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Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Homosexuality is the emotional or sexual attraction to someone of the same sex.

Acts of love (sex) between two adults of the same sex are almost always consensual. These acts and those who practice them are invariably condemned by almost all churches and religions – not the least by the Catholic church, who call for any and all kinds of sanctions against homosexuals.

Paedophilia is the sexual attraction of adults to children.

Acts stemming from this attraction (sex between adults and children) is almost never consensual. These acts are universally condemned by society in general, and is seen as criminal… but not by the Catholic church it seems.

It simply beggars belief.

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Where the rules of a specific religion are given precedence over the rule of law, where religious custom supersedes morality, common sense, or even decency, there is the likelihood of this happening.

History has shown, theocracy does not work, especially for the benefit of the wider populace. It does not matter the religion, if a religion rules, it does not tolerate opposition, it does not tolerate scrutiny, it does not tolerate anything different from itself..

Though it may tolerate this – http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/02/02/saudi-preacher-spared-after-raping-killing-daughter/

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In the wake of the conditional Lance Armstrong confessions to Oprah Winfrey , My question is, why is this such a big story?

How can one interview with a cyclist who is a (now confessed) drug cheat, be virtually the number one news item right across the world.

He is not the first professional cyclist (or other sports-person) to have been found to be using performance enhancing drugs, that has become almost commonplace. So why is Lance Armstrong any different?

Is it the magnitude of his victories that make this such an important story? Winning the Cycling’s biggest event on seven times, and not being tested positive for performance enhancement substances. But not everyone is into Road Cycling…. but people like a good story to believe in.

In the late 1990s an American road cyclist named Lance Armstrong (who by this time had won two stages of the Tour De France – one in 1993 and one in ’95) was diagnosed with testicular cancer which had spread to the lungs and brain. He overcame the cancer to return to competition in 1998. this would be a wonderful and inspiring story in itself, but Armstrong then won the Tour De France in 1999… It appeared almost ‘miraculous’.

He was placed on a pedestal by those who wanted to believe that Armstrong was something special, that he was different to those other riders who had been discovered to be drug cheats… and Armstrong kept winning the Tour De France, and kept passing drug tests… and from that pedestal, he could do little wrong… so it seemed. Started  charities (i.e. Livestrong), attacked and sued those who accused him of being a drug cheat, confirming the belief many held in him… after all, he was passing test after test – there was no proof.

If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

And now the façade is removed, the pedestal smashed, and Armstrong is exposed, shamed, discredited, and may yet be convicted. The world is upset and angry at Armstrong’s behaviour and deceit, and his actions deserve condemnation… but let us not forget that he did not assume the pedestal he was on by himself. He was (to a point) placed there because so many believed in him, and wanted to believe in something that logic, common sense, and experience said was not so… and behind that façade of belief others had in him, he could lie, deceive, cheat, purger.

Armstrong performed those acts that he has confessed to, but the unconditional belief many had in him and their suspension of logic, helped build the stage for the performance.

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I have not posted for nearly a year. The usual parade of human misery, stupidity, and ignorance, interspersed with moments of clarity, humour, and light, has passed by with such regularity that my desensitised mind has just let it by without mention… But the latest outrage from the United States must make the most numb heart scream in pain.

Some of the details are known. A man shoots his mother, apparently with one of her weapons; then takes her other guns (high-powered semi-automatic etc.), and thus armed as if for war, goes to a local school, shoots young children (some several times), killing 20, and teachers who try to protect them.

Intentional mass murder is a difficult crime to reconcile with, even when the victims are adults. But when the targets of the murderer are young children, the intensity of revulsion to the act is heightened. It strikes at a primal place in the heart, and the pain is deep to a fundamental level , and like a wind-driven bushfire, it overcomes our sensibilities, for a time at least.

But amid the shock and pain in the wake of such an outrage, this moment could be a watershed, a moment of inevitable clarity for the United States and how to deal with its relationship with guns.

