Are you full? Or racist?

From Beowulf on ZGeek:

In the 10 years 1990 to 1999, the US took in nearly ten times as many refugees as Australia.

The US also has more immigrants than Australia has people.

Australia has:
21,262,641 People
472,461 square kilometres of arable land
45 people per square kilometre of arable land

USA has:
307,212,123 people
1,650,070 square kilometres of arable land
186 people per square kilometre of arable land

Australia would have to quadruple its population to match the US in DPD.

In total population density, Australia is ranked 187th in between Mauretania and Botswana.

So are you full or just racist?

How You Stop Paedophiles in Private Schools

I finished school at a now-defunct Catholic boys school. About two thirds of my classmates were boarders, the rest (including me) were ‘day-rats’. For the last 8 or 9 years, I’ve run an email discussion list for my classmates. It’s mainly been used over the years for organising reunions, both formal and informal.

In the last year or two though, since Julia Gillard set up the royal commission into institutional responses to child abuse, it’s been regularly used for announcements like “Another of our teachers has been arrested” and the inevitable discussion about what went on there.

The abuse was so widespread, there is little doubt the school hierarchy (and probably elements in the wider Catholic church) knew what was going on and chose to ignore the effect on the victims because the reputation of the school and the Church was more important that the welfare of children.

Last week, one of my classmates made a suggestion which the more I think about it, the more I like.

The students should push for a refund of their school fees.

Their parents chose the school for their reputation of caring for their sons. That reputation was a lie. And so the order of Brothers who operated the school, and the wider church which sanctioned it, should be forced to repay the fees obtained under that deception. Not just to the immediate victims, but to everyone. Sure, it’d cripple the Brothers, and maybe even hurt the Church. But it’d make them think twice about protecting such scum in the future.

Offshoring is a Joke

There is a theory that all English-speaking countries are the same. Right? Because we all speak the same language, so a big company (let’s say Telstra) can substitute a call centre in the Philippines for a call centre in Launceston, and it’ll be just as good. Right? Right?

What a steaming pile of bullshit.

Do you know what a ‘elevated joint’ is? It’s one of these


You may have one in your front yard. I do. Well, I sort of do. Mine looks like this:


I just tried to call Telstra and advise them. Even though my service is working fine (well, the internet is, I’ve no idea if the phone line is: I don’t own a phone), I thought there’s wires and connections in that plastic bag thing, and it’d probably be unwise to let it get wet.

I called 132200, as you should do in these circumstances. And holy fuck what a frustrating time I had.

I described it as a “metal pole, about two foot tall, which everyone’s got in their front yard.. I don’t know what their technical name is” It took ages to get the Filipino girl at the other end to understand I wasn’t saying a ‘hole’ (I’m not quite sure what a ‘metal hole’ might be). She had no comprehension of what this thing was, or why it’s in my yard. Even when I found, while googling on the call, what they were called, she didn’t know what an ‘elevated joint’ was.

“I have a photo, if you’d like me to email it to you. Or it’s on my website, if you want to look and see, so you know what I’m talking about,” I offered, trying to help her understand.

“We don’t have internet access,” she told me.

No. Of course you don’t. You’re a telecommunications company.

Queenie – Crumpet

I used to manage a band called Crumpet. My favourite song of theirs was Queenie, which the songwriter of the band tried to tell me was a love song to Morticia Adams.

I am posting this purely because the song isn’t available anywhere online for anyone to listen to it. And I want to share it. So, here it is. Queenie, by Crumpet.

Strange Things Afoot in the Tree-lined Parkway Avenue


Above is a map of Hamilton/Hamilton East. Any of you familiar with Newcastle’s inner suburbs will probably know the area well. I do, because I grew up not far off the right hand edge.

Last night, I went out for a kebab – as you do when you’re me – and so I was coming home about midnight, along the route indicated by the red dots. I’m no expert with MS Paint, so you’ll have to forgive the fact the map looks like it’s been marked up by a three-year-old using crayons held in their feet.

As I was saying though, I was heading roughly south-east. Something – I’ve no idea what – was going on where the purple circle is in Parkway Avenue. Whatever it was, it involved four police cars, not very neatly parked – they were on the footpath and the median strip.

