COMMON SENSE PREVAILS

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All Ages Matter. As it should.

Four months ago I wrote a blog on Dr. David Goodall – a 102 year old botanist and ecology scientist – who had been told to pack up his office with the Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia declaring him unfit to be on campus.

His career spanned 70 years resulting in more than 100 research papers, earning him three doctorates and the Order of Australia for his contribution to serving Humanity.

David Goodall is also a Shakespearean actor of note.

Below link leads to the short original ABC News article on this 102-year old scientist.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-21/102yo-researcher-told-to-leave-his-edith-cowan-university-job/7769422

 

  • It turned out to be a silly decision.

 

The below link leads to a 20 December 2016 article titled “WA university reverses decision to eject 102-year-old scientist from campus”.

 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-20/wa-university-reverses-decision-to-eject-102yo-scientist/8136836

 

The 102-year-old scientist will now remain on campus after the institution reversed its earlier decision to kick him out of his office.

“I hope to continue with some useful work in my field in so far as my eyesight permits.”

Dr Goodall’s plight gained international attention, sparking debate about the value of older people in the workforce.

“I think people were rather sympathetic to me as a centenarian who wanted to continue life in society,” Dr Goodall said.

“I prefer to be on campus because there are other people around and people who potentially are friends.”

Dr Goodall has accepted an offer from the university to serve as an unpaid honorary research associate for another three years.

It feels great to blog a feel-good story in a year when The Grim Reaper and Father Time have plucked away so many very talented artists to perform on The Great Stage in the Sky.

 

LABELS AND POST-TRUTHS

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LABELS

“Misogynist. Racist. Human Dreg. Buffoon. Idiot. Pompous. Cheat. Narcissist. Arrogant. Bombastic. Jerk. Stupid. Obnoxious. Disgusting. Bully. Ignorant. Clown. Disgraceful. Axxhole. Idiot. Demagogic. Fake.”

  • These are some of the labels that have been used to describe candidates in the recent USA presidential election.

The word “misogynist” refers to males.

There is of course a female version i.e. “misandrist”.

  • Would there be a “misandrist” or two amongst those who freely used “misogynist” as a catch cry to vent their feelings?

Psychologists suggest that we should “look in the mirror” when we use derogatory words to describe others, to see if we ourselves are perhaps “standing behind the door”.

However unwelcome this suggestion may be…

  • Can one really pigeonhole a person with a single or even a few words?

Some people describe certain animals – including cows and bulls – as sentient beings, i.e. of conscious mind, with the ability to perceive and respond to sensations of whatever kind.

However, the world is now a place where we have become so smart that a complex human being can be categorised in 140 or less characters. World-wide and instantaneously.

Or in a 5-second soundbite.

Or a single word which reflects your (limited) understanding of what “truth” that single word conveys.

Really? A single word?

  • If you consider yourself a rational and complex human being, then what label will the following people attach to you once they see the labels that you so “rationally” attach to other people:
    • Your partner?
    • Your children?
    • Your friends?
    • Your enemies?
  • And which of those labels would you say really describe you?
  • Is it time to look in the mirror?
  • Or are you comfortably standing behind the door?

 

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“Post-truth”

 

The 2016 Word of the Year is defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.

Spoiler alert: Human beings are susceptible to feelings, emotion, personal belief, passion, changeable moods, frustration, love and even hatred.

If we dissect this word, we find it concocted of two words that suggest that there has been (political) truth before this moment.

 

  • Which I beg to differ.

 

Are we to say that politicians and CEO’s of large and influential corporations spoke only the truth before the most recent USA presidential election?

And that there has not been any fake news before this?

 

  • The answer is a resounding “NO!” on both counts.

 

Amoral politicians and said CEO’s have been leading whole nations into a dazed maze for generations, not only since 2015 – and with the help of a guilty and an amoral (and sometimes immoral) media.

To quote Bertrand Russell “Politics is largely governed by sententious (i.e. given to moralizing in a pompous or affected manner) platitudes which are devoid of truth” (my brackets).

