Any sane person watching on has concern enough to be worried about Trump’s America. The very fact that this guy is still the leading GOP candidate for the 2024 presidential election is a judgement on the American people. Despots and dictators don’t rise to power without the help of the people. Everybody knows that Donald J Trump is a liar and a cheat. I mean, the guy is compulsive in both these character failings. More concerning is that he has broken the law on numerous occasions and has managed to avoid prosecution or conviction. No one voting for Trump is truly unaware of who is and how he goes about business.featured Government history latest post politics religion truth
The Australian media landscape is a predominantly conservative one. The ABC stands out as a beacon of social inclusiveness and a leader in this regard. The national broadcaster was the first to feature Indigenous presenters on their roster and to break through the colour barrier. Similarly, the inclusion of presenters with a disability has paved the way for more Australians to see these members of our community in a new light. The commercial networks are never leaders in this space, rather they revel in the comfort zone by featuring attractive exemplars from the dominant white cohort.featured latest post politics
Dear Australia, I don’t want to be negative but fear you are in the grip of vested interests. A letter to Australia to warn you about stuff. Ever since the days of the squattocracy some hard white men have been having their way with your resources. Never minding about the Indigenous blood they carelessly spilt upon your red earth. These determined settlers disregarded British instruction about allowing Aboriginal people to access their waterways and hunting grounds, preferring to slaughter them expediently instead. The British overlords were piss weak in this regard, it must be said.economics featured Government history identity latest post media
The former Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, who portrayed himself as this easy going bloke from the suburbs has been revealed as a virtual secret dictator in Australia. Morrison clandestinely held 5 portfolios in his government without the knowledge of the Australian public and his fellow cabinet members. The Governor General was also involved in this covert activity – which is now being viewed as the biggest betrayal of democracy and the Westminster parliamentary system for a hundred years. The supposedly affable Scott was actually a massive control freak with hidden hands on the levers of government across health, finance, resources, home affairs, and industry.
Life on planet Earth emerged single celled some 4 billion years ago. Organic molecules formed under a blanket of hydrogen. RNA arose prior to the later evolution of DNA and the proteins necessary for catalysing life. The latest theory posits that an ancient cataclysm may have jump-started life on earth, perhaps a giant meteor struck the earth. This collision has delivered the precious metals, which are sown within the earth’s veneer, according to geologists. Water would have formed on the planet’s surface within some 50 million years of the fateful collision. Water to host the genesis of organic chemical reactions capable of the creation of RNA. Since that kicking off point, life on Gaia has come a long way and now boasts nearly 8 billion Homo sapiens. Although the COVID-19 coronavirus global pandemic is doing its best to trim that figure. The history of this planet is thick with brutal manifestations of violent stupidity in the form of armed conflicts and holocausts. It is clear, however, that in the face of this novel viral menace the world can no longer afford stupid people.
Ask yourself – are you using your brain power for better? In all honesty, are you truly utilising the tools you have been given in this lifetime? Take a moment to evaluate your life up until now. Spend some time in introspection and ask the question of yourself. The funny and awful thing about life is that it can suddenly be taken away or key aspects of it can. Whatever your age, the onus is on all of us to make it count. It is too easy to get stuck in a rut.consciousness featured latest post mind
Ask yourself – are you using your brain power for better? In all honesty, are you truly utilising the tools you have been given in this lifetime? Take a moment to evaluate your life up until now. Spend some time in introspection and ask the question of yourself. The funny and awful thing about life is that it can suddenly be taken away or key aspects of it can. Whatever your age, the onus is on all of us to make it count. It is too easy to get stuck in a rut.
In life, we never stop learning and if you have turned off that tap, well I am sorry for you. The grey matter upstairs is hankering for new stuff to engage with. We are all big brained monkeys and it is our brains that have made the difference to our place in the greater scheme of things.
Meaningful mental stimulation is essential for a life well lived. You may be involved in the accumulation of wealth and material things. You may consider this your prime motivation for living. However, amassing money can only ever be a means to an end and part of the overall story.
Learning and applying that learning are key brain power features, which need to be constantly in play. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are the death of our brain power. Are we asking for trouble in this regard because our brains have atrophied through lack of stimulation.
Are you using your brain power for better? Better for yourself, your family, your world, and your community. These things matter. Read inspiring books. View informative videos. Talk with stimulating people. Get out of your comfort zone. Give something back to the planet. These things matter.
Are you drinking too much and self-medicating? Are you just treading water in the shallows of life? Learn something new each day instead. Something that really matters. Allow yourself to get uncomfortable and think about challenging stuff.
“Older adulthood is often portrayed as a time for slowing down—whether by choice, as we retire to live closer to loved ones or in a more agreeable climate, or by necessity, as our recollections of information new and old become increasingly foggy. Recent research in Psychological Science suggests, however, that this fog may not arise as an inevitable result of normal aging. Instead, wrote Karra D. Harrington (The University of Melbourne) and colleagues, undetected neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia may bias measures of how brains change with age, leading researchers and society at large to underestimate the cognitive abilities of healthy adults ages 65 and older.
“Given the relevance of the findings from this study to individual and societal attitudes about aging and the ramifications of those attitudes for the health and well-being of older adults, it is vital that models of cognitive aging be reconsidered from the context of preclinical neurodegenerative disease,” Harrington and colleagues explained.
In daily life, people continue to be productive contributors to society as they age, and some become increasingly productive.
The researchers examined how undiagnosed early neurodegenerative disease may bias measures of older adults’ cognitive abilities. Their study involved 199 people ages 65 to 89 who were participating in ongoing studies at the Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. To participate in this particular study, individuals had to have an initial clinical dementia rating of 0 (out of 3) and to have undergone three procedures in a previous study at the center: a PET scan and a spinal tap, both of which can be used to measure dementia biomarkers in the fluid around the brain (in this case, amyloid-ß and tau), as well as a structural MRI, which can be used to detect decreases in brain volume and thickness associated with various forms of dementia.”
Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of Money Matters: Navigating Credit, Debt, and Financial Freedom.
Watching The Whale I was struck by several insights into the issues raised by this film. Firstly, by how un-American this movie was. Where were all the beautiful people? American celluloid and TV is, generally, characterised by a smug self-confidence with everybody sensing that they are the bee’s knees. The Whale watcher: Barfing about blubber. Holding up a mirror to a nation with a massive obesity problem is not normal fare on American screens. The clever use of intertextuality with that god awful American novel Moby Dick called attention to the theatrical roots of this production. The play/movie grappled with those age old American themes so densely inculcated within Moby Dick. God, religious belief, and questions of morality fill the pages of the great American novel. If you have ever attempted to read Moby Dick, the actual white whale is rarely sighted within its pages, rather Melville subjects readers to endless tracts on earnest searches for meaning within the Christian paradigm. It is a book that tries too hard to be morally deep and meaningful.featured identity latest post literature
Watching The Whale I was struck by several insights into the issues raised by this film. Firstly, by how un-American this movie was. Where were all the beautiful people? American celluloid and TV is, generally, characterised by a smug self-confidence with everybody sensing that they are the bee’s knees. The Whale watcher: Barfing about blubber. Holding up a mirror to a nation with a massive obesity problem is not normal fare on American screens. The clever use of intertextuality with that god awful American novel Moby Dick called attention to the theatrical roots of this production. The play/movie grappled with those age old American themes so densely inculcated within Moby Dick. God, religious belief, and questions of morality fill the pages of the great American novel. If you have ever attempted to read Moby Dick, the actual white whale is rarely sighted within its pages, rather Melville subjects readers to endless tracts on earnest searches for meaning within the Christian paradigm. It is a book that tries too hard to be morally deep and meaningful.
Fat people are rarely featured in movies apart from their roles as comedic bit players, generally, employed to lighten the tone. Funny and fat is the usual score. Maybe, funny/sad and fat for films with a little more shading. Grossly obese in close up is not a Hollywood template for box office success. The whale is beset by an ensemble of characters representing family, friendship, fast food, and American evangelical door knocking Christianity. In his last days and hours in terminal decline our whale encounters filial responsibility, an embittered but loyal carer, daily pizza deliveries, and a lost soul hoping to save a whale with missionary zeal.
Fat people, really fat folk, are not culturally sympathetic archetypes in the West. We do not deeply empathise with these individuals because we apportion blame for their indulgence in too much of a good thing.
The Whale is both tragedy and spiritual triumph in some sense. The backstory of Brendan Fraser’s character has a doomed homosexual relationship ending in the death of his younger lover/partner which has tipped a fat man into a spiral of calorie ingested obesity. Death by over eating. A husband and father who left his spouse and 8 year old daughter to pursue an adult student. The whale is a teacher employed by a university to run online classes for students. A condemning evangelical religion hangs over the doomed love affair between the two men.
There are interconnecting strands within the web of human relationships in this ensemble piece. The erstwhile carer is sister to Alan the dead lover and their father is an authoritarian religious zealot who shunned his son and his sexuality. The whale’s daughter is acerbic but dynamic in her teenage disgust and fury over her father’s betrayal and rejection of her. There is anger bubbling over in both carer and daughter. This plays against the overwhelming sweetness of our very fat protagonist. The whale sits enveloped in fatty flesh and his decrepit couch like a sweetly faced spider choking on his own gastric juices. His feeding frenzies are designed to invoke disgust, I suspect, as large amounts of food are fed into his maw like something grossly repellent in the insect world magnified a hundred fold. The Whale watcher: Barfing About blubber is on the menu in this celluloid offering.
The American tradition of selling is echoed in this movie like a faint intimation of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. The pizza delivery guy who, daily, calls through the front door and is forced to leave his product on the porch. The whale does not want to be seen, as his self-disgust mirrors our own for the shambolic vat of fat he has become. The fast food nation and its convenience mantra makes eating yourself to death easy in God’s own country. The young missionary from Iowa, who has journeyed all the way from the next state to Idaho, is selling soul saving despite his deceptions and failures on this score. The whale runs his Zoom classes to the university students with his own camera switched off. His blank screen sits surrounded by the images of bright young faces like a black hole.
The cultural unacceptability of obesity is repeatedly reinforced in this celluloid production.
There is a kitchen sink realism to The Whale with broken people bearing their anguish and anger on display. Daughter blames father. Carer blames father. Young missionary blames his church leader. The alcoholic mother of the daughter declares her evil. Can fat be blamed on American capitalism and its unrelenting and unregulated commercial nature. The whale blames his ghastly condition on his broken heart. The movie transcends this, however, in its climactic culmination. Spirit longs to be free of the biological casing that holds it. The music swells in intensity as a father’s love for his estranged daughter reaches out in entreaty. The teacher within him offers assuaging messages of love and confidence in her own ability to go on and live a worthwhile life. This could become a favourite movie of English teachers to screen for their students. The Whale ends on a triumphant note, a white screen which suggests a somewhat glorious death in the sense that spirit is freed from far too much flesh. The Whale is a worthy and heartfelt cinematic experience, but I wonder if they will hand out barf bags like they used to on aeroplanes? The white whale does not definitively die at the end of Moby Dick and, I suppose, there is, also, an ambiguity at the conclusion of The Whale in this sense.
“David Gilbert: Let’s make one thing clear: I have nothing specifically smart to say about Moby-Dick mainly because I can’t pretend to understand Moby-Dick. The book is nearly impossible to place, to categorize, to hold without feeling the vertiginous swell of its creation. More than any other book, it fills me with awe and dread. I have read it twice, listened to it once. My first reading was in college and it was a struggle because I was in college and reading Moby-Dick was low on my list of college-worn priorities. But I finished. Or I pretended to. I skipped a fair amount. And then I told people I had read Moby-Dick. That seemed the point.”
Does spirit really exist? Are the thoughts and feelings we have really our soul communicating its presence? Is the blubber encased whale something separate from his sensitive yearnings and teacherly wisdom? Can the disgusting fat man be both ethereally beautiful and totally gross? Watch The Whale and find out for yourself.
Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of Money Matters: Navigating Credit, Debt & Financial Freedom
If institutional injustice makes you mad this episode had it in spades. Robodebt: What the Royal Commission revealed to us. A government and a bunch of ministers who saw themselves as ‘welfare cops’, with a duty to shake down the most vulnerable among us. Without fear or favour these sheriffs took on pensioners, disabled Australians, and those down on their luck. They applied income averaging to make it look like these people on the bones of their arse were rorting the system. It played well to those who are always looking for someone to blame for their own financial frustrations.economics latest post media morality politics
If institutional injustice makes you mad this episode had it in spades. Robodebt: What the Royal Commission revealed to us. A government and a bunch of ministers who saw themselves as ‘welfare cops’, with a duty to shake down the most vulnerable among us. Without fear or favour these sheriffs took on pensioners, disabled Australians, and those down on their luck. They applied income averaging to make it look like these people on the bones of their arse were rorting the system. It played well to those who are always looking for someone to blame for their own financial frustrations.
Scott Morrison, Stuart Robert, and Alan Tudge all had their hands on the tiller and steered the Robodebt ship from 2014 -2019. Morrison was gung ho about raising revenue from those on welfare.
“And then there was the political context. Morrison had declared his desire to be the “welfare cop” in a series of interviews, starting with a Sky News interview on 21 January 2015. In evidence to the commission Campbell acknowledged that interview was a signal about where Morrison wanted to take the portfolio.”
The little fact that the scheme was illegal, according to government lawyers, was no deterrent for these righteous prosecutors. The onus was put on the accused welfare recipient to prove that he or she didn’t owe the thousands of dollars averaged out by an algorithm. Computer power, AI if you like, was at the heart of Robodebt. The machine don’t make mistakes folks! Actually, income averaging produced amounts that were wildly wrong and created debts that were not there in fact, according to the government’s own welfare rules. Hundreds of thousands of Australians had 3 weeks to respond to the letter informing them of their debt before the debt collectors were sent in.
Some vulnerable people accused of large debts killed themselves. Yes, Australians died at the hands of the Robodebt scheme instigated by the Coalition government. Public servants repeatedly ignored the illegality of the scheme and were the gun dogs for ‘welfare cops’ like Scott Morrison, Alan Tudge, and Stuart Robert. Dole bludgers were copping their just desserts in the eyes of the conservative press. Alan Tudge actually leaked personal details of those among the welfare recipients who had the courage to take on the government. Gaslighting and backgrounding were employed by Tudge’s department to diminish the credibility of opponents of the scheme. Australia had become like Nazi Germany or Russia, it seems.
5 years of illegal income averaging caused untold damage to people’s lives and their reputations. Ordinary Australians were told they were welfare cheats and forced to pay back huge sums of money. Eventually, the illegality of the Robodebt scheme would topple it. A class action was settled at the cost of some $1.8 billion to Australian tax payers. A succession of public servants in social security and human services departments ignored legal advice and the collateral damage caused by this scheme. Who will be held accountable? I hear you ask. Don’t hold your breath, as Australia does not have a great record when it comes to accountability.
“ “The Australian Public Service is under obligation to give frank and fearless advice, and that was the most common failure that drove all of this: the failure of careerist public servants to speak out, to show the courage that their frontline staff, their whistleblowers were showing at an enormous personal cost to themselves.”
Robodebt: What the Royal Commission revealed. The backroom boys and girls, these senior bureaucrats, were more motivated by job security than raising their heads above the parapet to give frank and fearless advice. I can’t remember the last time I have witnessed frank and fearless behaviour by a government public servant.
A popular conservative narrative is that Australia is full of welfare cheats and dole bludgers. Coalition politicians dog whistle up these tropes in the Murdoch media whenever they can. Like most such tropes the factual instances of such things are tiny or largely non-existent. Most Australians just want a decent job or an even break, when it comes to their livelihood. The Robodebt scheme was a gross misuse of power. It was illegal and incorrect in both its formation and application. Poor Australians receiving welfare are low hanging fruit for institutional power. Poor people don’t have the money to afford lawyers to defend their rights. The welfare cops beat up on weak, disabled, and really old Australians. This is the most shameful example of governmental abuse in Australia’s history. Scott Morrison, Alan Tudge, and Stuart Robert should be held accountable for the damage to the lives of hundreds of thousands of Australians.
The tendency for human beings to kick another whist he or she is down is not a well known Christian practice but perhaps it should be. The Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme, currently underway, reveals a religious zeal by the ministers responsible in hammering this automated debt collection program home. This is despite the Robodebt scheme being understood by government lawyers to be illegal. Scott Morrison, a proud Christian and the minister responsible at its inception had no qualms about using income averaging to impose large debts upon the poorest and most vulnerable among the Australian community.featured
The tendency for human beings to kick another whist he or she is down is not a well known Christian practice but perhaps it should be. The Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme, currently underway, reveals a religious zeal by the ministers responsible in hammering this automated debt collection program home. This is despite the Robodebt scheme being understood by government lawyers to be illegal. Scott Morrison, a proud Christian and the minister responsible at its inception had no qualms about using income averaging to impose large debts upon the poorest and most vulnerable among the Australian community.
There is a saying that the fish rots from the head down. This religious zeal in revenue raising from the lowest hanging fruit, those unable to defend themselves or afford to fightback, permeated the government departments responsible for it. We have heard in the hearings, again and again, senior public servants putting aside any thoughts about doing the right thing in exchange for Brownie points on the greasy pole. Professional men and women who should have had standards and ethics conveniently forgetting them in return for job security and possible promotion. This is the Australia we live in.
Australians constantly receive positive affirmations from their political leaders. This is done because it is politically astute behaviour. Praise about our embrace of a multicultural society deflects from the ingrained racism within white Australia. Pats on the head about the values of ‘mateship’ around ANZAC day celebrations are hoisted up the flagpole. The cultures established in Canberran government departments are not so widely shared on the national stage. The behaviour by ministers like Christian Porter and Alan Tudge and parliamentary staffers at Parliament House, drinking and womanising, not so readily promoted. The reality of Australian culture is very different from the airbrushed versions promulgated.
Some Australians are doing it tough!
Money is more important to many more Australians than ever before. The fact that the Australian home is a money making industry and not merely a place to lay your head and find sanctuary is a big part of this. Australians don’t make things; they invest in property and live off the dosh generated from an overheated market. Rents in Australia are now sky high and unaffordable for the working poor and unemployed. Inflation caused by corporate greed and profiteering is stealing food off the table of struggling ordinary Australians. The RBA is run by bankers who applaud the record profits generated by corporate Australia.
“A Profit-Price spiral is the main driver of inflation in Australia, rather than a supposed “Wage-Price” spiral, which does not exist.”
Inflation Fuelled By Corporate Greed
Qantas declares a $1.6 billion half yearly profit on the back of very high airfares. Complaints about poor service have also been at record highs. Qantas received billions of dollars in government handouts during the pandemic. They used these funds to lay off thousands of workers, who have not be reinstated and will not be.
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) recorded a $5.1 billion half yearly profit. Putting up interest rates is a profitable business move, especially when you don’t raise the interest rates on savings accounts. This is the kind of banking sector we have in Australia. Philip Lowe, the RBA governor, applauds such banking practices, as an indicator of a strong economy.
Santos makes a 230% increased half yearly profit of $1.6 billion on the back of inflated gas prices and the war in Ukraine.
Ampol records a 30% half yearly profit increase to $325.5 million on inflated oil prices.
Woolworths half yearly profits up 25%, and Coles six month profits up 11%.
The Australia Institute reveals a profit-price-spiral fuelling the high inflation rate of 7.8% currently plaguing the nation. It is corporate profiteering costing ordinary Australians at the checkout, and not the wage-price-spiral bogeyman, so beloved of Philip Lowe and economists like him.