We know what happened in Newtown, we know the where, the who, the when, just not the why… not any why… and therein are the issues.

The actions of the murderer are so outrageous to the consciousness of our society, we cannot see any sense in those actions… It is a senseless act, therefore it may be assumed there must be something deeply wrong with this person QED… so is this largely a mental health issue?

The mental state of the murderer is one why, but the other question of why did/could this outrage occur is to the access to high-powered guns with extended magazine capacity.

Last Friday, the same day as the school attack in Newtown occurred, a man walked into an elementary school in central China and attacked 22 children with a weapon. Same day, same action, same targets, but a different weapon, and a different outcome. The weapon in the China attack was a knife, and all survived. Gun laws are far more strict in China, and access far more difficult. Therefore, is it the gun laws in the US that are a contributing factor in the episodes of mass shooting that seem to occur with metronomic regularity? 30 since Columbine in 1999.

I do not believe that anyone in the US will ever try to remove all guns from the general population, not unless they wish to see blood in the streets; for Americans are fiercely in favour of the 2nd amendment to the US constitution which grants the right for citizens to bear arms. But having the right to bear arms, is not a compulsion to bear arms for self-defence, or to create a personal arsenal of numerous guns that may include high-powered military assault rifles. There are nearly 89 guns per 100 Americans, making access to dangerous weapons easy for the angry or the disturbed.

The outrage in Newtown may be a moment of clarity, where Americans can see while they have the right to bear arms, there needs to be controls on that right, so that weapons of war, and large magazine clips need not be on the streets.

The act to keep these powerful weapons available, is almost as senseless as the acts of some of those who get access to the guns…

and the metronome keeps ticking…. tick, tick tick chik-chik BOOM.

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The silly season is upon us once again, transforming regular grocery shopping trips into enduring the gauntlet of Christmas shoppers (often with young children in tow) en-mass in shopping centres, filling usually available parking – simply exacerbating the ordeal.

But this is just an accepted part of what is advertised as the most wonderful time of the year.

Christmas, as it has become, is now more an annoying distraction. Yes it is nice to use this time to remember the year that has past, to reflect on the human condition, and how each of us adds or subtracts from those around us, but the rapacious gluttony that captures the population as December passes is breathtaking when juxtaposed against what the season is supposed to be about. “Good will to all”…. Just as long as there is plenty for me.

What is it that we get at Christmas?

At a tactile level, the food will be eaten, that which is not, will be discarded. The presents that are given will either be spent, used up, put away, or be broken and forgotten, or they will be returned for refund, or discarded, and only sometimes will a present have greater relevance and longevity for the receiver. In other words, one Christmas’ presents will often have no level of meaning by the next Christmas, if they still exist at all.

I use the word ‘present’ to describe that, which is bought and given at Christmas, rather than ‘gift’, which is simply given of the person to another. Such a gift is usually intangible, often ephemeral (or lasting just a moment) but its memory and meaning can remain pristine and clear for a lifetime. It may be an act of kindness, a smile, or just memories of different (or happier) times. A present is given for the present. A gift is just given – anywhere, anytime, from (and to) anyone.

Last week would have been my sister’s 50th birthday. Tomorrow will have been my younger brother’s 44th birthday, and Australia Day next month will have been my older brother’s 52nd birthday. I cannot remember how long it has been since any of us exchanged Christmas presents, but over the last (almost) eight years since the first of my siblings passed, I have become increasingly aware of the gifts they had given me. They had not bought me any Christmas or birthday presents for many years, but had given a lifetime of gifts, of which I am deeply grateful.

It is especially at Christmas that I reflect on the gifts that I have been given, and I hold tight to those precious yet indestructible gifts, lest I forget those who gave. These gifts are both from them and are them, for it is in these gifts that lives the very essence of who they were, and through their gifts, who they remain.

