Thursday, February 3, 2011

Summery Musings

Once it was clear that cyclone Yasi hadn't actually eviscerated anybody I know, I dragged the kids out today. We've been blindsided by rain for a few days, and at least once by 30C heat. (Yeah, okay. I know. "That's not hot!" Bite me, you hippies. Down here, 30C is hot.)

We jumped into the Mighty Earth King and roared off in the direction of Lilydale. Cunningly, I told the sproutlets that we were going to walk to Lilydale falls. They weren't overly impressed, but I didn't care. I've lived here for ten years and never bothered to visit Lilydale falls. That seemed like something to remedy on a beautiful, clear summer day.

I did, however, have an even more cunning plan.

The pick-your-own blueberry farm we visit each summer has had an odd year. They've had a week or two without any picking at all, due to (according to their ad in the paper) 'unrippened fruit'. I didn't know whether they'd reopened yet or not, but I figured that I could check as we drove by (since it's on the way to Lilydale), and if it WAS open, I could change the agenda and we could pick blueberries.

It was open. We went picking, to the delight of the kids. An hour and a half and eleven kilos of big, perfect, ripe blueberries later, we decided we'd had enough (filled our buckets!) and headed home.

I'm not surprised they've had issues with ripening the fruit, though. Summer has been cool, and slow in arriving, with unexpected rain. I had good raspberries this year, but the blackberries have been disappointing: affected by fungus, often weak in flavour from heavy rain, and more than a little tart. I'll cut them back drastically in late autumn, dump plenty of blood-and-bone around them just on springtime, and hopefully next summer we'll be swimming in blackberries again.

I really was relieved that cyclone Yasi passed with so little harm to people. Sure, there's property damage, but so far I've only heard two people reported missing, and no major casualties or injuries. That's damned amazing for a storm of that size. I had a phone call from my stepmum this evening. She and my dad live up Mareeba way. She ducked into Mareeba to see out the storm with her sister, in a brick house. Dad stayed at the old wooden place, battening it down.

In Mareeba, the power went out, so my stepmum and her sister played cards by candlelight, and drank champagne. (They do it tough up there, yep.) Dad, however - in that old, wooden place well outside the town proper - eh. The power never went out. He just sat and watched the one-day cricket-match to its conclusion.

So much for their cyclonic experience.

Back on planet Oz, though, there's that buffoon Tony Abbott again. I hear he's made some sort of halfwitted retraction for that signed letter he sent out, requesting donations to fight against the flood levy. Yeah, fine: retract away, Tony. Like it makes a difference.

It does fascinate me, though: the difference between social conservative voters (as opposed to fiscal conservatives such as Paul Boylan, who has a disturbing habit of demonstrating both compassion and rationality) and liberal/progressive voters. I'm aware of the research linking conservatism with fear-dominated thinking, yes. I am also aware of the research which indicates that hardcore social conservatives really don't respond to logic or rational debate - that confronted with evidence which disproves their pet theories, they are actually MORE likely to believe those theories than they were before.

And it's scary. Because, of course, if you are a fundamentally rational person with a live-and-let-live approach; if you believe in tolerance as a principle, and in debate and discourse as a means to discovering a path to acceptable social policy -- you are by definition incapable of working with these people. Further: the only effective way to oppose them is either to be fortunate enough to outnumber them and to live in a country where tolerance, debate, and discourse are ensrhined constitutionally and in the national character... or to compromise your own principles by taking a hard line against these idiots.

Take this latest caper from that craphound Abbott. If you take a pace back, and consider what's going on: on one hand, you have a government which has with obvious reluctance raised the issue of a one-off levy to find the money to make infrastructure repairs in the wake of the most damaging natural disaster of a generation... or even more. And on the other hand, you have an Opposition leader who is asking for money from people so he can campaign AGAINST raising this levy.

There really is no way to put a nice face on it. It's the act of a man without conscience or empathy. Sure, he can oppose this levy on ideological grounds (although you have to wonder about that, in the wake of all the goddam levies the Howard government created: the gun buy-back, the Stevedore affair, the Ansett collapse, and the milk thing... I think there were others, but that's all I can remember off the top of my head.) but to produce that kind of thing even while the same state slammed by floods is being blasted by the biggest cyclone in Australian history shows a lack of empathy worthy of a genuine sociopath.