Returning to the Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme. In case you have missed the main points. The scheme was known and later found to be illegal. In addition, the income averaging was factually wrong and falsely applied debts to hundreds of thousands of welfare recipients who didn’t owe this money. People killed themselves over these huge debts. Onward Christian soldiers – Stuart Robert, Alan Tudge, Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott. This is probably the most shameful episode in the history of Australian government. All of those involved will bear these marks of opprobrium until their graves. These righteous ministers were served by cowardly bureaucrats more interested in their own pots of gold than the lives of vulnerable fellow Australians. If the victims did try to fight back via the media, they were beset upon.
“It involved punishment of people, dead or alive, whose cases and complaints made it into media reports. Alan Tudge, the then minister for human services, found there was no bar so low that he couldn’t contort himself and slide under it. He collected the Centrelink files of every single person who complained in newspapers, radio or television, and authorised the release of their data to selected favourite journalists in order to “correct misinformation”.”
This appalling scheme has cost tax payers billions of dollars, it has cost us, and has damaged trust in government even further, if it needed such assistance. There was a class action, which was settled. None of the politicians or public servants will pay a cent in compensation or spend any time behind bars. This is the Australian way. Only blue collar criminals go to gaol. If you met these men and women on the street you would not be able to spot their evil, as they look just like ordinary Australians, if a little smug. This is the face of Australia in 2022-23 – get used to it.
By Robert Sudha Hamilton
The proposition that Trump should be in jail is supported by many millions of people around the world. Ex-President Donald Trump has broken so many laws over so many years it is astounding that he has avoided successful prosecution for so long. The more I watch the circus that is the US political system and its coverage by the media the clearer the state of play in America is. Wealth and power make individuals seemingly above the law in the US. The great democracy is a joke really, a bad joke at the expense of those who lack the material prerequisites for immunity from prosecution.featured
The proposition that Trump should be in jail is supported by many millions of people around the world. Ex-President Donald Trump has broken so many laws over so many years it is astounding that he has avoided successful prosecution for so long. The more I watch the circus that is the US political system and its coverage by the media the clearer the state of play in America is. Wealth and power make individuals seemingly above the law in the US. The great democracy is a joke really, a bad joke at the expense of those who lack the material prerequisites for immunity from prosecution.
The political system in America provides a get out of jail free card to those who tread the hustings at the highest level. Politics outguns the justice system when it really matters, as we see so manifestly in Donald Trump’s case. There is a major political party in the US they called the GOP. The Republican party represents just under half the voting population of America, if fairly recent voting trends are anything to go by. They lost the last national election for president by around 7 million votes in 2020. Of course, Trump and his cronies refused to accept the result and claimed voter fraud. No voter fraud was found despite extensive investigation in to the matter.
Trump pre-emptively brought up voter fraud before the election, as a strategy, it seems, to contest the democratic foundation of the election itself in case he lost the vote for presidency. Psychologically, it is well known that some individuals who accuse others of a crime do so to cover their own culpability. Intimate relationships often see the adulterous partner accusing the innocent partner of such behaviour as a strategy to deflect their own guilt. Dictators, like Vladimir Putin in Russia and Hitler before him in Germany, falsely accused their targets of criminal behaviour in a bid to justify their aggression and to confuse the narrative more generally. Examples of this behaviour by bullies are everywhere if you care to look. White people, who have been favoured for hundreds of years economically and socially within their towns and states, point the finger at a few black individuals and claim that they are the ones being victimised by these criminals. The news organisations traditionally have focused on sensational instances rather than the longer running stories of institutional racism.
The GOP galvanises voter support by dog whistling about things like critical race theory and transexual identity gender reassignment issues. The fact that these things actually effect a tiny percentage of the population is no hindrance to their anti-championing of these causes. The dominant white cohort is, it seems, extremely sensitive to any overt criticism of their sense of entitlement, in the past and going forward. Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida is a GOP leader in this strategic game of attacking those sections of the American population who have been enslaved and economically mistreated historically in the United States. Conservative parties, always, encourage their supporters to look back on a supposedly golden age, when times were better. This, like much that comes out of political mouths, is fictitious, as such generalisations are never any real indication of what the reality was actually like for individuals. The grass is always greener. The faces were whiter back then. These are lies about the past designed to distract you from examining their recent record of governing. The GOP is a party in the pockets of the wealthy and powerful. Donald Trump was a so called billionaire – but not really according to his financial records hidden for decades. He is a Russian puppet with Mister Putin probably pulling the strings. The whole American political system on both sides of politics is in the pockets of the wealthy and powerful. Senators and congressmen and women bought and sold by vested interests. Trump should be in jail but the DOJ is still messing around ineffectually. The talk-fest that is America is incredibly dishonest about most things. It is a country in the grip of corporate greed and has a weak judiciary and executive government when it comes to dealing with the wealthy and powerful.
Trump was an incompetent and corrupt president. Over a million people died from the Covid pandemic in America. This is a damning statistic for one of the richest nations in the world. Wealth distribution in the US is abysmal, with the super-rich hogging the lion’s share to the detriment of many millions of working poor. The GOP and their economic policies have created this inequitable economy. Americans just want to get ahead and damn the rest. How many Mexicans does it take to change a light bulb? It depends on whether that wall ever gets built. Stupidity and ignorance helps maintain far right lies and distortions. The Nazi’s took a lot of their racial policies from 1920-30’s America. Eugenics were very popular in the US in the first half of the twentieth century. Henry Ford’s Dearborn Independent had the second highest subscription rate in America and from 1918-1927 spread malicious untruths about Jewish people around the world. The lies about international Jewry are still believed to this day. Fascists always create a villain to blame for all the ills in the world. Jews were that villain for Adolf Hitler and the Nazis’. Mein Kampf blames the Jews for everything and anything in world history and the Enlightenment. The bogus text The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was, interestingly, a Russian fabrication. Human beings like to have someone to blame and political parties exploit that for their own gain. The 2016 presidential election in America was heavily manipulated by Russian bots targeting social media platforms. Public opinion was boosted by this means in negative attacks and campaigns of disinformation to cloud issues. Stupid people who use social media but don’t understand how it actually works are easily manipulated. The internet has been gamed by Russia since its inception. It is a very effective and low cost means of influencing outcomes on the world stage for bad actors. The very nature of the thing makes it vulnerable to hacks and manipulation. The Brexit vote in the UK was similarly manipulated by the Russians successfully to weaken the European Union via Britain’s exit.
Democracy in the hands of capitalism will always be at risk of being subsumed by dictatorial powers driven by corporate interests. The Trump years were a good example of this and thankfully he was voted out of office after a single term. The amorphous nature of democracy lends itself to coercion and corruption. Trump should be in jail and until he is the American judicial system is liable for ridicule on the world stage.
The rise of cybercrime: The widening gap between rich and poor is in direct correlation. We have been warned that the continuing divide and expanding inequality within our societies will spawn a violent breakdown of law and order. The proliferation of scams and identity theft is the forerunner of this societal upheaval. Scammers and hackers depend upon there being plenty of dissatisfied folk ready to cross the line to better their lot. If we continue to allow the wealthy to feather their nests, at the expense of the majority, via manipulation of our democratic governments things are only going to get worse.economics featured latest post
The rise of cybercrime: The widening gap between rich and poor is in direct correlation. We have been warned that the continuing divide and expanding inequality within our societies will spawn a violent breakdown of law and order. The proliferation of scams and identity theft is the forerunner of this societal upheaval. Scammers and hackers depend upon there being plenty of dissatisfied folk ready to cross the line to better their lot. If we continue to allow the wealthy to feather their nests, at the expense of the majority, via manipulation of our democratic governments things are only going to get worse.
Our financial institutions are already under concerted attack from those wishing to open portals into the digital bank vaults of the super wealthy. We have had decades of conservative governments in the US, UK, and Australia peddling their neoliberalism and fast track policies to enrich the already wealthy.
“Once again, this report reminds us that wealth in Australia is distributed very unevenly. We have over 130 billionaires in this country and last year their wealth grew, on average, by $395 million or 12 per cent. It means they now hold almost as much wealth as the 2.8 million households in the lowest 30 per cent of the population,” says Scientia Professor Carla Treloar, Director of the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) and the Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH).
“This research makes it clear we have an economic model that delivers profits for the wealthiest at the expense of those with least in our community, and it’s time for the inequality in our economic system to be addressed and made fairer for all.”
Similarly, Australians fail to recognise the signs of record inequity and the impending crime wave which has just begun. Sensationalist news coverage will focus on the lurid details of crimes like home invasion stabbings but will not address the economic causes behind ‘so-called’ crime waves.
“Over 67,500 cybercrime reports, an increase of nearly 13 per cent from the previous financial year.
Self-reported losses from cybercrime total more than $33 billion.
Approximately one quarter of reported cyber security incidents affected entities associated with Australia’s critical infrastructure.
Over 1,500 cybercrime reports of malicious cyber activity related to the coronavirus pandemic (approximately four per day).
More than 75 per cent of pandemic-related cybercrime reports involved Australians losing money or personal information.
Nearly 500 ransomware cybercrime reports, an increase of nearly 15 per cent from the previous financial year.
Fraud, online shopping scams and online banking scams were the top reported cybercrime types.
An increase in the average severity and impact of reported cyber security incidents, with nearly half categorised as ‘substantial’.”
“Disruption of essential services and critical infrastructure: Approximately one quarter of cyber incidents reported to the ACSC during the reporting period were associated with Australia’s critical infrastructure or essential services. Significant targeting, both domestically and globally, of essential services such as the health care, food distribution and energy sectors has underscored the vulnerability of critical infrastructure to significant disruption in essential services, lost revenue and the potential of harm or loss of life.”
Nobody will seriously question the economic model running our country and excluding ever greater numbers of ordinary Australians from the wealth of the nation. Redistribution of wealth and opportunity is essential if our western democracies are to endure in the face of the rise of fascism globally. Putin’s Russia, potentially a rerun of Trump’s America, far right wing regimes in Israel, Italy, Hungary, Serbia, and potentially Ukraine indicate the spread of this autocratic political virus.
The artful manipulation of facts to serve narratives about the attack on the social fabric by scapegoats like the LBGQTI+ community and refugees. Really it is all about the money. If you starve people of opportunity and condemn them to lives of less than plenty, eventually, enough of these deprived individuals will rise up and take what they need. Record levels of inflation driving the cost of living for essentials like rent, food, and energy into the red zone for poor people. What do you think is going to happen? You can listen to right wing commentators bitch and moan about being soft on crime but basic inequality will tip a society over the edge into greater lawlessness.
The rise of cybercrime: The widening gap between rich and poor is at the heart of this phenomenon. This is the first wave of the breakdown of our societal structures via a sustained upsurge in crime. If you don’t take everybody with you on the climb to wealth and comfort, you will pay more in the long run. You either have police states run by autocratic regimes to protect the vast wealth of the few. Putin’s Russia is a good example of this, with oligarchs, gangsters, and deadly agents of the state poisoning and throwing undesirables off balconies. Or, you have South American style kidnappings happening and organised crime running amok through your cites and country. If you vote along the lines of the political party who is only concerned with increasing your wealth and theirs – and bugger everyone else. Well, you are accelerating the destruction of what once made Australia a great place to live.
“Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on the rights of the individual, liberty, consent of the governed, political equality and equality before the law. Liberals espouse various views depending on their understanding of these principles.”
Liberalism can tip over into Libertarianism and the far right form of this bristles with guns in places like America.
“Libertarianism is a family of views in political philosophy. Libertarians strongly value individual freedom and see this as justifying strong protections for individual freedom. Thus, libertarians insist that justice poses stringent limits to coercion. While people can be justifiably forced to do certain things (most obviously, to refrain from violating the rights of others) they cannot be coerced to serve the overall good of society, or even their own personal good.”
Dumb policies not serving to protect the health of the greater community. Hundreds of thousands of people dying unnecessarily because of stupid government inaction and a huge divide between rich and poor. Anti-vaxxers marching in the streets here in Australia were led by citizen staters and fascist groups. Covid exposed the cracks in our societies around inequality, inequity, and the failure of our health and welfare programs to meet the needs of these people. The vulnerable died and are still dying in Australia and around the globe. The elderly and those challenged with existing health issues have borne the brunt of this virus.
Four young police officers were gunned down in Queensland very recently. Two of them died, along with a good neighbour trying to do the right thing when the perpetrators lit a fire on their property to burn out the police officers. Guns make everything worse and this US style tragedy emphasises that important point. Ordinary citizens should not be armed. This obvious fact escapes some people. Someone goes crazy, that is a problem for that person and loved ones.
The rise of cybercrime: The widening gap between rich and poor feeds it. Cybercrime targets wealth predominantly in its various forms. It is a largely silent and surreptitious business. This may well be the first wave of the attack on law and order on the back of decades of growing inequality and inequity. The presence of guns and weapons will make the next wave of societal breakdown far more violent and bloody. The paranoia inherent in the world view of right wing libertarians and fascists turns neighbours into the ‘other’. The ’other’ is not human in the way they view themselves, which facilitates killing and acts of violence.
If you see those who have a different sexual preference as perversions, then you are pointing the finger at the ‘other’. If you see refugees with different coloured skin and cultural appearances and believe they are taking livelihoods from your cohort, then, it is another manifestation of the ‘other’. The truth is that all of these people are part of our greater community and deserve our support and understanding. If you want to live in a great country, then, welcome everybody. Social inclusiveness makes great nations.
Robert Sudha Hamilton
Ding dong the witch is dead! Cardinal George Pell has fallen from this mortal coil. George Pell is dead. A convicted sex offender, who was later released from prison after having his conviction quashed by the High Court. Where there is smoke, however, there is usually fire. Pell had been the hard man of conservative Catholic values over many decades in high office within the church. He had overseen a period of revelation within this religious institution. The Catholic Church in Australia and elsewhere was revealed to be a sewer of sexual perversion and exploitation of innocent children.featured latest post morality
Ding dong the witch is dead! Cardinal George Pell has fallen from this mortal coil. George Pell is dead. A convicted sex offender, who was later released from prison after having his conviction quashed by the High Court. Where there is smoke, however, there is usually fire. Pell had been the hard man of conservative Catholic values over many decades in high office within the church. He had overseen a period of revelation within this religious institution. The Catholic Church in Australia and elsewhere was revealed to be a sewer of sexual perversion and exploitation of innocent children.
The public exposure by investigative journalists and whistle blowers into literally thousands of incidents of acts paedophilia by Catholic priests and brothers would disgust Australians across the nation. The decades of silence bought cheaply by the Catholic Church compounded the damage done to victims of child sexual abuse. Cardinal Pell was in the thick of this foul stew. The damage to the standing of the Church has been profound, but is it really enough.
If a corporation was convicted of serial sexual abuse of minors by its employees it would be shut down. Only a religious body with its raison d’etre involving belief in an intangible supernatural entity can survive such gross crimes against children committed by responsible adults promising pastoral care.
The lie that all religions are founded on makes these betrayals possible. A priest or brother is in a position of authority. God’s right hand man. The Catholic Church runs schools across the country and around the world. The Church claims to be a moral law giver and its representatives its mouth pieces. What these mouths got up to it I leave to your imagination. This was not a case of one or two bad apples either. There were cabals of brothers and priests involved in these acts of perversion over decades. Individual paedophile priests committed hundreds of sexual abuse crimes over many years without being prosecuted. The Church actively covered up these crimes and moved the perpetrators around, when parents complained, to new dioceses and schools. George Pell is dead and I bet there are victims of this abuse who are not sorry to see him go.
A century of abuse
“Many thousands of children suffered repeated and severe sexual abuse in Australia’s religious institutions, particularly those of the Catholic Church. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which reported its findings in 2017, heard cases of abuse across 964 Catholic institutions such as churches, religious schools and children’s homes. Abuse included such behaviours as fondling, masturbation and, in over half of the cases, rape. This was usually accompanied by other forms of abuse, including physical punishments, humiliation and chronic neglect.
The affected children were typically between the ages of 10 and 14, although many victims, particularly girls, were younger. Most were abused many times. Having heard testimony from thousands of survivors, the Commission calculated a crude average duration of abuse of 2.4 years, and 3.7 years in residential settings. More than 60 percent of the survivors who told the Commission they were sexually abused in a religious institution, suffered the abuse in Christian church organisations, most of which were Roman Catholic.
Substantially over-represented among the victims were Australia’s so-called ‘Stolen Generations’ – children of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background who were forcibly removed from their families and communities by an assimilationist policy that placed them in residential children’s homes between 1905 and the 1970s. Sexual abuse of these children became an aggravating factor in their experience of cultural colonisation, in which their own culture was disparaged and their access to their home community denied.
The Commission found that several factors contributed to conditions conducive to abuse. One was the remote locations of some Church institutions in Australia, which distanced perpetrators from accountability and victims from avenues for complaint. Another was the religious relationship between perpetrator and victim, the latter often being blamed in theological terms for their own abuse; some victims were threatened with “being sent to hell” if they resisted, for example, or made to beg forgiveness from their abuser for the ‘sin’ of having been abused. This had an additional, ‘spiritual’ impact on the children, according to the Commission”
Cardinal George Pell was in a position of authority for much of his life. Australians looked up to the big man for spiritual guidance. The fact that his organisation was clearly shown to be a home for despicable human beings exploiting children and the vulnerable for their sexual gratification should not be forgotten. These things had been going in the Catholic Church for centuries.
What can we learn from such awful lessons? What have we learned from these crimes? Not very much it seems. The truth is that the belief in God is an essentially selfish pre-occupation. People believe in their own personal God for their own salvation. Yes, they may be advised to help others and to attempt to lead a life of service. The underlying motivation for this is, however, the salvation of their own soul. Many Catholics may genuinely empathise with victims of child sexual abuse but it is not the main game when it comes to their own religious commitment.
The hierarchy within the Catholic Church feels similarly aggrieved by the systemic moral corruption within its ranks but the Church sees itself above such things. It sees its role as a divine calling and protecting the edifice of the Church is far more important than a few hundred thousand victims of child sexual abuse. In fact, the millions of victims, including women, the disabled, indigenous people, and children are testament to the ultimate failing of this institution and the protocols that govern it.
Here is the problem. You create an invisible supernatural entity with the three big Os. Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and Omniscience. You fight for hundreds of years, among yourselves in the early church, whilst making this stuff up. You burn heretics, who don’t toe the company line, from within your own ranks. Who said religion was easy. Eventually, someone comes up with the great idea of making priests celibate. The same blokes who would be advising couples about marriage.
The result is centuries of priests with secret wives and families on the side. Imagine how this affected the lives of these priestly appendages. Oh, of course, they don’t really matter because it is all about a belief in God and the importance of the Church. The emperor’s new clothes. The ideal is more important than the earthly reality. Another stream of priests are homosexuals and they prey upon their flock. Grooming children, altar boys, to perform the sexual acts they crave – driven by their nature and how it has adapted to the rules of the new religion. Underground, it began in the catacombs, and these sexual acts would flourish in secret. The scriptures would be bent to the will of the body. God’s forgiveness for the sins of man would play on high rotation.
George Pell is dead.
Denying the man to dress up the ideal in priestly garb is an abomination, which seeps out and infects the lives of children. Beware those who dress up in uniforms to hide their humanity. Priests, Nazis, police, judges, and even doctors in white lab coats. Many people see the uniform and nothing else. Cardinals in their robes and where is the man underneath all that palaver? Oh, yeah, there are no women Cardinals in the Catholic Church. Why is that I wonder? Catholics still believe, despite the basic wrongness in the structure of the church. Catholics still believe despite the mass of sexual crimes against children committed by priests and brothers. It is this purely selfish belief in a personal God, which has been roped into the edifice of the Roman Catholic religion, that hangs in there, hell or high weather.
