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Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Darn good advice.

From The Mercury:

A well known Hobart psychologist has got some advice for those people still consumed with grief for Packed to the Rafters character Mel Rafter – get real.

Dr Harry Stanton said people still feeling sad over the TV death were likely to be bored with their own lives, and therefore identifying with people who are more exciting even if they are not real.

 So basically – ‘Get a life.’

It sounds a bit harsh, but the opposite (which is the more common practice), of encouraging people to think about their feelings, to go over what has upset them, and worst of all ‘to try to remember’ past traumatic incidents, does more harm than good.

If you are feeling down, get some sunshine, go for a walk, do something nice for your neighbour. You may not have a choice about how you feel, but you always have a choice about what you do about it.

It was perfectly innocent. It was.

I was in a shop in Kingscote (where my shop is, just by the way, on Dauncey St, opposite the cafe/newsagency) and the lady behind the counter asked me to sign a petition for state funds to build a skate park in town.

I said no. Well, what I actually said was that I was happy to, but I would wait until local young people had done some work, and raised a reasonable part of the cost.

The woman almost turned purple. ‘B, b, but the kids have nothing to do. They need this.’

Neither of those things is true. There is plenty to do on Kangaroo Island, including active sporting clubs of almost every description. There are several different art groups, a drama club, a writers’ group, craft groups, walking and hunting clubs, etc, etc. And even if those facilities did not exist, young people hardly ‘need’ a skate park.

But if they want one, I am more than happy to support them by signing a petition, writing letters, making a donation, even coming and helping to build it, as I did for the playground at American River.

But why should I put time and money into it, or ask other tax payers to do so, if the people who will benefit won’t?

Just read the last line of this obituary. I guess every little helps.

Bob sounds like he was a great guy, and I hope his family is going OK.

I ended my post featuring Morgan Freeman with the suggestion: ‘if you don’t think race should make a difference, stop acting like race makes a difference.’

So I was interested to read in Qantas’ in flight magazine about how jolly well some of those indigenous football players are doing.

Qantas even has a program to help them along, poor dears. Because, you know, of the extra help they need.

The whole tenor of the article was ‘Oh. you’re black, and you’re good at something. Gosh. Well done!’

This is a perfect example of Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls ‘the racism of low expectations.’

It is promoted by race relations commissioners, social workers and the media. It is applied to Australia’s indigenous peoples and to non-white immigrants.

It is insidious, insulting and destructive.

I saw a bumper sticker this morning that said ‘Free Tibet.’

I thought, ‘Well, I’ll have it if no one else wants it.’

It was like being back on Ansett.

On Tuesday Kathy and I travelled from American River to Geraldton.

it was a long day. Drive from American River to Penneshaw. Ferry to Cape Jervis. Drive to Adelaide. Fly to Perth. That was with Qantas, and it was OK. One of the lunch choices was chicken korma. That might have been a mistake. It was a bit smelly, in a stinky sort of way. And the elderly lady behind me kept swearing at her husband. But otherwise the flight was fine. Check-in staff were helpful, cabin staff were polite.

The flight from Perth to Geraldton was a different matter.

The young woman at the check-in counter looked and sounded as if she had several better things to do than check in passengers.

She barely spoke, other than to ask for ID, which we already had open for her.

She did manage ‘There you go’ as she dropped the boarding passes on the counter.

I asked which gate we were boarding from. ‘Just look at the screen’ she advised.

‘OK. Thanks. And where do we go from here?’ I said, not being familiar with the airport.

‘Just go through security.’

‘And which way is that?’

This was met with a deep sigh, as if passengers who did not know the airport were an appalling trial which no staff member should be expected to tolerate.

‘To your left. Look. Just go through security.’

Going through the gate, the staff who boarded guests were more interested in talking to one another than assisting passengers. You could have strolled onto the plane with a dozen sticks of dynamite wrapped around your head and the conversation would still have been about what Gerald and Tiffany did on their date last night.

We found our way across the tarmac to the plane, through a labyrinth of barricades and an occasional staff member staring into space.

The first thing that struck me when I got on the plane was the smell of urine. The toilet was near the door and smelled as if it had not been emptied any time in 2009.

