Add to Technorati Favorites

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

On Friday evening, one of my housemates arrived home around 10pm, a little under the weather but also greatly upset about something. We had a bit of a chat. He seemed calmer and went to his room. Shortly afterwards, he began shouting and screaming.

I have had manic episodes in the past and I have been around others who have had them. And this is just what that sounded like. I stepped outside to try and think about what to do next. At that point I found something outside belonging to my housemate that was of great value to him. It had been torn to pieces. This wasn''t just a result of a drunken lashing out or something but a deliberate and sustained effort to achieve that degree of demolition. Then the stereo went on - loud. He has never done that before at night, being too considerate of others in the house. And the shouting and screaming were going on over that.

By now, I was getting really worried. Walking  around puzzling over what to do  next, I saw a police car  arrive at the complex.  I approached the two police officers who exited the vehicle wanting to speak to them and get their opinion. Initially they did not want to, explaining they had been called to a disturbance elsewhere. But after explaining my concerns about the extent of my friends outburst, they agreed to come and have a listen. However by the time we were back at my place, all had gone quiet. I said if he had enough control to turn the stereo off then things can't be quite as bad as I thought. I apologised for wasting their time and the police gave me every indication that they were now leaving, telling me to call them if any problems arose.

I now walked up to the nearby vending machine for a can of drink. By the time I had returned to the house no more than three minutes had passed but there were now seven police at the rear of the building. I was first introduced as the person who had called them. What? I soon put that straight. I hadn't called anyone and they then backpedalled, admitting that they had originally been called for something else.

I insisted that all was now quiet and there was no problem. But I had seven police, all taller than me (including the single female officer) and staring me down, continually insisting that they needed to enter the premises to do a welfare check. I refused, again insisting that all was now quiet. They continued to argue with me that this was essential.

I then stated I did NOT want all of them coming into the house as that would only be provocative and cause trouble with someone who was already obviously upset over something. Two police then accompanied me back into the house. Perhaps foolishly, I left the rear door open. I pointed the two towards the relevant bedroom door and then stepped back out of their way. Next thing, four more police decided to let themselves into the building and went trooping down the passage to join their colleages.

When my housemate opened his bedroom door, he was now confronted by six police, all grouped around him and staring him down.

According to the subsequent police report, all they were doing was a welfare check. What complete bullshit. The report implies they had no knowledge the individual had been drinking, until during or after the welfare check. Yet more bullshit as they had gotten that out of me earlier.

The police approach in supposedly doing this 'welfare check' and their report says that was all they were doing, was to be hostile, aggressive, demanding and interrogative. I was becoming furious now. They had conned their way past me, not to do any welfare check, but to very obviously act in a provocative manner. They got what they were after. I defy anyone to keep their cool in front of that. At one point my housemate was accused of spitting on one of the officers. Excuse me - I had a clear view of that supposed deliberate spitting. He was answering a question for fuck's sake and a stray bit of spittle may have gone from his lips and landed on the officer's front. That hardly justifies accusing him of deliberately spitting! Yet my housemate apologised and said he had not meant to spit. He admitted to being upset but was not that keen on revealing all the details. He asked the police to come into his room for a talk. They flatly refused.

In the end, they got what they wanted. All of a sudden, my housemate was swamped, handcuffed and dragged away under arrest. As they were leaving, I asked why had they all come into the house and thus directly causing that confrontational situation that I had repeatedly stated I wanted to avoid. I was fed some b.s. that all officers 'called' to an incident 'must' be present in the building. What a load of crap. For that matter, they were not 'all' in the building. Only six entered - the seventh went around to the front of the building and we later realised had let himself into the greenhouse attached to the front of the building. He left both front and back doors open and we found numerous pot plants knocked to the ground and damaged.

I made repeated calls during the night trying get through to the Watch House, to check on my housemate's state and try to the get message across that  I was greatly concerned about his mental state. I finally got someone at the City (Canberra) station talking to me. In response to my concerns, I was basically told 'don't worry your little head about that' sort of thing.