Robert Sudha Hamilton
Australia has set the bar too low, when it comes to societal expectations around things like civic responsibility. Decades of neoliberalism infecting our governments on both sides of politics has seen a huge slide in respect for the role of government in managing our social contract. The late Kerry Packer was lionised for his tough talk to the senate on tax minimisation and its merits in Australian life. We now face an impending tax revenue crisis, as corporations continue to dodge their taxation responsibilities through clever accounting practices. Wealthy Australians think that it is OK to avoid paying tax wherever they can. Packer told his audience that smart people don’t pay tax where possible and that government’s waste their money anyway. This has become an established narrative in the Aussie cultural canon.featured latest post
Australia has set the bar too low, when it comes to societal expectations around things like civic responsibility. Decades of neoliberalism infecting our governments on both sides of politics has seen a huge slide in respect for the role of government in managing our social contract. The late Kerry Packer was lionised for his tough talk to the senate on tax minimisation and its merits in Australian life. We now face an impending tax revenue crisis, as corporations continue to dodge their taxation responsibilities through clever accounting practices. Wealthy Australians think that it is OK to avoid paying tax wherever they can. Packer told his audience that smart people don’t pay tax where possible and that government’s waste their money anyway. This has become an established narrative in the Aussie cultural canon.
Australia, as a colonial outpost in the new world, was founded on the principles of meritocracy with a few helpings of nepotism and boy’s club corruption. Life was hard in the early years for settlers and convicts. The NSW Corps was a hotbed of military corruption, which has gone on and flourished in many state police forces around the nation. Politicians and parliamentarians established lax rules or no rules for themselves, as we have discovered over the years. The rule of law in Australia is rarely applied to the wealthy and powerful. Despite these oversights life in Oz has developed superficially into episodes of Neighbours for many middle class denizens. A warm climate and sleepy pace of life in the suburbs on the coastal fringes of the great southern land appears attractive on the TV screen.
“The wages of Australian workers rose by 2.4 per cent over the past year, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday.
But with inflation at 5.1 per cent, real wages are going backwards. “
The privatisation boom was fuelled on the back of promises of reduced energy bills from the utilities that were gobbled up by corporate interests. These have not eventuated and local jobs have gone in these businesses offshore via outsourcing. Telstra, Qantas, CBA, state energy entities, and the list goes on – are all major examples of state owned assets passing into the hands of the private sector. Hundreds of billions of dollars of future revenue gone from the government revenue sheet. If you look at the success of CBA and how much money it has made for its shareholders in the last 30 years it makes for eye watering reading. CBA made $9.673 billion in 2022 alone. Yes, private companies are often run more profitably than government owned bodies. However, they also strip jobs from the local economy and reduce spending there also. Billionaires have been created via neoliberalism, Reagonomics, Thatcherism whatever you want to call it. A super wealthy few at the expense of the many is not good government and not good for society as a whole. The public narrative becomes – you can grow up to become a billionaire. This dangled carrot is based on assumptions of an unfair and inequitable society.
Wealthy, successful Australians tell themselves that they work hard for their money and status. The narrative is that these individuals are somehow more deserving than those who work without opportunity. Donald Trump in America is a prime example of this fictitious story perpetuated upon the general public. Trump portrayed himself as a self-made man but in reality inherited vast wealth from his property developer father. Trump was sold to the American public as a celebrity billionaire ready to make America great again. In fact, Trump was a failed businessman being propped up by Russian money since the 1990s. This is why he has fought so hard to prevent his tax returns from being made public, unlike all other American presidents in the past. The American illustration is pertinent because Australia largely copies the cultural and economic example set by the yanks. Our politicians follow the trends established by their colleagues in the bigger nations. The conservative politicians in Australia would like to see higher education and health privatised like they are in America. This is despite both these systems in the US failing the vast majority of Americans in economic terms. The right wing side of politics is happy for a small elite section of white citizens to become increasingly wealthy at the expense of the rest.
“The US healthcare system does not provide universal coverage and can be defined as a mixed system, where publicly financed government Medicare and Medicaid (discussed here) health coverage coexists with privately financed (private health insurance plans) market coverage. Out-of-pocket payments and market provision of coverage predominate as a means of financing and providing healthcare.2 As of 2019, around 50% of citizens received private insurance coverage through their employer (group insurance), 6% received private insurance through health insurance marketplaces (nongroup insurance) (discussed here), 20% of citizens relied on Medicaid, 14% on Medicare, and 1% on other public forms of insurance (eg, Veterans Health Administration [VHA] and Military Health Service [MHS]), leaving 9% of Americans uninsured.3”
Thankfully, terrible conservative leaders like Tony Abbott failed in the bid to further lead Australia down the privatisation rabbit hole. Medicare is not perfect and it has recently been revealed to be full of holes and widely being rorted by its providers but it is a sacred cow in Australia. Similarly, charging huge fees for higher education saddles young students with debt and reduces opportunities for poorer Australians. Private enterprise does not automatically make a better economic fist of running all sectors. Health and education are industries not best served by the profit motive first and foremost. The privatisation of skills training and the dismantling of the TAFE system in Australia has been a huge failure. Privatisation lacks oversight here in Australia and globally.
Another popular narrative employed by conservative forces is to whip up public support for pillorying the ‘dole bludger’. Every society needs a whipping post and the ‘so-called’ welfare cheat is a favourite in Australia. The lazy good for nothing Aussie who won’t work and takes government handouts is top of the pops with the media pandering to social conservatives. Linked to racist attacks on Aborigines not so long ago it popularises the story that there are legions of bludgers out there destroying the fabric of our society. This is complete BS, with the number of individuals actually filling this bill miniscule. Similarly, shock jock attacks on the LBGQTI+ community and transexuals in particular is another rallying cry for social conservatives. This has been borrowed from the American playbook with bogus claims of educational material featuring same sex characters brainwashing innocent kids at school and legions of transexual athletes invading women’s sport. Fascists always have enemies of good upstanding socially conservative citizens at the ready to drum up support for their messages. Pointing the finger and dog whistling are strategies long employed by right wing parties in their bid for popularity and getting their candidates elected.
If governments cannot raise enough revenue from taxation they cannot run the social programs the community desires and requires. The narrative surrounding those conservatives on the right tells us that ‘they will pay for the things their families need and that they don’t require governments to do it for them.’ This citizen state ethos only works for those who can afford to pay for these things and not for the poor and the vulnerable within our nation. The strong survive and thrive and the weak go under in this Ayn Rand philosophy. What is actually required is a fairer Australia for all. We are not all competing on a level playing field.
Australians need to do more and demand more of their fellow and sister Australians. It is not enough to work and live in your own little realm, we are all part of a broader nation. It is not right that corporations and wealthy individuals manage to avoid paying their share of tax. This needs to be voiced by ordinary Australians and governments need to take heed. The growing inequality and inequity in Australia needs to be addressed. The price of neoliberalism must be examined and held accountable to the country and its citizens. The ridiculous property prices in our cities, which have greatly amplified the economic divide, have to be reined in. It all began with former PM John Howard.
“Similarly, at first the Howard government thought that rising home prices was good news: “I haven’t found anybody stopping me in the streets, shaking their fists and saying John, I’m angry that the value of my house has gone up,” said Howard during the first years of the housing boom, a tone that would change later as housing affordability became a vexed political issue.
While the government’s early attitude was blasé, and while some of its measures, such as cutting capital gains tax, could be said to have exacerbated the problem, the key factors driving the boom in house prices were not the government’s doing. They arose from a combination of unmet demand, increasing aspirations for better houses among those who already owned one, low interest rates and the relatively easy availability of money from lending institutions. Even a government determined to restrain the increasing prices would have had limited capacity to do so.”
The gutless core of Australian governments of both political persuasions would do little or nothing to address runaway property prices over the next 25 years.
“On housing affordability, Howard introduced the capital-gains-tax concession; bolstered the first-home buyers’ grant; and boosted immigration – all putting pressure on housing demand. Investor entry into the housing market took off from the moment the capital-gains-tax concession began. We wallow helplessly in the backwash of these idiotic decisions.
Speaking of tax, Howard introduced the over-60 superannuation tax holiday, other super concessions, family payments to middle-income households, age-based tax concessions, and lots of income-tax breaks for middle to higher-income households. These have been difficult if not impossible to wind back and have increased inequality in Australia.
In short, Howard squandered the mining boom on buying votes and allowing miners to be lightly taxed.”
“Almost one-third of large corporations paid no income tax in Australia in 2020-2021, including more than half of the nation’s major mining, energy and water companies, a new report shows.
The Australian Taxation Office released its annual tax transparency report on Thursday, which reveals the amount of tax paid by 2,468 large and medium corporate entities. Of those, 782 (32%) paid no tax at all in the financial year, down from a high of 36% in 2015-16.”
Our federal and state governments repeatedly do deals with these fossil fuel corporate giants and allow them to do business here without paying any where near their share of tax. Why? Why do we allow this to go on when we face some very tough times just around the corner. It is OK for the little gal and guy to suffer high costs of living, record low wage growth, an RBA jacking up interest rates but successive governments won’t touch the big corporate players because they can bite back politically. Our monitoring bodies are toothless tigers stripped of power after decades of neoliberalism delivering real power to private interests. Our governments are likewise wishy washy camera hungry paper men and women walking on a shaky bridge. Real power does not reside with these individuals. Elected officials don’t really rate up against those invested in making large amounts of money for powerful corporations.
This has been going on for decades and very little changes in Australia at the top of the tree. Witness the resistance to creating a federal independent commission against corruption by successive governments. We have one at last and it will be interesting to see if it is more than just another toothless tiger. Australian apathy is well known when it comes to doing anything about endemic problems. The friendly climate and inviting beaches welcome avoidance and the illusion of being on a permanent holiday. However, as economic issues begin to bite the injustices and inequalities may prove to be more provocative than before.
Nothing much changes in Australia with timid governments and a media riddled with public relation driven narratives. Australia has set the bar too low when it comes to the civic responsibilities of citizens and corporations. The narrative of private interests driving the main game has been at the forefront for too long. The pandemic was an opportunity for community interest to gazump that of the individual – and we saw those who marched in the streets in protest. Right wing groups with their demands for citizen rights, unwilling to make any sacrifices for the vulnerable among us. Rights vs responsibilities. There are times when what is owed to the many is greater than what is owed to you. Civic duty is not a trendy idea. If we continue to set the bar too low in Australia, we will only see more inequity and extreme social and economic divides.
Indigenous Australians are coming from a long way back because of decades of state and social neglect. Women have only recently broken free of the shackles of discrimination and are still not paid an equal wage in many fields. Those Australians with a disability are still fighting for access to opportunity. Minority groups remain excluded from the most fertile opportunities, as cliques of white Australians reserve the best for themselves. These are the facts of life in a modern Australia. Too many Aussies denigrate their elected representatives and back their corporate masters in – they follow the money over anything else. Housing costing a million dollars on average and rents going through the roof. What sort of good governance and corporate behaviour has overseen the nation becoming too expensive for its denizens to live in? Will Australians find a voice to protest the state of the nation? Will they elect governments with a backbone to change things? Will they oversee the political shake up of campaign funding to produce political leaders capable of standing up to the vested interests? It will be interesting to observe what happens.
Robert Sudha Hamilton
Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of Money Matters: Navigating Credit, Debt & Financial Freedom
Democracy has long been lauded in the United States of America – Home of the Free etc etc. The reality of the situation, however, has been revealed over the last 5 years during the Trump ascendancy. The American political framework is full of holes, which have been effectively exploited by the Russians and local vested interests. The idea of democracy endures as something wonderful but in practice falls way short. The real state of democracy in America is only partially subscribed to by the country’s population.featured latest post
Democracy has long been lauded in the United States of America – Home of the Free etc etc. The reality of the situation, however, has been revealed over the last 5 years during the Trump ascendancy. The American political framework is full of holes, which have been effectively exploited by the Russians and local vested interests. The idea of democracy endures as something wonderful but in practice falls way short. The real state of democracy in America is only partially subscribed to by the country’s population.
The onus for free and fair representative elections must be on all Americans. Living in the United States of America needs to come with responsibilities, such as compulsory voting. Educating citizens on the importance of voting in the electoral system should be prominent throughout the US. Making money seems to be the primal driving force in America and nothing much else comes close to this.
If you have half the country ignoring the political framework, then conditions are ripe for things like coups. If American citizens are so focused on their own little worlds to the exclusion of the bigger picture this is a problem for democracy. The state has a responsibility to increase the political engagement with its denizens. If the understanding of democracy is so superficial within a nation, then it is easily manipulated by vested interests. The political class in America could be accused of maintaining this unrepresentative level of voter engagement for its own ends.
The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.”
The Constitution calls voting a civic right rather than a civic duty – and this is what is wrong about America in large part.
Americans are often banging on about their rights but bring up their responsibilities within the nation to a lesser extent.
Voter/citizen apathy produces misuse of power and corruption in most cases. Those in charge, often, feel justified in looking after their own interests and those of their backers first and foremost. Donald Trump seized upon this political disengagement and promised to be the champion of predominantly white lower middle class Americans. The failed billionaire backed by Russian money stepped up as a false prophet to ‘Make America Great Again’ on behalf of the Republican Party (GOP). They say 60 million Americans voted for him in 2016 and again in 2020.
“Voter turnout in the 2020 U.S. general election soared to levels not seen in decades, fueled by the bitter campaign between Joe Biden and Donald Trump and facilitated by pandemic-related changes to state election rules. More than 158.4 million people voted in that election, according to a Pew Research Center tabulation of official state returns, amounting to 62.8% of people of voting age, using Census Bureau estimates of the 2020 voting-age population.”
Just over 62% of the voting population turned out to vote, which leaves some 90 million people disengaged from democracy in America. This at a time when politically partisan feelings are running particularly high and prompted record voter turnouts.
Ancient Rome was another republic which had vast number of its denizens disenfranchised from the political setup running the state. Too many passengers on the bus make for destinations wreaking of inequality and inequity. Ultimately, this state of affairs brings civilisations to their knees. Great Empires and nations are ruined via the greed of the few over the needs of the many. America and its billionaires stink to high heaven; and this superpower is on the brink of toppling into chaos and civil war once again.
Old men stumbling over their words sit atop the highest office in America. Joe Biden has done a great job in wresting the nation from the fascist grip of the Trump cohort. However, the US requires some fresh blood to reinvigorate its pulse in the leadership position. Why are all these old white men contending for the top job? Where are the leaders of the next generation? Is America in the grip of a grandfather obsession? Can the US ever be grown up enough to elect a woman president of the nation?
A public campaign needs to be launched across the airwaves to promote voter education. More demands must be made upon citizens in terms of their civic duties. Online classes must be made free and a basic standard of understanding required by all citizens. Education is the one thing that can combat and overcome misinformation and manipulation of the political system. You have to bring the country with you to be a truly great democracy. All of the people need to be engaged to make it representative. Real democracy has never been achieved up until this point in time and there is a lot of work to be done.
Robert Sudha Hamilton
Many people have discovered Ukraine for the first time since the invasion by Russia at the beginning of this year 2022. In a perverted sense they could thank Mr Putin for the catalyst in making this so but this would not be entirely accurate. This is because the invasion of Ukraine really began in 2014 and this did not stop the World Cup being held in Russia in 2018. The world took little notice of the earlier incursions and annexations of Ukrainian territory, which obviously encouraged Mr Putin to go the whole hog, so to speak. This time, however, the USA freed from Trump and the European Union were galvanised to take action in the form of more far reaching sanctions and military aid to Ukraine. Still, Ukraine was for many a far flung place in the east of which little was known.featured latest post
Many people have discovered Ukraine for the first time since the invasion by Russia at the beginning of this year 2022. In a perverted sense they could thank Mr Putin for the catalyst in making this so but this would not be entirely accurate. This is because the invasion of Ukraine really began in 2014 and this did not stop the World Cup being held in Russia in 2018. The world took little notice of the earlier incursions and annexations of Ukrainian territory, which obviously encouraged Mr Putin to go the whole hog, so to speak. This time, however, the USA freed from Trump and the European Union were galvanised to take action in the form of more far reaching sanctions and military aid to Ukraine. Still, Ukraine was for many a far flung place in the east of which little was known.
The war in Ukraine has awoken in me and I would posit for many others a desire to know more about this state. I knew it was a former republic within the Soviet Union and had broken away when that entity collapsed in 1989. I had heard about the various problems occurring there and in Russia since that divide. The oligarchs and the wide spread corruption within the region and under the auspices of Putin were reported in the western media. Wars in Chechnya and the annexation of Crimea did get a certain amount of press; however, I like many was content to categorise all of this as growing pains taking place a long way away. Out of sight and largely out of mind. The full scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia in 2022 changed all this. That blue and yellow flag was, seemingly, suddenly flying on every screen.
How do we begin to comprehend a national and international event of this magnitude? History and the study of its various components is the only real means with which to begin to understand something like this. After nearly a year of watching news coverage of the war in Ukraine and related presentations by experts and think tanks I got lucky. I came across Professor Timothy Snyder and his online lectures beamed out of Yale University via YouTube. Strangely my path to Professor Snyder’s insights came courtesy of my interest in the American political situation vis a vis Donald Trump and the bookshop Politics and Prose in Washington DC. Timothy Snyder had written two books, which addressed this crisis particularly, On Tyranny and The Road To Unfreedom. I would learn that there are direct links between Trump and Ukraine via Putin and the Russian state. “What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”
A north to south axis was the main influence upon Ukraine during the first millennia and well into the middle ages. The surviving eastern Roman Empire, known as the Byzantine Empire, was the illuminating light in the south for the advent of language and a written alphabet in Ukraine. Whilst in the north the Franks were forging a Germanic Christian culture of state and church. The pull between these two forms of political and religious systems, the orthodox church and its counterpart in the Frankish Kingdom, would exert a powerful influence on the emerging Rus identity, as it transitioned from the pagan beliefs of its founders.
Kiev would become one of the great cities of the early second millennium, as the Rus prospered in its embrace of the eastern Christian church.
The Muslim and Jewish presence in what we now call Ukraine is profound and has been long lasting. Hazar and Jewish settlements have been in existence for many centuries and from the earliest periods. The Ottoman Empire was another southern factor which played a large part in the formation and resulting territorial makeup of Ukraine and Crimea.
Moscow was a much later (14th Century) and more Asian settlement which would become a city. It formed as a centre for those collecting tribute for the Mongol Empire, growing out from the Kremlin. The Muscovy fiefdom would become the Russian Empire in the post-Mongol period, with a totalitarian structure around the Czar. This admixture of peoples would take on the cultural identity of The Rus, as imperial powers often choose their own founding myths.
The more I discovered about Ukraine thanks to Professor Timothy Snyder the more I realised what a black hole my knowledge of eastern and central Europe largely is. Why is this so? I have been a student of history for most of my life and have desired an understanding of the world on this basis. Why has the Slavic realm been hidden from me in a fog of ignorance? Is it because of the Soviet Union and that geo-politically huge entity having blocked out the view somehow? Have we been so focused on western European and American concerns that we simply ignored the eastern perspective? Yes, I think so. Our comprehension of the classical world has been largely centred on the Mediterranean and then it shifted to western Europe in terms of the moral and philosophic underpinnings of our own conception of modern history. The people have discovered Ukraine quite recently and wonder where it has been all this time.
It is hard to imagine state employed people consciously doing this to other human beings and watching them die on mass. Idealogues and fanatics are dangerous forces. Turning people into ‘others’ and sentencing them to extermination was undertaken on grand scales in the 1930s in Ukraine.