I showed the stewardess my boarding pass. She looked at it as if it was a used tampon. ‘H8’ she said. Was this the standard greeting on Sky West? Or had she mistaken me for a member of some secret society like the Seven Dials?

Actually, I didn’t wonder either of those things. I had looked at my boarding pass when I was trying to work out which gate I needed to go to.

I knew H8 was my seat number. I didn’t need anyone to glare disdainfully and growl it back to me. Perhaps a ‘Good afternoon, welcome to Sky West’ or even ‘Hi, two thirds of the way down on the left’ would have been appropriate.

Then dinner arrived. There was no choice, but hey, it was food. Well, sort of.

It looked like Chicken Caesar salad. ‘Looked like’ was as close it got.

The chicken was a gluey concoction, apparently made of gristle mixed with chicken flavouring, and a streak of brown paint to make it looked as if the glue and gristle had been grilled.

There were soggy croutons, and wilted lettuce, and ‘Caesar Dressing’ in a little plastic pouch. And a stale bread roll.

I rarely drink on flights, but consoled myself with a mid strength beer.

There was a 1 inch by a half inch bar of Cadbury chocolate in the dinner box.

That was nice.

And our bags arrived in Geraldton at the same time we did. So I guess it wasn’t all bad.

I have a number of friends who are members of The Voice of the Laity, an organisation of lay people in the Anglican Diocese of The Murray.

Their website was recently hijacked. They have started a new website at murraydiocese.org

The contents are an older copy of the original website, so some updating needs to be done, but it is still interesting reading.

The situation in relation to the leadership of the Bishop of The Murray is complicated by two factors – one legal and one political.

The legal complication is that each diocese within the Anglican Church of Australia is a separate incorporated body.

The Primate or Archbishop can ask for an enquiry or tribunal into a diocesan bishop’s behaviour, but the bishop concerned is under no legal obligation to co-operate with any such enquiry, nor is he obliged to act in accordance with any recommendations such an enquiry may make.

In the case of the Diocese of The Murray, the Diocesan Council has already passed a vote of no confidence in the bishop. This was ignored.

The Bishop has indicated he will not co-operate with an enquiry, and that he will not comply with recommendations made by any tribunal.

In these circumstances the only purpose of an enquiry into his behaviour as bishop, or a tribunal to consider whether he has acted in ways which are scandalous or bring the church into ill-repute, is to give the Synod of the Diocese, or Diocesan Council, which is Synod’s standing committee, a clear and legally defensible reason for ending his employment, and the courage to do so.

The political complication is that there have also been moves in the Diocese of Ballarat to force an enquiry and tribunal into the behaviour of Bishop Michael Hough.

Enquiries and tribunals are expensive, time-consuming and embarassing.

But the real difficulty for the Primate and for the Archbishops of Adelaide and Melbourne is that the Dioceses of Ballarat and The Murray are the last two traditionalist Anglo-catholic dioceses in the country. Starting tribunals into both bishops at the same time may look like persecution by a large liberal power group of a small, unpopular and largeless voiceless minority.

The traditionalist minority in the Anglican Church of Australia (I am part of this minority) has been quick to claim persecution, and quick to demonise its liberal opponents. It is possible, even likely, that claims of theologically based persecution would be made in the media if tribunals were called into both bishops.

It would not be persecution. For the sake of the complainants, the persons complained of, and the wider church and community, allegations of abuse of any kind need to be promptly, carefully and impartially investigated.

I am not suggesting there is any parity between the situation in Ballarat and in The Murray. I have little knowledge of allegations made against Bishop Hough, and have deliberately distanced myself from events in The Murray.

From publicly available information and news reports, it appears the complaints in The Murray are largely from lay people, with some 200 written complaints made to the Archbishop over the course of Bishop Davies’ ministry, and nearly 100 statutory declarations made in support of a tribunal, the declarations alleging various kinds of verbal, spiritual and emotional abuse.

In Ballarat, the move for a tribunal seems to have come largely from a group of disaffected clergy.

In both cases answers and closure are needed.

But I seriously doubt it.

Six male members of the Mohler family in Missouri have been charged with various sexual offences after being accused of raping and sodomising a group of children over many years.

