent adjective who is racist, but the ones who see it as racist.
Is this too hard for some to understand? Probably it is. People would far rather put themselves on the perceived 'enlightened' side than to actually think about what they are truly saying.
So - is being an 'ape' linked with being dark-skinned. I guess that after all this fuss, then it is. It was not before, or not to me. I don't run with the football crowd, of course, but I am perfectly literate.
The poor kid was led off the grounds by policemen. She appeared to be crying. The big, tough footballer had his triumph and now nobly says that people need to be 'educated.'
But maybe he needs to develop a thicker skin, and maybe he needs to realise that being called an 'ape' has nothing at all to do with racism.
'Appalling behaviour' they screech. Yes, it was. But the girl? That was poor behaviour. The mass ganging up on her afterwards by the footballer, the policemen, the media - now that is appalling behaviour.
|Not at all relevant |
Or maybe it denotes the sun going down on all common sense the moment someone cries 'racist.'
Tuesday, 21 May 2013
A new law is on the point of being passed in Australia - that Childcare Centres will have the right to exclude children who are not vaccinated. The Anti-discrimination Act is likely to be modified in order to pass it. I am against these vaccine laws. I do not believe this sort of a parental decision is a matter for legislation.
This is the question people are always being asked without the questioner stopping to define his terms. Do they mean the standard mumps, measles, polio? Or do they mean every single vaccine that has ever been developed?
Measles, Mumps, Chicken Pox, Polio.
I am strongly in favour of making these a routine part of childhood. They are all serious illnesses – I was quite shocked when my own children had Chicken Pox to see just how sick they were. (Before the vaccine was available.) It can even be regard as selfish not to have your children immunised.
All the same, it should not be compulsory, and it is not a matter for legislation.
New Vaccines against diseases that are either rare, or to which your child is most unlikely to be exposed.
Vaccinations have been so wonderfully effective in the past, that the Medical Profession has become a little carried away. To vaccinate against one particular form of Cervical Cancer? It is a rare thing. Make up your own mind.
To vaccinate a baby against Hepatitis? No. A baby is too precious to put him at any risk without good reason. In later childhood, especially if a parent suspects he is indulging in risky behaviour (or they are) then it is probably a very good idea. But no baby properly cared for, should be at risk of Hepatitis.
The flu vaccine - a new one every year.
I do not agree that children should have the flu vaccine. That is because with just one year to develop a new vaccine for the latest flu strain, they cannot possibly be properly tested before immunising thousands or hundreds of thousands of children. There have been very serious side-effects, including some left with permanent brain damage.
Like pregnant women, old people can try and protect themselves by staying away from crowds, and avoiding people who are coughing and sneezing. At least, if an old person suffers a problem because of an inadequately tested vaccine, there is not an innocent little one that is affected.
From the BigPond News page, Wednesday, May 22, 2013 » 06:32am
The New South Wales government says children who haven't had their vaccinations because of genuine medical or religious reasons won't be banned from childcare centres.
State Health Minister Jillian Skinner has flagged the new legislation in parliament to allow for special consideration in cases of medical reasons and genuine religious beliefs.
The move comes as Opposition Leader John Robertson is flagging amendments to the public health act, giving early childhood centres the right to refuse children places if they haven't had their shots.
Premier Barry O'Farrell has said he's prepared to make changes to the state's anti-discrimination laws to empower childcare centres to refuse children who haven't been vaccinated.
One more thing - how do you avoid the spread of flu?
1. Yourself. Stay away from crowds. Especially stay away from people who are coughing and sneezing.
2. To protect other people: If you are the one coughing and sneezing, do not go to work, do not 'soldier on,' and make quite sure to do your uttermost to KEEP THE GERMS TO YOURSELF!
3. Are you an employer? Do not make an employee feel guilty about 'taking a sickie.' Regardless of what you think, nearly every 'sickie' is taken because someone is sick. It is quite normal to have five or six fays in a year in which an individual is too sick to work. And if you see one of your employees busy spreading germs and trying to do this silly 'soldier on' business, send them home. You will gain by not having five other employees with the same illness the following week, and maybe another ten the week after. Productivity is not lost because an employee stays home when he has the flu - it is lost when you're stupid enough to insist that he comes to work and spreads his disease, resulting in a lot more absentees.