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Friday, January 21, 2011

A Reflection

Not a rant this time but a reflection. And I promise - no profanity this time whatsoever. Oh wait - better get it out of my system. Buggershitbum. Right. Done.

I arrived home this afternoon to Canberra after a month down in Victoria, staying with Mum.

Dad passed away back in October and this was the first trip back down since the funeral.

The house seemed strangely empty. The past couple of years, Dad occupied the same seat in the living room, or on a fine day would sit on an old park bench at the rear of the house, enjoying the sun. Those seats seemed strangely vacant without him. Several times I found myself about to say something to him, except of course he wasn't there.

That park bench had been a bugbear of mine the last couple of years. Mum bought it for dad years ago and time had taken its toll. The wood had deteriorated, some screws had come adrift and the whole thing wobbled badly. I wanted to replace the worst of the wood but initially Dad wanted something else done to it instead, then didn't want that done either. Well, it's not wobbling now. The worst of the wood has been replaced, painted up, screws replaced, more inserted that had never been put in when the original kit was assembled, other bits tightened and tweaked. After it was hauled back outside, I sat down and for a moment, it felt like Dad was there with me.

Dad's funeral was in October. He was cremated but his ashes were not returned to Mum until after I had had to get to Canberra and work. On Boxing Day, I saw his memorial plaque in the rose garden at the cemetery where his ashes were scattered beneath a rose bush. I was there with some of the family. When the others moved on, I stayed back for a moment, crouched down and told Dad that I missed him. Then for the first time since Mum had called me with the news of Dad's passing, the tears came.

While I was home, in conversation with Mum, I learned things about both Mum and Dad that I hadn't known before. It left me wanting to ask more questions, even though I already knew a fair bit about Dad's life. I was also left with an even greater appreciation of just how much family had meant to him. At one point, I admitted to Mum that I would have loved to have learned to box in my teens but knew there was no hope of ever getting Mum to agree so never brought it up. Her initial reaction on hearing that was 'would have been over my dead body.' After a moment's thought, Mum said that if Dad had gone along with it then I would have boxed. He as well as Mum supported pretty much everything we kids wanted to do. Within reason. But until talking about this with Mum, I hadn't realised just how much Dad supported us behind the scenes even though it was Mum who took the kids to sporting events etc.

In all this, it got me to thinking just how much my parents put into their family over their years. I like to think that I am going to put it to good use. Somehow.

I have plenty of regrets for things I have said or done over the years, particularly when I was still drinking. Yet probably my biggest regret is that I have not had children. The great love of my life was sadly unable to have children and she passed away before we could do something like adopt or foster. At my age (47), I believe I am now too old to be starting a family. So I am not going to be able to do the same things for my family that Mum and Dad did for we four kids and there is only so much that one can do in living that experience vicariously through nieces and nephews.

Right now I am feeling closer to my parents than ever.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thieving insurance bastards!

Well, it's happened. Despite appeals from the Prime Minister downwards (appealing to insurance companies to show the same generosity of spirit shown by the community), thieving bastard insurance companies have struck. Then again, who really believed that they would be so generous? Nobody who has ever had to try and deal with the scum.

Unbelievable as it may sound, claims for flood damage are being refused in places like Toowoomba, Queensland, with insurance companies claiming that the floods weren't actually floods! Huh? Yep. That's what is being reported in the media. Apparently, massive rains do not create floods. What these thieving bastards are relying on is an insistence that the policy holders were not subject to floods, but to rising river levels which, according to the esteemed insurance assessors, are not in fact floods at all!

Unbelievable. Un-be-fucking-lievable.

Why oh why are insurance companies and banks consistently allowed to write their own rules, answerable to none but their shareholders. This is not what deregulation was about. And what do governments actually do about it? Sweet Fanny Adams. At best, tinkering and nothing more.

David Koch wrote a good piece on the subject recently at The Punch, highlighting the dirty tricks that insurance companies rely on in circumstances such as those being experienced in Queensland, northern New South Wales and Victoria, with the worst still yet to come in some parts of the latter. But how blatant a lie is it to claim that the likes of Toowoomba were not subject to flood???

Here is another one for you. The Victorian town of Newstead was flooded last week. Why? Because during the torrential rain, the relevant water authority thought it would be a really great idea to turn the storm water drains off, meaning they were not emptying into the river system. End result - massive backup of storm water through the streets of this geographically pretty flat town, flooding basically the whole damn place. Who's going to pay for that damage? It's an easy out for the insurance companies, "sorry, you're not covered for bureaucratic idiocy." Just where on earth did the responsible shit-for-brains think all that water was going to go? Vanish into thin air? Get sucked up by his anal-retention? New Victorian Premier, Ted Ballieu, leaping in front of the flood waters, opening his gigantic mouth and swallowing them up?

It is more than bad enough that so much death, hurt, loss and misery has been suffered, not to mention the long-term economic problems that will result. But should the victims really have to be subjected to yet more heartbreak just in order to keep the financial services sector secure in its multi-billion dollar profits? The problem is we simply do not have a single government with the cojones to stand up and be counted in any meaningful manner. Joe Hockey was and still is pretty good at blustering and posturing about it, but that was it.

One last, irrelevant to the subject, rant. But it's my blog so I'll write what I bloody-well want to. Queensland premier, Anna Bligh was out on the flood scene, making heart-felt public statements about the status, announcing more deaths etc. Ex-Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd was out in waist-deep water helping recover people's belongings in his electorate, later throwing a public BBQ open to all comers. Prime Minister Julia Gilliard has been just about anywhere and everywhere, on the ground, meeting the victims. Victorian Premier, Ted Ballieu, a man that I normally consider a total git, has been out at the coalface, gumboots and all. So what have we seen from Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott? Out in his best suit, pulling the hems of his trousers up, tip-toeing through a patch of mud that might, just might, have almost made it to the top of the soles of his shoes. And out of all the main political players, who has tried to make political mileage out of it? You got it, Tony Abbott. Good one, dickhead. Oh alright, yes, yes, Bob Brown from the Greens started jumping up and down, claiming the coal miners were the cause. And the real pity of that was it made Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce actually make sense when responding to Brown. However that is still a little different to Abbott's blatant attempt to use the Queensland flood to kill off the National Broadband Network, to his obvious political advantage. Arsehole.

Here endeth the rant.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Outdated Amendment

This latest mass-shooting the USA, despite suggestions of political culpability, is really a product of this so-called ‘right to bear arms.’ But how many of the US defenders of that ‘right’ are aware of the actual wording of the infamous Second Amendment? The key passage is:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Clearly the Amendment was to support the existence of a citizen militia in those formative years after the War of Independence. Further, the 1792 Militia Act required all ‘free, able-bodies, white, male citizen’ between ages 18 and 45 to be enrolled in their local militia.

This US militia is long gone. It has a massive regular defence force, supplemented by its National Guard. There is no need for the citizens militia any longer and the concept of mandatory service outside of wartime is long gone from the US statute books. So why retain this massively outdated amendment?

Exactly how does having enough guns present to make it easy for gang bangers to go armed for drive-by shootings, support a free state? Or enough guns to make it easy for depressed teenagers to go on shooting rampages at their school? Or an eight year-old being able to play with an Uzi sub-machine gun at a gun show and blow his head apart? Or this latest deranged man having access to the firepower to kill and injure people at a political rally?

Surely it is time for the US to show some real leadership for a change and finally do something about gun control?

Ironically, the subject of Saturday’s attack, Gabrielle Giffords, claims to own a 9mm Glock pistol, stating she is “a pretty good shot.”