Such things do happen.

But in this case, the accusations rested initially on ‘recovered memories.’ In other words, likely fantasies.

I have seen people severely psychologically damaged after being told by therapists that people with eating disorders (depression, forgetfulness, diffculty sleeping, etc, etc) have often suffered sexual abuse as children, and that if the client does not remember being abused he or she (usually she) probably was anyway, and should try to recover those memories, and that doing so will help her find the cause of her illness, and then recover.

Rubbish.

The only things we know for certain about ‘recovered memory therapy’ is that the memories recovered rarely have any basis in reality, and that the longer a client stays in such ‘therapy’ the worse his or her mental health will become, for example:

Suicidal ideation or attempts by patients increased by a factor of 6.7 during therapy, from 10% to 67%.

Hospitalization of patients increased by a factor of 5.5 during therapy, from 7% to 37%.

Self-mutilation increased by a factor of 8, from 3% to 27%.

Other people have since come forward to support the first complainant’s story in the Mohler case. They have told stories which, if true, would be able to be confirmed by clear physical evidence.

But so far, despite a week of intensive searching around the Mohler house and yard, no phyiscal evidence has been found.

The police must investigate, of course. But the media focus on this story has all the hallmarks of Salem type, Azaria Chamberlain type, witch hunt hysteria.

The Parents’ Jury, whoever the heck they are, take a shot at McDonalds in dishing out their inaugural Fame and Shame Awards.

McDonalds won the Techno Hack category for their Maths Online programme – a free (and very good) online maths tuition available at no charge to every Australian teacher and student. Well, we certainly don’t want businesses providing high quality educational resources to just anyone, now do we?

McDonalds won the Pester Power award for Happy Meal ads which showed kids actually, you know, being happy and active and stuff. Well, we certainly don’t want businesses encouraging children to be happy and active, now do we?

McDonalds won the Bad Sport category for its sponsorship of Little Athletics. Darn those McDonalds restaurants for encouraging children to participate in athletics. What devious plans will they come up with next?

I assume that all this vitriol is based on the idea that McDonalds sells unhealthy food and therefore anything they do is evil.

But there are all sorts of healthy choices at McDonalds, which is also one of Australia’s leading employers of young people.

The Parents Jury (which seems to have no idea of the proper use of apostrophes) needs to get a life.

Christopher Booker summarises the arguments of his new book: The Real Global Warming Disaster: Is the Obsession with “Climate Chanage” Turning Out to Be the Most Costly Scientific Blunder in History?

Long title, but the answer is almost certainly yes. The cost in human life of the greenies’ DDT ban is in the tens of millions. But our obesession with non-existent global warming could end up costing even more.

This graph from Lord Monckton’s presentation helps to explain why. Cheap energy has brought much of world out of poverty, reducing infant mortality, extending life. Denying that cheap fuel to developing nations willl ensure they continue to suffer from starvation and from diseases now virtually unknown in the West.

Infant Mortality Correlated With Energy Use

Infant Mortality Correlated With Energy Use

Bernard Baruch said ‘Every man has a right to be wrong in his opinions. But no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.’

Global warming hysteria is not morally neutral. The people who believe and promote it may be ‘Not evil just wrong,’ but that won’t stop their policies from deepening poverty and suffering.

Ban Ki Moon and the IPCC need to get out of their airplanes and offices, and start talking to real scientists, and looking at that is happening in the real world. Arctic ice is not melting disastrously, for example.

According to Roy Spencer, AGW has all the hallmarks of an urban legend.

One of my best friends is a highly intelligent and capable woman who has raised four lovely daughters, run a successful business, and is a respected teacher whose students have produced consistently good results.

This will be her last year of teaching. She just does not have the energy to struggle every day with children who are rude, have no interest in learning, and for whom everything is boring. Of course it is they who are boring, because they have no interests, no skills, no informed opinions to share.

My friend is also dismayed by the level of verbal and physical abuse directed at staff and other students, and by the inability or unwillingness of Education department staff and politicians to recognise the problem, and to put reasonable structures in place to encourage learning, or even to ensure schools are safe places to work and learn.

The always interesting Boris Johnson makes a case for greater support for teachers, and more meaningful (though not necessarily corporal) discipline policies and processes.