 

Post-truth is a silly word.

We are still living in a Pre-truth world.

And Bertrand Russell’s quote relate to more than politicians only.

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The “Department of Justice and Regulation”

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Law. Not Justice

After a long time between drinks I had a chat with my friendly neighbor Marc on social matters that bother him. Here is what he had to say:

 

Upbringing embodies two components i.e.

  • Respect, including self-respect, and respect for values – or a lack there-of.
  • Discipline, including self-discipline – or a lack there-of.

Our lawyer told me that when you go to court, you receive Law, not Justice.

  • So why is it called the Criminal Justice System?

Or the “Department of Justice and Regulation” as it is in our state?

  • It is a misnomer. Politicians misname things to suit certain agendas.

To quote George Orwell of “1984” and “Animal Farm” fame:

“Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”. “Politics and the English Language”, 1946

 

Solidity to Pure Wind

 

We are going through a crime wave where we live. Home invasions, car-jacking, assaults, violent robberies, drug-fueled violence, hit and run drivers (literally) who leave their victims to die by the side of the road.

Lets put solidity to this:

  • Car-jacking/theft is up almost 85%.
  • In general – crime is up almost 13%, while it is receding in other states.
  • Violent crime covers the first 16-18 items on nightly news.
  • In some suburbs the citizens have formed watch-groups and even vigilante groups.

Imagine the trauma for the normal citizenry.

 

  • The head of police warned the citizenry not to form such groups. “We are making progress”.

Solidity to pure wind. It has been 7 months and crime is rising

 

  • The state premier told the citizenry to leave it up to the police to handle (49 police per 100,000 residents, police stations are being closed in most suburbs).

Solidity to pure wind.

 

Do Not Overstep the Mark

 

A popular legal expert warns on TV “Careful not to overstep the mark if you catch a group of home-invaders – because you do not want to be jailed for 8 or 10 years.” That is the law.

WHAT!

Stuff the Law mister legal eagle.

We want Justice.

Like it says in the” Department of Justice and Regulation”. Otherwise, name it correctly.

  • Question to the legal eagle: What does overstep mean when you are 71, alone in your home and get attacked (in your home) by a group of crowbar swinging youths who inflict bodily harm, steal your car, drive it 20 km and then set it on fire?

Dear Mr. Legal Eagle: Will you kiss and cuddle the perpetrators if you or your family were the victims?

If the state cannot protect its citizenry, then may the citizenry protect themselves?

We provide state lawyers (i.e. society pays) for those who get caught. And if they are under-age they are often released (without bail) into their parents’ custody.

  • The same parents who let them roam the streets at 3.30 a.m.

People of age less than 18 are considered under-age, regardless of the crime they commit. They do not get named publicly and get soft-touch sentences. Even get sent home.

  • Case in point: A group of 3 gets caught for a home invasion and car theft at 3.30 a.m. Ages: 17, 14 and 12. The 12-year old’s rap sheet shows 21 break-ins and entry, car theft, even bodily harm. 21 times. And he gets released into the custody of the same parents who did not know where he was at 3.30 a.m. in the morning.

I suppose that is the “Regulation” side of the Department of “Justice and Regulation”.

Three questions come to mind:

  • Should the legal age of being considered an adult criminal be lowered?
  • Will these parents ever get control of their children?
  • OR are they possibly beneficiaries of the loot?

A volunteering bleeding-hearts person in our area visits these under-age criminals when they are caught – to help them understand their rights.

  • Their RIGHTS? But should someone not focus on the WRONGS?
  • Who helps the victims overcome their trauma – inflicted by those who now all of a sudden are too young AND have rights?

 

How Do We Correct This?

 

Here is what needs to happen – and I know the bleeding hearts leftists will disagree but that is fine.

Just to make clear: I have degrees in Sociology, Psychology and Criminology. And I have been involved with criminals in jails, including for violent and drug-related crimes.