I can understand that if something’s going down, the police might block off adjacent streets. That’s not what they did though. The blue arrows (yes, they are arrows, even if they look like blobs) indicate where police cars or 4WDs were parked, blocking traffic. But they were facing toward the purple circle, and in three out of the four cases, stopping vehicles headed AWAY from whatever had happened.

As shown, I was able to continue on my planned path, toward and past the incident on Parkway Avenue.

I’ve no idea what was going on where the purple circle is. But the roadblocks Newcastle Police put in place were very odd. I checked this morning on the Police Media Release list – and they tend to put out press releases to announce anything they can think of! – but there was nothing to explain it.

Researching the Dambusters


I am working on a research project.

When I was in Year 3 (1979), and also Year 5 (1981), I went to Hamilton South Primary School. Their school song was to the tune of the Dambuster March from the 1955 movie about the bombing raid on German dams.

I have always wondered why the school used that tune. I had a number of theories, but wanted to know if any of them were right (they weren’t) but having disproved them, I’m now stuck trying to work out what the true story is.

A couple of weeks ago, I emailed the school (not for the first time) with the question, and ended up going in and visiting the librarian – Gwenda – who has a bit of a thing for the school’s history. A chat with Gwenda was followed by a chat with my now-retired fifth grade teacher – David Dyball, one of my all-time favourite teachers (he ignited my lifelong love of local history). Both Gwenda and Mr Dyball gave me small snippets to go forward with, but neither had the smoking gun, the bit of evidence I need to answer the question.

Along the way, I’ve learnt quite a bit. Three of the aircrew that fateful night in 1943 were Novocastrians – although none of them attended Hamilton South – the school was only opened in the 1930s. And sadly, the Royal Air Force disbanded 617 Squadron last year (for the third time since it was formed in 1943).

Circular Dilemma

Wednesday last week, I bought the shoes my podiatrist had recommended to me. At $229, they were more than any pair of shoes I’d ever bought but Dr Aaron had said they’d help with the painful arches and allow me to return to my evening walks without pain. Okay, made sense.

But within a day, I could feel my back starting to get twitchy. I figured it must be because my spone had gotten out of whack with bad shoes and bad posture, and these $229 wonder-shoes were fixing all that up.

Last Monday though, I hit a wall. I got to work, and could barely walk. I needed to support myself on desks and chairs to walk from one side of the office to another, so I was sent home. It got worse while driving. I went past my doctor’s office, hoping I might be able to pull up outside, and call him to come and give me drugs or treatment or something down in the street. But there was an hour before Dr Charlie was due to start for the day. I kept going, kept trying to get home. I failed though. Hit a wall – fortunately only a metaphorical one – near Denison Street, and pulled up at the ambulance station there. One of the trainers in the office came out, and chatted to me and radioed for an ambulance. I couldn’t walk, couldn’t move.

whistleParamedics arrived and as usual, they were the most professional and friendly people in the world. I was given a whistle – a green plastic thing about 4 inches long. After breathing through it for 4 or 5 breaths, I felt no pain, my head was spinning and, as it was described to me “it’s like downing a bottle of whiskey, but it tastes like red fruit tingles, and wears off 10 minutes after you stop breathing through it”. These things would be worth a fortune on the black market, I’m sure.

I was taken to the Mater, given more drugs, spoke to a doctor, and as the drugs took effect, was fine enough to go home. Naturally though, as soon as I left, the pain was returning. So Jen took me home, and on the way, bought me some painkillers.

Later, I got more painkillers, and that’s pretty much the story of my week – painkillers, friends waiting on me, and me struggling to do much more than get out of bed long enough to go to the bathroom.

Until today.

Today, I have managed to spend most of the day out of bed. I’m not sure if it’s the Valium, Panadiene Forte, and Nurofen, or whether I am actually getting better. But now it’s down to a manageable ache. No longer completely crippling.

Rhiannon hit the nail on the head though when she texted me through the week.

“What are you doing about it?” she asked
“I’m resting and taking lots and lots of really strong drugs”
“What about longer term?”

That’s the question – what happens longer term?

Ironically, this latest crippling – coming only 13 months after the previous one – was a direct result of strategies triggered by the last one. I wanted to get more active, but that required sorting out the sore arches problem. That led to the podiatrist, and the new shoes. And now, to a week in bed.

She’s right though. Things must change in Banana-world