And yet if you read the debate playing out in various columns and blogs around the country, time and again you see the reactionary/conservatives defending Abbott, and desperately trying to put the boot into Gillard. Some very few are prepared to admit they are embarrassed by Abbott's behaviour. Most simply continue with the same ideology-driven ranting drivel; screaming about 'taxes' and the 'battlers' and the 'fiscal irresponsibility of Labor'.

No embarrassment. No acknowledgement. Nothing.

If a Kevin Rudd or a Julia Gillard or even a Paul Keating pulled a stunt like that, it would be the end of them. Not because the Labor party is particularly progressive, but because Labor does depend on votes from the progressive end of the spectrum... and progressive voters are prepared to stop supporting candidates who do not behave appropriately. (Because we're 'weak', you see.)

It really does raise a question, one which keeps arising when I watch US politics too: what would it take seriously to discredit a conservative 'hero' like Abbott?

In the US, Republican politicians have rampant gay sex in public toilets, snort cocaine, embezzle -- hell, I doubt I can list it all. And yet all they have to do is break down, announce that they're sorry and that they're making nice with God, and voila! It's all forgotten.

Here? I dunno. I'm really curious. I wonder what it would take for Abbott's zombie army to wake up and smell the horseshit. A dead hooker? A kilo or two of coke? A closet full of leather-wearing gay soccer stars? Co-star role in a pedophilic snuff movie? What?

There really ought to be some kind of experiment done. It would be fascinating to see just how much degeneracy, depravity, corruption and bastardry the average hardcore social conservative can handle before the cognitive dissonance makes them explode with rage. I realise that the ethics of such experimentation would be tricky... but on the other hand, if we just let the stupid fuckers govern for a while, I'm sure they can fix the ethical obstacles for us, eh? I mean, who really needs ethics in science if there's corporate money to be made?

Not Tony Abbott, one strongly suspects.


  1. I have o suggestions on tactics for the experiments, but please do 'experiment away'.

    I'm gobsmacked by the inhumanity of MisterRabbit's stance. He can only be made to look more silly after 'Yasi' has meant there is even more repair to be done.

  2. Cat... did you see him on the news tonight? He was up in Townsville, getting wet - but he still took the opportunity to jump up and blither about "a new tax" turning Australia into one of the most overtaxed countries in the world.

    Vicious, ugly, venal little man.

  3. Re Your proposed experiment.
    I propose making him the star of a snuff film.
    I have a couple of XXL Fijian mates who "bat for the home team" who'd lower themselves to such an experiment.

  4. Kinda log!

    I am also aware of the research which indicates that hardcore social conservatives really don't respond to logic or rational debate - that confronted with evidence which disproves their pet theories; they are actually MORE likely to believe those theories than they were before.
    Leapt off the page! People tend to wed and show distinctly more faith to their idea’s than their obligation to their spouses. The key here being hardcore, bordering on fanatical. Thinking some more about this, I suspect that ‘fanatical’, as the descriptive for the level of adhesion to ones belief, is infinitely more apt than is given credit, especially I fear, in certain demographics.
    That’s the ability to debate, and apply to the old grey mater, the shit the ears are hearing, matching it up..and fkn working out what’s right and wrong. NOT A HARD EXERCISE!, yeah right, I find I even fail at times, but certain drivers or triggers are usually present. It’s taken some time to identify these and generate enough patience to think.
    But politics..well that’s another animal all together. So, I’ll kick off the social experiment right here, seeing as things tend to be discussed here and we have a fairly intellectual group.
    It’s probably well know by now, I tend to vote Liberal, but I will expand on this. Typically, I voted National Party, bush person; our candidate was exceptional and so forth. One held onto the belief that all other were muppets, adults who simply had no idea. Shallow...very very shallow thinking on my behalf, possibly tinged with apathy as well I guess in the early days. Unfortunately, I suspect this is rampant throughout the bush areas in the younger age groups.
    But let’s migrate to the present. Generally, I have issue with the Unions and the significant power they wield within the ALP, in terms of Gillard, well, that’s more a figure head I reckon. I’ll not say the manner in which she attained office is significant; as well before this I had already formed that opinion. Do I think what they have done is fiscally irresponsible over their last series of terms in office...yes I do. Do they look after the public in the manner in which they should, they do not, and I could continue to rattle on. Now, having said all that, I could apply it, with the exception of the Unions, to the liberal party, all one would have to do, is substitute the Unions for perhaps the big end of town and the Private school collection of leafy tree lined suburbs etc and shazam.
    That’s something I have to balance each time, then there is the Abbot. Do I like the bloke........hell NO!, would I trust him, perhaps more than Gillard, maybe, but that’s because they are both Politicians and really beholden to their respective parties. What’s constant?, well, within the political arena, its public opinion and the parties constant striving to have it in their favour, matched equally with their single-minded drive to retain almost any cost. Are they prone to doing the right! It’s more a case of the right thing being by accident. Everything is geared towards the majority of voters, if it works out poll wise that Joe public is on the whole behind it, they will more than likely do it. One only has to look at Howard’s gun by back and the toughening of those laws, post Arthur and its clearly evident.