 

Restore discipline

That includes making the criminal accept responsibility for the crime.

An “I am sorry” to get a reduced sentence does not work.

Victims do not get reduced sentences. Neither should criminals.

 

Hand down appropriate sentences

100 hours of community services on how to make jam or to cut grass (these are real sentences!) will not teach a criminal not to assault an elderly person on the train or not to invade a home.

Soft-touch community correction orders are nonsense.

 

Create Citizen Review Boards

Citizens should review parole boards and judges/magistrates’ performance.

Let the citizens develop a scoring system that affect judges / magistrates’ annual increases/promotions and even retaining their jobs.

With all due respect to a separation of the judiciary from the citizens, we vote for government and if we don’t like them we can repeal them only after a certain timeframe. In the mean time we have career judges / magistrates who are appointed and who are beyond the citizenry’s reach.

It they fail us, then how do we correct it?

  • The citizenry are the victims. And pay the taxes that pay the politicians, parole boards, judges and magistrates salaries. They actually work for us. So we should be able to fire them.

So rather than let a situation develop to a point where vigilante groups are formed, get rid of “soft touch” judges/magistrates. Two strikes and they are out of a job.

Keep parole boards and judges responsible for any criminal behavior perpetrated by criminals they release into society.

We pay the taxes and we want to see it at work.

Create Citizen Review Boards.

 

Let the citizens set lower limit sentences for crimes

There is a trend to give increasingly lighter sentences and parole reviews for even murder after a few years.

This is in no-body’s interest. Victims of violent crimes live in constant fear when the criminals get out on parole. And going back to jail AFTER another violent crime is not a deterrent for the criminal.

Let citizens decide lower limit sentences.

 

Let Victims Sue Ministers/Judges/Magistrates/Parole Boards

Develop a mechanism for victims to sue the ministers/judges/magistrates/parole boards in their private capacity.

We are kept responsible for our behavior and mistakes we make at work.

Make ministers/judges/magistrates/parole boards fire-able by the public.

 

Life for certain categories

Certain groups don’t get to walk free – ever: Murderers, child molesters, drug-lords, perpetrators of grievous bodily harm – regardless of whether perpetrated whilst drunk or drugged-up. That should be aggravating circumstances – not grounds for leniency.

And this should include vehicle-related crimes.

Serious crimes don’t have parole.

 

Restore respect

Criminals must face their victims and explain why they did what they did and how they intend to change for it not to happen again – in the presence of their parents/partners and the court.

Criminals must face victims (at the choice of the victims).

 

Keep parents responsible

Keep parents responsible for their children’s crimes in terms of financial costs to victims. Not the state. We do not want to pay for a criminal’s misbehavior.

This should also include legal costs. If necessary, sell their belongings. That should be part of the punishment.

Keep parents responsible for under-age kids’ crimes.

 

Tackle problems at the core

Fix the core/source of the problem.

Confiscate property. Solidity to pure wind.

Then deal with the criminals

Do not treat symptoms. Be relentless on the problem.

 

And a nice last touch

Let real hardcore crims have a session with repeat offending kids. Like it is done in some places in the USA. An in-your-face session that is.  Sweet talk, return to parental custody, and community service apparently does not work. Neither does light sentences.

Consider in-your-face therapy.

Auto-renewal of Car/House-relate Premiums on Credit Cards

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(This is an extract from my forthcoming book on Credit Cards)

 

  • Many insurance companies will now auto-renew your annual car / house-related premiums. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but also not necessarily a good thing.

 

Unexpected or Inconvenient Time

Unless you keep close track of this it may cause you an “unexpected” problem or at minimum a surprise at an often inconvenient time.

My recent experience is that:

(a) it is difficult to get real bricks and mortar car/house-related insurance offices to visit in Australia

(b) the auto-renewal stunt is pulled after they have recorded your credit card number during the sales conversation, and normally also in a much more matter-of-fact oh-by-the-way remark-like way.

