Saturday, June 08, 2013

Never mind the cute local lad, it is all about nostalgia

It is not about Shannon who is more than just a pretty face, it is about what he has stuck on his tumblr. How sad are the photos of a closed kiddie amusement park.

But if you want a daily dose of really sad closed places to thoroughly depress you, subscribe to Abandonedography.

No tears were shed when our Wobbies World closed. I think it was a blessing from our lord.

This evening I asked our ex NT politician friend who is now a broadcaster on an older people's radio station, when will nursing homes and aged care places cease to have a piano and the residents will no longer sing It's a Long Way to Tipperary, and White Cliffs of Dover? He said in about fifty years. Just to note, while Golden Days Radio only broadcasts on FM radio airwaves, 95.7 and not digitally, it does stream over the net and has many overseas listeners.

At the age of 84, our friend's broadcasting receptionist died last week. We spoke to her on the phone a few times and R's sister spoke to her when she was here in March. She lived in the same East St Kilda street for her whole life. Her parents were married at St Mary's in Dandenong Road, she was christened in St Mary's, she married in St Mary's and her funeral was at St Mary's. She did venture outside St Kilda though, working for many years at the West Melbourne Telephone Exchange. She was nice to talk to on the phone when we called to gee up the call in ratings for our friend.

Unions #101

I am a member of a union of workers. I am proud to be member. Unions are very important, more than ever now. Strongly unionised workers generally have better pay and better working conditions than than non unionised workers.

Many workers say, what it the point? What can a union do for me? This sort of comment comes from someone in a non union work place.

Of course if you a white collar worker for a private company, you may be doing ok. It rather depends.......

I don't understand why low paid workers don't feel like they should be in a union. Governments (expenditure) and private companies (profit) want to keep labour costs as low as possible. Fair enough.

Workers want more pay and better and safer working conditions.

The twain shan't meet. As an individual, it is hard to stand up to bosses and argue your case. But if you have clever people, elected union officials, to do you bidding, then you will be in a much better position.

We have moved on from extremely dangerous workplaces to just dangerous workplaces. Far too  many people are killed and badly injured at their workplace and many suffer mental distress from work pressure and work place where customer contact is often fraught or relations with fellow workers are bad.

None of the above are good, but they would be a whole lot worse if it wasn't for unions keeping pressure on employers over safety.

Unions even have their own political party in Australia, known as the Labor Party, and it is presently in power, but not doing much for the workers of Australia. But to be fair, it has done a lot in the area of social justice, far more than our previous conservative government ever did.

Clearly even business can see how unions can work, as they set up their own, but with fancier names, such peak bodies, associations and other such words that essentially replace the word union.

Even dairy farmers had a type of a union, a co-operative which was owned by them and collectively bargained with those who would buy their milk products. They rid themselves of co-ops to go it alone with their negotiations by selling directly to private milk processing companies. Look how that turned out.

Wheat farmers? Shut down the Wheat Board and the same bad results for the growers.

Individuals have little power. Collections of individuals have a lot more power. Note the success of organisations such as Get Up and I was very surprised to learn recently that online petitions can be very successful, so don't think it is just a waste of time signing one.

Friday, June 07, 2013


I don't think I have ever put up a clip of Marguerite Pracatan. She was a frequent guest on Clive James' show. I generally liked Clive's show. To this day when we are at Prahran Market having breakfast and the trio of musical instrument players come around, we say to each other, oh no, not the Mariachi band, which is along the lines of what Clive said when he toured Central America and came across them frequently.

Older and no more wiser but more knowledgeable than when Clive was on tv, I now say Marguerite is Latin American. She is still performing and some twenty years later looks 'younger' than she did on the show.

Marguerite performs for Clive and Liza, that's Liza with a zee not an s (song reference before everyone hounds me for writing zee).

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Your taxes at work

We don't pay enough tax in Australia. That is why our infrastructure is so poor and our care for the disadvantaged is wanting.When I say we don't pay enough tax, I think I pay rather a lot. Someone in Australia is not paying enough.