  5. Pt 2..

    The same could be said for Abbot couching DAMS...given recent events, plus the droughts etc and its fairly clear that the greenies ability to stall such a move would be minimal as the majority of the voting public would be in favour. Yes, I might be drawing a longer bow on the last...but I suspect it’s in the politician’s heads as we speak. So how much real difference is there between the two major parties, in terms of what will be delivered to us, the tax payer and general public, not much I suspect. It’s only on certain, very emotive topics that public opinion differs markedly and falls typically into either of the two major camps. That’s things like WORK CHOISCES, either breaking what’s touted as Union power, or winding it back the opposite way and its diluted too much and Joe public has too little protection.

    And, just on that, I’m not anti Union, they most assuredly have a place and without doubt have contributed significantly, but like all things, when something becomes overly dominant, it tends to run amok and then needs pruning, no different each way in my book.
    So, I guess it’s really got a lot to do with little things, possibly which sit deep down in the back of the grey matter, occasionally its larger issues which influence voters too. And maybe, just maybe as well, its personality, I don’t mean great looking, I’m leaning towards the general persons view of , I do or do not like that person...they look shifty etc. Toss in, they have had a good crack, its time for a change, toss in some events that maybe were impacting personally and I think you start to have a blend which drives to a large degree the individuals political tendencies. Or at least, its driving those that swing.
    I gather, that the die hards..well, you could present either side with irrefutable evidence of any particular event and they would still say that the black cow you have stood in front of them is white. The real shame is that I’ll wager the average person, does not sit down and run a list through their heads before they vote for either side, or whoever their respective candidate might be. For something that impacts the most on our collective lives, it’s given a miniscule amount of thought, by the over whelming majority I fear, that’s scary.....and sad.
    Bit longer than what I had planned.

  6. Havock: you know well that I respect your approach to politics, and philosophy in the original sense. I'm reminded of that every time you sit down and simply put forward your own thinking on something like this.

    But there's one mistake here - and that is the idea that debate, leading to a potential change of opinions and ideas, is an easy exercise.

    If it's something that comes naturally to you - yes, it's easy. But long observation has shown me that the vast majority of adults are not capable of changing their beliefs. Instead, they will cling to those beliefs in the face of any challenge, finding ways to deny evidence to the contrary, no matter how clear and damning.

    Whenever I do run across someone who shows the ability to change their opinions, consider the evidence, and shift their ideas rather than struggle to shift reality to fit their ideas, I always make a note of that person. Because they are an unusual individual, worth watching, and listening to, and worthy of respect.

    It makes no difference to me what age, culture, education, gender, political affiliation or background of any sort the person has. That ability to assess incoming evidence and let go of beliefs which are clearly incorrect is so damned rare that whenever I see it, the person who has it goes straight onto a very short, very select list of people I want to know.

    I just wish there were more of them.

  7. Abbot's discrediting will be interesting. Basically his attack dog MO will cease to become viable once NSW goes Lib at the next state elections.

    With the increasing links between federal and state politics I can see the Lib Premiers being happy to say openely that Abbots screwing the pooch to the party faithful and he's hurting the 'brand'.

    As none of the WA, VIC or NSW leadership is from the rabid (or is that rabbit) right, Federal Coalition can't afford a split with the states.

    BTW are you coming to Perth for AussieCon this year?

  8. yep yep...points taken. It was a thinking post you put up, me thinking.....which, contrary to probably popular opinion ( myself fkn created I guess)..I LIKEY!...

  9. Havock: I meant every word I said. It's entirely possible to be shouty as hell, and still be a thinker.

    Chaz: yes. Absolutely.