 

“The Way We Do Business”

I had that experience recently and even though I asked for the auto-renewal to be removed, I was told that it is the way the company does business.

Check in your country if there is an authority that can give you more advice on this. In Australia the Australian Securities and Investments Commission has taken up this matter and six of the insurers informed that it is part of their business model. Of course you do not have to abide by this and can call them before the policy renewal date or even afterwards to cancel and get a pro-rata return.

  • One way to stop auto-payments is to not give your credit card number and insist that you will pay the premium at the Post Office or through an internet transfer (such as BPAY).
  • Another option is to buy a pre-filled temporary credit card which you can dispose of afterwards. These cards are normally also available at Post Offices. And the insurer (or whomever they are) cannot get their hands on your real credit card number. The ball is, however, now in your court to remember your premium payment’s date to ensure you do not become uninsured.

 

Reversal of Premium

You should be able to get a cancelled premium reversed though and that is often another bone of contention: trying to get them to reverse the debit in time for you to use your card to pay for a better deal.

I just went through that process and though the money is normally taken off your card immediately, it takes 5 – 7 business days for the card company to reverse the money back into your credit card account.

 

Cancel Your Card

  • There is another way to stop insurance companies and it is to cancel your credit card and get your bank to issue a new card. This is however a real hassle and it may cause issues with other transactions such as pre-paid flight tickets where you often have to present the card you bought the tickets with months earlier. But it is one way to protect yourself from such companies.

I also think you should be able to cancel and if the insurer auto-renews without permission then you should be able to take them to court for at least theft, but the law is an ass at the moment.

 

Shop Around at Renewal Time

The benefit and argument that the insurance companies use is that it keeps you insured. However, the decision should still be yours because near the end of the period you may want to (in fact perhaps SHOULD) shop around for a better premium.

  • It is known that insurance companies increase your 2nd year policy sometimes out of proportion since they know that they have already taken the money off your card.
  • And it is also known that insurers entice new customers with cheaper initial rates. Loyal customers pay the price to lure new clients instead of being rewarded for their loyalty.

 

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RIGHTS

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There are three types of Right.

  • Right and Left.
  • Right and Wrong.
  • Right and Privilege.

 

Right and Left

These are basically directions. If you turn Right and I turn Left, it is going to perhaps take a long time for us to meet – if ever we do.

 

Right and Wrong

Sometimes also Incorrectly referred to as Correct and Incorrect. This is a bit more troublesome. Especially when it comes to the courts (more on the courts when we get to Rights and Privileges) where countries and cultures enshrine their norms in Laws. These change over time and under circumstance. What was Wrong last year, or even last week, could all of a sudden be Right. When it comes to Maths, then things get a bit tougher. 1 + 1 = 2. But what happens around the concept of Zero. Is there such a thing as Zero? A more difficult question is “Is there such a thing as Nothing?” See most people have problems with concepts.

 

Rights and Privileges

These are even more troublesome. What are rights? And what jurisdiction do they have? Are they local, regional or universal? Who gives Rights or are they inherited from birth? Are they inalienable? Can you lose your Rights (if you ever had any) and who can take them away from you? Do you ever have to pay for Rights? And what if your Rights clash with my Rights?

Tough questions. To which we all think we may have the answer, but let me tell you “No we don’t have the answers” because if we try to enforce some of our answers under the pretext of a Right, we are going to land in more mess than we can handle, or would like to handle – as a person, a society, as a humanity.

 

What are Rights?

I tried to find a definition of Rights but gave up. There are too many words trying to describe this word. Here is a definition of Human Rights by The Free Dictionary by FARLEX: “The basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are considered to be entitled, often held to include the rights to life, liberty, equality, and a fair trial, freedom from slavery and torture, and freedom of thought and expression.”

Really?

Take note of the words “considered” and “often”. Who gives this consideration? What does “entitle” mean? Another big word to struggle with. A short and simple answer is that this may be “considered” fair in certain circumstances and places but:

  • Go take a walk in a jungle and see how many Rights you have. To any of the things mentioned here.