I attended court the next morning in an attempt to try and give evidence in a bail hearing. For reasons that still escape me, the magistrate refused to hear that particular application, requiring it to be held over until Monday. My housemate has now been transferred to a gaol just out of town. He is still wearing the same clothes he wore on Friday and I have no way of even getting a change of undies to him. All I can hope is that someone at the court may allow me to give them a change of clothes for him to change into down in the cells before being brought before the court Monday morning.

I should note that while waiting for my housemate's application to be heard, I listened to one made by another person who had breached their bail conditions, being found highly intoxicated in the city centre the preceding evening, despite bail conditions of (a) not entering the CDB between the hours of 7pm and 6am, (b) not consuming alcohol and (c) not entering any licensed premises. Their explanation for why they had breached all three was "I forgot." But it gets better. They then denied entering any premises, arguing that they only drank what they were able to get outside on the street! Oh yeah, we all manage to get skin-full walking around the street. "Hey mate - got a spare schooner? Can you spare a rum and coke, missus?"

To my amazement, the magistrate bought this crap, continuing that individual's bail and letting them go.

Meanwhile, my housemate, who was arrested as a result of my concerns about his mental health, only because I was conned by the police into allowing them into the house, not to do any welfare check but to engineer a confrontation which is what they bloody well did, was refused a hearing and is now sitting in gaol.

I then got to see what I can only call, police stupidity.

An accused drug dealer was also facing a bail hearing. The police opposed him being granted bail. Given the amount of drugs found on the premises, I don't blame them. However the main thrust of their argument as to why he should not be granted bail was that he did not have any income including no welfare receipts, did not have any employment and thus would continue to deal. The police evidence had already stated that they had been investigating this individual for some time. Yet when questioned by the legal aid representative, who had only had a quite short to question her client that morning, the police admitted not knowing he had been in full-time employment until two weeks ago, thus, according to the Legal Aid rep, some of the money found in the premises was part of his final payout. Next the Legal Aid rep asked if they had checked with Centrelink to ascertain the precise state of her client's receipt or non-receipt of welfare monies. No, was the admission. Well if you had, advised Ms Legal Aid, you would have discovered that my client is not only a full-time student, he has an application for AusStudy before Centrelink, currently waiting on the outcome.

I sure as hell don't want drug dealers walking free. But if this is an example of how well the Australian Federal Police investigate a criminal matter, then God help us all. No wonder the Australian Capital Territory has one of the worst conviction rates going around!

I became even further incensed in listening to the police report of the incident at my place the night before. They claimed to have been expressly called to the house in relation to a disturbance. Bullshit. They implied that they had no knowledge of alcohol consumption until during or after the welfare check. Even more bullshit. Not only had they managed to get that out of me earlier, one of the officers subsequently asked me to make a statement about that consumption of alcohol for the police to use against my housemate. In view of their earlier behaviour, I did something I have never done before. I flatly refused a police request. It should also be noted that this report made no mention of my repeated concerns about my housemate's mental health, nor that I had made repeated calls during the night to try and ascertain his state of health and continuing to express those concerns.

On arriving at the court, I had with me some of the remains of the item he had torn to pieces as evidence of my housemate's state of mind. These were some shreds of light wood, some 3mm thick. Security refused to let me bring them into the building as they were a security risk. For crying out loud, I could have done more damage with the pen in my pocket, or the keys in my pocket or the clipboard and pad in my backpack, but they were allowed in. But not evidence relevant to the hearing!

How on earth can we be expected to respect the police and the judicial process when stunts like these are pulled? The law is supposed to be blind - not entirely fucked up! But then again, this is the same system that happily let a notorious drunkard sit as a Justice.

I have already lodged a written complaint to the AFP's Professional Standards area about the conduct of those officers. I can only hope that Monday morning's hearing will be conducted in a much more sensible manner.

Of course, I also have to live with the fact that it was my actions and my letting myself get conned by the police that directly resulted in my mate being dumped in gaol.

Monday, August 22, 2011

No Confidence in ‘No Confidence’ convoy

Oh boy. This was going to be bigger than Ben Hur. Organisers were at one point touting that between 5,000 and 10,000 vehicles were going to be taking part in the Convey of No Confidence, intended to display dissatisfaction with the current Australian Government of Julia Gillard.

