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Human rights defender sentenced to 33 years and 148 lashes

When it comes to religious belief, I try not to be judgemental. After all, if it’s harmless and gives people comfort, why condemn it. Organised religion is a different story, often trying to impose its teachings and practices on society. We see this in many countries, in particular the US. This is especially so where there is no separation between state and religion. One such country is Iran. According to Amnesty International, … Read more

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Clearing of NSW native vegetation jumps 800% in three years

It took the Guardian 8 months using freedom of information laws to reveal the extent of the problem. “In 2013-14, 900 hectares was cleared in total. In 2014-15 this jumped to 2,730 hectares and by 2015-16 it had increased to 7,390 hectares.” Read the Guardian article here.

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The open secret

Cardinal Pell’s conviction took place in December 2018 but could not be published in Australia because another trial in which Pell was the defendant had yet to be held. That case has now been dropped and the gag order lifted. It’s understandable that a gag was placed on Australian media, but to expect it to apply elsewhere must have been wishful thinking in this Internet age. Needless to say, many of us … Read more

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China’s taking too much fish

I saw in the news that China consumes 50% of the world’s caught fish. In economics, exploiting shared resources is called “the tragedy of the commons” and refers to the common grazing area used by a community of farmers. When they share equitably, there are no problems, but when one adds extra livestock to graze, he depletes the land available for the rest. If he continues to do that, the others get … Read more

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More Chicanery

The Guardian has taken up the cause of greater transparency in our politics (see previous post). Here are two recent articles on the extent of lobbyists’ integration with our politicians. They show just how serious the problem is becoming. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/sep/16/in-the-family-majority-of-australias-lobbyists-are-former-political-insiders https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/sep/17/australias-lax-lobbying-regime-the-domain-of-party-powerbrokers

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The creeping hand of authoritarianism

Little by little the creeping hand of authoritarianism reduces us to sheep-like cyphers, and as usual the vastly overstated threat of terrorism is used to justify it. The innocuously named Assistance and Access Bill 2018 is intended to force companies to provide information about how their systems work, thus compromising their cybersecurity. It’s an extraordinary overreach by officialdom in the name of fighting terrorism, which is nowhere near the level of threat suggested by the … Read more

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Further customer disservice

As I mentioned in a previous post, Telstra sent me a letter threatening to cut off my Internet if I didn’t pay my overdue bill. After I finally contacted a human support person, Telstra conceded it was their system failure that was at fault. This week I received an email apologising for the system glitch and assuring me that all was well. A day later, I received my August bill. It showed I’d … Read more

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My experience with religion

My experience with religion is interesting (at least to me). I was brought up as “no religion” by my parents, one of whom was a failed Catholic, the other with barely any comprehension of religion. I and my brothers were sent to Sunday school so that our parents could have some “afternoon delight”, but after the required ten weeks to score a bible, we stopped going and went to play instead. After … Read more

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Customer disservice

When I received a letter from Telstra saying that I hadn’t paid my bill and if payment wasn’t made by two days earlier (!), I risked having my phone and internet service suspended, I was close to being ropable. First off, they hadn’t sent me a bill for July, and secondly I’d  already taken the precautionary step of paying enough to cover the likely charges. I phoned and was given the usual … Read more

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The worst political attribute

Hypocrisy. It can be deliberate or — I hate to use the word ‘innocent’ — unknowing. If deliberate, it smacks of deceit and ruthlessness. If the perpetrator is unaware of their hypocrisy, it is symptomatic of a mindset that is incapable of impartiality, an inability to self-examine, a static belief in their, or their party’s, absolute rightness. What brought this to mind recently was the LNP’s claims that Bill Shorten is a … Read more

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Recalcitrant Kindle

I have a Kindle Paperwhite ereader that’s over three years old. It’s worked well, which is just as well as I use it every day. Occasionally, though, it freezes and I have no choice but to reboot the device and then everything is back to normal. Today, that didn’t work. Repeated attempts at pressing the on/off button were in vain. I was weighing up whether to buy a new one when I … Read more

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Falling out of bed

I fell out of bed last night, first time ever. It wasn’t my regular bed. One of our grand-daughters had taken up that space, and I was relegated to a spare room. The mattress is long past its use-by date, and there’s diminished support at the edges. I rolled over in my sleep and got a rude awakening when I landed on the floor, hurting my right hip. That was our previous … Read more