Yet some of our poorest peoples' taxes go towards private schools. That is posh schools for rich people. But posh schools have turned into working class schools where people who 'work hard and both work two jobs to send my children to a good school' send their children. I shouldn't dis private schools as Sister is a teacher at a posh private school, and Little Jo's welfare depends on Sister's income, well Bone Doctor's too, her other mother. Little Jo may not get a sweet treat at the time of her choosing now, or that new toy, or a meal from the Scottish Restaurant but she will never really have to really worry about money. Lucky her. Most of my life, I have had to worry about money, the lack of it. While I have enough now, it is still a concern with R in semi retirement. Anyway, Sister took the first teaching job she could get and stuck at it. Normally quite vocal, she doesn't say much when I go on one of my funding by the public of private schools rants. Nor does the privately educated Bone Doctor.

I am not sure if I think it is wonderful to have enough money, or I want to go back to the French Revolution where they chopped their heads off the rich who would let them eat cake.

I am thinking of the parents dropping their kiddies off at Melbourne Grammar School. They cause terrible street congestion. They make illegal U turns. They park where they can find. They delay the tram along the street.  I hate them. Yet when I see their angelic sons getting out of the cars, my heart melts, for a nano second. After their son has picks up his school bag and sports equipment from the back of his parent's SUV/4WD, with a tailgate that rises ever so gently, and then lowers by an electric motor, I wonder about the so called egalitarian Australia.

That some state government schools are so neglected and desperately need funds, yet the government ploughs money into already rich private schools and this is intolerable, in my view. You can see exactly where are governments are taking education. In time only the very poorest in society will go to state owned schools, the rest will be privately educated, mostly by religious institutions.

The above was written some time ago and I am sure you find me banging on about the massive subsidising of  private schools by the lowest of taxpayers, quite tedious.

But how much money do private schools get? So much they feel obliged to give some back apparently, as Melbourne's Wesley College has done. Of course they can afford to be generous when their property speculation has so successful.

''Wesley paid about $400,000 for this piece of land back in the mid '90s when they acquired it from VicRoads - they are now seeking to develop it for upwards of $30 million,'' Cr Lake said. ''Here is a private school that has basically been given a gift by the Victorian taxpayer and they are now wanting to turn that gift into significant profit.''

Read more:

Unrelated, and to show my political bias is not as strong as you may think,  tabloid tv this week tried to pillory ex premier Baillieu over him having a government supplied car and driver. The usual, snouts in the trough. I don't mind Teddy Baills being pilloried, but for the right reasons. He is entitled to the car and a driver, so attack the politicians who make the rules, not the person who takes advantage of them. It is Baillieu's right and he would be mad to not take advantage of it, no matter how personally rich he is.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The Shrine

I cannot lie. These photos were taken over two consecutive days. I arrived at the Shrine, quite close to The Highrise, and it began to rain. I silently swore a bad word. I took a few photos and the camera then shut down because the battery was flat. I said another bad word. I went to a nearby cafe and consoled myself with a long black and read The Hun. I was outside under a large umbrella but another rain shower arrived and started to rain on me and the newspaper. I swore again and went home, somewhat depressed.

But the next day was bright and sunny and I was determined to return and take photos.

Construction of The Shrine of Remembrance began in 1928 and was completed in 1934.

Garden beds as I walked up the steep hill from St Kilda Road.



The sky threatens.

It wasn't an idle threat, but only ended up being a nuisance shower.

The Eternal Flame. Some idiot put it out a couple of times. He was caught and dealt with.

 This is better, sunshine, looking towards town.

Not a a bad angle. Doesn't it look so regal.

I am a short distance away along the wide gently sloping main path to the The Shrine.

I should have zoomed a bit.  The cypress trees lining the pathway are impressive.

World War II obelisk?

The grass squares are used very effectively.

Once inside, there are huge display cases of bling, all highly polished.

There are many of these alcoves.

