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Has ANZAC Day caught the 2010s’ most contagious disease?

“Dafuq, Exile,” I hear you exclaim. “I thought you liked ANZAC Day. Didn’t you write all this a few years ago?”

Public opinion of ANZAC Day in Australia has apparently swung back and forth as different conflicts and wars, and associated protests, have gone on but these days (and I can only go on the few years I’ve been here) a good balance seems to have been found. For instance there was a time when there’d be no sport played but now ANZAC Day is a special fixture for both Aussie Rules football and Rugby League, and there are two minute silences and playings of The Last Post before traditional rivals square up and knock seven bells out of each other. … So I find ANZAC Day can be tricky to describe – it’s solemn without being sepulchral, it honours members of the armed forces without there being any glorification of war, it’s respectful without being overly deferential, it marks the loss both of individuals and of a nation’s sons and daughters, but without it turning into a day for grief and mourning. For some it’s fallen heroes, for others it’s missing mates. It’s sad and beautiful and formal and informal all at the same time. … Like I said, I think just the right balance is struck and so ANZAC Day is one of those things that set this corner of the world slightly apart.

Well, yeah, I did and for the most part I stand by it. But in the last couple of years it feels like another element has started to creep in, and while it may spring from the best intentions I’m not sure the effects are what I’d call edifying (pics link to articles).

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Now as a Johnny Come Lately who wasn’t born in Australia and has spent only the last decade or so here I’m absolutely prepared to be shot down in flames about this, but is ANZAC Day really supposed to be about butthurt over who gets to march where, posing questionably with medals and badges that you may not be correct in and/or entitled to wear, and above all, whinging about disrespect to the Essendon footy club and to Kevin Sheedy because he pushed for the creation of an ANZAC Day game? There seems to be a lot of people whose main worry is where they fit in on ANZAC Day and who want to protect their role in the occasion. Forgive me for asking where the poor bloody soldiers are supposed to fit in.

And this is where I feel one of the decade’s most virulent social diseases has started to creep into the occasion: virtue signalling. Everyone does it a bit because we all like to think we’re nice people and to be well thought of by others, but in the last few years the importance of that second part seems to be getting a lot bigger than it should be. Whether it’s buying flowers for a dead singer whose most successful album you bought (or possibly just pirated) and haven’t played for five years or joining in the twitch-hunt of a complete stranger who made a near the knuckle joke online or shot a supposedly world famous animal that you’d never heard of, it’s a bit weird and it’s about you rather than them.

Sadly I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it feels like there are now a few people around who want to be seen to do ANZAC Day better than average. I don’t just mean people who’ve seen exactly as much military service as me (i.e. precisely zero) wanting to be part of a march because someone who died before they were born was shipped off to get shot at a century ago. I don’t just mean people posing with the wrong badges because it looks cool, let alone those epic bellends who buy medals and uniforms and pretend to be veterans of some war or other despite the inevitable rage and abuse it draws from genuine veterans. I don’t just mean people in football complaining about disrespect to their clubs on a day they said was special because it was paying respect to war dead and veterans past and present.

I also mean those coma inducing bores who love to tell you how many dawn services they’ve been to, how early they got up to drag the kids out of bed to get a good place at the Shrine of Remembrance, how it was a much better spot than they’ve had before but how next year they reckon they can get much nearer the front, how cold it was first thing, how wet and cold it was last year although not as wet as the one they went to ooh when was it must have been in 2008, and did you go oh don’t tell me you didn’t go, what’s wrong with you, don’t you do ANZAC Day properly?

Fuck. Off.

It’s good that you want to show respect but here’s the thing: you’ve started to make it about you. Not the guys who died and not the guys who are dying and not the guys who are living with the aftereffects of whatever war they’ve come back from. You.

You have already have a day that’s about you, and I suppose there’s a 1 in 365 chance that it also happens to be on April 25th, but even if it is the bit where you pay respects to ANZACs and surviving veterans is not it. It’s about sacrifices by current and former soldiers, not what a goddamn fucking great guy you are for doing it every year. It’s no more You Day than it is Kevin Bloody Sheedy Day.

And if you’re upset because you’re the great grandsomething of one of the poor unfortunate guys who fought, killed and possibly died in World War One, and you’re telling people it’s ANZAC Day not Veterans’ Day, and dammit you want to march because many decades ago someone promised someone else it’d be family tradition forever, then I have two points I feel I should make.

First, the original Australian and New Zealand Army Corps was disbanded after the withdrawal from Gallipoli and split into two other corps, neither of which kept the name all the way to the end of the war. If you’re that hung up on the name and your ancestor served after 1st November 1917 you just disqualified yourself. If not then at the least your argument would exclude descendants of anyone who served only in the last year, as if their sacrifices are somehow less for being made as a member of the Australian Corps.

Secondly, there’s a way to tick both boxes and honour your family promise to march on ANZAC Day as a descendant of a World War One soldier as well as satisfy those who say marching should be done by those who have or are actually serving in the Australian Defence Force. Just click this link to begin: http://www.defencejobs.gov.au/recruitment-centre/how-to-join/

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On depressed pilots

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard this CheapAir flight from Worriesville to Fretchester. If I might have your attention for a few minutes, my name is Angry Exile and I’m the purser aboard your flight today. Your captain and first officer are both in good moods and without marital or financial difficulties, and are off their tits on the MDMA I put in their coffee anyway. We’d like to draw your attention at this time to some of the safety features of this Blowing dumbo-jet aircraft. In the event of composure loss smiley face masks will drop down from the compartment above you. If you’re travelling with children please ensure your own mask is fitted properly before fitting theirs…

People are fucking hilarious. Seriously. After nearly fifteen years of crapping ourselves over the insignificantly tiny chance a man with a terrible beard is going to destroy the aircraft we’re on because he thinks it’ll please his sky-fairy we’re waking up to the real menace of the skies: the insignificantly tiny chance one of the people who are paid to fly the bloody thing is having a sufficiently bad day to say “Fuck everyone aboard, I’m going to crash us all into the ground.”

Yeah, I don’t know about you but that microscopic possibility is certainly what’s keeping me away from airports. Never mind that out of the hundreds and hundreds of crashes in the era of modern aviation only a single digit handful have been put down to an unhinged pilot killing all their passengers along with themselves. Never mind that that this is a tinier proportion of the already extremely tiny proportion of flights that crash at all. Never mind the near 100% chance of shitty traffic getting into the airport, the 100% chance of being robbed blind for parking, the 100% chance of similarly extortionate food and refreshments as the only alternative to McbloodyDonalds, the 100% chance of experiencing soul destroying and charmless airport terminals*, the 100% chance of at least one infuriating queue, the 100% chance of tedious and possibly pointless security theatre, the probably much less than 100% chance (though it always seems to happen to me) of the bloody flight being delayed, the 100% chance of feeling like I’m in a particularly shit shopping centre with an occasionally used runway outside,  and the 100% chance of an economy class seat manufactured by someone who’s never even seen a picture of a six foot human being giving me backache no more than sixty seconds into the whole miserable fucking experience.

Yep, stuff all that – what’s really going to stop me flying is the not the purgatory like excruciating experience that it’s become in the last decade or so but the thought that one of the pilots is feeling a bit sad about life and no longer cares about anyone else’s.

* Has anyone even looked into this possibility? Pilots have to go to airports everyday. If I spent all my working time in airports I’d be fucking depressed.

Was it a bomb, was it a plane, was it Superplot?

Let’s imagine that it’s the late 20th Century or early 21st, and that for some reason we want to make it look like a plane hit the Pentagon and, depending on the details of our scenario, three more hit a couple of New York skyscrapers and something else, perhaps the White House, that doesn’t actually get hit but looks as though it might have if not for a bit of luck and some ballsy passengers.

There are a number of people who believe that around the time various unknowns in the US did exactly that, and have focused on all kinds of details, some genuine discrepancies and oddities and some not, to find reasons to think it was anything other than the ‘official narrative’. I’ve got no problem with picking away at and asking questions of official government versions of events to see if what’s said stacks up – governments and their officials being very low on my list of people I’d trust with my wallet I’d say it’s irresponsible not to. But if we’re going to say that those things we can’t readily explain or that look wrong actually mean the whole event was staged just to look like a conspiracy of religious lunatics to crash planes by an entirely different conspiracy made up of people still unknown 12 years on (possibly still religious lunatics, though again entirely different religious lunatics), then it’s only reasonable to pick away at and ask questions of that narrative as well.