Professor Snyder points out to the world that Ukraine was the target for much of the fighting and killing during the first half of the twentieth century. The Ukrainian ‘bread basket’ was the attraction for the Germans in the First World War to feed their soldiers in the latter part of this conflict. The Germans backed Ukrainian nationalists against the Soviet Russians in a bid to access this source of food.
The real action and most European WW2 deaths actually happened in Ukraine and surrounding areas. Hitler’s 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union, after their earlier non-aggression pact, seemed incomprehensible to casual observers of this war but it was always the main plan. This was where the land and the fertile soil abounded for Germanic expansion on a massive scale. Ukraine and Poland was where the greater part of the Holocaust occurred. The Jews would be exterminated and the Slavonic people starved out of this land, as the Soviets had done in 1932-34. Hitler and his minions murdered millions of Jews and Russians but were ultimately defeated by Soviet Russia in this campaign. Much of the fighting in Europe during WW2 happened on the eastern front. The Allies did not really get going until 1944 in Europe. Prior to this millions of Russians and eastern Europeans were killed and starved in battles , pogroms, and concentration camps across eastern Europe. Around 27 million Russians died in WW2. The United Kingdom and the USA would suffer less than a million deaths between them. The French including colonies had some 600, 000 deaths in WW2.
Australia has been locked into a cycle of inaction around the major issues facing the nation. Manipulation of the political system by vested interests on climate change and inequality has seen little progress achieved on these important matters affecting the nation. Conflicts of interest in Australia are entrenched within media and government. A lack of transparency around political influence within the two party preferred system remains the elephant in the room. On top of this, the loudest voice in the room via media interest is the Murdoch news organisation with its monopoly of newspapers across the land. Murdoch is a rabid right wing media mogul, as seen by the content on his Fox News and Sky News Australia TV networks. Objective coverage of the news is so far from what viewers get via the Murdoch press it would be laughable if it wasn’t such a serious concern for the country.economics
Australia has been locked into a cycle of inaction around the major issues facing the nation. Manipulation of the political system by vested interests on climate change and inequality has seen little progress achieved on these important matters affecting the nation. Conflicts of interest in Australia are entrenched within media and government. A lack of transparency around political influence within the two party preferred system remains the elephant in the room. On top of this, the loudest voice in the room via media interest is the Murdoch news organisation with its monopoly of newspapers across the land. Murdoch is a rabid right wing media mogul, as seen by the content on his Fox News and Sky News Australia TV networks. Objective coverage of the news is so far from what viewers get via the Murdoch press it would be laughable if it wasn’t such a serious concern for the country.
Australians are the not the sharpest tools in the shed, as evidenced by the concentric media landscape dominated by Murdoch.
Both sides of the political spectrum stand in the shadow of the rich and powerful. The loudest voices in the nation call the shots to the detriment of the many voiceless denizens. Conflicts of interest in Australia stand out like the bloody obvious to anyone with half a brain.
We, as a nation, have lost a broader societal view of ourselves and institutions. Large sections of the nation have been bought off by the opportunity to become richer much more quickly. In the same way, that when you work for a company who pay your wages your voice is often muted when it comes to the actions of that corporation within the community.
Rarely will you view stories on these channels and broadsheets that contradict the commercial interests of its advertisers. Generations of Australians have now grown up within this controlled media environment and know no better or different. The great free press of our western democracies are a joke really, as they don’t exist in practice.
The recent realisation that wages in Australia have stagnated over the last 30 years has taken a long time to wake us up from our slumber on this issue. The power of unions has been diminished greatly over the same period. The correlation between these phenomenon’s is another blind spot in the Australian psyche. This is no accident; however, vested interests and their right wing political minions have driven the anti-union agenda diligently. Unions have been effectively demonised in this country over the last few decades by the Murdoch media. Australians have become apathetic and overly placid in their workplaces. Look at Qantas under the guidance of Alan Joyce, where a once proud organisation has been gutted by divisive employment contract practices and union-breaking manoeuvring.
The Albanese government has been recently elected after a decade of LNP administrations at the federal level in Australia. Under Abbott, Turnbull, and Morrison our nation has become an unfairer and less equitable place to live. Tax rates for the rich have been flattened to introduce a more regressive style of income tax – Australia’s main avenue of tax revenue. The right wing philosophy of shifting the tax burden to the poorer majority of Australians can be seen by the stage 3 tax cuts. Similar policy shifts have been witnessed in the UK under the Conservatives and in the US when Trump was president. The right wing political parties in western democracies are driven by vested corporate interests. Their narratives are always about reducing government spending and taxing, despite institutional inequality within these countries. Identifying a bad guy is the name of the game in this political narrative. Inflating the presence of corruption within unions and large sections of underserving poor amid minorities are two of their favourite tropes. Enabling wealthy Australians to feel better about paying less tax and ignoring those struggling to feed their families is all part of the right wing stratagem to win votes. Getting elected on the basis of divisiveness and entrenched inequality does not faze this side of politics. Feting those people who truly believe that they are more deserving and entitled to a larger slice of the pie is ultimately a recipe for civic unrest and disaster. Watching what is happening in America right now is the beginning of the end of the American empire. The bitter divide between Trump driven Americans and those on the blue side with Biden is ugly and dangerous. The January 6 riot and attempted coup at the Capital is something hard to fathom for an Australian. Murdoch, of course, was front and centre via Fox News in fanning the flames of civil unrest in America at this time and continues to do so. Radical social conservatives find their soap box on Fox News.
We will see a Murdoch driven campaign against any changes to the industrial relations regime in Australia. Multi-employer enterprise bargaining for the feminised employment sector involving areas like childcare, aged care, and other traditionally low paid jobs is a policy shift being put forward by the Albanese government. Any influence and power clawed back by unions will be hard fought by business groups and the right wing side of politics. Scare campaigns will be mounted about wide spread strikes paralysing the nation – in fact they have already started. You can sense a certain tentativeness in the actions of the newly elected ALP federal government. They are scared of being the focus of a rabid attack by the Murdoch led press. The fact that energy prices in Australia are at record high levels because of the war in Ukraine and are predicted to rise even further by more than 50% for electricity and gas is a major problem for the Australian economy and government. Inaction on this will erode any early goodwill the electorate have for the Albanese government. The gas companies are making record profits from the sale of the gas they have unearthed from Australia.
“According to data sourced by the Greens, 28 gas companies collectively earning $77 billion in revenue and $482 million in taxable income paid no tax in 2019-20.
Like US-owned ExxonMobil, owner of 25% of the Gorgon project. $15.5 billion in revenue in 2019-20. Taxable income: zero. Company tax: zero. PRRT paid: zero.
Or US-owned Chevron, owner of 47% of Gorgon, 64% of Wheatstone and 16.7% of the North-West Shelf. $15 billion in revenue. Taxable income: $169 million. Company tax: zero. PRRT: zero.
Or British-owned Shell, owner of stakes in NW Shelf, Gorgon and Prelude: $5.3 billion in revenue; zero taxable income, zero company tax, zero PRRT.
Woodside, at least, pays some tax: $11.1 billion in revenue, $3.1 billion in taxable income, $454 million in tax, no PRRT.”
Australia is a joke, a bad joke for us citizens, when compared to places like Norway when it comes to the national share of our resources. Morrison and the LNP sold us down the river for peanuts and ALP governments did likewise prior to that. State governments of both political persuasions have been at the forefront of these decisions. Our elected officials have not valued our resources responsibly and one wonders about the kick backs provided under the table for these individuals. Conflicts of interest in Australia – self-interest in particular over real service to the nation and people.
Australians are busy beavering away paying off bank loans for their overpriced houses. Australians are busy looking away when stuff like this is going on day after day. “Not my problem and not in my remit,” is the national zeitgeist. The limited perspective of us all is complicit in the ongoing state of affairs in this nation. Rich and powerful people and entities are siphoning off the wealth of our land. Their influence within the political system is determining the lack of voice for ordinary Australians in the workplace and within our society. Things are getting worse on this score, which is why we have low wage growth and companies achieving record profits at a time when inflation and the cost of living are terrorising poorer Australians. We have just come through a global pandemic and repeated natural disasters across the eastern seaboard. Why don’t these companies bear some of the cost for these losses? Why is it they can raise their prices to ensure ongoing profits at the expense of government and the general populace? Supply side inflation is plaguing economies globally and here in Australia. The Reserve bank is rapidly raising interest rates in a bid to dampen demand to reduce inflation. A recession looms over our economy and who pays most severely during these economic downturns? The ordinary Australian of course. The woman and man in the street whose wages are already not keeping pace with the CPI.
The nation elected the ALP as an alternative to the 10 years of what we got under the LNP, will we have the fortitude to stand by and let them make the changes necessary? If our governments cannot act decisively on issues like climate change and inequality, nothing will change or progress for the better. Sitting on your hands and talk without action will only make matters worse when it comes to a rapidly changing world. Stopping the exploitation of our resources without adequate taxing is an important step in the right direction. Waking up to the overt influence of vested interests in government and media is essential if Australia is going to reverse the trend toward extreme inequality.
I thought that I should write one last time to you on the marking of your defeat and loss of office. A farewell letter to Scott Morrison on behalf of the nation and myself. I will not be sorry to see the last of your smug, self-satisfied face from my TV screen. Nearly 9 years of your white bread, misogynistic government has been damaging to my own life and Australia’s reputation. Your head in the sand stance on global warming has endangered lives and put back the nation a decade. You have decimated the once broad church of the Liberal Party and led its shift to the irrelevant hard right fringes of Australian political life.featured
I thought that I should write one last time to you on the marking of your defeat and loss of office. A farewell letter to Scott Morrison on behalf of the nation and myself. I will not be sorry to see the last of your smug, self-satisfied face from my TV screen. Nearly 9 years of your white bread, misogynistic government has been damaging to my own life and Australia’s reputation.
Your dismissive response to the concerns of Australian women has cost the political careers of many of your colleagues. The clique of entitled white male politicians in Canberra have not done us proud as a nation. The lack of true representation within your party and cabinet has alienated large sections of the Australian population. You appeal to the worst characteristics of many uneducated and selfish members of our communities. Your political instincts readily exploit divisive issues within the electorate. Your government did not represent many vulnerable members of our country. Social inclusiveness and acceptance of diversity have never been your strengths.
Scott, your paper-thin Christianity has not saved you from the political chopping block. The hypocrisy of your version of religiousness strikes many vulnerable Australians as warped and sickening. The LGBTQI community do not feel that you represented them during your term as Prime Minister of this nation. The country is not just made up of blokey tradies and their ilk. If I see you wearing Hi-Viz attire on TV again, I think that I will cry.
Scott, I hope that you gracefully retire into the background and that we never hear from you again for a very long time. I sincerely wish that you observe the transformation of Australia into a renewable energy super power from the distant sidelines. Likewise, the rise of real equality for women will, I think, accelerate following your timely demise. The introduction of a federal ICAC will be another fitting reminder of your failings as the nation’s leader. I predict that this country will blossom and prosper as more parts of our nation are appreciated and supported by a government for all Australians.
Bye Scott, forever!
The results of the recent federal election surprised an out of touch Australian media. The success of the Greens and the Teal tidal wave bowled over a largely conservative media in this country. The ABC has been cowed by 9 years of LNP governments and their threats to gut their organisation. Those who make up the members of the Australian media are largely conservative in their own views and professional behaviour. The Greens were pretty much ignored by the mainstream media in the lead up to this election. The Teal independents were challenged on their status by a media driven by conservative attitudes and strategies.featured
The results of the recent federal election surprised an out of touch Australian media. The success of the Greens and the Teal tidal wave bowled over a largely conservative media in this country. The ABC has been cowed by 9 years of LNP governments and their threats to gut their organisation. Those who make up the members of the Australian media are largely conservative in their own views and professional behaviour.
The Murdoch media are, of course, informed by rabid right wing editorial direction. Nine Media is another corporate player with a fairly conservative outlook. Nearly a decade of LNP federal governments has seen a proliferation of popular conservative attitudes within the mainstream Australian media. The days of idealism flourishing within our national media are long gone. The influence of right wing views has been consolidated by the Trump experience in America and its impact globally. The climate change wars in this country have fostered cynicism within the population and the media when it comes to political action on this issue.
The media in this country lack courage. Where were the members of the media picking up on the trends revealed by the result of this federal election? Instead, they had a tin ear and were jumping to the tune of Scott Morrison and his campaign for re-election. The Greens were largely ignored and have been by the mainstream media for many years. The conservative Aussie media have always labelled the Greens as extremist fringe dwellers. The Australian public in the big cities are turning to the Greens, as seen by their election in Brisbane and Melbourne in the lower house. The Greens will likely control the Senate, along with the Jaqui Lambie Network.
The out of touch Australian media needs to wake up to the concerns of the nation’s population. They need to free themselves from the grip of conservative powerbrokers like Murdoch and the LNP. The demise of any real investigative journalism and the proliferation of opinion makers within the media organisations and their publications and programs does not serve our nation.
There we were minding our own business and suddenly folks were hearing voices inside their heads. Why did god bother us? According to the stories you had blokes building bloody big boats and others threatening to murder their own kids, all in the name of some so-called divine source. Human beings had journeyed for billions of years from single cell entities to multicellular, then, to mammals to primates, but of course were not equipped to remember such deep time events. So we made up stories to populate our own shallow-time historical concerns with important people and a god to top it all off with.featured
There we were minding our own business and suddenly folks were hearing voices inside their heads. Why did god bother us? According to the stories you had blokes building bloody big boats and others threatening to murder their own kids, all in the name of some so-called divine source. Human beings had journeyed for billions of years from single cell entities to multicellular, then, to mammals to primates, but of course were not equipped to remember such deep time events. So we made up stories to populate our own shallow-time historical concerns with important people and a god to top it all off with.
Of course when armed soldiers tell you to do something in the name of the king you do it or suffer the very real and bloody consequences. Religion was at the beginning not a free choice but a compelling order, which defined your place in the community and kingdom.
You see the idea of a god came to those at the top of the greasy pole in the power stakes. Those individuals invested in controlling others and getting the choicest bits at the banquet of life. These aristocratic chaps divided up the top jobs around the king, with the priesthood being those in the van between god and god’s anointed one, the king. God was an immensely useful concept for kings and the aristocracy to keep the peasants and plebs in line. You see a divine presence can see you when you’re sleeping and watch you at all times through walls and gaze into your very soul. The thought police, no less, banging around inside your head. God really came to the fore at times of war. This is because soldiers knew that there was a good chance that they would be killed or badly maimed in battle. A belief in a god that was on the same side as your king imbued these chaps with some much needed fervour when charging into battle against the enemy. Historically, the whole god thing is firmly embedded in the bloody power and land grabs of those who wear the shiny crown. Christianity stepped up a gear when Constantine in the fourth century CE chose this obscure Jewish hybrid cult to be his divine weapon in his battles against those competing for control of the Roman Empire. The victory of his forces under the banner of the Christian god gave a massive leg up to this fledgling religion.
This is but one example of many pragmatic uses that the god concept has been put to by human beings in the struggle for power and status.
Understanding exactly, why did god bother us? Is deserving of a closer look if you want to get at the meat and bone of how humanity goes about its business around the globe. There is Islam and the dangerous few of its hard-line adherents who strap bombs to their bodies and blow them up to cause maximum damage to targets including mass gatherings of seemingly innocent people. There are Christian warlords in Africa who train children to murder their parents and whomever gets in the way from then on. God serves a useful purpose for many who wish to dramatically alter the status of the haves and the have nots. The belief in a particular god or divinity sets apart those who harbour it from their enemies. This idea inside the head of the believer overrides any sense of shared humanity it seems. Even those who are from the same racial group and look alike on the outside are separated by belief. This faith or belief in an invisible entity, who has never been verifiably seen, propels people into committing heinous actions against their fellow human beings.
God in this format supports those who wish for a small world, where everyone in it holds the same beliefs and attitudes. There is no room for diversity in this sense of religion for those Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Mormons, Jews, Jehovahs, Adventists, and all the rest of the god botherers who want a non-diverse world around them. Many who are concerned at the fundamental flaw within those religious adherents who espouse non-acceptance of diversity and pluralism think that perhaps humanity has a biological propensity for this kind of behaviour. Whether it be religious or racist persecution of individuals who do not fit the mould within a community or country. I often think that the Jesus of the Gospels would not want to hang out with many of the folks who claim to be his followers. The imaginary character of the Nazarene has been crafted and polished by legions of church leaders since the time of Constantine and Eusebius. In all of these religions there is very little, or nothing left of whatever may or may not have been there at the beginning. The same is true of the Koran and the life of Mohammed. Believers bang on about following the word of the Bible or Koran or Talmud and ignore the fact that these texts were written by human beings with an investment in how these stories are perceived.
We all love a good story, and this is what religions are based upon – narratives designed to capture the hearts and imagination of children. Religious instruction is always begun at the earliest age wherever possible. Religions are heavily invested in the education business around the globe – why do you think that is? People send their kids to schools run by religious organisations, even when the parents are not great believers themselves. Why? It is because they think that the moral code so espoused by these religions will endower their child with a sound foundation for life. The various religions have spent centuries promising a better life in heaven for those who believe. The message may have become less strident in recent decades but a millennia of history has set down core beliefs underpinning our cultures and civilisations. Science may have usurped our understanding of how the physical world works but it has not come with its own creed. There is an empty hole in the lives of many who wish for a strict moral compass laid out by a priesthood to be followed. There remains this uneasy truce between the rational realm of scientific knowledge and the irrational world of belief, myths, and biblical stories. What is the truth? Ah that is a tricky question to answer for many parents when bringing up their children.
God bangs on the door of consciousness when we near the end of our allotted time. Once again all those stories we were inculcated with as children rear their heavenly message if you believe. Nobody wants to be cast into hell or nothingness willingly. Therefore, many return to the church or temple in their final years. This is why you see so many old people at church and religious services more generally. It is safer to have a bet each way in the end. The rational human beings knows that there is no supernatural entity running the show, in the sense that all these religions would have us believe. The church and all these religions cut their teeth on the ignorant fears of human beings a millennia or two ago. Sudden deaths and tragedies delivered a constant stream of people looking for answers, as to what it all means and some consolation from the sadness and pain of being separated from loved ones. Human beings came up with answers that were suitable for the Bronze Age, and these were noted down in scrolls and codices. These were purported to be derived directly from god and countless generations of belief sealed the deal in this regard. Honour thy parents and honour thy ancestors. These texts were rewritten and updated in new languages over time – and yet are still considered to be the word of god verbatim. The ignorance of ordinary human beings is breathtaking. We believe in the face of overwhelming scientific proof to the contrary. The average person is no font of brilliance, they are just simple folk, easily led by tradition and indoctrination. They are still loveable and nice in the right circumstances, however.