While I don't think much will change externally, there is a huge construction project underway at The Shrine. Most of what is being built will be underground. This is looking south and somewhere in the distance The Highrise can be seen.

 I am up on the external gallery almost at the top of the Shrine and looking west.

 North west towards the city with the top of the Eureka building out of shot.

Looking east over the Observatory and its cafe, on to the Royal Botanic Gardens and with the Dandenong Ranges in the distance.

I have posted this before and here is a link to Mother on the right with her friend at the Shrine.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Bah to commercial tv

Just once, just for once our commercial television stations could have acted honourably. But no, even though the late musician's, and front person for the band Yothu Yindi, family gave media permission to use his name in reports of his death, they did not give permission for his photograph to be shown. (it has come to light that granting permission to name him may not have been given)

It is Australian Aboriginal custom to not mention a person's name for a certain period after they have died and for their image to be not displayed.

Our ABC may well have screwed up slightly, but I think they tried hard. It is a difficult matter to not name a famous a person who died. But not so the commercial media, especially television. They totally disregarded the custom and went in boots and all. They are a disgrace.

Having said that, the late man was quite an achiever in more than just music and it is sad that he has died at a relatively young age.

I would love to embed Yothu Yindi's hit Treaty here, but it may not be appropriate at the moment. I listened to it loudly in the car yesterday and it is quite a complex piece of music.

A brief look at the reform of anti gay laws in Tasmania

While some gays and lesbians are fighting for the right to marry in Australia, it was not so long ago that in our beautiful state of Tasmania, it was still illegal to practice homosexuality, let alone perfect it.

In 1988 the Tasmania Gay Law Reform Group was formed to lobby for the abolition of laws that made homosexual acts illegal and punishable by 21 years gaol. Each Saturday a stall was set up at the artsy Salamanca Market in the capital of Hobart to inform the public of the need for law reform and to gather signatures on petitions.

City of Horbart wanted none of this nonsense and quickly banned the stall. This did not stop the group trying and police were called in. Charges of trespass were laid. Arrests were made and people held in cells for excessive periods. There was general harassment of any person who  was known to be involved and even those who weren't. People were banned for life from Salamanca Market.

But protests grew each market day until there were hundreds on the outskirts of the market each week. Salamanca Place of Oppression tee shirts became fashionable items to wear on the streets of Hobart. Even the Rupert Murdoch owned conservative Hobart Mercury came out in support of the protesters.

By the end of 1988 the council could see the writing on the wall and the rest of Australia was taking a very dim view of what was happening in Hobart. In early December the council dropped its opposition to the stall and shortly after it was conveniently found that the charges of trespass were of dubious legality and dropped.

In 2008, twenty years later, the City of Hobart made an official apology for its behaviour.

The right to protest and lobby may have been won, but that did not change any laws.

At attempt at law reform in the early nineties was voted down by the State Parliament and for the first time, a human rights matter in Australia was taken to the United Nations Human Rights Committee which in 1994 ruled against the laws. Rule they may well do, but still nothing changed.

More protests, more agitation. Same sex couples started to present themselves to police stations with details and photos (the mind boggles) of their homosexuality and demanding to be arrested. The police ignored them. 

What I really believe caused change was that Australia was becoming embarrassed by its little backwards and heavily subsidised state. Amnesty International became involved, with a letter writing campaign. The rest of Australia started to boycott Tasmanian produce. I recall gay males in Victoria became quite passionate and serious in their boycott of anything Tasmanian, including King Island which is under the control of Tasmania. To go without King Island Double Cream was quite a sacrifice. Many supportive dining establishments started to come on board by not buying Tasmania produce.

In 1994 the Federal Government  acted by entrenching the right to sexual privacy for all Australians. The following year advocates launched a High Court action and support for law reform just kept growing. Finally in 1997 under the rule of Liberal (conservative) government Premier Rundle, a bill was passed for reform of the laws, but by only one vote in the Upper House and some last minute anti gay amendments were defeated.