I think the way to approach that is to assume for the moment that the conspiracy theories are right, or at least as right as a bunch of different competing conspiracy theories can be, and trying to put ourselves in the shoes of the conspirators plotting to make this happen. So like I said at the top, let’s imagine that we want to make it look as if the Pentagon and the WTC were hit by planes and a fourth target got away by luck more than anything else. And let’s ask a some questions that the real conspirators, if any, would surely have asked themselves at some point.

First off, and in the spirit of Mitchell and Webb, why are we doing any of this? I don’t just mean what are we hoping to achieve, though it’s worth asking that too. I mean is faking the hijack and suicide attack of four commercial aircraft on prominent landmarks the minimum effort necessary to guarantee achieving whatever it is we want? True, it’d be attractive to our hypothetical conspiracy because it doesn’t do any real harm to the country as a whole – thousands of lives and some ruined real estate, yes, but the country’s military and infrastructure are practically untouched and any economic damage is temporary unless the goal is a nice long war, in which case who cares because that’ll cost a fortune anyway.

But that aside, are we prepared to risk our lives – because there’s absolutely no question that getting caught and convicted before or after the event would mean anything other than a death sentence – to do this? And can we achieve what we want with something less than faking a suicide attack on the Pentagon with a hijacked Boeing? If we’ve got two or three planes already teed up and ready to crash into the WTC and wherever else then I’d be saying no. No, we don’t need to fake a plane crash on the Pentagon when we’ve already arranged three genuine ones elsewhere. It’s complete overkill and if three actual attacks on civilian/political landmarks won’t bring about what we want what makes us think we need to fake one on a fourth military landmark? And if there is some compelling reason then for fuck’s sake why not just use another plane?

Of course some theories say that no planes hit the World Trade Centre either and that in fact they were holograms used to disguise missiles, or just disguise bombs going off at the right moment. Oh, sorry, sound generating holograms mimicking the noise of an airliner for the people and cameras below, which are certain to be pointing upwards after the first not-a-plane ‘hit’. In which case I’d ask my fellow conspirators why, if we’ve got access to this amazing hologram technology that can fool both people and cameras into ‘seeing’ planes crash into New York skyscrapers – and let’s for the moment ignore Occam’s advice and assume that such technology does exist – why we aren’t putting on a similar hologram show at the Pentagon for a camera we know exists. Isn’t it a bit of a hole in our plot to leave such convincing fake evidence absent when we’ve seen to it that the world saw, or thinks it saw, this in New York?

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Also, how sure are we that our possession of this hologram technology isn’t going to leak and some awkward internet bastard isn’t going to point the finger at us, and then we’re back to risking the electric gas noose or whatever the Yanks use in federal capital cases? But assuming our hypothetical conspiracy doesn’t rely on Star Trek hologram technology, and assuming that my fellow conspirators have persuaded me that (a) three plane crashes isn’t enough to provoke our Middle East wars or get Bush re-elected (in 3 years’ time) or sell airport scanners or whatever we’re trying to do, and (b) that for some reason we can’t or don’t need to use an actual plane the fourth time but can get away with faking a plane crash, I’d be asking how many people need to be in on the plan and reliably sworn to perpetual silence. Because I’m worrying that the number might be higher than some of my fellow conspirators think.

It goes without saying that we, however many of us there are, will keep shtum. We don’t need to bribe or threaten each other – we’re all in this together and have to trust each other implicitly, because just one of us could assure immunity from prosecution plus a plastic surgery job and new ID by going to the feds and dobbing the rest of us in to face an uncertain number of years locked up before an all too certain execution. But what about all the rest of the people who’d have to be in on at least part of the conspiracy? How many people are we talking about here because I’ve a nasty feeling we may need to bribe and/or threaten and/or quietly assassinate somewhere between thousands and millions of people.

First we’ve got the WTC demolition crews plus anyone who might become aware of them and their work. I’m not the conspiracy’s demolitions expert – his grandmother has sadly been taken seriously ill at the moment – so I’m having to take a wild guess here based on some quick internet research. But the biggest explosive demolition of a steel structure, the J. L. Hudson department store, took months of preparation, including the twenty-four days spent by a dozen people planting about a ton of explosives – more than 4,000 charges in 1,100 locations, according to the contractor’s website. Okay, part of the reason for the length of time was that architectural drawings weren’t available to help, which I assume isn’t a problem for us, but on the plus side they didn’t need to work in secret in buildings that were occupied and had thousands of people working in them every day and hundreds more coming and going all the time.

Did I mention that at only 439 feet the J. L. Hudson store was much smaller than either WTC 1, 2 or 7? Oh, well it was, so since they’re all occupied and we’re trying to be secret I’m guessing we’ll need maybe two or three times as many people and at least as much time (albeit spread out more by the need to stick to evenings and weekends) as it took to bring down the J. L. Hudson, or fewer people and much more time. Or heaps and heaps of people in a short space of time. Which is all problematic because the chance of accidental discovery of our plot seems to increase greatly both the longer the explosives planting takes and the more people we throw at the job.

In fact that brings up another question – do we actually need to demolish the things at all? Really? Wouldn’t just kamikaze airliner attacks do what we want, and if so why don’t we just crash some planes and not even worry about whether the buildings fall down? And having touched on the subject of WTC7, can someone remind me why we’re blowing it up but not crashing a plane into it or even making it look like a plane crashed into it? I can’t help thinking that, you know, do it properly with the staged plane crash or let’s just not bother with WTC7.

Anyway, numbers. So let’s say we can wire up the New York buildings with only 30 or so guys, even if it might take a year or two, during which some clumsy sod might knock a hole somewhere awkward and some building maintenance guy could see something he shouldn’t. Does that mean we need to take all the building maintenance people into the conspiracy or can we take some kind of action if it actually happens? And the emergency services people who might spot something that’s not as it should be after we hit/not-hit it with a plane? Even if we don’t take them into the plot there needs to be a contingency bribe fund to either buy the silence of as many people who might stumble across the plot or to buy someone to silence them. Bearing in mind the unprecedented scale of the criminal act we’re planning the payments, whether bribes or for hits, will need to be similarly large or again we face the risk of someone taking what they know and exposing us, after which the whole thing unravels and we get executed. Is that going to cost less than we have or than we’ll make from what we’re trying to achieve?

And still on the number of people whose silence will be needed, we’re not actually demolishing the whole Pentagon, right? So it’s just the guys who’ll fire the missile or set the bomb or whatever, plus whoever’s on duty in the various air traffic control rooms who’ll confirm they saw the right things on radar, i.e. an aircraft where there really wasn’t one, and also anyone at the airlines and airports who’ll be needed to confirm the loss of the aircraft, yes? Oh, but no. Because surely we also need everyone who works there and who might survive to ‘see’ a plane hit the Pentagon, and if we’re not actually going to crash a plane into it then we’re going to need them all to say yes, absolutely it was a plane, I saw it as clear as I see you now. Even though there won’t be one. And since they’re all federal employees I’m guessing their co-operation won’t be cheap. And there’s about 30,000 of them.

Now to kick off with I thought we could get away with just the ones whose offices look in the direction our ‘plane’ is supposed to be coming from, but then it occurred to me that any number of people could be late into work and be on the roads outside or have a reason to be in a different part of the building where they might notice the absence of an aircraft where the news later reports there was one. Then there are all the people who work in buildings that overlook what we’re going to say the flightpath is. Or for that matter anyone who happens to be out and about in the area who might take note of the fact that there was no plane where we’re planning to make everyone think there was. That could be potentially anyone in the Washington DC area and anyone, truckers and tourists and business visitors and the like, who could conceivably pass through the wrong place at the wrong time and see a pronounced absence of the right thing. Christ, five million people live in the area, plus the possible non-locals.