Towns along the route were warned to expect large numbers of travellers arriving en route to Canberra. The Canberra populace were warned to expect major traffic disruptions. Parliament House staff were geared up for the thousands that the organisers insisted were going to be arriving for the protest on the lawns in front of that edifice.

Instead, the whole affair came and went as a major anti-climax. I have three separate reports of there being 180, 200 and 300 vehicles that took part. Even the highest of those three estimates is a long way short of what we all were told to expect. Organisers are now back-pedalling claiming ‘oh, we never actually said how many would be coming.’ Rubbish. It was being bleated far and wide, not least of all by Sydney DJ, Alan Jones.

Never one to shy away from creating controversy, Jones addressed the ‘rally’ claiming that police had been turning vehicles away from Canberra’s border. More bullshit. But this is Alan Jones after all. Don’t expect him to ever let the truth get in the way of a good sound bite. Al-baby wouldn’t know the truth if it bit him on the arse.

Jones supposedly later recanted the statement. But as a caller to Canberra local ABC radio pointed out this morning, it wasn’t Jones who made the retraction but merely his radio station on his behalf. Well, really, did anyone expect Jones to actually admit that he was wrong? He was quite possibly mislead by the organisers, but isn’t the onus on him to get his facts right? But then again this is the same clown who thought it was a great idea to actually advertise the Sydney race riot that spilled over from the beach to the streets and public transport system. He read out text messages on the air that said where and when. And he escaped unscathed from that mess. How he has any credibility left at all after the infamous Cash for Comment scandal is beyond me. I’d probably get more accurate information on pretty much anything from Dodgy Brothers’ Used Cars than from Alan Jones.

The whole Convoy thingy has been a fiasco. At present it is the local Canberra taxpayers who have to bear the cost of all the infrastructure movements set up in expectation of the vast hordes, expected to be the biggest and baddest flock of visitors anywhere since the Vandals decided to go on a package holiday to Rome. Reports have also emerged of the organisers contacting businesses on the travel route, asking them to be ready to cater for large numbers. Instead, hardly anyone showed, leaving said businesses out of pocket for all the perishable food stuffs brought in at the request of said organisers.

Do I have confidence the Gillard government? No, not really. But nor do I see the Jug Ears Abbott’s Opposition being much chop either. Sadly Australia has gone from being essentially a ‘two’ party system (remembering that the Liberals only get government from their Coalition with the National Party, who are increasingly becoming non-entities anyway) with some minor players at the fringes, to a No Party Worth Jack-shit system. I suspect the lack of confidence in the Convoy of No Confidence suggests public apathy more than anything.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

An open letter to Miranda Devine

Dear Miranda

You really stirred up a shit storm with your recent column about the perils of the 'fatherless society'. And now in your follow up, you stir even further.

Now if what you claim in that follow up about persons inciting others to harass and bully your Facebook friends is true, then that is unacceptable. Before firing up, I will agree that you did indeed make some positive comments about Senator Wong and the impending birth. And I will also happily agree that 'Twitterverse' can soon distort a story. However your earlier column is nowhere near as innocent as you are making out.

"We are supposed to ignore Tony and Margie Abbott’s three daughters because every time he is seen with them it is some sort of unfair snub to Julia Gillard and reflection on her marital status."

What complete and utter crap. I have never once heard ANYONE make any such claim or suggestion. What about all the media coverage last election where Tony Abbott spent several weeks hardly making a move without the girls being seen with him? How does that exactly equate to us being 'supposed to ignore' them?

"The traditional heterosexual norm of a nuclear family and children is something to be kept in a closet like an embarrassment."

Where the hell did you come up with that piece of tripe? How about having a look at your own paper some time at the number of 'traditional heterosexual' marriages being reported on and included in the classifieds? Yeah, that's really pushing it all into hiding in the closet.

"In countries where [same-sex marriage] has been legalised, there has been no rush to the altar."

At the risk of sounding Hansonesque - please explain; how about some figures to back that one up? I'd go and look for myself, but hey - you're the one being paid to write that crap, not me.

