— Bob-a-job-alog-a-roonie

nothingness

One way of looking at getting older is the things that you no longer care about. And perhaps the secret of staying (at least seeming) young is to do the opposite?

BTW, this isn’t me and just a broad generalisation based on what I see around me… and it isn’t particularly gender-specific

(age) 18 – stop writing poetry
24 – stop trying to impress your boss
27 – the last time you read literature
32 – stop buying your partner flowers
35 – stop going to the gym
42 – the last time you went to the theatre
44 – stop listening to new music, the old stuff is better
45 – stopped noticing ants on the footpath
48 – the last time you tried a new food dish – didn’t like it
51 – danced, actually danced, instead of shuffling
54 – the last time you went on vacation to somewhere new
55 – stopped buying clothing or shoes that are modernly fashionable
58 – the last time you walked upright, with pride
62 – felt you could fall in love with that new person, but it’s too hard
63 – stop caring if what you say upsets or offends others
65 – the last time you licked an ice cream
67 – the current TV set will outlast me
70 – no more pets, you’ve said goodbye to too many
72 – stopped noticing birds
75 – stopped listening to your partner – they haven’t noticed
83 – stop watching your team that rarely wins
88 – stop watching reruns of your favourite shows
93 – stop caring about your latest new-born relatives, or any family except for you own children

Note to self, this could be a collection of existentialist short stories. Think Raymond Carver…

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As we have seen in the USA, if the majority of a democratic country doesn’t have the skills, intellect or education to understand the issues and what candidates truly offer… you get Trump.

I suggest that an improvement in political education is possible, if you get the right educators on board.

Most people interested enough in politics to spend a lot of time on it are on the intellectual side of things, or at least they are good at debating cleverly. They are not generally suited to educating the working class.. But some will be… we need to find them, train them, fund them and send them across the land.

Bipartisan won’t work, and most people hate being preached to on politics.

The solution is lively debates between experts in their field from opposing political parties and independents. I would expect a minimum of the two major parties plus one other, and preferably the two major parties plus a 3rd party and an independent or 4th party.

Critically, the debaters must make their arguments easily understood by common people. Those that are good at this might find they have a place in politics, from a background of expertise, with a ready fan base.

Each debate (on a new and different topic) should be held in a regional city or outer suburb of a major city. And of course made available online. After a month of online discussion and submissions from other interested parties, a repeat debate should occur in the original venue.

The ultimate goal is to get people interested in politics who otherwise would have shied away because they didn’t feel equipped to understand it all.

 

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greySomeone recently asked what music I like. My standard answer of pretty much every genre but only the most heartfelt and melodic in each is wearing thin. Time to put some more thought into it.

It goes beyond music, into movies and literature. Common themes are present once I look for them.

Black / grey.

Even if I wasn’t a Kiwi I probably would still be an All Blacks fan. They have the best uniform. And I wear black a fair bit.

I like bad weather, and I LOVE thunderstorms. When I first went travelling I took a cassette with me where every song on side 1 was about rain, and every song was from NZ. This is one of them:

My musical favourites are wide and varied. But a significant amount skew towards the dark and tremulous. I like the:

  • Pagan, passionate operatics of Wendy Rule
  • Explorations of David Bowie
  • Nick Cave’s ruminations
  • Dystopian metal of Metallica and Megadeth
  • Neu-pagan-mysticism of Julian Cope
  • Despondent literature of And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead
  • Most of the above via Ed Harcourt

Ready to move from this world to the next one
Summon my soul to the end of the setting sun
A parliament of rooks will move you on
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/ed-harcourt/parliament-of-rooks-lyrics/#Vz9HT2gPtHdqv4Gs.99

I read mostly despondent, darkly fantastic, existentialist and dystopian literature:

  • K. J Bishop
  • H. P. Lovecraft
  • Dostoevsky
  • Clive Barker
  • Cormac McCarthy
  • J. G. Ballard

And movies/tv ….

  • The Matrix (first one)
  • True Blood
  • Coen Brothers
  • The 3%
  • Twin Peaks

And don’t get me started about Real Life:

  • Mental disorders
  • Drugs / alcohol
  • Winter / storms
  • Anarchy / rebellion
  • Deepest recesses of used book stores
  • Sacrifice

Black is too clean, and mud is too hard to describe as a colour. Grey is my happy colour.