Obviously we’re not going to let them in on everything but even if we’re just making sure that everyone’s singing the same song the perpetual silence of that many people is just impossible to guarantee, especially as some of them will probably die and the rest may be just pissed off enough about that to spill their guts no matter what we’ve paid them, which collectively would probably have to have been the GDP of the whole country anyway.

The more I think about it the more I reckon the whole idea is madness. The stakes are so high and we’d need so many people even for just the New York bit that it seems as likely as not that someone will choose to leak and let the rest of us face the consequences, and I just can’t see the Pentagon part coming off at all without the whole thing being blown wide open. Frankly I feel it’d be at least a million times cheaper, easier and safer for us and just as effective to just get a couple of dozen idiots who are prepared to die in the name of their cause to hijack and crash four aircraft, and if any bulidings actually fall over as a result then it’s a bonus.

In fact given time, some money and the right kind of retarded, wannabe martyr, death wish idiots on hand I reckon some cunt could organise it from a fucking cave.

Keep that shit to yourself and stay in your fucking bunker

The (not-) Mayan nonpocalypse may have come and gone but since the coming year has a 13 in it I think it’s not too unlikely that some weapons grade bellend somewhere is predicting our doom sometime in the next twelve months, especially given that the last end of the world had barely finished not happening before people were recycling the tired excuse that the dates had been miscalculated – amusingly the only thing about the whole unevent that was at all predictable. So with that in mind, a belated look at what Foamy the Squirrel had to say shortly before the Big Fat Nothing of nine days ago.

I’m not sure I believe him.

Misfire

The dead of Newtown, CT, have only just begun to be buried but certain parts of the media are doing their damnedest to make sure the story stays unburied for as long as humanly possible. Readers, I give you the a report from Nine News and also the take of their print brethren at Melbourne Herald Sun and a piece of froth flecked outrage that has passed their respective in-house test for balanced journalism, factual errors and partisan language notwithstanding. In case the video on that link isn’t viewable from outside Australia here’s a screencap of part of it – you’ll see why in a minute.

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Now let’s get straight into the lip foaming copy, shall we?

Two Victorian high schools sent students as young as 12 on an excursion to a shooting range just two days after a US gunman killed 20 children and six educators in the Sandy Hook massacre.

And if Victoria was anywhere near Connecticut or if the head had seen the news and been inspired to organise the shooting trip because of it that would be perhaps insensitive in the first case and more than a little fucking weird in the second. However, this took place more than 16,000km – over 10,000 miles for those of you working in old money – away, and, as Nine eventually get round to hinting, was organised and booked well before the appalling murders of last Friday.

“It crossed my mind (to cancel the trip after the US tragedy) … but do you stop teaching swimming because someone drowned?” Ballarat High School senior co-ordinator Michael Cook told the Herald Sun.
“We were really too far committed to it.”

Michael Cook makes a very good point, though if it were me I might have mentioned all those charity sausage sizzles in aid of the Black Saturday bushfires three years ago. I don’t recall anyone cracking the shits about people lighting up barbecues after a couple of towns erased from the map, hundreds or thousands of homes destroyed and 174 left dead by bushfires that occurred right fucking here in this state. Tad hypocritical? Don’t answer yet – I’m not done.

This is Harold Holt, Prime Minister of Australia from Januray 1966 to December the following year, when he disappeared and drowned (presumably – his body was never recovered and so there are various entertaining alternative theories) while swimming off Portsea, south of Melbourne.

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This is… well, it kind of speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

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From here

In case you’re wondering the Harold Holt Swim Centre was named couple of years after the event. And nobody seems to have any kind of problem with that, instead pointing out that Holt was a keen swimmer when non Aussies ask why the hell they named a swimming pool after a drowning victim.

But I digress, because having dealt with the schlock journalism of emotional shit stirring we get to the slack journalism of getting things fucking wrong.

More than 50 students from Ballarat High School and Beaufort Secondary College were taught to fire up to 20 rounds each at the Beaufort Gun Club yesterday.

Rounds? Look at that screencap at the top again. Look more like the kind of guns that fire cartridges of shot to me, but perhaps I’m just being pedantic. Rounds, cartridges, bullets, shot – kinda sorta all the same thing to some people, including some journos who seem to pick up most of what they know about guns from Hollywood. Which would explain the next sentence.

The students, aged between 12 and 15, were heard talking about the Connecticut school shooting during the excursion while their classmates learnt to use the rifles.

RIFLES? Look, Nine, a gun that is too long to be a pistol isn’t necessarily a rifle. Do you really have no staff at all who are know the difference between rifles and shotguns and are capable of spotting it before you go to air/web? Christ’s sakes, I’m not saying you should be able to recognise it as a shotgun event just from what’s going on in the picture (looks like some kind of trap discipline to me, which I’d say is a great way to start newcomers since everything – shot and targets – is going away and you can set things up to throw fairly easy ones to give everyone a good chance of breaking a few clays), but surely you’d, oh, not being a journalist I wouldn’t know, but maybe phone the fucking club and ask?

However, Nine weren’t the only ones to say it was rifles, though they were still using the term while showing close-ups of break action over/under shotties on the early evening news. I’d heard rifles mentioned on the car radio earlier, and although my own first experience of shooting was with rifles I suspected it might actually be shotguns because the school’s in rural Victoria and shotguns probably aren’t uncommon in farming towns. There’s a zillion sodding rabbits out there, after all.

So Nine’s real sin might in fact be not doing their own story and just re-writing someone else’s. Hmm, who could that be?

…told the Herald Sun.

Source: Herald Sun

The Herald Sun, where we read:

A VICTORIAN high school has defended its decision to take students as young as 12 on a shooting expedition two days after the Sandy Hook massacre.

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Journalism or churnalism on Nine’s (and others’) part? I’ll leave that for you to decide, but I find it interesting that the Herald Sun piece, time stamped 3:23pm, actually mentions shotguns rather than rifles. Whether that was a hasty correction after everyone else had jumped aboard the outrage bus and was screaming about rifles, because the creature responsible for the murders in America used a rifle too you know, I have no idea, but it just means the story is slightly more factual (it still talks about rounds). It’s still not exactly what you’d call balanced when it contains phrases like this (my bold):

More than 50 students, aged between 12 and 15, from Ballarat High School and Beaufort Secondary College attended the Beaufort Gun Club yesterday where they were taught to wield shotguns and fire up to 20 rounds each.

I’ll tell you now and for free, those students were not taught to wield a shotgun or anything else. Wielding is what you do with a weapon (do please check your dictionaries for the definition of wield, Herald Sun journos) and while like practically anything else it can be used as one a shotgun of the type designed for trap shooting is not a weapon. It’s just a gun. I could bore you with details of why it’s not even a weapon, or is at best sub-optimal as a weapon, from the point of view of the fluffy bunnykins, but if you’re interested you can Google the differences between trap and field guns along with the differences in gun design for different clay target disciplines. Or you could trust me on this: it’s just a gun and not a weapon in the same way that a carving knife is just a knife and not a dagger. Dangerous? Yes, that goes without saying. But not a weapon, only a gun.

And not being a weapon the kids would sure as hell not have been taught to wield one. They’d have been taught to handle and shoot one safely and responsibly so that they’re not a danger to themselves or others, which may be the reason they didn’t come back dead or scared half to death but, well, like this.

Students participating in the outing at the shooting range yesterday were heard discussing the Sandy Hook massacre while their classmates fired.

A 14-year-old Year 8 student described her first experience holding a shotgun as “fun”.

“I was a little nervous, but I’d definitely do it again,” she said.

And despite the predictable whining from the state Education Minister and a gun control lobby talking head (why do we even have a gun control lobby here – they’ve already won) about the timing of the trip, protests from the school about it having been booked long before notwithstanding, I personally think it’s entirely appropriate to teach responsible and safe firearms handling when the fallout from irresponsible, dangerous and downright murderous firearms handling is in people’s minds.

Or would you not want to teach kids interested in swimming how to stay afloat because Harold Holt drowned?

P.S. Just out of interest I wonder will the left suddenly learn to love Murdoch now his publications are reminding us that he is – and I have a vague recollection always was – opposed to private citizens owning effective means of defence? Seems odd that he chose to give up citizenship of one country to become a citizen of one of the few, perhaps the only, nation on the planet that recognises that right.