Belief is tied up with identity. Who you are and who you consider yourself to be. Your tribe, your family, and your community are often connected by the belief in an invisible god. We cannot see your god, but we can see how your belief in this entity makes you look and act. Culture, customs, and beliefs are all driven by a hodge podge of attitudes and traditions. Your behaviour and what you consider to be the norm is defined by all these things. Whether you wear a head scarf or long sideburns. Whether you talk in tongues or go to church on Sundays. Whether you feel free to be involved in a same sex relationship or not. Whether you can eat certain foods. All of these things can be constrained by religious belief. How many times you pray per day. How you pray. Do you worship as a mixed gender congregation or are you separated by sex? Evangelical Christians worship a blue eyed white skinned Jesus hell bent on material success. Talk about talking in tongues. Why did god bother us? Why were diverse human beings created in the first place if all these religions want everyone to act and look the same? Belief and religion are a conundrum in the modern era. There we were minding our own business…
Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of several books including
The Australian federal election has finally been called for May 21. Who will you vote for on May 21? Aussies are now gearing up to make a big decision. For some it will be a no brainer. For others it will be an unwanted hassle to go where they would rather not bother. The media will move into overdrive with reality TV like coverage of a personality competition at the top of their agenda. Elections soon become beauty contests and tests of personal charisma. The psychology of these races pit one candidate against another in a bid to become a nation’s leader. The disinterested voters generally choose the least offensive or the one who fits their type somewhere in the mist of imprinted archetypal strongmen or women.featured
The Australian federal election has finally been called for May 21. Who will you vote for on May 21? Aussies are now gearing up to make a big decision. For some it will be a no brainer. For others it will be an unwanted hassle to go where they would rather not bother. The media will move into overdrive with reality TV like coverage of a personality competition at the top of their agenda. Elections soon become beauty contests and tests of personal charisma. The psychology of these races pit one candidate against another in a bid to become a nation’s leader. The disinterested voters generally choose the least offensive or the one who fits their type somewhere in the mist of imprinted archetypal strongmen or women.
Scott Morrison, the sitting PM, is the established leader. A blokey façade on a psychopathic personality who has been outed as a compulsive liar. However, this is not a death knell for politicians, as many followers expect their successful leaders to be liars. They reckon you can’t get ahead without bending the truth every now and then. Successful businessmen lie all the time too.
He is because he is the leader of his party, but he comes across somewhat differently. Perhaps, a leader for a new century with a more sophisticated understanding of what it takes to manage people and a nation in the 21C? Albo, if he gets up, could be a story of the underdog overcoming obstacles to achieve greatness? Because in simple terms he seems to be the smaller man in the fight despite whatever the polls say.
The real question is what do the voters bring with them to this choice for the next federal government of Australia? Are they driven by past grievances or have a bone to pick with a particular candidate or side of politics? For these voters the choice is somewhat easier, just don’t vote for that bastard or bitch. Will the Australian experience of the pandemic colour the votes of many Australians? Will the bushfires of 2019 or the floods of 2022 enflame or dampen the result in one particular direction? Has the sitting government covered themselves in glory or merde?
Elections are a choice, which has to be made by law in Australia or you get whacked with a fine. Some people leave it till the last possible moment and decide on the day on the way to the polling booth. The carnival atmosphere at some booths sees brightly coloured signs and t-shirt clad party volunteers handing out how to vote cards for their side. Politics is a tribal affair like following a suburban footy team for a small section of the community. Beaming smiles reach out from signs imprinted with head shots of Morrison and Albanese. Local candidates are photographed with their leaders in a bid to forge some sense of identity in the brief attention spans of most voters. The vast majority will never think about their local candidate again until the next election in some 3 years’ time.
Who will you vote for on May 21?
Do you have a particular axe to grind? Something that has really pissed you off and you will use the election as an opportunity to take revenge? Life is a series of events and seemingly endless days, which we corral together into various associations to form some sort of cogent narrative. Federal elections can space this saga into bite sized chunks of a few years at a time. Perhaps this patch was blue and then red. In Australia, the political parties are fairly centrist and their policies are much the same on the economy and national security. Labor are generally more health and education focused. The Coalition like to claim they are the better economic managers but they are also the higher taxing and bigger government spending party. Who will you vote for on May 21?
There have been some big issues raised over the last couple of years about the rights of women and black lives matter. Australia has a surprisingly poor record on domestic abuse and sexual harassment in the workplace for women.
Revealing the racism at the heart of Australia toward our indigenous brothers and sisters is no great surprise to me. Most Australians only think something is racist if it passes their own test, they have no understanding of walking in another man or woman’s shoes. Institutionalised racism exists across businesses, government bodies, and community organisations. The Morrison government has done little to affect real change on these issues. There has been an alleged historical rape claim on a sitting attorney general, who is now quitting politics. An alleged rape of a Liberal political staffer inside the defence minister’s office, which is going to trial. A cabinet minister stood aside on alleged sexual abuse claims by the political staffer he was having a consensual affair with. Grubby and tarnished does not quite do it justice, as no previous federal government has been caught with its pants down so often.
Of course, it is not all about character, governing is largely about getting stuff done to manage the national interest and to better the lives of its constituents. Australia has had a succession of Royal Commissions into things like aged care, disability, and the financial sector. Personally, I am getting older and I am heading toward that dangerous time in your life when well meaning relatives outsource your care to aged care facilities. Doctors encourage and sometimes order older patients into care facilities on the expectation that they will receive better care. In many instances, far too many instances, this expectation is not met and woefully so for the older Australian. The Morrison government has consistently failed to adequately fund this sector to meet the shortfalls in so many areas. It is a national shame and has been so for years and years. Perhaps, this will be a vote shaper, I hope so.
Australia has been treading water for the last 5 years, with no real move toward dealing with the issues facing us in the 21C.
We need leadership on this issue not someone who will sell their soul to gain a few seats in Queensland. Climate change is not going away, rather it is reaching the point of no return. More bushfires and extreme weather events will keep coming with greater frequency. We need a government to back the future and not live in the past. We need new industries to be kickstarted in and around renewable energies to create jobs and to meet real targets to reduce global warming. The pandemic showed us that Australia, also, needs to start building stuff here. We must resurrect our manufacturing industries and reinvigorate them with science and technology. Sitting on our hands for another 5 years is not an option if we want jobs and wealth for our children.
So, who will you vote for on May 21?
Some people were surprised to find out that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was originally a comedienne/actor. In reality, however, all modern politicians are more actor than statesman. The actors on our political stage, our wearing their hi viz garb for every photo opportunity. The ubiquity […]featured
Some people were surprised to find out that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was originally a comedienne/actor. In reality, however, all modern politicians are more actor than statesman. The actors on our political stage, our wearing their hi viz garb for every photo opportunity. The ubiquity of the media in the digital age has thrust civic leaders into a 24/7 spotlight. Great leaders like Winston Churchill would not get elected in this day and age because they do not look like some version of a male model. Women have, of course, always suffered under this public expectation of their physical aesthetic appeal. Today’s political leaders are forever acting out what their spin doctors prescribe the public want to see and hear.
Bob Hawke, famously, made a career out of portraying his version of the quintessential Aussie bloke. Those who cannot quite manage this cut-out character of the “she’ll be right mate” loveable larrikin are at a disadvantage from the outset. See Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese as current examples of this lack of blokey appeal. The Liberals have made a point of attacking ‘so-called’ elites over the last couple of decades. Again, this is a premeditated strategy designed to win over the archetypal average Australian. The personality contest, which is how most voters approach the federal election, is a game manipulated by both sides of politics.
Australia’s founding culture has been described as a brutal meritocracy. The once convict colony was a land full of harsh conditions both environmental and man-made. Corruption was endemic in its governments and police forces from the outset. There were a few good people trying to do the right thing as well. Sport quickly seized the public imagination, as the favoured arena for a young country to make its mark. White men achieving glory on sporting fields was the highest honour in this emerging culture. The unassuming Aussie bloke who was good with his hands and feet under pressure captured the hearts of a nation. Footy and cricket provided the metaphors for our politicians to seize.
Australian political leaders imitate this archetypal sporting hero whenever they get the chance. A win by an Australian sporting team or individual will never pass without a prominent comment from a PM or Premier. The blokey stance and soundbite will emanate from screens and speakers around the nation in quick time. Those who climb the greasy pole have always been actors to some degree. Even back in the time of Alcibiades and Julius Caesar, Greek and Roman audiences were won over by posturing and performance. Rhetoric was usually accompanied by exaggerated acting during the public presentation in the forum. Perhaps, the prerequisite for the modern politician should be a year or two in rep theatre or a degree in performing arts. Ronald Reagan, of course, springs to mind but his best years were behind him by the time he grabbed the mantle of president. The prolonged press conference, during the Covid pandemic in Australia, became a new form of public performance for Premiers, the PM, and Health Ministers. These overly long and intense daily episodes had our political leaders making announcements and being questioned by the media 7 days a week for many months.
Eventually, however, these performances can wear thin, especially if incompetence has become a track record feature. It seems, the Australian public have begun to see through Scott Morrison’s act and to question his government’s ability to measure up. It has been a tough time to govern but mistakes made repeatedly over the pandemic, fires, and floods cannot be forgiven forever. The actor only gets a finite number of chances to impress up on the stage. The audience tires of the same old faces failing to live up to their promises. They seek new talent to hopefully dazzle and entertain them. They, also, want a responsible hand on the tiller to reassure them during a storm.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy is giving the performance of his life and it may well cost him his life. In comparison every other civic leader seems empty and insincere. The actors on our political stage are smiling and waving, their gestures full of loaded messages to the audience. Vote for me. Please give me your vote. I am a trustworthy politician!
Many people vote for likeable leaders over and above any other consideration, until something bites them personally on the arse. In Russia, they traditionally like their leaders to be strongmen on law and order. Centuries of Czars and decades of Soviet style despots like Stalin have programmed this population to expect the worse. Putin has modelled himself on this strongman caricature, despite his short stature. Human beings are complex characters in reality, and these are only roles these individuals are playing. Prick the balloon and it will burst.
The very idea of a god is a vote of no confidence in ourselves. Human beings must not respect one another if we look to a non-human entity to divinely rule over us. History tells us that civilisation after civilisation have created the existence of […]featured
The very idea of a god is a vote of no confidence in ourselves. Human beings must not respect one another if we look to a non-human entity to divinely rule over us. History tells us that civilisation after civilisation have created the existence of supreme beings to sit in judgement over our activities. Whether polytheistic or monotheistic supernatural entities, these gods have been foisted upon communities and cultures to manage their development. Many philosophers and historians have queried this inclination toward religiosity within Homo sapiens. Why do we wish to sit below a divine presence? Is it an unwillingness to take responsibility for ourselves? Nearly all of our leaders have ruled under the auspices of some version of god or pantheon of gods. We clothe our aspirations in the guise of something outside of ourselves. It seems that we lack trust in our own abilities and moral compass.
The slippery nature of god sees he, she, or it shrouded in invisibility. The very concept of this divinity is always directly outside of human sensory perception. Human beings are endowered with five main senses but god cannot be experienced via these provable pathways. We have the strange set of circumstances where belief in some sort of divinity is shared by billions of human beings but there is no discernible evidence for the existence of these supernatural entities. Recorded history is around 5 millennia old and in all that time there exists no verifiable proof for the existence of any supernatural entities. Believers put their faith in certain codices claiming to have been divinely revealed to human scribes. Historians have respectfully discredited these claims and shown these texts to have been written by very human minds and hands. Human beings are hiding their light behind masks of divinity. The desire to bolster their authority by claiming divine right is ubiquitous. Human beings must not respect one another upon this basis.
Most human beings are content to do what they are told but a few wish to control their fellows. These chieftains and princes, the pages of history tell us, encase their regimes in some sort of holy conception. Their leadership claims are bolstered by the support of a priesthood in service to some god or collection of gods. Egyptian pharaohs were named after a particular god, for example Tutankhamun has the name Amun – the king of the deities in his title. Names and official titles have power, as they are constant reminders to subjects of the king’s divine authority. Constantine the Roman emperor, who is acknowledged as the first Christian ruler in this ancient dynasty, is said to have taken up this obscure Jewish cult for auspicious reasons. According to the story he observed the symbol for Christ in the sky on the eve of battle with a vying Roman Caesar and therefore had this symbol emblazoned on the shields of his legions. His success in this important battle thus sealed the deal on which god to follow going forward. You will find perceived supernatural advantage in military settings inextricably linked to religiosity in ancient and medieval history at the pointy end of power.
Human beings are mammals and Darwin identified our evolutionary link to the great apes. Deep time separates us from this reality. Our earth is more than 400 million years old. Human beings have been on this earth for around 6 million years. Homo sapiens – the modern human being – around 200, 000 years. Our split from the apes occurred some 10 million years ago. Recorded history is a mere 5, 000 years. Deep time is incomprehensible to creatures who only live for around 80 to 90 years. Religious histories of humanity and the creation of the world vary in detail and lengths of time involved but they all greatly underestimate the actual times involved. Deep time is unimaginable to the unscientific anthropocentric conceptions of religious thought. Real truth seekers observe the diminishing credibility of religious authority on this basis. There are clues, however, as to some of the archetypal motivations for human beings to invent these gods to sit above them in life and meaning. The desire to rise above the status of being mere animals is primal in all religious traditions. The idea of a god ruling over our existence and being intimately concerned with us defines our distinct difference from other animals on this earth. The divinely inspired rules and regulations mark us as the chosen ones. Things like having sex with your immediate family members are taboo in nearly all societies imbued with a defining religious tradition. Murdering members of your tribe without very good reason is another taboo. The Christian commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” is actually “Thou shalt not murder.” We are, biologically speaking, animals and share many basic characteristics with them, but we are culturally motivated to see ourselves as far above on the evolutionary scale. The invention of god is a big part of this.
Dying and our mortality is another motivating force in the creation of a system involving an overseeing supreme being. To live and to bring into the world children places us all at odds with the reality of death and dying. Our consciousness of the split between life and death is intolerable without an invented afterlife. The idea that we could emerge as sentient multicellular life in a chaotic unordered world with no defining meaning is a cruel phenomenon for the majority of human beings. We have found a glaring omission and filled it with our own anonymous creation. No human beings want to own up to this feat of human imagination. Prophets like Mohammed and Abraham are acknowledged as vessels of god. We would rather believe in mysterious magical miraculous stuff than in the words and ideas of our brothers and sisters. We are a credulous race that listens to the ridiculous and unlikely over seeing the reality of what is in front of our face. Religion roots us to the irrational shadowy side that flickers inside us like some melodramatic Netflix offering.
Religious beliefs are passed down through families, often, as identifying cultural customs. This makes it difficult for children to reject even nonsensical belief systems, as they are imbued in the very fabric of their familial identity. Prayers and rituals are hypnotic in their repetitive nature and these concepts are deeply embedded within the neural networks of children, as they grow up within religious households. There are varying levels of religiosity, of course, from the all-encompassing to the casual dalliance. Many of us see religion as a harmless outmoded custom that provides psychological comfort for its adherents. However, a belief in an invisible supernatural entity is only a step away from potentially more serious and destructive behaviour as seen by religious extremists. Competing religious beliefs create divisions between human beings and the dangerous conception of the ‘other’. Crimes against humanity data shows how easily it is for those who consider a group of people to be ‘other’ than them to be liable to commit genocide. The Nazi regime encouraged Germans to see Jews and Gypsies as less than human. In Australia, successive governments have encouraged Australians to see illegal refugees as undeserving foreigners involved in criminal activity. In contrast, to religious, ethnic, and national badges humanism sees all human beings sharing basic rights and responsibilities. Moving beyond these limited identities is important for the continuing enlightenment of the world. Human beings must not respect one another under the old conception of religious worship of gods. Placing authority outside of the human sphere will always disempower us from taking ultimate responsibility. We will never truly grow up if we maintain beliefs in prayers and bedtime stories. We are not perfect by any means, but we are what we are. We exist in flesh, blood, and bone. We make mistakes and have plenty left to learn.
After decades of neglect Australia and the US are finally spending some money in the Pacific. The announcement of the laying of an undersea cable to provide internet to island nations in the Pacific is a prime example of this. Why are they doing this […]latest post
After decades of neglect Australia and the US are finally spending some money in the Pacific. The announcement of the laying of an undersea cable to provide internet to island nations in the Pacific is a prime example of this. Why are they doing this now? In one word China. The belt and road initiative by the Chinese, investing billions in infrastructure projects in the Pacific and elsewhere, has prodded laissez faire capitalism & western democracy into action. The growing influence of China as an economic superpower is frightening white Anglophiles in Australia and America. Fear of the yellow peril has never really gone away in the backrooms of the powerful around the world.
It is an economic philosophy of non-intervention in the free market. It does not exist in reality because governments big and small everywhere intervene for the benefit of their constituents. The market does not prevent people from smoking tobacco and dying from lung cancer and related diseases. The market does not stop people drink driving and killing themselves and other innocent human beings. The market does not reduce deaths during a global pandemic. Government intervention does all these things.
Donald Trump and the Republican Party in the USA are great proponents of laissez faire capitalism. I am not sure if they are truly supporters of western democracy, as we have seen via January 6th, 2021, and the coup attempted in Washington DC. Trump obviously sees that he has more in common with dictators like Putin and Kim Jong-un. It is frightening to imagine the US as a corrupt dictatorship regime, especially as a superpower in the world. Recent events have shown us that this is not that far off in terms of possibilities. America is a deeply divided state and Trump’s supporters are blind to anything but their own self-interests.
The coronavirus pandemic has crystallised societal problems with fake news and our difficult relationship with scientific fact. Sections of the population in wealthy western democracies lack trust in their governments and institutions. Seemingly people have closed off their minds to inconvenient truths that do not marry with their beliefs. This is a very dangerous phenomenon for the future of humankind. Capitalism and its compulsory religion, making money, has allowed individuals to switch off to all but this primary concern in their lives. The cult of the individual has seen the demise of community spirit in western democracies around the world. Doing something as a civic duty, which is not solely motivated by profit, is an alien concept for many in America and Australia.
The USA has the largest death toll from Covid-19 of any country in the world, some 800 000 human beings. It is extraordinary to think that this is supposedly the greatest nation and the land of the free. Free for a deadly virus to cause untold deaths in cities across this proud land, while political leaders squabble over lifesaving vaccines, mask wearing, and other health orders. That people can be so foolish as to fail to register the reality of this pandemic and to doubt the health advice of those trained to deal with such events is startling to say the least. The laissez faire capitalism & western democracy approach to this pandemic in America under Republicans has been a complete failure. Making money is not the only game in town when it comes to dealing with the most serious challenges we face as human beings. Global warming and global pandemics are not able to be met and managed by the market alone. Interventionist governments are required to meet out necessary health orders to reduce fatalities during a pandemic. Similarly global action organised by governments is necessary to meet the challenges of climate change and the disasters it is starting to cause. It is interesting that China has become a polarising issue at this time, as the west grapples with the failures of laissez faire capitalism to meet with the challenge of a global pandemic. Finger pointing and name calling at China, as a cruel totalitarian regime, are rife right now. Trump tried to name the Covid-19 virus the China Flu. A century ago, the Spanish Flu killed millions of human beings, and it began in the USA, not in Spain, but funnily enough it was never called the American Flu. Once again, the powerful Anglophile proponents of what we call western democracy, which is actually an economic system set up to benefit particular self-interests, are deflecting attention away from their own serious failings during this deadly pandemic. Laissez faire capitalism has not met the challenge, without major guidance from centralised interventionist government. And that is a fact, perhaps, an inconvenient truth for some.
The terms right wing and left wing have become entrenched in today’s political narrative. Historically, the terms have come down to us from the time of the French Revolution in 1789. The aristocracy sat on the right-hand side of the presiding officer. The Third Estate […]featured
The terms right wing and left wing have become entrenched in today’s political narrative. Historically, the terms have come down to us from the time of the French Revolution in 1789. The aristocracy sat on the right-hand side of the presiding officer. The Third Estate deputies sat on the left-hand side. Since this time, we have had these labels to describe the two main sides of politics. Of course, those who consider themselves better born, the nobility, have had a strong sense of entitlement since ancient times. The Greeks and the Romans were similarly split into two camps of nobles and plebs. The right side is wrong in its assumption that they are the righteous. They assume their right to govern in many instances and accordingly assume entitlement. Similarly, white men assume that they are born to rule over women and those with darker skins. These crazy ideas have been around for a very long time.