The real gem however was "You only had to see the burning streets of London last week to see the manifestation of a fatherless society."

The rest of your article up to that point had opened with focusing on Penny Wong and her partner (and no, they cannot call each other anything other than 'partner' cos they ain't allowed to get married, are they), then fired salvo after salvo against same-sex marriage. From there, 'fatherless' children (which by definition includes those of two-female-parent families) were now the cause of the London riots. Now if you really weren't trying to give the impression that lesbian couples with children weren't part of that problem of rioting fatherless children, then why in hell did you even bother introducing the subject in the first place? Sweetheart, you've only got yourself to blame for that backlash.

I shall happily take your word for it that Britain is "reported to have the highest proportion of single mothers in Europe and nearly half of all children suffering family breakdown by the age of 16." But...

Miranda, honey, I think you better have a bit of a think about a little thing called cause and effect next time. It is not the lack of the father per se that is the cause of those problems including the rioting (and indeed the problems on housing estates that your friend referred to) but the fact that it is a single parent trying to cope with it all. Then there is the little thing called parental responsibility and example. By your argument, it necessarily follows that put a father in the scene and hey presto - the problem is gone. Golly - didn't the Moran family of criminals have a dad? Why yes they did. Two of them over the years in fact. And the Moran boys turned out to be such pillars of society, didn't they.

I have experienced single-parent families with children running wild but I have sure as hell have also experienced 'nuclear' families that were absolute hell on wheels. My aged parents went through an unbelievable time with a 'nuclear' family terrorising their entire street. I grew up right next door to another such family. And I have also experienced single-parent families that do not have any such problems whatsoever. In fact I was having coffee with a single-mother only earlier today and I can 100% guarantee you that her child is about as well-behaved as you're going to get. Then there is another friend of mine who finally threw her junkie husband out and is raising their three girls on her own. And those girls are as polite, respectful and well-behaved as you're going to get. Oh yeah, they really need their Dad back in their lives, don't they!

A breakdown in family structures is definitely a social problem. No argument there from me. But don't deliberately try and paint a picture that same-sex marriage is bad then leap into suggestions that the fatherless (ie including the product of all-female-parent families) were the cause of the London riots only to put your hands up and try to claim innocence afterwards.
It isn't a matter of having presented 'unfashionable mainstream views' (although isn't that something of a misnomer?). It is a matter of you writing a distorted mess that leaps about all over the place and crying foul afterwards when people follow your arguments to their logical conclusions.
Live by the sword, die by the sword; write journalistic crap, expect to receive a bucketing afterwards.
Politically incorrect love and kisses

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pathetic, Telegraph. Bloody pathetic

There will be people who would ask 'who's Robert Crumb?' But a great many of those would recognise some of his artwork.

Crumb is a cartoonist. Some of his images are absolutely iconic, like these two:

Now I find some of his stuff quite vulgar and tasteless. And others are clever, funny and even thought-provoking. But, please, let's put this in its rightful place. Crumb and his work came out of and to prominence in that quite wild and strange place and time - the late 1960s US. Guess what - a lot of things have changed since then. Things found funny then would not necessarily be seen as funny today.

Here's another thought. Does every artist think everything they have ever done is forever beyond reproach? Of course not. I had the good fortune to spend some time with Tim Ferguson about 18 months ago. I took the opportunity to ask a few things about those heady days with the Doug Anthony All Stars. Tim freely admitted that sometimes they would go off-stage and ask themselves 'Oh God - did we actually just do/say that?' In talking about some of the old DAAS stuff, Tim actually became a little embarrassed.

So what does that have to do with Robert Crumb? I watched a quite interesting documentary about him a few years back. In that, Crumb admitted somewhat shamefaced that some of his work was pretty terrible in what it depicted.

In a simply staggering display of gutter journalism and hopeless fact-twisting, the Daily Telegraph produced this piece of absolute shit. Crumb is depicted as some sort of crazed sexual deviant, not fit to be let loose on the streets. They then attempt to give this garbage some validity by having anti-child abuse campaigner, Hetty Johnson, giving her take on this 'depraved' person ie let's give the world the impression that he's a child abuser as well.