Saving, not drowning

Why do people get fired? Yes, I know that in many areas legislation seems to protect anyone from getting fired at all these days and that, say, fiddling your expenses might get you fired in your job but not if you were an MP, but I can’t think of anywhere where there isn’t something you can do that will get you instantly fired on the spot even if it’s hacking your bosses’ heads off and serving them up in the staff canteen.

So accepting that people do still get fired why, in general, does it happen? I’m sure we could come up with a million different reasons why someone would get the Spanish Archer, but we’d probably all agree that almost all of them boil down to some variant of not doing the job for which that individual was hired. I say ‘almost’ there because it turns out it’s also possible to get the sack for what most normal people, but not lawyers, would consider doing exactly the job you were hired to do, as a bloke in Florida found out this week when he was fired from his job as a lifesaver for the gross misconduct of, er, doing some lifesaving.

Liability issues? What the hell are they on about? The only thing I can think of is that because Thomas Lopez left the area of beach and water he was responsible for to rescue someone outside it the company paid by the city to provide lifesavers on the beach might theoretically have been sued if someone else got into difficulties in Lopez’ bit of beach. The signs are there for a reason and I guess that reason is reflecting the reality that help can’t be everywhere at once, and beyond a certain point you can’t necessarily expect there to be any – in this area we will try to help, but beyond it assume that you’ll be on your own. Well, fair enough, but there’s a huge difference between not expecting that there’ll necessarily be help and expecting that perfectly capable help will be instructed to sit on its arse. If I go off camping in the bush to get away from it all for a bit I don’t expect the full range of emergency services to be available, but I’d like to think that if we don’t come back everyone wouldn’t just go “Oh, they went outside our usual area so meh, we’re not even going to go have a look just in case something happens here.” Yet that seems to be roughly the policy at Hallandale beach.

We’re fucked, aren’t we? Seriously, properly, fucked. Western society’s doom is not going to come from outside but from within: a self inflicted death of a thousand3 cuts that come about when nobody has any idea what they’re allowed to do anymore and end up standing there and doing nothing at all, terrified of unwittingly committing some ridiculous but all too real offence or being sued into penury by some tediously thin skinned prick who can’t deal with the fact that the universe isn’t there to give him a blow job every day and that it’s not necessarily someone’s fault when things don’t go his way. This, folks, is our future if we insist on hiring people to save lives but tell them that under no circumstances must they save lives that are in danger in a slightly different place from where they’re on duty, and that in such circumstances they must stand there as those lives are lost to the water. Because ‘liability’.

Did I say the future? Oh, shit.*

I understand that there’s an obligation to provide lifeguard cover on the section of beach marked as having lifeguards, and that if someone drowned because a lifeguard should have been there but wasn’t then calls from the nearest ambulance chasing law firm are practically certain, but as Lopez’ colleagues point out in other videos (e.g. this one) the beach was still covered.

While he was off we had two other guards watching the zones, so the beach was secured.

No doubt some corporate bellend seeking to justify the sackings and hand wave the resignations would say what if those two guys had to do rescues in their own areas or failed to spot someone else in trouble because they were having to mind an extra part of the beach. I can kind of see this but surely you need to consider how likely is the hypothetical situation where every lifeguard is suddenly going to be needed simultaneously at the a time when one of them has left the patrolled area to save someone who’s really in trouble, and in that highly unlikely scenario how is it any different from having x lifeguards employed and x+1 people screaming for help in the patrolled area? If the signs reflect the fact that assistance can’t be everywhere then we have to acknowledge the tiny possibility that it really can’t even be guaranteed to be everywhere in the area that is intended to be covered.

Unfortunately corporate bellends and uber-litigiious types desperate to find blame when life hands out lemons and death hands out calling cards often don’t see things that way, being almost congenitally unable to look beyond the potential for lawsuits and not sufficiently discouraged by courts from doing so. Happily for that one person who got into trouble in the water, Thomas Lopez and his colleagues who resigned or were also sacked have no truck with this nonsense. The courage of lifeguards is to be admired anyway, but the principled stand these half dozen or so have taken is to be admired even more. Doubly so for Thomas Lopez if he even stopped to think about the rules and decided that the rules could go piss, though it seems quite possible that he thought of nothing beyond helping the drowning man stop drowning. Which is what you’d imagine is the key quality you’d be looking for if you were hiring lifeguards.

May they or people very much like them find jobs on beaches where you and your loved ones go. The kind of lifeguard who really would sit on his platform and watch while someone who didn’t fit the to-be-saved criteria drowned should be hired exclusively to patrol beaches frequented by the type of shitwit who’d fire the other kind for rescuing someone beyond the flags.

* I realise I may be being a little unfair there, as I recall that in the infamous ‘PCSOs stood by as someone drowned because of elfinsafetee rules’ story they’d arrived after the victim had gone under, couldn’t be certain where the victim had ended up, and genuinely weren’t equipped or trained to do much more than call for help from people who actually knew what they were doing – since that’s much what a random passerby would have been capable of it’s perhaps more a failure of the concept of PCSOs than the individual PCSOs in that case. On the other hand I did see a few weeks back that a couple of PCSOs went into cold water to save a drowning man, and in the article their superiors were smart enough to avoid any suggestion that this was somehow not the done thing.

The pussification of schools #6

Cracked! missed one on their recent list of the 5 Biggest Pussifications of Schools, and while it’s probably not unique to this place the recent example comes from a school just south of Melbourne.

No touching.

Parents claim they were not told directly of the new rule, which extended a ban on contact sports …

Yes, they’d already gone that far, and that depressingly common policy is touched on in Cracked’s number four Biggest Pussification.

… to a ban on any physical contact at all, such as playing “tiggy”, hugging or giving each other high-fives.

Aside from the fact that this comes hot on the heels of a anti-bullying TV ad campaign that shows school kids shaking hands (for some bizarre reason it’s a weird handshake that’s not shown directly because it’s ‘just for kids’, but what can be seen looks less Masonic and more like the kind of gang style handshake done by wiggas) it’s pretty clear that this lame brained rule hasn’t been well thought out at all. Because it effectively bans simple expressions of friendship and support.

One parent, Tracey, said her son was winded on the playground yesterday and, when his friend tried to console him by putting his arm around his shoulder, the friend was told his actions were against the rules.

The friend then had to walk around with the teacher on playground duty for the rest of lunch as punishment, Tracey told radio 3AW.

And that’s not even the right-on silliness apex.

Another parent, John, said his children were told they could not high-five each other.

Seriously? Christ!

“I have a couple of children, and they have been told that if they high-five one another that’s instant detention, and if they do it three times they will be expelled,” John said.

“I mean, what are they actually trying to teach?”

One child was reportedly told that if students wanted to high-five, it would have to be an “air high-five”.

Yes, well, the problem there is that I suspect an air high five is not actually a real thing but some bollocks made up by someone on the school’s staff who’s heard of air kissing. What an ‘air high five’ really is is known as being left hanging.

Now it should be said that the school claims that this is only temporary…

Principal Judy Beckworth said it was “not actually a policy, it’s a practice that we’ve adopted in the short-term as a no-contact games week”.

… though having a no-contact games week doesn’t actually sound a hell of a lot more sensible to me, and especially not in a country that invented a football code so manly and tough that rugby players struggle and a competitor once found himself, and I’m not making this up, nailed to the pitch with his own leg bones. No contact games week? Pffffffft. Serious pussification of school right there.

“In response to an increased number of recent student injuries, including a broken collarbone, wrists and concussion, we decided to have a ‘no contact games week’ at our school,” Ms Beckworth said.

“Parents, teachers and I were concerned about the increasing number of students injuring themselves recently by playing roughly in the playground during games like chasey, tiggy, football and basketball.

“We are very serious about student safety and that’s why we decided to do this.”