Those who identify with right wing politics are traditionally supporters of tradition and the established social order. The New World nations like the United States of America, Canada, and Australia were initially founded as colonies of Britain. European settlers and British soldiers eradicated indigenous peoples from their lands to claim these territories for themselves and their home country. Often individuals on the fringes migrated to these new territories, but quickly established the old power dynamics on these new shores. Women, non-Anglo foreigners, and indigenous people were once again shunted to the back of room. Those who sat at the big table were from the right religion and social backgrounds.
The right have always carried a big stick and enacted might is right policies upon weaker fellow travellers. Fascists keep militia and military close at hand to execute their will upon citizens and denizens of their lands. Today, we are seeing the rise of the far right once again, as we did in the 1930s prior to WW2. People who subscribe to these views strongly believe that they have the right to preferential treatment over those they consider lesser races. White men angry at having to share the pie with foreigners and those with darker skins. They hate Jews, Asians, Muslims, Aborigines, and strong women who don’t know their place in society. The pandemic has brought out the worst in many. Insecurity has pushed aggressive and nasty tendencies to the surface in many individuals. I am reminded of the small child who never learned to share his toys.
Those on the right see a limited prize pool and want the lion’s share. They would rather have much more at the expense of others, whom they consider less than human. Greed is good for white alpha males on Wall St. Democracies have seen far more violence perpetuated by far-right extremists than those on the far left. Guns come to hand more readily for those on the right wing. In America, the so-called Land of the Free, assassinations and bombs are the provenance of extremists. Activists on the left may march and protest but far right extremists shoot to kill. Unfortunately, police and security forces commonly contain members of these far-right groups and their sympathisers. Similarly, the military attracts individuals with these tendencies and attitudes. This is why these groups flourish unmolested by the agencies empowered to protect our communities. Domestic violence is a huge problem in Australia and has been for a very long time. Women have been let down by the police because they traditionally side and identify with men. Might is right remains the main game in town.
The two sides of politics really make up a circle, as both extremes terminate in totalitarianism. George Orwell understood this clearly and wrote about it at length in essays and novels. The Nazi swastika adorns the marches of far right adherents and their hatred of Jews and dark skinned people is well known. Hitler decimated the German communists in his rise to power in the 1930s and his all-conquering armies ultimately faltered in their invasion of Stalin’s USSR during WW2. Thus, these two totalitarian regimes are seen as poles apart but in reality, share more in their brutality and butcher’s bill than most. Orwell’s 1984 illustrated the common themes running through totalitarian regimes no matter their supposed political persuasion. Today, we have the rise of China, which western democracies fear and regularly slander on the basis of human rights transgressions. I sense the strong whiff of racism in many of the condemnations voiced by prominent western institutions and individuals. America, long the home of institutionalised racism against African Americans and their indigenous Indians, bangs on about human rights in the international sphere, which I find hypocritical.
Racism is fuelled by fear and insecurity. The ‘haves’ are afraid that the ’have-nots’ will come and take away their prosperity. The Chinese will invade our shores and millions of them will steal our homes and hurt our families. Jews will steal our money. Blacks will rise up and fight back. Women will want to assume positions of authority. Foreigners will take our jobs. The status quo and the cosy arrangements we have will be toppled by change. These are all irrational fears held by those on the far right. These are promulgated by right wing groups to foster feelings of insecurity within the population. White men are far less certain about their place in society in 2021.
The right side is wrong about a lot of things. Sharing your toys is not going to mean the end of the world as you know it. Helping those less fortunate and correcting power imbalances are actions toward improving the world and not making things worse. Think about it.
Lots of people use the internet without understanding how it works. This is not unusual as most of us do not comprehend exactly how many things work. If I asked how electrical current passes from the mains to your device, the majority of folks would […]latest post
Lots of people use the internet without understanding how it works. This is not unusual as most of us do not comprehend exactly how many things work. If I asked how electrical current passes from the mains to your device, the majority of folks would say it runs down the electrical wires, which is incorrect. Many of us do not know how computers actually function or many other modern technological devices. So, when I state that text is the foundation of search it may draw blank responses. We do things like type in queries into Google on our phones and tablets for specific things all the time. This involves keyword searches via the algorithms set up by search engines like Bing, Safari, and Google.
Text or copy provides the language, upon which the search function operates within our smart devices. Therefore, it stands to reason that the copy on your website or social media page is pretty darn important. We all sort of know this but often forget applying this knowledge to our own digital footprint or presence. Businesses often overlook the absolutely integral role that content plays when marketing their services. Content marketing is all about the role that good copy performs in all its digital forms. Text describes products and services in all their detail. The contextual positioning of this descriptive text places these keywords in the most useful spots for the search engine spiders to find them on your behalf. At lightning speeds Google discovers what you are looking for and where you can get it. The search function has revolutionised consumer shopping.
People like to hear a good story but don’t really care about understanding how things like hardware work. All that science and maths stuff is too darn boring and complicated to comprehend. Most human beings prefer the dramatic action over the linguistic levers used to tell the story. The digital realm is full of flashing pixels and bytes on screens. Everyone is in a hurry to get the information they want within seconds. Navigation is for nerds and pinheads. Content marketing strategy places keywords in the right context for maximum conversion rates from successful searches. Good copy delivers useful information to your potential market and reaps the rewards in return. Quality content created via research produces results for all of our clients. It doesn’t take a genius to understand how all this works. You just have to take the time to pay attention. Remember text is the foundation of search.
The Covid global pandemic has resulted in more than 5 million deaths and counting. Vaccine hesitancy has delayed our scientific solution to managing the pandemic in many countries around the world. The social contract during a global pandemic is in sharp focus right now. This […]featured
The Covid global pandemic has resulted in more than 5 million deaths and counting. Vaccine hesitancy has delayed our scientific solution to managing the pandemic in many countries around the world. The social contract during a global pandemic is in sharp focus right now. This has highlighted the issues we, as a community, have with not all of us humans being on the same page when it comes to an agreed sense of reality or truth. Western democracies are touted as the pinnacle of our ability to live together in the twenty first century. Could there be a case for greater demands being made on individuals to acknowledge and engage with social norms within their communities? There is much always said about human rights but much less said about social responsibilities in the current era.
The elephant in the room is, of course, organised religion. The concept of a personal god who is looking down upon each individual’s life is, in my view, a ridiculous one. I can understand the roots of these beliefs millennia ago, when humankind had a very limited comprehension of our universe. Religious beliefs are handed down from parents to their children, which equates to cultural conditioning. Thus, these beliefs bypass any scientific scrutiny in the minds of many adherents. Western democracies around the globe have allowed religions to exist in a scientific exclusion zone, where factual truth is suspended so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings. The belief in various versions of personal gods is treated by non-believers like a child’s belief in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, except these believers do not grow out of it.
Many human beings appear to be uncomfortable with the idea that we are essentially alone in our lives. Sure, we may enjoy a circle of family and friends around us, but within us we are essentially on our own. The creation of gods, by others and by ourselves, can be seen as a drive to maintain a relationship with an eternal mother or father figure. One who does not die like our own mortal parents. This so-called divine inner voice is a comfort to dispel the loneliness, especially during times of crises. The warping of this quite natural inclination occurs when individuals and groups seek to codify rules and regulations around belief. This has occurred in all the established religions, in particular with the Bronze Age Semitic religions. Much of the outer shell of religion is to do with social conditioning via custom and tradition. The dos and don’ts within your community and within your religion. There are obvious problems with obeying strict guidelines, which may have been laid down hundreds or thousands of years ago. As much as some might believe that golden rules exist in a timeless manner, there are clear examples of clashing issues like same sex marriage and outdated conceptions around the sanctity of the human body. Time waits for no man or woman.
We now live during a time of heightened insecurity on a viral level, with the threat of a global pandemic killing millions of people made real. The clash with outdated religious beliefs around vaccines is an acute one and society’s scientific exclusion zone can no longer afford to be extended to those holding these irrational beliefs based on bad faith. Western democracies must tighten their expectations around the social obligation upon their citizens. If you choose to live in our cities and take advantage of our economies, you have civic responsibilities to fulfil to honour the social contract. Viral infections are very real, unlike beliefs in angels and demons. The personal god who watches over you might offer some psychological comfort as a belief, but it cannot clash with the scientific factual reality of complying with health orders to stop a global pandemic. Many New Age beliefs have morphed out of a desire to update the whole god concept. There is a growing section of the population holding a variety of beliefs based on a pick ’n’ mix collection of principles derived from wide ranging sources. In general, this has allowed these people to accept greater diversity within their communities when it comes to gender, sexuality, and race. However, many reject scientific realities in a spirit of defiance and suspicion based on shared distortions of facts and misinformation. The internet must bear some responsibility for this distribution of distorted information, as the world wide web lacks truth setting standards. Previously, news was distributed via news agencies, which were, by no means perfect, but held to account about factuality. Algorithms design social media platforms to deliver a customer’s preferred tastes, which results in news espousing the same stuff being served up hour by hour. Sensational conspiracy flavoured misinformation is a favourite Facebook strategy to increase customer interaction.
In a massive world heading toward some 8 billion inhabitants is it any wonder that many people seek to shelter from it all by reducing their exposure to differing points of view? Racists seek to make their world smaller by discounting the worth of people from other ethnicities. Many Christians seek to shrink their responsibilities by concerning themselves primarily with those who share their beliefs. Many men listen to other men and value their views over the views of women. The world wide web has made the whole globe both more accessible and more frightening for many. Human beings are complex and have different levels of understanding dependent upon their own state of mind and feelings of security. However, in times of crisis, like a global pandemic we must all come together and honour our social contract. Rolling up out sleeves and getting vaccinated is a civic duty that overrides anything else. Generations of us have grown up in a consumerist society concerned only with our own contentment. We have missed the world wars and the Great Depression. This pandemic demands a concerted effort by all of us beyond our individual interests. The social contract operates on our humanity, as flesh and blood and cells. This call is for all, no matter what you believe in. This is not a time to moan about human rights but a time to honour the social contract with your fellow human being. Cults and fringe groups are not going to save the world. The middle road, the one closest to the centre, is the way to salvation from this deadly infection.
It was heartening to see former Australian PM Paul Keating speak out sensibly about our relationship with China. Especially after the last couple of years of ridiculous chest beating by conservative politicians seeking to fan the flames of racism in a bid to win votes. […]featured
It was heartening to see former Australian PM Paul Keating speak out sensibly about our relationship with China. Especially after the last couple of years of ridiculous chest beating by conservative politicians seeking to fan the flames of racism in a bid to win votes. The coalition under Scott Morrison will always play the race card when they can, appealing to the underbelly of a nation formed amid a white Australia policy. Racism underpins the West’s attitude to China, and this should not be forgotten for a second. Generations of Australians have grown up despising different looking people from the orient. Everyone underestimates the long-lasting influence of racist attitudes handed down from grandparents and parents to their offspring. Children are vulnerable and impressionable to the beliefs inculcated within them by family.
Racism goes hand in hand with tradition and religious beliefs instilled within families and communities. Many Australians are only barely adequately educated, and it takes years to overcome the conditioning established within families, even when these beliefs are irrational like racism. Kids are brought up suspicious of people with different coloured skin. Many people like to blame others for the misfortunes in their lives. Different looking and sounding people are easy targets for those without the education to know better. A perfect example is Taylor Walker the former captain of the AFL team the Adelaide Crows. Here is an individual much lauded and very well paid over a decade of seasons, who still is guilty of playing the race card, despite all his success and experience in modern Australia. A leader of men in the public eye but still able to abuse a fellow player on the basis of his Aboriginality. This is Australia in 2021!
All the New World European colonies, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States, turned against Chinese immigrants in their territories in the nineteenth century. They deported and banned the Chinese, establishing policies like Australia’s White Australia policy. The media in these countries ran vicious and libellous campaigns against the Chinese. Foreigners were blamed for immorality and taking the jobs of fine white local men. Christian groups and churches preached against the Chinaman. Generations of Australians were raised under the auspices of these prevailing attitudes. These things don’t just blow away overnight, as they have seeped deep into the bones of ordinary Australians. Modern Australia is a thin veneer over decades of ingrained racism.
So, now we have a rapidly rising China as an economic superpower and white Australians don’t bloody like it. The Liberal Nationals are the bastion for the right-wing political side of Australia in the two-party system. Of course, the Australian Labor Party was the worker’s party, and they were founded on principles of keeping Australia safe from foreigners too. Racism is a rich tradition in this country and had bipartisan support from the outset. Australia has grown rich on the coat tails of the sheep, our minerals, and selling iron ore and coal to the Chinese of late. We have taken a few trade ban hits from them in recent months. Blaming them for the coronavirus global pandemic probably didn’t help. There is talk of war and the drums have been beaten by right wing politicians wanting the support of these voters in the coming federal election. Tough talk is cheap when the stakes are not so high. We have pissed off the French with our submarine shenanigans. Our less than stellar armed force capabilities are on the light side in comparison with the billion strong Chinese state. Talk of going to the aid of the Taiwanese in a military engagement against China is more than fanciful, as Mr Keating pointed out in his speech to the Press Club.
We are not alone in our racist views on a Chinese superpower in our region. White men in power in the US, Canada, and elsewhere share our deeply ingrained distrust of different looking human beings. We judge the Chinese harshly for their human rights transgressions and prefer to look out at them, rather than in the mirror at home. The Chinese totalitarian regime is definitely not perfect and there is substantial suffering at their hands. However, equally our own governments have caused suffering to many over the years. We buy their products because they are cheap. We sell them our products so that we can make money. The Chinese want respect from a world that has treated them with deeply held racist views for eons. They have been arming themselves for years in a bid to gather an arsenal impressive enough to demand respect. They have been economically outperforming the rest of the world for similar reasons I suspect. Sensible attitudes toward the Chinese will be necessary going forward if we are to avoid blood shed on some large scale. I don’t want my children fighting over Taiwan. China is growing and wants more power in their region, there is no avoiding the reality of this in a changing world. White men are seeing a shrinking space for them in the world. Racism underpins the West’s attitude to China, and an awareness of this is required for us to move on. The schoolyard bully is no longer white. The balance of power is shifting rapidly.
The terrible tragic death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins at the hands of a prop gun is a timely message to an unhealthy industry. There are too many guns seen on the screens showing Hollywood films. Writers and directors seem to have an obsession with creating […]featured
The terrible tragic death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins at the hands of a prop gun is a timely message to an unhealthy industry. There are too many guns seen on the screens showing Hollywood films. Writers and directors seem to have an obsession with creating stories featuring guns and gun deaths.
Whether the industry is being funded by the gun lobby is a moot point. The celebrity realm is peopled with actors who make their make-believe livings shooting and killing characters on screen. It may just be entertainment but with human beings spending ever more time in front of screens it sends a message and makes an impression on viewers. This real Hollywood gun death hurts the industry and might send a message to the movie makers.
Western democracies seem to revel in crap, with their citizens spending large amounts of their time indulging in entertainments telling sensational stories involving gun violence. Many people work in jobs, which offer little intrinsic meaning, like the gig economy. The demise of organised religions, although a good thing in many ways, removes meaningful frameworks in many lives. Millions of lives are left bereft of inspiration and aspirations toward higher ground. Education remains a beacon for self-improvement through learning. Discovering the meaning of life in the 21C is no easy thing. People are looking for answers in stories. Hollywood is like a lolly shop shovelling out sugar laden offerings to a public made up of children and young adults. Isn’t it time for this industry to start taking some responsibility for the content it serves up to a world needing something more than sensationalist crap?
Guns make killing human beings easier. Massacres occur in a matter of minutes due to the technology inherent in automatic weapons. Movies that revel in gun violence on big screens are not helping our world. Actors that make celebrated livings from portraying characters involved in stories depicting gun violence are doing us all a great disservice. Writers who continue to tell stories featuring gun deaths and violence are letting us all down as a community of human beings. Producers who want to make these movies are similarly complicit in this unhelpful activity. Nobody can deny that there is a glut of violent films and TV on our screens. It has been so for many decades and the childish appetite for smash bang shoot em up scenes shows no sign of abating. The movie business seems to be a very immature affair. It is easier to tell stories with gross actions and violent scenes than anything nuanced.
This real Hollywood gun death might send a timely message to the movie industry about its preoccupation with violence. Alec Baldwin has made a celebrated living portraying characters involved in gun violence. Americans and guns – it is time to grow up and put away these deadly toys. Guns do kill people easily, too easily. American society needs to grow up and rein in the orgy of violence. The claims that movies reflect the reality or dreams of a society are way out of line here. The infantile obsession with crash bang violence depicted in American movies is dangerous and needs to be tempered, if this civilisation is to survive going forward. Guns have no place in human society. Guns are not the answer. Violence is not a smart move in any circumstance. Human beings will not continue under the aegis of the gun.
The global pandemic has exhausted me, and I suspect I am not alone on this score. If I see another daily press conference featuring a Premier or PM I just might scream. If I was not so dead set against guns and violence, I might just do something desperate. Perhaps I could adapt the concept to my principles and attack a bush with a water pistol or something equally insane. Please oh please not another epidemiologist on my screen, as much as they are doing fine work for the community I must look away.featured
The global pandemic has exhausted me, and I suspect I am not alone on this score. If I see another daily press conference featuring a Premier or PM I just might scream. If I was not so dead set against guns and violence, I might just do something desperate. Perhaps I could adapt the concept to my principles and attack a bush with a water pistol or something equally insane. Please oh please not another epidemiologist on my screen, as much as they are doing fine work for the community I must look away.
Do I have it in me? The echo of a new ABBA song jingles through my consciousness. We are in this together. Human beings on the edge locked inside their living rooms. A call to hope is on the lips of every bonafide popstar. Modern technology can take the festival moment into quiet sitting rooms in suburbia. Too many scientists on my screens has left me cold in my darkest hour. Not another epidemiologist on my screen without recall to the human heart and its irrational leanings. Yes, they are doing a great job of protecting us and I thank them for their service. But I crave an understanding humanist with a solid grounding in historicity.
I still have faith in you. It sounds like a murmured endearment within a long-term relationship. One that has lasted through the ages. It has more wrinkles in time than an elephant. Is it, perhaps, my relationship with myself as I climb toward the end of this mortal coil? Love beats within me for the human condition despite the doom and gloom of this pandemic. Just not another epidemiologist on my screen, please. A song inside my head and heart to dispel the doubts and darkness is what I clearly need.
Looking now at the aged faces of the band called ABBA it is a Swedish reckoning and none too glum. Foot tapping stuff for the simple Homo sapiens, who is all too unsuited for concepts like deep time. We are ephemeral creatures buzzing about this planet’s garden and consciousness is a trick of a memory we take all too seriously. Remember that the bus is going to the terminus and to enjoy the ride. Thank the scientist for her considered knowledge and time but beware of his cold hands. Give me a humanist with an appreciation of history anytime over a politician in suit with their epidemiologist.
Any gardener will tell you that if you prune back a plant it will regrow with added vigour. The Taliban in Afghanistan has come back powerfully after 20 years of pruning by the US and coalition forces. Remember that pre-invasion by the US the Taliban […]featured
Any gardener will tell you that if you prune back a plant it will regrow with added vigour. The Taliban in Afghanistan has come back powerfully after 20 years of pruning by the US and coalition forces. Remember that pre-invasion by the US the Taliban did not control all of Afghanistan and now, they have expanded their territory to encapsulate the entire nation. In addition, they are well armed thanks to capturing the arms of the capitulated US funded Afghan army. Many people are asking, what was it all for the trillions spent and the many lives lost? Transplanted democracy uprooted in Afghanistan by the Taliban leaves many unanswered questions.
