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Welcome to the Banana Republic

During this by-election season, I wanted to report on them for Our Newcastle. But ebola prevented that happening. I did get along to some of the election forums, and public talk-fests. They were moderately interesting, and some of them were even informative. But I came away thinking I should nominate next March when the state election comes around.

Even though a serious campaign would require about $50,000, just nominating ($500?) would be sufficient to get a seat at these public forums. And it would give me a chance to stand up and raise the issues I believe are important and need promoting.


What would they be though?


  1. A re-run of the 1967 referendum. Not the one everyone knows about, but the one held a few months earlier, to grant statehood to Newcastle and the northern portion of NSW
  2. The entire proceeds of the sale of the Newcastle port should stay in the Hunter, to benefit the communities who built the port and whose lives have been dictated to by the industries around the port. This money to be used for projects of significant benefit to the community, not to small sectional interests as is now the case
  3. The creation of a Hunter Transport Authority to determine what the region needs, and to see through the implementation of the resulting plan
  4. All political parties to have open books. In the past, they have argued that to reveal their income sources would be too administratively cumbersome. But anyone who runs a small business knows all that information is available just by running a report in MYOB, so the old arguments against transparency are a nonsense

In this town, that’s a populist recipe. And whatever the outcome, it’d be a fun race to run.

I really am tempted.

Two-Wheeled Banana

I am moving to the Tsunami Zone. That’s the name I use for the large flat expanse which stretches from Newcastle’s CBD out to the suburbs of Lambton, the edge of Kotara, Merewether, and even Mayfield.

One of the big reasons for moving there is the flatness, which will hopefully allow me to walk or ride places. I walked and rode everywhere when I lived in the zone before (although, I was a quarter the age I am now).

Earlier this year, I bought a second hand bike, but the more I examined it, the more I realised how much work it would require to be usable. Just the other day, I was looking at it with the thought it could be a project for the next couple of months – fixing it up and making it more viable. Knowing how I procrastinate, it might take most the summer. And missing the warm months would be a waste.

This evening though, I was impulsive. I bought a bike. A cheap hybrid bike to get back into the habit of riding places.

Paying money out, the improving weather, and moving back to the Zone, should be enough incentive.


Speaking Out

I went to a talk last night, well, a pair of them.

Kellie Tranter & Fr Rod Bower. The topic for the night was the importance of speaking out: for the dispossessed, the voiceless, but mostly when silence is wrong.

It was refreshing, especially given my own challenges in the past. I remember years ago, when the legal shit piled atop me for speaking my mind, I kept telling myself that when it was all over, I was going to “seek a life more beige”. But, of course, I can’t.

I don’t know where it comes from, because both my parents, my ex-wife and even my ex-girlfriends would keep their mouth shut if speaking were likely to bring them harm. But for me, silence and beigeness has never been an option.

For a few years, I even hated Australia, with its cliche of “it’s a free country” because I had been a victim of it, and realised what a lie it is. We are only as free as we’re allowed to be.


It would happen that way, wouldn’t it? I write a post about getting my life back on track, and then I get sick and am unable to do much of anything for ten days.

It’s Tuesday, and I’ve been sick since Thursday two weeks ago.  Started off as a general sense of unease, and then fell into a significant sinus infection, with loss of voice, and plenty of coughing – really violent coughing! – for days on end.

It’s started to ease off now, and I have at least returned to work. In the meantime, my new phone arrived, and a decision was made about which part of town I want to live in.

Not surprisingly, I’m being drawn back toward the area where I grew up, where I was happiest and where I am most comfortable. The wide flat streets, so familiar and easy. Not quite the intersection of Parkway & Dumaresq (where I used to joke of moving back to) but not too far from there.


Back on Track

on-trackI’ve allowed a few things to go off the rails lately.

Not majorly. But bad habits have formed, and good habits have faded from view.

I am thinking the best way to address this is a few small plans, like new year resolutions. Except not in January. And to last longer than three days.

One example is I haven’t been to the gym since early July. And it’s October. First I was sick, then I was moving, then there were issues around payment and expired credit cards, and all that. I need to return to the gym at least four times a week.

Another is because my books are in storage, I’ve fallen out of the reading habit. But I’ll be retrieving them in coming weeks. Once again I will be surrounded by my books, and with luck they’ll be unpacked and on shelves for the first time since I left Lana. I need to finish a book each month.