 

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socialist

An it harm none, do what ye will

Three facets, freedom, libertarianism and social. Freedom to do as you will, as long as it harms nobody. A few rules and as little rule as possible. And a mandate to make sure everyone is looked after. Libertarianism with a soul.

You can’t look after everyone without tax (unless the whole planet receives an epiphany). So everything will rotate around how this tax is raised.

The available Tax choices are:

  • GST / VAT – when you buy something
  • Income – when you earn something
  • Payroll – when you hire someone
  • Resource – when you use resources that (should) belong to everyone
  • Corporations – to limit their success, tax them more

In all cases the model is the same – the more you do, the more you pay. This promotes moderation.

Medicine

Deconstruct the system, use technology. If I know I have gastro, I can stay at home, self-test, and come back to work/society when I feel better. No need to go out there and spread my germs.

Home treatments reduce the risk of hospital-acquired disease. If the patient is in control, they can demand cleanliness.

Social Welfare

What we need is a mix of giving useful employment to those that will benefit from it (most people need a purpose/station in life, and won’t think too deeply about what it really is), and allowing the artists, mystics, intellectuals and the genuinely useless to sponge off the state.

Military

One of the main reasons for countries forming (in ancient times) was that a national force could protect individual communities much better than they could on their own. Lefties and greenies are typically anti-military, because individually they tend to be pacifists. When running a country, pacifism has its limits – even Switzerland has an army. In fact the Swiss model is one that could be adapted – it has only 5% career soldiers and does not participate in foreign conflicts (with the exception of peace-keeping roles). Australia has two key differences to Switzerland which need to be addressed:

Geography – as a massive country with a low population, there is a strong need for local militia.

USA – being a close military ally with the USA has numerous benefits, and the relationship should be maintained to some degree. With very few career soldiers, the Swiss model could be modified so that there is some foreign conflict participation, but only by commandos fulfilling elite roles.

Education

This is probably the trickiest to get right.

A national system works best, because otherwise we’ll have people shifting states to get an advantage for their kids – and that isn’t efficient.

I propose a system similar to the pole vault in the Olympic Games – if you pass a standard level, you get to try the next level. No more scores. Just passed / didn’t pass. With quite a few levels. They could even break down the tests by category.

Drugs and Marriage

Freedom to do as you will as long as it harms none. If drugged drivers becomes a problem, the solution is punishment for those actually impaired – not someone who had a puff on a joint 2 weeks ago.

Any human marriage should be legitimate  - it is the second most primal purpose after making kids. Why make such a fundamental aspect of life exclusive to a self-righteous majority?

Refugees

Assess at the source – their actual country of citizenship. Much easier than when they have arrived here without papers…

Provide guaranteed work. Most likely better than where they came from. Base the refugee system on the rest of Australian society… if you are fit and able to work, you should. If you are hopeless, we’ll look after you. If you want to learn, you can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Regarding the Asylum seeker impasse, what a shame we don’t already have a third body to help sort things. We have a cabinet and a shadow cabinet – neither of which usually have members with any skills or experience, pre-politics, to match their portfolios. I dream of a People’s Cabinet, democratically elected outside of the electoral system, staffed by men and women with genuine skills and experience. People outside of politics, with no allegiances. People who could come up with sensible solutions while our elected representatives play at smug gamesmanship.

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pinkie_promise
Politicians make promises all the time, and break them regularly. Fair enough, circumstances, opinions and alliances change. And they have a way of avoiding the actual word promise.

Meanwhile in the real world people make pinkie promises and swear on their mother’s graves.

Proposal: political parties make permanent promises. As in black and white, no dispute over the wording, nobody in the party advocates against it or votes against it ever. If they do, immediate expulsion, no forgiveness.

They can start with easy ones that they’ll get a majority vote on. I suggest an 80% or 90% approval within the party – there will always be someone against it so 100% won’t be achievable.

How about:

No nuclear weapons

Now you might argue, what if Papua New Guinea gets a crazy dictator who gets his hands on a nuke? Well, vote a different party in. Not our party, we made a permanent promise.

Equal rights regardless of gender 

I said lets start with the easy ones… arguably reasons for discriminating against religion (Islamic extremism becomes rampant, or a new religion based on something nasty is formed), or sexuality (beastiality, paedophilia) do exist. I can’t think of any futuristic gender that could be an issue.

Tree harvesting cannot exist without growing more trees

Easy for the Greens. This one would need quite a bit of defining. But it would need to be no more than a couple of paragraphs, as regular folk need to able to understand it.