It’s not my fault I’m a drunk, a womaniser and a liar, says Carey in his book The Truth Hurts – my Dad was mean to me.

Well maybe. Dad says otherwise of course.

This reminds me of the old saw about what a patient learned in therapy: I am responsible for all my own decisions, and everything bad that has happened in my life is my parents’ fault.

I’m inclined to believe the abuse stories. But for heaven’s sake, Carey is no longer a child.

Our background certainly influences our feelings and perceptions. But we still make choices about our behaviour. We still know what is right and what is wrong. Having sex with your best friend’s wife is wrong. Treating people as objects to be used is wrong. Lying to people who trust you and rely on you is wrong.

Shouting about it in the media a few years later to make yourself look better isn’t exactly kind or considerate either.

I have a friend who is a bit left-leaning. A lot left-leaning actually. Bosses exploit the workers, socialism is a fairer system, etc, etc.

Then she opened a shop. Of course, it is one of those trendy organic food, fair trade coffee, home made soap type places, but I respect anyone who risks their own money and puts in the massive time and effort it takes to get a business started.

She is doing quite well. Well enough to need to employ someone. That lasted two weeks.

When I asked her what had happened, she told me she had gotten fed up with paying her employee twice as much as she was earning, for doing half the work. And, she added indignantly, her employee hadn’t even put any money into the business.

I couldn’t help a little snicker.

Final update to the JBC scam saga.

For background see the two earlier articles.

David reported in comments that he has written to ASIC. He has had a response which I cannot detail here. But they are taking his complaint seriously.

What is not so good has been the response from his bank.

Apparently Mastercard have a system called Mastercard Secure, or Securecode. This is supposed to provide protection for cardholders against fraudulent transactions, and protection for merchants against false chargeback claims.

I have been a Mastercard user for years and had never heard of this scheme.

If a merchant is a member of Mastercard Secure, and they attempt to ‘authenticate’ a transaction through this system, then even though there is no communication with the cardholder, the merchant is protected against any chargeback claim. 

JBC has heard of it, and are registered for Mastercard Secure.

I have checked with Mastercard, and I was amazed when I heard what this scheme means in practice.

What the Mastercard Secure system means is that any merchant who is registered under the scheme can deduct any amount from your card at any time. As long as the merchant attempts to ‘authenticate’ the transaction through the system, you, the cardholder, have no protection at all.

Mastercard will not attempt to communicate with you unless you have also joined Mastercard Secure. They will simply confirm the transaction as legitimate without checking with you, and you then have no recourse, even if, as in JBC’s case, the merchant is a known scammer.

This scheme, whatever its intended purpose, protects fraudulent merchants or scammers from genuine chargeback requests at the expense of cardholders.

I for one will be moving on from Mastercard.

Update:

David reports the fraudulent debit to his Mastercard has been refunded. The Securecode system does not protect merchants who deduct funds without authorisation, or transactions which are dishonest, as JBC’s debit to his account was.

He also reports discussions with the Australian Securities and Investment Commsission. Without discussing any individual business, they assured him that they and the Federal Police actively pursue scam sellers of sports betting or share price prediction software.

The smooth patter and glossy advertising material that promoted the JBC software was normal for scammers. Most people would see through that, or at least, still have questions. What made JBC more convincing to ordinary people was the fake websites they had set up. These were calculated to give even someone who checked carefully the impression that JBC was a legitimate and well-respected business.

Setting up fake websites to give your product an air of respectability it does not deserve is deliberately dishonest. These people are thieves, nothing more, despite their fancy advertising.

A brief update to my earlier article on JBC.

Others have been caught by this scam.

JBC have set up fake websites to give their share trading /stock trading software credibility. This is dishonest.  It shows clearly that this is not simply a product that does not work for some people, but a deliberate scam.

You can complain via the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.

Or via the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Or Scamwatch.

Since JBC is based in NSW, you could also lodge a complaint online at the NSW Fair Trading site.

Please email me or comment if you have been contacted by JBC, or if you have purchased their product. The more people who write or complain about JBC, the sooner they will be shut down, and the more people will be saved from losing hard earned savings or superannuation.

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