It is important to remember that the US did not invade to improve the human rights of women and minority groups in Afghanistan. They invaded to attack those providing safe haven for al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups. The fact that this invasion lasted 20 years had a number of spin offs. However, as President Joe Biden recently said this was never about nation building and should not be confused upon this false premise. You cannot impose western democratic processes upon cultures not ready to develop them for their own benefit. Local populations must fight for these things themselves.
Afghanistan is a patriarchal tribal society and, as much, as some sections of their society appreciated the removal of the Taliban, I am sure there were many who felt invaded by a foreign power. The Taliban represent home rule to many Afghans and a truly nationalistic fervour supports them on this basis. The sudden and complete collapse of the foreign power backed government shows that it was a plant lacking any real root stock to sustain it. Imposing foreign forms of government upon cultures like this invariably does not work. Only home-grown structures will flourish in the long run.
It will be interesting to see what version of the Taliban emerges in Afghanistan in 2021. It is also important to remember that these are Afghan men, and that the Taliban is ultimately just another label. The hard-line Islamic beliefs held by these men are less about any religion and more about the men holding them. If you look at the large conservative populations in America and Australia, many of the men hold views and beliefs around gender that share some of the Taliban’s inequitable principles. Donald Trump’s America was a prime example of this parallel universe. The US stayed in Afghanistan far too long and should not have invaded this country in the first place. Thinking that you are right and better at human rights does not give any power the right to invade another nation state.
As I sit here heading into another Covid lockdown, this time from the Delta variant, I ponder about our future. Will Covid Sars-2 prove to be our dinosaur extinction moment? Will the Homo sapien’s story end here at the hands of a virus. Perhaps a virus engineered in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, which was funded by American corporate interests. It all sounds like a scenario drawn from the pages of an airport bookstore thriller. However, over 4 million people have lost their lives from this pandemic and deaths are not slowing up anytime soon.featured
As I sit here heading into another Covid lockdown, this time from the Delta variant, I ponder about our future. Will Covid Sars-2 prove to be our dinosaur extinction moment? Will the Homo sapien’s story end here at the hands of a virus. Perhaps a virus engineered in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, which was funded by American corporate interests. It all sounds like a scenario drawn from the pages of an airport bookstore thriller. However, over 4 million people have lost their lives from this pandemic and deaths are not slowing up anytime soon.
The world is racing to get vaccinated in an attempt to beat this Coronavirus. Will these vaccinations hold up in the face of a rapidly mutating virus? Will the virus outsmart our efforts by adapting faster than we can? As I look around the deserted streets and shop in supermarkets populated by mask wearing individuals, I wonder whether we will make it out of this pandemic alive. The changing face of society and the endless public health orders are dampening spirits everywhere. Some of us are bursting with frustration and rage. Some of us are dying slowly inside.
Is the writing on the wall with this virus dancing just out of reach of our best cures? Is my dead leg a sign of my worsening cabin fever? Will I perish from the respiratory disease post infection, or will my worsening mental health state pre-empt the final solution? Watching Olympic athletes run around in deserted stadiums I wonder about the future of humanity? Is the clock ticking down faster than any stopwatch set poolside? Are we racing into an oblivion where there won’t be any podium finishes for victors? There won’t be any national anthems playing not even a dirge for those rushing. Nobody is really watching this race to the finish.
A spiky protein wins this competition, and we are condemned to last place. The human race is lost. My tracksuit pants are not made of Lycra, in fact, they are kind of dumpy looking. My couch is littered with the detritus of lockdown living. Remote controls for TV screens and crumpled cushions for my back pain. The darkened room is closing in on my confined consciousness. The starter’s gun has fired but my dead leg is refusing to respond to commands involving movement. Not even commentary by Bruce McAvaney can get me up for this final event.
‘Microbiome’ – Micro meaning very small – Bio meaning life – Me meaning you or me. Remember this term because it is going to become better recognised as an important factor in human health and our longevity. Human microbiome is defined as the collection of genes found in all microbes residing within us – basically all the bacteria, fungi, viruses, and microorganisms inhabiting our bodies. ‘Microbiota’, another term, refers to all microorganisms inhabiting a particular environment like the gut. There are many trillions of these microscopic entities residing in our human gastrointestinal tract, on our skin, and most places. Long have we ignored this micro-environment and rather focused on larger, more readily seen matters, possibly to the detriment of our health and understanding of life. Remember that microbes have been around for a lot longer than we have (billions of years) and are easily the most successful life forms on this planet. In the current climate, with a global viral pandemic ravaging the world, we are all suddenly more aware of the micro-realm. Indeed, our awareness of microbiome greatly increased around 2002, when gene sequencing technology became available to identify microbes and their influence. Following this there has been a huge explosion in the study of microbiome and humans.featured health
Microbiome & Longevity: New Research Suggest Key Links
‘Microbiome’ – Micro meaning very small – Bio meaning life – Me meaning you or me. Remember this term because it is going to become better recognised as an important factor in human health and our longevity. Human microbiome is defined as the collection of genes found in all microbes residing within us – basically all the bacteria, fungi, viruses, and microorganisms inhabiting our bodies. ‘Microbiota’, another term, refers to all microorganisms inhabiting a particular environment like the gut. There are many trillions of these microscopic entities residing in our human gastrointestinal tract, on our skin, and most places. Long have we ignored this micro-environment and rather focused on larger, more readily seen matters, possibly to the detriment of our health and understanding of life. Remember that microbes have been around for a lot longer than we have (billions of years) and are easily the most successful life forms on this planet. In the current climate, with a global viral pandemic ravaging the world, we are all suddenly more aware of the micro-realm. Indeed, our awareness of microbiome greatly increased around 2002, when gene sequencing technology became available to identify microbes and their influence. Following this there has been a huge explosion in the study of microbiome and humans.
by Robert Sudha Hamilton
Human Microbiota in the Gut
Microbiome and longevity: New research suggest key links, and this is no real surprise when you consider the facts. Science has identified that there are many more microorganisms colonising us than there are human cells forming us. It is a very busy world at the microscopic level. We are, it seems, powerfully influenced by the total genome information contained within all our microbiome rather than just our human cells. The microbiome provides access to millions of genes for all sorts of important biological processes, which are absent in our human cells. We are much more than first thought. There are 300 to 1, 000 species of microorganisms living inside of us, which weigh around 2-3kg, consume 50-65g of sugars per day, and expel 1 to 4 litres of gas per day. 60% of our stools are made up of living and dead bacteria. Obviously, then, our health and longevity are affected by the sum of our microbiome. Every human being has a unique microbiota. Family members will share more microbiome than unrelated individuals. Our symbiotic relationship with these trillions of microbes directly influences the state of our health and how we experience life.
Ageing & Microbiome
Ageing is the single greatest challenge to our longevity and ageing affects our human microbiome. Our intestinal tract contains the largest surface interacting with microorganisms in the human body. Our gut bacteria maintain a homeostatic metabolism, which allows us to derive energy from the food we eat. We are all familiar with the age-related diseases and conditions which will eventually directly contribute to our demise. These are obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancers, and neuro-degenerative conditions. Many of us eat and drink ourselves to death as we get older, losing the ability to balance the energy coming in and going out. The modern sedentary lifestyle, where we sit down for increasingly long periods in air-conditioned comfort, behind the wheel, behind a desk, in front of countless screens, and at the dining table is literally killing us. Our monkey bodies must be exercised to maintain good health and we need to have a good diet to sustain a diverse microbiota, which means an optimised immune system.
Clear Correlations Emerging Between Gut Microbiome & Good Health
New research, via lab animal studies, has shown clear correlations between gut microbiome status and cognitive changes. In one study conducted at Oregon Health & Science University the gut microbiome in mice was noticeably altered by those mice carrying the genes associated with Alzheimer’s disease, despite the fact that they were all fed the same diet under the same conditions. The disease alters the state of the gut bacteria. At this early stage of research into this exciting realm there is a fair degree of observing changes in both the brain and gut microbiome and wondering which comes first. Epigenetic changes in the hippocampus may be affecting, or affected by, changes in the gut microbiome, according to the research produced by recent studies. Understanding the causal direction of the relationship will illuminate this important research further. Gut bacteria imbalances in the prediabetic stage are shining a light on Type 2 diabetes in human beings (Sharma, 2018). Our metabolism is directly affected by the interaction between gut bacteria and the foods we eat. This process influences blood sugar levels and the synthesis of neurotransmitters. Thus, a condition like Type 2 diabetes emerges slowly over time and can be tracked via the state of our microbiome. However, it is important to note that the complexity of microbiota and the variability within individual human gut microbiome remains a compelling factor.
Microbiome an Early Warning System
It is highly likely that a bi-directional relationship is at work when we observe the interaction between microbiome and disease within human beings (Haran, 2019). This means that it may not prove to offer a silver bullet in terms of finding a magic probiotic cure for diseases adversely affecting our longevity and quality of life. It may, however, provide an early warning system for those likely to develop serious diseases like Alzheimer’s and Type 2 diabetes.
Our gut microbiome can influence how we feel and think via Vagus nerve stimulation. The interaction between gut bacteria and the foods we eat during metabolism impacts upon our cognitive equilibrium. Neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine are directly affected via this process, which can result in whether we feel happy or sad, compelled or overstimulated to eat. Nearly all the serotonin in the body is produced in the gut. Around half of the dopamine is produced there. Therefore, chronic conditions like depression and anxiety are influenced by the state of play within our gut microbiome. Food addictions and overeating can, also, be driven by gut bacteria imbalances. These serious mental health issues can impact negatively on our longevity. Gut microbes can, also, influence what we choose to eat, when we want to eat, and how healthy we are in response to our food choices. Our diet is a major influence in shaping our human microbiome, as different microbes and bacteria are involved with different types of foods. Eating predominantly animal flesh versus a plant-based diet for instance affects the production rate of Short Chain Fatty Acids like Acetate and Butyrate negatively and these are the products of microbial fermentation of plant-based matter (fibre). These are crucial energy sources for the cells that line the gut, and they are anti-inflammatory. There are studies into obesity and gut microbes, which show that certain microbes encourage weight gain. A diet high in processed foods results in a loss of microbiome diversity and those microbes that feed on these types of food remain in abundance to our detriment. Gut microbes play a part in preventing cardiovascular disease through a number of anti-inflammatory measures involving the presence of Butyrate SCFA (Troseid, 2020).
The human body is now perceived as an ecosystem with a colony of interactive microorganisms and a host of human cells. Thus, getting the balance right in terms of diet and environmental factors is pretty important. The foundation for this is laid right at the start via in-utero development and maternal diet. The mother’s breast milk is a vital part of establishing the right composition of microbiota within the infant. How we are born affects the microbiome make-up with a vaginal birth delivering the mother’s microbiota, but a caesarean section involves bacteria from the skin of those handling the baby post-delivery (Dominguez-Bello, 2010). This can impact upon health issues in later life, according to recent studies. Diet and lifestyle through early childhood is a determining force in shaping the composition of microbiome within an individual.
A reduction in microbiota diversity is a key indicator in ageing human beings (Joshi, 2017). Contributing factors are limited dietary pattern, reduced mobility, lessening immune strength, gut morphology changes, increased use of medications, reduced intestinal functionality, and recurrent infections. A decrease in Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, and an increase in Enterobacteriaceae have been observed, more generally, via the process of ageing in studies done globally. Antibiotics dramatically change the microbiota because they kill off a lot of good bacteria along with the targeted bad bacteria. Therefore, too many antibiotics over a prolonged period has serious consequences for our gut bacteria. Pharmaceutical drugs can, also, be affected by a person’s microbiota and can have higher toxicity in individuals due to the drug’s interaction with their unique gut bacteria.
Ageing is a complex process involving physiological, metabolic, and immunological functioning within organisms. It is most noticeably accompanied by inflammation and metabolic dysfunction. Chronic inflammation is a key indicator of the human ageing process. The gut bacteria, which are involved in maintaining immune tolerance, decrease as we age, and those bacteria involved in infection and intestinal inflammation increase in prevalence. Our gut microbiome performs important roles in the breakdown of food, metabolism and storage of lipids, vitamin synthesis, and the prevention of infection by harmful microbes. Getting older sees a decline in the effectiveness of all of these activities.
There Are Things We Can Do to Promote Good Gut Bacteria
Our immune system can benefit from a healthy dietary input, which promotes good gut bacteria via polyphenolic antioxidants. The recent discoveries in the body’s micro-realm, as they relate to our biological functioning, fundamentally alters the perception of how we interact with our environment as human beings. Our body’s immune system is deeply dependent upon its interaction with its bacteria – the microbiota. Colon cancer, another common disease related to ageing and adversely affecting longevity, shows a strong microbiome change. The interaction between microbiome, immune system, and epithelial cells lining the colon reveals bad bacteria making proteins with greater carcinogenic potential. The eco system within the body gets out of balance and the likelihood of colon cancer is increased, especially as we age.
The Human Microbiome Project is a study begun in 2007 and it has been charting the state of microbiota in people with different diseases. The data derived from this project is providing the necessary information to gain insight into the relationship between our health and microbiome. This process is incredibly complex, like much of the finer functioning of our biology.
Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) are produced via dietary fibres being fermented in the colon. Butyric acid is one SCFA, which has an important role to play for the normal functioning of the colon. Human beings only have about 20 genes which will encode proteins responsible for the breaking down of these carbohydrates, whereas one bacterial species Bacteroides has 260 genes for the same task. Gut bacteria are efficiently breaking down fibre, which assists in ensuring a process free from bloating, constipation, gas, and diarrhea. The right dietary fibre can improve the production of SCFA and improve the positive interaction between microbiome and immune system for better health. A study carried out at the University of Queensland (Comino, Williams, & Gidley, 2018) has confirmed this understanding and result.
The more we understand the role of microbiome in the healthy human being and in those suffering from disease the greater the positive impact upon longevity. The new research suggests key links in many of the most prevalent conditions adversely affecting ageing. The modern health scourges like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, and neurodegenerative conditions all show the link to depleted microbiome diversity in various guises. Ageing is accompanied, more generally, by a diminishing balance of good versus bad gut bacteria. The next level of scientific understanding may take us further into comprehending unique microbiome signatures in each of us. Right now, however, we can take steps to ensure that we feed ourselves with an appropriate dietary fibre for optimal health. Good digestion and a fully functioning immune system are dependent upon it.
Carranza-Naval MJ, Vargas-Soria M, Hierro-Bujalance C, Baena-Nieto G, Garcia-Alloza M, Infante-Garcia C, Del Marco A. Alzheimer’s Disease and Diabetes: Role of Diet, Microbiota and Inflammation in Preclinical Models. Biomolecules. 2021 Feb 10;11(2):262. doi: 10.3390/biom11020262. PMID: 33578998; PMCID: PMC7916805.
Sharma S, Tripathi P. Gut microbiome and type 2 diabetes: where we are and where to go? J Nutr Biochem. 2019 Jan;63:101-108. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2018.10.003. Epub 2018 Oct 11. PMID: 30366260.
Vogtmann E, Hua X, Zeller G, Sunagawa S, Voigt AY, Hercog R, et al. (2016) Colorectal Cancer and the Human Gut Microbiome: Reproducibility with Whole-Genome Shotgun Sequencing. PLoS ONE 11(5): e0155362. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0155362
Marius Trøseid, Geir Øystein Andersen, Kaspar Broch, Johannes Roksund Hov,
The gut microbiome in coronary artery disease and heart failure: Current knowledge and future directions,
Haran JP, Bhattarai SK, Foley SE, Dutta P, Ward DV, Bucci V, McCormick BA. Alzheimer’s Disease Microbiome Is Associated with Dysregulation of the Anti-Inflammatory P-Glycoprotein Pathway. mBio. 2019 May 7;10(3):e00632-19. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00632-19. PMID: 31064831; PMCID: PMC6509190.
Jun Sun, Ikuko Kato,
Gut microbiota, inflammation and colorectal cancer,
Genes & Diseases,
Volume 3, Issue 2,
Comino P , Williams BA , Gidley MJ . In vitro fermentation gas kinetics and end-products of soluble and insoluble cereal flour dietary fibres are similar. Food Funct. 2018 Feb 21;9(2):898-905. doi: 10.1039/c7fo01724c. PMID: 29302665.
Delivery mode shapes the acquisition and structure of the initial microbiota across multiple body habitats in newborns
Maria G. Dominguez-Bello, Elizabeth K. Costello, Monica Contreras, Magda Magris, Glida Hidalgo, Noah Fierer, Rob Knight
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Jun 2010, 107 (26) 11971-11975; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1002601107
Seema Joshi, Melissa Navinskey,
Chapter 6 – Human Microbiome and Aging,
Editor(s): Ronald Ross Watson,
Nutrition and Functional Foods for Healthy Aging,
Quadram Institute. “Gut Bacteria & Mind Control: To Fix Your Brain, Fix Your Gut!. 2016. Video available on YouTube.
Susan Lynch PhD. UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. “The Human Microbiome: A New Frontier in Health”. University of California Television. 2020. Video on YouTube.
Sudha Hamilton is a natural health writer, historian, and chef. His published titles include: House Therapy: Discover Who You Really Are At Home; Healing Our Wellbeing; and Sacred Chef.
We are all born into this life without our consent. Nobody asks us whether we would like to play the game of life in human form. Observing the unfocused gaze of a newborn babe one witnesses a magical tabula rasa moment. Consciousness is, it seems, at its earliest manifestation, the state of the watcher. A baby observes via its eyes and visual sensory apparatus within the brain. We, as human beings are made up of many trillions of human cells. There are 200 different types of cells within the body and none of these are individually conscious or sentient. Consciousness: Free will and cellular facts tell a story that is wildly divergent from the narratives derived from religion and lore.featured health latest post
We are all born into this life without our consent. Nobody asks us whether we would like to play the game of life in human form. Observing the unfocused gaze of a newborn babe one witnesses a magical tabula rasa moment. Consciousness is, it seems, at its earliest manifestation, the state of the watcher. A baby observes via its eyes and visual sensory apparatus within the brain. We, as human beings are made up of many trillions of human cells. There are 200 different types of cells within the body and none of these are individually conscious or sentient. Consciousness: Free will and cellular facts tell a story that is wildly divergent from the narratives derived from religion and lore.
The common experience, I think, is that most of us consider our consciousness to be something special. We are encouraged to do so by the literature and shared culture around us. Our thoughts and feelings, as human beings, must belong to something exalted beyond the realms of other life forms on planet earth. Religions have been created on the basis that we are able to partake in thoughts about divinity. “I think; therefore I am.” “Cogito ergo sum.” This is the philosophical statement made by Rene Descartes, a 17C French thinker, which underpins his argument for proof of his existence and that of god.
What is consciousness? We commonly refer to our awareness of our thoughts, feelings, sensations, and memories, as our individual realm of consciousness. Science would refine that definition to perception and awareness of internal and external existence. There has been a quest for millennia to find the root of consciousness. In more recent scientific times, it has been a mission to locate consciousness in the body/brain. Religions like Christianity and Islam are dependant upon the sanctity of consciousness because it is the only place where their gods exist. There is a lot riding on the eminent power of human consciousness. Human beings create their consciousness via cultural training from the earliest stages of life.
On a sensory level these abilities operate on elliptical sequential loops, but we experience them as continuous, as our brains join the dots. Imagine if we had gaps of nothingness in our perception of external stimuli? It would be unnerving to say the least and there are people with brain injuries who experience these gaps.