I usually read books and stop somewhere in the middle third. Even books I like. Only later will I go back and finish them. I estimate around half the books I own are in this ‘partly read’ category. That’s why I didn’t put ‘read one book a month’ but ‘finish’ – the difference matters in my case :)

Moving into a house which is under renovation means I haven’t cooked anything for weeks either. The new kitchen will hopefully change that. But am I the only one who ponders if my friends would mind me coming over and cooking them dinner? I probably am.

Am I Too Happy?


When I was a teenager, and living in East Maitland, there was a story in the Maitland Mercury about John, a bloke who wanted to set up a club for gamers – miniature wargamers & board gamers. Although too young to officially join, I went along and, as it happened, John and my father knew each other. My age was overlooked, and I started going regularly, learning about Napoleonic warfare, strategy and gaming. I loved it.

Since coming home, I’ve been thinking I should try and contact John, find out if the gaming group is still going. But, as with many such thoughts, I’ve not chased it up yet and it was on the back-burner as a ‘will do some day’ item.

At work, I’ve been having some issues with the computer network, and so I got an email from a senior bloke at the IT department. He had the same name as John’s son (distinctive enough there was a reasonable chance it was the same guy, and hey, it’s quite believable John’s offspring would end up in IT) so I asked if it was him. Then, I found out the gamer group still meets, still on Friday nights at John’s house. Although, they’re into Warhammer, which leaves me cold. But the email chat was just another brick in the wall – the wall on which is painted a massive sign that I love being back in my homeland, and the sense of being where I belong is enormously beneficial for my well-being.

Some days, I wonder if being this happy over something so intangible as being home is a sign of some sort of disorder. I wonder if maybe I need professional assistance.

I can just imagine the opening line of that visit:

“Hello doctor, I am terribly happy; something must be wrong”

Some Friends Will Hate Me For This

Some of my friends will hate on me for saying this, but I do not believe depression exists.

Or, at least, does not exist in the way our society does.

I don’t accept it’s a disease.

I don’t accept that it’s an excuse for behaviour like this: Link to Sydney Morning Herald article about farmer Geoff Hunt killing his wife and three kids. Or, for that matter, any anti-social, criminal or inappropriate behaviour. I have though sat in criminal courts and listened to solicitor after solicitor stand up and say that their client should receive a lesser sentence because they are suffering from depression, are being treated for depression etc etc etc. I have never though heard a solicitor stand up in court and explain their clients actions as being caused by their dysfunctional liver, or excessive acne, or ingrown toenails.

Defence solicitors love depression because it’s undiagnosable, in the clinical sense. Because the prosecutors can never stand up and counter “Prove it!”

Years ago, I made a comment on a forum where I referred to depression as “a code-word doctors use for ‘this person needs to get their shit together, and won’t'”. When I wrote it, it was flippant, and half-intentionally inflammatory. But the reality is that, over time, I’ve found evidence to back the comment keeps piling up.

The standard argument against my claim is that it’s biological, beyond the control of the patient, a chemical imbalance in the brain.

But it’s not. Current medical science does not know what the ‘balance’ should be, so of course, they cannot measure an imbalance. And even if this ‘imbalance’ theory were right, I ask this: if your depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, when was the last time anyone gave you a diagnostic test? To measure the chemicals in your brain? You haven’t had such a test? Know why? It’s because they don’t exist. Because, as I’ve already mentioned, doctors know it’s not real.

The other argument is that depression is a result of a lack of serotonin. Since we do not know what the appropriate level of serotonin is, the only way we have come to believe it’s a lack of serotonin is that boosting serotonin in a depressed person improves their depression. This proves depression is a disease in the same way that sculling a bottle of vodka proves that sobriety is a disease.

In the last ten or so years since my initial comment, I have encountered a single example of someone who had “depression” as a result of a quantifiable biological cause. Actual, measurable, clinically-identified. But I’ve encountered hundreds who have claimed they were biologically depressed who weren’t.

If depression is not a disease, what is it?

It’s a failure to cope.

With life.

And the only way to address it is to do the things depressed people claim they can’t do (when really, what they’re saying is they don’t want to do).

Get out of bed.

Fix your shit.

That’s the only way it gets fixed.

Am I wrong? C’mon, you think I am, don’t you?

And to prove me wrong, you’ll get your shit sorted, get your life back in order, and you’ll still be depressed, right?

Yeah. Sure you will.

Either you’ll do as I say, you’ll fix your shit, and find I’m right.

Or you’ll continue, and you’ll proclaim I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Not because I’m wrong. But because you’re too addicted to the pity-train to hear what I’m telling you.