I can imagine voters, 50% of whom don’t particularly care who gets in, would latch onto permanent promises, and parties employing them, even on a limited basis like those above, would benefit in a big way.

 

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In social media, many restrict access to family and close friends – while others are an open book, which brings all things good and bad into play.

If you are happy with 100% open scrutiny, then why not take it further?

Brave: at the click of a button everything attributable to you online is immediately available to view. The ultimate “I have nothing to hide”.

The new church folk…

 

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250px-Australian_Aboriginal_Flag.svg

We can’t celebrate the day foreigners stole this land from the indigenous folk. Because if it happened today it would be widely condemned, by us. And we are today, and we can change this public holiday.

The day we became our own country is out, because it was Jan 1. Regardless, a date change won’t be sufficient. We also need:

  • apology
  • acceptance
  • acknowledgement that nobody involved is alive today
  • resolve any outstanding land rights
  • agree that it is  a f**cked up situation that cannot be reversed
  • a new flag

The flag is pivotal, as it represents us. And it needs to change anyway, people keep thinking we are New Zealanders…

I advocate Jan 25 – the day before – representing the thousands of years that preceded the invasion.

One other possibility is not available to everyone, but I would if I could. Go back to where you came from. For me – Scotland.

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Basic Needs has a fundamental goal of providing a non-government, not-religious place where people can ask for help without being judged and without embarrassment.

To do so, the shop front needs to offer a variety of services, so that you would not be judged by passersby as particularly poor or needy.

Fundamental Goal

People come in and ask to speak to an advisor, and the meeting takes place in a private room. Ideally this is booked online so there is no obvious waiting.

The advisor is something like a GP, in that they can help with certain things, but often they are there to refer you to a specialist. The advisor cannot directly offer more than advice and help with applications and appointments. For example, if someone is hungry they can direct them to a local food bank or soup kitchen, but they won’t provide food on the spot.

The service covers all aspects of “I need help”, whether it is personal, financial or social. LIFT in the USA is the initial inspiration.

Many needs are beyond the scope of local organisations, and appealing to the wider community provides the best hope. Today’s typical online communities are not suited to anonymous requests for help. Basic Needs can ask for help online on the person’s behalf. This could be via local Facebook communities, other social networks, crowdfunding, connecting with FreeCycle, or something custom-built. Whatever reaches the most people on a daily basis.

Creating a Welcoming Space

The fundamental goal will work best if people are comfortable visiting the premises. Therefore other facets could include some or all of the following:

  • basic foodstuffs – see below
  • drop-in centre / men’s shed
  • community education
  • food co-op
  • makers market
  • art gallery
  • child care
  • op-shop

Many of these could already exist in the community, so at the very beginning discussions need to be made with stakeholders about whether they would want to merge or if they have problems with a “competing” service.

Basic Foodstuffs

Providing basic, non-processed, non-fresh food items at a subsidised price. Flour, sugar, rice, pasta, tinned beans and tomatoes, and so on. Combined with free lessons on how to achieve basic cooking, and access to a community nutritionist, nobody should ever be able to say to can’t afford food. Selling a 5kg bag of rice for $5 instead of $12 shouldn’t be hard to get funding for. Obviously donations from manufacturers could be a possibility. No food should be free – for free food people should be referred elsewhere.

Subsidised Cafe

There are a few excellent charity cafes that are staffed by volunteers, unemployed or homeless people  - and are a standard cafe with standard pricing. Perhaps the same model could be used, but with less fancy provisions provided at budget prices. I’m thinking basic cakes like people bake at home. 50c tea or coffee. Free newspapers and magazines. It doesn’t take much finance to provide a place for people to treat themselves to food, beverage and some company.

*I churn out a fair number of ideas, but this is one I most want to realise.

 

 

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Parallel Drinking

Necking beers at home so you are in the same state as when he/she/them gets home.

Double Parked

IMG_9987 (1)

This is a technique for heavy drinkers to slow down when need arises. When you have almost finished a beer, buy another. Place the full beer behind the first. Every time you reach for the first, emptier beer, you will see the other full beer is in play. The neck this and buy another instinct is gone. The oddness reminds you of why you are trying to slow down. Raise the emptier beer to your lips and just let the beer touch them. Put it down.

Those last drops can last an hour.

Tow Away Zone

This is where someone, if they stay five minutes longer, will be incapable of getting home on their own.

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