Friday, November 28, 2014

Educating the US (and Australia too, for that matter)

We've seen numerous cases in the US where police have behaved in a ridiculously violent way.  Its often against blacks.  Australia is not much better.

New Zealand is better.  The show "Motorway Patrol" is just another reality tv show following NZ traffic cops in their daily work.  But I find it incredibly uplifting.  Everyone is so nice!  The police are polite.  The offenders are polite.  They laugh and joke with each other.  They wish each other well.  Sometimes offenders don't take things seriously.  The cops give them their fines, but don't lecture them, and don't insult their intelligence.  They are fantastic.

By contrast, when I watch (rarely) US reality cop shows, my heart sinks every time someone is pulled over.  Most likely their lives, already difficult, are about to get a lot worse.  There's no friendly banter.  Its all deadly serious.  With such high stakes, and high gun ownership, its no wonder that every now and then these confrontations end in tragedy.

So everyone should watch Motorway Patrol and think, "How can we make our society work this well?".

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Bored. Maybe depressed...

OK, my work for the year is basically done.  I'm on holidays, but right now not going anywhere.  I'm bored.  Maybe depressed.  Just how hard is it to adjust to doing nothing?  I've done all the puzzles in the West.  Sudoku, Kakuro, cryptic crossword.  I've played Tetris Battle.  2048 Tile.  I'm bored.

I've got the kitchen clean.  Got the NBN installed and working.  Renewed my Dockers membership.  Paid my tax.  I went for a swim at the beach.  400m nearly killed me.

I've blogged lots.  I've tried so hard to insult people on Facebook.

What else is there?  Please!!!!

Well that was fun...

So last year I did some work for an organisation.  Work that required a little expertise and a lot of discretion.  I had to not talk about it.  So  I go to sign up for next year, and they need a national police clearance.  Despite the fact that they employed me in two sensitive capacities this year.   A police clearance costs around $50.  I said that if they paid for the clearance, I'd do the work.  But they didn't think so.  The work I'd have done for them would have only paid around $500.  So I'd lose 10%.

A police clearance just tells them that I haven't been caught doing bad things.  It doesn't tell them that I haven't done bad things, or that I won't do bad things in future.  I had to get one a few years to do some temp work for Australia Post.  Its just a pain in the neck to have to get your ID together, fill in the forms with your last umpteen addresses and go to the local police station.

Oh well.

PS - This was the organisation that stole my superannuation a few years ago by automatically signing me up for some insurance racket when I worked for them.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I hate tipping, but...

In Australia we are ambivalent about tipping.  For the most part we assume that people are adequately paid for the job they do, and that we don't need to give them extra.  If we visit the US, we understand that restaurant staff are underpaid, and that it is customary to tip a fraction of the bill.

There will be pressure here from dodgy restaurant owners to encourage tipping so that they can pay staff less.  But it seems we are ok still.

However, there are people who do work for us who are very underpaid.  When you pay $10 for a t-shirt at Kmart, think about the person who made it.  They work for you, in a factory in Bangladesh, and they don't get paid very well.  What if you could tip them?   I understand that Coles and Woolies try and get their prices as low as possible.  It make sense.  After all, we shop around to find cheap stuff.  And I have no qualms about buying a $15 shirt.  And when I do, I'm happy that it is cheap.  But in that moment when I buy it, if I could give an extra couple of dollars, knowing that it would end up going straight to the person who actually sewed it, I probably would.  And I'm not just being charitable.  There is something terribly subversive about giving that money.  A bit like tipping a waiter $10000, knowing that it will really annoy the restaurant owner.

Of course any system to tip seamstresses in Bangladesh will only work if the tipper has absolute confidence that the money does end up with the seamstress.  Because God knows there are any number of people who would do most anything to see that money in their own pockets.  And I'm thinking that the internet may be able to help here.  Not sure how yet, but there must be a way.

Good Ol' Racist Australia

Reading the comments on media reports about Ferguson, and the decision not to prosecute the policeman who shot an unarmed black man, I'm depressed.

There appears to be a group of Aussies who take pride in their racism and stupidity.  Fools who lack any sense of empathy, their words explain why we have a problem.

And of course they'll claim that they have the welfare of Afro-Americans or Australian Aborigines at heart.  Just like those who want welfare cut come out and say that it is for the good of the poor.  They are the sort of people who should be thumped - for their own good.

SBS ran a series recently, "Living with the enemy", where they paired up right wing trogolodytes with the objects of their fear and hatred.  Sometimes the racist xenophobes turned out to be ok, but sometimes they just could not see the other side.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


A grand jury has decided that the policeman (who happened to be white) who fatally shot an unarmed teen (who happened to be black), has no case to answer.

Now lets imagine you are black, and a white policeman is pointing a gun at you.  And you happen to be holding a gun yourself (at least it gives you a fighting chance).  Given past events, surely if you shoot the policeman, it would be self defence.  After all, there is plenty of evidence that policeman in these circumstances tend to shoot first and ask questions later.

If I was black and lived in Ferguson, I'd be out rioting now.  How else to get the message out that you aren't going to put up with being used as target practice for stupid policeman?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

American illegal immigrants

The US has a lot of illegal immigrants.  They are a great source of cheap labour.  And for this reason Republicans don't want any of them becoming legal.  They may say a lot of other things, but its just greed.