Here's a little test for y'all. Go and look up Robert Crumb artwork in Google. Or better yet with Bing as I believe that is a better search engine for finding images. I'll just sit here, sip my coffee and daydream a bit while you do it. Go on - I'll still be here when you get back.

Jessica Simpson...big Hardy...veggies...have I done the shopping yet...did I remember to throw that old milk out this morning?

Oh you're back. Goodo. Did you find some tasteless and vulgar stuff. Yep. OK, now how many child molestation images did you find? I couldn't find a single bloody one. T & V does NOT equate to perverted etc etc.

Now for the next question. According to the Telegraph, "A spokesman for the federal Attorney General's department told The Sunday Telegraph that Crumb's work cannot be shown in Australia unless he submits his illustrations for classification. The spokesman said his work would almost certainly be refused classification."

What? We now supposed to believe that ALL of Crumb's work will now "almost certainly be refused classification?" Oh give me a frigging break. How many decades has 'Stoned Agin' been sold on posters, t-shirts and Lord knows what else in Australia. C'mon Tele - give us a name and prove that complete utter bullshit quote.

How the Daily Telegraph can justify calling itself either 'news' or 'journalism' is getting well and truly beyond me. Why don't they just pack up and piss off to the UK - the Poms seem to appreciate gutter journalists and journalism there. That way you pack of fucktards won't have to ever worry about letting the facts get in the way of your story ever again. As for Hetty Johnson - hey lady - how about worry about the REAL issues rather than pandering to cheap, nasty sensationalist so-called journalism.

Pathetic, Telegraph. Bloody pathetic.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

When is information actually information

OK, I'll admit it. I have a secret guilty little pleasure that I sometimes get to indulge. I enjoy Judge Judy. OK, there - I've admitted it. Now I rarely get an opportunity to watch the old girl given that it was on at 3pm on the relevant network here.

Note the use of past tense - WAS on at 3pm. Some weeks ago, I noticed on one of my rare opportunities to actually be home and indulge, that Her Honour had been cut in half for a so-called 'encore's screening of the latest 'reality' program on that network. Followed by an 'infomercial. But today I realised that Her Honour has been given the boot entirely, replaced by a 30 minute-or-so 'informercial'. Of a fat guy selling cookware.

Rather annoyed, I did something I have never done before. I telephoned the television network in question to complain about their programming choices. The invidual concerned with programming for that particular channel was not available however I spoke to someone else. While that person could not discuss my specific programming concern, I took the opportunity to have a good old whinge about the proliferation of these bloody 'informercials'.

'Whyy not be honest and just call them what they are - half-hour advertisments," I said.

"Oh I don't think that would be accepted very well," was the reply.

Now come on, commercial television networks. Do you really think we are all so simple and feeble-minded that we haven't realised that these 'informercials' are nothing more than extended commercial advertisments? Is it really necessary to talk down to us like that, treating us like small children?

For that matter, an encore is something that occurs in response to an enthusiastic audience response, calling for me. Now just how many people have been standing up, crying 'Author! Author! We want it repeated at 3pm in the afternoon!"

I think at the end of the day, it has been a case of dump the program they have to pay for in favour of (a) a solid half-hour block of pretend advertisment of a fat guy selling knives and cooking appliances, and (b) a repeat of something local we have already paid for.

While I'm on the subject of 'infomercials', do the producers of a certain anti-acne preparation think we're all equally as dumb as the commercial televsion stations all think we are? We're supposed to accept a barely pubescent boy who has most likely only just started getting his big boy hairs, and one look at his baby-soft skin makes it quite apparent he has never had anything remotely like an acne problem, is suddenly supposed to be a believable spokesperson for getting rid of pimples? Oh please! But of course, he is a celebrity and therefore we are assumed to automatically think 'oh - he is a best-selling recording artist to the bubblegum tenny boppers - obviously he MUST be an expert - I better start getting the stuff in by the pallet!'

How thoroughly demeaning and insulting to our collective intelligence. And I still think Her Honour, Judge Judy was a vast improvement!

Here endeth the rant

Interested in what I had to rant about? Feel free to lodge a comment or tell someone else.