And? Such is school life, though I spent years playing school rugby without ever knowing anyone to break a bone or get a concussion or in fact get anything worse than the odd bruise or cut. And I don’t mean anyone in my class or year, I mean anyone in the entire school while I was there. Maybe there was and I didn’t know that the kid two years below me that I didn’t even know by name was suddenly wearing a cast because of an unlucky tackle on the rugby field, but if so there was no mention made, no big hooha and no non-contact games rule even thought of, let alone imposed. I can’t help but wonder if the apparent rarity of injuries was just that we were getting better tuition and supervision on how to play contact sports without seriously risking ourselves or other players, and I also wonder if a high number of injuries – if it really is high – at Mount Martha Primary indicates that that’s not happening.

Not that everyone’s on message with that excuse anyway.

… one parent, Nicole, claimed that the school was backpedalling because some parents were told by the school that the new rule would be in place for a minimum of three weeks, which would be extended if the children did not behave themselves.

They’re kids, for heaven’s sake. It’s practically inevitable that one of them will forget or have a dummy spit and go too far and provide the excuse for the extension. In fact if you’re counting high fives, hand shakes and hugs then they probably already have.

[Ms Beckworth] did not believe the school’s response was an overreaction.

“When you have students badly injuring themselves, it would be unacceptable for me not to take action,” she said.

Oh, Jesus. Look, it’d be unacceptable for you to ignore it, but an event does not necessarily demand action. By all means recheck to assure yourselves that you’re already doing your best and take action if you realise that you’re not, but for Christ’s sake include a sanity check to make sure you’re not going too far. If kids are getting bollocked for putting their arms around a friend’s shoulders to comfort them then I’d suggest that second bit is being overlooked.

The only bits about this whole story that hasn’t gutshot my faith in humanity and set my misanthropy gauge spinning into self destruction again are the newspaper poll result that overwhelmingly showed that people thought the school had gone too far, and the admirable reaction of the children themselves.

The Year 6 students at Mount Martha Primary School were so disgusted by the new rule that they staged a sit-down protest on the school oval at lunch yesterday before they were moved to the school gym and given a dressing down…

I only hope that that spark of dissent in the face of unreasonable restrictions isn’t completely crushed out of them by the time they’re adults.

Stretchy briefs

Normally I play Devil’s Advocate with the legal profession. I understand that the crime does not have a cookie cutter nature and that juries and judges, both of whom have access to more information than the rest of us reading newspaper reports, may make decisions we can’t easily understand or accept. I understand that the system is designed to allow guilty people every chance to slip through the cracks and that this is a necessary consequence of the highly desirable feature that few innocents, ideally none, are jailed by mistake. And I understand that an essential part of this is that prosecution cases must be more or less destruct tested, which in turn means defence counsels who are willing to say practically anything to help their client.

Practically anything, because I don’t think they do anyone a service by stretching credibility beyond a certain point. I have a ‘for instance’ here, but first some background:

Three of the children were seriously injured in the crash when Tanya Chilly lost control of the Mitsubishi Pajero and the car rolled.

‘Three of the children’? If you’re thinking that implies there were more than three children in the car you’d be right. In fact there were ten. And if you’re thinking that a Pajero is a Mitsi Shogun by another name and doesn’t have enough seats for driver plus ten you’d be right about that too. The kids were apparently sharing four seats between them, perhaps made easier by the fact that they ranged in age from 1 to 10 years old.

Chilly, a mother of seven, pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court today to three counts of dangerous driving causing serious injury, nine counts of failing to ensure a child was restrained in the car…

Oh yes, I nearly forgot to mention that she only put a seat belt on one of them.

…one count of driving unlicensed…

A possible reason for which will soon become clear.

…and one count of drink driving.

A nice little baker’s dozen of driving offences then.

Chilly, 35, of Epping, had a blood alcohol level of .233 – more than four times the legal limit – when she crashed in Rockbank about 5pm on August 5 last year.

It was her fourth drink driving conviction.

It’s not actually stated anywhere in the article but I’m guessing the other drink driving convictions might be the reason her licence was suspended at the time.

[Prosecutor Ray Gibson] said Chilly swerved to avoid potholes on the dirt road when the car flipped on to the driver’s side roof.

One child suffered a broken leg in the crash, another had internal chest injuries and a third had a broken arm.

Mr Gibson said Chilly had been drinking beer and sharing a one-litre bottle of Jim Beam with the father of her seven children in a paddock, where the man lived, before driving off to get some takeaway food.

The three other children in the car also belonged to Chilly’s partner. He had eight children with his now estranged-wife.

When later interviewed by police, Chilly said the children were “just all over the place in the car”.

She admitted putting the children’s lives at risk when driving back to the paddock and was sorry for what had happened.

Okay, but this post is not so much about Chilly and her actions as about what her lawyer said. So has everyone absorbed all that background, particularly the last bit about sitting in a paddock getting plastered? Good, then feast your minds on this:

Defence lawyer Jill Prior said Chilly’s decision to drive had been “the lesser of two evils”.

Remember what I said about stretching credibility? Jeez, that’s stretching it so far that when it’s let go the bugger’s going to snap back hard enough to take someone’s face off. And in case you’re wondering how Ms Prior works that out…

It was a decision “contrary to her motherly duties” but the children were hungry and complaining and she didn’t want to leave them with her partner and his brother who were both blind drunk.

“It’s not an easy scenario to digest by any stretch of the imagination,” Ms Prior said.

Chilly was terrified of leaving the children with the two drunk men, she said.

Which was followed by some stuff about her client being an alcoholic and having suffered through a 12 year long abusive relationship, but is now turning things around and has been sober for the last few months. I can almost hear the Ambush Predator’s knuckles cracking from here – sorry, Julia, I know this kind of thing presses your lawyer rage button – but even though this kind of thing is pretty well worn in courts all over the western world I’m not actually going to make anything of it. For all I know it could be the honest truth and in any case her job is to keep her client out of jail, and if any of us law abiding types are ever on trial for something we didn’t do we’d want our lawyers doing exactly the same thing. But the ‘lesser of two evils’ part? That raises a couple of questions I’d like to have seen put to Ms Prior.

Wouldn’t an even lesser evil have been to get the kids some food sorted out earlier on before everyone got pissed, and wouldn’t that have avoided having to pile 11 people into a car with seats for about half that, drunk or sober, in the first place?

Feel the tobacco control stupid – words fail me

As at time of blogging – click for linky

Oh, for fu… Yeah, okay, baccy control idiots. Whatever you say. Sure, his name really is shared with a medieval merchant and jewel thief, and I also happen to know that curiously enough Dick Puddlecote has also been executed and buried in five graves, which I believe makes blogging something of a challenge for him. And in case I ever get added to the list, though maybe there’ll be a separate list of heretical non-smokers who support smokers, my family name really is Exile and in the early 70s Mr and Mrs Exile Snr took their wailing infant son along to the local sky pilots in order to have the little nipper christened ‘Angry’. Honest.

Because nobody on the blogosphere ever chooses to adopt a nom de blog.

Sheesh.

Tip of the akubra to Chris Snowdon on Twitter.

No right to buy

Say I’m selling something and you want it. Do you have some kind of right to buy the thing? I don’t think so. I think most people, at least ones who understand what’s supposed to happen in a free market, would say that I’ve got the right to set whatever terms and conditions on the sale that I like (and are legal) from the asking price to what’s included to the kind of person I want to sell it to. Potential buyers have the right to negotiate or tell me I’m dreaming or, if they’re happy with all those things, to cough up the readies and make the buy. There is no more a right to buy something than there is to have a buyer on your terms for something you wish to sell – transactions are about finding what suits both parties in the exchange, and now and again that means a deal doesn’t go through at all.

Say it was a classic car that I want a certain price for, but don’t want to include the CDs in the glove box and do want to ensure goes to someone who I don’t think will take it onto some outback highway and rape it. Obviously I can’t do anything once the deal’s done and the keys and money handed in opposite directions, but I can say that I don’t want to sell it to some kid with no belt and a hat on back to front who rocks up in another classic car that appears to have been first heavily modified and then crashed. Or I can bullshit him about having given some middle aged enthusiast who came in this morning first refusal and then hope that some middle aged enthusiast really turns up. People might think it’s a bit dickish of me but I think most would shrug and say something about how much I actually want to sell the thing. before forgetting all about it.

