COMMON SENSE PREVAILS

Standard

 

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.

 

Advertisements

LABELS AND POST-TRUTHS

Standard

 

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?

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

“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.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ageism at Work: “Unfit to be on Campus”

Standard

 

  • Discrimination is discrimination. And none more so despicable, pathetic and cowardly than when perpetrated against the elderly.

 

Today’s News in Australia:

 

Dr David Goodall – a 102 year old botanist and ecology scientist – has 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 spans 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 will take you to a short 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

 

This will be a death sentence. Most of his social exchanges are at the University.

This man is a scientist. Not a fitness instructor. Why send him home?

 

The Edith Cowan University is a public university, thus taxpayer-funded.

We also fund jails.

  • And this is where they are sending this man who has devoted his life to Humanity.

 

Says Dean of the School of Sciences, Andrew Woodward:

  • “This is not a decision we’ve taken lightly, this is something that has been considered over a period of time.”
  • “We are now of the opinion where the situation is at a point where we really do need to make this change in David’s best interest and our own.” (my accentuation)

 

(George Orwell: Rule # 3 on writing: “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out”

Question: Can anyone spot the excess words in the above statements? Or are both statements excessive?)

 

Here is a snip from Dean Andrew Woodward’s public LinkedIn profile:

  • “In my leadership role at ECU, I have a strong commitment to quality teaching, engaged research and a focus on expanding international partnerships. I believe strongly in ECUs values, particularly those of integrity and respect, and make sure that I demonstrate these values in my dealings with others.” (my accentuation).

 

Mr. Andrew Woodward, let me put this in a different context:

  • So, a person can be too black and must move off campus?
  • Or too white?
  • Perhaps too short?
  • Too tall?
  • Bald?
  • Wrong sex”

 

Or Too Old?

 

With modern science you may even be able to change some of the above parameters.

But age?

 

Here is a suggestion:

  • Let us put in place forced retirement of Deans after one year in their job. And move them off campus. For their best interest.

 

Sounds silly doesn’t it? But to paraphrase Andrew Woodward:

  • This is not a suggestion I make lightly, this is something that has been considered over a period of time.
  • I am now of the opinion where the situation is at a point where universities really do need to make this change in their Deans’ best interest.

 

I repeat: Discrimination is discrimination. And none more so despicable, pathetic and cowardly than when perpetrated against the elderly.

 

I would like to close with 6 points on “Remember – Age is Mostly a Number” from my 2nd book “50 PERSEPCTIVES – The Value of Things Unseen”.

 

KEY POINTS

  • How ‘old’ would you be if you didn’t know your birthdate and real age?
  • Ageism is another –ism, and is as offensive as racism and sexism.
  • Some reach mental maturity earlier whilst others are slower and even stagnate.
  • To age is a privilege. It is neither a sin, nor anti-social. Character is what counts.
  • Knowing and understanding things become easier as we age.
  • Ageing is as much a spiritual journey as a physical one with challenges taking on different hues.

 

I note Andrew Woodward was an IT Network Security Manager and Advisor for 10 years of his life. I can relate to that having been in the IT domain for 43 years of my life, and having had IT Network Security Managers work for me….

I can share the passion for acting with Dr. Goodall, having been able to play in numerous student movies and one feature film (at age 68/69) care of Singaporean independent filmmaker, director and producer Tzang Merwyn Tong. And am thankful for that opportunity to do something outside of the IT world…

 

Hence in closing:

 

“You are not old until regrets take the place of dreams” – Adapted from John Barrymore

Dr. Goodall – don’t be bullied. May you be spared for many fruitful years!

 

We all get old. Or die on the way trying to get there.

The “Department of Justice and Regulation”

Standard

 

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.

Dipping My Keyboard Back Into The Ink

Standard

 

Don’t Await Destiny. Go Create It

 

I have not updated my blog for some time since I was completing my book on credit cards, which is now available on Amaz
on, Kobo, B&N, Scribd and a host of other places.

 

Red Cover
The good news is that my red cover book “Credit Card Debt Freedom – Part One” is FREEBook front page jpegLY downloadable from the above places.

 

 

The black cover “Credit Card Debt Freedom – Full Book” is available for a small price.

 

I want to clear my debt of thanks to Conrad, Danie and Rupert (in alphabetical order) who beta-read my draft and also proposed positive critique of things which I may be able to get into future editions. I, of course, take full responsibility for the published versions.

 

Now on a point of order: During my blog absence there were a number of local and global issues in response to which I had written blogs but did not post them. I thought it wiser to let the blogs cool off for a while. However, on rereading them, I still feel as strongly about some of them now as I did then.

 

So, I may just dip my keyboard in the proverbial ink soon and publish what might divide opinion.

 

I Felt Amputated – And Home on a Sidewalk

Standard

 

This is a note I wrote on 30 July 2014.

 

This morning I took a train into town to lodge my tax return. Being in semi-retirement with virtually no income for the past 18 months there was not a lot to report – just a few dollars interest and about $1,000 from some casual work. Not enough to last a winter.

The way to the Tax Office lead past an untidy long-haired bearded and shabbily dressed jobless vagrant on the sidewalk, appreciating his luck of a wrapped sandwich – gifted by a person a few steps ahead of me. A cup of coffee was still steaming next to him – another obvious gift. He did not look up, trying to avoid the stares of passersby – a thimble of pride left in him?

A twinge of empathy seeped itself into me. Winter. No fixed abode. A set of fraying and dirty clothes. Cement sidewalk for a chair – and bed.

As I sat waiting for the Tax Office to open, increasing larger pockets of people murmured by – well-heeled, chatting – some holding expensive brand name drinks and donuts. A thin layer of envy spread over me. Something was amiss.

I started to feel amputated.

The Tax Office doors opened and accorded an escape from myself. The soulless authoritarian Tax Officer and I disengaged as quickly as I could. And I then stepped into a food-court to sit down and gather my thoughts. Around me people sat at small round tables, doing what people do around small round tables.

Yes, I missed the dignity of work and what comes with it.

The way back to the train station became a lonely upstream weave against a flood of workers. The smell of freshly cooked chips wafted out of a shop.

I boarded an empty train home. Opened the plastic lunchbox with fried rice that my wife prepared for the journey. A few shelled peanuts rounded off my lunch – eating them one at a time. A minimalistic frame of mind was engaging me faster than I liked. Even the single paper serviette seemed to have more value than its one time use…

The only difference between me and the jobless “bum” seemed to be that I had a few more earthly things but in reality both of us were amputated.

There is no dignity in being poor, jobless, of pensionable age with nothing to do.

 

Postscript

And then it struck me: Amputated as I might have felt, I was going back to a house I can call a home. With running water and a toilet. A warm bed and clean clothes tomorrow. And hot soup on the stove.

I know where I sleep at night.

And I know where the Ministers of Health and Employment and Social Services sleep at night.

 

Quo Vadis?

But where do our homeless go at night?

 

Conclusion

Don’t underestimate the dignity and value of a job.

 

30 July 2014

 

oooOOOooo

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

Standard

(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.

 

oooOOOooo