Who guarantees your “Rights” and under what circumstances? If a lion savages you in the jungle, who decides if the lion should be put to death? In fact, should the lion be put to death? Doesn’t the lion have a Right in its own backyard? So, Rights are not universal and they are arguable amongst species. Now what happens amongst humans who live in different countries? Interesting question, more so when country A decides that the people in country B has the same Rights as those in country A. This sort of thinking leads to war. And then we send in soldiers from country A – some of whom die – to “free” those in country B. And who decides that country A’s soldiers can have their lives (a basic Human Right) terminated? Is that Right?

You see, the concept (and it is just that – it is not a Right – that Rights are Rights may be misleading. In fact it may be Incorrect. Too many assumptions. So I give up trying to answer these questions. It is a waste of time.

And politician and lawyers make too much money out of them.

 

“Freedom”

I prefer the word “Freedom”. It imbues a choice. But even those are limited.

 

Privilege

Maybe the word “Privilege” make a bit more sense. But there are also questions about that. Who gives you a Privilege? Or is that an Incorrect question.

Maybe you don’t have to be given a Privilege.

Maybe you are born with Privileges. Maybe Life is a Privilege. Arms. Legs. Eyesight. So is fresh air. Running water. Food. An opportunity to learn. Study. Have a job. The Time we have with loved ones.

  • Privileges are things we should be thankful for.

Rights are things we claim. Rightly or Wrongly. But who “guarantees” them?

 

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US – OR “THEM”

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It is often said that what we do and say defines us.

 

I beg to differ:

  • Is it not the other way around?
  • Is it not who and what we are that defines our actions and words?
  • Is it not our inner feelings, emotions, thoughts – and sometimes our logic – that drive us to do what we manifest?

 

The answer is “Yes”.

 

And I put logic last since it is more than often not the thing that drives us.

  • Think back in your own life. Are you where you are because of logic? Did you get involved with your partner because of logic? Do you have 3 kids because of logic? Do you work where you work and do what you do because of some flurry of logic?

 

The answer is “No”.

 

As much as we would like to think we are the pinnacle, the top of the tree – The Bee, never mind the bees knees – we are far from it.

 

It has been said that humans use less than 5% of their brain capacity.

 

I believe that it is far less than that. I don’t think we use even 0.5% of our brain capacity. And we are constructed that way. We do not have the physical, mental, psychological, emotional, intellectual and spiritual make-up to use even that tiny fraction of what we carry in our cranium.

 

And I am not going to buy into some genetic, biological or sociological gumpf here (done enough study in sociology, psychology and criminology in my time) that absolve us from our actions or non-actions. Such as “I had a terrible life as a child, Your Honour. And I was under the influence of drugs Your Honour. That is why I did this and that. So please humor me and give me a pass on this deed”.

 

We have been given this Life. For which we are responsible in all aspects. Our job is to develop it. Maintain it. Respect it. Use it for the good.

 

So let this then be the year in which our words and deeds be defined by who we are. Not the other way around.

 

Welcome to 2016.

MORE PRIDE – LESS PREJUDICE

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SANTA and SWEETY TWINKLETOES

 

As I blogged earlier on, this year I had the privilege to be a Santa at a national chain store, during which I engaged with over 3000 (recalculated figure) children and parents. I was very ably supported by Elf Sweety Twinkletoes (she selected her own name) who did a great job of taking photos as well as handing out candy canes to all kiddies, and in some cases the adults as well.

Of course one makes mistakes – some of them based on perspectives, perhaps even prejudices – during such engagements.

  • I was no different.

Apology is – as I also wrote in my most recent book “50 PERSPECTIVES – The Value of Things Unseen” – good for both body and soul.

So today is a good day to report on myself and then to apologize for some of my prejudices and laud the prides of those who pointed out the error of my perspectives. And most of them were children, which makes me hold out hope for the future!