So I’m struggling to understand why it is that Nissan has attracted some press attention for vetting potential customers for it’s new Leaf electric car (I will not call anything that runs on power generated from burning brown coal a zero emissions vehicle).

Some customers have “failed” a Nissan test to see if they were suitable for the new Leaf electric car.

Nissan has knocked back some customers interested in purchasing its first electric car, the Leaf, because they have been deemed “unsuitable” for ownership.

The plug-in electric vehicle officially hits the market on June 1, but interested customers need to pass a two-stage approval test before being issued with a certificate that will allow them to purchase the $51,500 car from one of Nissan’s special EV dealerships.

The test involves answering five questions about their intended usage for the car, followed by a visit from Nissan’s electrical supplier Origin Energy for an assessment of the suitability of the customer’s home electrical network.

[…]

Some intending customers have also been declined. “If you answered that you regularly drive from Melbourne to Sydney, then we might have politely informed the customer that this is not the car for them,” Staveley says.

“The majority of customers we have declined have been because they don’t have off-street parking available to them, which we consider essential for a safe and convenient recharging environment.”

Whaaaat? How dare Nissan try to prevent future criticism for selling people a product that’s unsuitable for their needs by checking out it’s suitability for individuals beforehand, the corporate monsters! The Age’s Drive section empathises and asks:

Has Nissan rejected your application to buy a Leaf? Tell us about it here

Yes! I told them I do the occasional road trip to Adelaide and Canberra and that I planned to park in the side road and chuck the extension lead over the back fence, and they said to me… <sniff> … they said: “Sorry, mate, but you need a proper car.”

How am I ever going to get over it?

When constabulary duty’s to be done

Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

Readers who take an interest in police activities may recognise that as one of nine ‘Peelian’ Principles of Policing. The idea is a straightforward one: that a police officer is just another citizen, no different from those around them except that they’re paid to enforce the law for a living and so need a few extra legal powers. How true that remains in 2012 is up for debate when that little difference has grown to mean they also need all sorts of extra equipment, as can often be seen merely by glancing at a police officer and what they carry around with them these days. In this part of upside down land police, now mostly decked out in cargo pants that make the wearer look like they have an allergy to trouser presses, are provided with some or all of the following for use in the course of their duties.

Smith & Wesson M&P .40 pistol with 15 round magazine

Capsicum spray

Asp telescopic baton

Holden Commodore SS model (pic by Bidgee via Wikipedia
and used under Creative Commons licence)

Surely this doesn’t need a label

Whereas their fellow citizens are, as long as they provide them themselves and are sensible about using them in public, allowed roughly the following: a water pistol, offensively strong perfume, a small stick, a Commodore SS minus the decals, and finally…

Surely this doesn’t need a label either

And to be brutally honest I’m not all that sure about the water pistol or the stick. In private, sure, things are different, and Aussies can even buy a Smith & Wesson Military & Police model semi-auto pistol, though not the .40 and not with a 15 round magazine (maximum the law allows is .38 and ten rounds) and with predictable restrictions on use, purpose and storage. Good luck asking to be allowed to wander round with one in public though, and I don’t think you can get capsicum spray or telescopic batons at all.*

You might be thinking that this is going to be me going off on one about private gun ownership and why, if the public is the police and vice versa, law abiding and responsible citizens may not arm themselves. Bearing in mind that closer to Robert Peel’s day the police borrowed firearms from passing members of the public at least once I could say something about that, but actually no, not today.** And not least because the police here are, with very rare exceptions, only armed when on duty – presumably a law abiding and responsible police officer becomes a criminally reckless tool at clocking off time or Victoria Police can’t afford enough guns so it’s sharesies. No, where I’m going with this is that if the police really need all those toys, plus radios and body armour and even more kit carried by various support units, because of the demands of 21st century policing then why the fuck did they decide to stop a stolen car being driven at high speed on the Hume Freeway by forming a roadblock made out of unarmed and unequipped citizens in their private vehicles? And double why the fuck did they leave them in the goddamn cars, and triple why the fuck did they include vehicles with children on board?

”The primary duty of a police officer is to protect life and property. This duty comes above all else, including the need to apprehend offenders.”
– Victoria’s chief traffic policeman, Kieran Walshe, in an opinion piece for The Age in January

David Rendina in that clip there had his partner and their 8 and 9 year old children in his vehicle when police gestured to him to park up at the rear of the formation on the emergency lane side, and being one of the last to be directed he had little choice because the freeway was already blocked. Unfortunately for him the driver of the stolen vehicle this show had been put on for decided to try to barge through the block by smashing between the vehicles in the emergency lane and lane one. Happily nobody was injured and so he still has his partner and children, but his ute is currently un-driveable and he’s waiting to find out if it can even be repaired. Since he’s an electrician and that’s his work vehicle and had his tools on board that means he’s currently unable to work as well, though no doubt that’s a lesser consideration than being ordered by police to put himself and his family in the way of a fucknuts car thief with his foot on the floor.

ABC Melbourne Radio: Did you think you were put at risk?
David Rendina: Yes, of course.
ABC: In order to catch a… a driver of a stolen car.
DR: Yep.
ABC: Do you think it’s worth it?
DR: Not at all.
ABC: Do you think it was worth putting your kids and you at risk to catch a kid with a stolen car?
DR: No way. Erm, I think if I was asked to do that or given an option my answer would be no.
ABC: Were you given an option?
DR: No.

774 ABC Melbourne radio interview (mp3 here, approx. 20 minutes long)

Let’s reiterate that this was a pursuit that had already been begun and called off after just a few minutes and left to the air wing to follow from high up because of the risk to other road users, and while I’m prepared to believe the Assistant Commissioner talking later on that recording that the decision was made to stop the idiot because he was still driving like a twat even after the police stopped chasing I find it really difficult to believe that the only option open to getting him stopped and nicked was to put a load of people in his way, wait for him to crash into them, and then haul him out and slap the cuffs on. Victoria Police has a budget of some $2 billion, which among other things buys and runs lots of police vehicles, some of which could perhaps have been used to hare down the Hume warning people to get off as soon as possible (there are four exits in the 15km or so north of where the roadblock was ordered) while others, if allowing the suspect to crash into cars was absolutely necessary, could have been put in his way instead of vehicles belonging to members of the public. Yes, I know they’re expensive and wrecking them costs taxpayers money, but Vic Police is on the hook for compensating those people whose cars were wrecked and whose children are having nightmares. And where’s the money for that going to come from? Yep, you got it.

A review has been ordered, but for Christ’s sake, Vic Police, Benalla is the best part of 200 kilometres away from where the roadblock was made. You say you had eyes on him from the air the whole time, and even at the speeds the moron was doing it gave you over an hour or so to come up with a better plan than ‘Oooh, I know, let’s just stop all the traffic and wait right here for him.’ You cannot have it both ways – either the police and public are one, in which case there’s a discussion to be had about the seemingly widening gap between the two, or they are not, in which case you’ve got no goddamn business putting anyone’s arses on the line but your own. In either case you’ve sure as hell got no right putting kids at risk. The public in Tottenham a century ago may have lent their property and even voluntarily mucked in, but that was in a time where the public could have things the police didn’t rather than the other way round, and I expect that even the very keenest to help would have been pretty reticent to let the bobbies borrow their kids to use in lieu of bullet proof jackets.

ABC Melbourne radio: Would you order your family to park at the back of a road block and wait to be hit by a speeding car?
Asst. Commissioner Fontana: No I wouldn’t.

Quite.

* You probably can get plain handcuffs if your tastes run that way. Sometimes there are avenues of research I’m just not going to go down for a blog post.
** Interestingly the history of the Tottenham Outrage that appears on the Met’s website makes no mention of the part where police borrowed firearms from passersby or armed members of the public joining the pursuit, though it’s mentioned in at least one other place. Draw your own conclusions.

We’re doooomed

The sign said:
‘Hold stick near centre of its length. Moisten pointed end in mouth. Insert in tooth space, blunt end next to gum. Use gentle in-out motion.’

‘It seemed to me,’ said Wonko the Sane, ‘that any civilization that had so far lost its head as to need to include a set of detailed instructions for use in a packet of toothpicks, was no longer a civilization in which I could live and stay sane.’

