Friday, January 26, 2007

Australia Day, 2007

Just back from our 'Australia Day' outing in our local shire, at our common haunt for the day, the little tourist-y village of Berrima.

Had an excellent day out, and what I most enjoy about Australia Day in general, not just this one, is the great sense of community it fosters. Ours is a country town, in what we call a 'regional' shire (in that we are close to a major city - Sydney - and somewhat urban in outlook - but also somewhat 'country as well). A lot of folk (me included) in this area work in the city, but commute from the place they choose to live, or some have a weekend retreat here, and a place in the city also.

We had sausage sandwiches courtesy of the local Rotary club (a chance at fundraising for them - very much an institution amongst many Aussie voluntary organisations is the sausage sizzle and drinks and steak sandwich booth). Great coffee from one of several boutique coffee stands, lots of market stalls, and we had a parade.

Many would view our parade as quaint, but I think it's great. we had people in period costume, restored vintage cars and tractors, old machinery, the local cadets and pipe bands, and, not least, the local emergency services were there in force. (The Rural Fire Service, AKA the Bushfire brigades, the SES - the State Emergency Service - sort of a FEMA). That gives the community a chance to show their appreciation to these good people - volunteers - there is no pay involved for their often quite dangerous and unpleasant community service. It gives us a chance to say 'Thanks' and for them to get a little bit of a clap and cheer from their community. God knows they get little else for their efforts beside a warm fuzzy feeling they are doing the good thing.

Today is also a good time to reflect on what we have. To be born, or become, an Aussie, I believe, is to win big in life's lottery, especially when you see what is happening in the rest of the world.

The First Fleet was a crazy social experiment. Yes, there were convicts (many transported for petty crimes - serious ones invited the death sentence back then), also soldiers, sailors, administrators. And one great gift - English law and governance and traditions of how society can be best organised - those poor souls had precious little else given to them.
Cast out onto those 'Fatal Shores', the driest continent, the one place 'least like home' , they had no choice but to work hard, co-operate, struggle, endure - or perish. And look what they and their successors have achieved in a little over 200 years! - a mere blink in terms of human history.

I believe that if you look at the 20th century 'til now, in the whole world, but 6 - six! - countries have remained independent and universally free for those 100 or so years - Canada, NZ, USA, Switzerland, Iceland - and Australia. (The UK doesn't make the list because elections were not held during WW2, nor did Sth Africa and other places have unviversal suffrage). Not many countries had a worse start, most had more to build up with and from. Many these days have the free gift of oil wealth. Few countries had so many hardships to overcome, but they did, and have given us one of the most prosperous, free, and happy societies on the face of this earth. Australia is always near the top of the HDI - the Human Development Index. We can be very proud of our country, and we should be mindful, and thankful, for what our forebears have passed on to us.

(And just to show that a great day out was had by more of the friendly locals (From Andrew Bolt via Tim Blair);

Friday, January 19, 2007

Trying to understand the far left...

...Is perplexing. Trying to find some consistency in their philosophy is almost impossible.

Free speech is desirable, except if someone questions a leftish sacred cow, like global warming, or multiculturalism.

Minorities are to be tolerated, except for politically incorrect minorities, like gun owners.

To be Jewish was once quite politically-correct. They now seem to be tending towards being anti-Semetic

Violence is bad, except when committed by politically correct minorities (in which case we must 'understand what drives them to it').

They advocate using the tools of the state against those they disagree with as a blunt weapon, but see their own transgressions against the law quite differently when it comes to protesting in mobs, or advancing their cause by questionable means.

The ends appear to justify the means. (What if The End, once achieved, is found to be a disfunctional latrine)?

They look with disdain on established religions, without seeing the acceptance on faith that they have of Marxist ideology (often in the face of strong evidence of the theorie's many failures wherever it has been tried), or of the creed of environmentalism.

They point to the imminent failure of the market economy, only to be employed or supported by the fruits of it's success.

I could go on, and on, and on. Perhaps you can think on it and add to the list?

Very perplexing.

Moderate views?

It seems another 'Moslem cleric' has a lot to say.

Sheik Feiz Mohamed;
"...another series called Signs of the Hour, made about four years ago, Sheik Feiz labelled Jews "pigs" and exhorted children to jihad.

"We want to have children and offer them as soldiers defending Islam," he says. "Teach them this: there is nothing more beloved to me than wanting to die as a mujahid. Put in their soft, tender hearts the zeal of jihad and a love of martyrdom."...".

Free speech is a wonderful thing. The phrase 'enough rope' springs to mind.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Good movie to check out - 'Blood Diamonds'.

Went and saw the movie 'Blood Diamonds' last night. Excellent, well crafted and acted movie. DiCaprio does a great, what I thought was 'Seth Efricen' accent (only to find out it was 'Rhodesian').

The movie that I immediately compared it to was 'Lord of War', (which to me sets out a very cliche'd and PC view of the world arms trade).

The latter implicitly says that the problem is arms (though governments throughout history have proven to be the greatest killers of them all - not 'illicit arms in the hands of ordinary people). The former says the problem is more complex than that. History, culture, competition for resources.

The list of societies, countries, which have 'got it right' for any extended period of time is indeed a short one.

A few too many 'roos in the top paddock?

It seems Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali has been at it again, once again commenting on the country which he has chosen to emigrate to.

As the wallopers would say, this guy 'has form'. But it's also interesting how his behaviour gets explained away by his supporters..

Monday, January 08, 2007

Beccy Cole - ADF Poster Girl.

I found this lady and her heart-felt song about Aussie diggers (Australian Soldiers for you out-of-towners) not on an Aussie site, but a US MilBlog site.

It brought a tear to this old ex-serviceman's eye, I'll tell you.

It's C & W, but one of those rare songs that crosses over genres. This track deserves to be known. Tell your friends and workmates. Download it. Buy the CD maybe. Her stand may lose her some loser fans, but it deserves to win her many more new friends.

Update 28Jan07: Lee Kernaghan and Beccy Cole scoop the pool at the Tamworth Country Music Awards;
"...[Beccy]Cole secured three gongs from five nominations, bringing her Golden Guitar stash to seven.
Her song Poster Girl won the APRA Song of the Year as well as Single of the Year..."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Found a NZ republican blog

I stumbled across (and I so often 'stumble' acros the most interesting things by accident rather than by conscious searching on the 'net) an interesting NZ republican site.

As you can see from my intro, I'm pro Aussie republic. But I voted AGAINST the republic model put to us in 1999. The reason was the model. Basically, it sucked - it was a step backwards in terms of representative and participatory government (in my opinion).

I'm for the direct election model. It seems a majority of my countrymen agree with me.

"...about half of all Australians want a DE republic as first preference, about three-quarters of PS republicans would be happy enough to accept a DE republic, and about two-thirds of monarchists, if they must have a republic, would prefer to be able to vote directly for the President...".

This is far from a resolved subject in this country.