Tasmania now has the most progressive gay and lesbian laws and policies of any Australian state and we embrace their acceptance and their ultra clean and green produce.

While as usual, many many people worked tirelessly for the cause, of note was Dr Bob Brown in the early days, who is gay himself and went on to become national leader of The Greens, activists Rodney Croome AM and his then partner Nick Toonen OAM and present national leader of The Greens, Christine Milne, who herself went on to have a gay son.

Of course things were not always so good in Victoria for gays and lesbians either, especially under the Kennett Government in the 1990s.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Those Women

What an advance those female editors at women's magazines set for women in the workplace. Let's see, we had Ita Buttrose as editor of Women's Weekly, Dulcie Boling at New Idea and Nene King at Woman's Day. All were very successful at their jobs and well respected.

Now, we have ummm, errrr, well we have women in high places such as our Prime Minister and our Governor General. But....well, where are the woman who are in positions of influence in the media? Of course the whole women's magazine scene has changed and I am not sure that that the old model will always remain viable.

Is the modern equivalent Wendy Harmer's Hoopla? I quite enjoy Hoopla. It is easy to skim through and at times find something of interest, even for a bloke. It takes a look at more serious world matters with contributors such as Monica Attard, among others.

I suppose we do have Gail Kelly as CEO of Westpac Bank and the world's sixth richest woman, Gina Rinehart but they are both all about making money for themselves and their companies. As much as they might like to think they influence public opinion (yes Gina, pointing at you) I don't know that they do.

Who are the woman's magazine editors now? Fiona Connolly edits Woman's Day. Heard of her? Woman's Weekly? Helen McCabe. I've not heard of her. New Idea? Kim Wilson, but not the one we of a certain age think of.

This in an unfinished post, the kind of post I would go back to polish many times  while expanding it, to get the nuances correct, and yet I might never publish it. I am over doing that so I publish it raw and at the same time as I publish another post. 

Just to conclude, I don't pay to read Hoopla and I have never paid to read to read a hard copy of a woman's magazine. 

Just another Sunday

If I don't plan a Sunday when I have the day off, we end up doing little, perhaps just going to the shops in town, Prahran or South Melbourne. I had not planned this Sunday. I was exhausted. As well as working each day, Thursday night we et a Thai meal out with friends, Friday night a Japanese meal out with our dyke friend and her new g/f and Saturday night, Indian out with other friends. I ordered household management to barbecue lamb loin chops for this evening's meal as I am rice starch overloaded, and delicious they were.

About noon Hippie/Chainsaw Niece rang. 'Care to go for lunch gay uncles'? We had not long finished our at home brunch of pancakes with sugar and lemon juice, and maple syrup. Nevertheless, we could not say no. Non Dreaded Newphew's contract for fire fighting with the DSE has finished and he is back living in Carlton garret with his Jewish girlfriend (damn, I keep forgetting to tell Mother that her grandson's partner is Jewish. I want to see how she reacts) Hippie Niece had been with them last night at a band venue and stayed the night with them.

Hippie Niece went off and bought a Myki and arrived at the Highrise by tram from Carlton. After a chat we decided to have a late lunch in St Kilda. We caught a tram to St Kilda and had a lovely lunch at 95 Espresso. I've been there a few times and I really like it. While they look like illuminated bongs at the shop front, they are some sort of coffee making machines.

Hippie Niece and her Islander partner have moved back to the family home with Tradie Brother, her dad. It is working well, except reading between the lines, things are not so good between Hippie Niece and her Islander partner. I wanted to tell her that I could see that from from the beginning, that they were not compatible or complimentary. He is too contained and she is too much of a free spirit. That combo can work, but in their case, I doubt it. I say nuffin'.

Among the gibberish she speaks, half of which I understand, she actually seems quite wise and sees a bigger picture at times. She passed her truck driving license theory last week and will hopefully pass her practical test next week. She maintains public parks and gardens and loves her job. She really is such a charming young lass and we love her dearly. We stuck her on a 3A tram to Caulfield Station to get a train home.