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish – Douglas Adams

Seriously. Our civilisation? Screwed. Rooted. Stuffed. Call it what you like. Doomed. Nothing to do with the encroachment of Islam or, given recent discussion at the Orphanage, gay weddings. Not even zombie apocalypses, though I’d say that in a way that’s getting warm. No, I think the end is coming from within, and the evidence I have for this is to be found on a bag of cat food.

Thanks, Purina, I nearly had a bowlful for breakfast,
you patronising pricks

Not unlike Wonko it seems to me that any society that has so far lost its head as to need to explain that a bag marked ‘Supercoat’ under a near life size picture of a cat’s face, and almost certainly bought at a pet store or in the pet food aisle of the supermarket, contains pet food is not a society in which I have much optimism. When the day comes when saucepans are manufactured with ‘Use other way up’ stamped on the bottom it’ll be time to head to the hills via a gun store or two and telling your loved ones not to look back at the city.

Some light sex

Either of my readers (hi, Mum) might remember that back in July last year I blogged on the story of an unnamed government employee here who was suing for compensation after misunderstanding what was normally meant by enjoying a little light sex.

The woman’s claim is based on the fact that she suffered the injuries “during the course of her employment”, because she was required to travel to the country town and to stay overnight to attend a budget review meeting early the next day.
Her barrister, Leo Grey, argued in the Federal Court today that she was “induced or encouraged” by her employer to spend the night at the hotel where the incident occurred, and was thus entitled to compensation under workers’ compensation laws.

Well, if they induced or encouraged to spend the night at a hotel infamous for its falling light fittings I could see her point, but I’m pretty sure that it was just ‘You’re needed in this town for this purpose, and since it’s a long way away you’ll need to stay overnight.’ I’m even more sure that her employer would not have induced or encouraged her to have sex so hard the lights fell down since that’s generally not an occupational requirement in most work roles outside brothels.

The woman is appealing against a decision by Comcare, the federal government workplace safety body, upheld by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which found that sex was not an “ordinary activity” during an overnight stay.
But Mr Grey said the fact that his client was having sex had little to do with the case.
“This case … is as much about slipping in the shower, or being beaten by a gang of thugs or being shot by a jealous rival,” he said.

And how would any of that have been the fault of her employer? Surely it would have been the fault of the gang or the rival or, for falling in the shower, the fault of Shit for making good on it’s threat and Happening. As it was she fancied a nice shag and a light fell on her, and I couldn’t work out why she was taking her department to court instead of the hotel whose light fell on her.

[…]

While she was there she had sex with a male acquaintance in a motel room paid for by her employer. While they were having sex one of them grabbed a glass light from the ceiling which fell and smashed into the woman’s face.

So there you have it. She was being paid to stay away from home for work purposes, but although she wasn’t being paid to have sex and she certainly wasn’t being paid to have the kind of sex that involves grabbing light fittings she felt that a sex related injury should be covered by Worker’s Comp, and having been knocked back she appealed in the Federal Court. Fifteen or twenty years or so ago we might have all felt pretty sure which way this was going to go, but these days… Over at the old place AllSeeingEye made this comment:

[…] Accept one liability and you accept the whole range. The fact is that her claim must fail, but bits of us all expect it’ll pass.

You can see where this is going, can’t you? Yep, she won.

A public servant injured on a work trip while having sex with a male friend at a motel is entitled to compensation, a court has found.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was denied a Workers’ Compensation claim for facial and psychological injuries suffered when a glass light fitting came away from the wall above her bed as she was having sex in November 2007.

She took ComCare, the federal government workplace safety body, to the Federal Court over its decision to reject her claim.

Today, Justice John Nicholas, ruled in her favour, saying the injuries were suffered in the course of her employment.

[…]

“If the applicant had been injured while playing a game of cards in her motel room she would be entitled to compensation even though it could not be said that her employer induced or encouraged her to engage in such an activity,” he said.

“In the absence of any misconduct or an intentionally self inflicted injury, the fact that the applicant was engaged in sexual activity rather than some other lawful recreational activity while in her motel room does not lead to any different result.”

Sounds to me like this does indeed, as the Eye said, mean liability for just about anything up to and including claims by any number of people staying in hotels and motels with porn channels for various forms of, ah, solo-induced repetitive strain injury. Seriously, why not? Every bishop bashed, every Kit-Kat shuffled, every chicken choked, every monkey spanked, every pink canoe paddled could lead to a claim, especially if they’re all going to remain anonymous. The learned judge specifically said that an injury sustained during a game of cards would entitle someone to compensation so I can only assume that that would still be the case if they were playing solitaire.

‘Kinell!

Boris Johnson – illiberal twat

I still have lots on my plate but I can’t let this pass without comment.

Boris Johnson faces being drawn into a bitter dispute over homosexuality after banning advertisements on London buses promoting the idea that gay people can be “cured”.

Transport chiefs stepped in on the Mayor’s orders to block the posters, faced with a the prospect of the argument being played on the streets of the capital next week with rival advertisments.

Two Christian groups announced on Thursday that they had booked advertising space promoting the idea that people can become “post-gay” through therapy.

Anglican Mainstream, a traditionalist Christian coalition, and Core Issues Trust – a counselling group which practices controversial “reorientation” therapy – wanted to place full-length banners reading: “Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get Over It!”

They are a direct response to advertisements taken out by the gay rights group Stonewall earlier this month as part of the campaign for same-sex marriage reading: “Some people are Gay. Get over it!”

So Stonewall get to place their advert sending a message I don’t particularly care about one way or the other, yet the god squad groups are banned from responding with their claim that gayness is something that can be (not, it would seem, necessarily should be) cured. Personally I think it’s a stretch to claim that someone can be prayed straight or whatever the details are and I’m not sure how you’d distinguish between someone who’s gay and been cured and someone who’s gay and been inspired, persuaded or brainwashed into sticking a crucifix on the closet door and climbing inside. Seriously, how would you test that, and even more seriously why would you even bother? I don’t care that if someone is gay and I equally don’t care whether they were and have been cured through prayer or if faith is leading them to live a lie. As long as neither one is proselytising and/or shagging me their sexuality and religious beliefs are a matter of supreme indifference.

I also don’t care if they talk about it. I don’t have to read what they write and I don’t have to listen to what they say. I can walk away from either of them at any time so as far as I’m concerned there’s no reason why they shouldn’t both be free to say their piece. The Christians’ may be saying something that sounds like complete horseshit to me but if we silenced everyone for spouting horseshit politicians would be silenced almost forever. And no, even that’s not a good reason for doing it because freedom of speech is an absolute – if saying even just one thing is off limits then ipso facto speech is restricted and everyone is fair game. This is the reality, and I fucking hate it, and I hate it that fuckwit right-on politwats like Boris ‘The Ban’ Johnson – he has form in this area, remember – take huge, steaming shits on liberty in the name of fairness and sucking up to minorities.

“It is clearly offensive to suggest that being gay is an illness that someone recovers from and I am not prepared to have that suggestion driven around London on our buses.”

So it’s offensive? And what, Boris? That I think these Christians are deluding themselves and that their gay cure is at best mind games and at worst purest snake oil would probably offend them, so can I say it or not? That you’ve decided they can’t say it almost certainly offends them, so can you say that they were being offensive or would that cause enough offensive for you to have to censor yourself? Or is it simply a case of offending them is okay because fuck Christians, but not the gay rights groups? I rather suspect it’s the last one.

Look, if they’re selling a cure, as in for money, then by all means ban it on trade descriptions grounds for claiming something that’s fundamentally unverifiable, but it sounds rather like the usual kind of religious claim that we all accept as stating beliefs rather than making actual claims. I mean, nobody has verified eternal life after death, but we don’t have mayors of major international cities in the supposedly free world demanding that all those churches with John 5:24 on big boards outside take them down.

So, Boris, here’s my suggestion: let the gay groups say their bit and the religious groups say theirs, and let both of them get as offended by the other as they fucking please. There is no right to go through life not being offended by anything, and if you suggested that there should be I for one would be extremely upset, and deeply offended, by the implied loss of the liberty to speak one’s mind.