Case 1:

A somewhat overweight child walks up to me, short hair and long pants with a T-shirt and the conversation goes like this:
Santa “Have you been a good little boy this year:”
Child ‘ I am actually a girl”.
Santa ‘I apologize and thank you for correcting me. So let me ask, have you been a good little girl this year.”
Girl “Sometimes”.
Santa “Honesty gets you to the front of the class” after which she does me a favour and poses for a photo (yes, and for those who think I am in the child-snatching business, with the permission of her mother. And yes, it was her mother – not her father.)

Case 2:

A boy (this time it is a boy, with dark glasses and a big smile approaches me with his mother a close step behind him.
Santa “Is the sun shining very bright outside?”
Mom “My son has a problem with his eyes”.
Santa apologizes. Photo gets taken in a friendly milieu.

Case 3:

Two youngsters approach us, one clearly on the verge of being around age 17 or 18. Santa and Sweety Twinkletoes are not allowed to take photos of any child under 16 unless accompanied and permissioned by a family member of age older than 16. So Santa obtains permission, poses for a photo and wishes the children a Blessed Christmas, only to see the parents approach – with smiles – and the mother, with a short jilbab (in this case the Muslim headgear, not the whole coat-like garment) whispering smilingly in her husband’s ear.

  • Santa writes this down to a learning experience. Both parents thank us as they walk away with a giggle and a rib-pump.

 

LUNCHTIME SANTA

Following my 7 weeks as an in-store Santa I was asked to be lunchtime Santa at a hotel on Christmas Day. What an opportunity! 450 paid diners with only food, drink and celebration on their minds (their plates and in the glasses).

Santa waddles through the crowd, spreading cheers and stops to lighten up the face of a child with longer-than-shoulder length curly hair.

Santa “Hello, and have you been a good little girl this year?”

Child “I am actually a boy!”

Santa (taking off his classes “Apology young man! Of course you are. Look at MY long white hair!”

What is astounding is that the boy remains friendly, has a lovely chat with Santa and then gives him a High Fives.

  • The forgiveness of children is something to marvel at.

(Interjectory note: When this Santa was 35 years old and going through a 3 year back-packing trip his hair was shoulder length and often worn in the Prince Valiant cut). As I am now double that age I believe that memory loss also has something to do hairloss!

Santa writes this down to being a slow learner.

And finally, the little boy who wore dark glasses in Case 2 above runs up to Santa with “Hello Santa! I remember you from the store. Merry Christmas to you!”

Santa is at a loss for words a bit – and High Fives the boy!

 

TAKEAWAYS

  • Takeaway Line 1.

Girls can have short hair.

In fact half of my work-life managers (whom I respect very much) are ladies with short hair AND may I add, some of them are younger than I am. Glad to say I hold no prejudices there. My wife is younger than I am and not only do I love her, but also respect her very much. So here is my question to those men who cannot work for a female manager “How do you respect your wife – more so if she is younger than you?” GROW UP and MATURE.

 

  • Takeaway Line 2

Not all people – especially children – with long hair are girls. Some of them are proud boys, with the guts to stand up and correct even Santa!

 

Brilliant!

 

  • Takeaway Line 3

Not everyone who poses with Santa is a Christian.

Corollary : does it matter? No, I don’t think so. I have lived in a Muslim country for a quarter of my life and posed for many photos with Muslims. That does not mean I am a Muslim or that I cannot wish my Muslim friends blessed returns of the days that they celebrate.

 

  • Takeaway Line 4

Santa makes mistakes like all people do. And there is nothing wrong with that and Santa feels better for being corrected and after apologizing for his (yes in this case it is “his”) mistakes.

I trust all my Christian friends had a Blessed Christmas, and to my non-Christians friends, a great festive break. May you all enjoy a safe, healthy, prosperous and memorable 2016, and here we open a new can of worms, since some people count the years in a different way than Christians do!

I wish you peace and no prejudices, regardless of your religion and perspectives.

 

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