In other family news, Mother now knows R is only working three days a week and called him to ask if he would take her to get some medical test results as she is afraid of what the results might bring. Btw, I need to go to the bank and do you think we could have lunch beforehand? What will also be added, a visit to Chemist Warehouse and a visit to another chemist to get her blood pressure checked and a quick call in to the supermarket. Poor R!

Sister will be in hospital for surgery when it is Bone Doctor's birthday, so Sister bought her an early present, dinner on the tram car restaurant. We shall look after Little Jo on Tuesday night and they will stay the night here. 

Manny from Malaysia has sent his staff home after their Australian holiday/work trip for the coffee expo. He took them to a winery near Nagambie and another in the Yarra Valley, as well as doing the coffee expo thing at the Showgrounds. He has asked us to join him for dinner at some restaurant at Crown Casino on Wednesday night.

Sis in Law called to say how much she enjoyed her holiday for her 50ith in Fiji. Her new pup is going well and we simply must go back to Walhalla to dine at the restaurant that her gay mates who owned the house where we stayed have just opened.

Come back for coffee? was the question last night. I refused and thankfully R supported me. I was so so tired. On the way  home, he said you look pale, drawn and tired. I feel much better today. One would like to pace oneself, but things happen at times that aren't of you choosing.

I am sure there will be plenty of boring and lonely years in the future.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Sunday Selections

As River does each Sunday, sometimes I post a Sunday Selection of random photos.

Lordy, we wanted a peaceful walk on St Kilda Pier and we were buzzed by a drone.

This is not highly zoomed. It came damn close. Would it hurt if it hit? The operator seemed to be inexperienced. Apparently is it called a four something chopper.

What are swans doing in salt water? As we walked back along the pier, the swans paced us as they paddled towards the grass beds in the shallows. Better check Fruit Cake's post on similar for proper information. Amazing that she and I were both surprised by seeing swans in salt water on almost the same day.

Soaking up the sunshine. It was a glorious day.

Pier works, the information is online, but I just don't have the energy.

Tall masts in the foreground with tall buildings in the background.

Meanwhile back at the Highrise, we had visited a new Masters store where the Toronga drive in movie place used to be. Not long after R and I met, we went to that drive in to see Grease. Sadly, almost unbelievably now, we were both overcome with passion for each other and did not see the end. Not sure that there was much of a story anyway.

Masters had all the atmosphere of a modern shopping centre and the nearby small shopping centre had all the atmosphere of a small modern shopping centre. Praise to Masters though, for their very nice staff. While we sipped coffee, we eavesdropped on someone bragging about living in an apartment in the complex to an acquaintance. I thought luv, I thought pet, I thought luv, don't bung it on too much. You live above a hardware shop at a shopping centre.

I bought a new shower cleaning hose to replace the ten year old yellowed and cracked one. It has a kink or two. Don't we all. It will straighten out in time. While it is great for cleaning the shower, it has other uses too.

We had also visited the Port Melbourne Woolworths owned Thomas Dux supermarket. Think something like Waitrose if you are in the UK. I was amused by the Boy Bathroom Cleaner, which is somewhat stronger than the Girl Bathroom Cleaner. Boys are filthy beasts, hey Hels.

Yes, as a child I received some spit and polish, Mother's spit onto a handkerchief to polish away supposed dirt from my face.

This one is for you Victor. Yes, I know you live in the salubrious eastern suburbs and nowhere near either of such slummy places but it is Sydney and by the number of links I have made already, I am in an ingratiating mood.

Rainbows happen in the strangest of places. 

The RSPCA Million Paws Walk fundraiser. While we are barren like PM Julia and so without dog, we have participated in the past with friends who have dogs. It is only a 3.4 kilometre circuit of the lake, plus half a kilometre to get there from the Highrise. I've only done the full distance to and from home twice, the last time pleased to note there were emergency call markers. You notice these things when you get to a certain age.