Free speech and the fabulously rich and famous

It’s that time of year again. No, not Mother’s Day (or it it Mothers’ Day, I’ve never been sure if it was for mothers in general or just one), which down here is in actually in the middle of May anyway. No, I’m talking about the beginning of the Formula One season, which means over the past several weeks Melbourne’s Albert Park has gradually been closed to local residents, the poor bastards whose local taxes I imagine help pay for the park they use and who are tapped a second time along with everyone else in the state because of the government subsidising it to the tune of $50 million or so, and is by now humming and thrumming to the sound of highly tuned engines hurtling around the park’s main road. It’s the time of year when fans of motor racing, like me, are derisively called revheads by all the people who hate the race and/or the sport, even though I’m sure I’m not the only motorsports fan who objects to both the government subsidy and the use of a public park for the event.

I’m not going to blog about that because I’ve done so more than once before, such as here and here and here and here, and if you follow those links you’ll see that I don’t particularly care if it’s a sport I happen to like. If it needs subsidising by government, which ipso facto means forcing people who have no interest in it to contribute money as well, then either it’s not worth having at all or someone’s getting rich of off it. I’ve long felt that sports promotion of any kind should not be a function of government, especially given that picking winners in any industry is something they tend to be pretty bad at, and the fact that so many of them spunk away huge sums of money doing so anyway is just another reason to distrust and despise governments of all stripes. I haven’t changed my mind and I’m not going over the same ground again today.

Instead I want to say that another effect of the Formula One circus being in town is that F1 personalities seem to get a lot more press and attention around this time of year, including the little big man himself, Bernie Ecclestone. One bit of extra attention he, or in actual fact his daughter, has received has come from Labor federal MP Kelvin Thomson, who represents the seat of Wills just a bit north of central Melbourne, and who spoke in Parliament a couple of days ago on the subject of the Grand Prix’s cost and the Tamara Ecclestone reality TV show, saying:

One thing I am absolutely sure of: there are better ways to spend $50 million, year in and year out, than bankrolling Bernie’s billionaire bogan.

There’s a great deal that Kelvin Thomson said in that speech that I don’t agree with. As you’d expect of a left wing politician his thoughts were occupied on what Victoria’s government could spend that $50 million a year on – schoolsanospitals were a given, natch, as well as ‘undergrounding’ power cables (is ‘underground’ even a verb, and if so is it a better one to use than ‘bury’?) to reduce bushfire risks* – and never once did he mention the opportunity to end the compulsory tapping of every Victorian for about twenty bucks each to pay for it. Never once did he mention the possibility of simply telling Bernie that the Grand Prix must pay for itself and that incidentally, Parks Victoria is going to start charging rent just like the owners of any other venue do when someone wants to use it for an event. I assure you, in the highly unlikely event he wanted to hold the race in my back yard I’d charge him for it even though I’d be thrilled at the prospect, and I can’t see why so many governments can’t grasp this simple concept of being paid for providing the venue. Instead there’s the inexplicable queue to fellate him with mouthfuls of money, mostly taken from taxpayers. Kelvin Thomson does not seem to me to be particularly against the principle of fellatio with mouthfuls of taxpayers’ money but just objects to doing it for certain people and things, so naturally I’m going to disagree with most of what he says because he’s clearly just another politician who forgets whose bloody money it really is.

However, having not seen the reality TV show about Tamara Ecclestone, and feeling like I’d rather blind myself with an oily con rod than seek it out, I’m in no place to disagree with Thomson about her being a bogan, though naturally protective and unnaturally diminutive daddy did. Once someone explained to him what ‘bogan’ means.

Mr Ecclestone said federal Labor MP Kelvin Thomson’s comments had been “stupid” although he questioned what he had meant by ‘bogan’.

“I didn’t know what that means, does he speak English?” he asked on radio station 3AW.

Informed that being called a bogan implied his big-spending eldest daughter Tamara had no class, Mr Ecclestone suggested the insult was more suited to Mr Thomson.

Okay, well let’s look into that in a bit more depth than ‘takes one to know one’. First let’s get the dictionary definition from Macquarie (no link, subscription only).

bogan
/’boʊgən/ (say ‘bohguhn)
noun Colloquial (mildly derogatory) 1. a person, generally from an outer suburb of a city or town and from a lower socio-economic background, viewed as uncultured. Compare barry2, bennie, boonie, Charlene, Charmaine, cogger, feral1 (def. 9); Especially Qld bevan (def. 2); Chiefly Qld bev-chick; WA bog3; ACT booner; ACT charnie bum; Tasmania chigger2; Riverina gullie; Melbourne Region mocca; Victoria scozzer; Chiefly NSW westie.
2. a stupid person. Also, bogon. [origin unknown; ? from BOGAN]
–boganism, noun

On the one hand we have someone who’s been variously a lawyer, public servant and politician, and who favours the kind of politics that talk about robbi, sorry, taxing the rich to pay for nice things for the poor, but invariably ends up meaning taxing rich and poor alike, or would if some of those inconsiderate rich people didn’t keep buggering off with their money to lower tax regimes. I can think of many unpleasant and abusive things to call him, but ‘bogan’ isn’t one of them. And on the other hand we have a woman who, if Thomson and The Age are to be believed, has a home with an elevator for her Ferrari, motorised shoe racks, a bowling alley with crystal studded bowling balls, its own nightclub, a $1 million crystal bathtub, and wardrobes for her dogs… whose hair and nails are done regularly at Harrods… like you do. Whether all that’s sufficiently class free to be called bogan is probably up for debate, but I’d suggest there’s one thing about her that certainly qualifies, possibly to the point of überbogan-ness.

She’s got her own fucking reality TV series!

However, all that’s still a matter of opinion, and if Bernie Ecclestone disagrees that’s fair enough – he wouldn’t be much of a father if he didn’t speak up to defend his daughter. But I don’t think that defence extends to wanting someone sacked for voicing the opinion that she has less class than a derelict comprehensive.

“Who was the half-wit who said these things … he should be fired because he’s a bit of an idiot, he obviously doesn’t know what he’s talking [about].”

Oh, he may well be an idiot and he wouldn’t be the first politician not to know what he’s talking about, but he shouldn’t be sacked for several good reasons. For one, it was said in Parliament as part of a debate on state funding of the Grand Prix, and by extension Bernie Ecclestone and his family. It might not have been high quality debating but in parliament a politician should be free to make his arguments however he or she wants to. For another, even if he’d said it to some news crew in the street outside he’s as entitled to his opinion as anyone else. He gets to call Tamara Ecclestone a bogan and even label her old man a subsidy sucking goblin if he wants, which wouldn’t be OTT for a country with a proud history of political insult throwing (my favourite is ‘a shiver looking for a spine’ although I can’t remember who said it or to whom). And in return Bernie gets to call him an idiot if he thinks that’s a better idea than refuting it and justifying why taxpayers, few of whom attend the race, are made to throw 50 million bucks at him every year. For a third, how long he stays in his job is, at least in theory, entirely up to the people living in those Melbourne suburbs that make up his constituency. It’s a very safe Labor seat so in practice it’s also down to the Australian Labor Party, but for damned sure it’s not down to the whims of Bernie Ecclestone, who incidentally seems confused about what kind of political systems allow or encourage free speech.

“You’re not a communist state there are you?” he queried.

No, see, Bernie, in a communist state you’re not supposed to say unpleasant things about the wealthy and powerful because they might demand, and get, retribution in the form of getting you fired or assigned to some shitty work, or even charged with some bullshit offences in the most obscenely illiberal places – Bexley, for example. Which seems to be kind of what you want when you say that Kelvin Thomson should be fired. In Australia and Victoria, while currently leaning left of centre and while also technically lacking what I’d call real freedom of speech, this generally will not happen.

You can ask the locals all about it this time next month when you’re in Shanghai.

* I understand burying power cables is expensive and comes with its own issues relating to losses and insulation. Shouldn’t be much of a surprise – if it was easy to bury high voltage transmission lines they’d be doing it more already. When it becomes the better choice, perhaps through some breakthrough in superconductors or something, then you can expect they will, though I imagine that maintaining a buried cable will always be more work than a suspended one. In any event, I’ll always hate hearing it called ‘undergrounding’.