If you pay close attention to your own inner thoughts, especially during times of worry and anxiety, you can observe our predilection for replaying the same thoughts over and over. The human brain, our seat of consciousness, runs thoughts, feelings and memories on loops like a repeating programme. Consciousness feels special because it is our own observational vantage point upon the world and life. It is not, however, endowed with divine or mystical powers. Plato and the concept of the soul, which was later lifted by early Christian scholars engaged in creating a religion, sent humanity on a lengthy journey in an unhelpful direction. Valuing the soul over the body is an unhealthy tack to take, especially as the soul does not actually exist.
Free will is something that many of us are concerned about at various times of life. We want to be assured that we can act with autonomous agency in our own lives. There are age old debates about systems of government like democracy versus dictatorship. These include discussions about individual freedoms in the west in contrast to the different societal structures in the east. The world, it seems, has been broken into two dividing geopolitical hemispheres. Totalitarian regimes rule in China, North Korea, Iran, (Putin in Russia just about qualifies) and many other countries predominantly in the east. Democracy in all its messy manifestations manages to operate in western Europe, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and various other nations around the globe. The writer George Orwell depicted the impact upon human consciousness in his best-selling book Nineteen Eighty-Four. Here the inner and outer expressions of individual consciousness are forced into a state of war with each other by the demands of the totalitarian regime. Winston Smith is employed by the party to rewrite history (Fake News) in a continuous editing process updating truth to fit the lies of the times. Personal consciousness is closely monitored by Big Brother. Similarly, technology, employed by the state, is watching citizens in nations across the globe today. Cameras are everywhere in cities like London, Beijing, and Hyderabad. Social media in China is monitored by the state to control a large section of its billion plus population. In the west, free will is managed by capitalism and the free market economy. Citizens of nations must pay their own way via gainful employment unless they have the family means to avoid such necessary measures. Money and wealth determine what free will and agency individuals have in most western democracies. Property rights underpin western conceptions of human freedoms in these liberal democratic governments. Consciousness observes and interacts with these external structures wherever one lives.
However, we are many trillions of human cells living in a sea of microbiome. This microbiome is hundreds of trillions of microbes inside us and outside us. There is a genomic interaction happening between cells, bacteria, viruses and fungi on this microscopic level. Not only are human cells not singly sentient but they, also, operate in a very crowded space with many other microorganisms. Life is teeming with a rich and divergent cornucopia at a level we have been largely unconscious of for most of our recorded history. Many human beings bemoan the erroneous fact that we are alone and seek the company of alien life. In actual fact at the cellular level, we are very much not alone. Fungi may, indeed, be from outer space having travelled to our planet aboard meteorites many millions or billions of years ago. Our consciousness, our cognitive perception, is affected by our microbiome, as the gut bacteria is involved in the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Our precious thoughts are impacted by what we eat and the fermenting process going on in the colon. Plato, I am sure, would be horrified and don’t get me started on all those pious Christian scholars. Life at the cellular level is a very different kettle of fish and its influence has been ignored for far too long. Biology is the new unexplored realm for explorers to contemplate our own inner space at the microscopic level.
Consciousness: Free will and cellular facts may appear to be coming at this issue from different dimensions but are, in actuality, deeply connected. “As above, so below. That which has been, will return again. As in heaven, so on earth.” This pithy collection of statements from ancient observation rings true via the enlightenment emerging out of modern biology and the genome. Our consciousness is not a product of disembodied soul but a brain/body response to the environmental soup we live in. Free will is impacted upon by external and internal forces. The more freedom we experience from outer stimuli, the more we become aware of the inner stimuli influencing our decisions and agency. We do not operate out of perfect conditions or a clean slate. Human consciousness is an ever changing and growing state in the right set of circumstances. Our consciousness emerges via cultural development and expectations. What we think and feel cannot be separated from our environment. On a cellular level the trillions of human cells, which form us, inhabit an eco-system of hundreds of trillions of microbes called our microbiome. The genomic information contained within our microbiome perform a host of important biological roles in our lives. What we think and feel are directly influenced by this biological interaction.
Postscript – interesting fact, I was choosing images for this article and typed in ‘consciousness’ in some Google pix library. First offerings were people doing environmental stuff, indicating that a word confusion with ‘conscientious’ behaviour was probably driving these choices. Next up, were a bunch of images of candles, flowers, and other meditative accessories. This seemed to be the dominant association with human consciousness.
In Australia, we have just completed a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Some people were shocked at the findings, which emerged out of this enquiry. More than 10, 500 submissions and the testimony of 600 witnesses were considered during the two years it ran. Elderly Australians have been abused, drugged into submission and treated abhorrently according to the evidence provided to the commission. The rights of those in aged care have been sorely neglected and transgressed over many decades here in Australia within the current federally run system. It is time to ask ourselves why we abuse the elderly and why we allow this abuse to go on unchecked despite countless reviews into the current system for aged care?ageing featured latest post
In Australia, we have just completed a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Some people were shocked at the findings, which emerged out of this enquiry. More than 10, 500 submissions and the testimony of 600 witnesses were considered during the two years it ran. Elderly Australians have been abused, drugged into submission and treated abhorrently according to the evidence provided to the commission. The rights of those in aged care have been sorely neglected and transgressed over many decades here in Australia within the current federally run system. It is time to ask ourselves why we abuse the elderly and why we allow this abuse to go on unchecked despite countless reviews into the current system for aged care?
I would like to take things right back to their essential base level and iterate our ingrained distaste for getting old and ageing. Each of us, as individual adults, have to deal with the fact of our own ageing every day. We all live an allotted time, and our youth is, in many ways, our golden period during our lifetime. The young are naturally beautiful and glow with nature’s proclivity for procreation. The truth of life is that, as much as we fool ourselves sometimes, we cannot escape our biological clocks. Getting old is disguised culturally in the west via fashion and behaviour for as long as humanly possible. It is not cool to get old and the elderly are not a respected cohort within our societies.
Each of us knows someone or is related to someone that is much older than ourselves. Family ties bind us to those who have come before us. Many of us profess to love our parents and grandparents. However, as the Sphinx’s riddle tells us, human beings are reduced in old age from two to three legs with the aid of walking stick or cane. In fact, we are all reduced further in great old age to creatures requiring substantial care for our ongoing survival. Today, we outsource this care to the state and corporate providers. Their facilities house and home around 300, 000 older Australians in residential aged care. It is a business, of course, with a mix of corporate and non-profit organisations providing this residential care to the elderly.
What happens when you outsource your familial responsibilities to others who do not share the blood ties? You have paid good money to ensure the care of your elderly parents or grandparents within one of these residential aged care facilities. Shock upon shock you discover to your horror that your parent or relative is not, always, receiving the loving care you imagined they were. In actual fact, the poorly renumerated staff who work in these facilities are abusing your loved one because there are not enough of them rostered on and they are not particularly well trained anyway. You have turned a blind eye to the aged care sector as a whole and allowed this systematic neglect of those who work in the industry to exist. Bad luck for them that they are so disrespected by our society that their work is seriously undervalued and under recompensed. Bad luck for your loved one that their vulnerability sees them copping the abuse down the food chain. The Ancient Romans used slaves to look after tasks like these.
Why we abuse the elderly is because we don’t like looking old age and decay in the eye. We outsource the work of wiping arses and treating bed sores to others. We sit back and are content to observe that these people doing this work are not properly paid and trained to do this challenging and sensitive labour. We want someone to blame within the facilities or in the companies and governments running them. We pay large amounts of money to lawyers and public servants to conduct countless reviews into the aged care sector, but nothing ever changes. Government ministers nod sagely at the media cameras and say how terrible it all is but that it is an incredibly complex issue. Time is not in the corner of the elderly and soon they will have passed on to greener pastures or an urn. Governments do as little as possible and wait out each crisis until the next time. Making money is more important to future generations and the focus is always on the economy. Australia does not value the care of its elderly and sees it as a time share business. Minimising costs is the key to making profits in this kind of business.
Nobody really likes getting old and dying, it is simply a fact of life to be borne. Workforces do not like having older Australians on their payrolls. Young HR managers avoid hiring older workers wherever possible. Anyone who has gone to a few job interviews in their forties and fifties will attest to this fact. Youth is the name of the game for all species of life and Homo sapiens are no exception. Traditional societies treated their elderly with greater respect, until it was time for them to wander off into the desert or up the mountain to their death. Indigenous tribes understood the sanctity of life in terms of an individual’s contribution to the tribe. Locking up loads of useless human beings in institutions designed to keep them in stasis is a clinical horror show in disguise, which is cosmetically crafted to assuage the guilt of their younger relatives. We are going to have to face some facts about what life actually is pretty soon. Older Australians are being drugged into submission, bashed into behaviours, and generally abused by undermanned, underpaid, and undertrained staff in these residential aged care facilities.
Young people occasionally feel sorry for old people if they are not too busy. Those working in aged care are very busy and often are holding down multiple jobs because the pay is so poor. Dealing with really old individuals requires sensitivity and time. Those running these facilities do not want to pay the extra money to increase staff levels to meet what is required. Registered nurses are much more expensive to have on staff than carers because they are properly trained in the medical care of their patients. We have an innate distaste for those human beings in decay and dementia. This must be professionally overcome by those who work in the aged care sector and they need to be properly trained and renumerated to achieve this. There are no easy and cheap solutions to this abhorrent situation. We all bear some responsibility for this state of affairs in Australia in 2021. We have allowed it to continue for far too long. The exquisite irony is that you and I will soon be under the care of this system. Buckle up my friends for a bumpy and painful ride into extreme old age in Australia.
I want to make a confession first up, which is that I hate the word blog and all its extensions – blogging, blogger, blogged and blogs. Short for ‘web log’ apparently, blog, is an ugly word let’s face it. It sounds to me like a colloquial term fit for acts of defecation. Thus, the art of blogging is akin to a ballerina farting loudly throughout a performance of the Nutcracker Suite. OK got that off my chest. I wonder who came up with the term in the first place? I Googled it and according to a Wikipedia entry ‘weblog’ was so named by one Jom Barger in 1997 and one Peter Merholz reduced the two words to ‘blog’ in 1999 via a phrase posted on his blog. Now you know.content writing featured latest post
I want to make a confession first up, which is that I hate the word blog and all its extensions – blogging, blogger, blogged and blogs. Short for ‘web log’ apparently, blog, is an ugly word let’s face it. It sounds to me like a colloquial term fit for acts of defecation. Thus, the art of blogging is akin to a ballerina farting loudly throughout a performance of the Nutcracker Suite. OK got that off my chest. I wonder who came up with the term in the first place? I Googled it and according to a Wikipedia entry ‘weblog’ was so named by one Jom Barger in 1997 and one Peter Merholz reduced the two words to ‘blog’ in 1999 via a phrase posted on his blog. Now you know.
Blogging is writing, a form of written communication in the digital age. Blogs are most commonly websites carrying posts containing opinion pieces. This emerging genre of written communication has been influenced by something called search engine optimisation (SEO). Very many blogs are written to improve the ranking and traffic to associated websites. This poses serious credibility questions about many of the blog postings that you may read on the internet. Of course, there are blogs written without recourse to SEO, but they are definitely in the minority.
The 400-word post has become a stand-alone genre in the 21C. This word length can generally satisfy the sampling spiders of search engine algorithms. There are rules that writers of these posts must adhere to if they are to attract the positive attention of search engines. Content on websites, in the form of text primarily and images to a lesser extent, is regularly searched by Google, Bing, Safari etc. The art of blogging must enhance the chances of keyword searches coming up with quality results for those end users seeking specific information.
In my role as a professional blogger I have written 400-word posts on just about every topic under the sun. My mother always said that I had the gift of the gab and I have channelled this talent for bullshitting into the written digital medium. I use the term bullshitting not to mean outright lies but rather the willy nilly casting of authoritative opinions. In fact, my modus operandi is to always tell the truth in my blogging wherever possible. I have described myself as a hack journalist of the digital age – a paid writer churning out endless 400-word posts for the direct benefit of clients I usually never see or hear. To keep my sanity, I focus on the message contained within my penned 400 words (no actual pen is involved).
If I can communicate a sage message to the readers of my posts, then, I can walk away with some modicum of satisfaction.
Two topics that have more in common than you might think are subjects I have been commissioned to write on a lot – sex and plumbing. Both practitioners of these ancient occupations, it seems, are either not great with words or are simply too busy to write their own copy. The two areas share concerns with couplings and both charge like wounded bulls. I was once critiqued by a phone sex operator client and censured for writing content that was too dirty. There are degrees of indecency and obscenity, even in the art of blogging. Dentistry is another demanding client of my blogging and I can detail great swathes of dental lore for those who may wish to know of these things. Superannuation and those who deal in such financial products and insurance, also, regularly call upon my skill set. Lawyers have recently come to the party and especially those who dabble in compensation law. Money lenders, whores, electricians and plumbers are all members of my art of blogging SEO family. DJs and wedding singers have joined the club, and now that I think about it, a bouncy castle provedore, vape shops, landscape gardeners, builders, conveyancers, plasterers, carpenters, healers, chiropractors, herbalists, bookies, locksmiths, security specialists, lighting shops, air conditioning contractors, speciality food stores, natural health providers, debt collection agencies, phone sex operators, life coaches, personal development seminars, sound therapy, disability advocates, and my apologies to all those I can no longer remember. I did, however, at the time compose authoritative text upon the concerns of all these agencies.
Research is an important factor in the art of blogging. Knowing where to look and knowing how to discern the valuable from the hot air is of paramount importance.
I think about the demise of old-world genres like letter writing and diarising. Emails purport to having replaced the letter but these two written expressions of communication have very different characteristics. Emails in my experience are generally written with an air of haste and target an immediate response from the reader in the main. The instantaneous reality of the medium permeates the content a lot of the time. Personally, I primarily associate emails with work, probably because this was the realm in which the medium was first introduced into my life. To this day, I have difficulty in dealing with very personal emails. Diary entries are a better fit with digital web logs and many owners of blog sites would consider their blogging as public diarising. Diaries were usually private affairs until their publication post-mortem for the celebrated and famous. The digital age, especially via social media, has reduced the realm of the private self, our inner worlds. Thoughts once kept private are splashed out on Facebook, Twitter and in blog posts. More recent generations of us seem compelled to list their lives on social media platforms. Things are more real for them when they can see them on the screens of their ubiquitous phones.
Our kids, are, and will be, looking to the internet for their written language learning. Let us hope that they quickly learn to become discerning in their perusing of these billions of blogs and web sites. The digital realm is now our global library of text and images. The art of blogging is having its 21st birthday. It is a young entity and, perhaps, should be judged accordingly. In time, like most things, it may well evolve into something worth watching. I will be doing my best to sustain the genre into the 21C. Perhaps, vlogs will replace the blog, with hacked human beings too busy to bother with something as boring as reading. Watching and listening may well be the way forward into the future. The death of writing and reading something worth reading will be an awful shame in this blogger’s opinion. Life may well become so pre-digestible that all information will be masticated prior to consumption by the children of tomorrow. The glazed look in his and her eyes while hovering over their screen was a harbinger of the demise of Homo sapiens. If only the art of blogging could have saved us from our deletion from the main game in time. I will write a 400-word post on this and hold my breath.
Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of Money Matters: Navigating Credit, Debt, and Financial Freedom.
When I was asked to write something about the recent passing of celebrity chef and raconteur, Anthony Bourdain, I realised that he had been a part of my own culinary journey. His death by suicide, whilst shocking, does fit with the narrative contained within his first book. I received, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, his breakout bestselling memoir, as a birthday present from my mother. It was a surprising choice and an equally surprising success. The book lifted the lid on the squalid and steamy underworld of commercial kitchens in the United States. Personally, I had been rattling the pans in restaurant kitchens for nearly 20 years, prior to the publication of Kitchen Confidential in 2000. Commercial kitchens, I suspect, are pretty similar around the globe, especially in western cities like New York, Sydney and London. RIP Anthony Bourdain.featured latest post
When I was asked to write something about the recent passing of celebrity chef and raconteur, Anthony Bourdain, I realised that he had been a part of my own culinary journey. His death by suicide, whilst shocking, does fit with the narrative contained within his first book. I received, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, his breakout bestselling memoir, as a birthday present from my mother. It was a surprising choice and an equally surprising success. The book lifted the lid on the squalid and steamy underworld of commercial kitchens in the United States. Personally, I had been rattling the pans in restaurant kitchens for nearly 20 years, prior to the publication of Kitchen Confidential in 2000. Commercial kitchens, I suspect, are pretty similar around the globe, especially in western cities like New York, Sydney and London. RIP Anthony Bourdain.
If you have not spent any serious time behind the closed doors of a commercial kitchen, particularly in the decades before the close of the 20C, then, the content of Bourdain’s first book may be an expose for you. The line cooks who banged out the food under pressure in busy hotels and restaurants were, often, a mix of desperadoes and unsavoury characters. People, usually men, who, perhaps, did not fit in with much of the modern world but found a niche at the range. The conditions inside these kitchens were, often, hot, sweaty, and on a knife’s edge. It takes a special kind of person to be able to bear up under this kind of pressure and in this sort of environment. There was a camaraderie among the denizens of these culinary stews.
Prior to this, not much had been written about the real workings of commercial kitchens. George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London was one of the few that recorded the reality of the dungeon kitchens in places like The Savoy. There had been little interest shown in the topic by those who decide what gets published, those at the top end of town. I wondered about this myself, as a working cook, why for decades and centuries the kitchen realm had been studiously ignored by the literati?
The New Yorker Bourdain shone a light on the inner workings of the kitchens he was employed to run. He wrote a follow-up to the first book, called Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the people Who Cook. His mother had been a staff editor on The New York Times, so, he, most likely knew his way around the written word. He attended Vassar College for a couple of years before dropping out. In 1978,
Bourdain graduated from The Culinary Institute of America, and went on to run a number of restaurant kitchens, including becoming executive chef at the Brasserie Les Halles in Manhattan.
The best-selling books launched Bourdain into the realm of celebrity TV chef, where he starred in A Cook’s Tour; No Reservations; The Layover; Parts Unknown; and The Mind of a Chef. More books, including cook books followed; and he was regarded in the same vein as a rock star in the culinary world of TV and publishing. He was, I suppose, a culinary journalist at heart, combining his two loves and creating a new form from their merging within him. My own brief experience in the media, creating recipe features and cooking magazine supplements jarred with what I intuitively understood hospitality to be about. I felt like a fake during the studio photoshoots, when my dishes were tricked up to look more real than real. I wonder if the glitz and glam of TV land, eventually got to Anthony Bourdain and he lost his way.
Of course, one can never know why a person decides to take their own life, we can only speculate. Bourdain was a writer, a chef, a TV show presenter, a father and well-remembered friend to many in the hospitality industry. RIP Anthony Bourdain.
Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of Money Matters: Navigating Credit, Debt & Financial Freedom.
Any sane person watching on has concern enough to be worried about Trump’s America. The very fact that this guy is still the leading GOP candidate for the 2024 presidential election is a judgement on the American people. Despots and dictators don’t rise to power without the help of the people. Everybody knows that Donald J Trump is a liar and a cheat. I mean, the guy is compulsive in both these character failings. More concerning is that he has broken the law on numerous occasions and has managed to avoid prosecution or conviction. No one voting for Trump is truly unaware of who is and how he goes about business.featured Government history latest post politics religion truth
Any sane person watching on has concern enough to be worried about Trump’s America. The very fact that this guy is still the leading GOP candidate for the 2024 presidential election is a judgement on the American people. Despots and dictators don’t rise to power without the help of the people. Everybody knows that Donald J Trump is a liar and a cheat. I mean, the guy is compulsive in both these character failings. More concerning is that he has broken the law on numerous occasions and has managed to avoid prosecution or conviction. No one voting for Trump is truly unaware of who is and how he goes about business.