I wish you peace and happiness at Christmas. May you reflect well on what you have, what you have been given, and the gifts you give others every day.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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In Australia, supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths appear to be nothing more than an extortion racket, and those outside the eastern seaboard are captive to them.

Independent supermarkets don’t have the power to properly challenge them, and politicians won’t legislate to challenge them.

From politics there is only spin and rhetoric that bemoans (lip service) the duopoly of Coles and Woollies. The only viable challenger to this situation is a chain that consistently has lower prices across the board… a chain like (the new kid on the block) Aldi, but Aldi will not let go of the security blanket of the Eastern states.

How does Aldi benefit by this?

Stories of how increased competition between the supermarket chains in the eastern states are regular occurrences on television. As the major networks are based in either Melbourne or Sydney, these stories include how Aldi are affecting the pricing of the behemoths Coles and Wollies. These stories, for those outside of the eastern states, do nothing more than to rub the faces of those struggling with grocery prices into their captivity of the two large chains.

The newspapers are the same. read a story in the local newspaper’s website, and there will be links to related stories in newspapers in other cities – like in Brisbane, or Sydney.

It is clear how Coles and Woolworths benefit by this arrangement. In places where there is no serious competition, they can price largely how they like… but put an aldi (or an Aldi-like) supermarket in place for competition, you get cheaper groceries.

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January 26 is when Australia celebrates itself as a nation.

January 26 1788, when ships of the ‘first fleet’ landed on a beach in Sydney Cove and founded a penal colony – and because of that, people up to thousands of kilometres away from that place today will celebrate it.

I have in a previous posting suggested that January 26 is not the right date to celebrate the nation of Australia.There are numerous arguments surrounding this date; the foremost being the invasion concept, whereby white people invaded Australia, dispossessing the inhabitants of access to lands they had used for millennia. Whether or not you subscribe to that concept, there is validity in it, if only at an historical level. It is true that over the first century of European settlement, white people overcame and dominated where once indigenous culture held sway, and today this is a western nation with history both good and bad – this is not just opinion, it is historic fact…

Be that as it may… I believe that January 26 is the wrong date even if you do not have an indigenous heritage.

Celebrating the landing of the First fleet as the beginning of Australia must be an insult to all those who call Australia HOME!

Celebrating the landing of ships from elsewhere suggests that we (Australians) are a relocated people, that HOME is really elsewhere.I may have a European heritage, and it is nice to reflect on and learn from that, but I am insulted at the mere suggestion that home (or the old country) is elsewhere. Others will have a European, Asian, African, indigenous (or some other) heritage, and their heritage will mean to them what it will mean to them; but if they are Australian and call Australia their home, how can January 26 and what its origins are, be a fitting date to celebrate the nation as a whole?

March 3 is a more fitting date to celebrate the nation of Australia, for it was on March 3 1986 that the government abolished the right to appeal to the Privy Council in London, thereby removing the ability of the British Government to make laws for Australia. In essence, making Australia a fully sovereign, independent and federal nation.This may appear to some a somewhat technical or officious act. How or why can people celebrate a holiday based on a piece of paper? The most well known secular holiday in the world is based on a piece of paper – the 4th of July.

The United States of America celebrates the signing of their declaration of independence from Great Britain on the fourth of July 1776 (twelve years before the First fleet). Thirteen colonies became states under a national legislature (Congress). To establish this new country’s rights they were then already at war with Great Britain.

The US celebrates their country on the date they became a country. We (on the other had) celebrate this county on the date we became a prison.

Another thing that we can celebrate about Australia, especially on a different date, is the fact that

  • Australia became federated in peace (1 January 1901) ,
  • Australia was granted political autonomy in peace, though in the middle of WW2 (9 October 1942)
  • Australia was granted full and legal autonomy in peace (3 March 1986)

Australia became a fully federated, independent, sovereign, and federal nation in peace – when so many other nations came to be in war.

Celebrate Australia!

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